Customer service is the most obvious area where "bricks and mortar" stores can outdo their cheaper online rivals. However, a 'shadow shopping' exercise by CHOICE confirms what many of us have long suspected: customer service in major retailers is often poor, and Harvey Norman is the worst offender.
Picture by Richard Kendall/Getty Images
CHOICE sent four shoppers out to branches of ten major retailers (Big W, Bunnings, David Jones, Dick Smith, The Good Guys, Harvey Norman, JB Hi-Fi, Kmart, Myer, Target) and ranked them for availability of staff, product knowledge and returns process. In many cases, the experience varied depending on the store and the staff, but some clear patterns emerged.
Hardware chain Bunnings consistently provided the best experience, while Harvey Norman was the worst. CHOICE's shoppers cited "poor customer engagement; inconsistent product knowledge; some evidence of pushy sales tactics", which sounds exactly like what happened the last time I set foot in Harvey Norman. Staff were harder to locate in the discount chains (Big W, Kmart and Target), but tended to be just as helpful as those in the pricier department stores.
Which retailers do you find most helpful? Tell us in the comments.
Customer service shadow shop [CHOICE]