Wednesday, 8 December 2010

It ASDA get better than this!

I don’t know about you but one of the nice things about buying a new console game is taking off the cellophane, opening up the box and removing that pristine DVD. Not much to ask when paying out good money. Or so you’d think. ASDA (the UK equivalent of Walmart) appear to have other ideas.

Last week my brother purchased Guitar Hero Van Halen from an ASDA in North London. Things did not start off smoothly as they overcharged him by £5. Actually he purchased two games and both were overcharged by £5. Luckily this mistake was spotted and, after a wait at Customer Services, a refund was given. Mistakes happen but both games being overcharged is pushing credulity – how many other people leave the store oblivious to having paid too much?

Things then get worse. Later that evening we removed the DVD from the box and notice that, far from being pristine and new as you’d expect, it looks quite worse for wear with a heavy scratch. Had we seen this disc on sale as pre-owned we wouldn’t have touched it with a bargepole. Figuring I might as well try it, nothing ventured, nothing gained, I pop it in the Xbox360 and fire it up. It worked … for two songs and then hung. I restarted it. It did it again.

The next day my brother called ASDA and was told they didn’t have another copy in stock. There is another branch near us so he called them. The lady there was very pleasant and said she had a copy which she would set aside for collection. It was explained we might not be able to get there for a few days, until Saturday, but she said this wasn’t a problem. Famous last words.

I visited ASDA on Saturday and, lo and behold, they couldn’t find the disc even when I told them where we were told it would be. Somebody I presume to be the supervisor said they only reserve things for 24 hours. When I explained that the lady had said it would be kept until Saturday this gentleman said to a colleague, “Hmmm, that’s doubtful” – so they were implying I was lying!?

ASDA offer a disc repair service so, thinking there was nothing to lose, I asked they run the DVD through the machine in hopes that’d fix it. Even on the medium repair I returned home to find the game still hung, which goes to show how bad the damage was to begin with!

Monday comes; my brother tries to contact the lady he’d spoken to. He couldn’t. Finally he speaks to her Tuesday morning. Guess what! The replacement was exactly where she said it was, exactly where I told them she was going to leave it. So why had they failed to find it? Why did they refuse to check there again when I was there on Saturday, instead I was told there was no point. Why was I now faced with another bitterly cold journey to swap it out? The lady says she’ll leave it at Customer Services.

I get there later that day and find the lady on Customer Services, although very pleasant, was unaware of what she was supposed to do. She had the replacement but it took ages to explain what was going on and, after nearly being given back the original, I returned home with my new copy of Guitar Hero Van Halen grasped in my hands. It had taken two trips so the £5 they’d overcharged and had to refund at one branch has been spent on petrol, time and inconvenience getting it sorted!

So, that’s it, right? Well no, because even this replacement is not pristine or new looking. Even after a clean with a wet lens cloth it looks pitted and far from how I would expect a brand new game to look. Had it been pre-owned I may, may, have risked accepting it but I certainly wouldn’t have considered paying as much as we had.

Here is the point of this little rant. When you pay for a new game you are entitled, certainly under UK Consumer Law, for that game to be fit for purpose and in as new condition.

This is not an issue that only ASDA are guilty of. Similar things have happened in other stores, and it is always down to the same cause; the way in which these companies store the discs.

I can understand the security risk of leaving the games on the shelves in the boxes and, yes, I can see why they remove them for safe keeping – but safe keeping is not what they are then subjected to. What they appear to be subjected to is being stuffed in a draw without any protection, where they are free to rub and bump with everything else and accumulate damage. This is simply not good enough. IF they must remove the discs they should be stored in sleeves, as many other stores manage. At least this way the customer might not end up with a sealed, as new box but the disc doesn’t look like somebody has played frisbee with it!

ASDA have badly let themselves down in the handling of this and so I feel it fair to warn others who may purchase software from their stores to check what they are buying, both for damage and pricing errors. ASDA need to improve not only the way in which they store their products but also the level of customer service offered. Implying a customer is lying when they return faulty goods is unacceptable. I’m not of the belief that the customer is always right, but nor are they always wrong!

1 comment:

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