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Know-Nothing?

In the second week of November 2012 I took my new Asus Transformer T300 tablet (bought in September) to PC World in Gateshead for repair. It would not charge, that’s all. I had an idea the lead might be duff – but amazingly, the “KnowHow” department at PC World did not have Asus any leads they could test. Accordingly my tablet had to go back to Asus, up to 10 days to fix I was told…

After waiting patiently for nearly 2 weeks to get my tablet back and hearing nothing from them,  I grabbed the piece of paper that PC-World Gateshead gave me – and rang the number therein – 0844 56 10000

That was the first of 3 failed attempts on day one to get somewhere.

Thursday November 22, 4:40pm

Attempt 1: The automated machine asked me to enter a reference number and my telephone. I entered the reference and telephones directly off the sheet that PC-World Gateshead gave me– to be told by the machine that the reference was not understood. I repeated the operation and the machine gave up – transferring me to an operator after some delightful music. By then I was already frustrated.

The Know-How operator tried to contact PC World and could not get through – he gave me the number for Asus to ring them instead – the number was incorrect.

Attempt 2: Repeating all of the above – I tried again – this time I got the right number from the agent and verified it was correct.

It turned out that the Asus number is no longer in service – 0870 1207 340.

Attempt 3: By the time I went through the above for the third time – Asus would have been closed anyway… but I tried -  number still invalid. The KnowHow people finally contacted PC World who would come back to me on Friday 23rd.  This of course assumes one has nothing to do but sit next to the phone – their number is always withheld so you’ve no way to know if it was them, should you stray off for coffee.

Friday November 23, 3:10pm

The fellow at KnowHow insisted that the issue with the Asus telephone number would have been temporary – as they had that number on their books – I asked him to confirm the number and I read it back. He said that was right. In fact I’d given him the WRONG number 0870 1208 340 from my notes – that one gave a continuous tone. He could not explain why the store had not rang me back. He rang PC-world and could once again not get through. He said that as KnowHow had logged that they’d contacted the store, they could do no more…  I should try contacting Asus even though he confirmed the reference number on the piece of paper is useless.

I did my best to explain to the fellow that the pushbutton options to capture info were not simply working. He started about this being some internal number – I stopped him and tried to explain that this is of NO relevance to the end user who just needs it to work – I’d followed the instructions only to have my time completely wasted. He did not seem to understand this and I don’t think he took any notes.

After our call, I tried again to ring Asus and sure enough – nothing had changed – the number was not in service.

4pm – After writing this first blog I got a call from PC-World – the gentleman there confirmed that he was going to have a word with the KnowHow area manager – then dropped a bombshell. The unit was still with Asus – who did not receive it until 5 days after I went to the store to drop it off. Further – they’re claiming the Power supply was not working and that this would be CHARGEABLE (PC world confirmed the power supply was ok when I took it in – and I know it was as I’d been using it to charge my other Asus tablet).  I made it clear then that there is no way earth I’m accepting a charge to fix a relatively new product – the gentleman at PC-World who was indeed as helpful as he could be – would ring me back shortly after speaking to Asus. I also asked him if he could find out why it took so long for Asus to receive the product.

4:43pm – I received a totally automated call  – how likely out of 0 to 10 would I be to recommend KnowHow – 0. How knowledgeable did I think the “colleague” was – 1. Did I feel the operator cared about my issue – 0.

5.30pm…. The fellow from PC-World rang back – Asus apparently said they could not give any more information out other than the information on the email which PC-World have confirmed they had  NOT received.. but he DID confirm why it took so long for them to receive the Tablet. Ready for this? The repair centre is in the Czech Republic. Are we REALLY so devoid of talent today that something has to go half way around the world to get a power supply fixed (well, replaced – who fixes power supplies??) As they do not work at the weekend apparently – I would not hear anything more until at least Monday.

15 days and counting with no tablet, then. I should have simply demanded a refund.

Thursday November 29, 9:30am… Still no word from PC-World and the shop number is not available, so I once again I rang KnowHow, going through the same automated time-wasting as before, finally getting through to an attendant who rang PC-World while leaving me with piano music and “I’m sorry, all our agents are busy at the moment”. Of course as before he could not get through to the store (too busy listening to complaints from customers I’d imagine) and “they will ring you back in the next hour – it’ll be the store manager”.

10:30am… KnowHow rang back – it was the automated survey asking how likely I was to recommend KnowHow. I selected zero again for not a chance.

12:20am – No call back so I rang KnowHow back. They rang PC World again (the agent confirmed that PC World do not give contact numbers out for the stores).  I listened to piano music and “our agents know you are waiting”. After 5 minutes the lady came back “sorry to keep you waiting – I’m onto the store – they are looking into it for you” -  more piano music. Wishing I’d not drunk all that coffee now. “The unit is with Asus and they’re looking into a power supply issue. Darren is investigating it at PC world personally and will come back to you this afternoon”  – I pressed for a time – they could not give a time apparently – just sometime in the afternoon. Again the assumption I’ve nothing better to do as it would be a withheld number.

On advice from a site suggesting a customer complaints email – I wrote to PC world… guess where the auto reply came from – yes, KNOWHOW. 

1pm Darren from PC World came back to me directly. He was trying hard, to be fair, but not getting anywhere. Asus are sending confusing messages. Darren reminded me that this is a manufacturers’ warranty –I reminded him I bought this from PC-World, not Asus and PC-World should not be trying to palm this responsibility off.

I noted that all of this could have been avoided had the shop had a spare lead. He told me that it would be impossible to have spare leads for all of their products and then broke the bombshell…this was a product no longer available.  I bought the sodding thing in September, not on special offer or going out of fashion offer, but just as a normal purchase… I’ve had a few weeks out of it – and it’s no longer for sale!!???!!!

Darren would come back to me as soon as he hears something from Asus. It this point I was starting to wonder how much of customer’s valuable time is wasted on these calls.

Friday November 30, 7.00am

When a fellow blogger gave me the email address of one of the directors… I wrote and sent a copy of the blog – I’d also done this in an email to Knowhow. I’m not sure which of these had the effect but…

The Light at the end of the tunnel…

11.30am – Quick as I am to criticise – I am also to praise. Having written to a director, I then received a call this morning – which might have been because of who I wrote to or might have been the local guys, either way it was clearly as a result of this blog.  The gentleman specifically asked me to raise my general gripes first  – to explain what, apart from the obvious lack of tablet, was annoying me – I explained it was the inability of staff to see the customer side – and the annoyances with their machinery and the reference number resulting in frustration and lost time. He tooks note and seemed genuinely concerned. We then discussed the issue of the tablet and of course my personal data.

He didn’t mess about – but simply and helpfully offered me a complete refund plus a nominal sum for my wasted calls – and a guarantee that the data on the existing machine will be wiped. Sure enough, within an hour, an email arrived with a reference number to use at any Currys or PC World store.

As I’d been planning on getting the new Samsung Galaxy Android camera for Christmas – and had time to reflect that a better choice of tablet might be the yet-to-become-available Nexus 10, I sailed off down to Currys and bought the camera – coming back with the camera (which is unbelievably wonderful), a smile and the balance in the form of a token. All’s well that ends well, it’s just a shame one often has to go to such extremes to get action.

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