Playing up to increasing consumer awareness of millennium issues in PCs, retail locomotive Harvey Norman has struck on yet another clever way to attract people into its stores. From early June, most HN computer outlets around the country will have "Y2K testing stations" in place offering customers free Y2K compatibility checks of their computers.
Under the plan, any consumer can bring their PC in for testing which will be conducted by Harvey Norman technicians using a yet-to-be-finalised Y2K-checking application.
The retailer, which claims to have assurances from suppliers that products it is currently selling are compliant, is not guaranteeing computers they check are totally trouble free.
Harvey Norman's general manager computers and communications, Tony Gattari, said such a program, which will be promoted heavily, was a great method of attracting existing and new customers through the doors.
He was, however, also a bit worried that "it could get out of hand" because they are unsure how many consumers will take up the offer.
"There is great sense of charity in this but we are in a commercial world," Gattari said. "Half the objective from this is to show consumers the latest products on offer. The plan is for us also to have some sort of trade-in offer as well.
Gattari said the owner of any computer that fails its test will have two options.
"They can just walk away with knowledge of the level of compliance of their computer or they can take advantage of some specials that we have going at the time," he said.
"We are expecting to get a big response from home consumers who have little technical understanding of the problem but are aware of its potential dangers. We are also working on a CD that will allow the consumer to do the same thing at home or work.
"What we are doing is missing out on a $9.95 sale but we are using that as opportunity to sell additional hardware," Gattari added. "We are not doing the hard sell but are allowing the consumer to make a decision on how they deal with the Y2K problem on their existing computer."