Wednesday, 17 April 2013



Good evening, Synapse Circuit Readers! It was such a beautiful day in London earlier! The Sun was splendid and there was nice breeze to go with it! Mmmmmm... Very, very tranquil... If only I could be at a beach... Never mind... I thought that I would take the opportunity to go mystery shopping... Here’s where I went...

Phones 4U
Tesco Mobile Dept
Virgin Media

All based in the area of Enfield, Middlesex! Here’s my findings...

Location: Southbury Rd, Enfield, Middlesex

Last year the Phones 4U shops that I have visited up and down London where appalling! What I found was an all-round lack of knowledge of the top handsets at the time and a way too aggressive sales approach... “Have a seat while I talk at you and glower at you for being hesitant...”

Today, I popped into PC World / Phones 4U at Southbury road. What caught my eye was the dummy model of the forthcoming Samsung Galaxy S4... I have to tell you right now that I am in love with the S4! As predicted the phone is so much better in the hand than it is in a picture! I am right about getting a protective case straightaway for easier handling! Anyway, I digress...

I met with a sales assistant called Tom and I was impressed with not only his knowledge on the Galaxy S4 but the top range of handsets that included the HTC One and the Sony XPeria Z. I was very impressed! Tom answered all my questions and what’s more is that he didn’t push for a sale! Normally, it’d be... “Take a seat and let’s see what we can do for you today...” None of that!

Marks out of 10! Phones 4U Southbury road, Enfield scores an excellent 9.5!

Location: Ponders End, Enfield, Middlesex

I can’t say too much about Tesco Mobile as they are fairly new to mobile retail. In other words I have not seen Tesco as being as good as the major mobile retail outlets – they have their own network (based on O2) as well as a retail dept within their large 24hr chain of supermarkets. I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised with the sales reps! I met a rep of Asian Indian origin (I assume that he is the manager of that dept because he wore a suit and had no name tag that I could see...) and a young lady named Paige.

If you are up for a Galaxy S3 the following deal may interest you:

£ 21 per month
100 mins / 500 texts
1GB data
Unlimited Text Booster
24 month contract

It’s not bad at all! I think the 1GB data allowance should give you enough room to use free calling and text apps!

I found that the Manager and Paige had a good overall knowledge of the products. The manager and Paige gave good advice and they were both good listeners. I find that it is important for sales folk to listen to the needs of the customer to give an informed opinion. I was happy that I was not pushed into any direction. I was given some options to explore and I didn’t feel pressurized into making a decision on the spot!

If you are a regular shopper at Tesco and have a Tesco Club Card (for saving points) you do get some points added to your card each time you pay your phone bill by direct debit. Therefore, you do get some money back in the form of money and product vouchers that will save you money throughout the course the 24 month contract.


Location: Palace Gardens Shopping Centre, Enfield

Virgin Media stores have it all... Youthful sales assistants; a majority of handsets on demo and a lounge area where one can chill out when giving details to seal the deal! However, where they are going wrong is that they do not know enough about the products they are selling!

A young female assistant has it in her mind that every Android phone they sell has Jelly Bean, Android 4.1 or 4.2 installed on them. It’s not the case... A lot of their budget range have either Android Gingerbread, 2.3 or Ice Cream Sandwich, 4.0 installed on them. This is bad news if you’re an Android fan like me! There isn’t much difference between Gingerbread and Ice Cream Sandwich in terms of functionality – yes, Ice Cream Sandwich has the ‘Face Unlock’ feature whereby you can just look at your phone and it unlocks but it’s quite novelty. But Jelly Bean has the improved speed and polish that makes it a joy to use! When an assistant is telling folk that a handset they’re interested into has Android Jelly Bean on it when it’s not the case is an instant deduction of 4 points.

I found the overall knowledge of the assistants to be very poor and some of them had to get the information from the Web. Sure, it is better that a sales assistant find out exact details rather than sell on misinformation but what do these people do all day? Surely, there must be some time they can devote to learning about their products? Apparently not!

When you go into a Virgin Media store for a mobile deal you had better do your homework regarding the handset or handsets that you have an interest in.

I have to say that some of the assistants seem a bit false... They smile at you and when they think you’re not looking they roll their eyes as if to say that a present some kind of bother by asking them product details.

But this is not the first time I have had a negative experience with Virgin Media. Two years ago I had to change a Galaxy Ace due to problems with the battery, Wi-Fi connection and not enough space for apps. They really should have known that the Galaxy Ace wasn’t up to much. I then got an HTC Desire which has a better battery and decent Wi-Fi connection, but it didn’t have much by the way of storage space. The trouble with many apps as they get updated is that they become bigger in terms of megabytes and they can be more demanding on the CPU and RAM.

And recently I purchased a ZTE Blade 3 to replace my Galaxy S and was told that the Blade 3 had Jelly Bean on it and it does not. Plus I was told by a representative that I would get £10 off the sale because I am a Virgin Media customer – I have my cable and Internet with them; it wasn’t the case. I was very, very annoyed.

A miserable 4

Location: Palace Gardens Shopping Centre, Enfield

What can I say about Three? I think that they have a great and unbeatable deal with their ‘Ultrafast’ connection that comes close to 4G but without any extra costs! Therefore I am going with Three on the Galaxy S4!

Three, Palace Gardens Shopping Centre, Enfield has just been refurbished. It looks ok... It’s good that they have more functioning handsets on display based upon premium and manufacturer. The new refurbishment has a youthful feel to it... I don’t know how that will make mature people feel... I think they should have had seats around the display models for comfort. I also wished they had more tablets on display. See the picture (taken with the ZTE Blade 3).

How did I find the staff? Hmmm... It’s a mixture... Some of the staff really has a good knowledge of their products and it’s the males that rule in that area. The women seem to be a moody bunch... There was one Polish woman there a while back who was vile – no exaggeration. This Polish woman (at least I think she’s Polish) seem to lie through her teeth at me to make sale – any sale! I hated her demeanour and I was happy not to see her in the new refurb!

The other women tend to be a little pushy but not to the level as the Polish woman and they don’t really know too much about their stock. When I walked into the all new refurbished shop I was greeted with a nice enough female assistant who wanted to help but just a tad too much. I felt a little pressurized – like I was her commission. I made enquiries about several handsets and I had to correct her on all of them. But I was careful not to correct her in an obnoxious way like a know-it-all nerd / geek. I gain no pleasure from making people look like fools. When her manager called her away from attending to me I was happy to see her go! Lol!

As a long standing customer of Three I was very, very disappointed that I wasn’t made a special offer on my Galaxy S4! Ok, this didn’t happen in the shop but on the phone! I figured that the sales department would recognize my custom and give a special deal! A week after I received a call from a sales representative of Three offering me a “deal” on the Sony Xperia J. I think it was £13 per month on an “exclusive” deal that can be seen on their website! It disgusts me that I was made to feel that I was getting an exclusive deal. Bah!

Three are also quite notorious for selling under-powered handsets talking them up as though they are brilliant! Oh, that’s right... I was offered the crap HTC Desire C! Never! So, I asked the woman if she could offer me a better handset and I asked her what information she has on me...

I could tell that she didn’t have much of an idea as to who she was speaking with... Why? She’d have known that I have ordered the Galaxy S4, on contract with them already with the Galaxy Note 2 and I have a SIM only deal. She only knew of the SIM only deal. If she knew a little more about me she’d have known that I have a predilection for high-end handsets. The HTC Desire C would be seen as an insult by me; c’mon, it’s rubbish! She should have never offered me that handset!

To call me up unprepared is terribly insulting. I must have been with Three for about 4 years at least! And this is the best they can do???? It’s disgusting!

When the woman did have a look at my account with Three she started to explain how that Three are the only ones offering the Galaxy S4 without an upfront cost to which I responded, “How does that make me feel to be offered the same deal as everybody else? How does that make me an appreciated customer?” She had no answers. However, because I haven’t renewed my contract with EE (Orange) I am interested in a SIM only deal (with Three) for my Galaxy S2.

As it stands I should have been made some decent offers for my loyalty with Three. I back them when the likes of Phones 4U are saying that they are, “Not very good... People complain about Three...” I found that Three hasn’t let me down on mobile yet! The only time I couldn’t get a signal was when I was standing on the cliffs of Plymouth! I don’t recall a signal from Orange (I was with them at the time) either!

I am not happy with Three at all! Grrrrrrrrrr! How dare they call me up and not know much about me? How dare they call me up pretending that they are giving me a special offer for my loyalty when they don’t even know how deep my loyalty is? It’s despicable! Disgraceful! I used to work in sales and when I called someone out of the blue I would first find out who I am talking with as it gives me no advantage to assume!

Three have got to work on their shop and phone staff.

A well deserved 2

There you have it! Phones 4U seemed to have learned their lessons from the past and Tesco are doing surprisingly well with their friendly and knowledgeable staff.

Don’t get hoodwinked by sales folk who only can only see a commission instead of a customer!

Thank you for reading!

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