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John Lewis should know better....shouldn't they?

LicensedTaximan

Well-known Member
I wasn't quite sure where to post this, but as it's not specific to a piece of hardware but rather a situation that occurred in one of John Lewis stores I felt this was the best place to recall my little story.

Ok....my last fare of the day (Sat 11th June 2011) was in Maida Vale an area which is sort of slightly northish central London. Great I thought to myself, from here I can head home (Barnet area) through a little bit of Kilburn and then through West Hampstead (to miss out crap traffic through Kilburn High Road and Cricklewood Broadway...ok knowledge Of London lesson over) and then go via Hendon Way to Brent Cross (as opposed to Golders Green, Finchley and home) and i'll pop my nose into the BX branch of John Lewis, doing this would enable me to have a gander at the Panasonic VT30 series. I had phoned up a couple of evenings prior to check that they had one on display and in fact they had a 55 incher, and although I was only interested in the 50 inch model it would enable me to see the set "in the flesh" as it were. When I got there and saw the tv, and very nice it is to, I asked to speak to an assistant. Now as many of you may know with the VT20 series there were problems with "floating blacks" and the "50 hz bug", there were a couple of other things as well but we'll concentrate on these two as they were the main noticable problems on this series.

When I got a Mr assistant, which was quick, I explained about these problems on the VT 20 range, which on the VT30 (floating blacks) had been either minimised or eradicated and he gave me a very strange look as if to say er...are you making racist comments :confused: and then said "I'll take your word for it sir" :eek:. Then when I mentioned about the "50 hz bug" his eyes started to change sockets, and once again it met with a reply "well it's the first I have heard of these things, but if you want to look at the models we have i'll leave you to it"...:suicide: :facepalm:. But what made me walk out with itchy teeth was somebody within ear distance was buying a 3d enabled tv and the sales assistant said "....and of couse you'll need to buy a high speed 3d enabled HDMI lead otherwise you won't get the 3d". :eek: :eek: How much, I wonder, would one of these super duper 3d enabled HDMI leads cost £££'s i'll warrent. As many forumites know a lowish (well made) hdmi lead at around £8 per metre will work fine. Yes you can get them for less but personally I would start to question the construction quality.

Now I know that JL isn't a specialised place like a dedicated av shop but given their position of trust with the general public, as against the likes of Currys, Comet et al, you would think that their sales personel would (and should) be better informed. And given the VT and the GT series are hardly cheap products they were not conversant with the (well known) past problems, well not at the BX branch. Maybe they need to log on to AV Forums or have a word with either Phil or Steve. Either way their buyer has not ordered any 50 inch models (at present) of the VT 30 series only 55 and upwards at this branch so he was not even able to give me a price on that size. :( Maybe JL's buyer considers people living within a few miles of Brent Cross are all rich and have big houses. Yes I know i'm looking at an expensive replacement tv, but the old one we just disposed of was a 19 year old crt one, and no we don't have a big house, well not that big. By the way I only wanted a price on the 50 inch version and I haven't made my mind up who I will be buying it from. Probably not JL as they don't sell this size (yet)....plus it won't be for a couple of months yet as i'm still saving up for it.

Now some of you out there may feel that i'm being too harsh on JL regarding the tv debacle, but the situation with the hdmi lead is totally out of order. Even if they sell one of their own makes it will be a darn site more than a perfectly good cable from any of the "assured advertisers" on these forums. Anyway rant over...but what do you think?
 
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I don't even understand those issues. At the end of the day they are sales people who have targets. They are not going to know every little spec of every product or give you advice based on experience with the product. All they would do is state the returns policy and thats about it.

Selling a high priced cable will probably get them a bigger bonus than selling the most expensive TV in the store.
 

Trollslayer

Distinguished Member
How about contacting them, explaining why you aren't purchasing from them and suggesting additional training?
 

LicensedTaximan

Well-known Member
I don't even understand those issues. At the end of the day they are sales people who have targets. They are not going to know every little spec of every product or give you advice based on experience with the product. All they would do is state the returns policy and thats about it.

Selling a high priced cable will probably get them a bigger bonus than selling the most expensive TV in the store.
"Those issues", the floating blacks and 50 hz bug, have been well documented on these forums and elsewhere and are known problems. As for the sales personel whilst I appreciate your comments JL's name imparts trust. Therefore given JL's standing in the departmental world, well in the UK at least, one would expect them to know a little more about the product they are selling as opposed to other comparable departmental style electrical retailers. As regarding the hdmi lead the point i'm making is any half decent hdmi lead will do the "3d" trick and to say one needs a special one is complete rubbish. But I do accept your comment regarding targets and personal with bonuses, shared or otherwise.
 
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Inked

Distinguished Member
You realise that product training is generally done by the manufacturer, and that JL partners are encouraged to sell up just like any other store. Also BX don't have their own buyer, JL as a whole only stock the 55" VT30 at the moment, if and when the company decide to stock the 50" it will be available through all stores, no matter their location.
 

LicensedTaximan

Well-known Member
How about contacting them, explaining why you aren't purchasing from them and suggesting additional training?

The first point is down to (this branch at least anyway) not stocking the 50 inch version and I did tell the sales man that I was only interested in that size. Now if more people come into this branch for the 50 inch model they may change their policy on that size.

As regards the second point no matter how nicely one puts in a suggestion regarding getting more informed sales people it's usually met with "yes sir or madam" and things rarely change. I've done this in the past with other electrical retailers and having gone back into the shop some time later the same situation still exists.
 
"Those issues", the floating blacks and 50 hz bug, have been well documented on these forums and elsewhere and are known problems. As for the sales personel whilst I appreciate your comments JL's name imparts trust. Therefore given JL's standing in the departmental world, well in the UK at least, one would expect them to know a little more about the product they are selling as opposed to other comparable deparmental style electrical retailers. As regarding the hdmi lead the point i'm making is any half decent hdmi lead will do the,3d, trick and to say one needs a special one is complete rubbish. But I do accept your comment regarding targets and personal (or shared) bonuses.
Thats right but the issue is only on a selected brand that JL sell. Most stores don't even give out any training on product knowledge.

According to JL website:

To watch 3D in your home you'll require a 3D ready TV, a 3D source such as Sky 3D or a 3D compatible blu-ray player, 3D glasses for your TV set and a compatible HDMI cable to transfer the 3D signal to your TV.
It then points to a list of HDMI cables. JL is also listing HDMI cables as being "(3DTV) HDMI" and also then HDMI. So if I was getting a 3DTV I would then need a 3DTV HDMI cable.
 

Tempest

Distinguished Member
JL Pay employ their staff, normal people like you and me in their stores to sell the items the buyers select for the stores.
The employees and not paid by some type of public service watchdog, mixed with independent reviews.
They are in the store, being paid to do as job for the company paying them, and that job is to sell as much merchandise, to the public as possible.
They won't be paid to give person (off the record) private advice to the public.

If I employed a man to sell HDMI leads for me, and I found out he was telling customers not to buy the expensive leads, but to buy the ones for a fiver, perhaps even the ones next door, then I'd be calling my employee into the office and possibly giving him a verbal warning for losing me and the company money.

I do actually know what you mean, but the people are, like you and me, being paid to do a job, and that job will be too sell as much high priced goods to as many customers as possible to get the most profit for the firm.
Many may also be on some system that they have to meet sales quota's and will get into trouble for not selling enough "value"

Not a job I'd want.
 

Jenn

Novice Member
I know people like to knock sales people because somehow in a department store they're meant to be specialists of everything sold, down to the very model version, but (not saying he definitely knew this) ...

Version 1.4

HDMI 1.4 was released on May 28, 2009, and the first HDMI 1.4 products were available in the second half of 2009.[55][111] HDMI 1.4 increases the maximum resolution to 4K × 2K (3840×2160p at 24 Hz/25 Hz/30 Hz and 4096×2160p at 24 Hz, which is a resolution used with digital theaters); an HDMI Ethernet Channel (HEC), which allows for a 100 Mb/s Ethernet connection between the two HDMI connected devices; and introduces an Audio Return Channel (ARC), 3D Over HDMI, a new Micro HDMI Connector, expanded support for color spaces, with the addition of sYCC601, Adobe RGB and Adobe YCC601; and an Automotive Connection System.[55][112][113][114][115] HDMI 1.4 supports several stereoscopic 3D formats including field alternative (interlaced), frame packing (a full resolution top-bottom format), line alternative full, side-by-side half, side-by-side full, 2D + depth, and 2D + depth + graphics + graphics depth (WOWvx),[52][116][117] with additional top/bottom formats added in version 1.4a . HDMI 1.4 requires that 3D displays support the frame packing 3D format at either 720p50 and 1080p24 or 720p60 and 1080p24.[117] High Speed HDMI 1.3 cables can support all HDMI 1.4 features except for the HDMI Ethernet Channel.[52][116][117]

HDMI 1.4a was released on March 4, 2010 and adds two additional mandatory 3D formats for broadcast content, which was deferred with HDMI 1.4 in order to see the direction of the 3D broadcast market.[118][119] HDMI 1.4a has defined mandatory 3D formats for broadcast, game, and movie content.[118] HDMI 1.4a requires that 3D displays support the frame packing 3D format at either 720p50 and 1080p24 or 720p60 and 1080p24, side-by-side horizontal at either 1080i50 or 1080i60, and top-and-bottom at either 720p50 and 1080p24 or 720p60 and 1080p24.[119]
 

LicensedTaximan

Well-known Member
I take all your comments on board and I accept most of them. Let's face it I started this thread to garner what other people would say about the situation, and if I didn't expect the odd knock or two then I wouldn't have opened this discussion / thread. It just niggles me when premium products are being sold, especially in a well trusted store like JL and the product knowledge is somewhat lacking.

One has to also bear in mind that the Panasonic VT30 series is a high priced and therefore premium product that will be purchased mainly by enthusiasts. This is not only for its picture quality but also for its built in and reasonably extensive callibration controls and also THX certification which will mean diddly squat to most consumers. This model series (whilst not replacing the famed Pioneer Kuro brand and its black levels, yet, but comes apparently pretty darn close even though the Pioneers are around two years old or so now defunct) are now the nearest plasma display to that marque. So I do feel that some degree of VT30 knowledge shoud be present. Let's hope the VT30 series doesn't suffer from "rising black levels" as the VT20's did.......oh no what have I started. :eek: Oh well hey ho it was worth the banter. ;)
 

Tempest

Distinguished Member
I may be wrong, but are not Salespeople in these stores given like an A4 Printout of each item that's been written up for them to learn with relevant information about each item. So they are in effect learning a script, and ideally each salesperson, no matter which one you pick, should be able to give you the same information.
 

Inked

Distinguished Member
Tempest said:
I may be wrong, but are not Salespeople in these stores given like an A4 Printout of each item that's been written up for them to learn with relevant information about each item. So they are in effect learning a script, and ideally each salesperson, no matter which one you pick, should be able to give you the same information.
Not in JL
 

Demon Luci

Distinguished Member
I wasn't quite sure where to post this, but as it's not specific to a piece of hardware but rather a situation that ocurred in one of John Lewis stores I felt this was the best place to recall my little story.

Ok....my last fare of the day (Sat 11th June 2011) was in Maida Vale an area which is sort of slightly northish central London. Great I thought to myself, from here I can head home (Barnet area) through a little bit of Kilburn and then through West Hampstead (to miss out crap traffic through Kilburn High Road and Cricklewood Broadway...ok knowledge Of London lesson over) and then go via Hendon Way to Brent Cross (as opposed to Golders Green, Finchley and home) and i'll pop my nose into the BX branch of John Lewis, doing this would enable me to have a gander at the Panasonic VT30 series. I had phoned up a couple of evenings prior to check that they had one on display and in fact they had a 55 incher, and although I was only interested in the 50 inch model it would enable me to see the set "in the flesh" as it were. When I got there and saw the tv, and very nice it is to, I asked to speak to an assistant. Now as many of you may know with the VT20 series there were problems with "floating blacks" and the "50 hz bug", there were a couple of other things as well but we'll concentrate on these two as they were the main noticable problems on this series.

When I got a Mr assistant, which was quick, I explained about these problems on the VT 20 range, which on the VT30 (floating blacks) had been either minimised or eradicated and he gave me a very strange look as if to say er...are you making racist comments :confused: and then said "I'll take your word for it sir" :eek:. Then when I mentioned about the "50 hz bug" his eyes started to change sockets, and once again it met with a reply "well it's the first I have heard of these things, but if you want to look at the models we have i'll leave you to it"...:suicide: :facepalm:. But what made me walk out with itchy teeth was somebody within ear distance was buying a 3d enabled tv and the sales assistant said "....and of couse you'll need to buy a high speed 3d enabled HDMI lead otherwise you won't get the 3d". :eek: :eek: How much, I wonder, would one of these super duper 3d enabled HDMI leads cost £££'s i'll warrent. As many forumites know a lowish (well made) hdmi lead at around £8 per metre will work fine. Yes you can get them for less but personally I would start to question the construction quality.

Now I know that JL isn't a specialised place like a dedicated av shop but given their position of trust with the general public, as against the likes of Currys, Comet et al, you would think that their sales personel would (and should) be better informed. And given the VT and the GT series are hardly cheap products they were not conversant with the (well known) past problems, well not at the BX branch. Maybe they need to log on to AV Forums or have a word with either Phil or Steve. Either way their buyer has not ordered any 50 inch models (at present) of the VT 30 series only 55 and upwards at this branch so he was not even able to give me a price on that size. :( Maybe JL's buyer considers people living within a few miles of Brent Cross are all rich and have big houses. Yes I know i'm looking at an expensive replacement tv, but the old one we just disposed of was a 19 year old crt one, and no we don't have a big house, well not that big. By the way I only wanted a price on the 50 inch version and I haven't made my mind up who I will be buying it from. Probably not JL as they don't sell this size (yet)....plus it won't be for a couple of months yet as i'm still saving up for it.

Now some of you out there may feel that i'm being too harsh on JL regarding the tv debacle, but the situation with the hdmi lead is totally out of order. Even if they sell one of their own makes it will be a darn site more than a perfectly good cable from any of the "assured advertisers" on these forums. Anyway rant over...but what do you think?
They probably couldn't care less about "floating blacks" TBH. These aren't exactly the highest paid workers in the world but I always find JL staff to be courteous and helpful. If you want in depth technical knowledge you should go to a specialist not a department store :lesson:
 

Tempest

Distinguished Member
Not in JL
So, how does it work?

If they don't supply their staff with what they wish their staff to pass onto the customers, do they expect each member of sales staff to go off individually and investigate and gen up of every item they sell from computers, through TV, Toasters, Microwaves etc?

In their free time?
 

Ed Selley

AVF Reviewer
I take all your comments on board and I accept most of them. Let's face it I started this thread to garner what other people would say about the situation, and if I didn't expect the odd knock or two then I wouldn't have opened this discussion / thread. It just niggles me when premium products are being sold, especially in a well trusted store like JL and the product knowledge is somewhat lacking.

One has to also bear in mind that the Panasonic VT30 series is a high priced and therefore premium product that will be purchased mainly by enthusiasts. This is not only for its picture quality but also for its built in and reasonably extensive callibration controls and also THX certification which will mean diddly squat to most consumers. This model series (whilst not replacing the famed Pioneer Kuro brand and its black levels, yet, but comes apparently pretty darn close even though the Pioneers are around two years old or so now defunct) are now the nearest plasma display to that marque. So I do feel that some degree of VT30 knowledge shoud be present. Let's hope the VT30 series doesn't suffer from "rising black levels" as the VT20's did.......oh no what have I started. :eek: Oh well hey ho it was worth the banter. ;)
The catch here is that JL can't (or at least don't seem to) allocate staff purely to "premium" lines. A given staff member might spend less than 5% of their total working week anywhere near a VT30. You could argue that for John Lewis to get the most bang for buck from staff, they ought to devote their training time to lower price gear.

When I think about it, I can really only think of three dealers I've met* who have a genuinely encyclopedic knowledge of every facet of every product they sell. They are all two channel and if you have to ask, you can't afford it :laugh:. I think JL are doing the best they can.

*There are probably more- I simply haven't met them yet.
 

Jon P

Active Member
So, how does it work?

If they don't supply their staff with what they wish their staff to pass onto the customers, do they expect each member of sales staff to go off individually and investigate and gen up of every item they sell from computers, through TV, Toasters, Microwaves etc?

In their free time?
That about sums it up! they have recently set up a generic overview of the tec but nothing specific. it's then down to manufacturer reps to pass on specific info and no reps are going to point out the negatives on their sets. For one there's not enough time to go through all the flaws ;) If they don't know it they'll normally admit it though unlike most other stores. This is surely more reassuring than all those sales assistants that come out with all sorts of garbage just to secure a sale.
 
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LicensedTaximan

Well-known Member
They probably couldn't care less about "floating blacks" TBH. These aren't exactly the highest paid workers in the world but I always find JL staff to be courteous and helpful. If you want in depth technical knowledge you should go to a specialist not a department store :lesson:
My main reasons for going there was.....
1. It was on the way home.
2. They had one on display so I could have a look see.
3. I wanted to ask how much a 50 incher would cost (including their 5 well really four year extented warrenty..the first year is a manufacturers one) but they don't sell (at the mo) the 50 inch one, so no price could be given.
And 4. My little rant was in no way directed to any sales person not being discourteous, he was quite polite when he said he would leave me alone to peruse the models. I think he was just a little bit fed up with me, :rolleyes:, I don't blame him I probably would be. ;)
 
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Inked

Distinguished Member
So, how does it work?

If they don't supply their staff with what they wish their staff to pass onto the customers, do they expect each member of sales staff to go off individually and investigate and gen up of every item they sell from computers, through TV, Toasters, Microwaves etc?

In their free time?
Staff are given overall sales training, but any product training is carried out by manufacturers and is then shared to staff that haven't attended the training. For the most part product spec is on the internal computer systems.

What you need to remember is that JL are selling to the mass public, most of whom do not care about the intricacies of tech like AVForum members do. Most people that I sold tvs to over the years were more bothered by what colour the tv was than how well it could reproduce colours.
 
My main reason for going there was.....
1. It was on the way home.
2. They had one on display so I could have a look see.
3. I wanted to ask how much a 50 incher would cost (including their 5 well really four year extented warrenty..the first year is a manufactures one) but they don't sell (at the mo) the 50 inch one.
And 4. My little rant was in no way directed to any sales person not being discourteous, he was quite polite when he said he would leave me alone to peruse the models. I think he was a bit fed up with me, :rolleyes:, I don't blame him. ;)
I see your point. That's the only reason I go into any store is to actually have a look at something. I remember being in a Richer Sounds store and watching some bloke test some TV's with his test patterns.

Extended warranty can and be taken out on the last day of the first year and not at the time of purchase. So no its not four year if you do it that way. Some places offer a refund on the cover if you never use it.
 

Tempest

Distinguished Member
Oh yes, I fully understand that Sales staff should not be expected to know anything more than basic info.
To be honest, I don't personally expect sales staff to know anything. All I require of sales staff is to help me to buy the item I've picked and take my money, ideally giving me a discount would help.

I'm afraid, I take a rather bad view, and I know it's bad, in that, whilst pleasant, they will say anything to make a sale. Hence I don't use their services as such.

When I go to a store, unless it's something VERY basic like a toaster, I'll already know what I want before I go in. Of course, visual appeal I will decide myself in store.

I don't mind general chat to a store member, and always very polite and jokey with them, but certainly would never take their advice on buying anything expensive.
 

richard plumb

Distinguished Member
They probably couldn't care less about "floating blacks" TBH. These aren't exactly the highest paid workers in the world but I always find JL staff to be courteous and helpful. If you want in depth technical knowledge you should go to a specialist not a department store :lesson:
never mind how highly paid they are. I expect most normal consumers don't know or care about floating blacks either. The VT20 is still a great TV for them, and its only enthusiasts that would worry about it. I expect most of those will buy online anyway? There simply is no point trying to cater for you as you'll almost always know more than a sales guy, even in a specialist shop. do your research, and then use a retail store to check how it looks in the flesh, how the remote feels in your hand, consider how you'll mount it on your wall etc. If the use of the retail store has helped in your decision to buy, then consider buying it from them if the price isn't ridiculous.
 

LicensedTaximan

Well-known Member
never mind how highly paid they are. I expect most normal consumers don't know or care about floating blacks either. The VT20 is still a great TV for them, and its only enthusiasts that would worry about it. I expect most of those will buy online anyway? There simply is no point trying to cater for you as you'll almost always know more than a sales guy, even in a specialist shop. do your research, and then use a retail store to check how it looks in the flesh, how the remote feels in your hand, consider how you'll mount it on your wall etc. If the use of the retail store has helped in your decision to buy, then consider buying it from them if the price isn't ridiculous.
Basically you have nailed my opinion on the head. I wouldn't want to buy a tv set like the VT30 through the web being an expensive and effectively an enthusiasts type display. But you are correct in that one reads the reviews from a reliable source such as these forums, and tested by known experts (in AV Forums instance by Phil Hinton and Steve Withers et al) then see it "in the flesh" at some outlet. Then when you can find an establshment your happy with for service and price go for it.
 
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Tempest

Distinguished Member
To be fair, if you want to go and discuss the finer tech points about any product, then you are better going to a very specialist small shop where they people there know the limited range of products inside and out. Not a general high street electrical retail store.
It would be like me wanting to talk about the finer points of the way a food was processed in Adsa.
 

Mister Stabilit

Standard Member
It is not a massive surprise to find that the staff in a large department store do not have very deep knowledge. It should be possible to get such people, people who do spend their spare time reading up on such things, but that takes a focused effort from the HR department.

Most of JL's sales probably do come from people that do trust the brand and probably won't go to specialist stores, but they do risk missing some more technically savvy customers.

However, relying on a trusted brand cuts two ways. If you spend two grand on a telly and then find out that they sold you a 30 quid cable, by lying to you about needing it, you'll probably go somewhere else when you next want to buy a two grand telly, and you'll probably also tell your other two grand telly buying mates.
 

Tempest

Distinguished Member
It is not a massive surprise to find that the staff in a large department store do not have very deep knowledge. It should be possible to get such people, people who do spend their spare time reading up on such things, but that takes a focused effort from the HR department.

Most of JL's sales probably do come from people that do trust the brand and probably won't go to specialist stores, but they do risk missing some more technically savvy customers.

However, relying on a trusted brand cuts two ways. If you spend two grand on a telly and then find out that they sold you a 30 quid cable, by lying to you about needing it, you'll probably go somewhere else when you next want to buy a two grand telly, and you'll probably also tell your other two grand telly buying mates.
The problem is, You may very well have a person interest in TV,s and perhaps Projectors, but as you going to spend your free time learning about how good the windings are on a particular motor, in a particular brand of washing machine?

As I said yesterday, a sales guy is paid to sell, to lie if needed, and when I say lie I don't mean lie as such, but hold back his personal knowledge.

Can you imagine this:

Well, Mr Tempest, I see your sales figures were pretty low yesterday.
Yes, sorry, I did see a few people who wanted to buy some 50" TV's but I told them the models we have are the ones that suffer from poor black levels and the new models we don't have yet, would be the ones to get.
I also said if they order online they will be protected by the distance selling regs, so if they get a dead pixel they can return it, which they can't do if they buy for us here.
So they thanked me and left. :)
 

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