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Harvey Norman worst in survey

Harvey Norman is one of the loudest retailers and one of the biggest. According to our latest retailer satisfaction survey, 3000 of the 21,000 appliance, technology and household purchases our respondents made in the past 12 months were at the store.

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But being among the retailers "most frequently visited" is the only good result for Harvey Norman in our survey.

It underperformed in point-of-sale service, after-sale service and overall satisfaction, with below-average ratings in all of the categories it deals in: whiteware, small appliances, computing, home technology, mobile technology, furniture and outdoor equipment.

For whiteware and home technology purchases — the big-ticket items — it was rock bottom, with fewer customers than any other retailer very satisfied overall (59% of its whiteware and 51% of its home technology customers) or very likely to recommend the store (54% of whiteware and 46% of home technology customers).

At Harvey Norman, you are also more likely to hear the dreaded words "would you like an extended warranty with that?"

At the other end of the scale was 100% Appliances, with ratings between 77% and 82% for the same categories.

Harvey Norman's point-of-sales service stood out as less than satisfactory – and customers were more likely to perceive staff as "pushy". Only Dick Smith was worse, and it folded part-way into the survey period.

The small appliance category is awash with price discounts. But despite being perceived as having a better than average range of the latest products, and with three-quarters of respondents buying their product at a reduced price, Harvey Norman languished near the bottom of our rankings.

Just half of those in our survey who shopped at the store were very likely to recommend it. In comparison, the great discounter Briscoes is more likely than average to be recommended by its customers (64%), despite lower than average point-of-sale service.

It's not just lacklustre customer satisfaction that irked. At Harvey Norman, you are also more likely to hear the dreaded words "would you like an extended warranty with that?".

More than 7 of every 10 purchases of whiteware, small appliances, home technology, mobile technology or computing products at Harvey Norman came with the offer of an extended warranty.

Even 3 in 10 furniture and outdoor purchases had this additional "peace of mind" offered (more than anywhere else).

Our respondents were all Consumer members, so were well aware any extra "cover" being touted was protection they probably already had under the Consumer Guarantees Act.

It may be the season of goodwill, but there's no need to inflate a retailer's bottom line by generously paying extra for a product.

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