This is a personal account of my experiences when using the Currys PC World KnowHow repair service seen on tv, online and in store during December 2015.
Accidents happen. This is a fact of life and there’s not much we can do about that. Accidents with technology are the modern-day bane of many of us. Broken phones, cracked laptop screens and a whole myriad of other tech related problems happen to many of us over the course of each year. So what do we do about all this broken tech. Unfortunately a lot of it is left in a drawer or thrown in the corner of a room never to be used again but some get the chance to be repaired and brought back to life.
There are many places to get items repaired. Your mate with the screwdriver set for Christmas and access to YouTube videos is one option but frankly not always the safest option. Another is to go on one of those ‘off street’ repair shops that seem to pop up for a while and then disappear without trace. These might repair your tech fine, they might also close down and disappear while your tech is with them and you will never see your unrepaired item again. The safest option is usually to go to a well-known repair outlet that you know will be around for a long time, provides guarantees for repairs and has around big corporate reputation. One such place like this is PC World and their KnowHow repair team which is what I decided to go for when my beloved laptop met with an unfortunate beer/keyboard conjoining mishap. As bad as this mishap was, it did give me the chance to try out this repair service and see what it was like and how their customer service team handled repairs. In hindsight, this might have been another mistake.
As most of us would do at a time like this, I hit the internet and came across PC World and their KnowHow repair website which seemed very helpful. All the information was their, what make laptops their can repair, all the confidence inspiring words such as ‘Free in store Diagnosis’ and ‘Available 7 days a week across the country’ as well as the one that clinched it for me, ‘No Fix, No Fee’. This was ideal I thought as if they said from their free diagnosis that it couldn’t be fixed then I wouldn’t have wasted any money apart from what I’d have to pay out to replace the damaged laptop as well as what I’d have to buy the Mrs so she wouldn’t kill me for overspending on another laptop again.
A trip down to my local PC world happened the same day (Speke Retail park, Liverpool), damaged laptop in hand. This was December 7th. After waiting in line for a while (Looks like a few people had similar laptop issues) one of their service team was free to have a look. After explaining the problem he had a quick check on the computer and said that it was a model of laptop that they can repair. He then stated that what would happen would be that I was to pay a one-off charge of £50 to cover labour etc and to leave the laptop with them. This will then be taken away to one of their service centres to be looked at. Once they can confirm the repair costs, they would contact me by phone and ask for the further payment for the repair or for me to tell them that I didn’t want it repaired. I questioned the £50 one off fee as the advert online (pictured one the left) states no fix, no fee. He said that this fee was to cover the service and labour charges again. I then asked for a quote on the final repair price so I had an idea as to what to expect. This he couldn’t give and was reluctant to even give an estimate.
So basically I was going to give them £50 on the hope that a) they could fix the problem with the laptop and b) that the price wouldn’t be extortionate and on top of that c) I could afford to pay that repair price. I asked that if when they contact me to give me the final repair price, if I could decline to have the repair done and claim the £50 back as it would then be a case of ‘No Fix, No Fee’. He stated that this wouldn’t be the case and that the £50 charge was a one-off fee to cover service and labour. It kind of felt like I was talking to a rather repetitive robot at this point. I decided to change question and ask if he could give me an idea on how long the repair would take. The best he could estimate was between 1-2 weeks.
So let’s recap at this point. It will cost £50 which doesn’t cover the repair just the labour on the laptop before they repair it. If they can’t repair it then that £50 is still gone. I would have to pay more for the repair when they contact me but they can’t tell me when they will contact me or how much extra it will be and then to top it off, they can’t tell me how long it will take for the repair. Sounds good doesn’t it! With mug written firmly across my head I somehow decided to go through with this and paid the non returnable £50 praying that it could be repaired and wouldn’t cost the earth, handed over the laptop, charger and was given a repair docket which I would need to return with when I picked up the laptop. Notice on the repair docket that they didn’t ask me to sign the form where it states. (personal information has been blanked out for privacy reasons). They did inform me that although unlikely, there was the chance of loss of data on the hard drive which to be fair is a legitimate risk when dealing with a damaged product and with that it was out of my hands and up to the tech gods to do with as they pleased.
4 days go past and I get a call from the service team. This was now the 11th December. They inform me that they have looked at the laptop and found that there was indeed liquid damage (fairly obvious but fair enough) and that the keyboard needed replacing. After asking how much extra this would cost I was happy with the price at £26 which didn’t seem extortionate. I paid this over the phone and kept my fingers crossed that this would mean a speedy return of my laptop. After all, my steam game collection wouldn’t play themselves and I was in the middle of building the ultimate park in Roller Coaster Tycoon 2!
That was the last voluntary communication I had with the KnowHow team from their side. Time went past, no calls, no texts, no emails, nothing. Strange, after all they diagnosed the problem pretty quick, they said it was it was a pretty simple fix and they were paid fast and beforehand. I gave it until the 21st December before calling. That was 10 days after their last contact. Plenty of time to have had it back to the store for collection. After a lengthy wait on hold, just under 15 minutes, I finally got hold of someone but of course that was the wrong department so was put on hold for a few more minutes until I got hold of someone who could help. I asked him what was going on with my laptop and quoted the reference number that I had for the repair. He said that the repair had been done and that for some reason it hadn’t made the delivery van back to the store. I asked why this might have been and when I could expect it back. He said he had no idea why it had missed the van and looking at the system it looked as though it would be the 23rd December before I could reclaim my laptop from the store. Not liking the prospect of fighting with Christmas shoppers on the last few days before Christmas, I had little choice but to accept this as the service team member on the phone didn’t exactly seem interested in the problem. So I accepted the extra waiting time and waited until the 23rd December.
The 23rd rolled around and around midday I was getting a little concerned that I had no message to say that the laptop was either in store or would be arriving in store. I made another call to KnowHow and after 10 minutes on hold I got hold of one of their service team (right department first time) and asked what was going on with the delivery. After tapping away at his computer for a few moments he stated that he didn’t know if it would be delivered today. I asked why he didn’t know as I had been told in a previous call that it would be delivered. After as few seconds he said that he didn’t actually know where it was. I asked how this is possible. Apparently there was an error on the system and they couldn’t track the laptop. So trying hard not to blow my stack I asked him to confirm that he had no idea where my laptop was. His reply was that he was sure it was either in the service centre or the van. I pushed him for a define answer to which he couldn’t give. After some strongly restrained questioning about the lack of knowledge about my repair he told me that it would be delivered to the store on the 25th. For those eagle-eyed readers, yes you read that right, he was trying to tell me that my laptop that he had no idea of it whereabouts would in fact be delivered back to the store on Christmas day!
I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. Not happy with this answer I wanted him to give me a define answer. He told me that what he could do is contact the store in question and find out what they knew from their end. Maybe this person would have more answers. After waiting on hold for a while, the customer service member got back to me saying that the laptop would be delivered to the store on the 24th, Christmas eve. He also said that the store would get in contact with me when it was there. I quickly asked that because of this ever-changing date for collection that I might not be able to pick it up personally due to work commitments and could someone else pick it up for me. He replied yes no problem, just make sure they have the repair docket and that will be fine.
Christmas eve comes around and finally I get a phone call from the store at 12:30pm to say that the laptop has finally made it back to the store and was ready for collection. Being stuck in work I had to send my partner down to collect it, braving the rabid crazed last-minute Christmas shoppers as she did so. When work finally finished and I got home there was my beloved laptop ready and waiting. There was also a letter from the KnowHow team to confirm that the repair of the keyboard had taken place and was completed …..on the 14th! I think understandably I had to question why if the repair was completed and ready on the 14th, why did it take a further 10 days to get the laptop back to me. Especially after paying £76 for the privilege of this service. To social media I went to get some answers, in particular twitter to contact the @knowhowtohelp account to see what they knew.
After messaging them on twitter about the poor service I wasnt sure if I would get a reply or not. Looking at previous messages to their twitter account showed a mix of people being answered and some not, not surprising really when you think how many messages they probably deal with on a day-to-day basis. I got a replay a day later apologising and asking if there was asking for reference numbers to look into the problem. After the followed my twitter account I sent them a direct message with all the relevant details so that they could see what went wrong with the delivery and why the repair and return took so long.
The next day I get a message back saying
“Hi, we are showing that this was delivered back to the store on the 24th. Is this not the case? – Ian”.
My reply to this went like this,
“It was delivered back in store on the 24th after multiple phone calls and a conversation with one of your staff that didn’t know where the laptop was. One of your staff even tried to tell me that it would be delivered to the store on the 25th (Christmas day)! The paperwork I have with returned laptop states that the repair was finished on the 14th so why did it take 10 days to return the laptop to store. The service from start to finish has been pretty shoddy to be honest”.
A day later I did get a response from them, this time from someone called Carrie. The message apologised that the laptop wasn’t returned on time and that the delay will be investigated internally. She also stated that she was glad to know that I now have the repaired unit. I’ve dealt with a few companies in the past and have worked for one or two to know that usually (but admittedly not always the case) this means that nothing will get looked into and I wouldn’t hear anything back. I replied and explained my frustration and disappointment in the service I had received. Maybe I was nieve to think this would change anything but having dates quoted and missed then changed and missed again is a sure-fire way to get me fired up.
A day past and I received a message back. I say a message, it was almost a carbon copy of the last message from them.
“Hi, sorry for the late return after the repair, this was due to an internal error. I am pleased you have it back now though – Tony”.
So another new name but the same reply. No extra information, no offer of a partial refund for having to wait or anything to impart some kind of customer loyalty. I replied once again with a carbon copy of my last message just to get my point across. I wasn’t expecting anything else after that and to this date that has been the case……..almost.
The funny thing is when I made the phone calls to the customer care line I kept getting a message claiming that customer satisfaction was important to them and could I answer some questions to help them improve their performance. To date I have had 4 phone calls and a text survey to find out what my thoughts are. Each and every time I have given the same low scores and when asked I have explained my reasoning and yet they continue to ask the same questions time and time again.
To sum up, I will state that this is my personal experience and maybe my poor experience was a one-off amongst other good experiences. That said, a brief look online suggests otherwise including a rather interesting and not complimentary article from Which magazine. My experience was poor, yes the laptop keyboard has been repaired and does now work. I will say that it may be an unrelated issue but the laptop does seem to be running slower but again, this could just be an unrelated issue.
Would I recommend Currys PC World KnowHow repair service? Sadly no. I think the advertising of their price in could be better laid out, their customer service team needs to be more helpful over the phone and to know where the repaired products actually are at any given time and lastly, to deliver it back to the store in a respectful time after the repair has been done. If we are forced to pay for service and labour before the repair takes place then we should expect an excellent and prompt service. This wasn’t the case in my experience and in the future I will be looking elsewhere for my repair needs.