28 August 2006

A Tale Of Two Salesmen

The LCD TV that I bought

Singapore will soon have high definition television (HDTV) broadcast. One thousand households recently participated in a HDTV trial. With the prices of LCD and plasma TVs dropping every month like there is no bottom just like me, many people are thronging the showrooms shopping for that previously not-so-affordable HDTV. Both Chris and I have bought our HDTVs in recent months. I must qualify that I don't have very deep pockets (don't know about Chris'). We both bought very modest 32-inch LCD TVs which were priced below $3000. One or two years ago, similar TVs would have cost no less than $4000 each.

My experience is that shopping for a HDTV can be quite an ordeal for the less tech-savvy. The first few basic decisions you probably need to make are - whether to buy a plasma, a LCD or a DLP TV, what size, what model, what features and what price. When you do more in-depth research, you'll find that you need to understand industry-speak such as 'contrast ratio', 'HDMI', 'progressive vs interlaced scan', '1080i', '720p', 'response time', 'judder', 'PIP', 'brightness in cd/m2', 'resolution', 'viewing angle', just to name a few. (A comprehensive glossary of HDTV terms is available here.)

Next, you've got to decide which retail outlet you would like to buy your HDTV from - neighbourhood shops where prices are cheaper but perhaps lacking in service and variety; or megastores where prices are likely to be higher but where service is probably better and where there are a wide variety of models to choose from. I chose the latter.

First, my wife and I visited one of the two electrical megastores in Parkway Parade. We were served by a seemingly helpful salesman. I thought to myself, "We're in luck. It's so hard to find a really professional salesman nowadays." It started off quite well. He took pains to explain the differences between plasma and LCD TVs and also the features of various models. He spent about half an hour talking earnestly to my wife and I. Then I asked him one question: "How will I know if I can't get this same model cheaper outside?" That question seemed to have got on his nerves. His tone and attitude took an abrupt turn. This was our exchange:

Salesman: "I know sometimes customers complain about salesmen cheating them. But a lot of times, I feel that it's the other way round, that is the customers cheating the salesmen instead.

Me: Huh??? What do you mean?

Salesman: "I stand here for half an hour explaining to you and you can think of buying from outside. Can you just let me know this - are you going to make a decision to buy a TV today or not?"

Me: "I am still finding out more information. Look, a TV is a big-ticket item. How can I decide so hastily? It would be too rush and too rash.

Salesman: "In that case, you have wasted my time."

Me: "What? If you consider serving a customer as a waste of time then I am so sorry to have wasted your time. You are in the wrong job. If I lodge a complaint, I would have wasted your job as well. But I am too kind to do that."

With that, he just walked off and so did we, vowing never to buy anything from this store again.

Two weeks later, we passed by an outlet of the same megastore in Bishan Junction 8. (Those of you who frequent both shopping centres that I mention here will know which megastore I am talking about.) We saw a TV model which we were quite interested in. We were served by another salesman. This salesman was really helpful and was not irritated by whatever silly questions I threw at him. Sometimes he would just laugh them off. He even threw in a HDMI cable and a wallet/key-chain set free. You guessed it, we ended buying our TV from this outlet in Bishan.

The name of the salesman with good service was Mr Alan Teo from Junction 8. (I am saying a big "THANK YOU" to you here.) As for the man with the poor service and attitude, I shall not name as it might cost him his job. But don't buy from the man with a moustache. And so that was a tale of two colour TV salesmen whose standards of service were as different as black and white.


Chris Sim said...

What happened Victor? You seem to have lost all your charm encountering nasty salesman and cranky old man. Was that really your TV? Oh yah, I remember you mentioned the backlit light. Looks cool. But you should have given that rude salesman a good tongue-lashing. Don't have to give this kind of people face one.

My 32" is cool too. The Slim Lady likes it very much. She says it's so big that it almost makes her eyes pop-out. Told her to use it more often and she would get used to it as time goes :O

Shaun said...

Hey victor what model is yours? Recently bought a 40" samsung for my home for 2.9K, only HD ready i think.

Lam Chun See said...

Heh I too got 32" LCD a few months. My old CRT one spoil liao so got good excuse to splurge. Bot my from Courts in Toa Payoh. Service is so-so.

As for Chris' advice - I don't agree. Nothing to be gained. Just get yourself upset only - what for. Bloggin about it is the right thing to do.

Chris Sim said...

Well chun see, there's this saying that the service standard in Singapore will never improve as long as customers choose not to stand up to rogue or unprofessional sales staff. I'm usually a nice guy, but I would not hesitate to tell sales staff who are downright rude or dishonest off. I don't believe customers are kings, but I believe that courtesy is a two-way traffic between those being served and those who serve.

BTW, I hardly see you blog about stuff like these. Maybe you're so good-nature that nobody ever gets in your nerve (maybe Victor?? hehe). What's your other outlet? You have a punching bag or what? Heh.

Victor said...

Shaun, I bought the Philips 32PF9966. It was an outgoing model as it has been around for about 2 years. (That's why so cheap. It has since been replaced by a newer model.) However, its specs are quite good: it has ambilight and comes with hard panel. Saw your TV (and toys) and have left you a comment.

Chris, why you so liddat? Chun See already told you that his outlet is blogging already what.

Anonymous said...

Hi Victor, u might upset of your experience been attended by me, I strongly agree u should angry of my attitude I m also shame of I did these to u on that day, that's something need to be improve on my attitude but to let u know I always be a good service n information provider to all of my customer's, somehow nobody r perfect he might make any mistake due to some of reason, i not need to explain y n what happen but yr comment will help me to avoid another mistake, thing will change n make me a better salesperson in further, I can understand e level of service need to be improve cos I e person very particular of service too as when I was a customer, n thankyou for e comment.............. or u may visit my blog to know what kind of people I m Thanks.



Shaun said...

Thanks for enlightening, victor. End of the year prices should get even better, when new HD models come in. My wife and I couldn't wait, since our house was ready. Eh guys must recommend Goh Ah Bee in Hougang. Legendary. Price is average 15% off retail cos they parallel import. They've been around for more than 20yrs. best of all, delivery is free.

Victor said...

Wow, as the Chicago song goes, Baby What A BIG SURPRISE!!! It is an even bigger surprise than when my long-lost primary school classmate Mr Ong commented on my recent post.

Yesterday, I went to J8 at about 8 pm while waiting to pick up my son from school and I met Mr Alan Teo again. I told him I blogged about my good shopping experience with him and gave him my blogsite address. I also told him about my experience at Parkway Parade. But look who has turned up at my blog instead! It must be Alan who squealed on me. (Alan, you'll pay for this.)

Bluemad, thanks for visiting my blog anyway and being man enough to admit that your service that day was er... 'a little below par'. Your apology is accepted. 知错能改,善莫大焉. I sincerely hope that henceforth you'll strive to achieve GEMS (Go that Extra Mile for Service) and succeed. I must admit that my question that day was er... 'a little insensitive to your feelings' as well. I understand that everyone has his/her bad days. Maybe that day was one of yours. I am so sorry that you lost that sale to Mr Alan Teo, your colleague at J8. (That should be proof enough that I am not that difficult a customer and that I do appreciate and acknowledge good service when I experience it.)

By the way, did you shave off your moustache (and goatie)? If not, may I strongly suggest that you do it and start from a brand new slate? I would also advice a change in nick from 'bluemad' to say 'coolnice'? I may be just guessing here - maybe your nick has something to do with why you suddenly turned blue and mad that day?

Last but not least, Chun See, the wise (old) man is proven right once again - blogging is certainly more effective than shouting back. Don't forget that with blogging, both good and bad things may come back to you, even after 38 years.

Anonymous said...

Alan s not e 1 who give me yr blog to me, by e way may I ask did Alan told u where e LCD made from?

Victor said...

Alan said that for model 32PF9966, the parts were from Belgium but the TV was assembled in China. According to him, this set's LCD panel was the last batch that was made by Philips itself. The successor model 32PF9531 is all made in China. Moreover it's LCD panel is soft panel (to cut cost) - that's why they can price it at under $3,000.

Are you implying that Alan may not have been completely honest with me? He may be visiting this blog anytime soon and I can verify what he said. Even if he doesn't visit, I can still visit him at the shop and 找他算账。

Anonymous said...

no comment of what he say to u, I juz want 2 understand how e other salesman, to b compare e knowledge they know n kind of info provide by them n able 2 improve on my service n knowledge in individual.

Anonymous said...

Hi Victor

I have the same lcd tv as you (Phillips 32PF9966) and I am looking for the stand that comes with it. If you have wall mounted your tv, would you consider selling the stand to me? Thanks a lot!

Please email me at yenchenyeo@gmail.com

Victor said...

Hi Mr Yeo. Thanks for leaving a comment on my blog. So sorry that I still need my TV stand. I have replied you via email.