Is it just me, or is there a rather severe dearth of knowledgeable help at technology stores? I don't think I've ever seen a larger number of know-nothing, computer tech wannabes working at stores where technology products are sold. And God forbid you should go to an office supply store to buy anything computer related; in addition to substandard help, you'll almost always pay too much (I think these office supply stores assume that, if you're enough of a novice to be shopping for computer stuff at a store that specializes in selling pencils, manilla folders and paper clips, you probably have no idea of how computer things should be priced).

I can remember when you could go to a local computer store and there were people working there with actual relevant experience in the field, who could really help you make an intelligent buying decision. One of my favorite such stores got bought up a few years ago, and the first time I went in after that, the first thing I noticed was the absence of those mature, knowledgeable floorwalkers, and the appearance of a bunch of pimply-faced kids who looked like their hands were permanently frozen in game controller-holding position, who thought that the last three years they'd spent playing Doom qualified them as computer professionals. Of course, the real reason they were there was because I'm sure that, to feed that dream of being a "computer guy (or gal)", they were willing to work for six bucks an hour.
It only took this kid half my age with about a twelfth of my industry experience arguing with me over the idea that I MUST buy memory modules for my laptop in pairs, to make me start to see this was a bad idea. When, not long after, another kid tried to get me to pay thirty bucks for a IEEE 1284-compliant printer cable on the grounds that the new printer I was buying wouldn't work at all without it, I was done. When I explained that, not only was any printer cable made in the last year or two already 1284 compliant, and that even if the one I already had wasn't , I could still actually print (though I might lose a few bells and whistles) and if I did need one I wasn't going to pay $30 for it when I could get one at another store for seven bucks, he froze solid, his facial expression disappeared, and a mechanized voice came out of his navel that said "This unit is experiencing a technical challenge, please tune in later." I shook my head and took my printer home.
Is it wrong of me to expect that a person working in a store have at least some foundational knowledge before they put him (or her) in a red polo shirt with a cheaply embroidered logo and turn him loose on me? If I ask about some hard drives, should I have to put up with someone who says I should get a SCSI drive (costs more, and he's probably getting a commission off the sale), and then if I ask why I should get SCSI he says that there's really no difference between SCSI and IDE but SCSI has been around longer? If there's something I really don't know and have to ask about comparing two items, shouldn't I expect more than, "Well, this one's a l'il bit cheaper for ya."? Am I rude for asking two store employees to stop debating the relative value of an XBox versus a PlayStation long enough to get me an item in a box? Shouldn't be too much to ask, but hey, maybe I'm just a bad customer.
I once heard one of these guys spend about ten minutes explainng a printer to an elderly lady, even going into how many picoliters of ink the cartridges had, and the lady was looking obviously spaced. After this spiel, the lady says, "OK, I'll take one." and he replied, "Uh, well, we're out of stock on these now." I'm thinking, why spend all this time trying to sell this woman on a product you don't even have?
Hey, I realize the markup on hardware is a little thin, but if these companies are going to hire these "experience-challenged" floorwalkers, at least train them better, for crying out loud.

Oh, and what I was saying about buying computer products from office supply stores? I don't even want to get into that one...not yet anyway.

It's pretty much all stores...

Staff are hired based not on knowledge but pricetag and looks.
A cheap highschool dropout with a toothpaste smile, a miniskirt, and big boobs sells more (and at a higher price) than a nerdy boy with thick glasses, a faded T-shirt, and a stutter.
She's also a lot cheaper for the store.

And it's to some degree specialist stores as well that do it (though the process is slower there).

Almost everywhere staff are given lists of items they should advise people buy.
Those are not the items that people could make best use of but the items that yield the highest profit margins.
Thus you get a situation where in extreme cases staff ignore customer questions about specific items and instead drone on about completely different things the customer never asked about (I've had it happen to me several times).
The lack of understanding of the stuff they're trying to sell doesn't help of course.
If the kid is told to sell as many of the latest videocards as possible and you come to inquire about TV capture cards the kid may well think those are the same thing (after all, didn't his parents have a VIDEO recorder?).

Dude, I couldn't agree with you more. I just moved from a metro to a small township and believe me, I've had one hell of a time getting new equipment. Case in point. I needed a crossover cable so I could connect my two PCs. I asked the guy if he could do it. He flashed a pearly white smile, enough to blind the guy in the next shop and confidently chirps "Yes Sir. How many metres of cable?" I told him my requirement and he gets to work, a crimper in his hand. After a few minutes, I can see that this kid is having trouble crimping the darn thing, when like a blessing, his 'knowledgable' friend pops in. He brazenly asks his friend "I need to make a crossover cable. I've crimped one end, how do I do the other end?" This had me stumped. But before I could tell him, his friend says "Just reverse the cable sequence on the other end". Needless to say, the cable didn't work. I then asked him to just give me a few plugs and made the cable myself.

That's the situation everywhere, and the only thing you can do is educate yourself to make sure you don't get scammed.

LOL! Sounds like they'd have done better just selling you a crimper and some cable stuff! The thing is, many stores do such a large volume of business that they just don't care when things like this happen, and that they happen more frequently than they should.


WELL written, and I can't agree with ya more :)

I couldn't agree even more. One time I went in a store to buy a PCIMCIA Ethernet card for my laptop. The guy first told me that my laptop had to have an ethernet port. I told him that I my laptop was old and that it didn't have one, but he just kept on telling me that it did. After I finally convinced him, he asked what OS I was running, I told him Ubuntu, then he said that linux doesn't support PCIMCIA, and that I couldn't buy the dang card becuase linux does not support it. I told him I was buying it anyways and he ignored it and got a different more expensive card. I finally gave up on that loser and went across the street to a different store. what is up with this world? look at what we've become!!

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