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10 biggest lies of tech retailers

Tech retail is not an industry normally associated with lies, unlike insurance and financial industries. Nevertheless, as a former insider, I can assure you that, due to the common practice of imposing strict targets on sales staff, it is very common for the tech retailers to lie to their customers. Below I've listed 10 biggest lies of tech retailers that I have heard being used the most.


1: This golden-plated HDMI cable is better

If a store sells HDMI cables, usually there is a variety of them. It is not uncommon to see a cheap ordinary-looking cable next to an expensive gold-plated one and the difference in price can be as big as a factor of 10. It is easy to assume that the more expensive variety would provide very noticeable performance improvement and this is what the staff would tell you.

The truth, however, is that there would be no difference between the two. The way the digital signal is transferred through the cable ensures that you either get the picture and the sound, or you don't.

So why the sales people lie about it all the time? This is because in tech retail, large items such as computers have fairly low profit margin, while it is high on essential attachments such as cables. This is why there is an incentive to sell as many expensive cables as possible.


2: This printer only comes with enough ink for 2 pages

Most printers these days come with a full set of ink. Despite this, sales floor staff at tech stores are likely to tell you that the box only contains enough ink to print 2 pages and you will need to buy extra ink to print more. This is because most of the stores have targets for the sales staff where they are requited to sell "attachments" if a main product is being sold.

Some printers genuinely come with a trial set of ink, but those are few and far between. In any case, the box will tell you how much ink there is inside.


3: You will need to buy an extra USB cable with this wireless printer

This comes down to the same targets/incentive system as I've mentioned before. Although you usually need to purchase a printer cable for wired printer, wireless models tend to contain the USB cable inside, as it is required only once to install the drivers.

The last thing that you want to do is go home and open the packaging on the cable only to find out that there is one inside already and that you can't return the other one because of damaged packaging. As before, the box will tell you if there is a cable inside.


4: You will need extended guarantee in case it brakes

If someone would give me a penny every time a tech customer has been mis-sold extended guarantee, I would be rich. One of the most common way to mis-sell it is to make a claim that there will be no refund if the device would stop working for no obvious reasons.

Well, the truth is that manufacturer's warranty will cover such occurrence for at least a year; possibly longer. The motivation behind the lies is the same as before: shop's own extended warranty is one of the unnecessary attachments that the staff are pushed to sell.


5: Our extended guarantee covers everything

Related to the previous point, another very common way of how external guaranty is sold is by claiming that it will cover everything, even accidental damage. Many customers took this at the face value only to find out that the shop won't pay, because accidental damage is excluded by the terms and conditions. Because of these, don't rely on the store staff to tell you whether you need this extra cover. Read the small print.


6: You won't be able to tether unless you go for more expensive mobile contract

For those who don't know, tethering is when you use your mobile device as a modem to connect your PC to internet. Usually, mobile retailers have more expensive plan to enable you to do it, but this is completely unnecessary. Almost any smartphone these days has in-built tethering which is usually straight forward to set up. The only thing to watch out for is how quickly it can drain your data allowance. However, if your bundle comes with unlimited data, you should be fine. Be careful, though. The service provider may take interest in the sudden spike of data usage.


7: This big-ticket product is out of stock

This goes back to the fact that most big-ticket items are sold at low profit margin. If you have told the sales staff that you will not need any extras with the product that you are buying, it is a common practice for them to pretend that they have been in the stock room and to tell you that the item is out of stock, even when it is available. Selling such item to you without any extras would have negative effect on the personal statistics of the salesperson serving you.

The best way to avoid this is to tell the salesperson that you ate willing to buy all of those extras, only to change your mind at the checkout. After all, their performance targets are not your problem.


8: You are likely to get a virus unless you buy our AV software

How many times have you seen the posters in tech shops telling you how spookily high are your chances of being infected with a virus? And the store happens to have the best possible antivirus software to protect your devices. It is expensive, but you will be safe.

The truth is, however, that it is almost impossible to get your machine infected without any kind of user interaction. The most common way to get a virus is to open a malicious email attachment or download a file from a malicious website. The computer will never get infected just by itself. There are self-spreading malicious software called worms that looks for devices connected to the network, but even those have to be manually placed on your network in the first place to infect any of the devices on it.

There are many free alternatives to expensive premium antivirus software and most of the browsers these days come with pre-installed security features. However, prevention is better than the cure, so it is best to acquire safe web browsing habits. Cyber street wise is a good source of information regarding this.


9: 600 Hertz TV is better than 200 Hertz

It amuses me how certain product features are being sold by relying on general ignorance of scientific facts. This is the one that many salespeople themselves believe to be true. The fact is, however, that you will not be able to perceive any differences between 200 and 600 Hertz refresh rate, as both of these frequencies are well above the natural abilities of the human eye, which operates at around 100 Hertz.

So how is it possible to actually see the difference in pictures smoothness if two TVs operating at those frequencies are placed side by side? I bet you couldn't tell which one is which until you saw the ticket. Yes, you've read it right. This is an ultra-reliable trick of psychological manipulation. It works especially well when a skillful salesperson is standing next to you and tells you how hugely different the screens are. This is similar to how cults recruit new members. Don't get yourself manipulated!


10: This payment plan comes with unlimited data

This is not as common these days as it once was and most of mobile phone, tablet or portable broadband contracts genuinely come with unlimited data. However you can still buy an unlimited data plan only to find out that you can't browse the web after watching just a couple of NetFlix movies. Unsatisfied, you find the terms and conditions of your contract to find out that there is a small-print clause next to the phrase "unlimited data", which mentions "fair usage" of a few gigabytes per month. Not so unlimited after all!

Everyone knows what everyone else means until there is a problem. Not sure who said it, but this principle applies very well when purchasing an unlimited data plan. To make sure that unlimited really means what it says, carefully read the small print before signing on that dotted line.



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Posted on 26 Aug 2015



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