Why Windows 8 Is Make Or Break For Harvey Norman

Harvey Norman has a problem. I think you'll agree that the general perception of one of the nation's oldest home grown retailers isn't great. You might be surprised to know that Gerry Harvey himself actually recognises this. He knows full well that his stores aren't front of mind when it comes to tech. 50 years on from the birth of Harvey Norman, and the commander has decided it's time to change strategies. This is how Harvey Norman is going to make you like it again.

50 years is a long time to be doing anything. For Gerry Harvey, he's been surfing waves of retail success for most of that time. Only in the last five years or so have those waves come crashing down on him and his stores. Profits are down by comically huge amounts, ridiculous public campaigns against online retail and higher than usual prices have made Harvey Norman one of the last stores you'd think of to get a new gadget.

Ben McIntosh knows as well as Gerry that there's a problem. Ben is the company's head of computing, and has been for years now. He's in charge of buying, positioning and selling the company's latest and greatest laptops, desktops and tablets, not to mention he's one of Gerry's field generals.

The consummate professional, Ben was suited to the nines on the night of the Windows 8 launch, and I pulled him aside for what I found to be one of the frankest chats I've had since Gerry Harvey told me he "doesn't want to talk about f**king online" to us "f**cking journos" around 12 months ago.

The late hour of my chat with Ben was spurred by the midnight launch of Windows 8 that was minutes away from taking place as we spoke. Ben told me that this is the time, the moment that he has chosen to turn the rubbish public perception of Harvey Norman around. With a launch that includes 56 new devices over four weeks, it's not a bad move.

Part of Harvey Norman's problem, Ben told me, is the staff and the customer experience. People walk out of stores now none the wiser than when they went in. Education and communication lines between customers and staff are down, and Ben is working hard to turn it around:

I see Windows 8 as an opportunity to reboot the public perception of our technology business. As Gerry said before, there is a perception that we have bad service, we don't know what we're talking about, et cetera.
I have personally invested time and we have sent 350 of our staff away for a week — that's a lot of their time. We sent them up to the Gold Coast to become certified as Windows 8 specialists with Microsoft. We negotiated with Microsoft to bring out executives and experts from the [United] States to do it and we paid for all of it. We then sent all of our store franchisees to a two-day cut-down version of that. We want to make sure that when a customer gets Windows 8, we know what we're talking about. If they buy something after that, that's ok, but if they get [extra] knowledge from Harvey Norman, I'm very proud of that.

So with the little money Harvey Norman does have left in the war chest, Ben is using to fight a war on the knowledge front. Knowledge certainly is power, and he hopes that his staff can impart as much of it onto customers to make the stores relevant again, stopping the slow bleed to online retail that Harvey Norman is currently suffering.

The second half of the problem Harvey Norman faces is price. In an increasingly cash-strapped retail environment, Harvey Norman needs to stay above water while still trying to offer value. This one, I think is a gamble: Ben says that the company won't try and compete on price with other retailers, simply because it can't. Instead, it's going to compete on customer service and product how-tos:

It's not illegal to make a profit, and if you don't make a profit, you're not in business. If you look at our financial results though, you'll find that [the perception that we protect our high margins] is not always right.
What I can guarantee is that I can ensure customers will always get the best value in a Harvey Norman store. Despite this promise, I cannot promise to offer the cheapest product on the market. I can't do that. I have to pay for the stores, the lighting, the staff, the training, and if you pay for quality staff, you're making an investment.
I can't be the cheapest on the market, but what I can do is use my buying power to pass on the best value to franchisees and customers. For example, all of our competitive pricing...includes free technical support from an Australian call centre specifically through Harvey Norman [with any new Windows 8 device]. That's not going to be a sales opportunity, that's purely for service.

All we've seen out of Windows 8 coverage in the mainstream media over the last nine months is the fact that it's going to be a huge step-change in the way people use their computers. That means not a lot of Harvey's core buying audience are going to upgrade straight away, but when they do eventually buy a new computer, the store will have their back in the education process. Windows 8 is a great time to launch such a service.

Ben wants another 50 years of Harvey Norman. Everyone does. Right now the company is at a cross-roads: does it take its winnings and push back from the table, or does it push back on an environment it's still trying to grapple with. All I know is that we're now taking it one year at a time, rather than a decade at a time.


Comments

    Sound more like a paid advertisement rather than an article.

    The other issue with HN is that the staff are never there to answer your questions nor help, most of them are busy chatting up with some bird or sheila, and when the do give a ear, the most common answer is let me see and they will turn the device upside down to read the specs off the device/box or worse still, and most common, "I just bought that last week" if the guys at the shops purchased every device you talk to them about, HN should not have been complaining about the dips in profits or sales.

    It is a move in the right direction, empowering them with information is a good start, now how about teaching them some customer service and courtesy...

      Yup. Ask a sales person what the difference is between 2 products and they'll essentially respond "they're all basically the same, mate". Don't dare respond explaining why they're not the same, you'll be told, usually rudely, you're talking to an "expert".

      --------

      As far as the Gold Coast trip is concerned, HN staff will be Windows 8 literate (let's be honest, they'll be coached on how to better advertise Win8 to consumers, not educate consumers about Win 8) but still have woeful levels of ignorance about everything else sold in their stores?

        I went to buy a chordless phone to use for VOIP off HN six months or so ago, only to be told that DECT doesn't exist and I couldn't do what I was saying I wanted to do. Went to Officeworks and got the same phone for less, works great.

    I appreciate what Ben is trying to achieve. But successfully making HN staff worth the extra profit margin he needs to charge is going to take years... not a week at the Gold Coast.

    Last time I went into a HN store The only ''service'' I received was one of the sales staff who'd ignored me for a half hour pulled me aside in the checkout line to put his initials on the price tag.

    Apparently that would have earned him a commission on the sale.

      I agree. 1 week on the Gold Coast might get you a tan but not the wealth of information and customer service skills the HN staff are lacking.

      OTOH, a week is enough to learn how to sound just knowledgeable enough to successfully push pointless and expensive accessories on the customers who don't know what they're doing.

    I remember being let go from a hn store because i spent too much time educating the customers instead of selling to them.... Ahhhhh well, i kind of find any retail business that deals with multiple products never seems to know anything about any of then cause they all focus on selling and there is too much change and variety to just magically learn.

      I think ultimately it is dependent on the franchisee. I went (very apprehensively) for an interview at my local HN. It started off positive but devolved to 'we expect you to sell the highest expense item the customer want, using the idea they won't need to upgrade'. Sorry, but I'm gonna talk to the customer and find out what they want and need and explain why. Then I'm gonna sell them the cheapest thing that'll do the job, maybe the mid-range if you are unsure of the functionality they'll need.

      I think HN have a way to go yet....

        But by that logic; instead of being a one off sale, that annoying customer would keep coming back - trusting your expertise and honest advice... What business place would want such a daft practice to occur.

      I fully support educating customers and providing better service, which is what I think the point of the article is about... but (and I hate pointing out the obvious), you MUST be able to SELL, not just educate.

    HN have had their chance. You need competitive pricing AND customer service to win the battle now a days. HN customer service always reminds me of a dodgy car salesman and I hate that. There's no excuses for pricing, either. The article has Ben boasting about their buying power. I would've thought it went hand in hand - if you have the buying power then you should be able to be competitive. I'd much rather go to somewhere like Officeworks, where their staff aren't on a comission and you do get the right price.

    I think it still reeks of not getting the problem. The fact that so many people are buying online clearly shows that customer service isn't as important as Ben thinks it is. We live in a world where anybody can research any product using 10 minutes on Google, and those people who don't know to do that know somebody who does.

    The other problem I have found with Harvey Norman is that there is no middle ground. Staff are either ill informed or arrogant. If I have done the research and worked out the product I want don't talk down to me because I am not interested in the product that you have picked.

    Lastly, the staff are never going to offer perfect customer service as long as they are getting commission. They are going to push the machines that have the highest margin.

      I have to agree. I used to work for them and while they did put in an effort to teach us about the products we were selling and how to sell them, it was very hard to combine the attitudes while remaining friendly.

      I personally had no problem with putting customer service over commission as I worked in the video games section (the section with the least profit) part time but seriously I was reasonably respected but only for my effort, the rest of the staff clearly thought gave me the impression that my low profits were a waste of their time and since I wanted to do better I would try to push the products they asked me to, but it would always end the way you described.

      One of the worst experiences I had was selling Flexirent. Flexirent is clearly HN most profitable venture and salesmen with high Flexirent deals per month are praised almost to the point of worship. I was not very good at selling it, and working in games made it a rare occurance (who wants to pay more to rent a $500 console?) Anyway I once got a guy to rent and I was thought I was being as honest as I could about what he was getting into while being as excited as I could about it being the best deal for him. He was a friendly customer and I was ecstatic that I did a good job and impressed my boss. Yet even after all that effort he still came back the next day telling me that it definitely was not what he was after. He wasn't upset with me but still wanted a refund, I had no idea what to do in such a situation and was torn by my desire to see both the customer happy and my boss happy. I got one of my managers to lie to him until he took the deal. It was horrible for me to watch.

      It was one of the last straws before they did a "franchise management rotation" yes they just straight up swap bosses between stores. So now the very staff that kept me on even though I had so little financial value to give, was replaced by a boss who didn't care for a place for a place for his staff to sit and thought anybody who didn't have a full-time position was automatically lazy. So I quit right before Christmas.

        Ah, "franchise management rotation". Gerry and his posse were pretty renowned for initiating those for any franchisee who didn't deliver or tow the line. As far as I know, the franchise agreement basically said that HN reserves the right to rotate any franchisee to any loctation at any time.

        I applaud Ben's efforts, but I'm reasonably convinced that it's the business management model that's the main cuplrit. And that's driven by the big man himself. No amount of product knowledge is going to help while Gerry himself is struggling to adapt to the changed business environment, particularly when he is so convinced he is right, but so clearly has been wrong. There's some inlking that that is starting to change - because Gerry isn't an idiot - but I suspect Harvey Norman ultimately may need to lose the Harvey to survive.

      Completely agreed.

      Most people I know who have bought appliances/technology in the last 5 years have done so knowing exactly what they want down to the model number; or at minimum have educated themselves enough to know what specifications they're after - before even having set foot in the store.

        Ok it's defiantly obvious you don't work in retail. I have been selling IT for years & customers don't know what they want. Prob about 50% of my customers didn't understand anything about computers 20% thought more ram makes it faster eg. 8GB RAM is twice as fast as 4GB the 4 could be an I7 the 8 could be a Pentium DC. 15% thought it was tiggabytes and the last 10% wanted an std camera card. That leaves me with the 5% that actually understands computers and they usually build their own any way. I know I do.

          Hold up there sparky - I did say that "...Most people I know...". That wasn't indicative that all people fall under this category.

          I also didn't say I was referring solely to IT either - only a week ago my father-in-law when looking for a top-load washing machine, with dimensions within a certain size to allow him to use a pre-existing space in his laundry. Did he go shopping with a particular model number in mind? No. Nor did he need a sales-person to try and sell him a Fisher and Paykel front load washer which costs twice as much.

          PCs are just as much a commodity item these days - most people easier swayed buy styling than system specs these days. Yes there are differences between various models - but people don't need sales people telling them what to get like they once did.

            Sorry, didn't mean to go so gunho. I understand what you are saying, but I still disagree with ya. To the people thathave that thing called a clue. yes i totally agree. But working at a major retailer of electronics I sod every thing from compact cameras to DSLRs laptops and desktops printers GPS even fitness equipment (I know my punctuation sucks but I'm typing this on a phone) the same principle applies. Most don't understand that a $300 laptop can't do games and photo and video editing. Or what makes an image better on cameras, or even how to work out cost per page on a printer. I'm not trying to boast but the amount of people I have uphold to a better printer our camera is huge all because I showed them the facts. You are right to a certain degree but some don't need them, most do Coz most can't be bothered. Us sales people are heals to out recommendations of we recommend something that doesn't fit their needs we have to return it by law. So if anything their is more protection going through a salesperson. Any way that's my rant. Thanks for listening. I'll get of my soap box now :)

      So how do you fix those things? I'm pretty sure commission is worked out on price, not on margin, so I don't think your last point is valid.

        The more expensive the item is, the more commission they will get, so obviously they will try to sell you the higher priced items.

        Wrong it's worked out on margin. And if they didn't have commission they wouldn't have encouragement to sell surge protection (good ones), antivirus, extra cover for when the machine does (I for one have never had some thing die in the 1St 12months) and whatever else they sell.

        It was worked out on margin when I worked at both JB hi fi and at a car dealership.

        Think about it. You sell a $50K car with $1000 profit in it why would they pay you more than if you sell a $30K car with $4000 profit in it? Answer, they wouldn't.

      I disagree. I'm American and over there commission sales and customer service go hand in hand for the majority of the retail outlets. You can be the best salesperson there is, but if you give rubbish customer service, I'll just go somewhere else and the same goes for the pricing. While I do research products online and generally come with my mind mostly made up, sometimes I do want to examine the details on the packaging/product or speak with someone who may specialise for that product. After moving to Aus, I don't find the need to shop any differently and if Harvey Norman doesn't want to give me good customer service and low pricing, I go to JBHifi or somewhere else that will help me more or give me a better deal.

      I think the Gold Coast training is too little too late. Yes, training needs to happen for both customer service, sales AND product knowledge. I'm going to buy something from someone knowledgeable who is impatient, ignores me and then gives me attitude. Closing the sale is very important, but generating a good rapport to make the customer want to come back for repeat sales is astronomically more important.

      In the past, I worked at a computer retailer in the US. We had a 1 hour weekly sales/customer service meetings, a monthly product training hosted by a group of product vendors combined with an online product training program that had all the new products with educational lessons and quizzes to ensure we knew the products. In addition to all that there were all kinds of incentives for customer service and sales goals. All this was not unique to the store I worked at and in fact quite common to most electronics and white goods retailers. Why can't they do that here?

        I see what you are saying about customer service and commission going hand in hand but I don't think that always happens.

        If sales people weren't commission driven then Harvey Norman wouldn't stock Monster cables. Sales people will lie to your face to offload those things.

          Fair enough about Monster cables, those accessories are where most technology retailers get most of their profit margins. In my opinion, its still better than sales representatives that offer nothing. If you don't give them a reason to go 'the extra mile' then they won't; they will just sit there and ignore you for the most part only doing the minimum that their role descriptions identify. Commission sales staff are generally in it for the long haul and because of that are more invested in the sales process. I've worked with commission sales staff that had been in their role for a decade or more and doing well because of commission sales. They also had customer that would come back and only want to buy from them. I can't see how implementing an environment like that would do anything but improve the experience at Harvey Norman.

            This is exactly how it was at the HN I worked at (in fact an American worker there was one of the best). But this is a different country, the type of shoppers here are strong bargainers and don't necessarily consider retail a friendly environment, I can't speak for all Australians but I got a strong impression that the great customers service and knowledge they're after is easily soured by any whiff of salesmanship. Not only that but there people here on Gizmodo are well and above that, with knowledge and expectations greater for these products.

            They had all the types of training that you mention, but all of these were expected to be done out of work hours with no pay. there was also no overtime so if you failed to get more commission after the training your long hours and weekends would only be more depressing. You could scream that such workers lack dedication but for retail the majority are in it for the money and not the work. I don't know about America but I doubt most retail workers here see their job as a great opportunity or freedom and every reminder that everyone there cares about the cash just motivates them less. In my position it was practically impossible to meet my KPIs even though mine were the lowest. I tried to give the best service I could but customers service is not a KPI and I'd continue to get disappointed looks from the bosses watched as the better sales staff boasted about their commissions.

            At the end of the day most staff were made up of long-haul Sharks who could sell you off a cliff and making good dollars, and go-between part-timers and casuals who just want to go home. They tend to form their own little cliques within the store and try get along awkwardly; one group praised techniques for siphoning money out of customers wallets while the other enjoyed sharing stories of happy customers. But the latter don't stay for long, I remember often getting smiles from my boss when I ringed up customers with a heap of products and addons and then yelled at for giving the customer such a good deal.

      I'd have to respectfully disagree about people doing research online.
      The average customer these days is still relatively lacking in knowledge (mostly due to their own lack of effort in research) when it comes to ICT hardware and software, so good customer service can make a huge difference whether the sale goes through or not. It's unfortunate that the average sales person is almost as illiterate, and push products entirely incorrect for a customer to get a good margin.
      I definitely disagree with HN staff being "either ill informed or arrogant". I'd say (in my opinion) the vast majority is both :P
      These opinions are coming from working for the HN group for a year (in 2010), so they may not be accurate with every store/region.

      I agree with the essence of your post, but I would like for you to take into consideration your perspective of what constitutes as "good customer service" is based on the points you made in your post. a) Obtaining knowledge on a product in order to make an educated purchase = hello Google! b) Not feeling like an idiot for asking the simple questions = for the most part, the internet can be anonymous, c) quality and price of the product = buying what you asked for at a reasonable price (compare the prices of any item and Gerry’s is more often than not at the top of the ladder).
      Given that all of these things can be done online now IS (in my opinion) a version of "good customer service".
      I agree, I don’t think Ben or Gerry realise this, and are suffering because of it.... and the fact that the business model is 50 years old doesn’t help much either.

      Staff at harvey norman are the worst...i shudder to go there

      Agreed mate, their webiste is awfull but even worse is their staff, they have to stop pretending that know everything about everything when in fact they know less than half the customers they have. When I go there i go with intention to buy certain product and I hate when they try to sway me from what I want to get something else, i allready made my mind up and no one can change that after all these years you'd think they know what DRM stands for instead they are looking at you like you said something stupid.

    If Harvey Norman can't compete on price then what is the point, I still won't shop there, I research all my purchases online and consider myself well informed about the product I want to purchase and don't need to hear the sales person talk sh!t for 15mins. I'm sure most people know what they want before making a purchase, I for one would rather have minimal contact with sales persons where ever I go, the days of good customer service are long gone, not just at Harvey Norman, but everywhere.

    Here's your problem, Ben "McIntosh" he's not a PC.

    I think that the sales staff should be interested in technology. Sending some kids away to the gold coast will not help if they don't grasp the fundamentals. Sure they will be able to quote the training but will they understand it? Will they be driven to learn more about it on there own time?

    My observation is that they stock too much, both in volume and variety. When a shop that is a centre for maybe 7000 houses, and they have 10 different DSL modems and 10 of each, some simple maths is going to tell you that they are not going to sell them for a long time. Breakages are just not going to move that volume.

    They need to buy one or at most two of the top of the line models of things and only enough that they are likely to sell in a month or two. Use their buying power to get those at a very good price so that they can sell then at most 5% above the online price.

    Reduce the size of stores and move aggressively into the online market including having accurate store stock levels, so people can look online and go to the store to pick it up. Give extended warranties based on Australian consumer laws, if the reasonable life of something is 2 years then make it a 2 year warranty.

    At the moment they are trying to maintain their old business system that does not take into account that new product models are constantly being released and that prices fall quickly.

      +1

      http://www.smartcompany.com.au/retail/049559-kmart-boss-slams-retailers-outdated-model-here-are-three-of-his-smart-strategies.html

      It's an odd comparison, but Kmart just did this very thing. For most of their ranges now they have stripped 20 SKUs down to about three or four. One cheap and nasty get you by sort of product, two mid ranges and an expensive model. This has been a huge turn around for them, in the order of over 100% increase in turnover, with products that are 30%-50% cheaper than they were three years ago.

      They also know their target audience, and I think everyone complaining about HN here needs to realise that we ARE NOT their target audience. That's why things like a midnight launch for Win8 I find pointless at HN. That's why service for them SHOULD be the most important offering. And service comes at a price. It's just a shame they don't live up to that value.

      Trevor, that comment is absolutely spot on. If HN filtered their offerings more heavily and sold say 6 laptops that are good in their price category rather than 30, 80% of which are crap, it'd might be worth going to their store. Stocking crap laptops and pushing them on customers that haven't done the reseach hasn't going to make anyone happy in the short or long term.

      It wont happen though. Jerry has conspired to make himself and his company the Australian symbol of high margin ripoff retailers taking advantage of a historically captive market. The best way for him to change this perception is to retire!

    Training and Education is an ongoing process that never ends...that's what makes it time consuming and expensive. When the government of the day back in the 90's (via the ATO), removed the training levy imposed on businesses the businesses responded with cuts to staff training programmes. Cost savings to employers in the short-term leading to longer-term issues.

    Product training, technical training and sales training are three different things (all lacking at HN), that need to be assessed and re-assessed on a continuous basis, especially with staff turn over...gone are the days of holding down the same job or with the same company for 10 years or more.

    So the franchisees have had some Windows 8 product training and the chosen 350 some technical training to boot, but, will they get any more? In the next 6 months, the next 12 months? Have they been tasked to pass this knowledge on both formally and informally? Are they equipped to train? Not everyone is comfortable training others although most think they can.

    Selling whitegoods is different to selling browngoods to selling IT hardware/software. Customer service skills should be valued more highly. It's not just about closing the sale, and leading the customer to the cash register. It's the experience the customer remembers and whether they repeat business...you can attract patronage or drive it away.

      Actually they did have quite a few training programmes at HN when I worked there, the only issue was that it was all designed to be done after hours with no pay (some special courses were paid but too little too late) which was fine for dedicated staff but for those who just work for money, who are obviously the majority in any retail, stuck to what they did (or didn't) know.

    You know, I would shop more at HN if the checkout system worked ! I get really pissed off when the checkout for whitegoods is open and there is no one in the line, but the line for the computer goods checkout is 6 deep. That is why I shop at JB-HI ! I refuse to go into HN any more just for that reason.

      The reason for this is that why they are under the same roof, whitegoods and computers are seperate franchise operations. Stupid, I know but true.

        you should have seen what happened when I stepped out of my franchises jurisdiction, oh no!

    I don't know what Harvey Norman stores you guys go to but I don't have any issues with the staff I interact with. Firstly, they have heaps - I always have someone approach me within a few minutes of entering a store. I always tell them "I'm right, thanks" and they go away. To me that is perfect customer service. Of course, that probably has a lot to do with when you go - I do shift work so I can go during the week, when you get the full-time sales guys. If you go on the weekend you probably get the casuals who are less professional.

    Last night I had a chat with the "Windows 8 expert" at Moore Park and he was very knowledgeable across a broad range of topics. He helped me decide what my next phone will be by correcting a detail about the Lumia820 I had wrong (LTE support). Some of the prices I saw were also ridiculously cheap. He is also the first non-Microsoft employee I have ever seen with a WinPhone 7 handset, almost two years after I got my first one.

    Yes, you can read reviews on-line until the cows come home but until you can see and use a product in a store like Harvey Norman, you cannot always know whether it is going to be the right product for you. e.g. I am hugely sceptical about the 11.6" and 13.3" full HD screens in the forthcoming Asus Taichi. I've read half-a-dozen full reviews and not one of them has gone into any detail about it, so I'm left to wait until it hits stores so that I can see it for myself. You might say that is all good - you can try it out at H-N and then go and buy it somewhere else, but if you don't support local retailers they will eventually disappear and we'll be left to take some other idiot's word for it that the product you want to spend two grand on will meet your needs.

      My experience was similar to yours, I visited my local HN in Mornington, VIC. The Windows 8 "Expert" was friendly, knowledgeable and genuinely excited about the whole Win8 lineup; OS, Tablets, and Phones.
      In general I find that store's service, knowledge and general attitude to be very good, I'll happily admit to buying the odd item from them even though I know I can get it cheaper online.

    On the rare occasion I have purchased something from HN "technology" section, it always amuses me when they still print out the receipt on a carbon paper using dot matrix printer.

      yeah that was always funny. there was a little silver lining though. The carbon always made another copy with all the exact details the salesperson entered on their own machines and the continuous spool made it very easy to have a long invoice which in turn made faxing easy (which there was plenty to do. Of course I don't know much about newer POS systems so this post probably sounds like a dinosaur.

    I was at this launch at the flagship location in Alexandria, NSW, last night, and I have to say that I've never had a better experience at an HN. The store was fully stocked. I didn't see any empty shelves anywhere. Lots of enthusiastic staff in blue Windows 8 shirts asked if I needed help with anything (and I kept saying no, I'm just a former Microsoft employee taking photos to share with former Redmond co-workers). They even had a young trainee there. I looked around and there were some actual deals to be had on various items, not just computers.

    I thought the atmosphere was better than any of the recent Best Buy launch day shindigs with Windows execs in Microsof't's back yard the US, though of course not competition for earlier years like Win95.

    I walked out of the shop having purchased a new notebook for the price (after cashback) of $148. It's not the newest model, but is still more powerful and more expandable than the netbook that has been my on-the-go computer for the past year or so.

    You never receive service, when you do the staff are rude and know nothing about the product they sell. The service department for repairs now won't accept any repairs between the 20th and 1st of each month. No idea why but the sign says so and says its out of their control - something with stock control they cannot accept your repairs in that 10 day period. WTF... Also was there yesterday looked at cameras the so called expert only knew about dslr cameras and proceeded to try and sell me those when all I wanted was a cheap point and shoot for my wife and kids.

    Hey, let's not forget this guy was spearheading the campaign to get sub $1000 online purchases slapped with GST, the government stated that it wasn't viable at the time (something about costing too much to implement/no gain/possibly a constant loss), but that they will look into it at a later date. This dirty bacteria is still lurking, and could cause a problem for us. So let's not forget all about this and pretend nothing is happening, if that tax does come in, Gerry should be hung.

    The worrying part is that we have a labor government, and like all labor governments they spend all the money that the liberal government built up, plus a whole ton more, then try to get it back with taxes, so you can bet your butt that they may try to rape us honest people by taxing us unfairly for these online, sub $1000 purchases. We must unite, campaign and conquer if that day appears to be coming.

    You will not be forgiven mr harvey, ever.

      Are you serious? Online should be slapped with the tax they are a retailer aren't they? They don't have anywhere near they running costs as a major retailer and yet retailers have to pay more?

    Their service is horrible, about time they improved it. I went to help my mother purchase a new washing machine at their Auburn store and are questions were pretty much answered as jellyarrow mentioned "they're all pretty much the same".

    After purchasing one finally, about 2 weeks later the washing machine had issues (this was not their fault, these things happen however what happened next was certainly their fault) and when my mother called up, she was told that there was nothing wrong with the washing machine but they can call out a tech and she'll be charged.

    I then called up, told them what was happening and asked what we were doing wrong. He (the same person who sold us the machine) then backtracked and said that it might be an issue with the machine and would then arrange for someone to come out and take a look, but warned that if there wasn't an issue we'd be charged. What annoyed me was the obvious implication of the way he talked to my mother (who's English isn't that great admittedly) and then myself that we weren't doing it right, but wasn't competent enough (or willing enough perhaps) to help us and wanted us to figure it out ourselves. In the end, it was an issue with the machine and they had to replace something. After that experience, I don't plan on going there again.

    I walked into a HN Domayne & Joyce Mayne store last week looking for iPhone 5 cases, Joyce Mayne greeted me at the entrance but while I looked for 15 mins for accessories not a SINGLE staff member served me. Yet the staff were chatting at the entrance. HN NO ONE served me (after again looking for 10 mins) Domayne I did get served but having worked in retail for 7 years before that I can tell it was drilled into us to serve the customer. So HN drill your staff better.

    They need to fire their whole HR structure now and also move away from the franchised store model - franchise does not work for tech because it is too "laggy" - great for product sets that do not change quickly and can be "perfected" and standardized (think McDonald's) but rubbish when you have days to react and different areas need very different stock. JBHiFi are a great example that it is possible to get it right - their staff might be "scruffy", but they are helpful and passionate (in general) and the stock is tuned to local needs.

    I can handle the higher price tag, to an extent. But, you need to provide a much better experience than you currently are. There is NEVER enough staff on the floor. And even when they are free, they just plainly ignore the customers. This isn't just isolated incidents from 1 store. This is every time I walk in there. I live directly in between 2 stores, and used to vary which one I would go to. It was always a rare visit when I'd get served properly.
    Throwing money at 1 department in stores with multiple departments owned by multiple franchisees isn't going to fix a thing. The whole damn business needs an overhaul. You have the prices, and to an extent, the products, of a premium store. But, you employ staff that don't display the skills needed to work at a bargain basement store. You need to figure out who you are.
    And, for the love of god, keep Gerry out of the media. Any time he speaks, it just pisses people off. If I was a franchisee in HN I would have probably killed him long ago. Every time he talks in public, he is costing them money.

      I know this and the stores i goto the staff say to me there should be more working and its not the other staff's fault. The Harvey Norman stores that i goto that i can't say where in Australia but they know what there talking about and they know i know a lot about electronics and the same about computers.
      A sales person would find out very quickly with me and that is any ware. I find Myers staff are the worst of knowing about the products and that isn't a joke and i can goto Myers and not one sales person is on the floor and with Harvey Norman is full of customers at the same time of the day.
      David Jones don't even match prices and i have seen old stock with old prices in there electrical department and David Jones don't turn over stock like Harvey Norman or JB hifi.

    Why would anyone buy a new PC, laptop or tablet from HN when you can buy much cheaper online. I have always found that HN after sales service is very poor. In comparison my experience with Dell Computers has been without fault. Dell's after sales service is very hard to beat and I am sure their are many other online companies up there as well. Why pay retail when you know what you want? Just do your research before your buy.

    i thought this was an exaggeration of HN. Just walked out of their Melbourne store and the experience was horrible. No one served me, when I approached someone they had no idea about products. One employee was even arguing with a customer for 5+ minutes as to why he wouldn't price match the 39.99 windows 8 upgrade. no wonder there doing so bad

    I just to work in a Harvey Norman Store. I have spend my life studying photography. I had worked as a Photographer, a photographic store and a major supplier before i spent some time at Harvey's in the camera department. The one thing I notice is that people didn't care about my knowledge. When I was in a camera Store 9 out of 10 customers would ask questions and respect my knowledge. Customers I dealt with at Harvey's it was more like 1 out of 10. In fact people tried to tell me i was wrong and didn't know a thing.

    Maybe people should look at the way you treat sales people. Offer them the respect and you will get the respect from them. I now enjoy going into stores (as a customer) and tell off people who just waste peoples time.

    I don't shop at Harvey Normans very regularly, not for any particular reason other than I'm not particularly local to any stores, and they generally don't interest me. If I'm after tech I'll buy online or perhaps pop into one of several local Dick Smith stores. Perhaps a trip to JB.

    Training staff is a good thing, but it does smack as too little too late.

    Being able to trust a staff member a little is better than not at all, but it's not as good as being able to trust them implicitly - especially when a google search will generally reveal the results we're looking for.

    I'd be thinking that if this training has cost millions then it will just go to hurt H.N. who's in big need of re-vamping their retail experience. They need to copy JB Hifi - they sell everything, it's all very cheap, or most of it is, and it's stacked to the ceiling. Ugly, crowded, filled with hipsters, but a great place to actually hand over your credit card. Harvey Norman, by comparison, is big, barren, sparcely populated, over prices - what's to get excited about.

    As someone who just walked out of a HN store empty handed because of uninformed staff, they still have a boatload of work to do.
    The HN website says $58, but the staff say that was launch night only and the website is out of date, you have to pay $399 now!!
    Even Officeworks is still selling W8 at $48 today. No wonder i just gave up and walked out.

    As an ex-Harvey Norman Employee, i do feel the need to come to their defence but at the same time I would have to agree. I worked in the Computer department side of my local store and any question a customer had asked any of the staff was redirected at me, while i was quickly recognised by the general population of my town as the "Go-To-Guy" it kind of let me know how useless the rest of the team actually was. On a related note, we had regular retail training and constant online training submitted by respective suppliers in an easy to access internal corprate site. The completion of these was strictly enforced and a weekly report let the team know if their overall study was not up to scratch. Now an unrelated note; from memory, Gerry is just a face while Katy Paige runs the business.

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