I’m horrified by the behavior of some electronics store employees

salesI don’t use physical electronics stores for much these days, in fact I mostly go there when I need either capsules for my coffee machine, or some sort of quick and cheap accessory like a flash drive or keyboard. To be quite honest, however, I don’t even like going to those places anymore, because I can rarely enter such a store without being horrified at the behavior of some of the employees.

Not everyone who works at these stores falls under what I’m about to say, of course, but I honestly can’t remember the last time I came across an employee that didn’t at any of the local stores where I live. First off, the lies they tell customers are just unbelievable at times, and I don’t even know if they’re doing it on purpose or if they’re just so clueless that they don’t know better. I’ve overheard people pushing gaming computers onto old couples who are just looking for something for Facebook and online newspapers, making them believe that the slower computers are essentially useless for even such tasks. $1500 for a desktop computer for Facebook is more than just a little bit excessive.

The cell phone section is always a source of headaches for me. Exactly what (aside from profit, of course) justifies upgrading a 70 year old man from a 5 year old Nokia dumbphone to the latest top of the line Android flagship device is beyond me, and I’ve had older people I know call me in frustration afterwards from being sent home from such stores with something that’s so far beyond what they need or have the ability to use that it’s not even funny. Even for those who do want a smartphone, the Android vs iOS question doesn’t seem to matter in the slightest for the people at these stores, using specs like screen resolution to sell a more expensive Android phone to someone who would be much better off with iOS. And when they can’t sell the most expensive phone using real specs, they make some up.

Then you have all the accessories and whatnot they want to sell you at the same time. Look, I get it: it’s a dying business, internet sales are winning, and you cannot make a profit on devices alone, so you need service agreements, cases, cables, and all sorts of other things to even stay in business. Even so, I find conversations like the one a friend of mine had with one such employee yesterday just outright disrespectful. It went something like this:

Friend: I want an iPad mini 16GB WiFi
Employee: Sure, let me go get one. In the mean time, you can go look at cases, screen protectors and such over there (*points*)
Friend and I go look, laugh at the ridiculous prices, and go back to wait
Employee: Here you go. Do you want any insurance?
Friend: No thank you
Employee: Are you sure?
Friend: Yes
Employee: The screen might break you know
Friend: I don’t want any insurance
Employee: Did you find any accessories you want?
Friend: No
Employee: Are you sure?
Friend: Yes
Employee: Ok…

I caught a glimpse of the guy’s computer, and could see several lines saying “informed about insurance” and “informed about accessories” listed under the item, suggesting that this conversation isn’t the employee’s idea, but something the store orders him to do.

Like I said, I get that this is how they make their money, but when a customer says no, he shouldn’t have to repeat it several more times for it to get through. It just seems to me that helping the customer find the right product has gone completely down the drain ages ago, and there just isn’t any trace of it left. Again, I’m sure not everyone is like this, and even those who are only follow orders, but it sure is long since I came across someone I felt had the customer’s best interest in mind.

A common response to things like this is to point out that a lot of people who go to these stores don’t have the knowledge to find products on their own, and might actually welcome the assistance of store employees. The only problem is that such people are even easier prey for these sales tactics, and I’ve seen people fall victim to it way too many times. One poor fellow I saw at a store once ended up with about  $700 worth of useless software when buying a new computer, and the sales pitches that the employee in question used were far from commendable.

At this point, I’m actually hoping that the physical stores will close for good. What customers meet in many of these stores is well dressed scam artists, and I’m frankly tired of seeing so many people end up with a bad deal because of it.

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Andreas Ødegård

Andreas Ødegård is more interested in aftermarket (and user created) software and hardware than chasing the latest gadgets. His day job as a teacher keeps him interested in education tech and takes up most of his time.

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11 thoughts on “I’m horrified by the behavior of some electronics store employees

  • Avatar of Wes Stacey
    July 18, 2013 at 7:43 am

    Yeah, i went to Best Buy recently because Nintendo was doing some demos of some of their E3 announced games. They had at least 2-3 employees going up and down the line trying to get us to buy games and 3DS’s, what’s worse is that they were trying to do it by asking us about our favorite games and it quickly became clear that the people that knew anything about games were running the event and everyone trying to sell the games were pulled form other departments and knew NOTHING about gaming. It was actually kind of humorous.

  • Avatar of anon
    July 18, 2013 at 9:01 am

    I used to work for a very large computer peripherals manufacture and would work with retailers and customers who have filed a former complaint with the company. ABSOLUTE biggest complaint was the customer was upset about not being given correct information about the product. Down to something as basic as “what does this do?” and just giving absolute wrong information about our products. I think the sale rep would say whatever sounded good in their mind, despite our relationship with retailers. We actually have reps who go to retailer’s HQ and teach/train them on how our products work. So, their employees can provide accurate information to their customers, but obviously it doesn’t do any good. At least the public knows manufacture try their best. :)

  • Avatar of john dowe
    July 18, 2013 at 10:51 am

    There is a reason they do this, more times than not, the people than buy a physical stores are either buying on a deal or just buying out of the blue. The ones that come for the deals are probably closer to yourself than most, the rest are there buying a “tablet” or “smart phone”, so offering a warrantee or accessories can be quite helpful. Sometimes they think that they don’t need/want the addons but a little nudging can push them to a purchase.
    Also if you don’t like brick ‘n’ mortar stores, why shop there?

    • Avatar of Andreas Ødegård
      July 18, 2013 at 10:53 am

      Both your point and your question was covered in the post, so not quite sure how to respond

  • Avatar of Tim
    July 18, 2013 at 12:51 pm

    Why I have not been in a B&M store to buy anything unless I can’t find it online in years.Most don’t know anything about a product anyway, I tell people do your homework before you go.That way you don’t get fleeced.

  • Avatar of Paul E King
    July 18, 2013 at 2:06 pm

    Wife went to an HH Gregg to buy a $90 turntable (she just needed something to play some records, not high tech at all)

    Sales guy tried convincing her to get a $50 protection plan… I looked and the thing had a two year warranty on it already, he went through the entire list of why the world would end if she didn’t get it.

    Guy wouldn’t take no for an answer so I just mentioned I was on the Dave Ramsey plan (fairly famous radio show host that says don’t get these stupid plans). Dude then said the 1) Dave Ramsey shops there and 2) he buys the extended protection plans.

    At that point I had a friend who worked for him so I called her while he was on the air and had her relay that he evidently purchased these things while he was standing there.

    • Avatar of Justin Murray
      July 19, 2013 at 9:52 pm

      How did that end up? Curious.

  • Avatar of Justin Murray
    July 19, 2013 at 10:22 pm

    I worked at Best Buy for about a year and left because I did not like what management was pushing as far as service plans and accessories go. Like one of the above posters said, some people just will not take no for an answer because of management. At Best Buy, it is a non-commission environment but the managers operated it as one because they wanted their bonuses.

    I sold a lot of computers (around 2005) to people. I mentioned the service plans, accessories, and whatever else we had to offer at the time. I never pushed the service plans on people because I could care less if they bought it or not; it was their decision not mine. Same went for accessories and services that were offered. A lot of people bought the service plans on higher end laptops, desktops, and printers but never on low end stuff.

    For those of you who remember the branding that Best Buy gave their stores back in the day (based off demographics), we were a “Ray” store. I forgot what the other two were but Ray was Best Buy’s label as the budget shopper.

    Because of this, the managers were very aggressive in pushing service plans on customers who could simply afford only the computer, CRT screen, and whatever else came with the basic package. There were a few times where the manager of that department was involved with the sale and would try every tactic possible to get them to buy something they simply did not have the money for. I usually sat there and watched in awe because these people just wanted the computer they saw in the sales ad and nothing more. Some people walked out saying they would think about it or just walked out with no explanation. I would have walked out after telling the guy to get bent and that I would be going to a competitor.

    I understand the need to push service plans and other things because the actual product has little to no margin in it now. There is definitely a wrong way to push these plans but a lot of B&M retailers still do not know how to do that.

    Now, I window shop a lot of these places but rarely do I buy anything because of the higher prices or the limited options that some of these places have. It’s nice being able to try it out before you buy it from an online retailer.

  • Avatar of Alan
    July 21, 2013 at 8:46 am

    I worked at CompUSA when they were still in business. As Justin mentioned, the margins on PCs, tablets, are quite small, perhaps shockingly so. The money was in add-ons, service plans and such. We made commissions which was nice. Management tried to low pressure this aspect of sales. We sold lots of Apple products and tried to encourage people to at least think about AppleCare. There was nothing worse than someone bringing in an Apple product with a cracked screen and no extended warranty. So, though we did make a few bucks on the warranty, it did protect the consumer from unseen damages and ridiculous repair charges. But I do agree with the author about the current state of B&M stores. I recently went to one of the Best Buy Mobile stores and wanted to purchase a laptop for my daughter. Great sale price, but only the B&M store had it in stock. The Mobile shop called and asked the B&M manager if someone would bring one for me, a 5 minutes walk at the most. They refused and demanded that I walk to their store! I couldn’t believe the lack of customer service, apologized to the Mobile store salesperson who was as startled as I was, and walked out. Drove 25 miles to another BB, bought it there, and have not set foot in my local BB since. Used to be the customer was always right, but that went out long ago. Didn’t even get an apology response from BB corporate whom I contacted. Have told many friends about my experience. Many of them also avoid the bad attitude at that particular BB which I won’t name (shh, Indian River Mall in Vero Beach).

  • Avatar of Joe
    August 13, 2013 at 12:06 pm

    Just so everyone knows, Best Buy will price match Amazon.com. I use this all the time, and i never let sales people push me around.

    • Avatar of Grant
      October 1, 2013 at 10:45 am

      Just thought I’d mention this too! Yes, it’s true they price match Amazon, I’ve stumbled across this accidentally while browsing in their store. I asked the guy to show me the MicroSD cards, and as he was going thru the 4gb, 8gb, 16gb cards I spied the 64gb one. “Oooh” I said, when I saw the price ($99). “I’ve seen it for half that online,” I said, only half-muttering it under my breath. “Amazon?” the guy perked up. I said yes and he grabbed the card and ran over to a console and began typing it in. I walked out of the store paying $55 for the card plus sales tax instantly, minus normal shipping costs and a waiting period.

      I think I’m more proud of f’ing over Best Buy for that purchase than anything.


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