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How is coronavirus affecting TV retailers?

We've looked at the delivery and returns policies of popular UK TV retailers to see if there's a better one to buy from

How is coronavirus affecting TV retailers?

As retailers, such as Currys, John Lewis and Richer Sounds, react differently to the COVID-19 crisis, there’s now more to consider when buying a TV than simply where is selling it cheapest.

Stock and staff are stretched, which means you could be waiting weeks for a new TV. Before the pandemic took hold it was reasonable to expect one to arrive on your doorstep within two days.

A guaranteed delivery day is one thing, but what’s the real cost of getting your TV to arrive on time? Are retailers being responsible with their workers, or is there an indication they are exposing their staff to dangers in a quest to maintain profits.

We’ve examined their coronavirus policies to help you choose the right and responsible place to shop.

Top five TVs for 2020: excellent sets to narrow your search

Read the latest coronavirus news and advice from Which?

Are the retailers doing anything differently?

AO

  • Delivery policy

Think carefully before buying anything bulky, like a TV, since AO and many other retailers will only deliver to your front door. If you live in an apartment block or somewhere with a shared entry, then they will take it to the door of your flat rather than just the building. It’s asking for honesty from customers, since its staff won’t enter someone’s home if anyone has COVID-19 symptoms.

AO is taking the extra step of allowing its drivers to refuse to enter a home if they don’t feel safe to do so.

  • Returns policy

At 100 days, AO’s returns policy is one of the most generous, and it’s sticking with it for now. It will collect the product as long as you aren’t displaying any symptoms and you can leave it outside. If your TV is wall mounted and you’re unable to remove it yourself, AO won’t be able to come into your home and uninstall it for you.

Argos

  • Delivery policy

Argos is still delivering products, although the number of items available for home delivery has been reduced. You can nominate a day for delivery and choose time slots as normal.

Its stores are closed, but you can collect products bought online from selected Sainsbury’s stores. Argos’s website does recommend choosing the delivery option, however.

In an effort to limit contact between drivers and customers, its installation service has been stopped, and delivery drivers will no longer enter a customer’s home, so bear that in mind if you’re going to struggle lugging a 65-inch TV upstairs.

  • Returns policy

Any purchase made from 1 March can be returned up to 30 days after Argos stores reopen, so you don’t need to worry about being unable to return your TV.

Currys PC World

  • Delivery policy

You can still get a TV delivered from Currys PC World, but it’s also taking precautions. Unlike Argos, Currys PC World will deliver larger items to a room of your choice, but if anyone in the house has symptoms of the virus, they will leave it on your doorstep. This policy does require honesty from the customer.

Currys PC World has asked for patience with potential last-minute delivery changes, as drivers may need to self-isolate at short notice. All drivers will be using antibacterial gel to clean their hands before and after each delivery.

  • Returns policy

The days when Currys PC World stores are closed don’t count towards your eligible returns period, and drivers can still collect bulkier purchases from your home.

John Lewis

  • Delivery policy

Next-day delivery is still available from John Lewis if you order before 4pm or you can collect your order from a Waitrose branch. As with Argos and Sainsbury’s, it’s recommended that you choose delivery rather than risking an extra trip to a supermarket.

John Lewis is asking that it be notified if anyone at the property is exhibiting coronavirus symptoms, in which case the delivery will be cancelled and rescheduled for 14 days’ time. John Lewis delivery people will not enter any premises, but parcels can be left in an outbuilding or on your doorstep.

  • Returns policy

John Lewis is sticking with its standard 35-day returns policy, and bulky items, such as TVs, can be collected from your home unless you are self-isolating. In this case, John Lewis will honour late returns, as long as you have proof of purchase.

Richer Sounds

  • Delivery policy

A statement on Richer Sounds’ website states that delivery times may be longer than normal due to coronavirus, although the same statement does go on to say that next-day and named-day deliveries are still available.

Drivers leave items in your hallway or outside, but won’t enter the premises.

Richer Sounds is known for the expertise of its staff, who are now working from home and are able to give advice over the phone.

  • Returns policy

This seems unchanged and you’ll have the standard 14 days to initiate the return of an unwanted product bought online, or 30 days to return a faulty one.

Information for all retailers is correct as of April 7 2020.

How are retailers protecting their staff?

We couldn’t see any information around the precautions taken to protect staff in warehouses, but all the retailers we looked at are taking steps to protect delivery drivers.

Argos, AO, John Lewis and Richer Sounds drivers aren’t permitted to enter any properties, while Currys PC World asks that residents stay in different rooms where possible, or a minimum of two metres away from delivery staff.

Which retailer to buy from

If you think you’ll struggle to get a heavy TV into the right room or up a flight of stairs, then Currys PC World is your only real option. But it’s vital that you’re honest, and if you have any symptoms of coronavirus, you should postpone or cancel your delivery.

Otherwise, it’s worth trying a few retailers to see which is offering the soonest named-day delivery that’s suitable for you, but be aware that delays will be more likely.

We rank retailers based on their value for money, delivery, range of products and more. See our five favourite electrical retailers.

Is there much difference in price?

We picked three of the most popular TVs on our website to see whether any retailers were undercutting the competition:

  • LG 50UM7500PLAAO, Currys PC World and John Lewis have this 50-inch LG TV cheapest at £399. Argos is priciest at £449.
  • Samsung QE43Q60R – £499 is clearly the going rate for this most high-end of 43-inch sets. All the retailers we looked at are selling it at this price.
  • LG OLED55B9PLALG’s cheapest OLED is teetering on the edge of £1,100, and all the retailers have it at £1,099 or £1,098.
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