Carphone Warehouse and the HTC Flyer: comic, customer-repelling incompetence

Carphone Warehouse and the HTC Flyer: comic incompetence

With its novel stylus input and smaller physical size, the HTC Flyer offers a real alternative to the all-conquering iPad, and yesterday we thought we’d show some friends what the tablet is capable of.

And what better place to let them try out the unit than on London’s Oxford Street? It is, after all, Britain’s busiest shopping street and home to a host of Carphone Warehouse stores stocking the Flyer.

High end product

The tablet’s certainly not cheap at £599.99 (or £129.99 plus £25/month for two years), so we assumed that Carphone Warehouse will have pulled out the stops to show off the HTC Flyer in the best possible light to potential customers.

Sadly, the incompetence we encountered in their stores would surely send Messrs H, T and C in to a wild rage as we discovered that not one of the four stores had a fully working tablet.

Carphone Warehouse and the HTC Flyer: comic incompetence

No stylus

The first Carphone Warehouse store we visited (by Oxford Circus) had a HTC tablet on display – but with no stylus attached or available.

So, at a stroke, the whole USP of the product was lost – with no sketching or  note taking, it was no different to playing with a bigger version of our regular Android handsets.

It wasn’t even connected to the web either, so all we could do was click about on the paltry selection of default apps before giving up. A poor start.

No power

The next store looked more promising, as we quickly spotted a HTC Flyer and a stylus on display.

Unfortunately, the tablet wouldn’t turn on. After calling over an assistant, he proceeded to pull the display box apart to discover that the power supply had apparently been nicked. Or was never there in the first place.

Quite how long the machine had been lying dormant there is anyone’s guess, but we’re thinking it had been some time, quietly repelling any potential customers.

As if to hammer home the point, our friends picked up a nearby iPad 2 while the assistant was busy deconstructing the Flyer’s case. They were instantly enthralled by the tablet, enjoying a slew of web-connected apps, games and pre-installed apps.

Carphone Warehouse and the HTC Flyer: comic incompetence

Once, twice, three times a non-Flyer

Our friends were already losing interest in the tablet, but we thought the third store surely MUST have a working HTC Flyer on display?

Nope. Once again, there was a unit on display, but once again, no stylus. Which is the whole point of the thing.

We asked a pre-bored assistant who informed us that the stylus had gone ‘missing’. When we asked if she could perhaps get another one, the answer was no. There was no other stylus.

Carphone Warehouse and the HTC Flyer: comic incompetence

Ah, forget it.

The fourth and final store (on Tottenham Court Road) saw us locate another stylus-free HTC Flyer on display with no shop staff expressing any interest in finding a stylus for us.

By now, all our friends had long lost any interest in even talking about the HTC, but with several working iPads on display nearby, Apple’s fine product ended up making a very good impression on them.

A disaster all round

As tech fans, we want to see healthy competition for the iPad, because strong rival products drive innovation, but if major outlets can’t even get it together to put working models on display, the likes of HTC may as well give up now.

It’s all about the first touch

First impressions are vitally important to customers, and if you’re trying to persuade them to fork out for a lesser known brand than its vital to show off its best points and advantages.

Carphone Warehouse’s performance in this area was beyond embarrassing, and we can only imagine how many potential customers HTC must have lost through their retail partner’s incompetence.

We’ll be sending a copy of this article to both HTC and Carphone Warehouse, and it’ll be interesting to see what response we get (if any). We’ll keep you posted.

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6 Comments on “Carphone Warehouse and the HTC Flyer: comic, customer-repelling incompetence”

  1. That’s a real shame, but pretty much indicative of Carphone Warehous I’m afraid.

    I purchased the WiFi only version of this tablet (and will use it on the go with a personal 3G WiFi hotspot). It is a fantastic piece of kit. I only decided on this tablet due to the stylus because I still prefer to design systems with pencil and paper – and I’m great at losing paper. This enables me to keep my notes in one place.

    The stylus does have a little delay as noted in other review but is nowhere near that bad and I find I can easily jot down quite small text without an issue.

    One problem I do have is that when using the stylus it is all too easy to rest your palm against the three buttons for Home/Menu/Back. It would be nice if these could be disabled with the stylus menu.

  2. I expect the stylus in both shops, where it was missing, had been stolen. I remember a few years ago trying to look at Thinkpads in a some department store that had few different ones. In two out of three examples the little rubber fitting on the ‘nipple’ had been taken. The moral is: don’t have loose components that itchy fingers can steal.

    I guess also that the appeal of the stylus (and I do get that) will be ruined by putting it in a pocket and wearing a different jacket when you go out with the tablet. In the days of pens I used to lose lots of them. The stylus needs to be on a cord or fine chain or something. with a docking place for it. It will be like the spoon-on-a-string that you used to get in transport cafés.

  3. We have to give HTC some credit here – we emailed them at 2am this morning to inform them of the article, and they’ve already written back offering to send us a unit on loan for a fortnight. Expect a full review shortly.

    Carphone Warehouse were a little more dismissive: “Thanks very much for letting us know about this. Please be assured that we will be picking the issue up internally and addressing the issues you’ve raised.”

  4. Nice to see HTC being responsive. Part of the reason I decided to go with the Flyer was that they generally seemed to be held in good regard from previous customers (there are always going to be the horror stories ofc). Quite a few friends have HTC mobiles and rave about them. The HTC Sense tweak is nice and I actually put down them releasing this without the latest Android OS as a positive. Shows a company is not willing to rush out a new OS until it is happy with it’s implementation.

    Expected little more from CW. It’s the kind of service level us Brits seem to be happy to put up with… or at the very least let companies get away with.

  5. Very nice! They’ve either got a good pr department or Wirefresh is well on it’s way to becoming a big hitter!:)

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