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Computer Buying Experiences at B&M Stores

Zonk posted more than 8 years ago | from the hunting-red-shirts dept.


bob gnosh writes "The team over at [H] Consumer go into Best Buy, Fry's, CompUSA, and Circuit City and buy a computer at each store. They relate exactly what happened at each store, talk about warranties, and what to do to protect yourself or your friends when buying at these places." From the article: "Navigating these retail stores isn't for the faint of heart or those not armed with the right knowledge beforehand. As much as you'd like to go to your closest strip mall, have a salesperson discern your hardware needs, and walk out with a shiny new computer that does everything but load your dishwasher, such an experience is just not going to happen. Most retail sales people are simply not going to possess the necessary knowledge to correctly recommend or explain every nuance of a piece of hardware."

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re (4, Insightful)

Alex P Keaton in da (882660) | more than 8 years ago | (#15196615)

Um- this sounds like buying most things, from washing machines to cars. Salespeople that aren't knowledgable? No way! You need to research things yourself....

Re:re (5, Insightful)

ergo98 (9391) | more than 8 years ago | (#15196720)

Um- this sounds like buying most things, from washing machines to cars. Salespeople that aren't knowledgable? No way! You need to research things yourself....

Salespeople in many industries are very knowledgable, and are actually capable of listening to your needs and making informed, educated choices to guide you to the right purchase. The primary problem with electronics, however, is that many of the shops they visited pay their employees close to minimum wage, possibly with a marginal commission enticement. Given that, who do you think will fill those roles? I don't intend to demean workers at those shops, but it's inevitable: You're not finding the brightest stars of the tech world toiling away, with terrible hours, for $8 an hour at the local Best Buy.

Compare this to real estate where an agent might make $20,000+ on the sale of a single home. While there are exceptions, the financial draw does entice more intelligent, more motivated, more capable individuals. The same can be said for many other sales industries where representatives can actually make enough to earn a decent living, and to credibly call it a real career.

Re:re (2, Insightful)

Alex P Keaton in da (882660) | more than 8 years ago | (#15196778)

My point is that many b to c (retail) salespeople are horrid.
Obviously professional salespeople who sell B to B are different.
The salesperson who sells million dollar computer systems to industries and pulls in 500k in commisions each year is going to be more knowledgeable/professional that the guy at Best Buy making $8 an hour.

Re:re (1)

CmdrGravy (645153) | more than 8 years ago | (#15196832)

This is true, whilst I was buying diving equipment a few years ago I visited a number of shops and all the sales people I spoke to were very knowledgable and helpful. However I suspect they were also paid more and enjoyed enough perks such as access to vast arrays of dive equipment that they cared more about their dealings with customers than a lot of the staff who work in places like Dixons or Currys.

Re:re (2)

somersault (912633) | more than 8 years ago | (#15197141)

They're also working in a more specialised shop though, and would all be divers themselves (I used to dive a little, was one open water dive from having my basic diving license when the family stopped diving). In Dixons and Currys, there is a wide range of equipment, and the salesperson can't be as knowledgeable in every area. They also won't be passionate about their work, or feel a sense of kinship with someone who's going to buy a washing machine, whereas real divers will like to help fellow divers, and be able to offer decent advice.

Re:re (1)

lubricated (49106) | more than 8 years ago | (#15196888)

>>The primary problem with electronics, however, is that many of the shops they visited pay their employees close to minimum wage, possibly with a marginal commission enticement.

That's like every retail store. I don't expect much help picking plants from the employees at Wall-Mart either. Home Deopot/Lowes employees are just as bad as best buy employees. The only reason the slashdot crowd knows the best buy guys are full of shit is because they actually know more about electronics than the average person.

Re:re (4, Insightful)

flappinbooger (574405) | more than 8 years ago | (#15196984)

I actually live close to a Lowes in a small midwestern town. They are employing people there who actually KNOW STUFF. Really! There are people there who have abandoned the lean midwest rural plumbing and construction trade for more steady income. For instance, the plumbing department guy actually used to be a plumber, likes plumbing and helping people DIY, but is sick of doing it for a living. Now, a Lowes in a large urban area won't be like that. The plumbers and construction guys make more money doing it in TRW, and a Lowes there will be stuck with the typical inexperienced people.

Re:re : Compare this to real estate (1)

BoredTech (949507) | more than 8 years ago | (#15196905)

Speaking as techsupport in the realestate industry I can say with confidence you are SO wrong. The 80/20 rule applies there as it does anywhere else, and the lure of easy money brings alot of unqualified people.

Re:re : Compare this to real estate (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15196969)

techsupport in the realestate industry

I feel your pain.

Re:re : Compare this to real estate (1)

ergo98 (9391) | more than 8 years ago | (#15197092)

Speaking as techsupport in the realestate industry I can say with confidence you are SO wrong. The 80/20 rule applies there as it does anywhere else, and the lure of easy money brings alot of unqualified people.

You certainly have more experience in that industry, but I brought up that example only because I've had nothing but great luck with real estate agents -- people who knew everything about their city, could properly interpret my needs and correlate them with available homes, who could offer suggestions on the homes, and who confidently and knowledgeably dealt with the legal and regulatory issues. My experience doesn't portend to it being universal, however I contrast it to other industries where the "salespeople" know less than I do about the products in question, and whose goal seems to swoop in once I make a decision to get their name on the bill.

Re:re (1)

Jeff DeMaagd (2015) | more than 8 years ago | (#15196975)

Salespeople in many industries are very knowledgable, and are actually capable of listening to your needs and making informed, educated choices to guide you to the right purchase. The primary problem with electronics, however, is that many of the shops they visited pay their employees close to minimum wage, possibly with a marginal commission enticement.

I think that is a big problem for nearly any retail store, not just ones that sell electronics. Electronic products are generally more complex than others, so that compounds the problem.

It's not in the store's best interest to educate people on what things do, very often people won't "get it". For example, my dad keeps harping on the speed of his computer, somehow thinking that he needs a faster computer when it is the internet service that is the weakest link. I'm not very far from yelling at him the next time he complains, because his computer is fine and I don't want him to spend $600 and complain that it was wasted.

Re:re (1)

ergo98 (9391) | more than 8 years ago | (#15197012)

Electronic products are generally more complex than others, so that compounds the problem.

Right on the money.

In many of the other low paying sales jobs, the help is there basically to carry the goods, and to look in the back (and often to make sure you aren't stealing anything, which is humorous given that the overwhelming majority of "inventory shrinkage" is due to employees), and their help is usually limited to subjective opinions (e.g. "Oh yeah! That color is great!").

In electronics there is so much to know, and the market changes so quickly, that the hired help really needs to know what they're talking about to be of any use. Sadly the overwhelming majority don't know what they're talking about, which is unsurprizing given how unrewarding the position is for them.

Re:re (1)

couchslug (175151) | more than 8 years ago | (#15197027)

That goes for everything from groceries to medical care!
The duty to yourself to be an informed consumer is ageless. Caveat Emptor, anyone?
I don't patronize brick and mortar computer or electronics stores, except to buy printer paper and similar. It isn't worth the petrol and time.
Except for getting boned on some memory by micromagic (Google for "micromagic scam") web shopping has been far more satisfactory than going local. I can research a product thoroughly and order it in one sitting, track its progress, and go no further than my driveway to fetch it. My electronic order trail (and pics I may take of damaged items) facilitate any RMA or damage claims.

Best Buy Experience (5, Insightful)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 8 years ago | (#15196620)

I usually go into Best Buy because I don't want to be bothered by salesman. Alas, my last major experience with them was less than impressive. While I was browsing for a new home router, a salesperson decided to help out. While he did eventually point me toward a nice Netgear Wifi/Switch combo that was well-priced, his technical information left a lot to be desired. He informed me on no uncertain terms that the unit I had been looking at "wouldn't be full speed" because it was "a switch instead of a router." According to him, a switch was a network device that simply splits the signal, thereby allowing only one port to talk at a time. I shook my head and tried to explain that he was thinking of a hub, and that a switch gives full performance on each port. Unfortunately, I had a head cold at the time and probably wasn't very persuasive. He just sort of gave me a look like, "Whatever, dude".

All in all, Best Buy "geeks" (*cough* *sputter*) tend to have the computer knowledge of a third grader who's been throwing around factoids with his friends at lunch in a desparate attempt to arrive at a miniscule of real knowledge. It used to be amusing to ask the sales staff complex questions just to hear their wonderfully made-up answers, but these days I'm far too busy for that sort of nonsense. They would honestly be a lot more helpful if they just gave their recommendation (the same "here's the popular product" one they give everyone) and went away. For everything else they need to either profess ignorance or point the buyer to websites where they can do their own research. (Not that they're actually going to do that. They need to sell overpriced "Geek Squad" cables and useless warranties somehow.) *sigh*

That being said, I feel sorry for the well-intentioned geeks who spend some small portion of their lives with a Best Buy name tag affixed below their lapel. It must be horrifying to be expected to be so disinformative just to sell warranties and accessories.

Re:Best Buy Experience (1)

evilviper (135110) | more than 8 years ago | (#15196825)

I don't like to be assaulted when I walk in the door. However, when I have a question, I very much like being able to find somebody nearby that isn't hiding (unlike Best Buy), who knows something about the product, other than what it says on the back of the package (unlike Best Buy), and where the products they stock are all decent, not just the cheapest thing that fell off the boat. Having reasonably short lines for checkout and returns would be quite nice as well. And maybe not forcing me to return everything as "I didn't like it, you bastard" rather than telling them it's completely defective junk, and get pushed off on somebody else for an hour while they test it.

I really just don't go there anymore. They aren't as bad as Walmart, but they aren't a big step-up either.

Re:Best Buy Experience (1)

springbox (853816) | more than 8 years ago | (#15197036)

Everytime I go into these stores I usually get asked if I need help, but I always decline since I am probably more knowledgable about what hardware I'm looking for than the sales staff. (Say "no thanks, I'm just looking," it works REALLY well!) Other than that, I've noticed that you will often have a high risk of making a bad hardware purchase if you know nothing about the specific models that you're looking at.

I went to look at wireless access points, and while they still exist on the shelves of CompUSA and Staples, it was hard to ascertain much other than their supported link speed; the descriptions on the boxes were of not much help, and some of the more interesting hardware specifications were not even displayed on them. Besides that, unless you know of the types of reviews that all of the hardware that you're looking at generally got, which is unlikely, you probably shouldn't pick up the first box you see (bad idea, of course.) I ended up going home, reading a bunch of reviews on the WAPs that I did see in the stores, and eventually went back and bought something from Linksys, which ended up working out pretty nicely. I could have saved a lot of effort by just buying a WAP online, but I was willing to go to a store and pay the "got to have it now" tax. However, I didn't bother to at least check out each store's web site to see what might actually be in them, which was a big mistake.

I usually prefer making my hardware purchases online, because it's cheaper and easier to sort the good stuff from the bad stuff without making long trips to and from the store.

Re:Best Buy Experience (1)

Diseage (898509) | more than 8 years ago | (#15197111)

I work at a Circuit City B&M store, selling computers and imaging. First, the kind of people we get in here are NOT the slashdot crowd, or the [h] crowd. We get people with little to no knowledge on the subject, and call the tower anything from the modem to the hard drive to actually thinking the monitor is the computer itself. They definetly don't need or want to get into the technical aspect of the inner workings. They just want to write emails and browse the internet. For the rare tech savy guy, I just leave them alone. I'm pretty aware of my knowledge on computers. I tell people when I don't know stuff. Those guys either don't shop here, or know exactly what they're buying before hand. So, it's not a bad gig for me, since I'm just wearing the name tag for school until I can get my EE degree. But don't be so quick to rate an entire store based on one associate (or a few). We're not all the same mindless drones.

I don't believe it! (1, Funny)

lucabrasi999 (585141) | more than 8 years ago | (#15196626)

Most retail sales people are simply not going to possess the necessary knowledge to correctly recommend or explain every nuance of a piece of hardware

I am shocked, shocked I say, to see that there are incompetent employees at a retail store.

Re:I don't believe it! (1)

paranoidhumanoid (969296) | more than 8 years ago | (#15196772)

Yeah, it really makes you wonder how in the world they got a nickname like IncompetentUSA.

My issue with it (1)

2.7182 (819680) | more than 8 years ago | (#15196628)

Is that I can only go on the weekends and it is so crowded at these places that it is impossible to get a salesperson. Same goes for all products, not just computers. And this is tough when you are holding a crying kid.

They all suck (1)

NetNinja (469346) | more than 8 years ago | (#15196744)

Here's why

You get what you pay for. $7.00 an hour worth of advice from a 16 year old is like?......
Allthough most 16 year olds are extremely knowledgeable about PC's they don't sell the customer what he or she needs but rather what is supposed to be pushed for that month. Not to mention the upsales pitch like extended warranty.

Since most consumers are mostly clueless when it comes to buying a PC they really just look at the sales adds with all the rebates that you are supposed to send in after you purchase the machine and the compnay hopes you never send in.

Think buying a car is bad, computers are the worst because the technology changes so fast and mass produced machines for the masses are good enough for what most people use them for. Surfing the internet and checking thier email.

Power users get a machine built or rather they buy thier own parts and piece it together themselves.

Re:My issue with it (5, Funny)

dr_dank (472072) | more than 8 years ago | (#15196807)

And this is tough when you are holding a crying kid.

If you're trying to buy a computer at the same time as abducting children, then you're just doing too much at once.

Re:My issue with it (3, Informative)

Secrity (742221) | more than 8 years ago | (#15196883)

Hint: if your kid isn't well behaved or routinely cries in stores; leave him at home. On a busy weekend, the last person that a salesperson is going to offer to help is the guy holding a crying brat.

Re:My issue with it (1, Offtopic)

2.7182 (819680) | more than 8 years ago | (#15197175)

I think your probably a troll, but in any case...

Your advice is so useful, thanks a million! I never thought of that.

Please let me know though how one makes a baby "behave" ? If you know a way let me know so I can market it to the millions of parents who would pay handsomely for the secret.

FInally, child care is not always available at all points in time, so parents do have to bring their children places sometimes. We can't all afford a full time nanny, and certainly not one that has the skills to deal with my 1 year old daughter with Downs syndrome.

Re:My issue with it (2, Insightful)

towsonu2003 (928663) | more than 8 years ago | (#15196966)

Is that I can only go on the weekends and it is so crowded at these places that it is impossible to get a salesperson. Same goes for all products, not just computers. And this is tough when you are holding a crying kid.
the keyword to your experience: crying kid.

That's not their goal. (3, Insightful)

Dlugar (124619) | more than 8 years ago | (#15196652)

Most retail sales people are simply not going to possess the necessary knowledge to correctly recommend or explain every nuance of a piece of hardware.

Not only that, but that's typically not their goal. They're typically on commission, so if grandma comes in looking for a computer, they're not going to try to find a computer to fit her modest needs--they're going to try and give her the biggest, most expensive computer with all the add-ons and extras they can manage. Buying a computer at one of these stores involves (a) knowing what you want, and (b) dodging the sales team's efforts to saddle you with extra stuff that you don't want.


Re:That's not their goal. (5, Informative)

Manmademan (952354) | more than 8 years ago | (#15196761)

I can't speak for CompUSA (though it's unlikely) but Circuit City hasn't had comissioned employees since the first month of 2002, and Best Buy never has. There are minimum quotas everyone is expected to meet (otherwise, how can you tell if they're doing their job or not?) but you'll find that just about anywhere.

Re:That's not their goal. (1)

Dlugar (124619) | more than 8 years ago | (#15196908)

I can't speak for CompUSA (though it's unlikely) but Circuit City hasn't had comissioned employees since the first month of 2002, and Best Buy never has. There are minimum quotas everyone is expected to meet (otherwise, how can you tell if they're doing their job or not?) but you'll find that just about anywhere.

That's true; I spoke hastily. What I meant is that they're highly pressured to make sales and to add extras that the customer doesn't really need. A friend of mine worked at Best Buy (in the computer department) and told me plenty of stories about the atmosphere there--it's in some ways even worse than working on commission.

Regardless, my point stands--these companies don't encourage salespeople to sell you the system that is best for your needs, they encourage salespeople to sell you the most expensive system they think they can get you to buy.

Re:That's not their goal. (1)

Manmademan (952354) | more than 8 years ago | (#15196911)

edit: sorry, that should have been first month of 2003. Stores with non-commissioned employees first started popping up in 02, but It wasn't made companywide policy until late january of '03.

Re:That's not their goal. (1)

Scarletdown (886459) | more than 8 years ago | (#15196786)

Buying a computer at one of these stores involves (a) knowing what you want, and (b) dodging the sales team's efforts to saddle you with extra stuff that you don't want.

And the customers who meet those criteria most likely would not be shopping for their system at a place like Best Buy. They would get what they need from places like Newegg, ZipZoomFly, their local geek shops, etc. and build it themselves to their own exacting specifications.

Re:That's not their goal. (1)

filekutter (617285) | more than 8 years ago | (#15196936)

I've been repairing, troubleshooting, and building/modding for years, but the one thing in my way is that I refuse to pay that horrendous fee for micro$oft certification. I know more than most who DO pay for that useless piece of paper, but it gets in my way of being a tech.... everytime. So it goes.

Re:That's not their goal. (1)

b0wl0fud0n (887462) | more than 8 years ago | (#15197109)

I believe that Best Buy no longer uses commission as of 2004 which adopted the no commission policy after Circuit City.

Apple store? (1, Interesting)

bwy (726112) | more than 8 years ago | (#15196675)

I think they should have also bought a computer an an Apple store to see how they measure up.

Re:Apple store? (1)

SilentChris (452960) | more than 8 years ago | (#15196749)

Overbearing, needless atmosphere and a bunch of 14-year olds overhandling and scratching iPods attached to tables with string? No thanks. I don't want an "experience", I want to buy a computer and make up new experiences at home. I buy my Apples from

Re:Apple store? (1)

JanneM (7445) | more than 8 years ago | (#15196797)

I think they should have also bought a computer an an Apple store to see how they measure up.

From personal (thus anecdotal) experience in Osaka, you get the same minimal cluefulness combined with a push for whatever earns the highest commission.

A sales clerk isn't going to be the sharpest knife in the drawer, whether the door says "Apple" or "Yodobashi".

Re:Apple store? (1)

swissfondue (819240) | more than 8 years ago | (#15196863)

Apple Stores are nicer, but according to [] the employees have their quota of Applecare guarantees to sell:

"Apple has reportedly tweaked the metrics is uses to guage employee and store performance to put more emphasis on ProCare service and less on .Mac sales. Previously Apple's bonus and performance program set attach rates of 60% for the AppleCare extended warranty, 40% for .Mac accounts and 20% for ProCare. Attach rates indicate what percentage of computer sales are accompanied by the sale of other products. Employees who want to demonstrate excellent performance are expected to meet or exceed these rates. In the lastest revision, Apple did not change the attach rate for AppleCare, but did make changes to the other two: they lowered .Mac from 40% to 30%, and increased ProCare from 20% to 30%. There have been persistent reports that only 40% to 60% of .Mac accounts sold are ever registered by buyers, perhaps leading Apple to de-emphasize sales of .Mac. Increasingly crowded Genius Bars may have likewise encouraged Apple to convert more computer buyers to ProCare, which offers improved service benefits."

Re:Apple store? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15196945)

Unless you live in Florida, where you still can't get AppleCare without being sneaky.

Re:Apple store? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15196957)

At least at an Apple Store you don't get lied to about the manufacturer's warranty coverage and get suckered into buying a third party service plan.

I've bought several iPods and laptops at different Apple Stores, and while the offer the Apple Care warranty, it wasn't pushed on me. I was just reminded that I had up to a year from date of purchase to buy AppleCare.

Best Buy routinely lies about AppleCare and the standard Apple warranty - that hardware isn't covered after 30 days (that hasn't been the case since the early 90's), that you HAVE to bring the unit back to Best Buy for service (even though they aren't an authorized Apple Service Center), you can't even get help at a Genius Bar if you haven't bought the product at an Apple Store, and the best one - the AppleCare warranty isn't valid in (name your state).

People that rely soley on the salesperson... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15196689)

...get suckered whether they are buying a car, home, or major appliance. Consumers must be informed to get a deal or merely an adequate system. This will not change unless some volunteer collection of geeks is setup to help norms make buying decisions.

Re:People that rely soley on the salesperson... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15197035)

Yeah, but ...

You know what the difference between a car and computer salesman is? The car salesman knows when he is lying.


Apple (4, Funny)

pHatidic (163975) | more than 8 years ago | (#15196697)

Clearly the submitter has never been to the Apple store. All the mall needs to do is combine Sephora (with all the hot girls) and the Apple store and it would be like a black hole that no one could ever leave from.

Re:Apple (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15196808)

Clearly you're a fucking faggot.

Olds (2, Insightful)

Tom (822) | more than 8 years ago | (#15196700)

This ain't news, this is olds. At best. It was like that 10 years ago and more, except that back then you also had the small computer shops where the people who actually knew a thing or two built your machine to custom specs if you asked for it. Almost all of those have been driven out of business by WalMart, BestBuy, whatever-large-retailer-you-have due to aggressive pricing and, of course, your average Joe "no clue" Doe shopping there because it's $5 cheaper.

The thing is, for the margins of your average retailer, you can't afford quality staff. And that's not just computers, that's everything.

Re:Olds (1)

CmdrGravy (645153) | more than 8 years ago | (#15196919) [] was called Evesham Micros and was based in a tiny shop, next to a chip shop I think, just down the road from me and sold games for my spectrum and joysticks.

They seem to have done quite well for themselves since then so it seems some of the smaller retailers who were around could have survived to this day.

Re:Olds (1)

Daravon (848487) | more than 8 years ago | (#15197055)

You mean they custom built your machine using whatever wacky parts they got for dirt cheap, did little stress testing (if any past 'It powered on!'), and offered no warranty? While it's true that not all small shops are/were like this, most of them were. At least when people buy a Dell/Emachines/Gateway/whatever they're getting some amount of warranty and support. The $600 Dell with monitor and printer is fine for people that want to surf porn and play Yahoo games. Even if you sell someone a leftover Pentium 3 system that's adequate, you still can't compare on what's important for someone who has no clue what they're buying. You buy a Dell you get: Pretty computer. Pretty monitor. Matching keyboard/mouse. Shiney printer. Phone support from a heavily accented gentleman. Said gentleman can also pull up the parts that are in your system. You buy small shop you get: Beige box. Old monitor (or you end up using your old monitor) White keyboard/mouse (I guess technically they match) 99% of the time no printer. Iffy support from local high school kid working part time. Said kid has no way of knowing what parts are in your mishmash machine. The people that actually know sometime about computers will either build their own or buy from an online retailer to avoid problems of less than top of the line hardware in the cheap Dell or having to hunt drivers for the beige box from the small shop.

In-Store Warranties are a rip (1)

neonprimetime (528653) | more than 8 years ago | (#15196701)

Platinum gets your system "professionally" installed by their techs as well as provides you access to the Platinum-only support line. Prices range from $79 for a two-year Bronze to $269 for a three-year Platinum

$269!!! I can get a much more powerful pc than they speak of in this article, with a 3 yr warranty for just over twice that amount ($500-600) off pricewatch somewhere.

Staples (1)

huhlig (61314) | more than 8 years ago | (#15196703)

Someone should have gone to the other major Chain and checked out Staples. Most of their Computer department's staff seems to know a decent ammount. Although the last one I was at knew nothing about my RD-Ram.

A geek's favorite past time (4, Informative)

alta (1263) | more than 8 years ago | (#15196708)

As a geek, who sometimes doesn't have a life, one of my favorite pasttimes is to pull aside customers and explain to them the amount of bullsh*t that the salesperson just fed them. It's actually quite a lot of fun.

My experience though is that best buy has a comparably small amount of BS. Circuit city certainly has more, but the worse is at the small mom-pop shops. These little places are TERRIBLE! They can't compete on price, so they stay in business by selling old hardware at inflated prices. They must hire used car salesmen to push 2 year old hardware. Buyer beware.

Re:A geek's favorite past time (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15196855)

but the worse is at the small mom-pop shops. These little places are TERRIBLE!

Actual case: local place sells a pentium 4 3.2 GHz machine. The P4 turns out to be an athlon-xp 3200+. Whoops no wait sorry, it's an athlon-xp 1900+ overclocked to 3200+. Except they charged P4 prices.

Re:A geek's favorite past time (1)

MindStalker (22827) | more than 8 years ago | (#15197184)

Wow, about my only bad experience with a small store was when I when I purchased a power supply from them. I asked on a name brand perferably antec they said they only had crap brand X. I needed it ASAP (big stores were quite a drive away and didn't have time to wait for shipment of an order) so I bought it anyways. Of course it fried in about 2 months. Brought it back, they gave me another one free, but still didn't have a decent one. 2 months later it fried again. So I went and bought a good Antec brand and simply chunked the cheap one in the garbage. Told the guy at the store about this and he didn't believe me, insisting that their power supplies were as good.... :( (This was one of the early dual processor AMD boards that used regular ATX.. you know what I'm talking about..)

Re:A geek's favorite past time (4, Funny)

thesandtiger (819476) | more than 8 years ago | (#15196877)

I like to take people aside and give them even MORE misinformation.

"SD cards will protect your computer from viruses - you know, StD's."

"Make sure to demand LRF-5 support for your computer."

"Tell them you want a wireless ethernet card that can dial-in to the Internet - they'll know exactly what you want."

"Tell them you want a Pentium of RAM and a 2.3gigahertz hard-drive from AMD. If they try and tell you you can't have those, they're lying - they just keep the good stuff in back for themselves."

Okay, so I'm more of a misanthrope than a geek. Potato, potato.

Re:A geek's favorite past time (1)

flappinbooger (574405) | more than 8 years ago | (#15197010)

Simon Trevaglia, is that you?

Re:A geek's favorite past time (4, Funny)

GweeDo (127172) | more than 8 years ago | (#15197073)

Potato, potato.

That just doesn't work so well when written...

retail marketing (1)

romit_icarus (613431) | more than 8 years ago | (#15196723)

The great thing to come out of increased retail competition, is that advertising budgets are increasingly being diverted into retail communication.

No you may ask why is this better for consumers: the reason is that the closer the consumer gets to the point of purchase, the more rational are her communication needs. It's not so much about image or coolness, it's also about "so what does the expansion port look like, and, can I hook this to my laptop etc".

My Advice (1)

IInventedTheInternet (818590) | more than 8 years ago | (#15196726)

I used to work at a box store that sold computers (nothing to be proud of.

The one thing I learned from that place is: if you want to buy a computer/laptop, always act like you're interested in all the bells and whistles they throw at you till you get to the register. This way they're much less likely to be "out of stock" on an Item. Have an at the counter conversion to decline the extra crap they throw at you, and you're set. That's all they care about, the service plans, it's just free money for them.

Good, Fast, Cheap - pick any two. (5, Insightful)

jacobcaz (91509) | more than 8 years ago | (#15196737)

Most retail sales people are simply not going to possess the necessary knowledge to correctly recommend or explain every nuance of a piece of hardware

I think a better way to say it is; Most shoppers won't pay the prices needed to ensure that retail sales people posses the necessary knowledge to correct recommend and expllain every nuance of a piece of hardware.

I used to have some friends who ran a small computer store. They built machines and sold hardware. They were friendly and knowledgable and did at-home-at-office service calls. Their target was a small but fairly affluent town and they did well for those customers who realized that "cheap" and "quality service" are often words not uttered in the same sentence.

When they saturatued their small town they were not effective at finding more customers that fit their demographic. The tried to compete with Best Buy and Dell and they failed miserably because at the end of the day they couldn't justify selling a computer for $20 profit.

They could answer a customer's question knowledgably and spend the time needed to make sure the customer ended up with a very good fit for their needs. They just couldn't find enough customers who were willing to pay for this level of knowledge and personal service.

Re:Good, Fast, Cheap - pick any two. (1)

TopShelf (92521) | more than 8 years ago | (#15196837)

Somebody mod parent up, please!

Consumers have shown time and time again that they'll go for the lowest price wherever they can find it - that's why WalMart is wiping out the local hardware store, and why Best Buy et al are wiping out the small computer retailer. Very rarely do I ask for a salesperson's advice anymore. First of all, their motivation is to make a sale, not satisfy your needs in the most economical fashion, and secondly, there is a treasure trove of information available online. I'll do my research there, decide on what I want, then consult the retail stores to determine where I can get it cheapest.

Re:Good, Fast, Cheap - pick any two. (0, Offtopic)

jacobcaz (91509) | more than 8 years ago | (#15197009)

Not to steal the thread... TopShelf - you're in Indy right? I noticed you had a journal entry about moving to a director of ERP position. We're using an ERP package but might want to investigate other options. Just curious what you're using and what size your company is? You can get in touch with me through my web site if you have 5 minutes. Thanks!

Re:Good, Fast, Cheap - pick any two. (3, Informative)

MobyDisk (75490) | more than 8 years ago | (#15196949)

The flip-side to this is that it tends to create an opening for a service-only business. After it became impossible to build computers for a profit, I found a niche recommending Dells and helping small businesses setup their computer, network it, and maintain software.

There is definitely a market for smart helpful people, but I find that most people smart enough to help don't have the patience or interest in doing it.

Not just computers (4, Informative)

typical (886006) | more than 8 years ago | (#15196746)

Most retail sales people are simply not going to possess the necessary knowledge to correctly recommend or explain every nuance of a piece of hardware.

Yup, and this isn't just true of computers.

Circuit City sells audio equipment, for example. How many salesmen there know the first thing about any of it? My experience has been zero.

Try asking someone in a Wal-Mart a question about their bicycles.

The replacement of speciality stores with larger, general-purpose stores has, in my opinion, vastly reduced the amount of domain knowledge that the salesmen offer. Of course, it costs more to have salesmen with domain knowledge, and general-purpose stores pass on much of those savings to you, so it's a tradeoff...

Re:Not just computers (2, Insightful)

corellon13 (922091) | more than 8 years ago | (#15197151)

I've read all the slams on the "stupid" people that work at these retail stores and the greedy ones that are just selling you the most expensive thing because they are on commission. Let's face it. If they knew what we know (yes, I'm generalizing but I think it applies to most everyone reading this), then they wouldn't be working for minimum wage at a retail store. I think everyone needs to give these kids working their way through school, in most cases, a break and use some common sense when setting expectations. When you walk into one of these stores, you shouldn't expect that you are dealing with a computer engineer or skilled programmer who is intimate with the technology.

Am I making excuses for those who BS or lie? No. But try looking at this from their perspective. I'm sure we were all new to technology at one point and it isn't easy to be working in technology (even just selling it) and admitting you don't know much, if anything, about it. It is what it is and unless we are willing to pay $5K for a computer so these stores can hire engineers to sell them to us, we will just have to set our expectations accordingly.

If you know about computer... (5, Insightful)

tsa (15680) | more than 8 years ago | (#15196747)

A friend of mine once said, after I told him about some bad experiences with computer salesmen: "If you know anything about computers, you're not going to work in a computer shop." He's right of course; you can make much more money elsewhere if you know anything about computers.

Worked at Staples ... Sell Warranties! (4, Informative)

neonprimetime (528653) | more than 8 years ago | (#15196750)

I used to work at Staples during College. They didn't care how many computers, laptops, printers, etc. I sold ... all they cared about was warranties. Honest to gosh, and it really pissed me off, everytime a computer, laptop, or printer walked out of the store without a warranty, my on-floor manager would walk over and give me a lecture ... trying to tell me how to better pitch the warranty so that it wouldn't happen again. I even had one on-floor manager who told me I should never let a customer leave without a warranty ... tell them whatever it takes ... tell them the pc won't last, whatever ... just don't let them leave without that warranty.

Re:Worked at Staples ... Sell Warranties! (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15196986)

Circuit City is the same way (at least it was when I left in 2000). Sure, you were expected to sell what would meet their present and possible future needs (upsell, in other words), but if someone didn't want a product we would show them something else.

Not so with "Extended Service Protection" (can you get any cheesier with the acronyms?). You were supposed to present it, recommend it, and keep doing so until the person told you flat out three times they didn't want it. This irritated me more than anything, because I was put into a position where I had to do something I would *hate* being done to me (if a salesman doesn't pay attention to my first "no," I leave).

I think I've been back to the store twice in the past six years, simply because of the annoyance factor -- which is kind of a shame, because I had a lot of good friends there (all since gone, of course).

Obviously... (1)

clevershark (130296) | more than 8 years ago | (#15196756)

...the sales thingies will try and sell you whatever product gives them the most commission. If it's straight up sales percentage they'll try and sell you something that's a lot more than you need, but sometimes there's a dog they're trying to get rid of, so they'll sell you that.

Don't let them con you into buying extended warranties though. You might as well burn $20 bills right then and there, for all it's worth.

Would have liked to have seen an Apple Store (3, Interesting)

mccalli (323026) | more than 8 years ago | (#15196757)

OK, so I know it's slightly different. However, I would like to have seen them also go into an Apple Store and ask similar questions.

My experience has been nothing but good in there (Regent Street), but others have reported problems so I'm perfectly happy to believe I've just been lucky and that flaws exist.

Not a fan post claiming superiority or anything, it's just something I would have been curious to see. Apple make a lot of their 'shopping experience' (ugh, really dislike using the experience word) and it would have been interesting to see how they stacked up.


It's spreading.... (2)

Otter (3800) | more than 8 years ago | (#15196759)

I was in a jewelry store a couple of weeks ago shopping for a birthday present for my wife, and all the salesman wanted to do was sell me an extended warranty on the necklace. It was like Best Buy with emeralds. I quickly fled for someplace with less pressured sales.

BTW, for those who were wondering -- "B&M" is "brick and mortar". (And "BTW" is "by the way".) I'd thought the HardOCP guys had gotten confused and tried to by a computer at H&M and then either the submitter or Zonk had misspelled it.

Re:It's spreading.... (2, Funny)

nacturation (646836) | more than 8 years ago | (#15197051)

for those who were wondering -- "B&M" is "brick and mortar"

Either that or a new wireless book service... Barnes & Mobile.

Re:It's spreading.... (1)

neildiamond (610251) | more than 8 years ago | (#15197052)

I got really ripped off on my computer purchase at an S&M store!! It was fun though.

Office Depot Fun (1)

futuresheep (531366) | more than 8 years ago | (#15196769)

A few weeks back I was in Office Depot and overheard a staff member telling a woman to buy a Linksys wireless router because:

"Linksys is the company that invented networking and wrote all the specs for the wireless stuff"

Now, I don't expect that everyone should know WHY a certain brand of anything is better than it's competitors, but spreading misinformation just to sound like you know what you're talking about and sell something?

Re:Office Depot Fun (2, Informative)

evilviper (135110) | more than 8 years ago | (#15196909)

My experience with Best Buy is much better. I had a sales lady telling me that the cheaper computers couldn't be upgraded, because the CPUs were SOLDERED to the motherboard. No joke.

I told the Best Buy tech guys up-front that little story, and they laughed their asses off.

It's sometimes funny just how fragmented and demented a single company can be.

Re:Office Depot Fun (1)

Rude Turnip (49495) | more than 8 years ago | (#15197172)

Are you sitting down for this? Around 1995, a manager in a Radio Shack told me that she would recommend using AOL since they invented the Internet.

Ahhhhh Best Buy (5, Funny)

slagheap (734182) | more than 8 years ago | (#15196779)

A friend of mine was buying a printer at Best Buy a few years ago and needed a USB cable to go with it. The sales drone tried to convince him that he needed to buy one of the "gold" cables... and that going with a cheaper "silver" USB cable would result in blurry photograph prints. My friend (a computer engineer) almost started to explain about digital signals and all that, but decided it was pointless.

Re:Ahhhhh Best Buy (1)

neonprimetime (528653) | more than 8 years ago | (#15196845)

I worked at Staples ... and I musta been a nice guy. Cause, the floor plan had all those stupid Gold USB cables hung right next to the printers, in easy grabbing distance (some cables were actually more expensive than the printer itself) ... and anyways ... each time I sold a printer, the customer would say something like ... "Don't I need one of those cables?". And I'd respond something like ... "No, not those, I'll go grab you a cheaper $18 one ... they do the same thing."

Re:Ahhhhh Best Buy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15197089)

You're way nicer than me, but if he was wearing bling-bling to match some homie i know, i'd tell him, More bling bling for your crib to go with the gear

Re:Ahhhhh Best Buy (4, Funny)

springbox (853816) | more than 8 years ago | (#15197124)

I was having some sort of signal problems with one of my old video capture cards; there was a bunch of noise going down the picture in pretty specific locations. I was using a cheap $10 s-video cable. (This is the ONLY time I've ever seen noise like this from s-video.) I ended up buying a $30 monster cable. Guess what? The problem wasn't with the cables.

Re:Ahhhhh Best Buy (2)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 8 years ago | (#15196882)

The sales drone tried to convince him that he needed to buy one of the "gold" cables... and that going with a cheaper "silver" USB cable would result in blurry photograph prints.

Don't worry, they've fixed that problem. They now only carry the silver cables, but they're branded with the Geek Squad! logo and cost twice as much as the gold cables. See? Best Buy is simplifying things for their customers! You give them lots of money, they give you cheap crap in return. It's a Win-Lose situation!

Re:Ahhhhh Best Buy (4, Funny)

Snarfangel (203258) | more than 8 years ago | (#15197071)

Sure, you say that now, but just wait until your silver cable starts giving you .27658's and .79662's instead of 0's and 1's.

Re:Ahhhhh Best Buy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15197130)

Would you like some salt & pepper with those pictures? Or has your printer a median filter?

Printable Link (5, Informative)

jonoid (863970) | more than 8 years ago | (#15196791)

The "printable" link, text is all in one page and no ads: MTAzOQ== []

On another note, I used to work at Best Buy. I really needed a job at the time and couldn't find work anywhere else. I certainly know my stuff about computer hardware and software, so did a few other employees. One was even a computer science major fresh out of university just waiting for a real job opportunity to come by. Of course, a few employees knew absolutely nothing. So it's sort of a mixed bag, you could get lucky and find an honest and knowledgeable salesperson or you could get someone who knows nothing about computers and just wants to sell you an extended warranty.

On that note, stores are given a quota of extended warranty sales per day (usually they want 10% of profits to be extended warranty. Extended warranties are a major cash cow for these stores. Thus, employees (especially computer and home theatre) are told to promote the extended warranty and go through the checklist of it's features to EVERY customer, even if they flat out refuse upon first mention. So try not to go /too/ hard on the employee who mentions it to you, their job is on the line.

My recommendation: buy online, avoid the sales pitch, do the research yourself.

Retail Store Perspective (5, Informative)

Entropy248 (588290) | more than 8 years ago | (#15196811)

Ha! I love it! I work at a major store as a big-shot manager type, and I found this article interesting for a number of reasons. What the article describes is a very common problem. The people who truly know about these computers are not working in retail. So, you try to hire people who sound like they know what they're doing and sometimes train them on the rest. The stores with the best trained staff consistantly outperform poorly trained stores. A lack of training often implies a cost leader strategy by the company, and cost leaders rarely outperform quality leaders' profit margins. However, cost leaders can make more profit by volume. Best Buy, in particular, has isolated those who truly understand computers and created a "Geek Squad" that does not spend much time on the sales floor. They want the knowledgable staff to work on the higher margin tech support tasks rather than the low margin sales track. Geeks tend to be better geeks than salespeople.

P.S. Commissioned sales staff tend to make a LOT more money than non-commission. Personal shoppers often work on commission, and their higher payrate gives them more weight to fight for you (the customer) when going through beauracracy or other paperwork functions.

In other news..... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15196812)

Water is still wet, the sun is still hot, and we need air to breath.

Did any one that reads Slashdot not know this?

Then there was Future Shop (3, Funny)

Psyberian (240815) | more than 8 years ago | (#15196821)

It has since closed down, but it was almost a game going to the Future Shop in Eugene, Oregon. For instance I went in to help my Dad get a printer for his computer. Salesman almost immediatly walks out sounding off how this certain printer was great, and oddly enough one of the most expensive. He continues to go on for about 5 minutes about how he got it for his dads computer never had any problems, works great, blah blah blah.

Cut to a few days later, I go in the next day to get some game or something. I over hear a different salesperson talking someone about a monitor. He continues to go on for about 5 minutes about how he got it for his dads computer never had any problems, works great, blah blah blah. You will notice the verbaitem cut and paste from above. Yep same spiel as the first sales guy almost exactly word for word. It seems, like most sales peoiple those at future shop lacked a soul and just had a clonded soul implanted from a master super salesman. Well maybe not, but I heard that same story a few more times. It has been a while, but I think it was five times I heard that.

pay peanuts (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15196829)

get monkeys!

why would anyone who is sufficiently skilled in computers want to work for 6$hr in a retail store ?, you get what you pay for, unfortunatly CE* executives are more valued than people who are actually make the company a success (ie get the job done)

What do you expect from minimum wage workers? (2, Informative)

digitaldc (879047) | more than 8 years ago | (#15196834)

Do people actually think that they will get great service and knowledgeable reps when buying a PC from a chain where they hire people at $5.00 an hour?

Come on now!

Inaccurate Information (2, Informative)

Creamsickle (792801) | more than 8 years ago | (#15196835)

Points in the article about reps giving out wrong information (whether it be through ignorance or malice) are all too true. I bought a Toshiba laptop at Best Buy a couple of months ago. Of course, when talking to the salesperson about purchasing it, they gave me a sheet of paper to sign up for all kinds of extra services.

One service they (there ended up being like 3 reps talking to me about it all at once) tried to push was this one where I could get as many battery replacements as I needed for I think it was the next 2 years. I was interested until they said it was like $300 extra, but at that point they really wanted to sell me that thing. I decided to check their knowledge/honesty. Having done my homework and being armed with the knowledge that battery prices for that model were $100 - $150, I asked the salesperson how much a battery would run me.

"Oh wow for those Toshibas those things are expensive. Gosh I think they're about $300 bucks or so, I personally recommend this one since its such a good deal".

I politely declined the offer, bought the laptop (hey it was a great deal), and haven't walked back into Best Buy since.

This form of retail has changed! (4, Insightful)

IflyRC (956454) | more than 8 years ago | (#15196844)

Back in college I worked at Circuit City. I was a sales person in the computer department.

We wore a tie, blue blazer and had a name tag with stickers based on our certifications. They actually sent us for week long training at different times or when new products came out. We were tested and didn't receive each "icon" without passing the tests.

Granted, most of it wasn't difficult but it did require some general understanding of what you were doing! I was the only person in my store certified to handle the installs - I used to make so much money just installing graphics cards, etc. These days - how do you know the person knows what to do?

Best Buy introduced the "no hassle" shopping experience. They looked at things from a perspective of "everyone is an hourly employee, no specialized training - all you need to know how to do is work a cash register".

People who were in a hurry (most of the US these days) seemed to like the Best Buy way of shopping better than dealing with someone who could actually help them so Circuit City ended up switching over to the same business model. Notice the blue blazers and ties are gone? Replaced with kids in red polo style shirts who can barely point you in the right direction to find a product.

But hey, this is what America wanted. They didn't want to be bothered by someone asking them questions about what they needed.

Granted, some of the guys at CC did seem like used car salesmen but there were some that were very good at their job.

Re:This form of retail has changed! (1)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 8 years ago | (#15197099)

Notice the blue blazers and ties are gone? [...] Granted, some of the guys at CC did seem like used car salesmen but there were some that were very good at their job.

Looking back at it, I can't remember ever hearing misinformation from their staff, but I generally assumed that they didn't know what they were talking about. Why? Well, it was probably the suits. In the computer industry, suits have always been the anti-thesis of knowledgable individuals. The fact that they were wearing blazers rather than simply button-up shirts just screams, "Unknowledgable sales staff! Steer clear!"

Which is sad, considering that it sounds like they really knew what they were talking about. Everyone always assumes that a suit will automatically make you seem more professional. Unfortunately, it can swing the other way too. Thus it's important to dress the part, which isn't necessarily the same as "dressing for success." :(

This report is rubbish (0, Troll)

mgblst (80109) | more than 8 years ago | (#15196868)

Don't waste your time reading it. It contains statements like this:

After flagging down a second Best Buy representative and asking about upgrading the memory in the particular system, he explained we could upgrade the memory, but he didnt know the price. He told us he would find out, and promptly left. He never returned with the information.

But he did, in fact, return later:

At this time, the second representative we asked about upgraded memory pricing returned with an answer.

Obviously nobody took him seriously, because he was a 12-year old child, judging by his writing.

The only decent advice of the article, is that when you have a technical question, ask for a technician. You need to consider that most people on the floor are salespeople, and aren't experts in any particular field. A real expert in IT would be working somewhere that would pay a lot more. Especially when you look at the state of technology these days, with DDR, DDR2, PCI-X...etc Why would someone with no interest in computers be expected to know this, when they are also selling a range of other items.

Re:This report is rubbish (1)

flosofl (626809) | more than 8 years ago | (#15197157)

It is confusing, but the "second rep" they talked to != the "second rep" they asked about mem upgrades.

The second rep (or the entire experience) was actually the first one they asked about the memory, while the first rep (of the entire experience) they talked to wandered back and become the second one they asked about memeory.

Interesting article (2, Interesting)

The-Bus (138060) | more than 8 years ago | (#15196884)

The article was more in-depth than I had imagined it would be. However, it leaves out the simple explanations for inadequate expertise in these stores.

While the Best Buy experience was inexcusable, the other stores seemed to have pretty good service, even if their expertise was less than ideal. But their expertise only needs to be limited.

First, retail is not the line of work you want to go into to get rich. Unless you're in management (at which point you're not talking with the customers), if you're well versed in computer hardware you can probably do better for yourself somewhere else where you'll enjoy greater pay, less hassle, and better hours. If you're in high school or college and need to raise some cash and already like computers, it's not a bad fit, but I would never expect to find a graphics card guru at my local electronics store.

Second, most consumers buying computers don't care to be educated in their choices beyond avoiding a bad choice. As long as the computer runs what they need to and won't break, that's all they really care about. One exception in this might be laptops, although I imagine discerning businesses are not getting their laptops from Circuit City but some other source. (At which point a knowledgeable salesperson is useful, as they are selling dozens of these systems at any one time). Knowledgeable consumers, expecting uninformed salespeople at retail locations, will research first and may have limited their choices to only a few models once they get in the store.

Third, with the exception of gamers, most people would have almost the same experience with any random computer that you select out of a store. As the article suggests, most people just want to go on the internet, check email, and run basic applications (Office, The Sims). There's no one computer that's best for that.

Therefore, retail stores don't need to have experts on hand to assist everyone. It would be nice for them to know some of the basics and you certainly want them to be honest to the extent where it doesn't hinder their job, but not much more is needed.

And if you really ache for that one-on-one advice, get in contact with a speciality seller like WidowPC or better yet, visit your local computer shop run by a bunch of geeks in shorts and ponytails, who will probably not steer you wrong.

Nice article.. (0, Offtopic)

kwieland in stl (830615) | more than 8 years ago | (#15196907)

But I think it is posted on /. just to start a flame war /queue BBsucks, CCsucks, etc

Business opportunity (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15196930)

This sounds like a business opportunity. Become a professional computer shopper for a consulting fee.

Ah, the good old days (2, Interesting)

Billosaur (927319) | more than 8 years ago | (#15196953)

I worked for OfficeMax on a couple of occasions in their Electronics department and was the authority on computers. Of ocurse their selection was not huge and it was easy to keep up with the differences between models, though usually customers were more interested in the price tags. At the time, the first GB hard drives were coming out and I couldn't imagine why someone would need all that room (can we say "software bloat" boys and girls?).

It was a considerable challenge to make the differences between machines evident to the non-computer person. Numbers are daunting and don't even go into acronyms. I made sure to stay up on things so I could anticipate the more technical users, but we hardly ever got those kind of customer. I always told the other associates that you should never try to bullsh*t the customers, but try to be helpful and remember to say "I don't know" when you don't honestly know. I found a lot of people returned to the store to buy from us simply because we treated them well, not always because we had the best price.

Of course today, you get either A) the guy out to pad his commission, who won't leave you alone, even after you make it clear you know more than he does about the machines, B) the slacker who is there to earn money because his parents cut him off and he'd rather be doing anything other than helping or customers or C) the guy who knows about 5 computer phrases and is pretty good at making up the rest as he goes along. For that eason, I order on-line now.

Having worked at a retailer... (1)

Aladrin (926209) | more than 8 years ago | (#15197003)

In highschool, I volunteered at a local computer repair shop for a couple years. I learned quite a bit about computer repair there, and eventually when I need a job, I used this knowledge to get a sales position at a brick & mortar.

I was astounded by the lack of knowledge my associates had. They knew quite a bit about selling computers, but not much at all about what a computer can do. There was plenty of talk about selling the 'right' machineto the customer, but this always ended up being the highest thing in their budget range.

It was amazing how often this WAS a close match because of simple economics, but more information hardly even enterred the equation. (The exception to this was printers.)

It was also amazing how very little my in-depth knowledge helped choose the 'right' machine for the customer. It helped a TON in selling it, but none in what I considered important. (And what most customers SHOULD consider important.)

I may be exagerating a bit, I suppose, because I was always able to tell a customer what a machine could and could not do, and what it would take to get each machine up to that level. But it just never seemed to really factor into the buy decision.

The one thing I absolutely hated was selling insurance. They can call that piece of paper whatever they want, but it's insurance. We were told not to force it on the customer, but to always recommend it.

I'm still boycotting Best Buy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15197029)

So I don't know what their sales people are like. If they are anything like they used to be, years ago when I shopped there, then the majority are fucking idiots.

When I shop at an actual physical store, I go to CompUSA. I don't think they (as a stereotype) are any more informed as to the technology, and with the limited number of actual questions I've asked, they don't seem to even know the contents of their own stock. It does seem to have far more variety than Best Buy's offerings, so something you can't find at Best Buy might very well be stocked by CompUSA.

CompUSA does seem to be less of a zoo, however. I always remember Best Buy as being a complete fucking zoo. And CompUSA's website doesn't require cookies or java/script to use, so that's always a fucking +10 to security, for me.

So, in summary:

Worst Buy can cram it up their ass. Sideways.
CompUSA is where I shop.

Headline confusion (1)

Fex303 (557896) | more than 8 years ago | (#15197101)

I first read the headline as 'Computer Buying Experiences at S&M Stores'.

I've been there and here's a tip: Don't ask for the "extra RAM" unless you're sure you can handle it.

My favorite computer retail sales question (3, Funny)

Kurt Gray (935) | more than 8 years ago | (#15197156) when the retail rep asks "What are you going to use the computer for?" I try to toss out a generic answer like "Programming" but that invites more annoying questions like "Well, what type of programming?" It's obvious to me the sales person wants to dazzle me with their expertise in recommending the perfect model for "programming". So whatever, I say "Web programming." Then fun starts because then the ever knowledgable sales person actually points at a specific computer further down the shelf (where the screens are little bigger and the price tags have a few extra digits) and declares "This is one is the best for web programs." Why? I have to ask, purely curious as to how skillfully they can massage a pile of crap into an answer. "That other one is not as fast. See this one is faster for web programs. And this one also has more graphics which is better for like web..." and so on. For my further amusement I have to ask "Does this one have more internet? I need more internet." just to hear incredibly stupid answers like "Yes, this one has more internet." Ok, let's click up the stupidity dial even further: "What about like, email? Does this one have email?" Now the sales person is going to be honest and assure you that "They all have email... but this one has better email." And so on.

Extended Warranties Aren't ALWAYS bad (1)

iPodUser (879598) | more than 8 years ago | (#15197179)

I worked at an office supply store for about 2 years, and I of course had to sell the extended warranties or "product replacement plans" as we referred to them as. While I agree that on many products the plan is not a good value, on some products it can be good to have. I have built many a custom PC, but when my Dad went to buy a new PC for home, I got him a good deal on a closeout, and persuaded him to get the service plan(129.00). 1 year later, all sorts of things started failing, requiring replacement of the motherboard, power supply, cpu cooler/fan, and other items. All this was replaced for free, and they even sent someone out to do it. Let me tell you, after a long hard day at work, the last thing I want to do is work inside an HP computer. Plus, the thing is still covered for another year. Since I no longer live at home, it's hard to find time to make the drive and fix their computer; with the service plan, I don't have to. Now, with all that said, I never but the plans myself, (except the applecare plans - I couldn't help it, the salesgirl was so nice), and I always do the research on products before going into the store and mocking the salespeople for their lack of knowledge.
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