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UPDATE: The TigerDirect store being referenced is under new management.  I have spoken with the management about this issue; he already took care of it.  Turns out their commissioning model before the new manager arrived was causing employees to reach return rates of 30%-40%, which is egregiously high, because they would up-sell too much garbage to make the commission.  He also fired half the staff there; the people that I have worked with recently have proven to be a delight.  The store in Durham, North Carolina is the one I was previously referencing, and I’d encourage anyone in the NC Triangle proper to visit there, because good management means a good business.  The salespeople know they make some kind of minimal commission on their sales, but they aren’t made privy to the details and so they don’t know what to “push,” meaning they just do their jobs right and they make more money–as it should be!

I received the following E-mail today, and it bothered me enough to bring about a nifty little anecdote about why clerks at major chains generally can’t be trusted.  Note that I frequently shop at TigerDirect and send clients there quite often as well (with a warning to be careful about the advice from the salespeople), but one can’t deny problematic business models, and this irked me enough to open my big fat mouth.

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Hey Jody.

Everything seems to be working well. I was able to return the CA software to Tiger Direct, but they gave me a big hassle.

The guy said CA is better than Avast. Is that true?

Thanks,

[CENSORED]

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My response (true story):

————————

A little hint…

I overheard some TigerDirect employees in the [CENSORED] store talking one night before they closed up.  They were discussing how successful each of them had been making sales that day, and they discussed it in terms of how many COMMISSIONED ITEMS they sold, along with some “best of” stories from their sales history as well.

Guess what they get commissions for selling?

You got it:

* CA products
* PC Pitstop Optimize
* WaCa extended warranty/service plans

All three of which I strongly discourage the purchase of.  If you know of Clark Howard (consumer advocate and personal finance radio host), you know how much he hates extended service plans, too.

I have literally hundreds (as in triple-digits, probably to the tune of at least 200) customers on Avast as their only virus protection.  Most of these customers have been repeat customers for at least one additional session, and it has served all of them well enough that I have had single-digit rejections of Avast long-term in favor of other products–usually because of the customer’s bias (I am thinking of one specific customer who MUST have Norton or bust, in fact) rather than the product itself.  It does better than Norton, and unlike Norton it does not do so at the expense of your machine’s performance and stability.

Yes, CA is better than Avast.

If you’re making a commission selling it.

————————

If a representative from TigerDirect corporate wishes, they may contact me and I will gladly explain and elaborate.  Having commissioned salespeople is a great way to chase off customers, primarily because when they discover that they’ve been played like a fiddle and up-sold one too many times, they don’t typically stick around.  In all honestly, I only send customers there because they have great prices.  If they want to go somewhere where the staff is much more knowledgeable and the salespeople are not commissioned, I send them over to Intrex instead.  (I don’t worry about either store taking away my service/repair clientele–I overhear pretty long turn-around estimates from their repair counters measured in weeks, whereas my business is measured in hours or days at the worst!)

While I’m poking at specific players in the computer field, I have to say what every other computer technician already seems to know:  Best Buy’s “Geek Squad” is the worst computer service provider in existence on all counts.  Extremely high prices, a plethora of customer complaints, duplicating customers’ private data for personal purposes, disastrous complaint handling (as seen in the hateful remarks of a certain “Agent Orange“), and if you don’t believe a word of it, check out the ten-page confession from a former employee that resulted in a lawsuit being filed against the company.  Or two.

Oh, and don’t let me start talking about Circuit City’s “Firedog.”  They have their own insider employee confessionals as well.

This is what happens when you engage in a race to the bottom, hiring salespeople that are morphed into “computer technicians” that will accept the lowest pay imaginable in a skilled trade while still getting the job done just barely good enough to shut the customer up, and if they get a few of the customer’s private nude photos to add to their collection (or a video of the customer showering), so much the better.  I guess the notions of “privacy” and “paying people what they’re worth” and “hiring experienced employees” and “making the customer happy” don’t matter when it’s all about the quarterlies, baby!

Honestly, I’m surprised that those two big box stores stay in the computer service business at all, given the horrible track records they’re developing.  I used to debate starting yet another computer service business until I came to the realization that these stores aren’t even close to being called my “competitors.”  After all, how much competing does Tritech really have to do when the biggest and best-known “competitors” are in the process of self-destruction?  It’s half depressing and half exciting, but one thing is for sure:  because of their failures, the door has been opened wide for the success of companies like mine that haven’t developed a disconnect from the customer’s needs in favor of the almighty dollar.

The ultimate irony?  Geek Squad and Firedog, in their attempts to gain as much money as possible while paying out as little as possible, actually lose more money to their poor customer service than they would to hiring good people and paying them what they’re worth.

If you are from Best Buy and would like to hire me as V.P. of customer relations while simultaneously preventing me from slowly eroding your business due to my superior philosophies on customer service and strict ethics enforcement, please email jody@nctritech.com with what you have to offer.  Thanks!

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