What a waste of money by Currys (but win for GAME)

As the end of last year, I was at a Microsoft event where we got to see a number of new Microsoft technologies. At this event I got my first chance to have a look at the XBOX 360 Kinect. Since I’m not a gamer I hadn’t paid much attention to what a Kinect was until I actually saw one and had a play on one. Then I instantly wanted one. If you’ve never seen it, even if you are not into computer games, I would highly recommend you have a look.

Anyway, since arriving back home I decided to have a look at getting my hands on one. I’m not a gamer. so I don’t already have an XBOX 360, but since all the options were explained to me I now know exactly what I want. And what I want is an XBOX 360 250Gb HD with the Kinect sensor bar. I know I should be able to get that bundle for somewhere in the region of £300. But I’m looking for a deal. With that in mind I went looking for options. So I searched on Bing and Google.

They both return advertised links (PPC: Pay Per Click) as well as the regular (“organic”) results. So, I click on all most of them opening them in to new tabs. (Remember, I am looking for a deal, so I want to compare quickly what each of the offerings are).

Currys has a paid link with the tag line “Buy Xbox Kinect. We are in stock Reserve and Collect yours Now.” [sic] It sounds promising, doesn’t it? currys-kinect-page

So, I click the link and go looking for the price. Nope can’t see a price.

Some form of Add to Basket link, surely that’ll get me a price. Nope, can’t see that either.

Anything at all that looks remotely like some form or buy/purchase/reserve link. Anything at all! Nope. Not a thing.

I know what I want. I’m motivated to buy. All I want to know is that you’ve got it in stock and how much you want for it.

Well done Currys, you’ve wasted money on advertising a product that I cannot see how to actually buy. I got so irritated that I went to close down the tab in my browser. But… I didn’t do that. I got to thinking about how the follow up from the advert had not served its purpose. The advert hooked me in, but the website was so ineffectual that I was heading off elsewhere.

So, how do I actually buy it? There is no “buy this” call to action, so I really don’t know where to go from here. Any button I press is going to be a bit random and I have to think about what is likely to give me the best route to accomplishing my goal.

I really feel at this point that the website isn’t doing its job properly. Surely the purpose of this website is to get people to buy stuff? That’s how it makes money. That’s why Currys spend money on building the site and advertising its existence. It is so they can get people to come to them to buy stuff rather than go to a competitor to buy stuff.

Lets consider if this had been a situation where I had actually walked in to a Currys store. It would have been akin to me asking a sales assistant on the shop floor “Can you tell me the price of an XBox 360 with 250Gb drive and the Kinect Sensor bar?" and instead of answering my question they wax lyrical about what a great product it is.

I scroll down the page scanning any text for things that look like links or buttons. There are some pictures with “Find out more” links below each of them. Two of them actually have the sensor bar on it, one of which also has the console on it. I actually had to open both links up to figure that out because at scanning speed they look pretty similar. It is only when I’m analysing my actions do I really consciously take in what the difference is.

currys-kinect-findout-moreOnce I get to the correct page I’m presented with a grid of pretty similar looking pictures. At least this time there is a description below each of them and a price (Finally, I’m getting the information I actually wanted). However, my issues with this website are not over. Since there are several similar bundles which vary only slightly from each other by the type of console and by the packaged games. The graphics are too small to see what the difference is in the games and the consoles all look alike I need the text to tell me which is which. The descriptions pretty much all say “MICROSOFT Xbox 360 Came Console with…”, occasionally it will say something else such as “MICROSOFT Xbox 250Gb Bundle with…”

This is not giving me what I want. In fact, Currys are doing themselves a disservice as well. Some of the titles that just say “Xbox 360” without reference to the type of Xbox are actually the 250Gb version, so at a glance I would skip past them because I’ve also seen other descriptions that say “250Gb” so I am assuming it is a lower spec model that I’m not interested in.

Had I not been piqued with interest about the issues with this website I’d have left a long time ago. Instead, I took some time to understand what was actually going on and highlight them.

I’m guessing there was a meeting at some point to discuss the design of the website. At this meeting various aspects of the site were discussed. In the rush to get the site out of the door short cuts were taken. Certain things weren’t thought about properly.

The “Find out more” button actually takes you to a page where you can browse the products relating to the page you’ve just come from. Why not tell me that? I’d have been much more interested if the link had mentioned that I’d see prices, bundle options or what not. Yes, technically I am finding out more, but it didn’t really inspire me to find out more, which is more my point.

The product names in the page that allows you to browse the products are all clipped. I’m guessing that at some point a graphic designer put together the some visuals to show how the page should look. A web developer converts that into a working site. The visuals show two line product names but the developer sees that some product names are too long to match the visuals, so the product names get clipped and thus rendered (in situations were there are very similar product bundles) next to useless. Again, time is probably very tight. An unforeseen situation early in the project has now come to light. There is no time to redesign the visuals so the next best solution is taken. That’s to force the product names into the space provided.

DidI buy from Currys now I spent all that time analysing their site? No. Had an interest in usability not caused me to have a think about what was going on I would have left long before. In the end I bought my XBOX 360 Kinect with 250Gb HDD from GAME… in store! And, you know what? When I was looking in store I couldn’t see an XBOX 360 with 250Gb HD and as I  was searching a sales assistant asked me if she could help. I said I was looking for the version with the 250Gb HDD and she said that they didn’t have any left, however
if I bought the HDD as a separate item at the same time as the XBOX they would discount it so that it was the same total price as buying the model with the 250HDD included. Fantastic! Oh… and they knocked roughly 25% off each of the Kinect games we bought to get going with.

Tesco, Your car wash sucks

Earlier today I was at Tesco to refuel my car and I noticed that it was a bit overdue for a wash, so when I paid for my fuel I also purchased a voucher for the car wash. It was the premium super-duper all singing all dancing wash for £6.

When I drove round to where the car wash was there was a queue of three people in front of me so I had to wait. There was a chap at the jet wash too and I noticed that he was much slower. By the time my turn came around he was still there washing his car. In fact, by the time I wash finished he was still washing his car, he must have put much more money in that machine than I did for the car wash. In hindsight, I think he took the better decision. Why?

Share photos on twitter with TwitpicWhen I got home, I went to open the boot to retrieve my shopping and I noticed that the back of the car was still dirty. Sure, bits of it were clean, and all of it was still wet, but it was obvious that the bushes on the rollers don’t clean very well. Or maybe they don’t clean cars with near vertical rears (like the Toyota Yaris) very well. I could still wipe my finger through the dirt. And here’s a picture just to show you. (You can click the image to see it full size and you can see my finger mark in the remaining dirt)

All I can say is that I’ll not be back to Tesco to use their car wash again. If I do find myself there, I may just use the Jet Wash like the other chap did. That seemed the more sensible solution.

Why can't customer services actually be helpful?

I’ve noticed that when ever I have to get in touch with customer services for after sales advice then I get a really bad service. I tend to get stock answers that suggest the person who responded didn’t really read my inquiry. Often they will tell me how important I am, but that really is not the impression I get. I don’t want stock answers. I don’t want to be told how important I am when it is so obvious that it really isn’t true.

However, sometime I see examples that really make me think: Didn’t someone in management at least care enough to stop stuff like this happening.

The example I’m talking about is from Halfords. I was looking for a download of the instructions for my bike rack as I’d lost them a while ago. When I searched for them I found a forum on Halfords website attached to the product that where someone had asked that very question: “Would be it possible for you to send me a complete set of instructions for this bike rack. I have lost mine.”. Now rather than actually answer the question Halfords responded with “The Halfords Bike / Cycle carrier range are designed to be universal. The range of products will fit most cars (This carrier is not recommended for cars with spoilers) The Halfords Rear Mount 3 Cycle Carrier should fit your model of car. Halfords colleagues in any one of our stores will be able to assist you in selecting the best bike carrier for your needs and provide fitting if required

Halford's forum

Ummm… okay. That’s just paraphrasing the product description already.

Luckily, someone, another customer I presume, was at least more helpful and showed how to find the instructions on the website. More helpfully, they also included a direct link to the instructions to make it easy.

Why couldn’t Halfords have done this? Why did they think they could get away with fobbing off the customer with stock drivel?

O2, please train your store employees

Last week I changed the tariff on my phone to better suit my usage. However, it turns out that by changing the tariff I also needed to change some settings on my phone. So, when the old tariff cut out, so did my 3G connectivity and I lost internet on my phone for a couple of days until a friend of a friend who happens to work for O2 explained what I needed to do to get it to work. Up until then, since I had made no modifications to my phone, I had be blaming O2’s network infrastructure.

Here is a summary of the tweets I made about it:

  • 4/March:
    • Don’t have a data network available. Most irritating @o2. Where’s my 3G network?
    • Still no data network. @o2 what are you doing. All the way from Glasgow to Edinburgh an no data network.
    • Made it all the way back to glasgow. Still no data network. @o2 get your shit together!
    • Woohoo! I have data back on my iPhone. But then I’m now at home connected to my wifi network. @o2 thanks for nothing!
  • 5/March:
    • Still no data network. @o2 you #FAIL big time! I’m moving to orange when I get a chance.
    • @kstenson No data network in Glasgow, in Edinburgh or points in between. Phone signal only. @o2 #FAIL
    • Got a data network back! One of @chriscanal‘s friends works for @o2 and fixed it for me
    • Turns out because I changed my tariff my connections settings also changed. But no one told me that!

O2 could have saved themselves a lot of frustration from me if their store employee had been told that the tariff also required a change in phone settings.

The Apple Store

For the first time ever, I bought something in the Apple Store today. Yes, that’s right, I got an iPhone recently and I love it! I feel so dirty yet soooo gooooood!!!

Earlier this evening I went along to my local Apple Store to get a car charger for my iPhone. The shopping experience has to have been the most pleasant I’ve ever experienced.

The staff were very helpful for a start. Nothing unusual about that, staff are helpful in lots of shops.

The staff were also very knowledgeable and were happy to recommend alternatives that I could not necessarily buy in the store. That is slightly unusual because normally staff are trained to ensure the customer buys from the company, not someone else’s. I liked the fact that the staff wanted to ensure that I got the product best for my needs. That is a big plus and it means I will trust them more and will seek their advice again, which obviously means more potential sales for Apple.

As it happens, I wasn’t interested in the alternatives so I did make a purchase. Now this is where it got really interesting. (At least for me, but I’m pleased with lots of simple things)

When I said that I was happy with this particular car charger and I looked over to find the cash desks the guy that was helping me simply asked if I would like to pay by cash or card. Still slightly confused by the question at this particular point, he showed me his card-swipey-machine. I caught on fairly quick and offered up my credit card. He handed me the machine like they do in restaurants and I typed my pin and handed it back.

He also asked the strangest question I’ve ever been asked (at least in this context). “Would you like me to email the receipt to <my email address>?”

Since the credit card I use on the Apple Store on-line was the same as the one I used in the physical Apple Store they matched my details and were able to email me the receipt without being hassled for my email address in the store. I like that kind of joined up system. My receipt was waiting for me when I got home. It is safely stored in my email and will not get lost, unlike other receipts.

So, credit where credit is due – Well done Apple.