Archive for the ‘shopping’ Category

The Boxing Day Fails

December 26, 2008

Well I hope you enjoyed Christmas. I did (well I did if you allow for the fact that I was at my parents for most of the day, and my daughter and my mother were both in the same flat – not a good combination!)

So today is Boxing Day, and it’s the start of the after-Christmas sales in the major stores. And I have decided that this would be the perfect time to upgrade from my old st4eam-powered tube TV to something a bit more modern. I want a nice 32inch LCD TV. I want to be able to watch films in widescreen without the picture being either squashed or distorted.

Now, I hate (no, really hate) going shopping during the sales. So I decided that I would hunt out the bargains on the internet first. I could check the major stores to see what products they have, compare the specs and the prices and check availability as most do “reserve on line & collect from store”

So I fire up the firefox and load the pages for Comet, Currys, Tescos and Richer Sounds and start hunting for TVs

The first thing I noticed was how slow they all were. I mean r…e…a…l…l…y  s…l…o…w. When they did eventually load, I found the whole “shop on line” experience painful.

Tescos only allow you to search by brand name and/or price. You cannot select screen size. So I had to search through all the TVs in the price range £200-£400

Comets website died every time I tried to go to the “reserve & collect” page, and they have little pop-up information panels which only appear for about half a second before disappearing again.

Currys also failed every time I tried to check availability at a local store for “reserve & collect”

And the Richer Sounds site just keeps dying. And when it is up and accessible, it has an extremely busy and crowded page and I couldn’t find any way to narrow the search for what I wanted, just a search for LCD TV’s.

Shopping on the internet is not a new phenomenon any more, it has been with us for several years. All the stores promote the websites and have been really pushing them this year as the place to go to see the sales bargains. Obviously they had not geared themselves up for the increased demand though. And the sites themselves are just not user friendly. You should be able to search for a product using whatever criteria you wish. It should be possible to say “I want a 32inch TV in the price range £200-£300; show me what you have got”. If traditional brick&mortar companies want to keep our business in the age of the internet, they need to be proactive. The old way of selling products by laying out you stock and saying “this is it, have a look for what you want” does not work these days.  For a company to survive the recession it will need to change its attitude. Customers no longer have to physically walk from one store to another, they just have to type and click to get there.

And there were a couple of classic howlers as well:

comet Since when is paying an extra £200 “ a little bit extra”?


Why, when the spec says “front av sockets” do they list the ones on the back?

Overall, I cannot say I have enjoyed my online shopping experience. If I were new to the internet, I would probably be wondering what all the fuss is about.

I still haven’t found a TV I like because it is so hard to compare products from different retailers, let alone different manufacturers.

So I will probably end up either going down to the stores themselves, or not even bothering to buy a new TV.