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Bad PC Sales Staff Exposed

samzenpus posted about 5 years ago | from the barely-trying dept.

IT 650

Barence writes "An undercover investigation has revealed how Dell's online sales staff take liberties with the truth when trying to sell customers new PCs. One member of staff told an undercover reporter that he would need a PC with a good graphics card to download digital photos. Another, who was more incompetent than devious, was asked how many photos could be stored on a 250GB hard disk. 'Its[sic] on average 2 MB then 1024 MB * 2,' came the bewildering reply. Meanwhile, a sales assistant at supermarket Tesco told the reporter that netbooks got their name because 'a Japanese man on a plane fell asleep with a laptop on his thighs and was horribly burned, so the industry has dropped the name laptop.'"

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What's the Difference Between a Computer Salesman- (5, Funny)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | about 5 years ago | (#29568397)

Q: What's the difference between a computer salesman and a used car salesman?

A: The used car salesman knows when he is lying.

Re:What's the Difference Between a Computer Salesm (2, Interesting)

Hyppy (74366) | about 5 years ago | (#29568475)

Completely agreed. The staff at Best Buy or whatever other brick and mortar store carries computers is so completely clueless that it's comical. Why should online vendors be much different?

The best part for me was seeing that they outsource their sales staff, too. Shouldn't they just be moving their headquarters to India by now? So much for the "American" company started out of the guy next door's garage.

Re:What's the Difference Between a Computer Salesm (5, Insightful)

Spazztastic (814296) | about 5 years ago | (#29568587)

Completely agreed. The staff at Best Buy or whatever other brick and mortar store carries computers is so completely clueless that it's comical. Why should online vendors be much different?.

I think what's worse is when the sales person is actually good and can persuade someone into buying a product they don't need. I have to go to computer stores with my Dad when he tries to buy something simple like an ethernet cable or a power strip or he'll come home with a Cisco switch and an APC rackmount battery backup.

Re:What's the Difference Between a Computer Salesm (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29568641)

As we're speaking, I'm working on a laptop from a lady who came from Best Buy. The "Geek Squad" claimed that she had a failing hard drive, and that she would need to buy a new one, as well as a Windows Vista install. The only symptom was "My laptop is running slow"

One pass of Malwarebytes, thirty minutes later, a S.M.A.R.T. check, the machine is performing properly.

The trolls even left their stupid "GeekSquad" system checking software on my customer's machine. I checked the logs of the program, no found errors.

People disgust me.

Re:What's the Difference Between a Computer Salesm (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29568869)

Was it only a SMART check, or did you run a fitness test? There's a lot of ways to tell a failing hard drive, and it's not always up to smart. Did you, per chance, hear clicking?

It's people like you who make this a bad world.

Re:What's the Difference Between a Computer Salesm (5, Interesting)

zach_the_lizard (1317619) | about 5 years ago | (#29568967)

I had to do something fairly similar for my grandmother's computer. Only problem was, the hard drive was working perfectly fine before she took it to Best Buy. I had given her a hand-me-down computer with Linux on it, and she wanted to install Windows on it. So she had to go buy a copy. Somehow in the process of installing Windows--an arduous task that involves the opening of the DVD drive--they had managed to open the case, unscrew the hard drive from the case, and then bust it up enough that it took over 24 hours for Windows to finish installing. I know this because they kindly provided my grandmother a receipt that had logs of everything they did, which I went over.

The best part is when they decided the slowness was due to the PC not having enough RAM for XP. Which is curious, because I had run XP on that PC just fine. So they tell her they need to buy 2 x 1 GB sticks. Eventually we managed to get a refund on all of that stuff after Windows failed to boot up.

After I had to head back to my home state, she was left with no computer and, even worse, no one who even remotely knows that they're talking about with computers. She went to the same Best Buy and asked for assistance on what computer to buy. They equipped her, someone whose most intensive task is copying photos off of a camera, with a quad core desktop with like 4 or 8 GB of RAM.

Re:What's the Difference Between a Computer Salesm (3, Interesting)

revlayle (964221) | about 5 years ago | (#29568685)

What I find weird is... I walk into my nearest Best Buy: Their mobile staff is really REALLY knowledgeable; their computer staff are knee-dragging morons! Is the mobile section of Best Buy a better money maker and worth having knowledgeable staff more-so than the computer section?

Re:What's the Difference Between a Computer Salesm (5, Informative)

IKnwThePiecesFt (693955) | about 5 years ago | (#29568811)

The mobile section is actually only half Best Buy, and half Carphone Warehouse. They work on a different bonus structure and different power structure than the rest of the store, which the Mobile Manager reporting directly to a district manager and skipping the General Manager of the store, unlike every other dept.

Re:What's the Difference Between a Computer Salesm (1)

Velorium (1068080) | about 5 years ago | (#29569101)

Huh. If I had mod points today I would surely award you some.

Re:What's the Difference Between a Computer Salesm (5, Insightful)

Daniel_Staal (609844) | about 5 years ago | (#29568833)

A knowledgeable computer person can probably find a better job. There's not so many other jobs for people who know about cell phone handsets...

Re:What's the Difference Between a Computer Salesm (5, Interesting)

oldspewey (1303305) | about 5 years ago | (#29568847)

The incompetence of the sales staff at Best Buy is not restricted to the computer department. Case in point: the other night I went to look for a cordless phone with a switching power supply - i.e. something that could run on either 110V or 220V.

Looking at the shelf of phones, none of the boxes gave any indication of input voltage or being dual-voltage capable. I asked a droid which of the phones would accept 220V and he said
"All of them."
"Are you sure? All of them?"
"Any of these will work."

I looked over the phones on display until I found one with a power brick attached. It clearly said Input: 110-120V AC.
"What about this one? It says 110V AC input."

He squinted at the brick and said
"No look. It says 250 here."

I looked where he was pointing and sure enough, it said Output: 250mW 12V DC.
"Okay thanks. I think I'll do some research online or something and maybe come back in tomorrow with a specific model number in hand ..."

If these guys can't master the simple concept of input and output voltages, there really is very little hope of them navigating the world of memory bandwidth, sockets, or video performance.

Re:What's the Difference Between a Computer Salesm (1)

poetmatt (793785) | about 5 years ago | (#29569117)

there was a point when I was doing rep work in a best buy that they actually asked me to help out with the computers because their staff was so much more hopelessly clueless.

I think the computer guys know too (2, Insightful)

Moraelin (679338) | about 5 years ago | (#29568569)

I think at least some of the computer salesmen know too. Sorry.

I'm sorry, but when I witness some computer store guy tell an old geezer that he _needs_ the latest top-end NVidia card to watch digital photos of his grandchildren, 'cause photos are video stuff and and a bigger video card is better for that, right?... or that buying the latest Intel CPU makes their Internet go faster... I know Hanlon's Razor, "never ascribe to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity", but it still trips my suspension of disbelief big time. Especially when I can have a more technical talk with that sales guy afterwards and see that, well, he may not be IBM research labs material, but he's not exactly the kind who thinks that Megaherz is what happens when you stick your fingers in the PSU either.

Re:I think the computer guys know too (5, Funny)

lbalbalba (526209) | about 5 years ago | (#29568775)

I know Hanlon's Razor, "never ascribe to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity"

' A sufficiently advanced form of incompetence is indistinguishable from malice. '

Re:I think the computer guys know too (2, Informative)

Com2Kid (142006) | about 5 years ago | (#29568823)

A friend of mine used to work at Fry's. He told me that they have no training at all, they are just put into an area of the store to sell stuff, more senior sales staff get to work more lucrative departments. From his description, sales people basically spouted off random technical sounding words in an attempt to get customers to buy stuff, most of them really had no idea about the products they were selling. He quite after a few months because he couldn't stand lying to customers anymore.

Re:I think the computer guys know too (1)

drtsystems (775462) | about 5 years ago | (#29568917)

A friend of mine used to work at Fry's. He told me that they have no training at all, they are just put into an area of the store to sell stuff, more senior sales staff get to work more lucrative departments. From his description, sales people basically spouted off random technical sounding words in an attempt to get customers to buy stuff, most of them really had no idea about the products they were selling. He quite after a few months because he couldn't stand lying to customers anymore.

Exact same experience I had when I worked at circuit city.

That's not what I had in mind (2, Insightful)

Moraelin (679338) | about 5 years ago | (#29568955)

Well, I was more like thinking small "mom and pop" shops, where people can still tell their arse from their elbow. They may not have some deep knowledge of either, but at least know what goes on the toilet when you need to take a dump. Or back to computers, to have read some benchmark site when they bought their own graphics card.

Basically: they may not be gurus, but they know enough to know when they're lying to a customer. And that's pretty much what I'm charging them with. Being conmen on a commision, and knowing they're conmen.

And by your friend's description, it sounds like your friend and his co-workers knew when they're lying to a customer too. Your friend quit because he couldn't stand doing it, at least some of his co-workers didn't. That's how you separate those with morals from those without.

But unfortunately the system is set up to reward the latter, not the former.

Fake it 'till you make it (5, Insightful)

mcrbids (148650) | about 5 years ago | (#29568699)

There are some very knowledgeable salesmen out there. Unfortunately, they are the minority. That's because being knowledgeable is not a particularly well-rewarded attribute. Take a look at the following:

1) When you walk into Best Buy or call Dell, you've already committed yourself: you are pretty much ready to buy, or you wouldn't be there.

2) Salesmen are paid on commission. The more you spend, the more they make.

3) Most people can't define the difference between a megabyte and a megahertz.

4) If you leave without buying, the salesman will lose the commission, even if you buy later based on their advice.

Put it all together, and you have a situation where salespeople are highly motivated to spout whatever bullshit they can concoct to get you to buy the more expensive doohickey RIGHT NOW, as long as they can get you to buy it. Since people typically judge the truthfullness of other people based on the confidence that they seem to have in what they are saying, you end up with a pack of know-nothing liars who make any kind of bullshit... with confidence.

It's really not much different than the techno-babble bullshiz that they say on Star Trek - the words are unimportant, but it's important that it sound real. And since any computer that anybody buys can do pretty much whatever they need, the people are typically content with the scenario because they got something that actually does what they need. They will tend to accept this as evidence that their salesman was telling the truth in the first place.

It's a sad, sad situation, and one that's not likely to improve any time soon.

Re:Fake it 'till you make it (4, Informative)

AndrewNeo (979708) | about 5 years ago | (#29568985)

Best Buy's sales staff are not paid on commission, as far as I'm aware.

Somewhat (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29569053)

Best Buy is not paid on commissions, BUT each department is rewarded for having high sales, which is kind of like a commission.

Plus, the best salesmen can get on geek squad, where they can use the name to fleece more victims. :D

Re:Fake it 'till you make it (1)

frosty_tsm (933163) | about 5 years ago | (#29569083)

But they probably are facing quotas (at least, I've heard reports of such).

Circuit City's salespeople didn't get commission (I asked once when I wanted to make sure a good sales guy got commission for something) even before the fire/re-hire incident. And now they are out of business...

Re:Fake it 'till you make it (1)

poetmatt (793785) | about 5 years ago | (#29569211)

the wording is "Best Buy's sales staff are not paid on commission directly". That doesn't meant there aren't other ways for it to show on their paycheck, just that management gets it instead of the sales staff. Meanwhile, reps do bribe the sales staff (I did not but I knew many who did), so even the original statement is a lie.

Re:Fake it 'till you make it (1)

BobMcD (601576) | about 5 years ago | (#29569253)

Best Buy's sales staff are not paid on commission, as far as I'm aware.

They are not, this is true, but they are under tremendous pressure to get customers to participate in the company's programs - warranty, Best Buy card, etc - and to up-sell accessories.

So the statement would be amended to...

2) Salesmen are paid on performance. The more you spend, the more they make.

Re:Fake it 'till you make it (2, Interesting)

kick6 (1081615) | about 5 years ago | (#29569087)

In all fairness, most retailers don't have commisioned salesman any more. Having, at different times in my life, been both a Best Buy and a Circuit City (after they went non-commissioned) employee I can say that neither chain cared whether or not we made the sale, but was more interested in the idea that, if we did, the product went out with as many mice, mouse pads, SD cards, printers, ink, and warranties as was humanly possible.

Re:Fake it 'till you make it (3, Interesting)

Aladrin (926209) | about 5 years ago | (#29569155)

I worked computer sales at an Office Depot. At that time, they did not pay commission. I got a (really low) wage and sales was just part of my job. (The most important part, though.)

However, despite that, it doesn't change much from what you've said. Even if there are no commissions, sales (especially of warranties) are tracked and are linked to rewards or pay raises.

I was one of the few salesman I've ever met that put the customer before the company. I got a -lot- of compliments from customers because I would explain anything and everything to them and put no pressure on them whatsoever.

Why am I so special? I've done computer repair and computer programming all my life. That job was only because I couldn't get a 'real' job. I really didn't care if I lost it and the money was crap, so I got my reward by actually helping people. I even sent people to other stores when things were significantly cheaper. (It didn't happen often, though, and I saw almost every one of those people again for a future purchase.)

As for the situation you describe, it's due to the customers' ignorance. If they would educate themselves, even a little, they wouldn't fall into that trap. This is true about cars as well, though, and we all know how long that has gone on.

Re:What's the Difference Between a Computer Salesm (1)

doesnothingwell (945891) | about 5 years ago | (#29569215)

Q: What's the difference between a computer salesman and a used car salesman?

A: The used car salesman knows when he is lying.

and he can drive a car.

Inconceivable (4, Funny)

Grashnak (1003791) | about 5 years ago | (#29568413)

Drones who sell stuff are prone to lie about their products? HAS THE PRESIDENT BEEN TOLD?

Re:Inconceivable (1)

Abreu (173023) | about 5 years ago | (#29568647)

You keep using that word. I don't think it means what you think it means...

But seriously, salespeople lie and the rest of us have to support their wild claims. It's nothing new.

Re:Inconceivable (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29568783)

Well, the word was only used once. And using that word as it was, as a form of exaggeration, is a perfectly acceptable use. Or do you also bother people who say things like "it costs an unheard of amount", or "what you propose is unthinkable"?

Re:Inconceivable (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29568997)

I would explain the joke, but it would spoil it

Whooosh!

Re:Inconceivable (2, Funny)

rbooth100 (1393167) | about 5 years ago | (#29569241)

...prepare to die

Is this news? (5, Insightful)

Kell Bengal (711123) | about 5 years ago | (#29568447)

PC sales staff are clueless droids - film at 11. It's been this way since PCs hit retail sales floors. Anybody with the smarts to sell a PC with competence has the smarts to not be in retail.

Re:Is this news? (0, Troll)

TheRealMindChild (743925) | about 5 years ago | (#29568819)

What boggles me is people like you just ACCEPT this... like it is ok. It isn't ok. It's fraud. Nothing can or will be done until you stop bending over and taking the whole broomstick.

Re:Is this news? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29568895)

We accept it because we have the competence not to be in retail therefor don't need to deal with retail droids.

We're not getting bent over -- idiots are.

Re:Is this news? (2, Insightful)

Kell Bengal (711123) | about 5 years ago | (#29568913)

Sorry, I'm accepting what now? I don't buy from the big chains that employ clueless fraudulent people - I buy my parts from resellers I know and trust. I vote with my dollars.

Don't make stupid uninformed assumptions about my accepting anything.

Re:Is this news? (5, Funny)

caffeinemessiah (918089) | about 5 years ago | (#29568883)

PC sales staff are clueless droids - film at 11. It's been this way since PCs hit retail sales floors. Anybody with the smarts to sell a PC with competence has the smarts to not be in retail.

Agreed, but PC sales staff can be very helpful, based on my experience. You can ask them where the Toshiba laptop you saw advertised is located, and they can expertly guide you to the correct shelf. You can ask if they have a fresh piece available instead of the display unit, and they can effectively locate one in the back for you. Based on their extensive experience, they can advise you about the best way to beat traffic on your way home.

Re:Is this news? (1)

Hyppy (74366) | about 5 years ago | (#29568971)

So... their entire skill set can be replaced by a sufficiently large vending machine and a GPS?

Re:Is this news? (1)

ElephanTS (624421) | about 5 years ago | (#29569107)

Exactly. I always say this to my Dad when they've told him some old nonsense down at PCWorld or wherever.

"Dad, do you think if he actually knew about computers he'd be working here for £7 an hour when anyone with expertise can get £50 an hour in a freelance occupation?"

For some reason this blows his mind.

Re:Is this news? (1)

Hatta (162192) | about 5 years ago | (#29569137)

It's been this way since PCs hit big box stores. I've had some very good relationships with small time computer retailers. It's a shame that niche has died out.

How many photos fit on a 500GB HD? (1, Insightful)

sakdoctor (1087155) | about 5 years ago | (#29568487)

Inf.

Reason: The type of people who have to talk to a sales person, will run windows in a single partition, and will have to reformat before filling their drive.
Storage really is cheap these days.

Re:How many photos fit on a 500GB HD? (2, Informative)

CannonballHead (842625) | about 5 years ago | (#29568591)

I run at least one instance of Windows on at least one of my various computers at home.

Last time I formatted: last year. Reason: wanted to.

Last time I formatted before that: probably 4 years ago. Reason: didn't want XP x64 anymore and went back to 32 bit XP.

Last time I HAD to format: no clue. A long time ago....

I really don't buy into the "if you run Windows, you're going to have to format yearly just to keep your computer at operating speed" stuff anymore than I buy into the "if you run Linux, you will never have any performance problems anymore" stuff.

Re:How many photos fit on a 500GB HD? (2, Informative)

coolsnowmen (695297) | about 5 years ago | (#29568677)

I feel like you didn't read your parent post before replying angrily to it.
He said:

Reason: The type of people who have to talk to a sales person, will run windows in a single partition, and will have to reformat before filling their drive.

He didn't say, all people who run windows can't manage their pc and should be put out to pasture.

Re:How many photos fit on a 500GB HD? (1)

xxuserxx (1341131) | about 5 years ago | (#29568829)

He didn't say, all people who run windows can't manage their pc and should be put out to pasture.

No but he did mention only using 1 partiton. Why the hell would that matter how many partitions you have if you only have 1 hard disk using NTFS?

Re:How many photos fit on a 500GB HD? (1)

Hyppy (74366) | about 5 years ago | (#29569011)

He didn't say, all people who run windows can't manage their pc and should be put out to pasture.

No but he did mention only using 1 partiton. Why the hell would that matter how many partitions you have if you only have 1 hard disk using NTFS?

Agreed. Multiple partitions on a single physical disk are handy for Windows when you're reasonably sure to run out of space sometime. I haven't had an issue like that in years, though. Why complicate things?

Re:How many photos fit on a 500GB HD? (1)

diskis (221264) | about 5 years ago | (#29569069)

Because you can whack your system partition and reinstall the OS, without touching the data on the other partition. Basics.

Re:How many photos fit on a 500GB HD? (1)

Andy Dodd (701) | about 5 years ago | (#29568859)

It definately held true with Windows 9x.

Win2k and XP seem to be far better off with respect to Windows Rot. Still far more susceptible to it than they should be though.

wtf? (1)

atari2600 (545988) | about 5 years ago | (#29568497)

Undercover investigation done online? Do you actually know what "undercover" means? The "hot shot investigator" chatted online until there was enough damning text transcripts. This is a story?

Re:wtf? (1)

dangitman (862676) | about 5 years ago | (#29568761)

Pretending to be a customer would qualify as "undercover." I also don't recall anybody referring to him as a "hot shot" investigator, other than yourself.

Re:wtf? (4, Insightful)

cashman73 (855518) | about 5 years ago | (#29568957)

This is a story?

No, it's not a real "news" story. But this is Slashdot, and the mods knew that by posting that, it would become nice bait for Slashdotters to share their stories about crappy salespeople and such, so they wanted to drive more people to the site to drive more ad impressions and thereby make them more money,... Basically, the mods are motivated the same way that salespeople are motivated, but just use different techniques. That's also why I'm probably going to get modded "-1 Troll" for this,... ;-)

Re:wtf? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29569191)

Just like every pretend-"I'm so getting downmodded for this" poster just does it to get mod points?

No!!! (1)

Jethro (14165) | about 5 years ago | (#29568517)

Sales people LIE??? Noooo! My faith in mankind is DESTROYED!

Now I must leave this place - my girlfriend is thinking about buying a car, and I MUST STOP HER BEFORE IT'S TOO LATE!

Re:No!!! (1)

Hyppy (74366) | about 5 years ago | (#29569043)

my girlfriend is thinking about buying a car, and I MUST STOP HER BEFORE IT'S TOO LATE!

Not a bad plan of action, there.

Tesco off by a few letters - ass summary (4, Informative)

pete-wilko (628329) | about 5 years ago | (#29568531)

The tesco one isn't so bad in fairness. The rep could well have been thinking of NOTEbook - rather than NETbook. To be honest I thought that was the reason why PC makers no longer refer to laptops as laptops, but instead notebooks - so there was no implicit liability with someone burning their special parts from keeping a hot laptop in lap.


And of course like a noob I just read the article and indeed that is what happened - the rep thought notebook - and the article takes a shot at the rep for saying a netbook is: "They're just small notebooks without word processors."

So now im really pissed at giving pcpro a page click.

Re:Tesco off by a few letters - ass summary (1)

pete-wilko (628329) | about 5 years ago | (#29568623)

Man i'm even more pissed at whatever jerkoff/editor did this story - the boxout 'quote' is "Netbook is the new name for laptop. They're just small notebooks without word processors"

Screw those chumps, looking at the article that is not the direct quote, as he corrected himself, presumable said some other stuff, then the netbook comment.

Maybe i've just had this notebook in my lap too long.

seems reasonable to me (1)

CarpetShark (865376) | about 5 years ago | (#29568753)

I thought that was the reason why PC makers no longer refer to laptops as laptops, but instead notebooks - so there was no implicit liability with someone burning their special parts from keeping a hot laptop in lap.

Me too. Makes sense as one possible explanation of the popularity of "notebook", regardless of the original invention of the term. Especially since "notebook" suggests very limited applications, and since "laptop", "desktop", and "palmtop" sound pretty good as a way of explaining different machines -- I'd expect that to have caught on better. In fact, I'd suggest that the Tesco PC saleperson should probably be earning a lot more than what Tesco are paying him/her.

I don't care enough to RTFA, but the whole summary sounds stupid to me. Recommending a good graphics card for someone interested in digital photography is not entirely wrong, since bad graphics cards can be slow (especially for photoshop etc.), poorly color corrected, etc.

As for:

"It depends on the photo capacity, for instance if its[sic] on average 2 MB then 1024 MB * 2," came the absolutely incomprehensible reply. However, that was merely an entree for the four-course meal of confusion that was heading our way when we asked her to clarify what she meant. "In other words is it [sic] around 10 lakh. 1000*250."

I can understand that just fine, allowing that MB was said instead of KB. Big deal, I've said the wrong units myself a few times; it's easily done. Strange that it wasn't corrected, but like most of the stuff here, I think it's simply a case of relatively clued-in salespeople trying to dumb things down for clueless buyers. Something's gotta give.

ATI cards. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29568535)

I'm a Linux user. The last time I purchased a laptop, they tried to sell me a machine with ATI graphics. I told them that ATI's Linux drivers are terrible, but they said they had heard nothing about this. This was Dell, who sells Linux machines, so I figured they would have known about the problems.

After my old X1300, I would rather try and drill my own teeth than buy another ATI GPU.

I found a nice NVIDIA laptop and have been very happy with it for the past 8 months.

The only person dumber than a computer salesperson (4, Insightful)

petes_PoV (912422) | about 5 years ago | (#29568549)

... is the majority of their customers

While we, computer elites can laugh, or cry, at some of the stupid, stupid things that come out of the mouths of the sales drones - for a lot of people they are the experts. Most people neither know nor care about computers. They just want to GET STUFF DONE. They don't know or care about Gigahertz or Terabytes: just as they don't know or care about the kilo-Watt rating of their electric kettle: it's merely an appliance - it works or it doesn't.

Maybe the IT industry should look inwards on itself and consider how we've failed to educate the public about the technology we make them use. Even worse, maybe we should reflect on how we've turned a subject that has such a huge potential for good, into a nerdy hell: full of jargon, technobabble and misinformation. To the point where the sales-staff don't even know when they're talking rubbish.

All your engineering belong to customer service. (2, Interesting)

gestalt_n_pepper (991155) | about 5 years ago | (#29568791)

Excellent point. Machines don't matter. People matter. ONLY people matter. Machines exist only to serve humans.

So, the deal is this. They paid money for your POS OS, machine or software. It had better work. Period. End of story. They don't care about closing processes, ending threads, reclaiming memory from the stack, optimizing the sorting algorithm, and so on. What they care about is the when they ask the computer to jump, the only question the computer has is "how high?"

Seriously, computers are about money, provided by users who DO NOT CARE about any of the mechanics any more than you care about the mechanics of your local sewage processing facility. Your job (and mine) as a programmer is to wipe their hineys gently and dispose of the waste, preferably without asking. You may hate it, as I do, but THAT'S YOUR JOB. Get over it. Don't like it? Get a new one.

Re:The only person dumber than a computer salesper (2, Insightful)

Kell Bengal (711123) | about 5 years ago | (#29568845)

The problem here is that computer use and maintenance really is a technical subject. It's no less sophisticated than car repair - sure, some little jobs an owner-operator can get away with, but stripping the engine down or safety checking the brakes might be a bit too much.

Thing is, we don't expect people to be able to walk in off the street and adjust a carburetor. We demand training, and credentials and certificates before we let people monkey around with car electricals. But somehow, somehow it's ok to hire clueless people to maintain and service the PCs that people's livelihoods may depend on. Sure, they may not -die- if you do a bad job, but you can end up wasting thousands of their dollars and still not fix the problem.

We don't need to educate people about computers - we need to educate people about the value of professional IT training and certification.

No, you don't have to be a mechanic to sell a car; but that's only because cars come as a prefabricated system where your only choices are what colour and what model of CD player to put in. If you were selling cars assembled from any number of subsystems you -would- need to be a mechanic to offer useful advice.

Re:The only person dumber than a computer salesper (1)

dangitman (862676) | about 5 years ago | (#29568889)

Even worse, maybe we should reflect on how we've turned a subject that has such a huge potential for good, into a nerdy hell: full of jargon, technobabble and misinformation.

I think many "IT people" like it like that; it makes them feel superior, and gives them a weapon to "pwn newbs" or whatever. It's also popular among management, who have their own variations of the dialect that is used to shut out people and lower the discourse. I think if the IT industry looked inwards on itself, it would probably decide that things are going just as planned. After all, the industry is there to make a profit, and that's easier when you can deceive customers.

Re:The only person dumber than a computer salesper (4, Insightful)

Ephemeriis (315124) | about 5 years ago | (#29568933)

maybe we should reflect on how we've turned a subject that has such a huge potential for good, into a nerdy hell: full of jargon, technobabble and misinformation.

Right. Because fields like medicine, law, automotive repair, publishing, fashion, cooking, broadcast, engineering, carpentry, literature, mathematics, philosophy, psychology, politics, banking, insurance, etc. don't have any jargon, technobabble, or misinformation.

Every field has specialized language.

You either learn enough of the specialized language to make sure you aren't being taken for a ride, or you trust that the folks you're dealing with aren't going to abuse their position of power.

The primary difference is that many people don't feel the need to educate themselves in any way when it comes to computers. Many people seem almost proud of their ignorance. They'll happily declare that they don't know anything about computers.

Sure, they just want to get stuff done. So do I, when I get in my car and drive to the grocery store. But it's still a news story when the local repair shop is found to be lying to its customers and charging people for repairs they don't need.

Re:The only person dumber than a computer salesper (1)

gad_zuki! (70830) | about 5 years ago | (#29569173)

>Maybe the IT industry should look inwards on itself and consider how we've failed to educate the public about the technology we make them use.

Lets not go overboard. The problem here is confirmation bias. You only hear the worst stories. The worst 1% of 1%. What you dont hear is he guy reading consumer reports or the girl calling her mom for computer advice. Or the grandpa using a mac.

What you hear is the girl who tries to use the mouse as a foot pedal or the guy who tries to install a pci card into a agp slot.

For the most part, people get along just fine with technology. They do their research or they have someone help. Its incredible how competent non-IT people can be sometimes. But, again, we dont hear about them. We just hear the bad news.

What's YOUR Job's Main Goal? (5, Insightful)

mpapet (761907) | about 5 years ago | (#29568561)

Sales people's job is to move widgets. Sell more widgets == more take-home pay.

-They aren't paid to be factual.
-They aren't paid to keep the best interests of the consumer in mind.
-The job, as designed, requires no training. In fact it rewards the absence of training.

This is the same all over. Laptops, packaged investments, American health insurance. Doesn't matter.

Re:What's YOUR Job's Main Goal? (1)

thisnamestoolong (1584383) | about 5 years ago | (#29569217)

This is all true, but they are also required by law to not lie. They can be as manipulative as they want, and stretch the truth to trick you into spending more than you need, but they are not allowed to lie.

no, no, no (5, Funny)

circletimessquare (444983) | about 5 years ago | (#29568607)

the term "netbook" comes from the fact that because they are small lightweight laptops, they are much more prone to contamination than regular laptops. therefore, they require the use of hairnets during operation. why this is true requires profound technological expertise i don't have the time to educate you fools on in this venue, but suffice it to say that it has to do with the cube of the static charge carried by the contamination proportionate to the surface area of the hard drive

and i am flabbergasted and horrified evey time i see someone using their netbooks without the mandatory use of a proper hairnet. just one little hair sliding in a crack in between the keys on the keyboard! you fools

OMG! (0, Redundant)

webheaded (997188) | about 5 years ago | (#29568611)

BREAKING NEWS!! Someone alert the papers! Sales people are making shit up!!!

640K should be enough for anyone (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29568619)

Although I have 512K in my IBM PC and it runs WordPerfect and Visicalc just fine, I like to upsell a bit because I've got it on good authority that "640K should be enough for anyone"

Seriously? (1)

Firemouth (1360899) | about 5 years ago | (#29568627)

This is news? Can anyone honestly say "omg i'm so surprised"?

Re:Seriously? (1)

egcagrac0 (1410377) | about 5 years ago | (#29568835)

omg i'm so surprised

Re:Seriously? (1)

Firemouth (1360899) | about 5 years ago | (#29569049)

Wonders never cease!

I somehow let myself fall into this @ Circuit City (5, Interesting)

barzok (26681) | about 5 years ago | (#29568635)

I was shopping for a new laptop for my wife a year or two ago and browsing Circuit City (no intentions of buying there, I just like to get my hands on the products before I buy them online). One of the "salesmen" asked me if I needed help and I decided to play along. I told him I was just checking out a few models for an upcoming purchase for my wife.

Him: Will you need a Microsoft to go with it?
Me: A Microsoft what? It comes with Windows Vista, doesn't it? Microsoft makes a lot of software.
Him: Will she need any office software?
Me: Yeah, but I've got a copy of Office XP (maybe it's 2003, I don't recall) I don't use anymore since I bought a Mac, so she'll just use that.
Him: Oh, no, you can't do that. Office XP won't work on this computer
Me: Huh? It should work fine, it's recent enough, Vista works with just about anything.
Him: Nope, Office XP/2003 doesn't work on Vista at all, you need Office 2007.
Me: Are you sure that it's not just that Office 2007 works better than the older versions on Vista?
Him: No, it's not going to work at all.

And then people wonder why sales dropped through the floor when they laid off their best staff.

Re:I somehow let myself fall into this @ Circuit C (1)

FredFredrickson (1177871) | about 5 years ago | (#29568961)

Actually, that's true. Although a few quick hacks will get it to work, officially microsoft doesn't support under office 2007 on vista.

Re:I somehow let myself fall into this @ Circuit C (1)

FredFredrickson (1177871) | about 5 years ago | (#29569149)

But nevermind, looks like since the OEM (probably around SP1), they officially say all are compatible now. There was a horrible time when they really did recommend only 2007.

Just the Facts (4, Informative)

flahwho (1243110) | about 5 years ago | (#29569249)

WTF are you talking about? That's absolutely NOT true. All versions of MS OfficeXP and 2003 are listed on the Vista compatibility pages :

https://www.microsoft.com/windows/compatibility/Browse.aspx?type=Software&category=Business%20%26%20Home%20Office&subcategory=Office%20Suites&page=2 [microsoft.com]

Perhaps you should either do some research or work for Dell.

Hidden video camera captures Dell sales meeting... (4, Interesting)

GPLDAN (732269) | about 5 years ago | (#29568675)

fascinating video from inside Dell's phone sales team....


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TROhlThs9qY [youtube.com]

Desktops? (1)

BerryMadness (1591615) | about 5 years ago | (#29568681)

"netbooks got their name because 'a Japanese man on a plane fell asleep with a laptop on his thighs and was horribly burned, so the industry has dropped the name laptop."

So fires are the reason why they call Desktops PCs! ;)

Hanlon's Razor (3, Informative)

h890231398021 (948231) | about 5 years ago | (#29568683)

Probably better explained as an example of Hanlon's Razor ("Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity") than outright intentional deception.

Re:Hanlon's Razor (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29569071)

' A sufficiently advanced form of incompetence is indistinguishable from malice. '

Nit pick (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29568739)

FTA: "The netbooks comes [sic] with a slower processor, lesser memory, lesser hard drive, no optical drive and it would not be possible to have any software loaded on this netbook," he stated, once again playing hard and fast with the truth.

No, he is playing fast and loose with the truth.

Nitpick of your nitpick (1)

thisnamestoolong (1584383) | about 5 years ago | (#29569161)

FTA: "The netbooks comes [sic] with a slower processor, lesser memory, lesser hard drive, no optical drive and it would not be possible to have any software loaded on this netbook," he stated, once again playing hard and fast with the truth.

No, he is playing fast and loose with the truth.

The term fast and loose usually refers to a situation where the truth is being stretched and warped, such as the cell phone data plans where "Unlimited" actually means you can use it whenever you want, whereas most would assume that to mean you do not have a 5 GB bandwidth cap. Saying that it is not possible to load software onto a netbook is an outright, bold-faced lie.

This graphic card stuff is more widespread (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29568745)

This graphic card stuff reminds me on my typical conversations with ./ geeks...

something along the following lines:

troll: what graphic card does your notebook have?
me: something onboard - i don't care about this stuff
troll: that's bad, a graphic card is way faster than this onboard stuff, you should buy a notebook with a REAL graphic card
me: i don't care - it does not make a difference - i don't even use opengl but just xmonad, firefox, and a few xterms
troll: doesn't matter - without a REAL graphic card all graphic stuff will waste some of your precious RAM
me: I DON'T CARE if a few megs out of my 4GB of RAM are wasted
troll: but you know... the generic RAM is slower than the memory of a REAL graphic card, so you're graphic performance suffers
me: ...

Not where I worked (3, Interesting)

ZekoMal (1404259) | about 5 years ago | (#29568771)

Admittedly it was Target, and not a electronics-only store, but we (the workers) wanted to sell the optimum product to the customer. We don't get commission for selling the most expensive stuff, after all. So, we would listen to the entire problem, and then if we didn't know the answer, we'd call one of the other electronic-savvy guys. Usually, there was a camera guy, a tv guy, a radio/phone guy, and then me, the gamer girl. That left just a few gray areas, in which we would look over the box description and see how it fit with their needs. If all else failed, in the most extreme circumstances we would get the manufacturer number and ask them about the product.

Returns are more of a pain to deal with.

Of course, that's just anecdotal stuff. Plenty of stores do give out bonus goodies (or firings) based on total money made per individual worker, and there are plenty of people that just don't anything about electronics but needed a job badly.

yeah (1)

Kierthos (225954) | about 5 years ago | (#29568785)

Dell has always amazed me with the level of stupidity they exhibit when it comes to customer service. When I got my first Dell waaay back when, I could order the computer online, customize it however much I needed (within the normal restrictions Dell imposes), and so forth.

But could I make my monthly payments online? Why no. I called customer service to ask them why this was the case, and I was told that they just weren't set up for it. For all I know, they may have it now. My most recent computer, I just outright bought, rather then pay monthly installments.

Last time I bought a laptop... (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29568801)

Best Buy Sales Girl: Now you know you'll need to buy anti-virus software don't you?
Me: No, no I won't.
BBSG: But without anti-virus software your computer will {insert non-sequitor that problem mentions terrorists winning}
Me: First, that's not quite how that works. Second, I'm planning on installing Linux on this laptop.
BBSG: I see, but you're still going to need anti-virus software, I recommend you get {insert name of crappy anti-virus software}
Me: Please just ring up my computer.

Re:Last time I bought a laptop... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29568999)

a highly unlikely story since i've never seen a bestbuy machine go out without a year or 6 month trial ware anti-virus. nor have i ever been asked to be anti-virus software with a pc from best buy.

probably just another sad attempt at a linux fanboi to try to slip the name into a conversation no matter how much his claims are untrue.

Re:Last time I bought a laptop... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29569229)

A sad attempt to to slip the linux name into conversation?? You Microsoft fanboys are worse; trying to turn everything into a fight over an OS. I was simply buying a new laptop on which I could compose my tron fanzines, and I am just telling it how it happened.

Honestly... (1)

egcagrac0 (1410377) | about 5 years ago | (#29568803)

Who buys a computer at a supermarket?

Re:Honestly... (1)

gnasher719 (869701) | about 5 years ago | (#29569003)

Who buys a computer at a supermarket? I did. Needed a PC for someone with little money, I get more information from reading what's written on the box than any sales person in any computer shop could ever give me, compared to prices advertised on the internet, compared to prices in other stores, and found it was the best value for money. With the added bonus that they don't have sales people who pretend that they know anything about computers.

same thing different field (4, Insightful)

uncreativeslashnick (1130315) | about 5 years ago | (#29568825)

So I mountain bike. Turns out these bikes have become more and more complicated, with more and more features, and I'm at the point where I don't really care about the latest carbon-fiber whatsathinger I just want to get on my bike and go, and have it not break. But when I need to fix the bike, or buy a new one, I've got to talk to sales people some of whom have a clue and some of whom don't.

Computers are like most other reasonably complex products - you've got to do your homework and never, ever trust that the salesperson knows what they are talking about. Because most don't, whether we're talking mountain bikes or personal computers.

Re:same thing different field (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29569189)

Mostly, I find bike salesmen to be the inverse of computer salesmen. I recently tried to buy a folding bike costing £350 and the salesman explained long and
hard that a model costing £250 was a better fit for my needs. He was right.

netbook (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29568843)

What's going to happen when people's bookshelvs / libraries burn down?

computer salesmen vs customers (4, Insightful)

dbet (1607261) | about 5 years ago | (#29568871)

It's not just the salesmen who are clueless. People don't know what to ask for, don't know how to describe what they want out of a computer... it's a mess on both ends.

Re:computer salesmen vs customers (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29569039)

Amen.

Dell (2, Interesting)

Demiansmark (927787) | about 5 years ago | (#29568903)

Had a bit of first hand experience with this recently. I've always known Dell has devious pricing systems, the same system will have different starting prices and instant discounts applied to it depending on how you get to it and result in systems with the same specs being priced hundreds of dollars apart from one another.

I own a business and needed some systems quick for new hires. We have a line of credit through dell which has come in handy a few times. The new hires were going to be working heavily in the Adobe suite and needed some firepower but nothing crazy. I just could not price a system with the specs I wanted. I called up sales and they told me that it was impossible to get the system I wanted with 64-bit Vista despite that, when both options were available, there was no price difference, the sales guy made some nonsensical reference to the motherboard (was getting a intel quad-core). I asked could I get the 2GBs of memory that came with the system on one DIMM instead of two, but this was not possible because the system wouldn't support it.

In the end I broke down and now and ordering three systems worth of parts from Newegg, which, of course, satisfies my inner geek but has lead to significant delays in getting the hardware I need.

HDMI (2, Insightful)

FunkyELF (609131) | about 5 years ago | (#29569063)

The guy saying that you need a good graphics card to download pictures is like going to Best Buy and the guy says that you'll get a better picture with the gold plated $200 HDMI cable.

Re:HDMI (3, Funny)

Yvan256 (722131) | about 5 years ago | (#29569177)

At least they're not trying to sell you a gold plated optical cable.

HDMI Cables (4, Informative)

thisnamestoolong (1584383) | about 5 years ago | (#29569103)

A bit of a different field, but I know that whenever I am at Best Buy to pick up anything home theater related (I help out a lot of friends/relatives with HT setups) I will inevitably end up arguing with some moron trying to sell me a $140 Monster Cable so it will 'look better'. Being ignorant/a liar is one thing, but it is totally something else when they continue to argue with you about it. I have even, on one particular occasion, taken the time to explain to the clown how digital audio/video works and why purchasing the "better" cable is equivalent to lighting your money on fire, and had him still come back with, "Well, I'm sorry but you're wrong, this cable will make it look better." It is amazing to me that this sort of criminal fraud is tolerated -- these people get away with making provably false statements in order to separate people from their money and they don't see any consequences. The average person should be able to walk into a store and at least be confident that the person trying to sell them things will, at the very least, not blatantly lie, but this is not the case.

Welcome to reality 101 (1)

Kjella (173770) | about 5 years ago | (#29569169)

You're not going to find any highly qualified help hanging around on a supermarket sales floor trying to sell to the lone person that actually appreciates that in the middle of all the bargain shoppers. Of course they all the right words to fool the casual customer, that's part of the job description but that's also it. That's not about computers, that's about pretty much anything. Most of them end up hiring basically nice and polite people that'll sell you on whatever you show an interest in along with whatever accessories they can or whatever has the highest margin if you don't.

It's one of the things you pay for if you visit niche shops, I'm not saying they're all saints either but most of them live off reputation and actual skills, not the goods they stock. Don't let them talk you way out of your budget, but they actually can make sense to listen to. But it all rather depends on you needing some personal advice, computer sales is way too dominated by online reviews that are valid for everyone. One round of reviews, one round of price checking, go to cheapest serious retailer, buy. It's quite different than shopping clothes were you actually need personal feedback.

HiFI sales people are better. (3, Funny)

Bender Unit 22 (216955) | about 5 years ago | (#29569197)

I just bought a new reciever and I was a bit unsure if it was the right one with enough bass, but then the guy in the shop said they could modify it with a tk-421 upgrade. They gave it 3-4 quads more per channel by adding that and they did that modification right in the store.
Plus it didn't add a lot to the price.

Look at who you're dealing with (1)

east coast (590680) | about 5 years ago | (#29569227)

Do you honestly believe that anyone who could really tell you about the innards of a PC would be working a 9 dollar an hour job working the phones at Dell?

Granted, there are a ton of fly-by-night tech institute grads who try to get anything working around computers but if they were worth the paper their certs were written on they wouldn't be there long.
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