How Currys cons you with a needless £40 laptop charge

How Currys cons you with a needless £40 laptop charge that the retailer adds on to its tempting low prices

  • Some Currys PC World staff have been demanding installation fees for laptops 
  • The money covers cost of setting up software but this could be done at home 
  • The fee should be optional and the retailer could be prosecuted for the scam

Currys PC World could face prosecution for a scam that cons customers into paying an unnecessary £40 fee for laptops that have software pre-installed.

It tempts online customers with low prices for new devices and then demands an installation charge when people collect their laptops from a store, a watchdog claims.

The fee for the chain’s Team Knowhow service covers the cost of setting up a Microsoft Windows account, essential apps, configuring software updates and creating a recovery system in case the computer crashes.

 Currys PC World could be prosecuted after its staff were found to have been demanding unnecessary installation fees for laptops

This charge should be optional, allowing some people to set up their computers themselves, but investigators from the consumer group Which? found some staff insisted that customers paid it, saying they only had laptops in stock that had already been set up and claiming this made the £40 charge mandatory.

Which? said it identified the scam four years ago and Currys PC World repeatedly promised to end it.

However, the consumer group said some Currys staff continued to use the discredited tactic.

Which? has warned the retailer that this could breach British and EU consumer law, and is demanding action to stamp it out and reimburse customers.

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It believes the practice could amount to ‘bait advertising’ – when a retailer tempts a customer with the promise of a deal that is not really available.

This is deemed an unfair practice under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations.

The retailer could also be in breach of Consumer Contracts Regulations, which require retailers to make the full price of a product clear to consumers for products bought online. Which? said that if Currys continues to charge the fees it could refer the firm to Trading Standards, which can prosecute breaches of consumer law through the courts.

The consumer group has had more than 100 complaints from members. In one, made in January, a customer said he was hit with a hard sell to buy extra software with a new laptop.

He ended up paying £20 for the set-up of a recovery drive, which had not actually been installed. He said: ‘I feel I have been taken for a right mug. My only consolation is I see I’m not alone.’

The company, which is part of the Dixons Carphone group, could be breaching UK and EU law by demanding a fee for the cost of a staff member setting up new laptop software, but this could be done at home

Eleanor Snow, consumer rights editor at Which?, said: ‘It is very concerning that Currys PC World has allowed this unscrupulous practice to carry on for four years, despite repeated warnings and overwhelming evidence that it may be in breach of consumer law.

‘Previous efforts from the company to resolve the issue have been woefully insufficient. We now want to see it tackle the issue head on so no more customers are left out of pocket unnecessarily.’

Currys PC World, which is part of the Dixons Carphone group, claims to be the UK’s largest specialist electrical retailer, with more than 350 outlets and 10,000 staff. Its sister company Carphone Warehouse was fined nearly £30million by the Financial Conduct Authority this week for mis-selling mobile insurance.

Referring to the laptop set-up fees, Currys PC World said: ‘Where a colleague only has a pre-set-up laptop in stock, our policy is absolutely clear that customers should not be charged for the service.

‘If any colleague is found to be charging customers for a pre-set-up laptop in the absence of any other available stock, we will investigate and would ask customers to get in touch at [email protected] to arrange a refund.’

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