Buying a Laptop in PC World

As part of my job , I every so often get sent out in a hurry to check some stuff out , and in my latest excursion I went to PC World to pick up a laptop in an emergency. Needed it ASAP so there was no faffing around on the interweb to get a great deal.

And so , myself and a colleague pre-ambled to the World of PC’s, and lo and behold I was greeted with the usual laziness and incompetence I am accustomed to in what can be best described as a public purchaseorium. Or a flea market, I don’t know which is a more apt description.

After looking at a list of well priced, but terrible lacklustre machines I settled on a Dell, very nice machine , with the specs to match the needs of the buyer. My Colleague then had to actually go and find a sales rep. In an empty store. At 11:00 in the morning. When the rep, who looked terribly inconvenienced at the fact that we might want to actually want to buy something arrived, he then proceeded to read the label and price tag to us. The laptop was rated at “up to 2 hours battery life” , when I asked what size battery was in it , he said “2 hours”. “Sorry” , I said, I mean how many cells in the battery. “9”, he exclaimed.

I then proceeded to explain to him that I had a HP with a  4 cell battery which I upgraded to a 8 cell and a netbook with a 3 cell that I upgraded to 6 in order to get over the battery life problem, and that, indeed if there was a 9 cell battery in this machine, which I doubted there was as it was an extra on the same dell ordered from the internet , that the battery life should be in the order of 5 hours for the same spec machine. I then asked was he sure that it was a 9 cell battery. He then picked up the machine, turned it over to peek into the empty battery bay and proceeded to count the pins on the connector.

Yep, you heard me right, the sign of a fuckin bluffer if I ever seen one. A person who would lie through his teeth and tell the customer it was a HD ready home entertainment device with XBOX integration if it would get the sale, and then deny he said it on returns.  Apathy as well is another way of extorting the general public.

We then asked him about another model at around the same price and was informed that it was a warehouse thing with no battery or power supply. I mean, WTF ? He even went so far as to say it was ok and an attractive offer.

So I went next door to Currys to see what was there. The same load of machines except each one was mis-labelled , some said XP Home when they were running Vista Premium, some said Vista Premium when they were home , 2GB when they were 1 etc. Some had no specs. A lady apologised as they were under staffed when there was 1 person in the store. I finally got another lad who was a lot more up front and polite, and showed me a few great deals fair play to him, but PC world was still the better price.

Back to PC world, decision made the dell. So yet again , in an empty store , we had to go back to the top, inconvenience a chap in the middle of what looked like a great conversation with a co-worker. He sodded off for a bit trying to find a box after the statement “I will see if it is in stock” , like there was a ROARING TRADE going on this morning. And finally got back with a box. He then took my details and forgot to add in the half price internet security as we discovered at the checkout, and the checkout girl had to go sort it out.

So times are hard eh, people need jobs, well I know secondary school students that could do this job better. No wonder the general non tech public fear computers, when the computer stores are staffed by the Muppet show. How can anyone in these places see themselves as trusted advisors on technology to the general public. Another few years ago in PC World in Galway I watched sales man selling a Celeron laptop with integrated graphics as a platform you can play F.E.A.R on , a state of the art game at the time, as he wandered of for the price list I explained exactly was was happening to her, showed her the model that could and watched her leave the store. Got some dirty look off that guy that day I can tell you.

I cant sell a bathroom, or a car, not unless I was qualified, I would feel like a complete shit if I was doing that with no understanding of what the customer wants. I do technology stuff, and I ask friends to come to me before going into a technology shop here, I have helped people out of bad experiences over the years that technology experts in stores only exacerbated. I don’t sell , I deal in zeroes and ones, and let other people fill in the rest of the numbers.

Oh well, got my laptop, anyone else have a funny experience , or should be band together to form an advisory group to make sure that stores are staffed with courteous and knowledgeable people ?