Robert Reed wrote: But the complaints are not just limited to RS. When I go into Home Depot, Lowes or a number of other big box stores, I get the same treatment from their clerks. When asked a question about a product, they grab the item from your hand and start reading the labels ( which of course I have already done). But worse yet is that when they can't understand what they are reading they interject there own thoughts (which invariably are wrong) as though it was fact.
Okay, I'll bite. What are you suggesting as the solution to this
widespread retail problem?
Robert Reed wrote: I guess it is just a way of life now so its always buyer beware and figure it out for yourself.
Let's stick with RS for the moment, although it has been quite
some years since I stepped into one of their stores. Your
premise, echoing that of other posters here, is that the in-store
staff are unable (or perhaps unwilling) to learn their product lines?
Also, that at a corporate level the product mix has shifted from
the DIY’er or hobbyist, and the remaining selection is weak.
At what level of service would you be happy? If providing that
service increases the price of goods sold, would you pay more?
(Assumption here is the chain recruits to a higher level of competency,
or reduces retail hours per associate to provide training and testing).
I visited the newest Lowes's last week, having spotted it from
the highway en route to SJC airport. I doubt the store was open
more than a week or two - had that "new car smell"...
First shock was that most of the in store signage is in Spanish
(with American English subtitles). I made one lap of the 'racetrack'
after checking out the item on my shopping list (replacement
basin for our pool house bathroom). I was in the store for
perhaps fifteen to twenty minutes. I was greeted by three
different associates each asking if they can help me. Clearly
the store has the right level of service on opening day, and
this reflects the store's priority to engage with guests.
What is the expected level of service in a more technical
purchase? Suppose I want to buy a camcorder in a store.
Should I go to a specialty store? Expect to find these products
in a grocery store? Or, a home improvement emporium?
Should I expect to demo the product? Should I expect the
sales associate to know the feature set? The major performance
specs? The comparative strengths of the models in their
line-up? Should the associate know the contents of the box,
and sell me on needed accessories (disks, tapes, SDHC cards,
additional batteries, carrying case)? What if the associate
offers an extended warrenty or service plan?
Its unlikely the associate is the camcorder champion, she
might also be expected to cover other products (digital cameras,
iPods, TVs, DVD players, computer accessories, and know the
titles and prices of the new release DVDs and music CDs for
Don't be surprised if your time with the associate is shared
with walkie-talkie traffic and interrupted by the department's
telephone. Associates are expected to "multi-task" with guests.
The price of a camcorder locally is about $300. If the store
marks up their cost by 50% the GM is now $100, if the sales
associate is on salary (not commission) and takes twenty
minutes to serve me, can the store profit from the
transaction? If the sale generates $100, would that cover
all the store overhead? I don't know. I think its a tough situation.
I use tools on my home computer to research the camcorder
purchase at home. I also visit a review site (Consumer Reports)
and a comparative pricing site (Nextag) and go to the local
store as an informed customer. During the demo I get to
touch (and operate) the target equipment, leading to my final
choice amongst competing brands and models.
I ask on-topic questions of the associate - not to trip them
but to speed up the process. The associate asks the more
knowledgeable co-worker to answer the tough questions for her.
The item is not in stock at the store, but the associate uses
a PDA to locate stock at a store across town. There's only
a few pieces in the other store's inventory - the item is a
strong seller. The associate phones her counter-part in the
other store and they do a physical check. The item is pulled
from the other store's back room and held against my first name.
All I have to do is drive over there before they close that night.
In the other store I decline the in-store extended service plan,
but learn that I have ninety days to 'add it on' if desired, and
I also have ninety days to return the product if I'm not happy.
This not fantasy. This is how retail electronics works in national
big-box stores. I could have got a better price at a local electronics
chain but the experience would have been combative and likely