Shopping Experience in Australia with Harvey Norman

, posted: 2-Jun-2010 14:51

Well, what a journey it has been over the past two weeks trying to acquire my dream notebook PC, the Sony Vaio Z series.

A couple of weeks ago here in Australia, Harvey Norman advertised a sale - "16% of all laptops".  I am always cautious before getting too excited about sales like this.  Often there would be numerous terms and conditions, exclusions and what nots.  Well, after looking through their website, there were no particular T&Cs to be concerned about - in fact, there were none!

Perfect, I thought.  Off I go to Harvey Norman in the city.  To my surprise, they suddenly took off all of their high-end Sony Vaios from the display.  Every week I have seen the Vaios sitting there, but not this particular weekend.

I checked their in-store T&Cs and again, nothing there.  No mention that the discount only applied to in-stock laptops or that it excluded any particular brands.  Excellent!  Today's finally the day!

I asked a salesman: "Do you have the Z series in-stock?"  
A less than enthusiastic response given: "No, no stock for three weeks".  
"Can I order one?" 
"Yes but the discount won't apply"
"Why not?  The ad doesn't say it had to be"
"Sorry, only applies to in-stock items".

I received the same kind of response from two other stores, all of which did not have any high-end Sony Vaios on display (but usually was displayed).

Unhappy, I thought it wasn't worth my time complaining or following-up.  Then as I thought about it more and more and after reading up on some others around the country being able to order one in and still get the discount, I realised the Harvey Norman stores I visited were, quite frankly, misleading customers and deliberately removing the Vaios from their displays.

I found - via the Harvey Norman website - their complaints e-mail address.  Didn't think I would receive a response let alone receive a response within a couple of hours on a Sunday night!  Their social media manager responded to say he would follow-up.  He didn't answer any of my questions, such as, "why were Vaios taken off display just on that weekend?" or "why couldn't I order one in and still be entitled to a discount?"  However, it was plainly obvious.

To Harvey Norman's credit, the social media manager followed-up and managed to get the franchisee of the city store to e-mail me.  The Franchisee offered to order one in with the discount.  What I was surprised to read was the fact that apparently they did have some stock on that weekend and the Vaios were displayed.  Hmmm... anyway...

So to Harvey Norman's credit, they came through for me - despite making a loss of a few hundred dollars on this Sony Vaio Z.  It's a shame that the advertising can be a little misleading (possible "bait advertising") and their staff a little misinformed.

Anyway, well done Harvey Norman for responding to feedback.

Other related posts:
Twitter and Facebook - the new way to communicate with large corporations

Comment by muppet, on 2-Jun-2010 16:39

Well done for following up! I'm amazed they came through for you, from what I hear about them.

Harvey Norman is a real "Mum and Dad" store, i.e. not the place people who usually know what they want go to.

Comment by hellonearthisman, on 2-Jun-2010 17:21

This sounds similar to the $288 HP netbook off Harvey Norman had boxing day.
Glad you managed to get one of those Sony Vaio Z series. I find it's the actions of some stores that is letting down Harvey Normans, by hiding stock and the use of misinformation.

Harvey Normans social media team are very good though and it's nice to see them on the ball.

Author's note by heavenlywild, on 2-Jun-2010 17:25

Yes, I was surprised to hear back from HN to be honest.  I am just one lousy customer, haha.  Then again, I think they realise how fast bad press can spread especially through Facebook, blogs and twitter etc.

It gives me more confidence to shop at HN knowing they have a social media manager to look after any customer concerns.  Wonder if NZ has someone like this too for HN.

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New Zealand

A kiwi currently on an OE in Australia, working full-time.  

I love technology and everything about it, although I am not a whiz in programming.  

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