If there’s one thing I hate more than slamming my finger in a rusty door, or stepping on a squeaky nail, it’s got to be incompetence in customer service. When I’m in a store inquiring about a product, your sales staff should know the answers to all my questions. Whatever happened to training the employees on the merchandise they are selling? When I worked in the Wal Mart Photo Lab, I took time every day to stand there reading the boxes of all the cameras. I learned what the best features were on every one of them, and was able to effectively compare and discuss intelligibly the best options for the customer. So if I go into Best Buy or Circuit City, why can I not expect someone working in the television department to do the same thing?
There’s nothing I hate more than asking someone a very specific question and having them look at the damn tag. Dude, I can do that myself. And already have. For instance, yesterday, I was in Micro Center, picking up an IDE/SATA I/O controller board for my home PC. I’ve troubleshot the problem down and determined that the root cause must be a bad IDE controller on my mother board. And since the computer I built is around three years old now, it’s a little outdated. It’s still a bad ass machine. I have a Pentium 4, and a good amount of RAM. But you know how quickly technology upgrades and supersedes itself. So my point is that it’s hard to find a socket 775 mother board that still supports the type of memory sticks I have. DDR2 is the new thing.
Anyway, I determined that it would be easier (and much cheaper) for me to just add a new controller into one of my PCI slots – rather than replacing the whole mother board. If I did the latter, I’d have to buy new RAM and a new processor. F that noise. So I grabbed a combo card that supports IDE (which is the type of drive I have) and SATA. I also picked up a 500 GB SATA drive, because I’m excited about moving along and using this new architecture. It’s faster and more reliable. Plus it’s 2008, doodz. IDE is so 1995.
I don’t expect you to all understand what all this bullshit is. That’s not the point. I’m not trying to use all these terms to confuse anyone. Just suffice it to say I know enough to be able to shop without much assistance from the sales staff. But I did have one little question. I had picked up a SATA II drive from the shelf. And the combo I/O board I’d grabbed said SATA. Clearly, there’s a difference between SATA and SATA II. So I asked the sales guy if the SATA II drive would work on the SATA controller. He starts looking at the bullets on the front of the box. “Well it says SATA here. But I don’t see any SATA ports on it. That looks like an IDE slot!”
“Yeah, it’s a combo board. Don’t worry about that. I need that IDE slot,” I told him. “Oh, okay.” And then I said, “Alls I need to know is if this card will support this drive.” And he said, “I’m not sure. Let’s see. Are you going to use RAID 0 or 1?”
Okay, let me explain for any lay people out there – RAID (which stands for redundant array of inexpensive disks) is a format that allows drive striping. Basically RAID 1 is drive mirroring. You put two drives on the same bus and setup RAID 1 and it writes data to both drives simultaneously. If one goes out, the other is an exact mirror of it. So you don’t lose your data. There are several other levels of RAID, but they’re not important. However, this SATA card supports RAID. Which has nothing to do with the question I had asked him. “No, I’m not mirroring my drives.”
“Okay, well this card is for RAID 0 and 1. So if you’re going to use…” I cut him off. “Dude, I don’t care about the RAID. I’m buying ONE drive. See? This one right here. So tell me, will this drive work on this card?” Simple question. He starts looking at the box again. “You know what? Never mind. I’ll just buy a SATA drive.” (Instead of one that says SATA II on it.) My logic tells me that the answer is no. Obviously a SATA II card would backwards support a SATA I drive, but probably not the other way around. The thing is, the SATA II drive box said system requirements were a SATA card. It didn’t say II. Meh. So it was a small and easy question, I thought.
So I grab the shit off the counter and thank him for his time and start walking away. And you know what this dipshit says? See they have this system at Micro Center where the sales guys have a sheet of barcode stickers. They peel one off and put it below the price tag so when you get rung up, the cashier scans that other barcode and it credits the sales person with the commission. The SATA card already had a barcode on it from a different sales guy. One whom I asked to help me find a combo card. So this dipshit behind the counter says, “Wait, let me put a sticker on it for you.” What? Seriously? Your help was about as useful as a life-sized map. what the hell is wrong with you? (Notice there’s no quotes around these things because I didn’t say them. I thought them.) Why in the name of The Elephant would I let you put your commission sticker on a product you couldn’t help me with? I told him I already had a sticker. He said, “Oh, someone already helped you?” I said, “Yeah. It was refreshing, too.”
I think computer component stores are probably more important in this argument than a lot of other consumer products. Most people will ask a TV sales guy what the difference is between DLP and tube or whatever. But computer components are very specific and it’s very important you get shit that’s compatible with what you have. Imagine buying a mother board with an Intel chipset and having the sales rep sell you an AMD processor. There’s a lot of room to screw up. So please, people, know your shit. If you’re going to work in a store that sells computer components, at least know what the hell you’re doing. It’s not often I have to ask a question about computers. But when I do, I expect you guys to know more than I do.
I took the SATA card home and dropped it in my system. The damn thing didn’t even work. Can I get a rolleyes? Please? Seriously.