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Best Buy Exorcisms

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  • Best Buy Exorcisms

    I don't mean to pick on Best Buy, which is a fun place to shop for shiny plastic things electronic, but every time I go there, I feel like a deer in the middle of hunting season. Young men, sporting vests that look eerily like something you'd see during hunting season, will knock old people over as they make for your coordinates like the Starship Enterprise responding to a Romulan excursion across the neutral zone.

    He who hath ears to geek, let him geek.

    Like lots of people, I like to browse. Even if I'm not spending money on that day during that visit, I may be pre-buying. It's the joy of shopping, but in order to have that joy, it's important not to be hassled by a zit-squeezer with a plastic nametag asking me, for the 9th time that visit, whether I need help. I had one such character, at a Circuit City, who stood and glared at me until I moved away from the merchandise. I felt like I were in another country.

    Anyhoo, that's where I picked up a neat little trick for exorcising the Best Buy demons. It's top-secret hush-hush, something I probably should check with the Agency on before I publish it, lest the black van show up to my house and I spend the next 18 months with a black bag over my head.

    Ah Hell, I'll tell it to you anyway.

    The next time you're in a Best Buy or Circuit City, and somebody comes up to you with that "Can I help you" line, don't be shy. Take 'em at their word. Ask 'em a technical question.

    By technical question, I don't mean, "Do you have any good subwoofers on sale?" I don't mean you should ask them about a price on laptop computers or whether they have the Sopranos box set.

    Ask them an actual technical question.

    One day I was in there and was getting dry-humped by plastic name-tag man until I blurted out, "Do you have any inductors in stock?"

    That produced a blank expression so joyous I thought I was going to get arrested. After that came a question about what an inductor is, followed by another question over what an inductor does.

    Now, I'm no engineer. I'm no pro. I'm just a guy who's tired of paying mark-up on plastic crap. I come here to learn from you guys so I can create my own little happy place, a few feet from my couch.

    But when I explained that I was hoping to get an inductor coil locally, because I needed to construct a crossover, it didn't help. That comment, as basic as it is, produced another blank look followed by another lost question: "What's a crossover?"

    I got similarly stupid looks when I went into Radio Shack looking for capacitors. When somebody finally found a drawer full of them, they were cheap electrolytics. My quest to avoid PE's minimum $9 shipping and handling was again frustrated, but so were my appliance monkeys, who weren't really sure what a capacitor was.

    Tonight, I had a close call, when another nametag/vest guy asked me, "Can I answer any questions?" to which I blurted out, "No, I don't think you can." I had to make a quick, two-step to get out from a confrontation but there's truth in such humor. The guy trying to talk you into an extended warranty will puff his chest out and twist grandma's arm - as if he were her financial advisor - but so many of them are so full of it, you'd wonder how they could float.

    Long story short, that got me to wondering about Best Buy Exorcisms. Harry Potter's favorite spell is apparently, "Expecto Patronem" (Latin for "I want my daddy"). Men with collars like the sound of, "The power of Christ compels thee." What words or phrases are most likely to send the plastic-tag/vest guy running for cover?

    Here's one: Which one of these speakers has the lowest resonance frequency? (At Best Buy, I noticed that tower after tower, with big brand after big brand, had resonance frequencies no lower than the 30s or 40s)

    What do you like to ask that sends the dry-humpers running for cover?

  • #2
    That was Classic!

    I laughed very hard at this, and it basically made my day!

    It's definitely fun to ask those questions. I will say however, that I went into a RS once, and was asked what the rated impedance load for my receiver was. That was before I got into this stuff, and it was probably the only time I was asked an intelligent question in there in line with what I was looking for.

    I like going into Ovations, and talking circles around the car-installer/sales-guy, as I knew him from another mutual employer. He didn't know beans about what he was selling, or how to hook things up properly. Yeah- the training sure helped him! :rolleyes:

    Later, and thanks again for the laughs!
    "Wolf, you shall now be known as "King of the Zip ties." -Pete00t
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    • #3
      Re: Best Buy Exorcisms

      "I need one of those High Definition radio tuners."

      "No. I don't need a table top radio. I need something for my stereo gear."

      "Oh, it's better than what you've got in that room - I just keep hearing about these radio stations, and I thought I'd get a tuner."

      "Listen, you twit. I've got 3,000 watts in my living room, with four 15" subwoofers, so why don't you go find a manager and tell him that a customer is giving you trouble."


      • #4
        Re: Best Buy Exorcisms

        Yeah this is funny stuff. I forgot what I asked the RS guy but it was really technical. Had something to do with Coaxial cable. Boy did he give me a look. It had to do with velocity factor, I think.

        On a speaker related question, I went to one of those sales sessions where they offer seminars throughout the day on various subjects mainly to sell stuff. This was mainly PA stuff, mixers and speakers and amplifiers etc. I asked the seminar leader a question about speaker impedance. I think the question was "Upon what frequency is the nominal speaker impedance determined?" He said that impedance didn't have anything to do with frequency. I replied that frequency had everything to do with impedance and walked out...I wish you could have seen his look :p

        BTW he was hawking for a MAJOR brand that PE sells. (no reflection AT ALL on PE)

        I guess it pays to know what you're doing when making a major purchase. Or have implicit trust in the person doing the selling. Problem is that one has to know something about the subject to effectively evaluate then trust the salesperson's answer. ;)

        Hal H


        • #5
          Re: Best Buy Exorcisms

          It makes my wife cringe if she is with me, but it goes something like this:

          "Can I help you, sir?"

          "Yes, go away."


          • #6
            Re: Best Buy Exorcisms

            Bilvideo . .

            Excellently written piece of non-fiction!

            I stopped going to Circuit City years ago because of the overly desperate, vulture-like sales "associates" hovering over me like I was carrion waiting to be consumed. Maybe that's one reason why they are now in bankruptcy.

            Best Buy is similar, but not near as bad in my area. My latest ruse for the pimply faced guy is to ask him to explain the differences in the bandwidth/ benefits of the 'Good', 'Better', 'Best' HDMI cables.

            Radio Shack??

            HA!! " . . You've got questions, we've got blank stares . . ."
            Dave H


            • #7
              Re: Best Buy Exorcisms

              "Nope, uh-ah, no-way" was the response I got from our local BB TV area manager when I asked if he could match a price a few % less thank their marked price on a $2400 TV. Same with the camera department. While I largely expected this, I essentially took my $3500 and spent it someplace else - and ended up getting much more (next series up on the TV, and a camera with a large stack of accessories (many actually useful). So, at Best Buy, we picked up one of the sacrificial black Friday 'isle-fodder' products (cordless phone) and spent a whopping $59 (used my wife's $50 gift card and spent ~$10 out of pocket (new revenue). Further, through this experience, I've largely decided that you really cannot beat online sources for most things that you know anything about - unless there is a significant local service requirement. Thus, trips to Best Buy will likely cease all together.

              There was a single BB rep that I worked with about 2 weeks ago who knew his stuff for the most part. It was very focused on TVs, but it was spot on with what I had read in multiple forums.

              It just seems that I cannot go into <enter any local electronics or computer retailer> and feel good about buying anything on a number of levels.


              • #8
                Re: Best Buy Exorcisms

                Come on, guys, what you're doing is just cruel. Retailing is hard way to make a living, especially at a store like Best Buy, given the ignorance of most of the customers. Most of the customers walk in and ask a question like, "Which speakers have the best sound?" "Umm, well, what do you like to listen to?" "Everything. I just want the best all-around sound. Is that so hard for you to figure out."

                I have an aunt who spends holidays with me. She had heard from another family member that I had a hobby of building speakers. She demanded to listen my then new Aethers. I played them for her with the test CD Doug provided in Iowa, and after listening, she declared, "Well, I can hear that on my speakers." and stomped off. She has a set of plastic somethings, pushed into corners, setting on top of an older set of speakers that she has yet to throw out. Yeah, you can hear the Aethers sound on the plastic boxes. Sure.

                Let me give you an example of what I think is a real statement of just how ignorant the normal Best Buy costumer is. At my local Best Buy, in the back, they have the "table top" systems. Amoug the things they sell is this monster that stands about eighteen inches tall, has more lights than Broadway, and what looks like it has an MTM speaker set up, until you realize that the MTM speakers are designed not just to be played as an MTM, but to be seperated and put in different locations, so you can get some sort of "surround sound" on them. The plastic pasted on the front claims over 500 watts of power. For this, the store charges $650.

                The joke is not that Best Buy sells these, the joke is that people buy them. Given that kind of normal customer, is it really fair to criticize the people who work there?

                It's the Christmas season, guys. Be a little nice to people who are not as fortunate as you.


                • #9
                  Re: Best Buy Exorcisms

                  I don't need to stroke my ego by giving some working guy trying to make a living and feed his family a hard time. That would be damned foolish and childish behavior.


                  • #10
                    Re: Best Buy Exorcisms

                    Originally posted by toddshore View Post
                    It makes my wife cringe if she is with me, but it goes something like this:

                    "Can I help you, sir?"

                    "Yes, go away."
                    Succinct!!! The best three word answer yet!!!
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                    • #11
                      Re: Best Buy Exorcisms

                      I remain cordial to the salespeople if I have to go in one of those places. I'm on their turf.

                      However, I do use the techniques described here when confronted by the "white van" salesmen.
                      Mongo only pawn in game of life


                      • #12
                        Re: Best Buy Exorcisms

                        Not that I am condoning the bashing of the retailers, but if you consider the true value of retail business, reps who don't know there stuff diminish that value considerably. For those of us who take the time to study and learn this stuff out of sincere interest in support of a hobby to know more than a guy who does this for a living seems a bit indicative of the problem. Now we can go on and discuss the pay for these positions and the kinds of people who would be attracted to such, but no matter what the income, if you want to be good at what you are doing it takes a bit of study.


                        • #13
                          Re: Best Buy Exorcisms

                          Todd, I shouldn't have been drinking coffee when I read your "Yes, go away." I now have coffee on my lap. It was worth it. Thanks for the hummer. Tom


                          • #14
                            Re: Best Buy Exorcisms

                            I've only been to BB once--my roommate is a computer geek and went to pick up some incomprehensible geek sh!t on sale, so I rode along.

                            All the audio equipment was located in a sort of corral out in the middle of the big floor, with no sonic isolation whatsoever from the surrounding zoo. They had Klipsch, JBL, and a few other brands of speakers all crammed together along one side (Bose was in a separate corral, all to itself), and a switch box so you could "listen" to different pairs. The only "music" available was some horrid, artificial, compressed, squealing and caterwauling pop rubbish--NO classical, jazz, folk, or anything else with real instruments. There was absolutely no way to make a meaningful comparison between models in that environment, especially with high-pressure sales clerks hovering over you.

                            I got rid of the pushy salesmen by telling them I was just looking around while waiting for my roommate, but even without them, it was a horrible experience. I don't ever want to set foot in that place again!


                            • #15
                              Re: Best Buy Exorcisms

                              Yea.. you're pretty much on your own when you go into any of the stores now a days... of course, Best Buy and Circuit City hire from the same pool as Kroger and others. Most of these people are in college to be media specialists, or some other mediocre professional. There are a few though, that may actually have some hint of wisdom; those seeking technical degrees who have some true interest in what they're selling. It's rare, but it happens. I was one of the few Radio Shack employees who 12 years ago, never walked away from a question; and I felt like I was truly helpful. It was when I was dealing with a customer who didn't know what they were looking for that I had a problem (never was a good salesman). But when it came to looking up replacement tubes, or building a homebrew power supply on the sales counter, I could hack that.

                              Nothing wrong with being egotistical on occasion; Guilty of it myself. It's fun... really. Asking a technical question at any of these places is basically lending yourself to the hope that the gene pool still has some good swimmers left in it, which is difficult, considering we live in a society where warning signs are required on lawn mowers saying "don't put your hand in here when the mower's running". (I call that defeating natural selection) The same logic applies to most of today's products. More money is made on ignorance than anything else.

                              Bless their hearts.

                              Stuff I've builded