Currys PC World is still ripping off customers by pressuring them to pay up to £40 for a laptop setup fee, which should be optional.
Despite several warnings from Which?, customers have continued to tell us that after buying laptops online – or seeing one advertised price – they were told that only pre-setup laptops were left in store, so they had to pay extra for the devices to be set up.
We first cautioned Currys PC World about this practice four years ago, before issuing three more warnings. Each time it promised to clean up its act.
Which? has now issued Currys PC World with a legal warning outlining how the practice could breach UK and EU consumer law.
The warning states we will consider pursuing ‘all available options’ to ensure this unscrupulous behaviour is brought to an end. This could lead to enforcement action.
We have asked Currys PC World to take immediate steps to remedy the problem and reimburse customers who wrongly paid the fee.
What have Currys PC World customers told us?
Since January 2015, more than 115 people have told us they were told by staff that only pre-setup laptops were left in the store, meaning they would have to pay an extra fee of up to £40 to get the device set up correctly.
Currys PC World does offer an optional £35 ‘Knowhow’ setup service, as advertised on its website, which includes a USB recovery stick.
Recently, a customer posted on the Which? Conversation site about a laptop they bought from Currys PC World on 11 January 2019.
He agreed to buy it for £499.
The customer told us: ‘When the salesperson arrived with it he had one in the box with tape labeling on it, saying it had been set-up and had a USB recovery drive for £20 extra.
‘I was caught off guard and agreed, and when he was putting it through the checkout it was £30 extra! When I complained, he reduced it to £20.’
But when the customer got home, he realised there was a USB recovery stick already in the box.
This is one of many examples we’ve been told about.
Dodgy sales practice continues despite Which? warnings
Which? has raised this issue with Currys PC World multiple times since 2015, the most recent being in March 2018.
At that time, a Currys PC World spokesperson told us they were ‘urgently rebriefing stores’ and reminding staff customers should not have to pay extra if the only laptops left in store are pre-setup.
However, it’s clear this action has in no way been sufficient and the company must now take immediate steps to to remedy this problem.
Which? is now calling on the retailer to take more proactive steps, such as employee incentives, to ensure no more customers are asked to pay for a pre-setup laptop when that isn’t what they wanted, or what was advertised to them.
All customers who have already been forced to pay the charge should also be refunded promptly.
Which? Consumer Rights editor, Eleanor Snow, said: ‘Previous efforts from the company to resolve the issue have been woefully insufficient, so we now want to see it tackle the issue head on, so no more customers are left out of pocket unnecessarily.’
How has Currys PC World responded?
A spokesperson for Currys PC World said: ‘On a small number of new laptops, we pre-install software to help customers who want to avoid waiting a few hours in store for the service or having to do it themselves at home.
‘This is not something every customer needs and, where a colleague only has a pre-setup laptop in stock, our policy is absolutely clear that customers should be made aware and not be charged for the service.
‘If any colleague is found to be charging customers for a pre-setup laptop in the absence of any other available stock, we will investigate accordingly.’
I was pressured into buying a pre-setup laptop, what should I do?
Currys PC World has said concerned customers should get in touch directly at email@example.com to arrange a refund.
You can also use our free guide to complain if you’ve been misled by a special promotion.
What is the law about about pressuring customers to buy extra add-ons?
Under the Consumer Contracts Regulations, Currys PC World is required to advertise the full price of a product that is bought online.
This practice could also be an example of ‘bait advertising’ where a retailer lures someone into its store with attractive advertising, knowing it can’t honour the offer or there’s only a limited supply of stock.
This is banned under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations.