Former Best Buy Salesperson Says: Electronics Salespeople Are Useless

Over on CNET, blogger and former Best Buy salesperson Sharon Vaknin shares her acquired wisdom with the Internet, putting together a list of the “7 things electronics salespeople won’t tell you.” What are they?

1. We have no formal training in the field of consumer electronics.
2. We make little off the big-ticket items, so we smother you with accessories.
3. There are times when you should purchase extended warranties.
4. It doesn’t matter whether we make commission, we’re all equally pushy.
5. No receipt? No problem!
6. We offer expensive services I think a 12-year-old could perform.
7. Forget what your parents taught you—complaining usually gets you what you want.

Check out her explanations for each of these at the blog. I’m not sure I agree with all of these items, but the theme of general incompetence and overchargitude certainly apply to every big-box electronics store I’ve visited.

7 things electronics salespeople won’t tell you. [Crave]

(Photo: agentpercival)

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  1. pakman3000 says:

    Saw this on CNET yesterday. Can’t knock the sales people for earning a living, but when it comes to outright screwing people then something must be done.

    • cunninglinguine says:

      @pakman3000: Former Best Buy Salesperson Says: Electronics Salespeople Are Useless. In other news, water found to be wet, sky blue.

    • Corporate_guy says:

      @pakman3000: Well best buy purposely overprices their crap cables. So as a best buy employee you are going to try to sell the best buy stuff. That is what you are paid to do. Technically the screwing comes from the higher ups that price 2 dollars cables for 100 bucks. A salesman can’t sit there and tell you to go to monoprice, they won’t be employed long. With the internet, the consumer really has no excuse when they are duped.

      • hindenpeter83 says:

        @Corporate_guy:

        With the internet, the consumer really has no excuse when they are duped.

        It doesn’t surprise me that people are still this stupid. I wired my whole entertainment centre for less then $30 thanks to Monoprice (3 HDMI cables, 2 opticals, a roll of speaker wire and a component connector for my Wii). Then my roommate comes home with a new 50something” LCD and a “cabling kit” by Monster that ran him over $150. I waited until after he hooked up his stuff to tell him how much I paid. Hilarity ensued…. for me.

  2. Optimistic Prime says:

    I wholly agree with item one. They’re just told to sell stuff, and that’s about it. It’s not like the old hardware stores where people actually knew the products they were selling, and appropriate usage for what they were selling. I don’t know how many times my dad bought crap from these guys based on their recommendation. He still doesn’t listen and ask me about this “crazy technology stuff” before he buys… Oh well.

    • PinkBox says:

      @Optimistic Prime: It isn’t like they even pay enough to be able to require that the teenagers taking the job know everything there is to know about every item being sold.

    • Murph1908 says:

      @Optimistic Prime:
      Before CC went into their terminal spiral, their associates were trained pretty well. I was one for a Christmas season. There was a long series of training modules I had to go through and pass the test for before I was allowed on the floor. I learned a lot about TV technology, and could speak intelligently about it.

      But then they decided that was too expensive, and paying the good salesmen good money was stupid.

      In my experience:

      1: True (now)
      2: True

      3: Leaning towards no. Chances that a big ticket item dies between the normal warranty and the extended is slim. It’s either a lemon or it’s not. Plus getting warranty work done can be a hassle, even if the company is still in business.

      4: False. Except in the case of needing to get a percentage of extended warranties to keep your job.

      5: Dunno. I didn’t do returns

      6: True. But a 12 year old can understand technology a lot better than many 50 year olds. Some people are functionally illiterate, and can’t follow instructions. So buy it if you want it, so you don’t have to bug your grandson to do it for you.

      7: True and False. Depending on the manager you are speaking to. If you bitch at me, I’m following policy to the letter. If you are considerate and friendly, I’ll bend the rules where I can.

      • Murph1908 says:

        @Murph1908:
        BTW, I worked there 9 years ago, and have a great deal more of customer-centered experience that I am basing my comments on. I am not making these claims based on a Christmas season’s worth of experience.

    • catastrophegirl chooses not to fly says:

      @Optimistic Prime: i’m just happy that the ace hardware near me still has people who have some idea of what they sell and what the uses are for.

    • anduin says:

      @Optimistic Prime:
      went into a future shop not long ago and they had a senior working the games section, I was flabbergasted. I asked him if they had a certain game in, he went to his PC and had a hard time punching in the keys and figuring out what to do. After a few minutes I lost my patience and asked him to let me check it on the PC, I just needed his code (which he put in), found that it wasn’t in but found the location it was available at. Thanked him and left.

  3. Trencher93 says:

    newegg doesn’t have these problems

  4. Trae says:

    Ah, that made me flash back to my early twenties, where I spent my days in a blue shirt and khakis…

    *shiver*

    Never again… :P

    Everything in that article is spot on. I worked in the Wireless/PDA department, and I was asked to cover Audio once. Part of why I sold well in Wireless was because I knew every detail about every product I sold (I’m obsessive about that sort of thing), but I knew almost nothing about audio equipment. I was told to “just read the cards, and you’ll be fine”

    Needless to say that particular night was an unprecidented disaster, and I never did it again.

    • antimir says:

      @Trae:

      yeah, i remember the old “read the cards!” excuse.
      i worked the camera department, and knew what i was talking about (i’m a total photo/video geek, yes.), but the majority of my department knew nothing about cameras or video cameras in general.
      the only “formal” training any of us received was on how to use the POS computer.

      that said, i was never pushy. i could never be bothered to give a f@#% about best buy, and so i never pressured anyone. some customers LOVED me, some actually COMPLAINED when i didn’t jump on their back with a million questions the second i saw them.

      as for #7? ha, no. i didn’t get paid enough to care. sounds like this girl drank the kool-aid while she was there.

      • Trae says:

        @antimir: Well, #7 is also true if you DIDN’T drink the kool-aid, but y’know, didn’t want to get written up because you needed the job to pay bills, or if you just wanted the whining customer to go away as quickly as possible. :P

    • _Marek_ says:

      @Trae: Yeah, this seems to happen often in my experience, but what’s even worse is when you end up having to teach the guy about the product you’re buying.

      Years ago when DVD players with divx playback capabilities came out I went in to Futureshop to pick one up that happened to be on Sale. I couldn’t find it and asked the guy working in the area. We ended up finding it and he kept asking me questions about the product.

      In the end, he was very happy to check me out and no doubt gain whatever commission would have been on a $100 purchase despite not really doing anything.

  5. ScarletsWalk says:

    As for #1 (no training in the field), I find that’s pretty common in retail department stores (Walmart, Kmart, Target). As someone who could barely drive a car, being assigned to work in the Auto department from time to time was not amusing. Or pets or hardware or sporting stuff. Customers expect you to know everything about every single product in the store.

    I never pulled the “I don’t work over here,” and walk away stuff, but I would try to be rational. “Um, I don’t know what kind of primer is best. I don’t work over here so I don’t know the products. Let me find someone else for you.” It was always amazing the people who would insist on me helping them after I’d say I didn’t know what they were talking about.

    • "I Like Potatoes" says:

      @ScarletsWalk: Probably because they spent a half an hour just looking for a store employee. If you walk away, the chances of them seeing another employee, much less one who is informed, is zero to nil.

    • Megan Squier says:

      @ScarletsWalk: Did you at least somewhat know what products were sold in the department you were assigned to? That’s all I really expect from big box employees and I hardly ever even get that. I went to Wal-Mart last week for groceries and while I was there I decided to pick up some basic supplies for a project I’ve got going on in my garage. When I asked the guy in hardware/automotive where the wire brushes were he looked at me like I was insane! Apparently he didn’t know what a wire brush was even after my describing it as “like a big toothbrush with metal bristles used for cleaning metal objects”. I didn’t want any advice on them, I just wanted to know where they were. When I told him that I was restoring an old motorcycle and needed something to refinish the metal engine casing it clicked with him for some odd reason. I didn’t even bother asking him for a specific brand of auto parts cleaner I wanted; I wandered around and found it on my own.

      I last worked retail 3 years ago and I never acted that stupid with a customer, even if I wasn’t sure where the item was at. I’d think on my feet instead of looking at the customer like he had a problem. That’s what bugs me about big box retail service; the associates sometimes lack any critical thinking skills whatsoever.

      • ScarletsWalk says:

        @Megan Squier:

        I knew my stuff and if I didn’t know something about another area, I would try to find out. I never made it the customer’s problem.

        But it still didn’t mean that I personally could tell you the difference between dex cool and regular. And if you find me folding a towel and demand that I tell you and yell at me when I ask another employee for help, well, then, nothing’s going to make you happy. :)

        • Megan Squier says:

          @ScarletsWalk: I don’t expect that at all; just point me to the stuff and I’ll figure it out. I always go into a store knowing exactly what I need, I just need help finding it sometimes.

          I know how it is with grouchy customers; ALL of my previous jobs (I’m one very bored housewife at the present time) required constant customer contact so I’ve dealt with enough pinheads. When I was working as a cashier in a grocery store some lady got mad at me because I didn’t know how to cook some odd cut of meat! I was 17 at the time and hadn’t cooked much at all. You can’t expect minimum wage employees to know that stuff; its WAY outside the job description.

    • FaustianSlip says:

      @ScarletsWalk: Ditto. I worked in the cell phone department during my time at Best Buy. I had also worked at Apple, and I’m a gamer, so if anyone had questions about Macs, iPods or video game systems, I was more than happy to walk them over and help them out if there was no one wanting to buy a phone that needed my attention (otherwise I’d get someone from that department). But if someone started peppering me with questions about video cameras or home theater stuff… I’d try and help if they got angry at the idea of having to work with someone else, but I’d always tell them that this was not my area of expertise, and my input wasn’t likely to be terribly well informed.

      I have to say, the helpfulness of employees could vary widely between stores and even departments. Most of our guys in home theater and computers knew what they were talking about, and my coworkers in the cell phone section were generally fantastic. We were constantly reading and researching upcoming stuff when there were no customers around, and I think it showed in our customer satisfaction rates (something in the range of 97% positive). But in our department, we had more latitude with regard to things like returns, exchanges and other customer service issues.

      As someone else mentioned, as far as complaining to get what you want, it’s all in the delivery. If someone had a reasonable complaint and raised it with me in a polite, respectful way, I’d do what I could to take care of them. Come at me snarling and bitchy and looking for a fight, though, and while I’ll try and do what I can, don’t expect me to bend the rules or anything for you. Virtually everyone I’ve ever known in any customer service field operates the same way. No one’s going to risk getting told off by a manager or something by bending the rules for a customer that’s not even going to bother to say “thank you” when you solve their problem (especially if it’s a problem of their own making, which was often the case). Customer service and professionalism are important, but people who work retail aren’t your chattel to be ordered around. Especially in this economy, it’s likely whoever is helping you is every bit as educated, intelligent and experienced as you are (almost all of us in my department had college degrees, and two of us had Master’s). Treat me like I’m some brain dead teenager, and you’re not going to get very far. Treat me like an adult with whom you’re doing business, and I’ll absolutely go the extra mile to find a resolution for you.

  6. mac-phisto says:

    well, that certainly explains a lot of salespeople regardless of what they sell.

    of course, then there’s actually people that enjoy their work & become valuable assets to both the company & the customers. yes, even salespeople.

    does selling electronics require any particular expertise? not at all. but if you have a general interest in CE & supplement your work with knowledge about the advantages/disadvantages of your products & visit review sites for opinions, you can help a consumer make a more informed choice.

    that said, i’ve never met an actual salesperson at best buy. they seem to have a lot of people that walk around, but i’ve never actually met one that could answer a question other than “can you point me in the direction of _______?”

    • Cant_stop_the_rock says:

      @mac-phisto:
      Pretty much. I can find salesmen who know their products at my local P.C. Richard and Sons or Electronics Expo. But I prefer to do my research myself rather than rely on a salesman to know what he’s talking about. Problem is, many will answer your questions even if they don’t know the right answer.

  7. meltingcube says:

    Sorry, I don’t agree with # 7. I work in customer service and when a customer is demanding me to do something for them with a “because I deserve it” type of attitude, I probably won’t do it. If your nice to me and show me respect I’ll typically go out of my way to make sure your happy.

    • baquwards says:

      @meltingcube: If those idiots only knew! When someone is pushy and rude, I give the bare minimum of service required, if they are polite, I will do everything I can to make them happy.

    • ARP says:

      @meltingcube: I would say normally, yes. But if you can get a manager, there’s a good chance they’ll give in, unless the request is in left field.

      • FaustianSlip says:

        @ARP: Not always. One thing I liked about my Best Buy is that most of our managers were fantastic about backing us up with unreasonable customers (and honestly, most of the really rude customers were those making the most ridiculous demands). If we told a customer that XYZ was what we could do for them, and that was what was SOP, most of the time, our managers wouldn’t overturn that. If the customer started getting irate, yelling, swearing, they’d be asked to leave.

        On the other hand, most of the times I went to bad for a customer with a manager and asked for some kind of exception, it was approved. I didn’t do it constantly, and the times I did, I could give a good reason for helping them out. Again, it all comes down to how you treat the person you’re working with. Some employees are just jerks regardless, but most of us aren’t.

      • Optimistic Prime says:

        @ARP: I’ve noticed that. My wife works at Target, and she’ll cover the customer service desk from time to time. She does what the store wants her to do, only to look like a dumbass when the manager doesn’t follow store policy. If you have a policy, it’s there for a reason. Some stores would do better to lose their bad customers for good…

        • Megan Squier says:

          @Optimistic Prime: Agreed. The only thing that makes me mad as a customer are the reps who act stupid when I ask where something is. Just point me in the direction and I won’t have any more questions.

  8. sanjsrik says:

    They’re salespeople. They’re supposed to sell. They may not be the most knowledgeable, but anyone who goes into a retail store NOT having done their own research in the day of instant answers via the Interwebs, really shouldn’t complain.

  9. sanjsrik says:

    #6 is so true. Had someone once say they “only” paid $350 to have a hard drive replaced. WTF? $350 for 5-15 minutes’ work on a case that has thumbscrews and a cage that actually flips out.

    • SupremeCourtNominee_GitEmSteveDave says:

      @sanjsrik: I’m sure they massaged the cables to work out any “plaque” that had accumulated and restored better data flow. When they did my HD installation, the tech said he plugged the cable into a special machine which sends data and power the opposite way it normally does, which acts like an enema for cables, and clears out any data that got stuck in bends of the cable, just like your intestines. He said it was the computer equivalent of a colon cleansing and detox, which he also gave me a flyer for some pills he was selling that would do it for me!. It must have worked, b/c after they did that to the cables, did a fresh OS install, and added 2gb of RAM, it ran faster than it did when I brought it in! :P

    • Joeb5 says:

      @sanjsrik:
      more like $200 for the HD at the over priced best buy price and $150 to install it.

    • madanthony says:

      @sanjsrik:

      Just to have the hard drive replaced, or to have a hard drive replaced, an OS installed, applications and software updates installed, and data moved from an old hard drive?

      $350 is obviously way too much for just physically installing a hard drive, but if there was an OS reinstall, data transfer, ect involved it’s not that far off base.

      • MakinSense...ForOnce_GitEmSteveDave says:

        @madanthony: Why would you re-install the OS if you’re transferring the data? Wouldn’t you do a straight clone?

        • ds says:

          @MakinSense…ForOnce_GitEmSteveDave: Why would you be replacing a hard drive if there’s no problem with it?

          Well, yes, if the customer’s running out of space, but that’s what second drives and externals are for!

          • ds says:

            @ds: Just re-read that and realized that I’m a bit wrong, and I came off sounding douchey. But wait! I have something useful to offer!

            In my experience, most of the time, with a failing HD, installing the OS and then migrating the pertinent user data over as part of the transfer is the safest way to go, since 1) there’s a good system already installed, so if the transfer fails that’s one less thing to do, and 2) if the other HD is failing, odds are there’s some corruption to the filesystem, so it’s safer to have the foundation of a good OS and migrate everything else over after the fact.

    • Powerlurker says:

      @sanjsrik:

      They’ll charge you $40 to install a stick of RAM, quite possibly the single easiest bit of computer hardware installation in existence which takes, at most, five minutes.

      • anduin says:

        @Powerlurker:
        5 min? Maybe if your searching your garage for a screw driver if your pc case still has those. Then again I know what I’m doing so it took me like 60 seconds with opening the case, popping the ram in and closing it up again. But $40….damn

        • MakinSense...ForOnce_GitEmSteveDave says:

          @anduin: It takes me 45 seconds and I don’t even have to open the case. It’s like taking off a girls bra w/o taking off her shirt.

  10. extremenachos says:

    I think number one is especially true. I worked at the electronics department of Target for a few years and I always found it odd that we never went through any kind of product training. You really don’t need to know much to sell sheets or underwear, but when it comes to things like cameras and DVD players, there is a ton of useful, very important information.

    I hardly doubt training a whole department once a month for an hour would cost that much, but I think it would pay dividends in customer satisfactions.

    • JeanStork says:

      @extremenachos: Best Buy does do monthly mandatory trainings… But its not on the products… Its sales techniques on how to ‘woo’ you into purchasing more lol… oh, and to bitch about how your dept isnt making numbers and someone is stealing stuff from the back… lol

      • FaustianSlip says:

        @JeanStork: If you work in Best Buy Mobile, you’ve had at least a full week of product training- it’s required to work in the department. And there are online trainings that employees can do when their department is slow (or at home- they’ve got it set up now so you can get paid for a couple hours of at-home training a week). Most of the people who know nothing about their product know nothing because they choose not to do any research at all, not because Best Buy is refusing to provide them with any kind of training. There’s a lot I don’t like about Best Buy, but that really wasn’t one of their faults, at least not at my store.

  11. par20pinspot says:

    So the one day I was went to Best Buy looking for a micro-usb cable for my phone. I couldn’t find any (near the electronics not the phones) so I asked a guy to help me. He went and checked in the back… for 20 minutes and came back saying the only one they had was $50 and had several different adapters. I said forget it and wandered over to the cell phone area and found a cable which has only 1 adapter (mini to micro which rocks cause I need both), was an ‘open box’ discount product, and ended up being around $6. Needless to say, the ‘product specialist’ didn’t even suggest to check the phone department for random usb cables as phones have been moving toward mini/micro usb

    • Andrew Norton says:

      @par20pinspot:I needed a micro for my phone (EnV2) back in March. My computer retailer (Microcenter) was out of them entirely, so I stopped at a BestBuy on the way home (the one by StoneCrest Mall, right on I20 east of Atlanta).

      Checked the cables section, didn’t see it. Asked a salesdrone, they said ‘check at the back where the computer accessories are’ – they had minis only. Asked a person there, they said ‘dunno, maybe phones’. Went to the phones section, asked the person in charge there, they’d NEVER HEARD of microUSB, neither had the salesperson next to him.

      Wouldn’t have been so bad, except it was 2 days after it had been announced as the new standard for phones, an announcement that had been in any and all tech news sites.

  12. takes_so_little says:

    I don’t just shop at newegg for the low prices.

    Service is part of the value of an item, and I’m willing to pay for it. If Best Buy had better service than newegg (hang on, just laughed coffee out my nose…) I’d shop there for electronics. As it is, I just do my own homework before buying something (including the interwebs AND conversations with a software engineer or IT friend) and just snag it at newegg. With confidence.

  13. Alpine75 says:

    A few months ago my wife saw a computer in a Best Buy ad that she liked. The price seemed good. I generally build all my computers but if a system is reasonably priced I’ll go along with it.

    Anyway, we went in the store knowing exactly what we wanted. We found a salesman and told him what he wanted. I said no to everything he offered. He grills me asking why I won’t get a extended warranty. I explain I can repair the system on my own I don’t need a warrenty.

    At this point he seemed annoyed then said loudly, “then why aren’t you building your own system why are you buying this??” I was taken aback by his attitude. His job is to just sell me the system, not talk down to me. I honestly wanted to walk out, but my wife wanted it, so, we got it.

    That’s probably the last time I’ll buy a system at Best Buy.

    • anduin says:

      @Alpine75:
      thats cause they make all their money off of warranties and accessories, friend works in the PC department and told me he HAS to push keyboards and mice and all kinds of geek squad, warranties, etc on the customer if he wants to keep working good hours. So I understand why the dude blew off on you because he could’ve been working a sucker to get more stuff out the door. If it was me I would’ve walked out with the wife on my shoulder lol.

  14. PinkBox says:

    She’s right about the no training. I worked at a Best Buy in my teens and knew nothing about what I was selling.

    I was NOT pushy, however.

  15. JeanStork says:

    I worked at BBY for 5ish years part time… although most of it is true, the Geek Squad comment was way off… The optimization does removed some preinstalled apps, but it runs a list of tweaks that you can basically download off of downloadsquad.com… Most consumers dont know how to tweak out their PCs or get windows updates…

    Oh, and she failed to mention, it was free when you buy the PC… What they sell you is an Antivirus package where they do all the installs and added tweaks… THAT one a 15 yr old can do… But again… Not everyone wants to do it… Most of that stuff is sold to people who’s time is worth more than their money…

    And how can a company survive without making profit?? If best buy made only $1 on each product, then whats the purpose of running a company? Hence the marked up accessories…

    And yes… Bitching and complaining the proper way will ALWAYS get you what you want with a manager… ALWAYS…

  16. Pibbs says:

    Hi, Former Best Buy employee here.

    1. True, to a point. They have trainings on the computers, however, they cover very little, and most people breeze through them and forget everything. Every once in a while, you may actually find someone who knows what they are talking about, there were a few people I worked with who did.

    2. Absolutely. Accessories make money. Best Buy loses money on computers for the most part. That’s why a USB cable costs 35.00.

    3. Definitely. Some items break down more than others these days, and an extended warranty certainly is cost effective on those items. For the most part, buy the extended warranty if it is under 10% of the total cost of the item. Anything over probably isn’t worth it.

    4. Not true. I was never pushy. Many people I worked with weren’t pushy either. That point mostly depends on the management, as well as the M.O. of the employee. If it is a part-time job, as it was with me, I could care less if the customer bought anything. Full-time, looking to move up in the company? Different story.

    5. Not true. You may get the return, but you end up waiting 15-20 minutes while they try looking up receipts, getting managers, and overall just dragging the process out.

    6. Absolutely true. Geek squad, Magnolia Home Theater, etc. I wouldn’t trust any of them. I liked most of the people who worked up there, but the services were definitely not in-line with their costs.

    7. Depends. Do you have a good attitude? Do you have a valid complaint? Are you a repeat customer who spends a lot at the store (Best Buy can check)? If so, and the manager is in a good mood, and you are buying a big ticket item with good margins, you may be in luck. Other times, not so much. It’s always case-by-case. But come in with a good attitude, ask for something reasonable, be polite, and your chances of getting what you want will be much better.

  17. discounteggroll says:

    if you walk away from this article remembering only one thing, let it be this:

    make sure you buy monster cable for all of your audio/video/power connections. Otherwise, you will void your warranty (as well as the super-duper everything covered extended service plan you also purchased)

    • JeanStork says:

      @discounteggroll: And don’t forget to pick up a DVD rewinder…

      • Rachacha says:

        @JeanStork: And the special DVD Player disks that “clean” the optics by gently scrubbing the optic surface that never touches the DVD.

    • SupremeCourtNominee_GitEmSteveDave says:

      @discounteggroll: I’m using two monster cables right now. Should I be using more?

      Disclosure: The two Monster cables I am using came from woot! during a woot!-off, and I only bought them b/c they have a blue LED that blinks to let you know it’s plugged in. I like blinky things. It appeals to the ADHD in me, which is like a kid and also likes shredded wheat which is an awesome ceral, even thought it doesn’t have toys. I used to have these cool StarCom toys which had magnets in their feet so they could stick to metal pads on the ships, and they were cool.

  18. thrashanddestroy says:

    Well, maybe that’s the case at Best Buy — or at the very least, the location she worked at — but that doesn’t apply across the board.

    How would I know? Because I had been paid to attend two seminars a year for consumer electronics, “urged” to participate in several training websites that rewards salespeople with points towards prizes and have a bible-sized stack of material from numerous company reps that contain more product knowledge than you can shake a stick at.

    But hey, at least Sharon did a good job of painting and even better picture of Best Buy for everyone.

    • antimir says:

      @thrashanddestroy:

      only “supervisors” at best buy are paid to attend seminars (and even then, only the ones the managers really like get to go), and we would get those same product info guides – if the company reps ever showed up. mostly they didn’t. some companies were more reliable for that than others. (the printer reps were actually notoriously reliable, for whatever that’s worth.)

      but again, just because the reference guide was there, it didn’t mean anyone read it. best bet? do your research before you buy, no matter where you shop.

      • thrashanddestroy says:

        @antimir: Oh no doubt, but does everyone do that? Nah. Obviously it seems that you work in retail, and even before I did, I always researched what I wanted. If I didn’t see a salesperson? No biggie, I already knew what I needed to know and made my decision ever before stepping in the store. Unfortunately, the majority of consumers don’t do that and fall prey to untrained salespeople who’s only goal is to up-sell.

        And you’re right, just because people are given reference material and training packets doesn’t mean they’re going to use them. I’ve always been a tech geek so nobody had to twist my arm to read it, and 9 times out of 10, I wasn’t reading anything I didn’t already know or lean from various blogs or magazines. Although I did meet standard hourly employees from different companies at those seminars, not just supervisors.

  19. Jeff_McAwes0me says:

    That’s pretty funny. Just yesterday I was in Best Buy fondling the new Macbook Pros when I saw a guy using the iMac who, with the assistance of 3 blueshirts, couldn’t figure out how to right click. I suggested he hold control, and the next thing I know I’m giving the guy a tutorial on how to use the iMac! The employees had no clue how to use the Macs and eventually left.

    • Michael Belisle says:

      @Jeff_McAwes0me: You mean you don’t right click by clicking the right mouse button? Who knew life with a Mac was so complicated?

    • Cant_stop_the_rock says:

      @Jeff_McAwes0me:

      I hope you also told the guy that you can use any USB mouse you want, and with a 2+ button mouse all you have to do is right-click to right-click. If I thought I had to ctrl-click anytime I wanted to right-click, I’d never buy a Mac.

      What mouse was he using anyway? The Mighty Mouse can right click.

      • Jeff_McAwes0me says:

        @Cant_stop_the_rock: Yes, when I walked over there I saw he was using a Mighty Mouse, at which point I set it to right click properly. Apparently the Best Buy employees couldn’t even figure that one out.

        And yes, I did suggest that if he bought that computer to buy a regular mouse and that it would work just fine. And you would have to control+click if you are using a Macbook without a mouse.

        • Cant_stop_the_rock says:

          @Jeff_McAwes0me:

          Unless your Macbook has a multi-touch trackpad (I think they all do now) – then you just click with two fingers. Because they’re awesome like that. :) Or you can set a location on the trackpad to be your right-click spot.

  20. wellfleet says:

    1. completely untrue. every associate in the store now has to be certified in their department. if you cover multiple departments you have to be certified in all of them. The final exams are 100 questions, pretty dang difficult, and you don’t get the right answers, you have to go back and study. If you don’t pass by the deadline, you do not work in that department. I also attend yearly conventions spent with our vendors. Spent two entire weeks in Atlanta learning about appliances, then another week a year later. Spent 3 days in Dallas learning about cameras. We have access to thousands of courses that we can take to learn about specific products and how they work.

    2. obviously this employee never bothered to look up margin. While computers and game consoles carry zero margin, home theater and appliances carry fat margins, the more expensive, the bigger the margin, duh.

    3. definitely. Laptops and cameras, you gotta have accidental damage protection. I drop everything, and my Macbook Pro screen was replaced when I cracked it.

    4. pushy, i don’t know. Passionate about closing a sale, sure. it’s what salespeople get paid to do. no closing sales=no point to keeping a store open.

    5. No receipt, we can look it up, unless you paid in cash and didn’t use your Reward Zone card in which case you are probably up the creek unless it’s obviously a store-brand product.

    6. services are expensive, absolutely, but that it relative to your comfort level with technology and what your time is worth. Can I install a dishwasher? Yes. Do I want to crawl behind my current one, touch grimy stuff, and mess with it for an hour? Nope. I would gladly pay $124 for someone else to do this.

    Three days ago I helped a lady in her 40s look for a mouse. She did not know where it plugged in, if it was a USB or PS2, or how to “install” the new one. Yes, really. I told her it was very simple and there is one one “rectangle” shape it could go into. She asked about a wireless mouse and I thought, if she can’t figure this out, the wireless mouse is going to blow her mind. So I drew her a diagram of the back of her PC and told her where to “install” the mouse. Do not ever assume that all people have even a modicum of tech knowledge, because it’s not the case.

    7. Yep. Squeaky wheel gets the grease. The higher up the food chain, the faster you get what you want. Although we hope you don’t have to go that route.

    • Pibbs says:

      @wellfleet: Meh, being another former/current employee, I think that it depends on the store. Every location seems to be different in mentality.

      You must be a former ACE employee since you went to Atlanta. I heard horror stories from everyone that went down there. I loved selling Appliances though.

    • anduin says:

      @wellfleet:
      lies, 1 is true, friend of mine works BB in the PC department and knowing how to turn on a PC and knowing what a keyboard or mouse are get you the job

  21. grapedog says:

    i did sales for Dell and loved being up to date on the latest offerings. I was a bit of a tech nerd anyhow, so much of it came naturally. Did that for 3 years and I loved it, and that was a sales job where I could sleep at night as I didn’t feel I was bilking people out of their money, and I was good at it, which is always a nice feeling.

    When I moved out of the state and was job hunting, I went and worked for a car dealership in Temple TX(Mac Haik Dodge), and I couldn’t do it after the 2 weeks I spent there. They were literally ripping people off left and right. One salesman made a pure $8k profit on a $40k minivan. They were flipping older sales into newer trucks and burying people in debt…they owed more on the old car and then just rolled it into the cost of a new car because they depreciated so fast. This one poor guy now owes $30k to the dealership for his new $17k POS truck.

    • Rachacha says:

      @grapedog: I wonder if this is why that “King of Cars” show that was on Discovery or A&E (or one of those similar channels) went off the air…it seemed to air too much of the scammy side of auto sales when people are only concerned about the monthly payment.

    • econobiker says:

      @grapedog: And we wonder why those same stupid car buying people couldn’t understand that an adujustable rate mortgage would rise after three years???? Nor why a real estate agent/ mortgage broker would want to steer a customer into more house than they could afford?

      • floraposte says:

        @econobiker: That’s a good point. Monster Cable pushers are basically the small-scale version of brokers who put people in subprime ARMs.

  22. militarydave says:

    i thought the auto parts store “experts” (kids fresh outta high school who only tell you what the computer tells them about what your car doesn’t need) were bad, but wow… this takes the cake. i’ve never had any issues with best buy, mostly because i know more about the product i’m “potentially” going to buy than the numbnuts who sells it. i just act ignorant and let them “expertly detail me in” with the facts about lets say…. a camcorder.

    once i see they have no clue what they’re talking about i pity them and end up buying online when an free shipping or discount offer is applied.

    i do keep an eye out on the cash register people…. i’ve been over charged a few times so beware when checking out!

    -dave

  23. Rachacha says:

    So in light of this and the fact that they make little commission on the small items, is it rude to walk by a Sales Person/uninformed consumer conversation when the customer says he wants a computer to do word processing, E-mail, and light internet surfing and the sales person is trying to sell them a $5000 gaming rig and say “Buy an iMac or a $1500 Windows machine bundle and you will be more than satisfied”.

  24. endless says:

    1.
    Product knowledge will dramatically vary between employees. most stores should have a few people who actually are gadget junkies and know things, other people will be decent, and some people despite extensive training will be clueless.

    2.
    depends on the department, computers definitely true. cameras, some what true. TVs depends how old the model is and if its on sale or not.

    3.
    there are times you should and times you shouldn’t. keep in mind they are SERVICE plans most of the time. the product will be GONE for TWO TO THREE WEEKS MINIMUM. Also, MOST computer service plans do NOT cover viruses (some do) but you have a motherboard go bad or a cracked screen, then plan will pay for itself.

    4.
    not true.

    5.
    partially not true. if you bought something 8 months ago with cash and no rewardzone and you want warranty coverage… you are probably out of luck. if you paid with credit card, you will fare better.

    6.
    you think? good work there. Of course you are partially right. depends on the 12 year old. literally yesterday i met a 12-14 year old who managed to format his C: disk… he didnt manage to restore the OS though. laptop is currently bricked.

    7.
    completely double edged sword. the more legitimate your complaint the better. be careful though, when ever i hear “i am not blaming you” or ” i am not meaning to take it out on you” that means you are doing EXACTLY that. and you have just burned a possible bridge to getting your way. if i dont think you deserve special treatment, i will tell my manager that. and being a pretty good employee, i have some sway there.

    • floraposte says:

      @endless: I do sometimes say “I’m not blaming you,” and when I do, I’m not–I’m blaming the company you represent, because they’ve screwed up, but you’re the person available for making my complaint to. There’s an employee condundrum in that employees tend to identify with their company and take it personally when a company’s being wronged, but if the company screws up they want to divorce themselves with an “It’s not my fault.” If an employee isn’t prepared to listen to a complaint on behalf of their company, whether the problem was theirs or not, they need to find somebody whose job that is.

      • endless says:

        @floraposte:

        often times “I’m not blaming you” is preceded by loud volumes, insults or profanity, possibly all 3.

        I will take a lot of abuse, and remain calm and polite. But when a person starts swearing at me, it doesn’t matter if its about me or my employer when they then ask ME for special help. I will still LISTEN to the complaint, and try to help.

        but when people are polite to me, i will go out of my way to try and help a customer. when you start complaining and being abusive, a line a crossed.

        in short, don’t ask for above and beyond when you just want to fight down and dirty.

  25. Anthony Rinaldi says:

    In other news; water is wet.

    • PunditGuy says:

      @Anthony Rinaldi:

      cunninglinguine
      8:09 AM

      @pakman3000: Former Best Buy Salesperson Says: Electronics Salespeople Are Useless. In other news, water found to be wet, sky blue.

      When Cliches Attack, next on FOX.

  26. Skankingmike says:

    NEVER BUY THE EXTENDED WARRANTY THEY DON’T COVER ACCIDENTAL DAMAGE EITHER AND ARE A WASTE

    Sorry for the all caps but seriously how many times do we have to scream about warranties sucking?

  27. Michael Belisle says:

    She’s still under Best Buy’s influence. Her body is starting to reject the brainwashing, but she won’t be free until she fully rejects #3: “There are times when you should purchase extended warranties.”

    While technically true, A) salespeople will tell you this (and that time is right now) and B) she makes it sound like that’s most of the time by poopooing the manufacturer warranty.

    Fortunately for her, it’s clear that Best Buy’s hold is weakening: she said “extended warranty” instead of “service plan”.

  28. morganlh85 says:

    I know number 1 is true, but it seems that most people who work at Best Buy at least have an INTEREST in electronics, and therefore know something about them. I’ve never had a problem with an employee misleading me or telling me something erroneous. So far.

  29. gemetzel says:

    “1. We have no formal training in the field of consumer electronics.” This is incorrect. In order to be a technician, you must have at least your A+ certification. Also, to be a sales associate you must undergo training. I worked for Futureshop and Best buy for 3 years. I agree on almost all of the other items on the list.

  30. Zclyh3 says:

    It’s very simple when I go shop at Worst Buy:

    1. Walk in store
    2. Look for item
    3. If I can’t look for item, I’ll ask
    4. Once item is located, grab item
    5. Head to cashier
    6. Leave.

    No questions. Get in, get out, get on with my day.
    Most of the time I knew more than what they did. A manager one time tried to offer me a job when I was giving advice to an elderly couple. I started laughing and kept on walking towards the cashier with my item. Couldn’t pay me enough to work there.

  31. fantomesq says:

    Your first point is that salespeople, or specifically you, did not have any “formal training in the field of consumer electronics”. Your experience is not the status quo at most Best Buys – Most salespeople are required to be certified in their departments. I would guess that you were not certified. Someone failed you. I would not generalize your individual situation to apply to the rest of the field though. You do a disservice to those salespeople who take their jobs seriously and actually strive to know the products that they are selling.

    I am curious that if your lack of knowledge and training did not prepare you to be a competent salesperson, how does that same lack of knowledge and training prepare you to be a competent CNet intern? I put far more faith in CNet’s ability to detect technical ability and knowledge than Best Buy’s.

    Your sixth point demonstrates that you don’t understand the market that Best Buy caters to. While it is true, that SOME 12-year-olds may be able to perform the services you speak of, that is not your typical Best Buy customer. Even though changing the oil in your car may be easy, the JiffyLubes still turn a nice business. Some people value their time, trouble and frustration more than others. Keep in mind that if something goes wrong, neither you nor your twelve-year-old are insured and your mistake may end up costing you far more than simply accepting the services in the first place.

    Your article speaks volumes as to your lack of respect for the privacy and well-being of your former employer though. Should CNet worry that in six months they’ll be faced with an article on “7 reasons not to trust a CNet review” written by a former intern citing again your own lack of knowledge and experience?

    Endeavor to first understand the field you are critiquing before you write.

  32. Dave-Farquhar says:

    I used to work at BB, many years ago, but this still hit home. My knowledge and experience is old.

    1. True. The stores I worked at had training, but it wasn’t very intense. You could pass without really knowing the material. There were some people like me who really were into it and really kept up on our own, but picking out the one associate who really knows their stuff versus the one who’s better off running a register–good luck with that.

    2. True. Occasionally there’s a price war (we were selling printer cables for about 3 bucks for a long time because someone else was) but this is almost always true.

    3. Umm… If you beat up your stuff, then fine, I can buy that argument. But for many people, extended warranties don’t make sense. Take the money you’d spend on extended warranties for all your stuff, bank it, and use the money to fix/replace stuff that breaks. You’ll come out ahead.

    4. Mostly true. When I worked there, managers got monthly bonuses based on store sales, so they pressured us like crazy. While we very rarely got anything directly in exchange for making a sale, we might get lectured, get our hours cut, or get moved to the shift we liked the least if we didn’t get the sale.

    5. No comment.

    6. True. You’re better off paying the neighborhood computer genius (look for one on Craigslist if necessary). You’ll get better quality work for less.

    7. True.

  33. gaywolverine says:

    The general problem with everything these days is people want the expertise at no cost. It doesn’t work that way. If you want to buy online, you get the level of service associated with that. People buy shit at Wal Mart and is any person working at Wal Mart an expert in anything. You’d complain of Best Buy raised prices 10 per cent but had the most knowledgeable sales staff ever, because you want their expertise and then take it to a competitor. There are few high end electronics stores out there any more due to this.

  34. anduin says:

    1. We have no formal training in the field of consumer electronics.

    This stopped being a requirement like 10 years ago. Go into a store and youll be lucky if anyone knows about anything in their department.

  35. anduin says:

    and sometimes I wish I could go work at one of these stores in the PC department and guide people away from making poor choices or being guided in the wrong direction. But they don’t pay well enough and I’d be fired by the end of the week.

  36. Kat says:

    Also, some of them are fanboys. Back when the PS3 was the cheapest Blu-Ray player on the market, a friend and I went to an electronics store where she was asking about it. For every single point I brought up in favor, the employee brought up how the Xbox 360 was superior. Even when I said that the PS3 was the cheapest Blu-Ray player on the market, he said “actually there’s one coming out soon that will be the same price as the PS3.” He was just insistent that my friend get an Xbox 360 and not a PS3. Guess what? She got a PS3 (from another store), and she loves it.