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Old 02-15-2013, 02:35 AM   #166
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Amazon has service? Great or otherwise? I've never noticed it. They're a mail order house with more efficient communications, and mail order doesn't provide service that competes with face to face service - so long as they face to face service doesn't suck.

[1]I work for one, and have been with it as it has grown from a small regional chain to a medium sized mult-state regional chain, and what makes us unique is service, service, and service. People will pay a little more for personal service, but only if they actually get personal service. Very few retailers know how to do that any more (or, I suspect, ever really did).
There is more to great service than just a "face-to-face" experience. Amazon makes it easy to evaluate and research products, they make it easy to return the items, even ebooks can be returned. They offer and stock almost everything. They follow up questions by e-mail quickly, quite often they even replace Kindles with broken screens -- though they wouldn't really have to do that. Their automated system can, to some extent, replace a salesperson. After I have looked at an item and didn't buy it they send follow-up mails if that item has been replaced by a newer version or reduced in price. They also suggest competitive products. Now this is all automated, but I think it is good service.

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Old 02-15-2013, 02:48 AM   #167
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Amen. It is us the not so loyal customers that danced on the grave of the mom&pops, and are now shuttering those big box stores.
Mom and pop shops were not much better on average. I've been in a few that are many times better than the big box stores (even in terms of price). I've been into many more that were inferior to big box stores in almost every respect. Notice the use of tense. While some of the inferior stores survived, many did not. A lot of the excellent stores didn't survive.

Businesses have to adapt to stay relevant. You typically get better service out of mom and pop shops these days because good service is cheap while bad service is costly. (Basically, you overcome sloth to keep customers.) Big box stores will have to adapt too, likely by becoming more efficient and improving service.
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Old 02-15-2013, 12:20 PM   #168
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There is more to great service than just a "face-to-face" experience. Amazon makes it easy to evaluate and research products,
It's rare there's more info available than what's on the package, in my experience. You can read samples of many books, yeah, but in a book store you can read a lot more of it. On electronics goods, more often than not, I have to go to Google to find the technical specs I need. Mind you, for what they do, a web based mail order outfit, they do it well, but they're inherently limited by the format.

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they make it easy to return the items, even ebooks can be returned.
It's eaiser - and certainly faster - to do so in a brick & mortar store. Again, there are inherent limitations because of the mail order format.

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They offer and stock almost everything.
So does Walmart.

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They follow up questions by e-mail quickly, quite often they even replace Kindles with broken screens -- though they wouldn't really have to do that. Their automated system can, to some extent, replace a salesperson.
Only if you want to do something they anticipated. When you step outside what they expect, they have a reputation of being hard to get to a real person who can actually fix the problem. Again, an inherent limitation to the mail order format.

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After I have looked at an item and didn't buy it they send follow-up mails if that item has been replaced by a newer version or reduced in price.
They have, fortunately, stopped spamming, and resetting preferences to turn spamming back on, like they did in their early days.

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They also suggest competitive products. Now this is all automated, but I think it is good service.
I find a recommendation from a live salesman to be far, far, infinitely more useful than a statistical analysis from a computer.
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Old 02-15-2013, 12:45 PM   #169
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It's rare there's more info available than what's on the package, in my experience. You can read samples of many books, yeah, but in a book store you can read a lot more of it. On electronics goods, more often than not, I have to go to Google to find the technical specs I need. Mind you, for what they do, a web based mail order outfit, they do it well, but they're inherently limited by the format.



It's eaiser - and certainly faster - to do so in a brick & mortar store. Again, there are inherent limitations because of the mail order format.



So does Walmart.



Only if you want to do something they anticipated. When you step outside what they expect, they have a reputation of being hard to get to a real person who can actually fix the problem. Again, an inherent limitation to the mail order format.



They have, fortunately, stopped spamming, and resetting preferences to turn spamming back on, like they did in their early days.



I find a recommendation from a live salesman to be far, far, infinitely more useful than a statistical analysis from a computer.
So, what you are saying is that you prefer buying stuff from bricks and mortar shops than from the internet. Cool. Others prefer something different.
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Old 02-15-2013, 01:55 PM   #170
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So, what you are saying is that you prefer buying stuff from bricks and mortar shops than from the internet. Cool. Others prefer something different.
Actually, no. I haven't bought a paper book in two years, though I do occasionally drop in at the local Barnes & Noble, usually while waiting for a movie to start next door.

No, my point was that Amazon may have good service for a mail order company, but that's not good service compared to a brick & mortar store. And for books, it doesn't really make a difference, because very few people interact with employees at a book store other than at the cash register. Amazon's very good at what they do, but what they do doesn't include retail service.
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Old 02-15-2013, 02:27 PM   #171
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It's rare there's more info available than what's on the package, in my experience. You can read samples of many books, yeah, but in a book store you can read a lot more of it. On electronics goods, more often than not, I have to go to Google to find the technical specs I need. Mind you, for what they do, a web based mail order outfit, they do it well, but they're inherently limited by the format.

...

I find a recommendation from a live salesman to be far, far, infinitely more useful than a statistical analysis from a computer.
My experience is that live salesmen hardly ever know WTF they're doing. Not even in the technical world. Invariably when trying to get something specialized for work I end up having to correspond with the manufacturing engineer as the salesman doesn't know anything about his own product besides collecting a commission. Which sucks because the whole point of the sales person is to provide a buffer so the engineer can do engineering, not customer support.

For consumer goods, the salesman is 99.99% of the time clueless about the product, even on technical but common items like TVs. The exception here is with photography equipment. I've been impressed by the knowledge of almost every gruff, iconoclastic photography store worker I've dealt with.

Amazon has a good bit of information if it's sold by Amazon LLC, but the 3rd party descriptions usually suck. The saving grace is that I can open up another tab and just look up the specs on Newegg, or Google, or wherever. That's not Amazon specifically, but it takes less time and effort to find what I need and comparison shop than it would by talking to a sales person
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Old 02-15-2013, 02:46 PM   #172
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My experience is that live salesmen hardly ever know WTF they're doing.
Not all that uncommon, it's true. But still, in my experience, more useful than Amazon's suggestion system, which is a waste of electrons. In my experience.

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Not even in the technical world. Invariably when trying to get something specialized for work I end up having to correspond with the manufacturing engineer as the salesman doesn't know anything about his own product besides collecting a commission. Which sucks because the whole point of the sales person is to provide a buffer so the engineer can do engineering, not customer support.
That does not sound like the sort of stuff you'd buy from Barnes & Noble, or Amazon.

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For consumer goods, the salesman is 99.99% of the time clueless about the product, even on technical but common items like TVs.
I don't shop at places like that if there's any other choice.

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The exception here is with photography equipment. I've been impressed by the knowledge of almost every gruff, iconoclastic photography store worker I've dealt with.
That's because you're talking about people who work in photography stores, I would guess, rather than people who work in, say, Best Buy, which sells the same gear for the most part, along with a zillion other things. If you want specialized knowledge, go to a specialty shop. Amazon will never equal that kind of service, nor should they even bother to try.

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Amazon has a good bit of information if it's sold by Amazon LLC, but the 3rd party descriptions usually suck. The saving grace is that I can open up another tab and just look up the specs on Newegg, or Google, or wherever. That's not Amazon specifically, but it takes less time and effort to find what I need and comparison shop than it would by talking to a sales person
If you can find what you need that way. For getting technical specs, yeah, you usually can. For an actual recommendation on what you really want, not so much, in my experience, because the manufacturer can't tell how you're going to use their stuff, only how they expect you to.

The bottom line is, retail service isn't always what you want or need, but when it is, a mail order store with a web page isn't going to provide it.
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Old 02-15-2013, 02:55 PM   #173
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Actually I was thinking of those audio stores that 'specialize' in audio equipment. They can almost never tell me what kind of construction the speaker is using or why I should give a $hit about Dolby Pro-Codec #1234.

Likewise with the Home Theater type stores with TVs. They can wax nostalgic about 240 Hz for football but can't explain the how the 'blacks' are measured when this TV has deeper blacks.

In short, I expect someone trying to sell me something to be an expert. And they hardly ever are. No wonder I go for do-it-yourself low prices.
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Old 02-15-2013, 07:30 PM   #174
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Actually I was thinking of those audio stores that 'specialize' in audio equipment. They can almost never tell me what kind of construction the speaker is using or why I should give a $hit about Dolby Pro-Codec #1234.

Likewise with the Home Theater type stores with TVs. They can wax nostalgic about 240 Hz for football but can't explain the how the 'blacks' are measured when this TV has deeper blacks.

In short, I expect someone trying to sell me something to be an expert. And they hardly ever are. No wonder I go for do-it-yourself low prices.
Some industries are notorious for unskilled sales people. Usually the ones that focus too much on money, and deal with customers that are often gullible and will gobble down any snake oil they're offered. Audiophiles and tv-philes are notably among them, in general. (Clearly, you're not typical for those markets, or you wouldn't be asking those sorts of questions.)
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Old 02-16-2013, 04:28 AM   #175
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It's eaiser - and certainly faster - to do so in a brick & mortar store. Again, there are inherent limitations because of the mail order format.
I disagree, actually. Mail order certainly has the advantage of being delivered right to my doorstep. That's a huge plus in convenience, and if I don't like a particular book (it happens, if not very often) I'll return it for free within 7 or so days, another thing I can't do in a B&M store.

There is another deal-changer for us here in Europe: book-price fixing. It doesn't matter where you buy your (German) books, they cost the same everywhere: friendly neighborhood store, big chain store, Amazon & Co. (Hence the free shipping, otherwise Amazon books would be more expensive than those bought in a B&M store.)

If and when I order books from Amazon & Co., it's because of their selection, and the service & convenience. Price is not a factor. (This only applies to German books. English books are not regulated, so every store can charge what they want. There are a few stores (British Bookshop etc.), but they charge an arm and a leg, i.e. practically always above the publisher-recommended retail price.)

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Old 02-16-2013, 07:32 AM   #176
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For me, and I suspect a lot of others, it's not easier or faster to return an item to a B&M store because where I work effectively means I only get to go to B&M stores at the weekend. Amazon on the other hand will send a courier to pick up the returned item from my place of work.
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Old 02-16-2013, 12:04 PM   #177
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I disagree, actually. Mail order certainly has the advantage of being delivered right to my doorstep.
Eventually.

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That's a huge plus in convenience,
Unless you need it right away.

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and if I don't like a particular book (it happens, if not very often) I'll return it for free within 7 or so days, another thing I can't do in a B&M store.
B&N doesn't take returns?

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There is another deal-changer for us here in Europe: book-price fixing. It doesn't matter where you buy your (German) books, they cost the same everywhere: friendly neighborhood store, big chain store, Amazon & Co. (Hence the free shipping, otherwise Amazon books would be more expensive than those bought in a B&M store.)
That has nothing to do with Amazon, though.

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If and when I order books from Amazon & Co., it's because of their selection,
Which is a big advantage for Amazon or any mail order house. Warehouse space is a whole lot cheaper than retail space, so you can stock a much wider variety.
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Old 02-16-2013, 12:06 PM   #178
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For me, and I suspect a lot of others, it's not easier or faster to return an item to a B&M store because where I work effectively means I only get to go to B&M stores at the weekend.
Yeah, it can be a whole lot more convenient. But that's not service, to me. Or, at least, not the entirety of it. And it was a comment on service that I questioned.

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Amazon on the other hand will send a courier to pick up the returned item from my place of work.
How many books to people return? I don't think I've ever returned a book in my life. Nor would I, unless it were defective.
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Old 02-16-2013, 01:00 PM   #179
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Eventually.
Yes. We're talking about 3 days, or so. I like instant gratification as much as the next man, but I can wait that long for my pbooks to arrive, especially if the alternative means to take time to drive to the nearest book store, with no guarantees that the book I want will be available. But hey, whatever works for you.

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B&N doesn't take returns?
I wouldn't know, but European book stores don't, as a rule, and if they do you only get store credit.

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That has nothing to do with Amazon, though.
I never said it did.
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Old 02-16-2013, 05:55 PM   #180
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I find a recommendation from a live salesman to be far, far, infinitely more useful than a statistical analysis from a computer.
This is probably correct, although I find neither of them to be very useful. Typically, I can find the best answers to my questions on the internet generally, which means that the 1% accuracy of Amazon's recommendations or the 5% accuracy of live salesman recommendations aren't very useful in general. And it's a lot easier to find information on the internet while browsing Amazon than it is while in a B&M store, at least with respect to books, electronics, and typical consumer goods.

However, in more specialized areas, I do prefer live salespeople in certain instances. I've dealt with some very knowledgeable salespeople in outdoor/outfitting shops, for example, and (a few years ago, now), in camera shops. Particularly those salespeople who are able to provide the rarest, but most useful information: "You don't need that."
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