Caveat Emptor

Best_tabletsThis is something that really annoys me. And we’ve all probably been there…

A less tech-savvy friend or relative buys a gadget or device and finds it doesn’t work as they were expecting it to. They then blame the manufacturer and most probably you, but really all they got was bad advice from the sales assistant in the shop.

Two weeks in a row now, I’ve overheard sales assistants in department stores tell customers massive, misleading untruths about tablets.

Last weekend, I watched a a lady wanted to buy a new tablet in Canary Wharf. After looking at iPads, she started checking out the Samsung models. Only then did the sales assistant show any notice. She explained – quite clearly – that she used a Mac and was a very, very heavy iTunes user. In fact, she had a massive library of TV shows and movies all bought from the iTunes store.

Her question: could she easily watch these on her Samsung tablet?

The sales assistant said, without any hesitation: “Yeah. Just plug it in with your USB and the films will just appear”.

Simply not true.

She asked again, her voice betraying her disbelief.

“Yeah. And Samsungs are much better than Apple anyway.”

I don’t have any problem with a sales assistant trying to influence what a customer buys, as long as it’s a conversation based on facts, grounded in reality and sensitive to the customer’s needs.

That’s their job. But to gloss over the details of the utter ball-ache this woman would have trying to watch copy-protected iTunes movies on an Android device from Samsung is a little too much.

To be fair to her, she looked less than impressed by his answers. I was still within conversational distance and so when she caught my eye, I made a simple headshake gesture, to indicate he was wrong. She smiled, nodded and walked off.

Yesterday, I watched as an elderly couple asked a sales assistant if the tablet they had been looking at had Jelly Bean pre-installed. The answer they got from the sales assistant in a technology department?

“No. It’s Android”.

The gentleman, who must have been at least 75 or 80, sighed and said “Yes, I know. But which version of Android”.

“Yeah, they’re all the same. And they’re cheaper than Apple”.

Sweet Jeebus.

The elderly couple tutted to themselves, obviously knowing more about tablets and Android operating system versions than the girl paid to advise people on the same subject. They too walked off, confident I’m sure of getting better service elsewhere.

So here’s the thing about complex gadgets being sold all over the place: the person selling it to you probably knows less about it than you’d imagine. Don’t trust them 100%.

My advice:

  1. Do your research online first. Compare the specs of devices.
  2. Ask good questions in-store, focusing on what you’d like to do with the device and don’t just take the first answer.
  3. Make sure you get clarity on the returns policy.
  4. If you know nothing about technology (hey – you found this blog, so it can’t all be bad!), then bring a friend or relative who does and will fight your corner in-store.

Most of all, don’t be swayed by the up-selling antics of a sales assistant. If you’re confident a £99 Android tablet will meet your tablet-related needs 100%, get it.

And enjoy it!

  1. Pay them peanuts and you get monkeys!

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  2. I think I witnessed another example of these clone sales persons at ‘Dixons Travel’ in Stansted Airport this morning. All the symptoms described above to a tee. They must be bred that way or made in a factory somewhere running Windows CE or may be Windows 8…

    He even tried to tell me that a particular camera ‘took good pictures’… “How does it do that then?” ‘Oh it just does’… I had time to kill so it seemed like a good time for a bit of sport!! “I would need to see the results on a big screen like that 27″ iMac over there” ‘Oh it won’t work with that’ “Oh why not?” Stunned silence… “OK if I take a picture with my camera, and you take a picture with this one, we could do a side by side comparison… on that iMac… tell you want I will even use my own lead to load a picture I already have on here, that will prove or disprove that Macs can’t talk to Canon cameras?”

    Obviously at this point he was losing interest because he was about to be found out!! I left him muttering and looking at a beautiful portrait I took this weekend! “Nice screen on these iMacs… must dash” !!!!

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