I tried to buy a laptop for my daughter yesterday. I did buy a laptop for my daughter yesterday, eventually.

She knew what she wanted, she did her research, found a good deal online, checked the reviews and we decided that it was a good deal. We knew it wasn’t a perfect thing. It was not really suitable as a gaming engine. She doesn’t game. It streamed Netflix okay apparently and was great for emails, word processing and had MS Office 365 free for a year (not a bargain in my book, given MS’s recent rapacious attitude to ‘monetising’ something they used to bundle for free). All in all she made a considered judgement based on available funds, her intended use, price and availability. We considered an online purchase but she wanted to see and touch the machine before buying and I like to give custom to local branches of places I use. Both a sentimental response and naked self interest; I want to be able to look someone in the eye and ask questions, get after sales service.

So we drove off to PCWorld in Newport Harlech Retail Park.

I’ve bought stuff from PCWorld before. They weren’t always the most switched on but in Lisburn in NI and in Newport when they were in Spytty; they were fine and generally pretty helpful.

They merged their store with their Curry’s outlet a few years ago and moved to the new site.

We walked in and found the item on display. An assistant asked if we needed help, but that point we declined as we wanted to look around. We played with the machine, checked a few other machines to compare portability and technical spec, and it is fair to say; looks. She remained happy with her choice. We asked an assistant if we could have a word about purchasing the item.

His immediate response was polite but diffident about the idea. He pointed out it wouldn’t allow heavy gaming. I pointed out we didn’t want it for that. He pointed out other shortcomings, some of which were valid and which my daughter had already researched and discounted as not relevant. Others were frankly not technically accurate – he claimed the processor was underpowered (it may be compared to some), and not dual core (which it is, and is also not completely relevant to what we talking about). Its speed is the same as one she is already using and it can be clocked to run faster if needed. He said it was a glorified tablet and couldn’t stream video – odd as this is precisely what people do with tablets and this model is sold to do. He was obviously trying to move us to a more expensive solution which she had specifically rejected in her research as unnecessary.

We went outside for a five minute break to gather our thoughts.

Refreshed and my daughter convinced of the accuracy of her researches and what she wanted we went back in to PCWorld. We couldn’t see the assistant we had initially spoken to so I approached another bearded chap and said robustly but pleasantly with a smile on my face that I wished to purchase this item, pointing to the laptop.
His face fell and he told me, in a dismissive manner that he wouldn’t bother with that and besides it wasn’t in stock. He’d have to order it in. I said we would order it and asked how long it would take. He said it would be in the next day if I paid by card in advance and five days if I paid cash (I think he meant on arrival but he didn’t say that – I cannot see what difference in delivery speed cash or card would make).

I said I’d pay by card now.

He said he didn’t think I should buy it and launched into the ‘reasons’. He said if I came back in a few months he wouldn’t replace it. I asked what the warranty was on it and he said a year, so I pointed out I could return within the year (let’s leave aside consumer protection legislation, messed about though it has been since the Sales of Goods Act was replaced). He said it depended what for and that people returned it saying it was slow, and he wouldn’t do anything about that – seeking to avoid statutory rights and directly contradicting everything the sales information on the machine in the store, on the blurb in store and on all the advertising online and on television.

At that point I lost my temper and told him we weren’t buying anything and this was a disgrace. I went to walk out of the store, my poor daughter at my side.

He sarcastically called after me ‘And thank you too sir, Have a Good Day’.

I turned back on my heel and his friend ran off and he moved behind the display.

I realised this was silly and told him I had no particular problem with him (a blatant lie on reflection, I would like to have rearranged his smug face) but I thought his company policy was appalling, advertising one thing and then trying not to sell the machine and avoid their statutory obligations.

We went home and checked online. Theirs was still the best bargain so despite my feeling towards them we purchased it online from them. Out of interest when opting for the free next day delivery I checked to see what the position was regarding pick up at a local store.

In store and on display at PCWorld Harlech Retail Park available for collection within the hour!

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