With increased netbook choice in the market over the recent months, our Mystery Shopper visited Lakeside Shopping Centre to research the latest deals, product availability, specification and prices. First up are DSGi's stores.
Having browsed the netbooks for a couple of minutes, I was approached by a salesman who seemed keen to help and eager to get a sale.
To get the conversation going, I told him that I aiming to buy a netbook, asking him to explain the choices before us. I was asked if there was a preference on colour; this seemed a strange question to start the conversation, but I went with the flow. I replied that it didn't matter too much and that I was more interested in what it could do.
Somehow, through his body language, I got the impression that I was going to be shown a Dell Mini 10 first of all. Sure enough, the first product up for demo was indeed this machine, which was the most expensive of the models shown. It had a 10.1-inch Screen, Intel Atom N270 processor, 1GB RAM, 160GB HDD, HDMI Connection, and was available in 6 colours, priced £299.99.
Quickly moving on, I tried to bring the conversation around to the other models in the hope that I could reduce the cost; buy a good machine and get a good deal. I reminded him that I thought the first recommendation was too expensive.
Still very eager to sell me a machine, he enthusiastically moved over to the Advent 4213. In his opinion it was, 'the best netbook available' and boasted a 10-inch screen, builtin SIM slot for mobile broadband, Intel Atom N270 processor, 1GB RAM, 160GB HDD and was priced £279.99. I couldn't help wondering why didn't he show me this machine first. Moving on apace, like a true salesman, he reminded me that it was a good size, a somewhat obvious observation and 'fairly quick.' Great – thanks for that.
If I purchased the netbook today, I would also receive Norton Antivirus with a discount of £30. Plus, Microsoft Office was also reduced to £80 from the standard price of £100. Finally, the cheapest was the Advent 4214, similar specification although without the SIM slot, priced £249.99.
The salesmanship and knowledge was impressive and I forgave him for trying to make that add-on sale of extra software.
There were four netbook machines on display in this store, one more than the sister company. As in the other stores just visited, I was quickly approached by an eager salesman.
After asking him for his recommendation, he politely and dutifully began to recite the product range before us. Again, he started off by showing me the most expensive model. This was the Dell Mini 10, already showed to me in the larger Currys store, which had the 10.1-inch Screen, 1GB RAM, 160GB HDD, priced £299.99 and yes, let's not forget about the six available colours; although this latter point was laboured on in this store a little too much.
Having heard this story before, I was keen to move onto other choices, asking him to tell me what other customers were going for. He answered this question by talking about the most expensive machine again.
Informing him that this was a bit too expensive and asking him to show me cheaper models, he moved a notch down in terms of price. It was only £20 cheaper and yes, was another model already shown. The 10-inch Advent 4213, which was priced £279.99. I felt that he was trying to get the most money out of me rather than what I actually needed.
Reminding him that it wasn't going to be used for anything too taxing, he gave in and talked me through the remaining models, ending on the cheapest which was the Advent 4214 with a 10-inch screen, 1GB RAM, 160GB HDD, priced £249.99. Not forgetting the software deals, he reminded me the discounts I could receive when buying Norton Antivirus and Microsoft Office, as he handed me a brochure to help me consider my options.
Although the salesman was very polite and helpful I felt that he was trying a little too hard to get the most money out of the sale that he could, rather than listening to what I really needed.
This was an impressive store with the new layout now commonplace in the refurbished 'Winning New Revenues' store.
Having been rushed in other stores visited today, I decided to take my time in looking over the product range of netbooks. I was closely watched by a security guard throughout.
After about 10 minutes, I was approached. I told him that I was keen to buy a new netbook, as I felt these were easier to transport and just as versatile as larger laptop machines. He began by asking a strange question. In the same vein as other sales staff today, the pound signs were showing in his eyes. The first comment off his tongue was to ask if I definitely wanted a netbook. If I spent a bit more, in his opinion, I could buy a laptop.
I reminded him that a netbook was all I wanted to consider today and asked him to give me his opinion on the models available and recommend a machine. As in some of the other stores today, the machine first up was, yes, the Dell Mini 10 – I think I've heard that one before.
Having recited the full specification, I was asked if I needed a CD drive. Asking him to explain why, I was reminded that 'for a bit more money you can get a laptop.' "Okay, I get the point, but the main reason for buying a netbook was to surf the net and do light tasks," I said. Returning to the netbooks, he showed me two Advent models, reading the specifications from the point of sale tickets in front of us. These were the same two models previously available in Currys.digital and Currys stores and were the Advent 4213 and Advent 4214, priced £279.99 and £249.99 respectively.
I was shown a brochure and then told about the special Microsoft Office 2007 and Norton 360 install for only £98.66, being informed that I could probably get a good deal on the price.