Scores of Currys customers have been fobbed off and left without functioning washing machines, fridge freezers and TVs during the pandemic due to failed deliveries and problems with faulty products.
Which? has received more than 1,700 complaints about Currys PC World through our faulty goods tool between January and October this year.
One in 10 faulty goods complaints sent to us between these dates was about Currys, compared with one in 20 in the previous 10 months.
A ‘Currys PC World where’s my refund?’ Facebook Group has seen a steady increase in followers in recent months, gaining around 50 to 150 new members each week.
We spoke to 20 customers who have battled to get refunds, replacements or repairs for faulty products and delayed deliveries, and we’ll be sharing what we’ve heard with Trading Standards.
We spoke to four Currys PC World customers who have been let down, fobbed off and left without essential household appliances.
‘My hall and kitchen were flooded’
Alison Dimmack, an NHS keyworker, has been left with a leaky washing machine since the start of the pandemic in March.
‘The hall and kitchen were flooded,’ she told us. ‘The dryer cuts out every time you put it on too, it doesn’t do a full cycle, it’s not fit-for-purpose at all.
‘I work for the NHS, so I have to wash my uniform every night because of coronavirus,’ she said. ‘I’ve also been washing my stuff in the sink, but I can’t do that in the winter, it will be mouldy before it dries.’
Currys PC World instructed Alison to get in touch with the manufacturer, Beko, to organise an engineer visit to confirm the appliance was faulty.
Despite numerous engineer visits and attempts to repair the leak, Alison has continued to experience faults with the machine.
Since then, Alison has only used the machine on a low cycle for fear of it leaking again. ‘I can’t leave the washing machine,’ she explained. ‘It’s put me under so much stress, having to stand in the kitchen and watch it.
‘I’m cross that people can treat me in such a cavalier way,’ she said. ‘All I want is my washing machine so I can get on with my life.’
She fears she’ll now have to fork out for a new machine she can’t afford. ‘I’ll have to save again to buy another one,’ she told us. ‘I’ve given Currys a lot of my money, I haven’t got the machine I was expecting, and they say they’ll repair or replace it but they don’t. I’m all that money down and no better off.’
Which? got in touch with Currys and it arranged to remove and exchange Alison’s faulty machine for a more expensive model. It told us: ‘We are very sorry to hear about Mrs Dimmack’s ongoing experience with her appliance and for the manufacturer’s delay in confirming the fault, a necessary part of the process that allows us to exchange a faulty machine.’
A Beko spokesperson said: ‘This situation has understandably been difficult for Mrs Dimmack. Currys is now replacing the washing machine and we are directly in touch with her to offer further support.’
- Read more: your faulty goods rights explained
‘They tried to fob us off to the manufacturer’
Carl Walsh-Harris faced a battle with Currys after his 15-month-old television broke. He paid for an independent engineer’s report which confirmed there was a manufacturer’s fault with the machine.
‘The engineer recommended the TV should be replaced,’ Carl told us. ‘We were then ignored by Currys after I shared the engineer’s report. I had no response via email or Twitter despite chasing multiple times.’
Carl eventually got through over the phone. ‘The person we spoke to tried to fob us off by saying we should contact the manufacturer,’ he explained. ‘They claimed we weren’t entitled to a repair or replacement by the retailer despite the TV not being fit-for-purpose.
‘We were eventually instructed to take the TV to a store to be picked up for repair. The store staff tried to charge us £90 for the pick up. We refused and they said we didn’t have to pay.
‘They then offered a reduced cost refund of £114,’ he said. ‘Originally the TV cost £300 and we’d had it for 15 months when it stopped working, so Currys were claiming the machine had lost 62% of its value in that time.’
‘We obviously questioned this. They told us if we had a problem with the amount, which we’d get in Currys vouchers, then we’d have to take it up with Trading Standards.’
Carl rang again a few more times and managed to speak to someone who said they could increase the refund to £170 as a goodwill gesture, plus the £50 they’d spent on the independent engineer’s report, and that it would be paid as a Bacs transfer rather than in vouchers.
‘We were keen to buy a new TV somewhere other than Currys,’ Carl told us. ‘Tired of talking to them, we gave in and accepted their offer.’
Which? contacted Currys and Carl has since been refunded an additional £130. Currys apologised for the frustration and upset caused.
Misleading delivery dates
Other customers have complained about delayed or missing deliveries.
Matthew bought a fridge freezer in early September and was told it would be delivered in 10 – 21 days.
But a few weeks later he discovered that the fridge was out-of-stock and the earliest he’d receive it would be October 9.
‘I then looked on their website to see what other product I could get,’ Matthew said. ‘I looked at the very same fridge and it said I could have it the next day if I paid extra money.’
Matthew felt he’d been misled by the delivery dates advertised on the product listing. ‘I contacted Currys about it and they said it was a mistake and changed it on their website, but it still said it would be delivered in 10 – 21 days.’
In lieu of a suitable alternative appliance, Matthew asked for a breakdown of what his refund would look like, as he’d paid part in vouchers and part in cash. Currys PC World didn’t answer these questions and cancelled the order instead.
‘They said once I got the vouchers back I could reorder, but I’m at the back of the line now,’ he said. ‘They told me the vouchers are on their way so there’s nothing they can do.’
Currys PC World said Matthew’s order was incorrectly cancelled due to human error and miscommunication. It will undertake a review of its colleague procedures in light of his feedback.
- Find out more: what to do if your delivery doesn’t arrive
‘I need my laptop and I’m failing without it’
We spoke to an IT student at Open University who waited weeks for a replacement laptop after their machine was written off.
The customer had been paying £9.30 a month for a care plan with a seven-day fix promise. They were told their machine was irreparable and that they’d receive a voucher for a new machine as agreed in the care plan.
But the customer didn’t receive the voucher as promised and was forced to start their second year at university without a laptop.
‘It’s not like I can read a website on my phone, I’ve got to download programmes as part of my studies and my exams,’ they said. ‘It’s not just that I need the laptop because I want a computer in my house. I need it and I’m failing without it.’
The customer describes extremely long queues to get through to customer service. ‘When I looked on their Facebook page I understood why it takes so long to get through to somebody on the phone, everybody is calling,’ they said.
They were repeatedly told the voucher would be sent on a certain day, only for it not to arrive. ‘They told me the same thing for four weeks, that they’d send it out the next day, but I didn’t receive it,’ the customer said. ‘At one point I started crying down the phone to them.
‘I was on furlough from April and was made redundant in September. I don’t have the money to fork out for a new laptop or computer even if I wanted to.’
The customer was eventually sent a voucher on 3 November, six weeks after the machine was written off.
A Currys PC World spokesperson said: ‘We are truly sorry to customers who haven’t received the standard of customer service we expect of ourselves. While we are fulfilling the vast majority of our services successfully, we appreciate that one complaint is one too many.’
It says it has experienced unprecedented demand for products during the pandemic and has had to adopt new ways of working since the first national lockdown, like new training, launching a new webchat function and upgrading its systems to ensure refunds and returns are processed as quickly as possible.
What to do if you’re a Currys customer
1. Know your rights to a repair, replacement or refund with faulty goods
If the fault is detected within 30 days, you’re entitled to ask for a full refund, or a repair or replacement.
- After 30 days you’re entitled to a repair or replacement. If the retailer can’t fulfil a suitable repair or replacement, you can ask for a refund. If you are within six months of buying the item this should be a full refund.
- If you’re asking for a repair or replacement and you have had the item for more than six months: the burden is on you to prove the product was faulty at the time the goods were delivered to you. You might do this by asking an expert or the manufacturer to assess the product, or you might be able to find evidence of similar problems across the product range.
You can use our letter template to get a refund for a faulty product.
2. Ask for a refund if your delivery is late or doesn’t turn up
Retailers should deliver items in the timescale agreed when you place your order and ‘without undue delay’.
If you don’t receive your parcel within 30 days, you’re entitled to cancel the order and get a refund.
If you pay extra for next-day delivery, or nominated-day delivery, but your order arrives late, you can ask to have the extra money you paid reimbursed to you.
Remember the retailer is responsible for getting your order to you – not the courier.
3. Watch out for sneaky fees
If you’re returning a faulty item, you shouldn’t have to pay to send it back. Likewise, you should usually be reimbursed for an independent engineer’s report if it’s proven the product is faulty.
You also don’t have to pay for repairs or replacements to be installed.
4. Contact your bank
You might be able to get your money back by making a claim with your bank.
- If you paid with your credit card, your credit provider is jointly responsible with the retailer if something goes wrong. You can make a Section 75 claim to try to get a refund or a repair or replacement depending on when you discovered the fault with your item.
- Or if you paid by debit card you can make a chargeback claim, which is where your bank claws back the money from the recipient.
5. Check if you’ve got a warranty or guarantee
You might have a manufacturer warranty or guarantee with your product.
If the retailer is being unresponsive, it may be quicker to use your manufacturer warranty instead.
Likewise, if you detect the fault after the first six months, it may be easier to claim on your warranty or guarantee, as it’ll be up to you to prove the fault was present at the time of purchase.
Usually you’ll need proof of purchase, details of the problem and a photocopy of the warranty or guarantee to make a claim.
Find out more: when can I use a manufacturer’s warranty or guarantee?
6. Report it to Trading Standards
If you continue to face issues, or think the retailer is stopping you from using your consumer rights, you can report it to Trading Standards via Citizens Advice’s online form.