I like to think I am a fairly clued-up consumer. I certainly know my rights, as many a bruised and battered retailer can tell you. I have to confess to not being the most savvy person when it comes to technology, but I do have the ability to work stuff out using what knowledge I do have and applying a good deal of linear logic.
However I have to say that the retail market today is not as user-friendly as it was ‘when I were a lad’. And I think this is down to more than the fact that I am a grumpy old bastard these days rather than the wide eyed innocent I once was. Yes, I was a sweet little kid once; I know it’s hard to believe today.
My main complaint with the retail sector today is the almost complete absence of ‘service’, never mind service with a smile. When this is added to an abysmal lack of product knowledge (probably due to a total lack of training) the end result can be frustrating and time consuming for those of us who would rather consume their time doing things they enjoy rather than battling idiots.
The reason for my current outburst is threefold; or rather my reasons are threefold.
The first in this fold involves buying a new Television set. Not a big deal, I would have thought, but I was about to learn otherwise.
I considered sparing the blushes of the retailers concerned in this saga, but then I thought," What the hell for?” The whole purpose of a cautionary tale is to caution others and I believe that should extend to the noo-noos who need a slap up the side of their head to adjust their thinking.
So we headed off to No Lemmings and chose a 32” model. Of course these days all the new models come with Freeview decoders already loaded, so we figured it would be a chance to ditch our old decoder. The salesman said the model would suit us well and the sale was made.
We took it home and after lunch I lugged our outrageously heavy old CRT model out to the garage and began to set the new lightweight version up. I should point out here that I differ from many male consumers in that I actually read the manual of any new appliance before attempting to set it up. So by the time I began plugging everything in I had read that little book from cover to cover, which made it all the more puzzling to me when it would not receive any television signals at all.
After a bit of energetic swearing I picked up the phone and rang the tech feller at Low Nemmings and spent the next half hour or so following all of his instructions, but still without success. After I had tried everything he told me there must be a fault with the set and I should bring it back in. By this stage it was too late to get back to the store before closing time, so I lugged my heavy CRT back and hooked it up to the old decoder and boxed up the brand new set ready to return the next day. I was annoyed because my whole Saturday afternoon had been wasted buggering around with this and now I was going to have to go and waste more time down at Snow Leopards getting it changed over.
On the Sunday when I returned the set to the store they plugged it in and ....it worked perfectly well. I was flabbergasted. At first they tried to tell me there must be something wrong with my aerial. I explained there was nothing wrong with my aerial because my old CRT TV worked perfectly well with it.
It was only then that they asked me what sort of aerial I had. ‘Why I have a satellite dish”, I answered. “Do you have a Freeview decoder?” she asked. “Well yes I do, but surely I don’t need it as this set already has one”, I replied.
I then learned that the Freeview decoders that are loaded into these new TVs are only suitable for use with a UHF aerial. I gave the salesperson a piece of my mind over how much trouble I had been put to due to the original dimwit who sold me the set not asking me what sort of aerial I had when I bought the bloody thing. It was just lucky that I had not got rid of my old decoder otherwise I would have been up for a new one of those as well or a UHF aerial and all the costs associated with having that installed. And all because a dopey twat who calls himself a salesman had failed to ask me one little, but vitally important question.
A few weeks later we had to replace a broken shower head. Luckily Might of Ten was running a bathroom special and had all sorts of shower heads on special. We headed down to the store and over to the prominently signposted bathroom section and began looking through the shower heads. A young assistant came over to help and asked us what we were looking for. We told her what we wanted and picked up one that appeared to be the correct size based on the old one I had brought along for comparison.
When we got home I noticed the installation instructions were pretty short on information, but I figured out what went where and set the whole deal up. When I turned it on the water came out beautifully......for about 30 seconds. Then it started squirting out all around the perimeter of the shower head and spraying all over me, the walls and the floor. I turned the water off, dried myself and the walls, disconnected the new shower head and headed back to Mighty Tent with the intention of converting said shower head into a weapon of mass destruction. However I had calmed down by the time I reached the store and realised that one does occasionally strike faulty products, so no need to get unduly wild about it.
This more reasonable approach soon changed, though when I got to Metal Tin and the girl at the returns desk asked me if I was on mains pressure water or not . When I told her I was she said, “Oh you can’t use those ones on mains pressure. If you do it will just blow them apart and the water will spray out everywhere.” We were aware that some showerheads could not be used with mains pressure because we had already rejected a couple of models because their packaging stated that they weren’t suitable for mains pressure. But the one we had chosen bore no such warning.
So once again a cretin masquerading as a salesperson who was fully aware of the choice we had made had failed to ask me one small but vital question and my entire Saturday afternoon was wasted because of it. On the upside the replacement showerhead we picked out turned out to be about $10 cheaper than the one we had originally chosen.
The final in this trilogy of tragedy happened less than a fortnight ago when our Freeview decoder – yes the one that we nearly sold but couldn’t because...well you know the rest; died. We were watching a programme and the picture just started pixilating and finally broke up altogether. At first I didn’t know whether it was atmospherics, the satellite dish, the new TV or the decoder. Eventually I came to the conclusion it had to be the decoder or the dish as the TV worked fine with other media.
We figured we were long overdue for an upgrade in that department anyway and made the decision to get one that recorded as well as received. I saw Narvey Hormone had one that we liked the look of but No Lemons had the same one for a hundred bucks less.
I didn’t want to go back to the useless buggers down there so determined to get the deal of the century I headed off to Hardly Normal with an internet printout of the deal from Know Nothings in my pocket. After getting the salesman to show me all the whistles and bells on the machine I wanted I dug into my pocket and said, “That looks good, but here’s the thing; your competitors half a k down the road have got this same machine at $100 less than you. Can you do better than that?”
The salesman took my piece of evidence with him and consulted with (presumably his manager or possibly himself) and came back and offered me the machine for $1 less than his competitor. I took it and the discounted extended warranty as well.
When I got home I was impressed with how easy installation was and within 10 minutes it was working and I was impressed at how it enhanced the already very good picture. I was looking forward to watching the rugby on Prime later that night (I am too tight to pay for Sky).
However when the time to tune into the footy came around I found that Prime had disappeared from my list of channels along with Trackside and C4 (not that I watch either of those). I tried retuning, but no luck. I rang the 0800 number for the manufacturers because the retail store was long since tucked up in bed, but found they only operate between 9am and 5pm, Monday to Friday! Imagine that. I would expect most people buying a new decoder would do so in the weekend and then if they have any problems be absolutely delighted to learn they could not get any help until Monday during the hours they are trying to earn a living....NOT!
So I missed the game and took the machine back to Hardy Nomads the next morning. I then spent an unbelievable amount of time arguing with the (alleged) manager of the TV department over what the cause was. He had tried it on their set up and found he got the same results as I had.
He first told me the reason I couldn’t get Prime was because it wasn’t available on these machines and offered to give me my money back. I said I didn’t want to return it; I wanted it fixed and asked him why they would have Prime was on the EPG if it was not available. He said that was because they load that at the factory. I countered that by asking why they would load on a channel you couldn’t get since they didn’t list any others you couldn’t receive and anyway how come it was there when I first set the thing up? He then tried to tell me it was it was my satellite dish that was faulty – but was stumped to explain how I was able to get all the other channels. I said there must be a simple fix and told him he should ring the manufacturers for me on Monday and in the meantime I would take the set home and await results.
I am happy to say that on Monday I got a call telling me to go to the manufacturer’s website, download a fix onto a data stick, insert it into my decoder and follow the instructions and all should be well. I did that and everything worked out fine, but it could have saved me an awful amount of grief if the store had known enough about its own stock to know that a fix was necessary for these machines.
I just hope nothing else breaks down because the next time my whizz-bang new whatever fails due to some lame-brain failing to advise me properly they will find themselves in A&E having said appliance removed from a place where no such appliance should ever go.