PC superstore unhinged by Linux
'Like buying a BMW and putting a Ford engine in it'
For all you car aficionados out there, how's this for an operating system analogy from PC World? Installing Linux onto a laptop sold by the computer retail behemoth is like putting a Ford engine into a BMW, apparently.
Earlier this week a mysterious PC World customer, known only by the name of Tikka, posted a story to Slashdot about the store's refusal to repair a hardware fault on a five-month-old Acer laptop.
The store's IT support "Tech Guys" told Tikka that, because Linux had been installed, the machine's warranty had been voided.
But, here's the rub: the fault in question hinged on a dodgy, er, hinge on the laptop's display. In other words, a pure hardware failure that was completely unrelated to the choice of operating system installed.
Despite that, PC World – which claims in its marketing blurb to be "with you every step of the way" – refused to fix the problem and sent Tikka away with the broken laptop.
El Reg put a call in to the DSGi-owned retail giant to get some clarification on PC World's Linux support policy.
A spokesman told us that there had simply been a misunderstanding at the store and that, in fact, the normal procedure would be for the Tech Guys to provide a fix.
But if you type Linux into the firm's website the nearest matches offer a baffling choice between a Maxtor external hard drive and a copy of Microsoft Office 2007.
Indeed, Linux, which is arguably the preserve of back-room geeks everywhere, is an alien concept to PC World which, according to the spokesman, had more than 60 million customers through its door in the past year.
PC World admitted it had made a mistake and told us it will provide a full repair once the firm has made contact with Tikka.
The spokesman said it had been an isolated incident and added "we'll support what we've sold you". ®
A good thing (yes shock horror) about PC world is...
< good bit >
..that you can get their online pricing and pick up the thing in store! I buy most of my PC parts and spares for me or other people from dabs.com and only ever had one problem (they sent me 3 routers instead of 1, and didn't charge me extra yay). But if I want something in a hurry, like that day, it's good to know an hour after ordering, if it's in stock, I can boogie over and collect it in person.
< /good bit >
< bad bit >
However I won't disagree with the attitude of the staff advising (if you can call it that) customers. When I was helping choose my sisters first laptop 3 years ago, I saw one particular unit that looked like a good choice - I had a query, however, over works suite 2000. Collared the nearest smiling person in purple shirt, and asked him "do you know if works suite 2000 comes with proper word 2000 instead of the pansy on-board works word processing component" - I expected a two part answer, a) did he know the answer or not, and b) if he knew the answer, what it was. All I got was "I work here" and an arrogant grin - tempted to swear at him for his unfounded arrogance - I said "that doesn't impress me - either you go and find the answer or I tell your supervisor you shouldn't have a job here, and I know more than most of you put together". I'd imagine most readers of this fine e-zine know more than most pc world staff - here's the funny thing, I was rejected when I went for a job with them when I was 17! Might apply again for a non-sales role just for a giggle to see if I get any further now I'm 24...
< /bad bit >
Ex sales now a dev
During university i used to work at pc world. I also worked there full time for 1 year before that. This was from 1996-1999.
I was one of those people who actually knew what I was talking about, as did a number of the people in tech support (now known as the 'tech guys').
I had a really bad issue with the attitude of PC WORLD and that was that sales counted above all else. Sure customer service was an issue but if you didn't sell you didn't keep your job and the 'coverplan' extended guarantee was focused on very heavily. In those days pc world were selling p75s for 1.5k and then another service plan for say £450, they were absolutely laffing.
The problem I had was that when I tried to explain to some people about ram compatibility, or linux operating systems (yes they sold them), or give them general advice on what they actually needed (as opposed to what pc world wanted to sell them), I was pulled up and told 'we don't really like people with technical ability to be employed here'.
In fact I was told to keep away from customers and in the end just turned up to collect a wage but I always pride myself that I always tried to sell people what they needed as opposed to what they didn't need.
PC WORLD are what they are, they are a profit orientated retail outlet and care little for the technicals. They have also realised this mistake too late as the ticket prices have fallen, they have scrapped commission selling and a lot of people left because the wages are so poor.
They are now realising that customer service was oh so important as peolpe are now more tech savvy and know much more than in 1996 about pcs. The trouble is the damage has already been done to their reputation and is probably undoable.
All because they tried to run it like a branch of dixons, which was always a mistake.
I had a problem the other day with one of my clients brand new laptop (pre-loaded with windoze vista).. I was tring to re-install this PC with XP, After taking the PC back because it was impossible to do an XP installation install without having to build my own recovery cd etc, they told us that the PC's warranty had been Voided because it didn't have Vista installed.. great news for me, my client happened to be a solicitor and took immediate action.
As a re-seller of Hardware, there has to be a clear Hardware Warranty which can not be bundled with the software that was pre-loaded. The software comes with no warranty.... do you not think MS would have gone down the pan years ago if this was the case. WAKE UP GUYS! MS is for people who want to throw there money into Billion$ companies who dont care about good software just the £$€ signs.....
Welcome to the Open-source revolution. (about time)
They are still refusing to fix the hinge!
If you look at Tikka's website, you will see that PCW have still been refusing to fix the hinge even after DSG's public statement about this.
It is ridiculous and irrelevant to say people should know better than to shop at PCW, or run Linux, or to rely on PCW support. The issue is really very simple: DSG's practices are in breach the statutory and regulatory obligations governing the retail trade. This should not be tolerated.
Personally, I am troubled by the fact that regulatory authorities seem to have very small teeth when it comes to discouraging repeated and systematic breaches of the rules. Their role is often appears to be one of offering support to individuals who have the time and patience to threaten small claims cases, rather than fixing the problem at source once and for all.
Erm, Windows Vista, Internet Explorer 7 and my ADSL connection. That is what allows me to surf the web. So, instead of being a complete tosser, why don't you go bore someone else with your Linux tripe. See you next tuesday.