Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Why I hate Halfords

Sometimes a firm has an utter disconnect between a great online presence and the grim reality of their stores.

I tried buying a bike from Halfords. Yes, I know, but their site offered a brilliant "reserve and collect" service - you reserve it, and they'll assemble it for you to collect when they open the next day. No sooner had I placed my order than they texted me with the order code. Fantastic online service!

The next day I turned up at the Halfords store in Mile End. It was empty apart from two people behind the bike desk, both playing with their mobiles.

I handed over my reservation code. The guy made that "kiss my teeth" noise so valued in Customer Service. "I've not built any of today's bikes yet. So...."

"But," I protested, "Your website...."

KMT again. This time with a shrug. After prompting, he tears off a till receipt, scribbles down the phone number of Customer Services and then gets back to talking with his colleague about sneaking off for the afternoon. As he wore a badge labelled "Duty Manager" I hardly think this was the perfect crime.

I rang customer services and explained that there's a difference between their amazing website and their awful shop. The response was an audible shrug. It would have been better if she'd said "Well, we're Halfords. What did you expect?" What's most puzzling is that someone at Halfords has clearly put so much money into trying to rehabilitate their brand online, but they're still wearing the concrete boots of their shitty shitty stores.

To cap it all, when I get home empty-handed their amazing website had emailed me with tips to help me enjoy my new bike. Way to twist the knife.

Sadly, I probably will end up having to buy a bike from Halfords. But I'll be thinking "Fuck you" every step of the way. Because I know that's what they're thinking about me too.

8 comments:

Penny said...

Why not try Evans Cycles at Spitalfields? http://www.evanscycles.com/stores/Spitalfields

I can't vouch for the shop but I've had over 10 years excellent internet service from them - and they are bike specialists rather than car specialist...

I would never use Halfords internet again after the trouble I had at Christmas.

Skip said...

Hi Penny

Evans are brilliant but their bikes are more expensive - as I live in a charmingly high crime area it's £100 bikes for me. There used to be a great independent store that flogged reliable cheap bikes - but now it's Halfords. SIGH.

rhiannon said...

Hi James,

I live a relatively sheltered life in the sticks, and just hadn't considered the high theft risk aspect of bike ownership in London. Shame you can't actually buy a bike with isomorphic controls. Good luck with Halfords.

h.russell said...

Decathlon in Surrey Quays has cheap bikes, you can try them in the shop and there's no assembly required.

Skip said...

Hi Penny

You win today! :)

Hugh said...

If you can wait till end of May, I can bring a bike down I no longer need Marin 17" Mountain Bike, prob need servicing but is otherwise ok
Unless you coming up here to Glasgow

Hugh said...

If you can wait till end of May, I can bring a bike down I no longer need Marin 17" Mountain Bike, prob need servicing but is otherwise ok
Unless you coming up here to Glasgow

Skip said...

*waves at Hugh*

I'm in Glasgow next week. Isn't that perfect?