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Flogging a dead horse

Contrary to my gender, if I’m in the right mood I quite enjoy the odd bit of recreational shopping. I’m not talking about the mundane stuff like groceries, but most other things I generally don’t mind, especially if it’s something vaguely technology-based. As you might have gathered, I’m something of a technophile, so playing and browsing are what I do best and I can quite happily waste a couple of hours playing with the latest shiny new thing….

…which is why PC World poses something of a problem for me - because contrary to my experiences in the previous paragraph, I’d like to see it wiped off the face of the earth.

Your expectations take a downturn as soon as you enter the store. Unfortunately, the powers-that-be have decided to install a sales drone right in front of the door, that greets you with an insincere, “Good morning sir - and how may I help you today?”. It’s patronising, false and makes me feel pressurised before I even start. Why can’t I just browse? I may be male, but that doesn’t mean I’m on a mission to pick up the first item on the shelf I see and pay for it. As I said earlier, I’m a technophile - just let me be happy prodding stuff. Think of me like a deer - if you even as much fart in my general direction, I’ll make a run for the exit without spending a penny.

As an aside, have you ever noticed that you can’t spend a penny in a PC World? If you have children or are just plain incontinent (this comes with age), your visit will always be short.

Technology stores demand that you spend more than a penny, but given half a chance I’d like to spend as few pennies as possible - but I will spend a couple quid more if it means I don’t have to wait on an internet delivery and the service is right. Here, it’s neither. Take printer cartridges as an example. I’ve never seen an outlet that sells them for such a price. Based on the quantity of ink you get in a cartridge, you’ll find that they have a price per gram that’s probably higher than the street value of cocaine. In some cases, the same genuine cartridge costs over treble the average internet price. Only sheer desperation will bring you here - and I’m sure they know that.

Price isn’t the only annoyance. The fact that they’re about six months behind the rest of the market also scuppers a purchase. Today, I had a look at 2.5 inch hard-drives, as my Macbook Pro is starting to get rather full. I’ve had my eyes on either an SSD drive or a hybrid such as a Seagate XT - no chance of that here. Stock levels are non-existent and all you’ll be able to buy is a crappy, over-priced and under-specced 5400rpm unit, which wouldn’t help alleviate my space issues at all.

And how can you justify £20+ for a USB printer cable? Are they laced with the finest unobtainium?

We’ve already established that I can’t find what I want at a price that’s on Planet Earth, but whatever you do don’t ever ask for help. The smug insincerity isn’t confined to the Welcome Drone. Want to ask about a Mac? Don’t - they’ll try and fit you up with an under-specced and over-priced Windows system full of bloatware. Want to ask about components? My enquiry about 2.5 inch SATA drives resulted in me being told that they didn’t have any - redirecting me to internal CD/DVD drives (and ironically, they did have a couple that I found myself). Want software? Don’t bother - it’s full-price only for you, bucko. And don’t ask about 214pin DDR3 1066mhz SODIMMS - you’ll be given very blank looks indeed.

But at least you can buy a television there now, so that’s OK.

I’ve given this retail chain several chances over the years to redeem itself, but invariably I leave the shop with retail rage, muttering obscenities under my breath and wanting to rant to the nearest sales drone about my experiences - but I realise that this would be a pointless exercise, serving no purpose other than to temporarily ease my frustration and ruin somebody else’s day. I realise that the staff are merely doing what they’re told and that it isn’t really their fault. The fault lies with the systemic problems that lie within their management, who evidently have one mantra - to sell shit to an unsuspecting public for the highest price possible, whilst skimping on staff development - and that’s the bigger crime, if anything.

In these austere times, those retailers that innovate and invest will be the ones that get through the recession. PC World Doesn’t deserve to. Please close your doors and call it a day - you’re giving those of us involved in I.T. a bad name and you’re loathed by the industry. Thanks.
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