Monday, November 22, 2004

Computer stores

It takes a lot to get me to go to computer stores. Usually, I only go in there if:

a) I'm desperate for something and can't wait for next day delivery
b) I know exactly what I'm after, know they've got it in stock, and am desperate to carry something home in a box
c) I'm buying something I'm not too sure about, so I can safely return it under their retail-model-based fairly lax returns policy

The running theme here is desperation. I normally avoid them like the plague.

Reading this article about what makes up the ideal computer store reminded me of a conversation I heard one in my local shop.

Customer: Can you tell me how many internal drive bays there are in this case?
Assistant: I'm sorry, I'm not allowed to advise on individual components
Customer: Well can I open up a box to look myself?
Assistant: I'm afraid we're not allowed to do that
Customer: Well can I take the back off the display model and have a look?
Assistant: I'm afraid we're not allowed to make any modifications to any of the individual components
Customer: I'm don't want to change it, I just want to have a look inside
Assistant: I'm afraid we're not allowed to do that
Customer: So how am I supposed to know what I'm buying
Assistant: You'll have to read the description on the packaging
Customer: But there is no packaging. It's a case. It comes in a cardboard box
Assistant: hmmmm.
Customer: Do you know how many internal drive bays it has.
Assistant: Yes.
Customer: Well can you tell me?
Assistant: I'm afraid I'm not allowed to advise on individual components

Now I'm not going to get into a argument about anything, except the policies surrounding this poor assistant. I really felt for him. He knew exactly what he was talking about. He knew the answer to the question. He wasn't allowed to tell the customer because that was the store's policy (it was a big chain one).

Now I know exactly why this is, and it sucks.

Basically, in order to avoid either:

a) Hiring and training staff so they know what they're on about; or
b) Getting shedloads of returns from disgruntled customers who have been wrongly advised by staff who didn't really know what they were on about

The store has a policy not to tell anyone anything, except what it says on the product description cards on the shelves. This way, they can hire anyone they want, regardless of skill, knowledge, or any of the things that make us who we are and unleash them on the unsuspecting computer-buying public.

It really does suck. But hey, I guess I don't have to talk to them.

Just wanted to share. I'm sure I'll write something worth reading shortly. Been studying quite a little bit about English Query. It looks really cool. I didn't even know it existed, either! What a stroke of genius.

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