ERT Information

Newcastle upon Tyne
29 September 2011

Paul gives an impressive demonstration

AFTER seeing my friend’s 3DTV recently, I was keen to find out more about it for myself, so headed to the Sony Centre Galleria in the Eldon Garden Shopping Centre.

Paul greeted me and asked if I needed help. I said that I was interested in buying a 3D TV.
He started by explaining that most Sony TVs were 3D-compatible and he also mentioned that the store sold 3D camcorders and 3D laptops.
Paul handed me a pair of 3D glasses and began to play a Sony demonstration disc. The 3D footage was spectacular and I told Paul that I was impressed.
In the Sony range, he said that 3D was available on sets from 32in to 65in.
I told him that we currently had a 32in set in our living room, but that I wanted to get a bigger one. Paul said that 40in sets were

proving popular with customers.
He presented a 40in set, the KDL-40HX803 at £799.99, but Paul pointed out that I’d have to buy a 3D transmitter and glasses separately. The transmitter, he said, was priced at £49.99, while the glasses cost £81 per pair.
The set, he said, offered a full high-definition 3D experience, while the built-in tuner offered access to Freeview HD. He also pointed out that the set offered 200Hz screen refresh.
Paul then showed me a package available on the 46in version of this set. Priced at £999.99, the KDL-46HX803 came with a transmitter and two pairs of glasses.
I asked for some information and Paul gave me printouts of both sets he’d presented, along with a size chart so I could see how much space a 46in model would take up.

Summary: Paul was able to talk me through the first set well and gave a good demonstration. I took his mention of the bundle package as an attempt to close the sale.

Score: 10 out of 10


Oops, butter fingers!

WITH our kitchen refurbishment almost complete, I was keen to buy a coffee maker and went to see what was available at Comet on the Belvedere Estate.

I took the escalator to the mezzanine level, where I was greeted by Steve, who was travelling in the opposite direction.
I found the coffee makers. After reading up on the different types of coffee maker online, I decided I would like to buy a Nespresso model.

There were seven Nespresso coffee makers on display.
I noticed four customers were browsing on the mezzanine level, but there were no staff in sight.
Michael appeared carrying a product. He ignored all the customers and headed for the escalator, before dropping the product.
After browsing for more than five minutes, I left the store. As I headed down on the escalator, Steve was travelling back up again.

Summary: Steve greeted me, and got the visit off to a good start (one point). Sadly that was as good as it got. Michael ignored all customers and Steve seemed content riding on the escalators.

Score: 1 out of 10

Dual-core competence

I ALREADY own an original iPad, but I was keen to find out more about the iPad 2, so headed to the Apple Store in the Eldon Square Shopping Centre.

Inside the store, a smiling Manda greeted me and asked if I needed any help.
I told her that I was more than happy with my original iPad, but that I wanted to know all about the iPad 2.
She began by asking what I currently used my iPad for. I said I used it for surfing the web, checking emails, writing up reports and playing games.

Manda said the key differences between the two were that iPad 2 had two cameras, was lighter and featured a faster dual-core processor.
She demonstrated the two cameras and showed just how straightforward it was to email the photos.
She also pointed out that the iPad 2 could be connected to TVs through an HDMI connection.
Manda encouraged me to play with the iPad and she mentioned that smart covers were available for iPad 2.

Summary: Manda’s enthusiasm for the iPad 2 was infectious. She explained the differences between the two versions and then went for an attachment sale with the smart covers.

Score: 10 out of 10


Ellen isn’t much help and then walks off

KEEN to buy a USstyle side-by-side fridge-freezer, I went to the Currys store on the Kingston Retail Park.

I walked past two staff and made my way to the refrigeration area, where I counted 19 models.
As I continued to browse, two more members of staff walked past me, ignoring Ellen isn’t much help and then walks off me in the process, before Ellen approached me and asked if I needed any help.
I explained that I did not know what the differences were between machines.

She asked if I was looking for a plumbed-in model, and I said I was. She pointed out that I’d need a plumber to connect it for me.
She then said: “It’s up to you which one you go for – they all do a similar job; there are just different designs, with different functions and features.”
I asked if she could organise delivery for me. She said that delivery normally cost £50, but the company was currently offering free delivery. At that point, Ellen walked off.

Summary: After being ignored by four members of staff, Ellen greeted me, but did not help me narrow my selection. She mentioned a free delivery promotion, but spoilt it by walking off.

Score: 3 out of 10

Wayne’s wireless world

I went to Fenwick department store to find out more about Sonos.

The technology department was a concession run by Micro Anvika.
I was greeted by Wayne and I told him I wanted to find out more about Sonos multi-room audio systems.
Wayne started by explaining that one unit had to be hard-wired into a broadband router and that if it was not where I wanted to have my music, I’d have to buy a ZoneBridge, which

would create the network around the house, which costs £79.99.
He then talked me through all the various permutations of the Sonos system and how it worked.
He then said that instead of shelling out £279.99 for the controller, I could get the free app for my iPhone.
Wayne demonstrated the internet radio feature, the music library and mentioned services from Deezer, Last. fm, Napster, Spotify and Wolfgang’s Vault.

Summary: Wayne knew his stuff. His demonstration of the Sonos system was very good and he encouraged me to interact with it. That said, he did not attempt to close the sale.

Score: 9 out of 10


Al zooms in on some suitable cameras

I went to Jacobs Digital store on Clayton Street to find out more about compact system cameras.

Inside the store, I was greeted by Al, who asked if I needed any help.
I explained that I had read up on these new-style cameras, but was keen to know more about them.
Al said: “You get much of the functionality of an SLR – you can change the lens to suit.
“The cameras also feature larger sensors, so you’ll get improved quality of photos especially in poorer light.”
He said that a number of manufacturers had compact system cameras, including Olympus, Panasonic, Samsung and Sony. He pointed out that Ol ympus and Panasonic shared the same lens mount.

He said there were around 20 compatible lenses for Olympus/Panasonic models.
Al then said he had one of the Panasonic models, the GF2.
He presented two cameras, the GF2 and the G3. The GF2 twin-lens kit, which came with two lenses, a 14-42mm zoom and a 14mm pancake lens, was priced at £538.95, while the G3 was £599.99.
Al encouraged me to play with them, and talked me through the menus.
He told me that a few weeks back, he had taken all the pictures at a wedding on his GF2. He showed me a picture on his mobile phone.
Al explained that the cameras took SD cards and that a 4GB card would cost me £20 and I’d be able to store about 300 high-quality images on the card.

Summary: Al gave a good demonstration of the GF2 model and was able to use his own experiences with the camera to sell it to me. He did a very good job but failed to close the sale.

Score: 9 out of 10


The capacity to succeed

LOOKING to buy a new washer-dryer, I headed to John Lewis.

Lee greeted me and started by telling me that the store stocked eight models of washer-dryer.
I explained that I was looking for a big drum and Lee said that washer-dryers had two different drum capacities.
Lee presented two models. The LG model (F1403RD) offered a 9kg load for washing, he said, and a 6kg load for drying and was priced at £607.
The second model, from the John Lewis

range (JLWD1610), offered 8kg for washing, 6kg for drying and was priced at £699.
Lee talked me through both models and said the John Lewis model came with a three-year guarantee, while the LG model came with a two-year guarantee, al though i ts motor was covered for 10 years.
Lee said delivery would take about a week and was free, but connection of the new appliance would cost £25 and a further £9 to take away the old machine.

Summary: Lee talked me confidently through the two washerdryers. He lost one point because he did not attempt to close the sale. I liked the way he talked about the guarantees.

Score: 9 out of 10


No miracles in store today

LOOKING to buy a digital radio, I headed for the Currys/PC World store.

Three members of staff were chatting behind the counter, so I made my way to the digital radio area, where I was shocked by the number of products on display.
I counted 24 models from manufacturers including IWantIt, Logik, Philips, Pure, Roberts, Sandstrom and Sony. The cheapest was the Logik L33DAB10 at

£24.99, while the Pure Evoke Flow was top of the shop at £159.99.
The three members of staff were still chatting at the counter, but I noticed that two other members of staff were serving customers.
I switched on the Pure Evoke Flow model and tuned the radio to Absolute 80s, which was playing the Simple Minds track Promised You a Miracle.
After five minutes browsing, I walked out thoroughly disappointed.

Summary: It’s no good displaying lots of products if consumers are left to work out which is best for them. That’s where staff come in. Their chat must have been more important.

Score: 0 out of 10

No progress in Pilgrim Street

AS I WALKED past the Maplin Store on Pilgrim Street, I noticed a tablet that was being promoted, so I decided to find out more.

Three members of staff were chatting behind the counter, so I located the box of the tablet and began to browse it.
The miScroll tablet with Android 2.3, from Storage Options, was priced at £129.99.
Reading the description of the product on the side of the box, I learnt that it had a 7in screen, a 1GHz processor, 256MB of

Ram and 4GB of built-in memory that could be expanded up to 32GB with a MicroSD card.
According to the box, the product was “a fully-featured tablet that offers an expansive multimedia and social networking experience”.
The three staff were still deep in conversation, so I took that as my cue to leave, as it was clear that the conversation was going to continue, and that I would be ignored.

Summary: Had I been way at the back of the store, perhaps I could have understood being kept waiting or ignored. But I was just feet from where the staff were talking to each other.

Score: 0 out of 10

Deserted and in disarray

I NEEDED to buy a new vacuum cleaner, so I went to see what was available in Debenhams.

In the home department, I found the electricals area and my first impression of the display was that it was a mess, with hoses, brushes and point-of-sale materials strewn across the display and the floor.
There were no staff or customers.
I counted 17 models on

display from manufacturers, including Dyson, Electrolux, Hoover, Miele, Morphy Richards, Russell Hobbs and Vax.
The only offer I could see was on the Vax 2,200W bagless cleaner, reduced by 50 per cent to £69.
I noticed a member of staff in a neighbouring department. Despite browsing for more than five minutes, no member of staff approached me, so I left.

Summary: It amazes me how larger retailers leave departments unstaffed. It would have been nice to be served and the display to be tidy. Sadly, I was not served and the display was a mess.

Score: 0 out of 10


TIMES continue to be tough and I am afraid to say that, although we had some good experiences in Newcastle upon Tyne, we had our fair share of being ignored, too.
Ignoring customers is like throwing money down the drain. How many thous ands of pounds worth of sales are retailers missing out on every month because staff will not engage with customers?
Staff at Currys/PC World and Maplin seemed more interested in gossiping than doing their jobs.
At Debenhams, however, it might have been nice actually to see a member of staff in the electricals department.
Steve at Comet seemed quite happy riding up and down on the escalators dropping things, while Ellen at Currys greeted our shopper, gave delivery information and had a stab at closing the sale, but did not give any information on the features or benefits of the products in question.
But it was not all bad and let’s now give praise where it is due.
Al at Jacobs Digital, Lee at John Lewis, Manda at the Apple Store, Paul at the Sony Centre Galleria and Wayne at Micro Anvika in Fenwick were all a pleasure to meet and they all excelled.
The common thing that prevented all three ‘nine-pointers’ from getting top marks was not attempting to close the sale. Al, Lee and Wayne all did well and this was the only area where they could have improved their performance.
This month’s top scores went to Paul at the Sony Centre Galleria and Manda at the Apple Store.
Not only did they both talk the shoppers through the features and benefits of the products in question, they also demonstrated the products and tried to close the sale.
As Al, Lee, Manda, Paul and Wayne all scored more than seven, they will be considered for the ERT Awards 2011, which will take place at The Commonwealth Club in London, on Monday, November 7.

Top of the Town


Winner: Sony Centre Galleria
Joint commended: Jacobs Digital; Micro Anvika @Fenwick


Winner: Apple Store

Commended: John Lewis



No. of visits

Total points

Average per call

Sky Shop
Panasonic Stores
Sony Centres
Richer Sounds
Currys Digital
Department stores
Marks & Spencer
Best Buy
PC World
T J Hughes
The Range




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