Mystery Shopper: Tottenham Court Road - PC Retail

Mystery Shopper: Tottenham Court Road

Currys/PC World was this month's Star Store
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Known for its plethora of tech shops, Tottenham Court Road seems like the perfect place to find a set of PC speakers. Armed with a budget of £100, let’s see how our Mystery Shopper gets on this month…

Epsilon Computers – 6/10

With rows upon rows of tech accessories, including mice, keyboards, cables and other gadgets, Epsilon resembles a treasure trove of goodies for budding technology enthusiasts.

After having a short browse, a friendly man asked what I was looking for. I told him that I was after a set of PC speakers for my computer at home, to help provide a better sound. After asking if I would like a large set, he pointed at a range of products.

I went on to explain that I had a budget of £100, and that I didn’t want to spend a great deal of money.

The store only had a few speakers on offer from Logitech, however, they were within my price range. He suggested that a Logitech set for under £50 may be suitable as it had a subwoofer. After probing him about how the subwoofer would help, he briefly told me that it would simply provide more bass to my music and a louder sound.

After quite a long pause with no extra information, I decided it was time to leave the store. 

Laptop Outlet – 5/10

A cheery chap met me as I entered; making me think this store had promise.

After telling him that I was looking for some PC speakers, he asked one of his fellow employees to help me find a set.

He looked almost disappointed to be interrupted from his current task to assist me, but asked me if I was after something that was wireless as that was all they had available, to which I replied I didn’t mind, as long as it would help to increase the sound for my PC.

My helper at first pointed at a few smaller speakers in a range of colours.

He then showed me a wireless Bluetooth speaker for £30 and also demoed a song for me to hear. After his demonstration he explained to me it could be charged via its USB wire, but when I asked what the bass was like for such a small speaker, it was clear he didn’t really know.

After thanking him for his help, the man responded with a grunt, to which I quickly said my goodbyes and exited the store. 

Maplin – 7/10

As always, Maplin had an abundance of gadgets on offer, but after wandering around for a few minutes looking for PC speakers to no avail, one of the store’s assistants offered to help.

He recommended that I try the Creative T15 Bluetooth speakers for £59.99, and told me to steer clear of a certain brand of speakers, after telling me the tale about his past experience with his speakers blowing up.

He also explained how there were no major differences between the Creative T30 Signature speaker set and the Creative T15, which does however, have quite a large price difference of £99.99. 

The assistant informed me that one of his friends had tried out both sets, and that the sound difference was pretty similar.

I appreciated his honestly in this instance, as he could have saved me a significant amount of money.

I then made my way out of the store in search for something a little more powerful for my PC.

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Currys/PC World – 9/10 Star Store

The tech hub was buzzing with life as I entered, and straight away a store assistant offered some help.

I was then directed by another staff member to the speakers, who also asked if I knew what kind of PC speaker I was after. He informed me that a subwoofer would help to provide louder sound and even demoed two sets of speakers featuring a sub for me to hear, including the Sandstorm SBS2112 and the Logitech Z333 2.1, which were both in a price range of £49.99.

After asking whether space was an issue for me, he also offered an alternative with the JBL Wireless Speaker for £79, which could also be connected to a mobile phone via Bluetooth technology.

Another song was demoed on this product, so I was able to hear the sound, and it was clear that this set had good bass even though it was much smaller and didn’t include a subwoofer.

With the store having such a great selection of speakers on offer, and my helper then left me to ponder my decision.

Base – 4/10

Entering this independent store, I thought there may be a good selection on offer. There were rows and rows of tablets and accessories, but there didn’t seem to be much for PCs.

Soon enough an assistant approached me, to which I told him that I was after a set of speakers.

Albeit in broken English, he tried his best to help with my query. But after some trouble trying to understand what exactly I was looking for, he asked another staff member if they knew of any speakers.

Sadly there was just one model available by Isotech for £15.

I was informed that the set had quite a high volume and that it had a unique LED blue lighting effect.

The assistant then offered to test out the speakers for me to try if I was going to purchase them, but unfortunately couldn’t get his computer to work. After his insistence and asking me again if I would like to buy the set, I informed him that I was just taking a look, and uncomfortably left the store. 

Argos – 6/10

With no speakers on show in Argos, I was hoping for some great customer service and the store didn’t disappoint.

A jolly lady greeted me as soon as I entered and offered her assistance straight away. I told her what I was after, and using screens instead of the iconic Argos catalogue to start my search, I typed in PC speakers into the search bar.

I mentioned to my happy helper that I was after something with a subwoofer, and she honestly replied that she wasn’t entirely sure what it was. But, she suggested that I start my search with the cheapest products first and informed me that some products were for delivery only, since some were out of stock.

She stayed with me while I browsed the selection on offer, which included the likes of Logitech, Philips and Trust GTX, all with a wide price range starting from £6.99.

Although her tech knowledge wasn’t spot on, her customer service definitely made the shopping experience much more enjoyable for me.

Summary 

Renowned for its range of independent tech shops, I expected to see a variety of speakers from Tottenham Court Road’s indie PC stores. However, it was quite the opposite, as most only had one or two speakers available with limited brands.

In Base, at one point I felt slightly pressured to buy and uncomfortable with the salesman, resulting in me swiftly leaving the store, while the store assistant in Laptop Outlet seemed rather unenthusiastic with my query.

Comparatively, Argos’ customer service was very impressive at Tottenham Court Road, but the assistant’s lack of knowledge on PC speakers was a hindrance on my shopping experience.

Maplin also impressed this month, thanks to the staff member’s knowledge of the speaker range available.

Lastly, Currys/PC World demonstrated exactly how a tech store should be offering customer service. The helper’s attentive approach kept me informed when it came to different speakers, plus, his advice regarding a subwoofer helped me to make a choice, making them my star store.

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