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My quest for the perfect PVR, and why retailers don't do enough

by Tim Rimington | July 25, 2012

6 weeks ago our household began the debate of whether to continue our Pay TV subscription or to ditch it altogether and switch to free to air. This would mean that our provided PVR (personal video recorder) would have to be sent back to the Pay TV Company. So the search for a new PVR with free-to-air digital tuners commenced.

I’m the type of electronics consumer who’s happy to spend months researching options if I’m spending more than $500. I want the right equipment and I don’t want surprises in the weeks or months after handing over my cash. So off I went on my quest for the perfect PVR.

I spent weeks reading posts on the popular online tech forum, Whirlpool, and began to narrow down the dozens of options to just 3 contenders. I visited company websites (some informative, others outright terrible) and armed myself with a headful of tech info and specs. I was now an authority on PVRs!

With knowledge in hand I drove to the electronics retailers close to my house hoping to see my short list in action; I wanted to get an idea for build quality and to see if store sales people could add to my burgeoning knowledgebase. I was ready to make a purchase.

The first chain store I visited stocked at least 2 of the models I was interested in. When I pointed to a particular model, the sales guy launched into a long speech, spurting features and seemingly striving for the ‘Most knowledgeable sales person for 2012’ award. Most of the features he listed had little to do with my needs and at no point did he ask me what I wanted. When I asked if I could have a demonstration, he threw up a bunch of excuses as to why I couldn’t, and walked off. I left, money in pocket.

The second store I visited seemed more promising. I was approached immediately and I asked the sales guy if he knew anything about their range of PVRs. He claimed that he knew “a hell of a lot”, so I threw my first question at him, a simple question and one relating to a key feature that any sales person should know (on the question I posed, allow me to put it this way: it was like asking someone if it included a remote control).

“I really don’t know”, was his reply (and this, remember, came from a self-confessed ‘expert’). He spent the next minute turning the carton over and over, searching for a features list. He couldn’t find the answer printed on the box so went off in search for answers. I stood around for ages, in an empty store devoid of customers, waiting patiently for his return. After a lengthy wait, I left. I think the sales guy is still roaming the mountains of Mordor in his quest for the elusive feature.

Retailers are doing it tough. In my opinion they’re not doing enough for staff training. They’re hiring disinterested ‘too cool for school’ sales staff with attitude, and from my observations there aren’t enough quality managers working the shop floor mentoring and coaching. Frustrated shoppers wander online to make their purchase, and the bricks and mortar retailers cry foul. Yes there are great retail people in Australia but there are plenty more who should find other vocations. And there are plenty more store owners/managers who need to step out from the back office and start training their sales people instead of lamenting the trade pouring online.

So as I repeat time again, online retailers have a fantastic opportunity to capitalise on the frustrated personal shoppers like myself. Provide plenty of product photos and video, break down product info into meaningful blocks, and deliver awesome customer service with personalised messages and prompt communication at each point of the sales process. Sound easy? It is!

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