November 17, 2005

Blank Stare Dot Com

Filed under: analog — mhoye @ 9:56 pm

“Mr. Madison, what you’ve just said is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever heard. At no point in your rambling, incoherent response were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone in this room is now dumber for having listened to it. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.”

– The Principal, Billy Madison

Whenever I talk to the people at Future Shop or Best Buy, I think of that line. Don’t talk to the staff in the big-box stores; if they understood how the technology works they wouldn’t be working for Best Buy, full stop. The knuckle-draggers at The Source, though, tonight they’ve taken it to a whole new level.

The Source, by Circuit City. The artist formerly known as Radio Shack; brand new name, same blank stare.

I bought an answering machine last night from The Source, and when I got it home, I found out that the power supply that was in the box was not only the wrong one, but it was an obviously old, second-hand thing from a different manufacturer that looked like it had been gnawed by rats five years ago. On closer inspection, the box had obviously been re-shrinkwrapped, so this was not an accident; this was deliberate.

Returning it to the store tonight, the guy behind the counter fished out another answering machine of the same kind, and instead of replacing the whole thing, opened that box up and pulled out the power supply, putting it into my machine’s box. And then he sent me on my way, tucking the old rat-eaten power supply into the newer box as I left. So this is going to happen to somebody else soon.

Keep the receipt on those rare occasions that you absolutely have to deal with these bastards, is all I’m saying. Not absolutely necessary? Avoid.


  1. Point 1: Dude, I totally worked at Best Buy in high school. And I knew more then about computer hardware than I do now, despite the fact that I still know kind of a lot about it. What people always forget, when evaluating salespeople’s knowledge, is that the salesperson has to know stuff about every single damn product in the whole department — dozens of printers, dozens of computers, scores of telephones, fax machines, copiers, monitors, modems, multimedia kits (okay, maybe multimedia kits aren’t big any more), and all of them fully replaced every six months, and no real source of official information — whereas the person who’s buying has done narrowly targeted research on the particular models of things they’re looking at.

    Also, of course, they pay those people like $5/hr, and if you can find people not in high school who have the kind of detailed knowledge necessary to talk about wireless network topologies, who will also work for $5/hr, then you probably keep a spare unicorn in your closet. You could get a lot better service if you paid salespeople $30/hr, but then you’d have to pay a heck of a lot more for your electronics, and we all know that people pathologically refuse to buy from any place that’s not the totally cheapest ever.

    Point 2: In the case at hand, I bet there’s a very good chance that a customer put that power supply in there, and then returned it. That sort of in-package theft is mildly common, and is one of the many many reasons that I never buy “open box” stuff. And the employee could be stuffing the junk power supply in the box so that they can send it back to the manufacturer for credit as a defective product (which is probably not totally licit in that case, but whatever). I’m not saying that’s DEFINITE or anything, but it’d be my default assumption.

    Comment by Mike Kozlowski — November 18, 2005 @ 7:26 pm

  2. Building on Mr. Kozlowski’s comment, the key thing you’re experiencing is the average expertise of someone working at best buy. There are always bound to be random people who know what they’re talking about that are working at best buy for odd reasons, but they are just noise in the general trend of blue-shirted morons.

    Comment by Mike Bruce — November 19, 2005 @ 1:50 am

  3. Strangely, if I’m shopping for most computer stuff, I can go talk to people at small shops who _do_ know what they’re talking about, and where I’ve never had problems like the one described here. And where the prices are usually either comparable or better, and where they don’t try to charge you $25 for six-foot USB cable. So as to point 1, generally speaking I don’t care. As for point 2, not checking what’s in the box before closing it up? Please.

    Comment by Mike Hoye — November 19, 2005 @ 2:28 pm

  4. Small shops are infinitely more objectionable than large, warehouse-like stores.

    Comment by Mike Bruce — November 19, 2005 @ 2:36 pm

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