DSG International, the owner of the PC World and Currys retail chains, has launched a technical support service aimed at helping confused consumers set up and maintain computers, digital televisions and other electronic devices.
The group plans to open 200 service centres across the UK and employ 2,000 new staff who will offer advice to all customers, no matter where the hardware was purchased.
The service will be branded "The TechGuys" and will look to tap into the growing demand for technical support related to increasingly complex computer systems and digital entertainment services. John Clare, DSG's chief executive, said customers have become increasingly frustrated by technology and have struggled with seemingly simple tasks such as connecting digital televisions to other devices like set-top boxes and stereos. "Where do you go if you try to put all this stuff together and it does not work?" he asked.
The TechGuys business is aimed at exploiting DSG's existing technical support facilities by opening up services to all consumers, no matter where they purchased their devices. It already has Europe's largest technical support network, employing 3,000 people to deal with customer service issues related to products purchased at its shops. The company also operates a 24-hour customer support line that will be made available to all consumers. DSG will spend up to £50m investing in the new division, primarily on new staff and rolling out its new service centres. The company also plans to extend the service across Europe.
Mr Clare said the new business would be focused purely on fixing faults as opposed to selling additional products. Nonetheless, he said that independent technical support has the capacity for strong growth as demand for technical support across different brands is rapidly increasing. According to YouGov research, eight in 10 UK adults routinely need help with everyday technology tasks and more than two-thirds have thrown away electrical goods in frustration, making no attempt to fix them.
DSG will go head-to-head with local service providers, who can be expensive and slow to respond to technical queries, and the support functions of hardware manufacturers such as Apple and Dell. BT also provides technical support to many UK consumers.
DSG also unveiled its prices. It will charge £89.99 to send an engineer to a residence to repair a computer or £69.99 if the computer is brought into a service centre. Upgrading an operating system will cost £49.99. Customers looking for advice can also choose to call an advice line that costs £1.50 a minute. DSG said that 80 per cent of computer problems can be resolved over the phone. If a call lasts longer than 20 minutes, DSG said it would call the customer back.