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April 26th, 2004

Tales From a Shopping Trip

This past weekend I spent some time browsing digital cameras at various stores. I visited three in all, and the way I was treated in each store was quite different.

I started at Office Depot, which is (allegedly) offering clearance prices on their cameras – yes, all of them. I was able to get into the store just fine and browse the cameras, but no one asked me anything despite having the, “Gee, why are there no batteries in any of these things?” look upon my face. Only on the way out did a woman ask me if I found everything okay… she probably noticed I had nothing in my arms to take to the checkout.

I took a swing by OfficeMax as well, just for curiosity’s sake really. There, no one disturbed me and I didn’t see a single employee outside of the cashier area. It was kind of nice, and one of the cameras had batteries in it. That was swell.

Finally I headed over to SoundTrack which is an electronics-only store. I like SoundTrack, or at least the idea behind it, but the same thing that happened to me last time happened to me again: nobody came near me. No one. I don’t know if I was giving off, “I’m not buying today!” vibes or what but it was frustrating. SoundTrack had about 20 cameras available to play with, the most of any of the three stores, but again none of them had batteries nor memory cards.

I like to at least be greeted by someone, you know? If that person then stays out of my face that’s fine. But the bigger concern is how I couldn’t actually try any of these cameras that I was interested in. I got to experience the camera I’ve been looking at the most and appreciate its size, but not actually use it. An employee asking if I wanted to try any of these devices would’ve been mighty helpful.

If you want someone to buy something, shouldn’t you make it as usable as possible in-store?

Oh, but SoundTrack offered free coffee and donuts on a table near the exit. That was a nice touch.

Posted in Consumer Commentary

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