WH Smith is apparently Britain’s worst store

17 May 2013

Who would come in last place in a Which! poll of Britain’s best stores? I can think of a few. BHS, Primark, those dodgy shops that sell a baffling array of crossbows, bongs and Betty Boop lighters.


But no. The UK’s worst store - according to Which!- is WH Smith. Meanwhile bath bomb botherers Lush come in second from the top, even though just walking in there causes the hairs in your nostrils to perish from the stench of all those naff toiletries, piled up like glittery purple turds. (In first place was the Apple store, but…WHATEVA.)

In the survey TK Maxx was third from bottom, with EE shops second from last. Also, it seems that Brits love a pound shop - Poundland did better than French Connection and Harvey Nichols, and 99p Stores was rated higher than House of Fraser. Obviously the people in this survey have some kind of an aversion to nice stuff.

Really, though, it all seems a little unfair on WH Smith, which surely isn’t THAT bad. Anyway, if it goes under, where am I going to get a large bucket of Buxton water and a copy of the Daily Telegraph?

TOPICS:   High Street News   UK News


  • Tweedskin
    I do wonder how Smiths have survived.....I mean, do you really need an oversized chocolate bar for a £1 when you buy a magazine? If they can sell it for £1, why are they £5 or something on their own? And Lush is quite good actually. May be a little smelly, but certainly beats the stench of depression wafting from Subway.
  • Matron
    Smiths deserve last place just for their practice of trying to upsell you chocolate whenever you buy anything. It's even worse now the Post Office is in there, if I'm buying stamps or an envelope I don't want a fucking discount chocolate bar. The staff always look embarrassed about it too, but they probably get a warning from some cunt of a manager if they don't do it.
  • shiftynifty
    W H Smith survive due to their rip-off stores being in every railway/airport location Never enter...to be tunnelled through a maze of over priced tat/crap...then served by a miserable/overweight/depressed shop assistant asking if I want a bar of choc/over priced water ...nah, avoid Good to see luch nearly at the top...lush is cool
  • Unhappy C.
    Actually I think Smiths IS that bad. Crap layouts with overcrowded shelves selling tons of crap that seems to be in perpetual sales-mode. Rubbish service, miserable staff and queues that snake down the already cramped aisles. Rubbish.
  • Her L.
    As far as I'm concerned WH Smith is dead to me despite almost daily visits in my youth to buy the latest magazines. With the media now digital and a visit to 'Smiths involving running the "Cadbury Wispa Gauntlet" theirs is a business model sure to curl up and die. Like the other commenters, I happen to think Lush is ok and I'd wager that "Sweets" secretly does too. In fact she's probably in the tub right now enjoying the fizzy delights of a bath bomb.
  • Strawbear
    Compared to what it was a decade ago it's definitely the worst around. Cons: the claustrophobic shelving that turns the store into a weird maze, the vastly over priced choccies, the piss poor staffing levels, the people queuing up to pay rather than use the self service tills, self service tills that don't understand the offers that are on, the HUGE adverts for lawyers in store, the windows thick with stock ads making it impossible to focus or see in/out, the vast dead area that was a Costa for about 8 days, they don't sell single hole hole-punches! (I really wanted one) the vastly overpriced pop & crisps, over 50p for a packet of Rizla, a poor selection of cards, the weird twisty aisle to the till that's over packed with goods - impulse purchase overkill. the ditching of the honesty boxes for newspaper sales, the over priced everything, no porn in there these days, the lack of knowledge from staff - "what's a gazetteer?" poor website. Pros: A lot of special interest magazines. They should have taken on the Post Office's services wherever they could rather than trying to incorporate coffee shops. Who wants to sit in the middle of a dark maze and drink coffee? As it is, it's my least favourite store to visit. Used to be one of my favourites. What are they supposed to be these days? It's the biggest retail car crash I think I've ever seen. I dread getting the annual gift token for them. I usually buy a tenner's worth of notepads and biros.
  • Dr Z.
    [Pros: A lot of special interest magazines.] I've heard these are very popular with Pa(l)m and her five sisters.
  • jo
    I hate whsmith!! I always seem to pick up faulty products so there must be masses among the shelves. A digital photo keyring I got from there never worked, I looked up the reviews after and they all said it didnt work. Wasnt worth the hassle of driving into town for the sake of 8 squid though. Another time I bought a cd labelling kit and when i opened it it turned out it had been used and then re-sealed and put back on the shelf! The last and final time I purchased from wh smith I only bought a pack of stickers but they were labelled up as £1.20 and when i went to pay they were closer to £2. Always have a bad experience there, no matter which branch i seem to go to so I wont buy there any more. They deserve to be voted awful!
  • Cheesey
    WHS is the new High Street repository of Tat. They've reduced aisle space, raised racking height and don' t put staff who are cramming more Tat onto the selves onto tills when it gets busy. Rule of retailing #1 When it's busy grab your customers cash as fast as you can.
  • oliverreed
    @Strawbear - there is porn, however you may only buy scrot mags when embarking on a train or plane trip. Nothing like a mid flight wank - PLANE WANKERS!!
  • Anoun
    I work at WHSmiths in the Airport and nothing is ever good enough, my boss is actually a total prick always complaining about something, yet he never is there at 4am when I open the store. Did I also mention, they dont have any allowance to buy me a uniform and he told me if I bought a shirt he would reimburse me the money which he never!
  • Anoun
    @oliverreed Airport do sell porn mags.. the covered up ones. An old guy bought one and a set of tissues so I gave him a dodgy look... haha
  • phil
    hugly inflated prices, understocked shelves, staff running round trying to do the impossible. then trying to buy a paper get bombarded with do you want anything for £1 clueless
  • jejus
    How much you criticise this place is less. There is no one at the selfservice tills to help you, nither is there any help for the only person serving about 30 customers, alone the till. The managers are fast asleep in bed ,thinking of all the £ 1 chocolates being bought forceabaly at the tills , which would increase their annul bonuses. There are mice running around the shelves and pissing on the £ 1 chocolate, with no extra cost. Most of the stuff on the shelves is out of date, and if noticed, is replaced to the customer, without any applogy, suggesting that the mice will have these, instead of munchilg on the still in date packages.
  • Geoff L.
    W H Smith is the worst chain in the country. They obviously sweet talk ALL the hospitals, motorway service stations, airports and stations into letting them have the monopoly then screw the customers senseless with their stupid prices. Now they are getting into bed with the Post Office everywhere. Boston in Lincolnshire had a busy Crown Post Office but the idiots that run the Post Office now thing it's a good idea to downsize into W H Smith. They have less than half the counters they had stuffed into a grim W H Smiths hole. The only way to stop this is to stay away from Smiths. I don't ever buy ANYTHING from them. Now that Boston has moved its main post office there I use the Coop one in West Street instead. At least I won't be ripped off anything like as much as I would be if I bought anything in Smiths. Boycott the whole bloody empire like I do and some day we just have to get them off the high street.
  • Sue
    Whsmiths is a terrible place to work. Working in a train station for a 'leading retailer' was probably the worst mistake I have ever made. Working 6 days a week on minimum wage. As train stations have platforms if you where the unfortunate one to be stuck in the platform store generally on a 9hour shift, with no sink or water facilities nor toilet. Working in a unit alone with no sense of security having to use my own personal mobile phone to make contact with management If they could be bothered to pick up the phone. My pay was never correct and I had no access to my payslips, management just brushed me off and never dealt with any of the problems. As for working on the shop floor the stores are filthy, this falls back to store budgets and no one caring! Staff are frustrated as they can be left to serve customers and fill shelves, trying to shove discounted chocolate bars in every customers face!! Most of these are gone of and the chances are they have been left on the floor in filthy stock rooms! WHSmiths is a terrible place, over prices, understaffed and dirty & dull. Support your local retailer!!
  • Helen
    why WHSmith insist on shoppers using the Self Service tills when they do not accept paper vouchers! Then one has to wait for an assistant...... Often no where in sight! So much for customer care. I always try to us the normal till but frequently am refused! Today I was told the normal till was not working. I waited for the assistant to sort out another customer, then replace the paper roll.... Then decide that till was not working and move to another. My husband was waiting and wanted to know what took so long when all I was buying was a paper with a prepaid voucher!
  • Denis S.
    Arbroath branch always late with my monthly mag (Practical Wireless) due date 12 th of month....next issue NOT in stock was told could be 4 days yet MAYBE..... however its available in Perth Aberdeen & Dundee! crap local service or what
  • L
    Bought a book and needed it asap for a secret santa present. The girl serving me charged me £10 for the book, which I thought was ok at the time because I thought that was the price... got home to wrap the present then noticed that it was in fact £8.99, the bitch scammed me... and what was supposedly a receipt given to me, was actually the vouchers etc. to come back and buy stuff again. It's only £1, that's nothing I know.. but it's the deceit ingrained in the customer service that disgusts me. Scum. Top of the organisation to the staff in store.
  • L
    Over the past two years, I only tried to buy something from WH Smith four times - four different locations. Every time, staff half commanded, half bullied me into using the self-service machines. While on the first three occasions they did serve me after protested (the first time, I was one of about six people queuing, while the staff member asking us to use the machines could have manned an additional till, the next two occasions, there was no one else in the shop!), today I was refused service at the manned desk so I had to leave the greetings card in the shop and will have to buy it one somewhere else. WH Smith don't seem to realise that you can buy newspapers and greetings cards elsewhere - they were never good for books anyway.
  • Fred N.
    Buy one get one half price says the offer at Stansted Smiths. Problem is the price of £2.62 for 100 grams of Jelly Babies is about DOUBLE the price in Tesco or any other supermarket. Yes I know it is a "past security" market price but to pretend it is a deal is just poor marketing and a downright RIP OFF

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