Maplin Electronics – if it’s under £100 and lasts a year that’s as much as you can expect

Way back in March 2012 Maplin sold me this 7″ TV from Maplin. My main application was lining up security cameras, but I also thought it would be useful for checking the weather forecast when in our campervan. As it was I didn’t realise there is no useful Teletext replacement on digital TV. A smartphone and the weather page on the BBC website is far more practical, unless you’re in parts of Scotland. And then you probably don’t get DTT service either.

Today I wanted to rig a camera looking at the massive Barn Owl box kindly provided by Suffolk Wildlife Trust at the Oak Tree farm because a barn owl is a frequent visitor, occasionally to be seen at the box and there’s loads of bird crap underneath it, and some owl pellets, or so I am told by people who know about this sort of thing. I get to see this, rather than a blue screen I’d expect with no signal

Maplin customer service is crap
One dead Maplin TV that they refuse to replace

So I take advantage of the glorious sunshine and take a wander through a couple of recs and the park, to it back to the store

And they refused to replace it or refund. It was the usual runaround, sorry sir, yes, I agree it’s a bit short for the TV to fail but company policy is yadda yadda. They suggested I contacted Maplin Customer Services, where I talked to Kirsty who repeated the story. I educated her as to the Sale of Goods and that this TV was not of suitable quality as consumer durables should last longer that a year and a bit and she more or less said “f*ck you, so sue us” I wish I had a recording, but since I used Maplin’s phone to avoid paying some usurous 0844 charge I couldn’t do that. Next time I will take one of those sucker pickup coils and a recorder.

I really try and avoid using the phone with big firms. If I have to deal with them then writing a letter is usually quicker and cheaper, plus it wastes less of my time. But if I do have to use the phone then I always record the call as a matter of policy.

This reminds me that there are added advantages to not buying consumer crap. Not only do you not spend money. You also don’t get the sort of deliberate frustration that companies like Maplin set up to reduce their costs by avoiding their legal obligation to supply goods of suitable quality.

I remember Maplin from a time when it wasn’t a purveyor of cheap Chinese crap but actually a supplier of useful components. They took a business decision somewhere in the 1990s to get out of the electronics hobbyist market and into the gadget end, and increased their prices to about one and a half times what they should be. And became a damn sight more successful 😉

Now I can’t really get too excited about the £70, but I sure as hell don’t like being taken the piss of. So I got onto MSE and looked at what I should have done and exactly how to put the letter which will be the next step. I suspect that Maplin take the Ryanair policy of customer service. They spend the money on training their staff to runaround complainants enough  that they give up, and in the end there’s only so much effort I’m going to put into this.

But it’s a little bit more than rolling over. I’ve taken MSE’s template letter, though I’m not going to threaten legal action fo a £70 TV, otherwise I think the people in Maplin’s complaints centre would be justified in having a titter.

The official Maplin policy seems to be –

If it’s under £100 and it lasts more than a year, that’s it, sunshine. It doesn’t owe you anything

Not only does this sort of shoddy approach contribute to the amount of e-waste, it’s also taking the piss. A TV is not a consumable item. Okay, 10 years is asking a bit long, but five years is a reasonable minimum service life to expect.