Gerry Harvey: The Internet Doesn't Work, But We'll Still Be Australia's Biggest Online Retailer

Gerry Harvey is a force of nature. Every time he opens his mouth, gold pours out. Not any gold, though: aural gold in the form of ridiculous sound bites. Gerry's latest media outing is no different, slamming the internet, the problem with kids today while rebranding the Xbox and Playstation.

Photo: Patrick Riviere/Getty Images

Gerry sat down with Ten Late News to talk about all things retail, including his stores and online businesses, and with a whip of bravado, he launched into his diatribe.

First cab off the rank was the Australian retail environment, which I will give him, is actually in some trouble. But then:

I think one day you’ll find that Harvey Norman is the biggest online retailer in Australia. But it’s not going to happen overnight.

Harvey Norman has a good online store by comparison to the co-founder's hatred of all things online, but the largest in Australia? I think not.

In the same breath, however, Gerry said labelled the internet as a fundamental failure:

Look, I’ll go down in history as saying the internet doesn’t work and it will. I don’t know where that comes from. That will be on my epitaph I presume.

So in the space of thirty seconds, Gerry Harvey said that he'll become the largest retailer in the country on a platform he believes is a failure. Riiiiight.

Any other pearls of wisdom, Gerry? How about one saying kids are lazy because of video games?

I think one of the great tragedies with youth is that they spend so much time playing games and crap on computers and they’re not outside. You’re not healthy and it’s a big problem in our society. If I could get rid of computers, all leisure computers for all of Australia I probably would. They can have them at school, but leisure time -- no.
We’re talking about kids playing games mostly online and wasting their life away basically playing games online because they’re not getting any physical activity and their minds are screwed up on these games.


Watch the full interview here. [Kotaku]

Mark Serrels contributed to this article.



    Face it Gerry, Harvey Norman will never be the biggest Australian retailer. Your stores are over priced and the customer services is a joke.

      Oddly enough - I've never found HN to be a price problem.
      Range, saleperson knowledge - sometimes... often. But if I go to a rtailer with an idea of what I want, and the appropriate pricing - they've NEVER let me down.
      Sometimes I have to visit two or more 'stores' - but you know what - if it exists I find it, or I develop the solution myself.
      OTOH - I often buy online both locally & overseas - when the need arises.
      (Aargh! my brain hurts)
      What's so hard for everyone to get right ?
      Observe, desire, research, identify, negotiate, purchase then use.
      Perhaps we can develop an icon/process that does it all for us automatically - we can pay someone to monitor the icon 24/7 for our convenience (they can play games while they're waiting) - in fact we can play against them with all the time we've saved for better things !

        Their pricing is terrible compared with the competition let alone online and their service is worse than discount stores like JB (in fact I tend to get better service from more knowledgeable staff at JB, go figure).

          Yeah, the main difference I've noticed between the service at JB and HN is that the people at JB seem to actually give a shit about what they're trying to sell you. I went to HN to ask about which router-modem would best suit my needs. The guy who I asked got really flustered, read the back of 2 boxes then proceeded to recommend the most expensive, overpowered model in stock.

        Your local HN but be the cheapest in Australia if you don't have problems with the price, or maybe you are rich. My mother just two weeks ago went to buy a laptop and she went to HN, it was $3000 for this laptop at HN when she went to Office Works it was $2000, now you can't tell me that HN isn't overpriced bullshit.

        Real shoppers don't 'observe, research, identify, negotiate' etc. Real shoppers have gotten paid and want to step into a shop, fancy an object, impulse decisions take over and they make a transaction. Some old fart heard of an iPhone, they walk into a store and buy it. They didn't go to Gizmodo to spend 30 minutes reading whether it is good or not.

        You may be the type to do your homework before going shopping, so am I, but fact is we represent a smaller proportion of shoppers, and actually we are the easiest to sell to because there is nothing to even try sell us. We don't need the knowledge etc.

        Now Gerry has a problem not with us techies but even regular shoppers who know that HN is shit (knowledge, range, price, everything). If he hadn't of even tried to make a fuss so consistently on the media, the brand image would not be as tarnished even if the prices remained the same.

        They are overpriced on almost every product they stock, to the point of being over $1000 more expensive on the exact same model of TV than JB HI-FI at times.
        MY Sennheiser HD-25 Dj headphones are $230 from a DJ store - $499 from Harvey Norman.
        The can't justify a markup like that, a major retailer like them should be able to out price a stand alone store

        Nice try Gerry.

      Honestly i think that is quite an outdated view of things. All the stores i have visited recently had nice staff and their prices are mostly competitive with Dick Smith , JB Hi-Fi et al.

      I really dont understand how they are still operating?
      Ive been looking for a fan for the past week and couldn't find one anywhere.
      I finally decided to call HN and see if they had any, The guy on the phone said "Yeah we got heaps of them!". I said: Damn, They must be pretty expensive because everywhere around the are was sold out. lol. So i went down and had a look and it tuns out they were more than over priced. They were Fu*king ridiculous! Those shitty $15 fans were selling for $50 @ 20% off! That is a massive WTF?
      so i looked at the decent ones that were big chrome ones that would actually last. They turned out to be $120. I tried to negotiate the price and got a whopping $5 off! How awesome is that!?
      Anyway, I brought it home and there was a plastic piece in the pole that keeps it high, and it was broken, so i couldn't keep it high. So i called them up and explained to them that i just brought it home and found out it was broken and wanted to get it replaced. This was their response...
      "Sorry sir, All our products are carefully tested to be free from damage before we stock our products so it must have been fine when you bought it" At that point, I realized that i had just wasted $120 on a broken fan.
      Now, Just because i hate Harvey Norman so much. Im going to take this all the way down the road to consumer affairs. Harvey Norman are unbelievable. I would never recommend them to anyone. Ever, And i mean EVER...

    The internet these days is a failure, 15 years ago it was a better place by far.
    Before youtube and before facebook the internet was a place for the intelligent and the creative to share and learn.
    These days if full of trolls, morons, greedy money making companies and armchair warriors looking for a cause that doesn’t need them.

    this guy is an idiot no doubt, but there is always a nugget or merit in what he say's.

      While you have a point, I think Mr Scroo... I mean, Harvey is talking from a business point of view. And he couldn't be more wrong.

      15 years ago it was a barren place only those with intelligence could access, of course it was better haha

        21 years ago the internet was barely accessible outside of Universities in Australia.. :) Fun times.. fun times.

      "15 years ago it was a better place by far"

      You must have scrubbed from your mind all those horrible Geocities pages and such like it.. Horrendous page design and low res GIFs ahoy!
      Also trying to download anything on a 56kbps modem (Yay my family had upgraded by then!) was pretty terrible, and hey the internet already had plenty of people acting like idiots. Your rose-coloured glasses must be super-strength!

        I wasnt talking about the look of it, sure geocities was horrible, and it was slow, but if you jumped into a chat room or a website to ask a question, you got maybe 1 guy be all like "hher hher, your mum or id do you, ASL?", that 1 guy was usually then shunned and kicked/banned.

        where as these days you get 100 people "herpaderp, GTFO noob" and maybe 1 person willing to help or offer something contructive to the conversation.

        its nothing to do with rose colored glasses, its all about experience, fact is too many idiots have access to the net these days and the've ruined it.

          I think you visit the wrong places, mate. I haven't seen that kind of behaviour, apart from around here in a long time.

          Oh fair enough, I used to use mIRC a bit back then but it was mostly to trade files and such rather than chat.

        God i remember player CS etc on a 56k modem those were the days.

        Times were simpler back then.

      The internet used to be composed of smart people in front of dumb terminals. Now it's the other way around.

        BAHAHAHA, simple and correct, love it

      haha someone needs to get off their high horse, you sound mighty pretentious.

    Look, I’ll go down in history as saying the internet doesn't work and it will. I don’t know where that comes from. That will be on my epitaph I presume.
    So in the space of thirty seconds, Gerry Harvey said that he’ll become the largest retailer in the country on a platform he believes is a failure.

    That's now how I interpret that quote. It seems to me that he's saying everyone else is saying that he thinks the internet doesn't work, not that he actually believes that.

    I'm guessing you failed English comprehension Luke?
    "Look, I’ll go down in history as saying the internet doesn’t work and it will. I don’t know where that comes from. That will be on my epitaph I presume."

    He's saying he doesn't understand where the rumour came from that he doesn't believe in the internet. But it seems to follow him no matter what he says, so he's guessing it will follow him to the grave.

    Despite having backed him up on this point, I still think that Gerry is a postulating tool.

    Last edited 06/02/13 10:16 am


      That's how I understood what he was saying

    If Gerry feels so strongly about the youth, he should stop selling games and consoles. Put your money where your mouth is, or shut up.

      Agree completely.
      If the marketing and ability to access this crap is throttled, we may see some societal changes.
      Now let's move on to grog.


      too right, typical preachy businessman trying to appeal to those i like the call the todaytonight crowd whilst taking money from the groups hes slamming, if he thinks video games are truely a plague on kids then id expect to see them removed from his stores...which coincidently would make 0 difference to the video game market

        Kids are so unfit? I'd love to see him up against a class of 25 high school aged kids. It would be Lord of the Flies, and his head would be on a pike in under 2 minutes.

      "I think one of the great tragedies with youth is that they spend so much time playing games and crap on computers and they’re not outside."

      So that'll be the consoles and PCs sold at his stores then? Where does such hypocrisy come from?

    Luke (or Mark), I think you have a comprehension problem. If Gerry said "I’ll go down in history as saying the internet doesn’t work and it will. I don’t know where that comes from", then he means that the comment is attributed to him but he doesn't know when he said it. i.e. It is not necessarily something he believes.

      Glad to see it's not just me that thought Luke's interpretation was odd.

      Agreed. In that sentence, he says " will [succeed]"

      So he believes there is a future in the internet, as a business platform. Not the most revealing insight, but it was interpreted wrong by Luke.

    heres a some gold for gerry, the only reason i end up "shopping" at harvey norman is because your so desperate for a sale you will price match/beat anything

    Haha wants to get rid of pcs and games.. I wonder how much cash he makes off them

      Not as much as some people think. Probably next to nothing if any other retail store is anything to go buy.

    You know something like HN with a big retail presence could really innocate a bricks and mortar combined with online store approach.

    They won't though.

    Is that Tara Reid in the photo with him? That's random.

    To me his attitude is not complex. If you built your business around a certain way of doing things and it was massively successful, it's quite natural that you would ride the gravy train and be surprised and upset by the Internet. I don't know if I'd call it complacency.

    Anyway America was *always* going to be miles ahead of us because they had robust mail order businesses for years and years. Converting that kind of business into the Internet as the primary sales channel is a piece of piss compared to what Harvey Norman have had to do. Four years ago they probably had nobody on staff who even knew where to start.

    In other news - Gerry Harvey is completely irrelevant in modern society!

    Jeeze, all this comment about GH and nobody's noticed the blonde in the picture with old 'Ger?
    She's hot, but her t-shirt slogan is hopelessly optimistic with an old coot like him.........

      I'd say his money would go a long way to compensate her concerns that old Ger' may not live up to the ideals presented on her T-shirt.

    Gerry, you re kidding your self - its 2013 now man and the world is moving forward not backwards. You ve had your heyday!!

    I would say his got a point about kids being lazier these days because of video games. Take it from a kid who grew up in the 90's when all I did was play outside and play sport until i get the first Playstation for my birthday...

    Indeed they're overpriced. Went in, asked for the Transformer Infinity tablet, they told me they had it for 797, 747 for the 32gb model. I asked if they could match the online price of 570 with kb and the guy told me I wasn't able to get it anywhere that cheap with a keyboard. Well, long story short, I did. 32gb wifi version for 570 online. Took in the receipt too. Egg on his face for sure :) Plus I now have this awesome Tranformer Infinity tablet :D

    Are you ignorant, or just senile? Harvey Norman will be bankrupt within a year or so.

    No offence kids, but your examples of individual sales do nothing to down play the fact that the guy is a gazillionaire from being Hardly Normal. If that goes under, his wife is proving herself a very successful promoter in the horse racing arena...stay tuned

    They have the worst online model. You go on the website and it says a product is in stock. You order it and you get an email saying its been sent. 2 weeks later nothing. You enquire and find out while its in stock in Sydney they can't get it in perth. You request your money back and have to end up threatening them 2 weeks later. Umm why can't they ship it from Sydney.

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