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.