how to lose a sale

We’ve had a fantastic Denon home theater box for a few years now – the sound quality and everything else is just great, and it has a nice interface to the iPod. The problem with an all-in-one system is that if/when one component breaks down, the whole thing could be rendered useless. So last week the DVD drive seemed to stop working – it wouldn’t read anything, and even the cleaning disc wouldn’t work. Fortunately new DVD players are really cheap these days, and because the Denon has so many spare inputs I shopped around for a cheap but good player. The bonus is that newer DVD models are upconverting, meaning that while standard DVD quality is not high-definition, the player alters the signal to make it appear to be almost high-def.

I got a good deal on a Phillips player from Circuit City – bought online and went to the store to pickup. A nice service so far. At the store they said that I would get 10% off accessories, and seeing as I need an extra HDMI cable I thought I’d take a look. Unfortunately that’s where their customer service started to fall down.

I asked a sales guy where their cables were, and he immediately started to say “So is your TV 720 or 1080?” – basically trying to get me with somewhat technical jargon. If you follow the link above you’ll see the whole picture about HDMI – it’s a standard to carry a digital signal from one device to another – and because it’s digital the signal is all or nothing. If you’re buying analog cables, the cable quality is important – interference can cause distortion of signal – but for digital it makes no difference whatsoever. Circuit City had a variety of HDMI cables, including the Monster brand, whose cables were well over $100. The cable I got to hook up our HD TiVo to the TV was about $7 online, and it works fine – as I said a digital signal is either going to work or it is not.

I told the sales guy I just wanted the cheapest cable they had. He said “they’re over there, but they are only $5 less, so these ones here, it’s going to be better quality”. Not so, I said – it’s a digital signal, so I just need cheap. He kept on about signal quality – he either had no idea himself or he thought he could patronize me into paying loads more than I need to, so end result: poor customer service, and no sale.

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