Trial by Electrical Equipment Store


After a long and productive life, my phone[1] died today. So I ventured forth to my local electrical shop (hint: rhymes with 'murrays') to buy a new one. Anyone who lives in the UK will know what an undertaking this is--especially on a Saturday morning. As we're a bit strapped for cash at the moment, I was looking for the cheapest cordless DECT phone I could find, that didn't look as if the buttons would fall off after one call. I eventually tracked one down, but then I had to find someone to actually get a boxed phone out of a locked cupboard somewhere so that I could buy it. This was easier said than done.

It's one of the Laws of the Universe that if you go in not wanting to buy something, you're hardly in the door before a salesperson jumps out from behind the kettles and asks you if you need any help. If you go in with the intention of buying something, it's impossible to find someone to help. You think you've caught someone's eye, but then they duck down behind the washing machines. It's an elaborate game.

After a bit of a chase, I brought my quarry to ground by the games consoles, and persuaded him to get my chosen phone out of the locked cupboard. This all took more time--he would randomly pull out a box and ask me if that was it, and I would think, "No, and the clue would be that the name on the box isn't the same as the one I gave you"--but I eventually got my hands on the box and took it to the cash desk.

This signalled the start of the other electrical store game--The Extended Warranty Tango. Despite the fact that many consumer groups have found that extended warranties are overpriced and unecessary, these people still want to sell you one. He started off with an offer of a year's extension for £20--this was almost half of the cost of the phone! I said no (politely but firmly), and he immediately said he could do it for £8. What is this--a market? And what if I had been stupid enough to go for his first offer? I refused again, and his final bid was to offer the warranty for £5. Even for £5 the phone would have to be really unreliable to make the warranty worthwhile.

I managed to escape without paying any more than necessary, and I have a working phone again. Perhaps I got off lightly.

[1] The home cordless phone rather than the mobile.