Twitchhiker | Paul Smith's travel tales from here and there


Why WH Smith are screwing travellers
13/08/2009, 08:42
Filed under: travel | Tags: , ,

The of the following statements is a fact:

a) there’s nothing interesting to see in Gothenburg

b) it hasn’t occurred to anybody to write a travel guide about Gothenburg

c) the deal WH Smith recently struck with Penguin to stock only their travel guides means that, despite their pissing and moaning to the contrary, consumer choice has been drastically reduced

I can say that with some confidence as one of the non-existant travellers that isn’t “time-pressed” according to WH Smith. I always leave it to the airport when I’m going on a two or three night trip, because I’m reasonably confident I’ll find what I’m looking for. Not this morning.

Twitchhiker - WH Smith

There are two WH Smith stores at Glasgow Prestwick airport, and neither sells a guide to Gothenburg. My only option is to buy DK’s guide to Sweden – 95% of which is irrelevant to me – for an eye-watering £15.99. Sorry, but that really is taking the piss. DK don’t provide a guide to Gothenburg, but neither to Rough Guides or any of Penguin’s other travel brands. To be fair there are only a couple of Gothenburg guides kicking about, but six months ago there was a good chance an airport flying there would have stocked them. I don’t even have the option of a cheap Berlitz pocket Guide to Sweden for under a fiver.

I’ve turned to the iPhone and am trying out a combination of apps to see me through – WorldNomad’s Swedish guide in yet another vain bid not sound be completely ignorant, and Tripwolf which lets you customise your own guides. Sorry WH Smith, but you’ve got it dead wrong.


5 Comments so far
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Another nail in the coffin of Smiths for me – I know only use them when I’m left with no alternative. They’ve shrunk their shops to the point where they stock nothing of use and their website is beyond pointless. They’re another British brand that has failed to move with the times and will shortly be paying a price for it.

Comment by Mark McGowan

Not just travellers, but all readers… what with some of the stitch-ups they do with publishing companies. An utterly rubbish retail outlet – and I say that as someone who, as a teenager, used to work in the branch on the end of platform 8 of Brighton station.

Comment by Callum

On a recent trip to the Isle of Man I was left dumbfounded at WH Smiths in Birmingham Airport. I couldn’t believe that they would stock pencil sharpners and erasers, but don’t stock pencils. Atleast not pencils which don’t have a fuzzy beefeater on the end and cost over a fiver each, or brightly coloured pencils that wouldn’t look so good at the meeting I was going too.

Comment by James P

Must be said though Paul… Prestwick is a shite airport for shopping.

Comment by Oscar De La Hoya

I’m a sales assistant at the Birmingham airport branch of WHSmiths, I don’t think that all the statements here are true, While you are right we don’t stock all the items that consumers could ever want, the shops are not shrinking and we do try to keep stock people may want in the shops. I never even knew where Gothenburg was untill I read your report. I think WHSmiths is still the number one book seller in the UK as the award we won last year indicates. I’m sorry you didn’t find what you were looking for it Gatwick but you should come down to the WHSmiths at BHX and you’ll have a different impression.

Comment by Alex Moore




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