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*See the bottom of m op for freephone customer service numbers and complaints addresses*
Most people reading this op have probably seen, or visited, a Dixons store. What becomes more obvious when browsing their site is that they are part of the Dixons Group, a high-street monopoly incorporating The Link, Currys, PC World and lesser known shops and sites such as Partmaster Direct, Mastercare, UniEuro and something called Electro World.
Of course, this allows each company to 'borrow' something of the others' identity and no doubt offers huge money-saving practices for the companies involved. For example, Mastercare provides delivery and installation for PC World, and Partmaster Direct is promoted in the email confirmation you get when you order from Dixons.com.
It's usually the case that once a company grows too big, it has no reason to provide customer care any more. Indeed, the Dixons group seems to have one 0870 number that serves five different stores, which might explain why you can never get through to discuss an order.
Here's a quick run-down of my first order and my first impressions of their site and service.
The Dixons website is laid out in more or less the same way as the PC World, Link and Currys websites. It uses the same shopping cart system which, instead of simply placing an item in your basket, tries to sell you a gold SCART lead or an extended warranty at a so called 'bargain' 10% off (i.e at least 25% more than any other store would charge).
Perhaps the worst thing about the Dixons (and related companies') sites is their use of sessions. Once you begin navigating the website, you can't leave the computer to make a cuppa without being 'logged off due to inactivity'. If you've got a few things in your basket (and heaven help you if you're buying THAT much from Dixons - but we'll get to that in a minute), you'll find yourself dumped back on the index with an empty shopping cart. It's annoying when you're buying a joint present for someone, for example, and have to make a phone call to the other person to tell them about the product before you buy it.
--> ORDERING ON THE SITE
When you find the product(s) you want, you click to add them to your basket, as you would with any other site. If you can find the tiny 'Continue to basket' button amongst the myriad of 'special offer' graphics, you'll then be shown your total so far and given the option to pay for your goods.
Unlike many other electrical retailers, Dixons do not generally offer free delivery. For example, for a set-top box you're asked to add £3.95, and for a TV, £14.99. I feel this is a bit cheeky given the fact
that you could be spending hundreds of pounds with them.
While checking out, I was told repeatedly that my postcode was not valid. Last time I checked, Royal Mail certainly thought it was. I managed to circumvent this message by navigating to another page and back again, but even so, it's hardly good programming - and more of the same is to come!
There's also a space to add promotional codes. Usually you can find these floating around on the internet, but they rarely take more than 10% off the (already inflated) prices.
--> ORDER CONFIRMATION
Once your order is placed, you're due to receive three confirmation emails. The first one arrives immediately - the second tells you the card you used has been charged. The third, mythical email gives you a delivery date and tracking number. I say mythical because mine hasn't come, and I'll go into that in the next section.
You can - theoretically - track your order on the site by entering the My Account section. I managed to log in, but when I click my order number and am asked to re-enter my password, I'm told it's invalid. This has been the case for four full days so I am unable to actually see what stage my order is at.
--> AND NOW THE FUN STARTS...
I received the first confirmation at 10am Monday, and was told my card had been debited on Tuesday. Sure enough, my Visa account was £50.19 down on checking on Wednesday morning... they were quick enough to charge me, that's obvious enough, and I wonder if they actually charged me on Monday because it's very unusual for a transaction to show up that quickly.
As I ordered before 3pm, delivery was due within 5 working days by Securicor, who deliver between 4pm and 9pm "for your convenience". Actually, I doubt that a delivery at 9pm on a Friday night is convenient to a lot of people, but let's give them the benefit of the doubt there.
Now it's Thursday night, and I've had no email to say that my order - in stock, to my knowledge - will be here tomorrow. I phoned the helpline (0870 333 1222) three times this evening and was kept on hold for 40 minutes in total. The phrase 'All of our advisers are now busy' is ringing in my ears, and that ringing tone will feature heavily in my dreams tonight. The menu system to actually get to the hold stage is incredibly slow, and the cynic in me says Dixons are making a pretty penny from keeping customers hanging on as long as possible. (For those not in the know, companies who use 0870 and 0871 numbers get paid by BT at a per-minute rate, which is why you are often kept on hold before your call is answered).
So I think I've spent a good few pounds on the phone to Dixons today, which has outweighed any savings I thought I had made on my parents' Christmas present.
I also wrote an email at around noon which has gone unanswered. To be honest I didn't expect any different.
Well, if my parents' set-top box arrives tomorrow, I will let you know, but at this stage, I highly doubt that it will. In fact, I have heard of people buying the same item, being charged, then being told a week later that the item is not in stock. With only a week or so left before Christmas, this kind of delay is not acceptable. But if I can't get through to them to cancel, what else can I do but wait?
And therein lies the Dixons Group philosophy.
I wish I had come to Ciao and read the existing reviews of Dixons before I ordered from them. I've never trusted their stores and I was too quick to jump on a price that was a fiver cheaper than anywhere else. To be honest, I wish I'd put my credit card back in my wallet and shelled out another £5 or £10 to buy from a shop like Comet, who don't seem to be completely oblivious to things like delivery promises, deadlines and so on.
I'm not impressed that they charged my card before despatching goods, unlike retailers like Amazon and John Lewis. I'm paying interest on a product I haven't received, to a company I can't talk to, and I can't afford to buy one anywhere else if this one doesn't show. If they need to refund my card, that's going to take another three working days. I could well be shopping for a set-top box on Christmas Eve.
I will update this op if my box ever arrives... come to mention it, I'll also update it if it doesn't!
UPDATE - nearly a week later.
As I suspected, no set-top box came on the supposed delivery day. Instead, I received an email from Dixons saying something along the lines of "Gosh, sorry, we're just so busy this week. We might get it to to you by Saturday the 20th, in time for Christmas. But we might not. We'll let you know if it's going to be too late to give as a gift. Bye!"
What is the point of advertising delivery within 5 days if delivery may actually take 13 days, and/or your product may not arrive at all?
This fits in rather well with other reports of Dixons.com that I've read since I ordered... products being added to the shopping cart fine, bought fine, money being debited from cards, and then five days later, an email to say the item is actually out of stock.
Just how much money are Dixons making by holding onto peoples' money when they don't have the goods to supply, or intend to supply them a full week later than advertised?
By now I'm in a rage, of course, so I decide to call the stupid revenue-generating 0870 number and cling onto that line until my call is answered. It took 34 minutes for someone to pick up, and when they did, they actually had the cheek to argue about what the website says - the website I was sitting looking at while on the phone.
Rude CS rep: "Well I'd actually like to make you aware that our delivery dates are currently stated as up to 7 days." Me: "Actually on your website it says delivery on the fifth day". Rude CS Rep: "No that's not the case." Me: "Why is there a delivery chart on the website saying 'order by 3pm Monday and your goods will come on Friday'?" Rude CS Rep: "I'm sorry to say you've been misinformed." Me: "Well I want to cancel my order now anyway because I'm going to buy elsewhere." Rude CS Rep: "Well it'll take three or four days for your money to go back on your card." Me: "The fact my card was ever charged is unacceptable anyway. Please cancel my order now."
As soon as I got off the phone I penned a letter to the Managing Director of Dixons detailing my experience. Let's see if he will exercise better customer care than his employees do.
Then - oh yes, I'm not done yet - the following WEDNESDAY, I got an email to say the set top box was out of stock. But I thought I'd already cancelled? The email simply asked me to phone to arrange an alternative product! Um, as if!
And guess what? THE BOX IS STILL FOR SALE ON THE WEBSITE!!!
They never replied to the complaint email I sent them, or the email enquiry asking where my order was. They were both sent four or five days ago.
I've now bought a box from the John Lewis website, who I cannot praise highly enough. Their staff respond within 12 hours to ALL emails, their online ordering is easy and logical, their site is well laid out and THEY DON'T CHARGE YOUR CARD BEFORE YOUR GOODS ARE READY. It cost me around £8 more than the Dixons box and - I really can't emphasise this enough - it was £8 well spent.
Do not touch this company with a bargepole. If you've come here for advice or opinions after ordering, it might already be too late. These numbers may help you.
Dixons, Currys etc. customer services: 08000 682868 (this takes you to the same department as the 0870 number but is free, although I got through to British Gas, Royal Mail, Abbey National and Airtours on this number before finally getting Dixons on the fifth attempt!)
Details of all senior staff in the Dixons Group (for complaints): http://www.dixons-group-plc.co.uk/
Chris Langley, Managing Director, Dixons House, Maylands Avenue, Hemel Hempstead, Herts HP2 7TG. Tel 01442 353000 (again ths is an alternative to their rip-off 0870 number).
Wow. I never knew. Safer to go to one of their stores. Graet op
sue.51 04.01.2004 12:57
Eeek - sorry tried rating this but Ciao is not having any of it. Dixons is one company I avoid like the plague, although I will buy products from their other stores such as software from PC World and white goods from Currys under duress - my partner purchased his first computer from Dixons many years ago now, and when we got it home and set it up we discovered that it had been used before - he had a two Gig hard-drive with 32Mb free - needless to say we were not happy - the mention of Trading Standards did the trick and we had the whole lot replaced, dismantled and set up by them free of charge - but it really isn't good - these days I am a lot more knowledgeable about both PC's and retailers, and this is one I will be giving a miss - in store or on-line - will try and rerate again later. - would certainly also consider putting this in buyer beware.
weemam 21.12.2003 18:29
I'm sorry for all the bother you have had . I have done 2 buyers beware opinions so I know exactly what you are going through .It is really frustrating isn't it when you only want to talk to somebody and get a sensible answer . I'm glad you got one in the end though ..I wish you and yours a very Merry Christmas :O) margaretxx