Taking the side of the retailers

I'm going to do something which may seem a little odd! I'm going to stick up for the retailers for a change - you wont catch me doing this very often, in fact I'll probably never do it again...

Before I go any further, I'm all for people searching for the best possible prices and deals both on the internet and on the high street. In fact, I try to take advantage of any bargains and offers I find or hear about in the various bargain forums (quick plug for The DVD Forums seems appropriate here!).

My reason for writing this is because recently it's become apparent that some people are taking things a little too far in their quest for getting rock-bottom prices. A recent example can be seen in Tesco's mistake pricing on a number of DVD boxsets such as Jurassic Park and Phantasm - as soon as I heard about the former I got my order in, £16.99 for two discs is certainly worth taking advantage of in my opinion. The worrying thing was that shortly after this mistake hit the newsgroups one newsgroup poster actually sent an e-mail to Tesco threatening to contact Trading Standards if they didn't honour the price on their site - this was before Tesco had made any statement either way!

Full credit must go to Tesco for the way they handled the situation - they contacted everybody who placed an order for the Jurassic Park boxset and explained that a mistake was made. This would have been plenty good enough - some on-line retailers would have probably just invented an excuse, however Tesco took things a step further and agreed to honour the price for everyone who had ordered. Excellent handling of the situation, and it certainly made those who complained look particularly stupid!

More recently we've seen complaints against Currys popping up in the newsgroups. OK, so Currys are by no means the bastion of great customer service and they often do leave a lot to be desired but once people are taking things just that little bit too far!

The saga started when it became known that Currys were selling off discontinued DVD stock at prices as low as 99p - a bargain in anyones eyes. The problem was that as soon as staff were aware of the prices a number decided to take advantage of the offer themselves and between them bought up most of the discs on sale - this happened in virtually every store in the country. OK, so maybe it wasn't exactly the best thing they could have done to help customer relations - but it was a bargain and there was nothing wrong in what the staff did.

Now we're getting complaints from people - some are even threatening to take it as far as compaining to the BBC consumer show, Watchdog. Come on - this is taking things too far surely! No rules have been broken and while I agree with the sentiment that the public should have had a chance, it's not Currys fault is it? The staff saw a bargain and they took advantage - I very much doubt anyone reading this would have done anything different.

A bargain is always worth pursuing - but please keep things in perspective. There's no point in complaining if you miss out. If a company does the wrong thing or lies then by all means do what you can to get the price you want, but if a genuine mistake has been made and the company in question admits the error offers you a reasonable choice then please be sensible. Even some of the best internet companies make mistakes sometimes - give them a chance to put things right first. If you miss out on a bargain, it's not the end of the world!

Maybe you feel differently - if so why not let us know your take on the situation by commenting on this story.

Colin Polonowski

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