Argos caught out again – this time for race discrimination in toy pricing…

Press release

Argos is in the spotlight again, this time for apparent race discrimination in the toy department… After recently finding itself embroiled in the furore of eagle-eyed shoppers noticing that its “3 for 2” offers were not as they seemed [1] the Argos pricing debacle continues. The latest error shows the company discriminating between two similar dolls, both named Luvabella.

Blogger Lottyearns noticed that whilst the white, Caucasian Luvabella doll was available as a “3 for 2” offer, the “African American’ Luvabella is not….

Consumer expert Helen Dewdney  The Complaining Cow and author of How to Complain: The Essential Consumer Guide to Getting Refunds, Redress and Results! is disgusted by Argos’ apparent discrimination. “In 2017, surely we expect companies to be more mindful of equality and ensuring that they are not discriminating against any one group. It beggars belief that Argos think it is acceptable practice.”

An Argos spokesperson added to the confusion by claiming that the doll in question was not part of the offer: “The other Luvabella doll is available online only, and our online only toys were not part of the ‘3 for 2’ promotion”, said their statement.

Argos has been plagued by criticism recently. Earlier last month it piloted removing its iconic catalogue from various stores. It claimed to be testing demand as more and more people shop online. However, it misjudged customers, who were astonished at the store’s decision and ignited a social media outcry. This was especially due to its lack of understanding about the widespread use of perusing the catalogue by adults and children alike for circling their Christmas wishes!

Only last week Argos again faced a mass of condemnation for its “3 for 2” special offers, where many toys worked out more expensive than the day before the offer started, and a lack of stock in many stores.

Dewdney says that she is seeing an increasing number of people lambasting the retailer over recent months and taking their custom elsewhere and looks forward to inspecting their trading figures for the run up to Christmas. “I wouldn’t be surprised if they are down on the previous year, reflecting what seems to be consumers’ growing disdain for Argos.”

The offer ended on the 3rd October 2017 


Argos caught playing around with toy prices

Press release

Argos have been caught out playing with prices, according to consumer expert, The Complaining Cow, aka Helen Dewdney. She has this week spotted customers complaining about their ‘special offers’ on Facebook, as you can see here…

When is a 3 for 2 bargain not a bargain? When it costs more than buying 3 the day before! The more organised of us have started their Christmas shopping and savvy consumers are looking out for the bargains. The Complaining Cow has found that for eagle-eyed shoppers, all is not as it appears at Argos.

When Argos promoted its 3 for 2 offer on its Facebook page [1], people flocked to complain about being scammed. Jaki Young posted a picture saying “Yesterday’s price vs todays on the joke of a 3 for 2 deal” Argos responded to comment, saying “Our prices do fluctuate up and down throughout the year, driven my many factors. Many items had been sold at reduced prices in the weeks or months before the 3 for 2 started and have now returned to their original selling price.”

However, Cora Harrison [3] who runs The Mini Millionaire blog highlighted that Argos has been sneakily rising prices just before starting the 3 for 2 offer and her Facebook post highlighting the issue has received well over 2,000 shares compared to Argos Facebook advert receiving 54!

Cora, had put three items into her basket on the previous evening. The Fisher Price Laugh and Learn chair was £26.99, (now £39.99), The Cookie Shape Surprise was £10.99, (now £19.99) and the Puppy £10.99. Had the prices remained the same Cora would have paid £48.97. However, expecting to receive the 3 for 2 offer she found that she would be paying £59.98. These items didn’t appear to be on any offer during the previous day.

Other examples include the “lowest price ever” £27.99 VTech Chase me Casey which went up to £37.99







The Argos Facebook page was inundated with examples of this kind of spurious pricing. The Disney Frozen Foot to Floor Ride on shows no offer on when priced at £19.99 but went up to twice the price at £39.99. The Disney Cars 3 Lightening McQueen Tri-Scooter was £21.99 reduced to £19.99 but went up to £23.99











Some stores were honouring both prices, whilst others were not. Sheree Brumby reserved £250 of toys, but when she went to collect the “3 for 2” offer was not honoured, so she went elsewhere!


When Kayley questioned Argos, the company’s response was that it was up to individual store managers to honour the deal or not:

When contacted for a statement, an Argos spokesperson said We recently ran a promotion on a limited selection of toy products which ended on Tuesday and the products returned to their full price. Customers can now take advantage of our ‘3 for 2’ offer across an even wider range of toys which offers great value and launched on Wednesday.”

But this isn’t the only problem that Argos are having with their offers. Kelly Gibson posted on the Argos page that a £39.99 item she put in her basket changed to £59.99.

Argos customers were reporting numerous items going out of stock straight away at the start of the promotion suggesting, that it isn’t Argos not planning properly (it does after all have enough yearly figures to use for planning) but that something else going on….

Consumer expert Helen Dewdney, The Complaining Cow and author of How to Complain: The Essential Consumer Guide to Getting Refunds, Redress and Results! [14] says that a trader must comply with Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 and it must show that it has a due diligence system in place to prevent misleading practices.

“Whilst it is unlikely that it could be considered that Argos has breached these regulations and we all understand that prices change, it would appear that there are many examples of prices increasing literally overnight. It seems from these examples that many were not in any kind of offer before and certainly numerous customers are saying that they have been misled. With the increase of the use of social media, more and more people are sharing their experiences and sharing intelligence! So companies have got to treat customers better if they want to retain loyalty.”

Update 7.55pm Argos replied to my Facebook post, so I replied back! Feel free to add your comments ‘cos Argos will be back to it!

Consumer Reviews Pros, Cons and Who Uses Them?

I was asked recently if I used review sites. Yup. Of course I do and there are links to the best ones on the home page of the blog. I was also asked if I thought people did generally and if so which ones. Interesting question I thought, so I did some extensive scientific research over a couple of days and asked a few friends, family, and those who follow me on Twitter and those who like my page on Facebook. So here are my findings based on more than 30 responses……!! 😉

It takes longer to look up reviews than it does to write a letter of complaint. Going from all the people I know, only about 3% put a complaint in writing. The rest one assumes are content with accepting poor food, faulty goods and poor service for which they have paid. So why then would one assume that so many more people would spend far more time looking at what a best buy might be? Ah logic and common sense doesn’t always work does it? But even so, there are articles out there saying that reviews are being written and read more. This may well be the case but by how many more? A significant amount? I don’t think so, not really, not yet and not to make any significant impact on sales.

What sites get used the most?
Even what must arguably be the most well known and most used review site Trip Advisor was used by only 35% of respondents and less than 10% post reviews. Amazon was also popular with 30% using it and of course Which? with a surprisingly low score of 20% of respondents using it.

Other sites getting a mention were, AV Forums,, Argos, Review Centre, Yelp, Ciao, DooYoo, Checkatrade, B & Q and new on the scene BizAdvisor. One or two of those I hadn’t even heard of and I use review sites! But! More people went by the name of a product than used these sites.

Amazon reviews are good because if you are already on the site looking to buy it takes no extra clicks to see the review. Some of the reviews are  very funny too. Take a look at my mate Iain Duncan Smith’s first (and last?!) novel on there. (Check out the “All I know series too!)

Then of course add in the thousands of people who didn’t respond! Surely we can deduce from that, that a similar amount or less use the sites? So we could safely say a tiny tiny percentage of people actually use review sites.

How much can you depend on sites anyway? Anything less than having 5 reviews you are going to disregard. There isn’t nearly enough reliable information. Let’s take Trip Advisor. Now I do write reviews there! Lots of ’em! Not just bad ones either (I know you were thinking that!)  but I do take just as much delight in being given a “found this helpful” vote on reviews which clearly would stop someone staying somewhere as I do with ones where extra business will be gained. I think writing reviews helps people and it doesn’t take that long. Part of my principles – if people complained more then service would have to improve, it’s the same thing really, the more we share good and bad service the more accountable businesses become and the more people will use review sites. A good review site will allow businesses to comment on reviews. It happens surprisingly little on Trip Advisor. A site where businesses are able to have the last word when someone criticises them on one of the (if not the) largest reviews sites out there and still very few businesses use their right to reply. So the business is missing many a trick a) to thank customers to encourage them to return and b) risk other people accepting a review that may not be wholly true.

The point about relying on reviews was picked up by people who said they didn’t use review sites citing them to be unreliable. That why I advise only really taking on board reviews where there are at least 5 entries so you can discount the top and bottom.

“Ah” said someone “TrustPilot is good because you have to verify that you were a real customer” You’d think that would be good wouldn’t you? Not necessarily. Last year a company tweeted that they would give people a £20 M & S voucher to the first 10 people (may have been 20) who wrote a good review. Totally backfired, people retweeted this and it did them no favours. They deleted the tweet later but the damage was done. Some of it by me it has to be said. I felt it my duty. Me being me tried to do something about it and I contacted Trust Pilot. I left a review stating what this company had done and the business got the review removed within an hour because I was not a real customer. I did it again and got abuse from the company! I contacted Trust Pilot and told them what had happened and they asked for my customer reference clearly not having read my email stating that I wasn’t a customer! Followers of this blog know how much that sort of thing annoys me so I emailed again, and again they came back with the same thing! I got really cross and made myself very clear but so did they, that they would do nothing about the company which had attempted to buy reviews, a clear breach of their own rules.

Update 22/10/15 Interesting article regarding Amazon suing people for fake reviews and some pointers on spotting the fake reviews.

So, given the above my opinion on review sites remain the same. It is a good guide but should only play a small part in your purchasing decision until more people start writing reviews. How much do you write and or use review sites?