Teaching Computer Store Sales Staff Their Job

If you are reading this article there are a few simple assumptions I can make. First, you are online therefore you have an internet connection and a computer. Second, you like were involved at some point in the purchase of the computer or have purchased some extra gadget for the computer sometime in the past. Third, because you have purchased something to do with a computer you likely have set foot in a computer store of some kind, at some point.

With that unnecessary background, on with my rant.

I hate computer stores. Ok, maybe hate is a strong word, but I dislike dealing with the sales staff at most computer stores (or electronics stores with computer departments) such as CompUSA, Circuit City, Best Buy, etc. The problem is I can never get a knowledgeable answer from the staff when I need it. Fact is I know more than they do.

I know that may sound pompous and arrogant, but frankly, your dog may know more about the products being sold there than the staff does.

Being in a technical field, I try to keep myself fairly well read on current technology. I dare say I read more about technology than I do about current events. I actually consider that a fault when I write that, but facts are facts. When I am considering purchasing something, I take research to the extreme. I read online, I ask around and I talk to people about my conclusions and ask them to weigh in. I am fairly sure that I annoy the heck out of people in this process, but in the end, I rarely end up with buyers remorse after my purchase after such long deliberations.

With that in mind, when I end up in a store I usually have a decent idea of what I want. My time in the store often amounts in racing to the point where I know the product is, grabbing it and making my way through checkout. Sure, I may check out what else is on an unadvertised special, but when that staff member comes wandering my way I usually quickly make my evasive moves and get out of there.

The staff does scare me, really; I just hate being engaged in idle chit chat by someone that is really just trying to talk you into a warranty upgrade on whatever you end up buying.

On the occasions I have had to drop in for a purchase where I am not prepared with details and a specific model in mind, I am typically disappointed with the results. Recently we purchased a color laser printer for work at CompUSA. I had done enough quick research to see their pricing was competitive enough compared to online options that we headed in to see what might fit our needs. While browsing through the options with a business sales rep (supposedly more knowledgeable and specialized for businesses) in tow, we requested to see samples from the three printers we were considering. For the one with the “demo” kit attached he had no problem. The second printer he struggled with, and the third he just had no idea. Not that I am a printer expert, but most have a menu system or key combination you can push to get your demo. Relieving him of his dilemma, I figured out getting the samples with a few simple attempts.

This is but a small example of course for many situations where I have instructed the sales staff on the finer points of products vs them informing me of things I don’t know. No, don’t get this picture of me acting like a Cliff Claven and spouting off all my knowledge and generally making a fool of myself. But, when a staff tries to read off the box on the sly the features and act like they already knew it, I just can’t help but know they really are not capable of helping me. I can read the box on my own, thank you very much.

The other day, before purchasing my new Canon 40D upgrade to my 20D, I happened to be at Circuit City for a purchased and made my way through the camera department. I was ogling the 5D they had on display when I managed to get accosted by the guy assigned to that department. He had a 30D around his neck and a big goofy smile on his face. After the pleasantries, he dove right in trying to expound on his vast knowledge of photography and revel me with his enthusiasm.

Now I love talking to fellow photogs and learning from their experiences and skills, but this guy just didn’t have it. What he lacked in actual knowledge he tried to cover with eagerness, and it only managed to come across at pushy and annoying. Without trying to one-up him with my experiences I simply let him know I was planning on purchasing a different camera, was simply browsing and moved on.

In the end, I typically purchase most of my gadgetry online both for the typical cost savings and to not deal with undertrained, poorly paid sales staff. At least online I can read specifications and reviews without interruption and without pressure to pick up that worthless three-year warranty.