The pain of commission? Bait and attempted switch?

From: Daves Old Computers

My wife’s old laptop is going on 5 years now, with various duct tape, replacement cords and a screen ready to fall off. So, when I saw the flyer from a major electronics store (Mitch my COO would get mad if I named them) for a $227 new laptop with reasonable specs it was a no brainer… Don’t worry, I get brownie points for saving money not a spot on the sofa for buying something cheap.

Anyway, I have about 10 minutes to get in and out, so I show a salesman the flyer:

Me: Excitedly pointing a the $227 offer on the flyer.. “I’ll take that one.”
Salesman: “OK, let me check on that.” Punches some things into the computer. “Hmm.. can I show you a couple other models that might be a little more expensive but are a lot better, instead.” While never taking his eyes off the screen, as if verifying inventory.
Me: “The ad just came out this morning, they are already gone?” The store opened at 9am and it was 11am on a Thursday.
S: “These things do sell quickly.”
Me: “Does that mean you don’t have anymore?”
S: “Well, the system shows 2 but it’s not always accurate.”
Me just looking at him without saying anything because it seemed pretty obvious what I would say.
S: “Let me go check on that.” Comes back 2 minutes later with the laptop. “Are you sure you don’t want to see something better, that’s only a little more?”
Me: “No I’m good with this one thanks.”
He punches some stuff in, then the bright light apparently comes on.
S: “So you know what this is, right?” Holding up the computer.
Me. Really confused.. “A Laptop?”
S: “A PC.”
Me: “OK”
S: “So there is something you definitely need with this.”
Me: “What’s that?”
S: “Virus software. These are really prone, and it can destroy your entire computer. There is a free 6 month version included, but…”
Me: “No thanks Im good”
S: “Your call. OK, I’ll just add on the extended warranty then.”
Me: “No thanks, I’m good with just the laptop, I don’t need anything else.”
S: Having given up, he punches a few things into a computer, whispers something to a woman that looked like she might be his supervisor, they confer a little more and he walks away for a couple minutes. He then comes back with the receipt, “They’ll have it up for you at the front.”
Me: “Thanks”

OK, this isn’t a big deal, I wouldn’t bother to complain to anyone about the experience. I am stoked to get a perfectly good laptop for under $250 with tax, so I’ll keep looking at their flyers and shop there again. I also did buy some other non related stuff from their 150k square foot warehouse, so maybe they didn’t lose too much. My main thought was how this buying experience was set up to be awesome, but in all reality it was horrible for everyone.

Maybe you can say commission isn’t to blame, and the salesman just needed a little more training in listening to his customers. As an owner of a retail company, I understand the motivation to want salespeople to sell stuff, but it’s 2012. It wouldn’t have taken much for me to be blogging about how awesome Frys Electronics is (oops!) had my experience been different, but then again how were they supposed to know that today was my turn to post on the L9 bog??

The point here is not that this is a customer service horror story, (frankly those all seem to involve phone and internet companies), but that it’s important to know how your policies are affecting actual customer experiences. One of my main motivations in owning Level9 is to make great customer experiences for as many of our customers as we can. We don’t always succeed, and if we’ve failed for you in some way we can, and will change. I always welcome customer feedback/experiences, so please feel free to email me at, or even post it here.

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