This month Mystery Shopper is looking for a set of speakers to listen to music and watch videos with sound on their PC. What deal can they get and what brands are being pushed...?

Mystery Shopper: Northampton

This store had building work going on outside, but there was a large banner above the doors saying that they were open for business as usual.

Inside, a member of staff asked how she could help and I explained that I was looking for PC speakers.

She replied: “The best ones to go for are the Bose as the quality is absolutely brilliant and sound is mind-blowing.”
The Bose 2.1 Speaker System Companion 5 was priced at £306.99. l wanted to know about the sound quality, so she took out her handset and connected it and played a song for me.

She also wanted to show me some speakers at the front of the store. These were the New Bose Companion 3 multi media speaker system, priced at £249. The speakers were already linked to an e-machines laptop and were playing out sound – they were equally impressive. The assistant said: “They have just come in and are selling well. These are the best speakers in store and I would highly recommend them, purely for the sound quality and reputation. I know they are not cheap but you would be buying the best”.

Overall, l thought the assistant’s customer care skills were great; she asked lots of questions and I felt that she was making recommendations to me about the best for sound and quality. I would definitely recommend visiting this store for live product demos and the quality of customer care.

There was a lot of advertising displayed outside this Currys store, such as ‘We won’t be beaten on price – find a product for less, we’ll not only match it, we’ll beat it by 10 per cent of the difference’. There were also posters advertising ‘Buy now and pay 2012’.

The shop wasn’t particularly busy so I walked around for a few minutes, until l was greeted by a member of staff. He asked how he could help and when l explained to him what l was looking for, he asked me to follow him to the speakers section and pointed to a couple of them.

The first set was the Logitech LS21, priced at £24.99. He told me: “This is a 2.1 system so you get a subwoofer in it, which is great for listening to that real bass music, but they are not too loud as there’s 1.5 watts in each speaker and four watts in the subwoofer.”

He then recommended the Logitech surround sound 5.1 speakers Z506, priced at £79.99. He added: “If you watch movies on your PC then you will experience full surround sound and it is excellent – it has about 75 watts in total”.

Next up was the Edifier Prowler E1100 Plus, priced at £49.99. These speakers come with a subwoofer as well as two speakers and a 3.5mm Jack connection and were quite powerful with 22 watts.

Interestingly, he also said: “Stay away from the bottom two rows on the shelves as they are not for you as they are cheaper and not great quality.” He went on to add that he uses Logitech as they are brilliant for the PC and would really just go for those, opposed to any other ones

Overall, l felt that the assistant’s recommendations were good, as were his customer care skills – although he did make the assumption that I needed powerful speakers without checking me what I actually wanted first.

PC World
I walked into the store and could see a lot of promotional end caps and bulk stacks of speakers, but didn’t spot any members of staff until l walked to the back. There were a lot of customers in the laptop section and a large amount of staff members assisting them.

The first member of staff I spoke to knew where the PC speakers were, but was unable to offer recommendations, so I had to wait for another one.
This assistant walked me towards the PC speakers and explained that they were all demo ready, so l could put my iPhone on them and hear the sound if I wanted to.
He looked around for a while, then advised me: “If you don’t mind spending some money, I definitely recommend the Harmon Kardon Soundstick 3 2.1 Speakers which are £119.99. They are very stylish, in my opinion. The lights come on with the music vibrations.”

He went on to play a track on them, and the sound quality was very impressive.

The next recommendation the assistant made was for the Creative 2.0 PC Speakers, Gigaworks T40 series II, priced at £99.99.

He said: “They might not have a subwoofer unlike some of the others available, but they are equally good on sound.” He conducted a short demonstration for me, and showed that they had a control for the bass and treble. He added: “The Creative ones are more popular as the brand makes brilliant speakers.”

The assistant made a good effort to recommend me two stylish looking speakers and best of all demonstrated them to me using his own iPod. I would definitely make a trip down to the store as they have the speakers demo-ready for you to try and their customer care skills are very good even though they were obviously very busy.

As soon as I walked into the store l could see a Maplin specials section, advertising the latest promotions they had available in store. The store was very tidy and everything was neatly displayed.

An assistant asked how he could help and after l explained what l was looking for, he walked me straight over to the speaker section and said: “l recommend the Creative Inspire T3130 which is on promotion for £39.99 with a saving of £10. These are brilliant for listening to music on and good for general use on the PC.” They had two side speakers and one sub woofer.

He also commented on the design of the speakers and said that they would look very stylish against a laptop or desktop. He explained that there was a wired remote control with the speakers and said: “They are magnetic shielded so you can place them where you want without interference”. There were other speakers but he told me for the price these ones are a brilliant buy and didn’t elaborate on the others.

Overall, l found the shop assistant to be very knowledgeable about the speakers he recommended, and his customer care skills were good, I felt as though he wanted to make sure I was getting a saving and buying a good set of speakers. However no demonstration was offered.

I walked around for a little while as there was plenty to see, from coffee to laptops. I could see a big selection of tablets on display all demo ready for customers use. Music was playing in the background softly, plenty of customers in the store, but not enough staff to assist them. I had to wait around for about 15-20 minutes before l found someone to serve me.

The shop assistant recommended the Logitech X-140, priced at £23.99. “They are small and compact, but they are powerful.” He told me that he has the Logitech X-530, which he likes, but finds that it has too many wires.

He also recommended the Altec Lansing VS2621 Speakers, priced at £29.99 with a saving of £14. “If you want something with a subwoofer in them these would be ideal. You will get two speakers and a subwoofer, so it will be like surround sound, but there are no controls for the volume control or for the bass and treble.”

Overall, he was knowledgeable about his recommendations, and he asked what I thought about the speaker sets – his customer care skills were very good. The only thing that let this store down was the waiting time I had before I was approached and no demonstration was offered.

When I reached the electrical section, l saw this Tesco had an iPod section where customers could use them live, alongside a laptop demo station.

There weren’t any members of staff nearby who I could ask for assistance from, so l waited in the queue with a sign stating ‘electrical’ for about 15 minutes before l was finally served.

l told the shop assistant what l was looking for and she took me over to the speakers. She said: “The most popular ones we are selling at the moment are the Logitech LS11, priced at £14.97.”

l could see that they were competing with other stores, as on the price ticket they had written PC World’s price of £17.99. She also recommended me the Logitech LS21, priced at £25.61; this speaker set had a subwoofer with it. She added: “These are popular too”.

I noticed that they had their own brand of speakers, but the assistant did not mention these to me. She said: “I don’t know too much about the speakers as I mainly work on the tills so I can only tell you what we sell more of.” She also added that the tech guys were not available until Thursday.

I was disappointed that there wasn’t much of a range of speakers. However, the assistant was polite and l appreciated her taking the time to help me.


Overall, I found customer care was good across this mystery shop visit to Northampton.

Comet recommended me really good speakers and the quality was absolutely superb, better than any of the others that l heard on the day.

Similarly, PC World had strong recommendations too and the demonstration of the product was well appreciated.

I found Staples, Currys and Maplins very good with their recommendations, but I would have have liked to have heard the speakers in action; all l saw was boxed stock.

Tesco didn’t score highly on this visit – purely for the fact that there was no tech guy in until the Thursday, which was two days away.

The mystery shop is conducted by infinite Field Marketing Solutions, a leading provider of field marketing services to the technology sector.

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