Crystal Burdette pointed out this article on Best Buy to me, HoustonChronicle.com - Steffy: Some people become real shopping demons. In it, the CEO of the electronics retailer says he wants to " ... weed out problem customers, ones who tie up salespeople and then don't buy anything, for example ..." I hate to say it Mr. Anderson, but welcome to the world of choice. For big ticket items like the ones your store sells, consumers are getting smart enough to realize it might not be the best idea to go to the nearest Circuit City or Best Buy, pick out what they want and have it wrapped up at the register, lickety-split. There are more places to look, more prices to be checked out, more options to be considered and more salespeople needing to provide answers. You're simply going to have to get used to "problem customers", or what I like to call "customers"!
This week my computer decided to implode on me -- the USB ports broke in some evil attempt to shatter my serenity. So now I have no connection to my printer, my wireless keypboard and optical mouse, my external drive, my Blackberry, etc. (Can't you just hear me freaking out?!!) I found out it would almost make more sense to buy a new notebook than to have the motherboard in my current one replaced. I went to Best Buy to see what they had, but they only had about six or seven notebooks to choose from, a limited set of brands, no clear explanation of all the options available to me, and from what I could tell no way for me to customize. (If those things did exist, then they sure didn't tell me about it.) And the salespeople seemed friendly, but I didn't need their help reviewing the limited options Best Buy made available to me. I wanted to be more empowered. So I went to Dell.com instead, which walked me step-by-step through each option and let me build the computer I wanted. It's companies like Dell that will continue to win customers' hearts by providing everything at their fingertips. They recognize that consumers want to have a say in the matter of consumption, and not just be fed products like grain to cattle.
And then I had another completely annoying experience today -- trying to find a wall or car charger for my Blackberry. Since I can't charge it through my computer anymore (those darned broken USB ports!) I need some other way to keep it going until my new Dell D400 gets here. So I go to the AT&T Wireless store, where I bought the Blackberry, and they say, "Sorry, we don't carry accessories for the Blackberry." Wait a minute. You sold me the thing, but when I need things required to use it, you have NOTHING to give me? The salesperson hands me a slip of paper with an 800 number on it and says "You'll have to call Accessories". I'LL have to call accessories? You can't call accessories?!! Then I tried Radio Shack, since they're supposed to have everything. Well they don't.
Consumers are empowered, so we want choice, we want to be able to have in-depth conversations about the products we're considering, and we'd like not to be considered annoying by exercising those rights. On the other hand, we're not SO empowered that we don't need any service (AT&T Wireless, are you listening?). Mr. Anderson, instead of worrying about annoying consumers, you should band together with your fellow tech manufacturers and retailers and try to provide real support, real options and real care for your customers.