Tag: HMV

HMV on highway to heck

British retailer HMV looks set to become the latest in a string of casualties on the high street.

Though it survived the initial purge which turned Virgin into Zavvi into a black hole, HMV has just posted a loss of £36.4 million and is considering selling off London music venues like the Hammersmith Apollo and Kentish Town Forum. 

Sales in the 26 weeks up to the end of October dropped a staggering 17.6 percent. Shares fell 90 percent over the last year, according to the Guardian, while the company has debts of £163.7 million.

In an earnings call, HMV insisted that it will be able to keep chugging on. However, the Directors are talking to the Group’s banks and the economic downturn, twinned with the looming threat of a double-dip, “may cast significant doubt on the Group’s ability to continue as a going concern in the future.”

According to Sky, turning its attention towards selling technology products at the majority of its 252 stores, is helping. HMV claimed headphones, speaker docks and tablet computer sales were all on the up at 147 percent. 

HMV’s precarious position poses yet more questions about how the traditional high street retailer can face up to stiff competition in the online sector, as companies like Amazon continue to dominate sales and more and more Brits flock to the web to shop. 

ASA and Consumer Direct open doors to 3DS complaints

The 3DS sickness palaver continues. The world and its wheezing, knackered old dog are leaping to Nintendo’s defence despite testimony TechEye has seen where consumers are uncomfortable with the fact the 3DS is making them… uncomfortable.

Some reports are leaping to refute claims that the 3DS has been returned due to sickness, however they have been sent out by, er, Nintendo, Game and HMV where the corporate line from a PR team has been duly reported as a fact.

The main problem here seems to be in the way the 3DS is being sold. Although at Game branches there is a try-before-you-buy unit available in-store, Nintendo adverts seem to downplay adverse effects that could be experienced through playing with the 3D switch on or at high levels.

What many consumers may not be aware of is the way the 3DS works – by using parallax to trick the eyes, with quickly flashing stripes, into seeing images emerge from the screen. It does place a strain on the eyes for some.

The defence is that no one should be gaming for an extended amount of time anyway. But realistically that’s not going to be the case – many kids are happy to stare at their systems for hours and would not take a break unless told to do so. Speaking to TechEye, the ASA tells us advertising can be “misleading by omission, or not putting in relevant information.”

“But in this case, we’d have to look at the facts before we made a decision. We don’t expect companies to put every little bit of info into their ads, and possibly the part about some people not being able to see 3D wouldn’t have to go in, as these people would know. The best thing to do if people aren’t happy is to make a formal complaint to us and we’ll look into it.”

A legal grey area arises because, although the complaints are there, and we have it under good authority that retailers are receiving returns specifically for comfort reasons, the 3DS may not technically fall under the category of faulty.

The Office of Fair Trading tells us that it’s a criminal offence for a trader to sell unsafe consumer goods. Like with the ASA, “it would be advisable for consumers to report instances to Consumer Direct as they would be able to refer any potential safety matters to Trading Standards, who may wish to take further action if there is need to do so”.

Is the product at “fault” if it does what it says on the box? The 3DS does issue warnings in the small print and it does deliver 3D. The Office of Fair Trading tells TechEye: “Customers could claim that there is a fault with a product if it made them ill, but the trader would probably request evidence of this.

“The customer may wish to gather evidence to support the claim including independent verification, for example, a doctor’s note.”

Citizens think piracy as commonplace as the internet

The Social Science Research Council (SSRC) has released its 436-page study “Media Piracy in Emerging Economies”.

35 researchers spent three years compiling data and working on the report, which is set to become the new, definite benchmark for all future studies and, hopefully, for laws and policies related to media piracy and consumer rights.

“Media Piracy in Emerging Economies” focuses on how “piracy” has grown many-fold since the advent of digital technology, and how the industry started to lobby for tougher laws and law enforcement. According to the SSRC, “piracy”, or sharing of copies, is seen by citizens to be as commonplace as the internet.

Industry lobbyists and education efforts have failed miserably in telling consumers they shouldn’t be doing the nasty things they have been doing since cassette recorders appeared.

Nonetheless, lobbyists have been succesful in persuading hapless and clueless politicians and lawmakers to conjur up bills to shove through parliament and down the throats of voters, despite the latter not asking for them.

According to the study, high prices are in part to blame for piracy of media goods – “relative to local incomes in Brazil, Russia, or South Africa, the retail price of a CD, DVD, or copy of MS Office is five to ten times higher than in the US or Europe,” claims the study.

This is due to the absence of domestic companies distributing goods for a price designed to be competitive in a local markets. Instead, large corporations set prices no one can afford, thus piracy thrives. Or, put simply, people will download if there aren’t outlets selling DVDs, CDs etc. for five quid or less, such as HMV or Amazon.

On the enforcement side of the matter, the judicial systems in every country can certainly do without the extra burden of having to follow-up petty downloading cases, especially considering “piracy” is seen as a matter of course by citizens. “Enforcement hasn’t worked. After a decade of ramped up enforcement, the authors can find no impact on the overall supply of pirated goods,” bluntly states the SSRC.

Another myth is also done away with, namely that there is some sort of link between media piracy and organised crime, or even terrorism. “Today, commercial pirates and transnational smugglers face the same dilemma as the legal industry: how to compete with free.”