Forget abusing your body with chemicals or the fickle quick fix of stand-up comedy, or thrill seeking on the Blackpool Pepsi Max (is it still there?). For that authentic surreal sensation or the biggest laugh of your life (albeit in a manic losing-your-sanity kinda way) or just a general mind altering experience, get down to Currys/PC World. I guarantee you’ll be off your head one way or another by the end.
Over two and a half months, I spent many strange hours in Newcastle’s Northumberland Street Currys/PC World (Dixons as was) attempting to commune with the humanoids. I don’t speak Click Click and they don’t speak Tired Parent but once it was agreed that a refund was needed, they behaved as if the notion of dealing with a customer was as alien to them as E.T’s arse.
The fiasco began with the purchase of a laptop for my daughter at Currys/PC World in Warwickshire and ended with me arriving in this particular Newcastle branch on Friday 8th February at about 9.30a.m. to collect the agreed refund (after they admitted miss-selling the equipment). I finally got the refund at around 2.30pm. The intervening five hours - yes let me just repeat that -
were spent wandering round Newcastle waiting for a manager to arrive because the minions couldn’t deal with the situation even though the ‘situation’ was supposed to have been finalised days before. There always seem to be lots of managers in the shop apart, that is, from one who will sort a problem. There were some older humanoids programmed to smirk and say ‘it’s nothing to do with me’. You stand there mutely while in your head an image of them disemboweled on a bed of bleeping laptops starts to form. They are managers, yes, but not as you know them, not the sort of managers who deal with customers, at least not you.
I went to the library, had a coffee, rang them because they didn’t ring me within the hour they said they would (in fact it was over two hours when I rang them). I wandered some more. I missed the train I was meant to be catching home. By 1pm I was convinced that I was in some terrible Zombie movie and the in habitants of the shiny noisy den called Currys/PC World were eating the staff in nearby Superdrug while I steamed in Prêt-a-manger. Why did I persevere? Because it was about my tenth trip to the outlet with the same problem and I wanted above all things never to return.
One of a multitude of inexplicable hurdles seemed to be that no employee understood the concept of corporate identity; they could not cope with the idea that the equipment was purchased at a branch in Leamington and the problem had to be dealt with at a branch in Newcastle. It was as if a goat had been purchased from a plumber in Burundi and I was trying to get a refund from a dentist in Kazakhstan.
No one apologised until I pointed out that ‘maybe someone should apologise’. The poor baby triffids on the floor often looked very hurt when I suggested that none of the things they said would happen ever happened. And to be fair, the tech guys who did their best over the hours and days and weeks and months we spent together, to solve the unsolvable, were very nice.
On one sparkling occasion (after only three attempts, two cut-offs and a nervous breakdown) I got through to the magic phone number to ascertain the current state of play. I was told, in a mystified wots-ya-problem tone that the laptop had only been ‘logged in’ once. So that’s alright then. If they cook their system so that you can take an item in on multiple occasions but it isn’t ‘logged’ that’s fine. Is it their version of time warp or parallel dimension? What is to the customer a bloody waste of time, effort and frustration is one little blip to Currys /PC (Permanently Crap) World.
Sometime during the middle of month two, I was offered the chance to hand over £100 for the privilege of upgrading to a laptop that did what the first laptop was supposed to do and on which basis it had been sold. It’s a canny little ruse you have to admit and from the point of comedy it has its merits – the company benefit financially for sloppy selling.
And so I whiled away hours of my life and bus and train fare and will pay, no doubt, in reduced time on this planet because of the stress which I am sure could have been alleviated if I had screamed, sworn, hit someone or just rampaged around with a sledgehammer but hey ho – the constraints of civility.
But I did have the pleasure of a real piece of high farce, which my friend, who accompanied me for moral support and to prevent me being vaporised, was able to share. When I finally left Currys /PC (Pissed-off Consumer) World, having missed another train and wasted another day of my life, the ‘manager’ called after me. Now that the refund was done, he said, he could sort me out with a new laptop ‘if I wanted’. Bless.
Can I say a big thanks to everyone who reads my blog. I know there are supposed to be all sorts of links and gizmos on a blog but I’m sure you know where you want to go next without tips from me. I hope that by keeping the posts concise you’ll have plenty of time left to go to other less grumpy stuff you like in your perhaps-I-should-read-a-blog slot!