Mystery Shopper: Wood Green

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Mystery Shopper is regretting moving to Android after years of loyal servcie to Apple. The red iPhone has caught his eye and he’s decided he wants a slice of that action. Can the stores help?

5: EE

When I walked into the EE store I had a feeling it wasn’t going to turn out well. It took a few attempts to try and get served to realise it simply wasn’t going to happen.
The shop itself was laid out very nicely. The obligatory iPhone and Samsung stands were on the right, although the former had no handsets on display, with comfy seating areas all around for talking over any problems or tariff plans.
There was also a small area at the back which presumably acts as a help bar for anyone who needs it. However, it also seemed to double up as a hiding place for staff. I’m not sure if it was the Easter holiday effect but the store was loud, busy and hot yet all the staff seemed to do was stand behind the help bar and either wait to be approached (or hope not to be approached).
On my second visit there were more staff dotted around and talking to customers however the same people that were being seen at the time of my first visit were still at the desks, being attended to half an hour later – and by the look on their faces they were destined to be there a lot longer.
I moved over to the Apple display but found that the only device on show was the iPhone SE and, on second evaluation, found that despite the layout, this shop was looking tired and in need of some tender loving care.
After another 20 minutes my disappointing visit to EE came to an end. I generally find that EE’s service is good but the demand of being the UK’s best network may be a curse when everyone and their dog has an issue.

Product range: 0/5

Product knowledge: 0/5

Value knowledge: 0/5

Questioning ability: 0/5

Sales ability: 0/5

Shop appearance: 4/5
4: Three

The Three shop was laid out in the same fashion to the other Three stores I have visited. Pods rise up from the ground with a range of handsets on them from Huawei, Samsung, Apple, Sony and the rest of the market. On the right there was a help desk to sort out any troubles that consumers are experiencing and towards the back there were seated areas for staff to talk through plans.
The shop itself was quite busy with several people in and around, asking questions and signing up for devices. However, despite this there was a couple of assistants available.
I approached one, said hello and explained that I had recently taken a gamble and bought an Android device after years of allegiance to iPhone. But the transitional process wasn’t working and it was time to go back to what I know and love.
Unfortunately, my nameless assistant told me that the red iPhone is only available online and over the phone and they had none in stock at that location.
I asked her to find out how much I would need to pay and if there was any movement on the price instore but this lady was not for turning and reiterated that the latest iteration of the iPhone was only available online and possibly over the phone and with that, showed me the door.
Yet another disappointment from Three as I was blankly told that they couldn’t do anything for me and I was best off going online. As with any new release from Apple, it seems like the red iPhone is in high demand so stocks are low, but to not have any or even offer to help out is very frustrating for the customer.

Product range: 0/5

Product knowledge: 0/5

Value knowledge: 0/5

Questioning ability: 2/5

Sales ability: 2/5

Shop appearance: 4/5

 

3: Carphone Warehouse

The Carphone Warehouse store is one of the most spacious I have been in and for the first time, I was able to see why the shops are laid out like this. There were displays on the right of the store for iPhone, Samsung and Google Pixel as well as one or two other manufacturers such as Huawei and Sony but at the centre of the room there was an open space that was – at least on my first visit – filled with people.
Again, due to the school holidays, the shop was too busy on my first visit but I tried later and was able to speak to GK and explained to him that I wanted the red iPhone after trying out Android and not liking what I bought.
GK knew exactly what I was talking about and asked me about my data usage as well as letting me know about the price match guarantee at Carphone.
He came back to me with a plan under EE for £46 per month for 6GB of data, unlimited call and texts providing that I paid £100 up front.
I told GK I was trying to gather as much information as possible and asked him to write down the tariff so I could compare it against the offerings from the networks. GK was only too happy to oblige but warned me that tariffs rarely stay the same for long and that it would definitely be different tomorrow. I agreed that I wouldn’t hold him to ransom but as he was finishing up his superior came over and told him to stop because tariffs change all the time.
I explained that I knew that and wasn’t going to hold it against him but she wasn’t in the mood to listen and threw the paper in the bin. GK then looked at me apologetically and repeated the tariff to me before I left.

Product range: 3/5

Product knowledge: 4/5

Value knowledge: 3/5

Questioning ability: 2/5

Sales ability: 2/5

Shop appearance: 3/5

 

2: Vodafone

A good enough showing from Vodafone on, frankly, a pretty poor day all round for the networks, however it did take a lot of loitering and hanging around until my presence was noticed by the one member of staff on the floor.
The shop was a narrow one with the usual, iPhone, Samsung, Vodafone broadband and device displays as well as the standard round table full of flagship devices at the front. I did notice the iPhone display was short of iPhones but overall the store was well furnished and well maintained.
As I mentioned, I did need to hang around and wait around for Carly, the assistant in attendance to glance up from her phone, taking in the best that the narrow shop had to offer but when she did notice me, I was afforded a smile and asked how she could help.
I explained that I was used to the iPhone but had taken a gamble on Android but it wasn’t working out. I also mentioned that I had seen the red iPhone and was ready to ditch my current handset for some of that action.
Carly was only too happy to oblige and subsequently went to check if they had any of the handsets in stock that were not already spoken for. On her return she told me I was lucky because there were only two handsets left that I could walk away with that day.
We then took a seat and talked business. After letting her know that I get through around 5GB of data a month, Carly came back to me with a plan for unlimited texts and minutes and the 5GB of data I requested for £53 per month with £100 upfront cost.
I was then told about the scheme under Vodafone that let me take advantage of a 15 per cent discount if I knew a friend or relative that work for the Police, NHS or fire service or any of the companies that sign up to the scheme.
Fortunately my mum is a nurse
and as a consequence I could receive the discount, bringing the price down to £45.05 per month for the same allowances and the £100 upfront price.
I then made my excuses and left with the tariffs written down and a good idea of what I would be paying for the device and plan I needed. Unfortunately, I was not asked about the different size of the device. This was disappointing as – given that I clearly had a larger phone – it seemed to be an obvious starting point.
Overall though, not a bad performance, when I was eventually seen I found Carly very informative and approachable and I think I would have walked away with a good deal.

Product range: 3/5

Product knowledge: 3/5

Value knowledge: 3/5

Questioning ability: 4/5

Sales ability: 3/5

Shop appearance: 2/5
1: O2

The O2 shop is not the biggest with displays all around the store impeding the room customers have to walk around. Two displays in the centre of the room for Apple and Samsung devices were flanked by a help desk on the left and other devices and consultation areas on the right.
I hung around the Apple display, hoping to catch someone’s eye and my plan worked a treat because Laszlo came bounding over to see what he could do for me.
I explained that I’d tried Android after years of loyal service to iPhone and didn’t like it so wanted to switch back with a red device.
Like a gun from a holster, Laszlo pulled out the exact device that I was looking for and said “this one” to which I agreed.
However, instead of going straight over to the tables, Laszlo took the opportunity to ask why I wanted to change and why I had a go with Android in the first place.
I replied by explaining that I was used to the way that iPhones are laid out and, although they are not very different, I was comfortable with that layout and I only went to Android because of the change in price.
Despite obviously being an Apple fan, it was good to see that he wanted to see what I didn’t like and, presumably work out whether a move away from Android was actually the best thing for me.
We made our way over to the table to figure out the best plan for me. Unfortunately there was no 7 Plus devices in stock but I could have walked away with a red iPhone 7 as they were in store.
Laszlo offered me a few plans, all with unlimited calls and texts but £58 for 5GB of data, £62 for 10GB of data or £67 for 20GB of data.
He then added that he could do nothing on the price so I made my excuses and left.
All in all, my trip to O2 was a refreshing one. Despite it being lunchtime on a hot spring day, I was still acknowledged as soon as I walked through the door and told how long the waiting time would be.
All of the devices on display were clean and void of fingerprints – not something I could say about the rival stores in Wood Green. The iPhones were even on display and near the door, whereas everywhere else had the display tucked away in the corner.
Laszlo was a very nice guy and easy to talk to. Of all the salespeople I encountered, Laszlo was the only one who didn’t immediately want to sign me up to a contract and, instead, listened to what I liked and disliked about Android so that I made the right decision.

Product range: 3/5

Product knowledge: 4/5

Value knowledge: 4/5

Questioning ability: 5/5

Sales ability: 4/5

Shop appearance: 4/5

 

Summary

iPhones are obviously one of the most popular devices on the market but it’s interesting how popular a single colour is.

Given that the Easter holidays may have just started, going to an EE shop at lunchtime on a sunny day may not have been the best idea Mystery Shopper has ever had.

I wasn’t given an explanation as to why Three could only cater to my needs online, I’d presume that they just didn’t have the stock yet.

GK from Carphone was in contention to win until his manager rained on his parade.

Carly from Vodafone took a while to approach me but when she did she was very helpful.

But Laszlo from O2’s knowledge and passion shone through as he swept the competition away.

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