Wales

Currys 'mis-sold warranties,' BBC programme X-Ray finds

TVs for sale in a shop
Image caption Warranties are often sold in store along with electrical goods

Hundreds of customers of retail giant Currys have complained they were mis-sold extended warranties, a BBC Wales investigation has found.

In internal documents seen by consumer programme X-Ray, customers claim they were sold a warranty even though they said they did not want one.

Others say they were wrongly told they had to buy a warranty, the papers show.

Currys said the documents are a record of why people cancelled a warranty and do not prove mis-selling.

The firm said the papers reflect only a fraction of 1% of total sales.

Staff who have spoken to the BBC on condition of anonymity say they are under intense pressure to sell warranties - and other extras like in-store set-ups for computers or cables for televisions.

X-Ray asked one salesman if he had ever mis-sold a warranty.

He said: "I have had to on occasions to keep my job. I have a family to feed. I have to keep my job."

The internal documents seen by X-Ray document around 2,000 cases of potential mis-selling brought to the company's attention in a six-week period last year.

The report features incidents at stores across the UK.

In around 850 cases, customers said they were told - wrongly - that they had to take a warranty.

In another 1,250 cases they either refused a warranty, but were sold one anyway, or were sold a warranty without being told about it.

Prof Margaret Griffiths, a consumer law expert, said: "Companies are under an obligation to tell customers all the material information they need in order to make a proper informed decision.

"If a company has deliberately withheld material information then that would be contrary to regulations as it would be a material omission.

"That has the potential to be a criminal law offence."

Other documents seen by the programme show that staff can be put on what's known as a "capability programme" if they fail to sell enough extras, like cables, warranties and set-up services.

Some staff fear this could lead to them losing their jobs.

One whistleblower, who held senior positions in Currys stores over a number of years said: "The guy who is asking all them questions and trying to sell you the warranty and all the add ons - his job is at risk if he doesn't do it."

The company have strongly denied the allegations.

It said that the internal report given to X-Ray lists various legitimate reasons why customers cancelled their warranties and not just cases of potential mis-selling.

The firm said it uses this list to help staff identify issues with the sale of warranties and to address any problems with staff. And the claims of apparent mis-selling made by customers have not been proven.

Currys added that these warranty cancellations actually account for a fraction of 1% its their total sales.

The firm also stressed that staff are not rewarded for the inappropriate selling of warranties and add-ons.

X-Ray is broadcast on BBC One Wales at 19:30 GMT on 25 March. It is also available on the BBX-Ray iC iPlayer from 24 March.

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