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Our shopper looks for a graphics tablet

Mystery Shopper: Bolton

PC World

The store staff were busy in numerous locations as I entered the PC World store, and from the central aisle I could see the graphic tablet section was clearly signposted. On display were two Trust tablets (priced £34.24 and £49.99), four different Wacom tablets (ranging from £59.99 to £169.99), and the most expensive was a Wacom Intuos tablet, which was £199.99. In support of the display a 32-inch screen was connected to the £79.99 Wacom Bamboo, enabling customers to try the product.

I spent at least ten minutes in the area playing around with the demo unit before I wandered back to the centre of the store and approached two staff members and asked what the difference was between some of the products on display.

I asked one of the employees why the Wacom Intuos was a lot more expensive than the majority of the tablets. He explained that it has customisable buttons, is top of the range and has Corel Draw included as well.

When I asked if the cheaper models included the software, the employee wasn’t sure so I asked if there was any literature I could take with me. Less than five minutes later, the employee supplied me with four different types of specs. He pointed out the description and then pointed to the section that told you what was in the box. I thanked him for his time and left.

Unfortunately there wasn’t enough information on the specs. I could see Photoshopwas included in the Wacom Bamboo Fun Medium Graphics Tablet, Wacom Bamboo Fun Pen Touch Medium Graphics Tablet and the Wacom Intuos 4 Small Pen Tablet, but none said they included Corel Draw.

The shopping experience was good – aided by the store layout, the excellent range of products and the great demo unit. I was expecting PC World to have the best variety, although the information given was not enough to sell me the product.

Score: 8/10


After entering the store and walking around the PC and electronics section in search of graphics tablets, I realised it was best to ask for some assistance in finding them. I wandered over to the customer service desk where a young man soon approached me, asking if he could help. I explained my plight and we set off to the PC section to review the products available.

The two graphics tablets available were placed on the bottom shelf next to a multitude of computer mice. Both products were Wacom Bamboo units displayed in brightly coloured boxes. I turned to the employee and said: “What is the difference between the two – is it just the colour of the box?”

He proceeded to read and compare the back of both boxes and then said: “I think it’s a difference in size and software that is included. The blue boxed unit is the pen and touch version and includes Adobe Photoshop, whereas the green boxed tablet isn’t touch compatible and just features the pen.”

There were no price tags on display so I asked what each tablet cost, and he said: “I’ll go and look them up for you. The shelves are being redressed today so the labels are changing. Sorry, I won’t be long.”

He was only gone a few moments. He said: “The entry one is £59.99 and the other one –which included the pen and touch features, costs £79.99.” He continued and said: “I have never used one of these. When they first came out they weren’t accurate enough. I don’t know how good they are now. I presume they are good because people buy them and don’t bring them back.” I thanked the member of staff for his advice and said I would have a think about which one I wanted.

The experience in Currys was not quite what I expected. Although it was a large store and part of the DSGi group, the range available was much smaller than PC World. The service I received was friendly and helpful, but the information was gleaned from the rear of the box and the final backward compliment was very odd.

Score: 6/10

Currys Digital

On entering this Currys Digital store, which was situated on the main street in Bolton town centre, I only just got past the alarm barriers when a young member of staff approached me. She was dressed in the normal uniform of Currys Digital sales assistants and asked how she could help.

I explained my desire for a graphics tablet and she ushered me to follow her. She said: “Sometimes we do get the odd tablet in.” After checking a few shelves she said she was very sorry but they didn’t seem to have any in stock right now. She continued and said: “You could try our bigger store on the retail park or PC World, but there are no other stores in the town centre that will sell them.”

The market for graphic tablets is not as large as PC mice; however, it would have been useful to have units on display to drive interest. The employee was very attentive and helpful as she suggested some alternative stores for me to visit, yet as expected they were both in the same DSGi group. In the end, this visit proved unsuccessful and disappointing.

Score: 5/10

Zen Computers

Located on a business park, the store was filled with computers and electrical equipment. A gentlemen approached me and asked how he could help. I explained my plight and he said: “I can’t give you one today, but I can order you one for tomorrow.”

He gave me a demonstration and said: “This is a Wacom graphics tablet. It’s A4 size and is easy to use. It has a pen so you can draw, and is great if you have to trace designs as it has a built-in transparent sheet.”

I asked the price of the tablets and was told: “It depends on which size you want. This A4 one is around £150 –but I’ve had it for 15 years so it’s not like you need to renew it once you’ve bought it. If you give me your email address I can send you the list of prices for each tablet.” I gave him my details, thanked him for his help and left the shop.

I received an email, as promised, containing a price list. In his email he said there were two different types of Wacom Tablets: the entry level Bamboo and the higher end Intuos.

The prices are as follows:
Bamboo Fun A6 plus Pen USB Mac/Win –£74
Bamboo Fun A5 plus Pen USB Mac/Win –£140
Intuos 4 Small USB Mac/Win –£174
Intuos 4 Medium USB Mac/Win –£286
Intuos 4 Large USB Mac/Win –£373

The visit was very good. The service was friendly and there was great enthusiasm for the products. While the store didn’t have an immediate range available in comparison to PC World, Zen Computers could have ordered it for me, with next day delivery.

Score: 9/10


As I entered the Comet store, I was greeted straight away by a smiling member of staff who appeared to be eager to help.

The employee’s genuine optimism filled me with confidence that I would find what I needed in store. She turned to me and said: “How can I help you today?” I explained that I was looking for graphics tablets. Unfortunately, her optimism soon disappeared as she uttered the all too familiar sentence: “I’m sorry but we don’t have them in store.”

I was extremely disappointed as I expected Comet to have at least one or two in stock. The friendly employee said: “I think your best bet would be to go to PC World in the retail park at the other end of town or you could probably get a better deal if you tried online.” I thanked her for her time and left the store.

Although Comet didn’t have the product I was seeking, I was happy with the overall customer service I received as the member of staff was friendly and gave me an appropriate recommendation.

Score: 5/10

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