Mystery Shopper: Brent Cross

With its famous shopping centre, Brent Cross holds host to an assortment of tech retailers, making it the perfect place for our Mystery Shopper to visit. This month our shopper headed out in search of an all-in-one – let’s see how they got on…

Apple 8/10

The store was buzzing with life as I entered, with customers playing about on iPads and testing out the range of MacBooks on show. But it was a bit of a struggle to get someone’s attention, as each assistant seemed to be busy with other customers.

I finally spotted a lady in the far corner who I approached for a helping hand with Apple’s all-in-ones (AIOs). She pointed to the range of iMacs, but unfortunately she told me she didn’t know very much about the devices and suggested I asked someone at the front of the store.

Once one assistant was free, a chap in an Apple-clad shirt offered to help. He asked me what I needed the device for, and whether I would require Office 365. He also suggested that I try out Apple’s Pages software first before purchasing Office, as it was an extra £100.

He talked me through the specs of the product, and recommended that I pay an extra £150 for the 2.7GHz iMac, as he reassured me the device would last longer. 

John Lewis 9/10 Star Store

As always, the department store held host to a wide range of tech gizmos and gadgets, but I struggled to actually find the AIO desktops. After asking a gentleman for some guidance, he soon referred me to another assistant who he said would know a lot more about such products.

As he guided me over to the selection of AIOs, which included the likes of HP, Acer, Apple and Lenovo, my helper asked me if the device I was looking for was for me and what I was using it for.

I was told that the HP 22 would be a great option thanks to its touch screen display, cheap price and the inclusion of a keyboard and mice bundle. I was then informed about the importance of buying security software, and was told the pricing for Office 365 if I required it.

The assistant even offered to check out the availability of the device in-store, and returned with a contact number to purchase it from another store, as it was regrettably out of stock here. 

Currys 6/10

I didn’t doubt Currys for a second and went in with high hopes to find an AIO. A cheery gentleman scurried me along to the section, where he showed me the Lenovo B50, which was on offer for under £600.

He demonstrated the device’s touch screen functionality and also informed me that the i5 processor would be best for carrying out multiple tasks thanks to its faster speeds.

He then took me around the rest of the range, which featured Asus, Acer and other Lenovo devices. After asking me whether I needed Office 365, I was told that I could purchase a McAfee and Office bundle for a discounted price.

As informative as my helper was, I did feel a little pressured to buy the item. I was asked more than a few times if I would return again to buy the AIO, which unfortunately made me want to speed up my visit and leave the store.

But after my helper checked the availability, I told him I would return another day. 

Argos 7/10

Once again, this store had ditched the traditional Argos catalogue and opted for touchscreen tablet devices to aid customers’ searches. It was simple enough to find the range of AIOs but I was looking forward to speaking to someone from the retailer.

Soon enough though, someone appeared from the depths of the warehouse behind the tills and approached me. I asked her for some help with AIOs, but unfortunately she couldn’t help with my request. She offered to find someone who knew a little more and a few minutes later a man ran towards me with a wide smile.

He asked me what I needed the device for and told me that the Lenovo C260 would fit the bill. I was told about its specs, including the processors and screen size, plus I was also advised about Office 365 and informed that there was a bundle available if I wanted.

With no pressure to purchase the product, I told my helper I would continue to browse the selection and I was left to make a decision. 

PC World/Currys 7/10

A friendly smile greeted me straight away as I entered the tech store, and the same smiley chap soon asked whether I needed any help with my visit.

I told him what I was after, and he informed me that they only stocked the iMac range from Apple. I found the lack of range disappointing. After questioning me about what I needed the device for and what my screen preference was, he told me that I would benefit from upgrading to the 2.7GHz iMac for £1,049. He reassured me that the extra bit of cash meant the device would last longer thanks to its processors. Plus, the 8GB RAM included was also a talking point for my helper, as he told me that I could store thousands more photos and videos with the amount of RAM included.

The assistant also told me that Macs were his product of choice, and that his had lasted for over five years – a great personal touch. He then went on to show me the different display sizes available, before leaving me to have a final browse.

Maplin 6/10

The retailer was decked out with various tech goodies from speakers to components, and as I made my way around the store I was soon approached by one of Maplin’s staff members.

As soon as I asked about AIOs, my question was met by the shake of a head, as the assistant soon told me that the store carried no such products. He did however show me the store’s range of barebone desktops, which included the Intel Nuc for £109.99 and the Gigabyte Brix for £99.99.

I was told that these devices were ‘so cheap’ because they can hook up to displays and peripherals and did not come with any RAM or other components.

He honestly suggested that I should try Currys for an AIO, and that Maplin would indeed have everything I needed if I was interested in building my own PC. As I carried on looking at the selection, the assistant suggested he could double check to see if there were any AIOs in the warehouse and left me to my thoughts.


It was a tough decision this month, as each retailer performed well when put to the test.

Even though Argos had no physical products on show, the information given to me by the assistant helped greatly when making a decision. Plus, although Maplin had no AIOs available in-store, I couldn’t fault the customer service I was given.

Currys/PC World was a smaller store than usual, and had a limited selection of AIOs on offer, but the assistant’s friendly approach and informative manner was a great treat, plus there was no pressure to buy when my helper finished his sales pitch.

There was also no pressure to buy in the Apple store and so I instantly felt comfortable discussing the specs with my helper. In comparison, when I entered Currys I felt pressured to buy and was asked numerous times if I would like to purchase the item and when I would return to do so.

John Lewis made it to the top spot this month thanks to the assistant’s attention to detail, which made me want to return, confirming its place as my star store this week. 

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