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SHOP HORROR PROBE!

12-08-2009

chopped branches

Andy Goff wants to cultivate his garden. But getting the right equipment has turned him into a thing of shreds and patches…

I need a garden shredder. You know, one of those free- standing electrical gizmos you feed garden waste into and it comes out like little chips and goes straight in a green recycling bag that the council kindly takes away.

Not very ‘green’, though. A 2200 watt motor should put a large spike in our electricity bills. But I’d rather pay than spend hours with secateurs snipping away to fit it all in the bags.

So, after arriving at this decision, after filling the lawn with lopped branches, I leapt in the car and went to Homebase in Kings Heath.

When it comes to electrical gear I tend to buy only Bosch. They have a good reputation for producing long-lasting motors and so far their products have not let me down.

Homebase had a good Bosch shredder on display so I hunted for boxed versions. But there weren’t any. I found a friendly sales person and inquired. He too hunted but couldn’t find one. So, because I wanted a shredder not a box, I asked to buy the display model.

The sales person said: “If it was an end of line model we could sell it to you. Only we’re expecting stock in next week, so I’m afraid we can’t.”

Presumably this was because they’d have to unpack and assemble another display model.

I left Homebase with my credit card untouched.

My next move was to look at B&Q on the internet. They’d got the same model and – hurrah - it was cheaper! I reserved one online and was advised (by both text and email) that I could collect it from Selly Oak after 11am the following day.

Into the car and off to Selly Oak I went. I handed in my reservation slip at B&Q. A very nice sales person went off to the collections store. I waited.

She returned, apologising for the delay. She’d been unable to find the reserved item. However she had found one for sale in the ‘shredder’ section.

Side by side we walked to the shredder section.

I was shown quite a battered box – but one that held the item I was after. As I didn’t want the box I suggested we assemble the contents, in the hope of finding them intact.

Once more I ended up keeping my money. When we undid the carton, there were bits missing. Not just the manual - I could probably work out the instructions for myself - but also some important parts that held everything together.

Back home I went on the internet again, ordering the same model from Amazon for £20 less than I’d been prepared to pay Homebase.

OK, I have to wait for delivery. Still it’ll be here by the end of the week. Won’t it?

This is a perfect example of how retailing has changed. It’s not news that the internet has changed how we buy things. But I was ready to pay over odds. And two national chains lost out on a potentially easy sale.

The staff I spoke to in the stores were willing, courteous helpful. Yet they – and I – were let down by their bosses.

Oh well. Why should I lose any sleep? It’s not my job that is likely to end up on the line…

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