Another Open Letter to the CEO of Dixons/ PC World/ KnowHow

December 20, 2011 | By Paul Mackenzie Ross | Filed in: tech.

[NOTE: John Browett is no longer the CEO of Dixons Group. As of January 2012 it has been reported that he has joined, of all places, Apple!]

Dear Mr Browett,

I know you haven’t responded personally to any of my previous emails but I’m starting to feel very familiar with this ongoing relationship, so do you mind if I call you John? Good, then let me start again…

Dear John,

Thank you, this time, for KnowHow’s swift response to my latest email complaint of 8th December 2011, regarding the laptop I purchased from PC World (Which, just for reminders, went away for 10 days for repair to KnowHow near the end of the 12 month manufacturers warranty, for a faulty keyboard and power pack,  was returned with a scratched screen, went away to KnowHow for another ten days to replace the screen and came back again with a power issue) By that evening I’d had phone calls and messages had been left for me to get in touch and re-arrange the repair of my laptop. I had asked to speak with somebody as senior as possible and Marie was assigned to my case.

I spoke with Marie on the Friday and she offered to *try* and expedite my case. I made it clear that this whole debacle had been going on for nigh-on six months and part of the reason for the delay was because I couldn’t find the time to sit down and write a well-crafted and articulate complaint. The reason that I couldn’t find time was due to the fact that the laptop was still faulty and slowing me down.

But basically that was all that Marie was offering – to *try* and speed up the repair process.

I wasn’t happy, and I made this clear to Marie who wouldn’t budge an inch. I’d already suffered 20 days of downtime and was trying to catch up on everything ever since, so another 7 days of downtime was unacceptable. Ultimately, Marie’s “trump card” was that I was only going to get what I was “entitled” to.  I responded that I was entitled to good customer service and, in particular, a product that was actually fit for purpose.

Whilst I made clear that I wanted zero downtime the conversation seemed to be going nowhere until Marie asked what I wanted to resolve this issue. I said I wanted a replacement machine so that I could continue life and work uninterrupted. She made a few enquiries and eventually said that KnowHow would collect my machine, attempt to expedite the process before I flew out of the country on the 20th December, and that I would have a loan machine in the meantime.

I was relieved, grateful and happy. Thank you.

On Monday 12th December 2011 the KnowHow driver turned up. He very pleasantly dropped off a purple loan laptop box and took my laptop away saying he hoped to be back in 7 days.

I opened the purple box and the loan laptop was an extremely low spec machine that I wouldn’t even give to my nine year old. I tried to use it but it was not up to the demands that I expect of a PC these days, so I used it for an hour and then stuck it back in its box.

Nearly a week went by. I was resigned to using a 5 year old entry-level laptop that I’d raised from the dead and this machine, whilst restricting my workflow by a good 50% was a darn site more capable than the KnowHow loan laptop.

Sunday 18th December I get a text message from KNOWHOW saying:

“Hi, we’ll be redelivering your product on 20-Dec. Thanks, the KNOWHOW Team.”

Now, John, this is where *I* make a stupid mistake. Having worked all year with just 3 days off (That’s how hard you have to work at a 2-employee small business these days) for some reason I thought the 20th December was the Monday. I was due to leave the country on the Tuesday. I didn’t get anything from KnowHow as to what time my laptop would return so I said to my wife that one of us should stay in during the day in case the laptop turned up.

By 5:50pm I was wondering if the laptop would actually turn up at all. So I called the 0844 KnowHow number to inquire. Marie wasn’t there, but Kelly answered and happily dealt with my inquiry. It was Kelly who pointed out that the 20th December was the Tuesday!

My flight is just after 9am on Tuesday 20th December so there was no way I was going to receive my laptop in time. I should have called as soon as I realised I wasn’t going to get my laptop in time for going away. I said to Kelly that I really *needed* my repaired laptop for taking away with me on the 20th Dec so we arranged, at great effort, for me to go to the depot in Southampton and collect my laptop.

People were bending over backwards here, it was Christmas, I was going away, I was absolutely desperate to get my machine back and to go away on holiday and be able to work to a good standard again. Although this wasn’t the usual thing, people were prepared to get this sorted for me, especially if I was prepared to drive from Farnborough to Southampton to get my laptop back at long last.

So, at 6:45pm I went to the petrol station, put enough fuel in the car and drove all the way to Southampton to retrieve my laptop PC. An hour later I was in Totton, a little lost, but I called the number I’d been given and I was guided to the gates of the depot. Up until this point, everybody was an absolute credit to the company. Despite all the hassle, the stress, the heartache, the grief, Kelly, Dan and the guy who walked to the gate, checked my driver’s licence and passport and returned my laptop were all heroes in my opinion.

I sent a text to my wife saying I’d be home in an hour.

I drove the 50 miles back home and eventually plugged my laptop in. I scribbled out a few last minute Christmas cards and, whilst waiting to complete this task, the laptop switched off. There was a light on at the power in port so I thought nothing of this. I booted the machine back up again and saw the power bar very low. Whilst there seemed to be power to the laptop it wasn’t actually charging the battery.

Unplugging and plugging the AC power back in I got a message saying something liker “The Smart Power says the AC power pack is not good enough” and that the laptop is more powerful than the AC adaptor.


When I first received this laptop the AC adaptor was OK – but someone had cut the velcro strap, it was unusable. This AC adaptor was the original intermittent one. KnowHow replaced this one.

The second AC adaptor also wasn’t man enough, as I reported, the laptop wasn’t getting enough power and the connection/power seemed intermittent.

The third time I seem to have yet another power issue. THis is despite having a letter with the third repair stating and I quote:

“We are pleased to let you know that your Laptop has been inspected and has been repaired.

Just so that you know we have also completed a full quality check and given your Laptop a full valet to make sure you’re up and running again.”

John, my laptop has NOT been repaired at the THIRD time of asking.

If there has been an inspection and a repair and a full quality check, how come it didn’t spot that the laptop is not charging?

I have to leave for my plane at 6am on Tuesday 20th December, John, it is now 03:00 in the morning, that’s how annoyed I am that I am writing yet another letter of complaint and within just a couple of hours that I have left before I would normally be expected to wake up again. I am so disgusted that I have missed a good night’s sleep to write this!

I am so absolutely and incredibly pissed off at the shoddy service I’ve received from KnowHow in terms of “fixing” this machine that I would like a FULL report on what has been checked, what has been done and WHY and I am not afraid to say that you have REALLY spoilt my Christmas John.

So, season of goodwill and all that, John, you REALLY need to sort this out!

Have a great Christmas and a happy new year, John.


Paul Mackenzie Ross

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5 comments on “Another Open Letter to the CEO of Dixons/ PC World/ KnowHow

  1. Dear CEO,

    The Laptop I purchased from PC world became faulty and as I was covered by the insurance with knowhow your people arranged collection of the faulty Laptop and gave me a loan laptop. This happened last year Approx August/September 11. i have contacted Knowhow on many occassions to find out the progress of my laptop of which I was told that it was going to be delviered to me however, after multiple occassions of being told it was being delviered no one ever turned up. Instead i got people from your company turning up to collect the loan laptopn but without my repaired laptop. I continously refused to hand-over your laptop as my one still has not been returned. My laptop had photographs of my wedding, children and other special occassions that are sentimentle. No one from your company has informed me what has happened to my laptop and to date this still has not been resolved. please can this be sorted out urgently otherwise i will be taking this matter further.


    Loan No- 74230811034

  2. Dear Mr James
    I would like to tell you a story, there was a medical student who purchased a laptop in October 2010, and the laptop served him well for several months until it began to develop faults. It started with a track pad uncontrollably jumping position and then pixels began to leak on the screen, distraught at his very expensive high end gadget failing after a short time he called the retailers repair company who arranged to collect it for repair. After a week of being away the laptop was returned and the student was excited to get on with his overdue work being now already 1 week behind on his assignments. Upon reading the letter stating a full system check had been complete he opened his laptop to find critical warning messages stating the battery has failed and no longer holds a charge. The young man was confused and removed the battery to inspect. To his shock his name which he previously wrote on the side of the battery was not to be seen. The battery had been switched. The student was very confused at this point because he never mentioned anything about having battery problems so why replace my battery, especially with a dud. He also noticed that the track pad had not been repair as it was still jumping and now as well as that the right mouse button was unresponsive. The young man quickly called the repair service to find they would need to collect it again for inspection. Already a week behind on his work the student asked if a replacement laptop was available as he had exams coming up and need to complete assignments. He was told ‘no’ that service was not offered under his warranty. The young man decided he would have to wait until the Christmas break before he could send his computer away again as he could not jeopardize falling behind on his work. Come December 19th the student had finished his term at university and was able to send his laptop away. He was told he would receive his laptop back in 1 week. 6 days passed and the man received a call informing him his repair was awaiting parts and would take just a few more days. The Student told the lady on the phone that he would be going back to his university accommodation in just under a week and she said it would be back before then. A week had passed the student was back at his university. He called the repair service to tell them he was no longer at the address where the laptop was collected and they said that’s not a problem they can have it delivered to the nearest store. Another week passes and still no news. The young man called again spending many hours on the phone this time trying to find some more information. He is told that the parts will arrive tomorrow and his laptop will be repaired and sent back shortly. At this point the student is now 3 weeks behind on all his assignments. He calls 2 days later to be told his parts still not have arrived. Confused by these mixed signals the frustrated boy continues to fall behind on his work. As a medical student falling behind is just not something a perspective doctor can afford to do. With an intensely academic course the use of a functioning laptop is crucial. 3 and half weeks now pass since the laptop was collected and the young man is finally given a delivery date. The man calls again just to confirm details and give information of his current location. After spending many hours on the phone with the repair service informing them he no longer lives at the address where it was collected he is told it will be delivered to his local store. The boy goes to the store 3 days later on the date of delivery. He is told by one of the staff that his laptop wasn’t there. The baffled young man didn’t know what to do so he drove back home from the store and called the repair service; they said that the laptop was being delivered to the previous address where he no longer lived. “WHY?” Thought the young man to which he was told that it was his fault for not telling the repair service in time. Although he gave them 3 weeks’ notice, however the customer service failed to make a note of that but despite that the young man still told the repair service 3 days before plus giving confirmatory details and being explicitly told it WOULD be delivered to the store. He was told he would have to wait another week for them to collect the item and send it though their distribution centres and get it to his actual address, bringing the total waiting time to 5 weeks. The student began to panic as his piling work load was causing him so much stress, so much so that he wasn’t sleeping at night. Another week would cause him to have to drop out of university and fail the whole year. He told the repair service staff to deliver it to that address and that he would drive 5 hours to collect it and then drive 5 hours back. The student had to miss a full day of university to do this and the repair service did give the student £50 for his troubles however this didn’t even cover the cost of the petrol let alone the priceless time missed from his education and time wasted traveling. But this was the only option. Upon driving 5 hours he reached the place where his laptop was wrongly delivered. Excited and ready to get on with his work he read the familiar letter stating that a full system check had been performed and it was up and running once again as well as an unusual repair docket which had details about another repair for a laptop belonging to a woman who he did not know, as well as all her personal information. The young man disregarded it and opened up his newly repaired laptop. The student thought wow after a month it must be in perfect working order… sadly he was wrong. Upon starting the machine, a strange crackling sound, the speakers were broken. In absolute utter disgust the young man called the repair service to express his disbelief in the situation. The young man spent 7 hours that day on the phone to the repair service while they asked him to reformat his computer as well as doing various system checks. At one point there was even a technician who remotely accessed the computer only to confirm that yes indeed there was a hardware problem. How could something as basic as one of the 5 major senses go undetected when they did their so called “full systems check” thought the young man? The option given to the young man was for it to be collected once again, the students heart sank as he began toying with the idea of becoming a bin man as opposed to a doctor because surely he could not complete his medical degree with another week taken from him. Thankfully a loan laptop in this situation was acceptable given the circumstance and the student even though still not happy had little choice but to accept. A loan laptop was delivered and his laptop taken away. The student was told on the phone that a write off request was put in because of all the hassle. The student was happy with this decision because the stress of sending away a faulty computer every time it returned had gotten to him. He greatly accepted a replacement. Several days later a text message saying his laptop would be redelivered confused him, so he called only to be told that his laptop was being seen to be a lead technician and it would not be written off. Disappointed the student was told that because a lead technician was looking at it there was no need to for it to be written off. The young man accepted regrettably with the guarantee from the repair service staff that his laptop would be 100% functioning upon its return. The delivery date rolls around the laptop is redelivered, can you guess? … Correct the laptop now had a new fault. The right mouse button which had once previously been repaired was now broken again.

    if you have not figured it out by now the repair service is KNOWHOW, and the reason why I told this story is because it’s so ridiculous it sounds like fiction, who would really believe this happened it must just be a story, well sadly this is true. I am the student who has been depicted in this story and I’m now at the stage where I’m no longer angry. I was VERY angry for a long time and I consider myself to be a reasonable and patient person. However, I’m now more than anything just fed up, utterly disappointed and miserable. I know this all sounds a bit dramatic because who really stresses over something as trivial as a laptop repair. No one should have too it should be quick and painless. However your service seems to incubate misery and stress. I shouldn’t have to be stressed about a laptop; a laptop is there to ease my stress. My laptop is still broken. I can’t bear to send it away again and slow down my life any more. I even reached the stage where I contacted a solicitor because my statutory rights had been severely affected. And even though I was told I had a decent case given what I had gone through, unfortunately I can’t sacrifice any more of my time to go through the rigmarole of first funding a solicitor as I’m a student and secondly donating more of my time to KNOWHOW. I was told I wouldn’t get a replacement even though before it returned I was told by a KNOWHOW technician that they would replace it if another fault developed because it’s more cost effective. Sadly this was a lie and the idea of my laptop going away for repair again just won’t fix the problem. Bear in mind your company has bigger problems and errors than my laptop. Despite me writing this letter words really can’t express how I feel. If been under so much stress I have missed days of crucial education, I have fallen behind on assignments; missed deadlines potential jeopardized my future all for KNOWHOW to tell me they will fix my laptop one more time. It seems one more time is every time. I hope you are proud of your company and even though I doubt I will even get a response with the typical “this is an isolated case” I know it is not and I know people all over the country have fallen victim to the shocking repair service known as KNOWHOW who ironically really don’t KNOWHOW to offer customer satisfaction.

    Michael Robinson

  3. They must under contract repair within 42 days max their new contracts state 7-21 days but if you have waited 42 days ask them to replace it, I got £560 pcworld vouchers on day 43 after them messing me about (origial pc was only £450) but they give you money for same spec. that does not excuse there absolutely appalling service and numerous calls and letters the ordeal they put you through is horrendous

  4. the last time knowhow tried to fix my laptop it took six weeks. On day 42- the day they are contractually obliged to fix the laptop by or replace it- I had an email saying it was repaired…..but it would take another five days to be delivered. It was just a cynical way to cover themselves against replacing my laptop. I even offered to drive down to where ever it was and pick up. Surprise surprise ! there was some nonsense health and safety issue to do with me knocking on their door and collecting it.

    I eventually got it back with a long list of things that were apparently replaced- I immediately noticed two things that were not fixed. It lasted three months and broke again.

    As I am writing this i am in my fifth week of waiting for it to return.

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