I’ve thought long and hard about writing this opinion. I try to ensure that all of my opinions are balanced and show both good and bad sides of whatever it is that I am reviewing. Having stumbled across this category when looking for something to write on, it occurred to me that I really should write about an experience I had with Comet last year when I bought a new cooker.
Firstly, let me give you a little bit of background. In April 2002 myself and Mel, who was 6 months pregnant with our second child, moved from Braintree to Chelmsford. The house itself needed some work doing to it, but was generally in a pretty good condition. As with all house moves there was a couple of things that needed changing which we didn’t know about until we had moved in. One of these was the gas cooker, which didn’t seem to cook anything properly.
It took a few months to save up the money to get a new cooker, and in early August 2002 Mel and I went shopping for a new cooker. After visiting several stores we came across Comet, a store that I had never been too keen on following problems that my parents had have many years before. However, Comet were in the process of moving from their existing site, at the end of an Industrial Estate, to a bigger site based at the entrance of the same estate. This meant that they were running down the stock in their current store, which in turn meant that there were several goods available at knockdown prices.
Bearing in mind that by this stage Mel was expecting any day, and we had a 21 month old who was quite happy to show us exactly what the phrase “Terrible two’s” would be bringing us in a few months time!
Below is a copy of the letter that I wrote to Comet customer service to explain why I was unhappy with their service. As a point of reference, this was dated 15th October 2002, some six weeks after we had bought an ex-display cooker from the store. I have changed the names of the staff that were written to.
Dear Sir / Madam,
Firstly, can I please draw your attention to the fact that I have CC’d this letter to both Rob C, Managing Director, and “A”, Chelmsford Store Manager, as I feel that Mr C should have his attention drawn to the level of service offered by his company, and “A” should see what I have written about his store, and his staff.
On 28th August this year, I bought from your old Chelmsford store (Store number 782) a hob and cooker which were both offered as manager specials. The cooker, as I remember, had a clock and temperature gauge at the very top which, when delivered, was missing.
I paid for installation of these items, and an engineer was booked to come out a few days later, after the goods had been delivered, to fit the appliances.
When the engineer turned up, he fitted in our oven for us without too much of a problem, but was unable to fit the hob due the fixing kit being missing. He didn’t have any spare parts to carry out the fitting of the hob, and so told us that we would have to contact Comet and get the goods in ourselves and arrange for the hob to be refitted.
I called your enquiry number, and was told that they would contact the store for me, and that they would get somebody to call me back. After a couple of days had passed, and I still hadn’t heard anything, I rang the enquiry number back, and was told that, again, they would contact the store and call me back. A couple more days passed, and I called again to say that I hadn’t been contacted. I was then told that the store had been faxed my details, and that someone had tried to call me, but both numbers they had for me were incorrect. I then asked them to read me back the numbers they had for me, and both numbers were completely correct, which immediately put my back up as I don’t appreciate being lied to! Finally I got given the telephone number for the store, so that I could contact them direct. After several hours of trying to phone the store, and the phone just ringing and ringing without an answer, I called back the enquiry number AGAIN. This time I was told exactly the same story. They had tried calling the store, and had faxed over my details etc etc. I then asked that they check the Store telephone number that they had given me was correct, and that the number hadn’t changed when the store moved from one side of the Retail park to the other. After putting me on hold, the girl came back on line and told me that they had indeed had the wrong number, and gave me the correct number to call. By this time a good three weeks had passed.
I then called the correct number and spoke to a girl by the name of “C”, who took down the details of the problems, and promised to look into and (yet again) to get someone to call me back. Yet again, nobody called me back, so that night I dragged my fiancée and two children down to the store to try and get the mess sorted. After spending 15 minutes being ignored at the Customer Service desk, I caught the eye of another member of staff by shouting across the store, and was told, very indignantly, that Customer Service wasn’t his department. Eventually I got seen by “A”, who I believe is a manager there, who listened as I explained the problems (again) and apologised profusely, taking down the details and promising to get the situation rectified. I approached the subject of compensation due to the sheer amount of problems I had experienced, and was told by “A” that his main concern was to get the problem out of the way before discussing compensation, which at the time was fair enough.
The following day I received a call from “J”, a part-time worker at the store, who told me that “A” had delegated the problem to her, and that she was now dealing with it. She went through the problems (yet again) and logged me in the Customer complaint book as number 50. She promised me that she would get the fixing kit despatched to me from the manufacturers in the post, and that she would look into the problem with the missing cooker part, and call me back. To give “J” her due, she called me back almost immediately to tell me that she had checked the model of the oven, and that she could not see that it came with a clock or temperature light. Rather than argue out a point, we agreed that she would send the manufacturer handbook, which was another thing missing from the delivered items, so that we could check what was supposed to be supplied. We are still waiting for this handbook. She told me that she was only part-time, but that she would get someone to keep an eye on the problems, and that she would ensure everything was sorted. To her credit, the fixing kit arrived at my house the next day, so, as per my conversation with “J”, I called the store back to arrange a new fitting date. Unfortunately I was told that the store did not deal with installations, and that I would have to call the Service line to arrange a fitting.
I wasn’t happy with this, but rather than leave the issue in the hands of someone who was unaware of the problems, I thought it would be quicker for me to call them myself and sort the problem out. After being on hold for what seemed like forever, I got through to the service team, who told me that they could fit the goods for me just about any day the following week. As my fiancée works from home alone, I didn’t want an engineer visiting the house when I wasn’t around, so I asked if they could do a Sunday appointment, to which they replied that they could, but the only time they could give me was between 8am and 6pm. I asked if there was anyway that they could narrow this down, but was told that there wasn’t and so agreed to the booking. I then called “A” back to ask if he could use his power as manager to get me a better time, even if it was a morning or afternoon appointment. He said that he wasn’t really in a position to do that, but that he would give it a go and give me a call back to let me know the outcome.
Unsurprisingly, and in line with the level of service that I have received from Comet all along, I did not receive a phone call back from anybody, and so it was left that an engineer would visit between the same hours, as I had booked with the service centre.
Sunday came, and we waited in all day, until around 1.30pm when I decided that I had better call Comet to confirm that someone was coming around, believing that after all of these problems that I’d had so far, my experience with Comet could get no worse. There was no reply from the service line, whose answerphone told me that they were not open Sundays. This obviously sounded alarm bells, so I called the store up, and spoke to “P”, who told me that he was the Customer Service Manager, and that Comet did not do Sunday installations. After explaining the problems (again), “P” apologised and promised that he would look into it and call me back Monday.
The following day “P” called back, as promised, and explained that he was sorry, but there must have been a mix up and that he would book another installation date with us. We agreed to have it installed on 9th Oct, in the morning, which meant that my fiancée would be home alone, which was against my original wishes, but was better than waiting a fortnight to have it done at the weekend, which would have been the earliest time that I could have been there.
That night, I stormed down to Comet to confront “A” regaring these new problems, and to sort out compensation as we had briefly touched on previously. “A” told me that he was unable to offer me much more than £20 compensation, as it wasn’t in his remit to do so. I then pointed out the following:
1. That I had waited around 6 weeks for the goods to be fitted. 2. At the time of purchase, I had a daughter that was just one week old, who, in order to heat up her bottles of milk, we had to purchase a bottle warmer, as opposed to heating the milk up on the hob as we had done with our first born. 3. The endless phone calls I had made, at all times of the day, to several different numbers. 4. The amount of times I had been through the problems with various people. 5. The cost of going down to the store to complain in person. 6. The sheer incompetence experienced by several members of your staff. 7. The cost of takeaway meals incurred due to being unable to cook a large number of meals due to having no hob
“A” then agreed that I was probably entitled to more compensation than he was authorised to give, and that I should contact yourselves.
I’m glad to say that, finally, the hob has been fitted, though the fact that it took the best part of 6 weeks from the date of purchase to get the goods fitted beggars belief.
Please could I have your response to this letter, including your views in regards to the above problems, and your stance on compensation for this matter, as soon as possible, as I am keen to finally draw a line under this whole sorry episode.
Suffice to say that your speed and manner of response will directly influence whether I decide to use Comet, or the other stores associated with your parent company, ever again in the future.
I received a reply a few weeks later, addressed to “Mr Daniel Borley” on the front, with the letter itself beginning “Dear Miss Borley”, which immediately got my back up again. The letter went on to apologise for the service received, saying that they would ensure that an instruction manual was sent out for the cooker, and that a member of staff would check to see if there was indeed a clock on the cooker which was missing from our model, and to see if they could send that on. I was also offered a 10% reduction on my next purchase.
I didn’t reply back, and I haven’t been to the store since. Suffice to say that I never received a phone call from the staff, and I never received the instruction manual that was promised. The cooker itself is working fine, though there is still a large gap where there should be a clock and a temperature light, and although using a cooker isn’t really something that requires a manual, it is something that should have been included in the packaging, and is still missing.
I guess that there are two morales that could be taken from this story. 1) Never buy ex-display goods, or 2) Never use Comet. My personal view is that if a store is selling an ex-display model, then it should sell it complete, or at least list what the faults are, so I have sworn never to use Comet again.
Having said all of that, and though I am loathe to say anything positive about them, they do hold a lot of stock, and though their staff can rarely answer any questions that are remotely technical (a question on network cards got an embarrassingly long and incorrect answer from two different members of staff), they are usually more than happy to ask if you need help. They let themselves down by their knowledge and returns dealings being as bad as their keenness to sell you an item is good.
Their prices are generally pretty good, though as with a lot of items these days you can buy most items cheaper online. The store is well lit, spacious and well laid out, with enough room to push a pram around without knocking things over. The queues at the check-out are generally dealt with very quickly, though again their Returns / Customer Service desk is woefully understaffed, and generally very busy, which is not a good sign.
All in all, this is not a store I’d recommend. I am adamant that I will never shop there again, though I am fairly keen on nipping back there, browsing whatever goods it is that I’m looking and then nipping back home to buy the goods from a competitor online! They seem to keep a large range of items in stock, and most of the hardware is on display and can be played with without causing too many problems. If you want a store that has stock in, then Comet is one that will meet your needs. If you want any kind of customer service and after-sales care, you’re better off taking your money elsewhere.
Sounds like the problems I experiance. If it's going to go wrong it will do, Nice to see that i'm not the only one who will not accept poor custimer service. Shez :)
sidneylopsides 04.01.2004 01:07
Next time you should come to my branch, its smaller and a lot more helpful! ;-)
TeenyB 14.07.2003 23:10
WOW!! What a great Op! I personally have not had any problems with Comet - but then having said that I have never purchased anything large from them. If I was you though I would NOT have left the matter unanswered when they sent the offending letter with the offer of 10% discount off of your next purchase - that's them having the cheek to assume that you will shop there again!! If there is still time get on to them again, and again and again if you have to!! Tina xx