Visitors to Dixons’ website were greeted with an error message on Monday after the site went offline due to increased traffic volume during its annual sale.
Or at least that’s what the error message said.
However Currys and PC World, which are both owned by Dixons Retail Group, also went offline with a spokesman quoted as saying the outage was caused by fibre damage during roadworks.
We tried to contact DRG about the issue but got no response, so cannot confirm for certain either way.
But whatever the reason for the outage, DRG has hardly been forthcoming with information for its customers.
Its corporate website and social media accounts haven’t even mentioned the issue, though it was at least offering visitors to Dixons.co.uk a discount voucher on Monday evening.
Which does raise the question of what DSG aims to achieve with its social media presence.
It currently operates a Twitter account for Dixons, while Currys and PC World share joint accounts on both Twitter and Facebook. All three brand pages are updated on a regular basis but failed to mention the outage on Monday.
Both Twitter feeds only have around 3,000 followers, so it could simply be that DSG feels it isn’t an effective way to communicate with customers.
Yet most of the recent updates are retweets of positive feedback and responses to criticism so DRG clearly sees some value in social.
So why no mention of the fact that its websites went down for almost an entire day?
It must have been losing potential sales to competitors during the outage, so an update or holding message to let people know it was fixing the problem may have helped reassure its customers.
In doing that, it would be following AT&T’s example from way back in 2009. The phone company used Twitter as a way to keep customers updated after its broadband and phone services went offline.
Thousands of customers in Silicon Valley and San Francisco were left without web access for the best part of a day, which could have been a PR disaster.
But it reacted quickly and tweeted at 7am to let customers know that it was “aware of a cable cut situation impacting service”.
It then sent around eight more tweets updating customers with details of when technicians would be able to fix the problem and apologising for the outage.
While cutting off broadband to Silicon Valley is a more serious customer care issue than DRG suffered when its websites fell over on Monday, it would still have impacted Dixons’ customers and deserved a response.
DRG posted a loss of £224m in June last year and announced plans to close more than 100 UK stores, so e-commerce will be a key revenue stream for the company in the future,
Therefore it is important that DRG keeps its online customers updated if its stores are offline for a day.