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Some info to help you fight Dixons
Member Name: MichelleScott
Date: 06/09/01, updated on 06/09/01 (2592 review reads)
Advantages: They are everywhere
Disadvantages: They are everywhere
Another Dixons lament. If you can’t face reading all of this, just scroll down to near the end. There is a point to all this and it may benefit you if you ever have problems with Dixons.
First a bit of history :
~ HOW DIXONS GOT SO BIG ~
Dixons started in 1937, when one Charles Kalms opened the Dixons Studio Limited (a photographic studio). He did rather well considering these were the pre-war and war years – but lots of military people wanted photographs, presumably to help them through when they were away. There weren’t a lot of domestic cameras about then so people dressed their whole families up, trudged to the local studio and were very careful not to smile (these were Dixons’ customers, after all, some things haven’t changed).
By the 50’s there was a larger market in domestic cameras. Charles’ son convinced his father to start selling cameras – both new and second-hand (so they have always been involved in second-hand equipment!). Business flourished and they soon added a mail-order arm to their organisation. They claim that they held market leadership throughout the 50’s by offering ‘competitively-priced products with quality service’ – so what happened?
Ah, here we go. They admit that hard bargaining and bulk buying (especially in the new market of Japan) gave them the edge over their rivals. I see. That’s when the rot set in.
By 1962 they had 16 branches and a stock exchange listing. They kept ahead by buying up their competitors – one of the most well-known being Currys in 1984. It was not just in the UK that they gobbled up competitors. In 1987 they bought Silo, the 3rd largest retailer of power products in America.
I thought Dixons started PC World, but they didn’t. There were 4 PC World stores, owned by a company called Vision Technology, in existence before Dixons noticed them as a possible competitor an
d swallowed them up.
They didn’t appear in the republic of Ireland until 1996. Then they bought up one of their competitors there. History repeating itself again.
Now here is an interesting piece of information : they had to open a massive centre to handle the ‘increasing number of customer contacts within the Group’. This place houses 2,000 employees. I find that very interesting. Customer contacts, that’s a new phrase for customer complaints.
The founder only stepped down in 1971, and only died in 1978 (aged 80). He was succeeded by his son (who became Life President of the whole group). He was awarded a knighthood in 1996. I am impressed that it was still mainly a family firm until quite recently. OK, it may have been a family with predator tendencies, but a family, none-the-less.
~ THEIR WEB SITE ~
The Dixons site is dedicated to bringing you the Dixons range but with the convenience of the Internet. Actually, this is a big plus – no pushy salespeople. I haven’t ordered from them, but I bet if I did they would harass me with emails trying to sell me extended warranties, accidental damage cover, raffle tickets for the Dixons’ Staff Benevolence Plan, etc.
They launched their website, innovatively called ‘Dixons Online’ (must have kept committees busy for weeks thinking that one up) in 1997. Their corporate site claims that Dixons Online offers next-day delivery. Dixons Online says that they offer delivery within 4 working days. A little communication would be good here.
The site is irritating, like everything else about Dixons. It is in juvenile primary colours and contains spelling mistakes. Is that enough to put you off? If not, don’t worry, there will be plenty more. They aim to deliver to your door within 4 working days. Note ‘AIM’ here.
They claim some special online prices on a lot of their products. For example, to
day we had the Palm M105 advertised at the Dixons special online price of a mere £149 (plus insurance, extra warranty, tickets to the Christmas party, a flight to Bermuda for the MD). The Palm M105 is recommended on our own beloved Ciao by john.sw (and a very good op it is too). Dabs.com have it for £151.57 – and postage is free. Actually if Dabs were more expensive I would still go for them rather than Dixons, their customer service has been superb for us (I know, I know, others have had problems with them!).
They list all the usual consumer electrical stuff that they are so infamous for selling badly :
TV, Video & DVD
They also have an ‘As Advertised’ section.
~ COVERPLAN / MASTERCARE ~
If there is one thing that Dixons are infamous for (apart from trying to sell used equipment as new), it is their pushing of extended warranties. You will be offered one of these whatever you buy, from a Gameboy to a PC. They will be trying to sell them with battery purchases soon. If you do buy one, it will be a Coverplan / Mastercare policy. Dixons’ salespeople are very keen for customers to buy these because they are on commission. For some items it is worthless, but we did chose to take out a policy on an expensive digital camera that my husband got as an early retirement gift. And that is where our problems started …
I will keep this as brief as possible :
In May this year I managed to drop the camera when getting out of the car. It wasn’t too bad, just the battery cover and card cover were damaged. We toddled off to Dixons and showed them our Coverplan agreement. They took our camera and said they would ring us when it was fixed.
I’m sure you can guess what happened next … they didn’t ring,
we did, it wasn’t back, they would ring us, they didn’t, we did, they didn’t know where it was, etc., etc. This is a common lament of Dixons customers, I won’t bore you with all the details. They never found our camera, and never came up with a reasonable explanation as to what might have happened to it (it would be unkind of me to speculate here, but I have done privately). They offered us vouchers for a replacement camera. Weeks went by with telephone calls, visits and much pulling of hair. Weeks of family events went by unphotographed as well. Dixons didn’t know what Coverplan were doing and vice versa.
Eventually we received vouchers for less than our camera was worth. The camera was no longer available to buy new and the next nearest in terms of features was considerably more expensive. We checked our Coverplan agreement : it said that if our camera hadn’t been repaired within 6 weeks, Dixons were obliged to provide us with a new one of equivalent specification. No-one in the shop had pointed that out to us, though. They had, in effect, broken their contract with us.
Oh, I could go on all day here. Eventually, things hotted up when we got Trading Standards involved, and wrote to Dixons’ Head Office. The local branch manager eventually provided us with a new camera that was pretty near to the specifications of the old one – in fact it was better in a lot of respects but worse in one, in that it doesn’t run on AA batteries, which was important to us.
The manager told us that he had changed his policy and that in future if camera were away a long time, he would offer a loan camera.
~ THE POINT OF THIS OPINION ~
1. If you have a Coverplan/Mastercare agreement, check it carefully – Dixons won’t jump to tell you that they have broken the contract, and they won’t readily agree to replace or loan things. They rely on you not knowing your rights.
. Get Trading Standards involved as early as possible if there is a problem – they are VERY interested in Dixons’ activities at the moment.
3. Get everything in writing in any disagreement – write to the branch, the Head Office, Watchdog, anyone who will listen.
4. Ask for a loan of a similar item – this seems to be up to individual managers, but it is worth a try.
5. Make a nuisance of yourself with frequent letters, telephone calls and branch visits.
6. If the staff don't seem to know anything they probably don't. They take on seasonal staff to help out at busy times and give them just one days' training. Ask to see a permanent member of staff and you will find them a lot more knowledgable.
If we had taken our original camera to a local repair shop we would probably have had it back within a week. We will not be shopping at Dixons, or any of their other companies, again. Next time, we will chose a local, independent retailer – quickly, before Dixons buy them.