Customer service shadow shop

Our customer service shadow shop produces mixed results for major retailers.
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The good, the bad and the ugly

Kathryn was greeted as soon as she entered a Good Guys store and asked if she needed help. The salesperson had a high level of product knowledge and asked her a lot of questions to ascertain which might suit her best.

By contrast, Alexander says he was mostly ignored when he arrived in the store, although eventually someone appeared and offered to help. The sales assistant was friendly but her advice was based on the theory that they more you pay, the better the product.

For Gloria, the experience couldn’t have been worse. After being ignored for five minutes she eventually went searching for help. She found a salesperson, told him she was looking for a cheaper white plastic kettle and asked if the brand she liked would be a suitable purchase. He told her he couldn’t say, and then suggested she buy a $10 extended warranty with her $23 kettle. (As CHOICE has often highlighted before, extended warranties are a costly and unnecessary extra as consumers have the same protections for free under the Australian Consumer Law.) He then kept pushing her towards an $84 model, telling her it was less likely to rust. When Gloria mentioned the brand she originally wanted to buy had been recommended by CHOICE, he queried how CHOICE would test kettles and claimed “they all do the same thing – boil water.”


Don’t accept change-of-mind returns.


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Slow, Harvey, slow!

All the Harvey Norman stores our shadow shoppers visited were mostly empty of customers but had plenty of staff on the floor. Despite this, none were greeted when they walked into the store.

After wandering around for some time, three of our four shoppers had to ask for help. Kathryn was eventually approached by a staff member after waiting a short while.

When it came to product knowledge, there was a wide range of customer experiences. Gloria was given some helpful information on the various kinds of phones available and offered a couple of dollars off two items when she asked for a discount. However, Emma’s sales assistant had very little product knowledge – he simply read features off the box – and didn’t ask her any questions to work out which phone would best suit her needs.

Kathryn was approached by a salesperson whom she says was quite pushy. While he was very keen to offer discounts and close the sale, when she asked about the different brands he claimed they’re all “pretty much the same, love”.


Don’t accept change-of-mind returns.

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