High Street ripoff

July 31st, 2005

The other day I was in my local PC World looking for something small and insignificant which as it turned out they didn't have anyway. That's not the point (I didn't expect them to have it anyway really, not deep down inside ...) it's something I saw there that really bothered me.

At the front, by the door, they had a clearance box filled to the brim with damaged boxes of software and hardware. It looked like a lucky dip and since I was heading out empty handed I took a look.

I was horrified by what I saw.

To begin with, is 50p or £1 enough when the box that software comes in looks like it had been worn like a shoe? Not for me it's not. I took a look at some of the items and I found that many had warranty cards and instructions missing - vital pieces of information if you end up having problems. But what was worse than the software was the hardware. I saw several hard drives and a couple of RAM modules just chucked in the box without even basic ESD bags around them (so no instructions and no warranty cards). And the price drop was only a small one to compensate for this obvious lack or care - no more than 5 or 15% at most on these items - in other words the store is still making a profit.

At the bottom of the box I came across a Maxtor OneTouch 250 Gb external drive (regular readers will know that I had problems with the 300 Gb version). Hmmm, I thought, I wonder how much that will be. I noticed that it was the drive only, no power supply, no cables, no manual, no box, nothing. Just the drive in the blue polythene bag it comes in.

I thought that this might be a bargain so I took a closer look. PC World sell the Maxtor 250 Gb external for £159 (whereas Amazon sell it for just over £130). I fished the drive from the bottom and turned it over for the price:

Recommended retail price: £159
Bargain price: £99

Some bargain. A drive that's been rattling around a box for who knows how long without protection, no cable, no power supply ... some bargain.

This kind of rip off is common on the high street (for example, motherboard and CPU prices at PC World were consistently £30 dearer than Maplin, which are both high street stores). My advice is that if you are forced into the high street to buy something, take your time and find out what the best web price you can find is - that way, at least if youa re ripped off, you know by how much!

While you're at it, be aware of clearance discounts and so called bargains. More often than not these are nothing more than cons to shift stuff that they themselves have been careless with and can't offload back onto the suppliers.

This entry was posted on Sunday, July 31st, 2005 at 12:20 and is filed under PC Doctor's Thoughts. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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