Cable Thievery, Corporate Numbskullerry, and the Unfortunate Rise of those With a Clue

You’ll be pleased to know I’ve just passed the longest period of uninterrupted home Internet access with the illustrious Comcast. More or less ever since I moved into my apartment last June I’d lose service for unconscionably long periods. Various Comcast ‘techs’ had run so many wires through the place that the audible hum was on the verge of drowning out the sound of the traffic.
Downstairs neighbor or confused cable guy?

The last period of non-service lasted almost a full weekend and the following Monday saw the cable guy arrive to try and sort it out after four or so previous visits. He started by checking the the cables downstairs and noticed that there was a three way splitter when there should only have been a two way splitter with a third cable running off somewhere untoward. It was either case of somebody ‘borrowing’ our connection or one of the cable guys being a bit thick – quite possibly both. He also changed up the modem – and since then it has all worked perfectly.

It’s just a shame it took over six months to get somebody out who knew or cared enough about sorting it out. Time Warner were just the same in the last place I lived. They sent out three guys who couldn’t give a monkey’s and the last guy was so excited by high definition himself that he called through his special code so we could get a few extra channels. He stopped for a brew and was more than happy to talk shop. He loved installing cable and evangelizing HDTV. He was a high definition prophet spreading the word.

Last Sunday, as we headed home, we stopped at Polaris in Columbus – too much with a hangover – and checked in at Circuit City. I have a love / hate thing going on with big box electronics emporiums seeming I love the electronics aspect, but hate the idiots that work there. I’m glad they don’t sell true high end stuff otherwise we’d all be doomed.

However, the one guy who we asked about buying a Wii (yes, I know I should know better – if you’re after one use Wii Alerts) could not have been more helpful. He rattled through the reasons why the Wiis were in short supply but told us that there might be a couple of Gamestops that might have them and pointed us in their direction.

I wanted to shake his hand considering some of the tawdry twaddle I’ve heard invented by some of these people as if selling is a free-form jazz scat, but I was a bit rough from the night before and I was getting freaked out by the fact that he had the eyelashes of a girl.

It’s way too easy though to simply blame the salesperson or the installer. The fact that Comcast or Circuit City has these people at all is more by accident than design. The vast majority of salespeople on electronics retailer floors come at you as if they’re about to take a bullet and leave you wishing you had a semi-automatic to fire a few.
“I’m alright, just looking”

In the online world, this is the equivalent of the pop-up advertisement. And, in the online world you can easily set your browser settings to eliminate 99.9% of these types of intrusions with a pop-up blocker. In the online world of shopping the customer is armed with all the facts, figures, reviews, and prices to make them more than dangerous. They finally make them right.

It’s one of the reasons I now shop with my PDA. I once started a stampede in CompUSA after comparing skus that had been improperly placed on monitors and knowing which one was the heavily reduced one on their Website. (By stampede I mean I ran through the store to get the last one without care for the young or infirm. I’m not as fleet of foot as I used to be.)

Depending on your space, there’s a whole lot of people looking for what you do and finding people better at it than you. Well, maybe not better, but how would anybody know if you’re not getting in on the conversation. Not only that, but customers are getting way too big for their boots. You’d better have sales staff who know their onions because I can assure you that anybody researching where they’re going to be spending their hard-earned moolah and on what will.

So, unless you own a virtual monopoly in your area, or don’t care in the least about expanding your business further than your nose, or you don’t care about getting a better bang for your advertising / marketing buck, I suggest you don’t bother with building a Website, marketing it, or advertising it.

After all, there are still plenty of idiots who’ll part with their money that don’t know any better. For the time being, they’ll do nicely as your target demographic.

But remember that this particular group is shrinking as they find information on anything from anywhere at their fingertips.

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