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back to article Ailing Comet at last prayers: Cawing of accountants and VCs fills air

Beleaguered bricks and mortar retailer Comet is lurching toward administration with Deloite understood to be waiting in the wings. Parent Kesa Electricals offloaded Comet to OpCapita in November 2011 for a nominal fee of £2 but it was forced to hand over a £63m dowry for working capital purposes and retain the pension scheme. …

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Anonymous Coward

Didn't move with the times

Even before the rise in internet sales, Comet was moving from a shed where you could buy stuff cheaper than elsewhere to a place where spotty know-nothings tried to flog you an extended warranty.

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At Last

Having once been a customer of Comet and having had to deal with their so called Customer Service - this closure is long overdue.

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Re: At Last

+1 having also dealt with their customer service (used in the very loosest sense) I won't be mourning its passing.

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FAIL

Not how it's done.

Apple (whoa there haters, lets talk just about the stores) have shown how retail can be done successfully. Nice place to shop, Easy place to shop, lots of ability to try before you buy, and get hands on. Plus in apple's case there is not an undercut in the products online. Main issue with Comet/Dixons/Curry's etc etc is that they don't add ANY value. Their staff tend to know very little about the products and be very un-interested in selling them (and why should they they are on low pay, however they may find that was preferable to a closed down comet) The store does very little to help. Aside from some TV's all playing the same video, which 9 times of out 10 they can't tell you how it's getting there (is it hdmi?) and is not something you can compare from one tv to another, there is very little to be able to use in the store that adds to actually going there. Want a washing machine today, great you can't have one, all the ones in the store they can't sell, and the one you want is on 2 weeks back order....any value add there? Can you ring the store and ask this? Well you can if you can fight your way through endless 0870 IVR..hmm any value? Demo's can I go and see an android tablet being demonstrated, nope. Hoover? nope....So perhaps someone in these bricks and mortar stores needs to think why I, or any other consumer would want to go into one? Hint, it's not to place an order on a PC in the store, with someone who types more slowly than I do by a factor of 10, and who won't allow me to compare to 100 other stores for delivery/price at the same time. If I can do that in my Lunch break, I'm not going to waste my time coming to your stores.

So if there is no reason to go to the store, then guess what...people won't..

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FAIL

Re: Not how it's done.

The point of the high street is that it satisfies an instant need. If I was willing to wait a few weeks for a delivery I would've ordered something from the internet!

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Silver badge

Re: Not how it's done.

The difference between Apple and (in this case) Comet is that Apple sell their own stuff, while Comet are a general retailer.

Retailers like Comet could "do an Apple" and provide the facilities for punters to play with the kit and give it a good test drive. The problem is that costs, and will be reflected in the price.

As Comet are flogging stuff that is sold elsewhere, they have to compete with those other retailers. They cannot provide an Apple-like in-store experience, offer Amazon-like prices and make a profit.

All people would do would be to play with the goods in store, decide which one they want and buy it from some online retailer who doesn't have the overheads of a "bricks and mortar" store and, therefore, can offer the goods for a lower price.

Indeed, that is what a lot of people do right now.

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Happy

Re: Not how it's done.

Except with the internet, you can get next day....

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Not how it's done.

"Except with the internet, you can get next day...."

Not necessarily. Ordered a new item from Amazon (partner) at the end of August. Much chasing over non-delivery. Two months later they say it was lost by Royal Mail and they say they have given a refund. No offer to s end another one. My suspicion is that they had run out of cheap stock and were hoping they might find some more somewhere.

If a High Street shop had stocked the item it would have been in use the same day.

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Yawn

They won't be missed, except by those unfortunate enough to be working there.

The big department stores have more goods per square metre, and many many times higher customer footfall. Going into comet has had an 'end of term' feeling for several years now, and no significant effort seems to have gone into making it a pleasant or worthwhile experience.

The 'extended warranty/insurance' scam put me off for a long time. The delivery and installation service was reasonably good, but no better than the local TIGER retailer and IME the independants were cheaper.

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Anonymous Coward

Bankrupt Stock Sale

Come on bargain hunters lets see what's being flogged off on the cheap.

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Re: Bankrupt Stock Sale

>what's being flogged off on the cheap

Things that people have demonstably not wanted to buy already.

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Re: Bankrupt Stock Sale

>>what's being flogged off on the cheap

>Things that people have demonstably not wanted to buy already.

...at their original price.

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Re: Bankrupt Stock Sale

Comet sale .. All Extended Warranties must go

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Alert

Re: Bankrupt Stock Sale

They have stock????

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Next

Will be PCWorld/Currys. Maybe they need to get back to selling bicycles?

Internet competition? Maybe. But also Tesco and Argos.

Harvey Norman still has a big Electrical, AV and computer section here, but I doubt if they make money on it.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Next

"Internet competition? Maybe. But also Tesco and Argos."

Argos announced last week that they were closing stores. They realise they are reacting rather late to internet competition.

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That explains their TV ad

Shouting about 2 year warranites on tablets and such like - they might not be around to honour them

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Silver badge

Re: That explains their TV ad

Bit late for them to be acknowledgnmg the EU law on warranties, having spent years denying it...

Yet another reason for them to die horribly

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Last straw for me

I tried to buy a fridge-freezer and washing machine from comet a few weeks ago, thinking I'd go to a physical store as it would be quicker only to find that that had almost none of them in stock and I'd have to wait 3 to 4 weeks for delivery anyway. So I didn't bother.

Really whats the point of a physical store where you can't get the stuff immediately anyway?

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look at the reasons

If you go on the internet to buy you tend to be buying something you know by reputation, previous experience or what ever.

For a shop to sell you something that will inevitably be more expensive (they have massive overheads to cover that the internet sites don't) Then the shop needs to provide you something the internet doesn't.

The most obvious things would be

Intelligent, hygienic, knowledgeable, well informed staff with buckets of information about your proposed purchase, alternatives, pitfalls and benefits. Getting the cheapest you can hire is not the answer

Extended customer service - coming out delivering and installing, repairing, servicing... but not for an extra fee that makes the already more expensive than the internet prohibitively expensive.

A chance to 'touch and feel' the goods - it is quite important, this is a thing the internet can't provide, BUT, if this opportunity is not turned to a sale by a really good salesman and a wonderful 'benefits' package for buying from the shop then the customer will (as I do) return home and buy the same product from the internet.

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Alien

Re: look at the reasons

Quite so. But in order to have all those "positive shop experiences" (in particular, well informed staff - a PDF or a point-by-point comparison from the Internet is very hard to beat by a human), and the risk of customers then turning around and "buying off the net" anyway, I can't imagine the shop can make any money competing against a well-stocked, well-done and reputable online shop. Checkmate for this kind of economical actor?

Wrinkled mummified zombie icon, then.

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Re: look at the reasons

John Lewis springs to mind as a good bricks and mortal example of a place to buy consumer electronics. Good staff, free 5 year warranty (used mine when my 4.5 year old TV stopped working, no drama and they gave me a loan set while mine was being repaired) and will price match the internet. I always buy my TVs there now.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: look at the reasons

"John Lewis springs to mind ..."

Bought my new dishwasher off them with a five year guarantee. Not happy with the cleaning performance. Contacted the service number which turned out to an outsource company. No help information - just a call centre to book appointments. They tell you that if the engineer can't find a fault then you will be charged GBP100 for the call.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: A lesson Currys has learned (to a degree)

The staff at Currys/PC World can still be a bit hit and miss but my recent shopping experiences with them have been far more positive than just a few years back. Perhaps they'll weather the Internet storm.

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Re: look at the reasons

Going into a shop and playing with the products, letting them make their pitch and then buying on the internet is completely unfair on the shop. If the shops hadn't abused their customers over the years people feel would feel some form of loyalty to the shop and wouldn't be so inclined to do this.

Personally if the shop has made a good sales pitch and I like the product, does what I want, etc I would buy it from the shop but not before getting a discount that reflects what the competition if offering. Trouble is more often than not the sales pitch is appaulling and they don't make their sale even if they offered a discount.

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FAIL

Have to agree with some of the others on here... Comet really were the pits. We've there several times despite vowing never to go there again (what can I say, sometimes price trumps my principals!)

The worst incident was buying a plasma TV from there in 2010. The saleman piled on lots of pressure to buy a £100 Monster HDMI cable, then a £50 Monster HDMI cable, then an expensive Monster surge protector, then a warranty... I was amazed I didn't just walk out. I should have done, but by that point I had my heart set on a big telly.

They truly didn't know their products ("The Humax only has a one year warranty", "Funny, the box says it has two") and they didn't even know their own procedures ("Oh yes, they'll refund you on this - it just needs to go to the tech team to make sure it wasn't broken through abuse, we'll call you in a week" - cue a repaired item several weeks later after no phone call. This was a few month old drier that exploded inches away from my face as I went about other business, I begged them for a refund as the experience made me wary of the quality of the item, but they wouldn't budge).

Like another poster said, they add absolutely no value. Sorry, Comet.

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Same thing on an expensive combi-oven, died after 5 weeks, no discretion by the manager and only offered a repair. Totally unacceptable customer service - they're getting their just deserts, the market has decided.

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Inevitable - it won't be the last to fail

This has been a long time coming but utterly inevitable. These electronics chains were exploiting the extended warranty scams ruthlessly, and all seemed to work together to avoid discounting and giving the consumer a fair deal, there was no true price competition. In addition to this the staff were untrained chimps who were paid peanuts. As soon as an alternative (the online seller) came along with better deals and convenient delivery to the door, the days of these big retail chains were already numbered. They could have cut their losses, jumped on line and dumped their bricks and mortar operations back then, but they didn't, instead re focusing their efforts to exploit those shoppers who were not on line or who were unsure about the technology, some of the appalling misselling I have witnessed in these stores is truly sickening, with the elderly being their main targets. Personally this parasitic practice was a disgrace, and I'm glad to see it removed from our high street. The other parasites guilty of this are Currys / PC World and Apollo 2000, so I am hoping to see the headlines that they will be vanishing from our high streets and retail parks soon.

The future of electrical retailing is invariably manufacturer funded demonstration facilities, with fulfillment being carried out by the likes of E-Buyer or Amazon, but instead of retail chimps, we get knowledgeable product demonstrators, the cost of this being borne by the manufacturer as a marketing cost to do business.

Add to this the Liebour years, with their hatred of private motorists, making even getting to these stores a major inconvenience, and the online option looks really good. I hope all of those supporting the motorist hating policies can now see clearly where their misguided religious beliefs about anthropomorphic climate change has led us, I hope they're proud of their efforts and the destruction of the retail environment where many young people used to get their first jobs, I guess it's now McDonalds or Burger King as the only options now.

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Trollface

Browett to the Rescue!

Lucky for them that John Browett is available again. I'm sure he'll be ready to save Comet again, now that he's done sorting out the mess that was Apple Retail.

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Re: Browett to the Rescue!

+1 Beat me to it

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Childcatcher

Re: Browett to the Rescue!

This is a corpse, not a sick patient...

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Anonymous Coward

oh no! :(

where will I go to see the kit, before I go and buy it on the internet?!

Calm down, there's still Dixons... I mean, PC World....

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Where I live.

The local Comet is next door to the local Currys/PC World.

Why? Just why?

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Re: Where I live.

Same here in Nottingham, Currys, Comet AND a PC World all in the same retail park, (city center shops closed down years ago). No wonder Bestbuy didn't last long when they tried to join the party and failed to be any cheaper (or more knowledgeable).

A shame though as this pretty much leaves the large retail space to DSG.

John Lewis do do it right, polite salespeople, knowldgeable and courteous. People will and do pay the extra for good service.

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Re: Where I live.

Same here, they might even share half a shed each - can't really remember because although I practically walk past quite frequently I do just that, walk past. I'm sure I wouldn't even notice if they closed down.

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Hands up who's actually bought anything from comet?

I was looking for a washing machine for my new place. Neither comet or currys could beat the price I paid at my local indie electrical shop, and that included free saturday morning delivery!

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Re: Hands up who's actually bought anything from comet?

I had almost the same experience when I replaced the washing machine. Researched it online and then popped to the local indie who not only pretty much price matched, delivered and installed it less than 2 hours later! Even took the old one away along with some old desktop kit we had waiting to go to the dump :-)

Bought a TV for my mum earlier this year and got that from Tescos as they had them on offer and we could take it home the same day.

Whilst I feel for the people that face an uncertain future jobswise, I have no sympathy for Comet at all. There is stuff all use in having a showroom the size of an aircraft hanger if you make punters wait weeks before you can deliver the thing. And then not show up/call to say you aren't coming at all - which was my last experience of them 10 years ago and I haven't touched them since.

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Go

Re: Hands up who's actually bought anything from comet?

I bought my Panasonic SD255 breadmaker from there using their click and collect service, £80 which was £20 cheaper than everywhere else at the time.

I also bought my Toshiba Regza TV from them, another Click and Collect. That was possibly the best part of their business. The clearance comet auction site also had some excellent deals from time to time, my Washing Machine was bought from the online site for £99 with £20 postage.

But the reasons all mentioned above have snowballed into what was inevitable to all of us. I don't know how long Maplins and PCWorld/Currys will last in their present form. I also think we might see a casualty in the large DIY stores, Wickes/B&Q/Homebase are often ridiculously priced but they do actually have most of the stock in store to buy instantly. They have a few years left but their overheads must be huge maintaining the large stores and staffing them. Their staff are usually well knowledged as well, but Screwfix and Toolstation are creeping up and have far lower overheads.

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Re: Hands up who's actually bought anything from comet?

Screwfix have been opening physical stores for many years

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