Maplin: world of lies

c: | f: /

A so-called “sales assistant” at Maplin or PC World is an oxymoron at best. Sometimes just a plain moron.

I don’t know where they buy the staff at places like Maplin and PC World. Seems they scour the zoos for potential employees, looking for the type of person who can connive cash from anyone, using well-placed fibs wrapped in technical jargon.

See, the other night I offered to help a local church hall make sense of their new sound system. My electrician friend installed it all and referred the church folk to me as the audio engineer.

So I turned up and began helping them through the joys of avoiding positive feedback, microphone placement, stand tips, trim, gain, and a host of other mixer-related topics. I had my work cut out for me given the combined ago of the five people there was over 300. But they got the concepts and I balanced it all for them so they had one knob to worry about in 90% of circumstances.

My job was made more difficult by the fact Maplin sold them a crappy stereo mic which was nowhere near sensitive enough for the application they required. But that wasn’t the worst part. The lady asked me if I’d mind showing them how to hook up the stereo so they could play music through the speakers.

“Sure,” I said. “Where’s the stereo? I’ll connect it up for you.”

“There,” she said, pointing past me into the cupboard.

I looked, couldn’t see anything. “Where, sorry?”

“There!” She pointed again.

“You mean this?” I said, pulling out the small, cassette-based dictaphone.

“Yes. The man at Maplins said it was what we needed.”

Silence. Then I spoke,

“The man at Maplins is off his rocker.”

(ahem, or words to that effect)

Where do these sales people get off, conning old people out of cash, selling unfit products just for the sake of a sale? A twenty quid CD player from Argos would be better than trying to coerce a dictaphone into playing something approaching the fidelity of music.

Although there are probably knowledgeable folk that do work at such places, it seems they’re eclipsed by the more prevalent genus: Dimmus Monkeyus. Just like at PC World who have never been the same in my eyes after my friend went in for a pair of 100Mb switches but there was only one on the shelf so he asked a sales assistant to see if he could find another out the back. The guy eventually came back and said,

“We haven’t got any more of those, but this’ll do the same job,” cheerily handing my friend an ADSL modem.

PC World? More like FAIL World.

2 of you gave a toss


    Just so you know adsl routers can be used in place of network switches :)

    Stef Dawson

    Sure, if you’re mad! Some more recent models can allegedly be configured to operate without the ADSL line in, but results are mixed. I tried it recently with both a Thompson and a Netgear and the outcome was unsatisfactory: they kept insisting I was “not connected to the Internet” or had “No broadband connection” and sat idle, when I was plainly telling the software I didn’t care as I wanted to just use the RJ45 ports and wireless portions as a range extender on my existing network without trailing wires up the stairs.

    For wired applications in a corporate environment — which was what my friend needed the switches for as they had an outage at work and couldn’t get a new 24-port switch in time from the preferred supplier — a proper (managed) switch is the best way to go.

    My objection with PC World/Maplin staff is that they don’t have enough basic training to recommend appropriate things they sell. The guy in question didn’t even try to find out why my friend asked for a switch, but grabbed the nearest thing with some holes in it and said it would work.

    If my friend hadn’t been savvy enough to smile politely and leave the shop empty handed, he may well have been the butt of jokes in the server room where two ADSL modems were spectacularly failing to route traffic through the building :-)

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