Those who have read my blog that is published on the web site of my Toronto office space at Telsec, know that I try to tie in a plug about my small office rental at the end of each blog. This time I can not be more sincere about my thankfulness of having a great Toronto office business centre that has modern office equipment (including the ability to print 11” x 17” documents) without the hassles of ownership of these pieces of equipment. Being able to use this equipment on an as needed basis, sure saves me from having to go buy it from “farmer Bob” or “Skippy”.

How hard can it be to shop for a printer, pretty hard when you get the sales people I did this weekend at 2 of the stores I visited in Belleville today. Yesterday I went down to Belleville to visit my first in-laws and to help them out with some computer issues, like I do on a regular basis. The last time I was down two weeks ago, I helped them buy a new computer that was powerful enough to run some high end architecture software. We got a great deal on a new computer that runs 64 bit version of Windows 7. This new computer was really fast and everything worked great with it, except for one of their printers. The printer used a serial port to USB connection that would not work with Windows 7 and this new computer did not come with a serial port.

After trying a few things that others had suggested to me, we gave up and decided to look for a replacement printer that was Windows 7 64 bit compatible. Today we went to 2 different stores in search of a replacement printer and were really shocked by the lack of product knowledge of the sales people.

In the first store, the sales guy “Farmer Bob” (who had a strong aroma of sheep) did not even know what 11” X 17” paper was, but tried to assure us that all of the printers they sold were capable of any type of paper. When I showed him the size of the paper, he suggested folding it in half to put it through the printer. That is when I knew he was not someone I wanted to buy a printer or any other computer equipment from. I would be afraid if I asked this guy for some RAM, he would have gone into the back and came back with a sheep. Even the soldier on his way to Trenton to head over to Afghanistan walked out when this guy tried to sell him a 22” purple laptop, when all he was looking for was a small netbook.

We went across the road to another major store and who pulled in behind us, that same soldier looking for a netbook. We went to look at the printers ourselves and the soldier went straight to a sales guy in a blue shirt (manager). We found two printers that were clearly labelled as being able to print on 11” x 17” paper. The first one was a “4 in one” multifunctional printer for $279, but it had small ink cartridges which meant more changing of cartridges more often. Across the aisle was the same brand as we were looking to replace, but a newer version.

There were no boxes to look at and only display models with limited description of the product, we now needed a sales guy to give us some important answers. Then along came “Skippy” the junior sales guy in the red polo shirt and black shorts (guess he did not get the memo that the day before was the last day of summer). He was so happy to want to help us, it was creepy. I told Skippy that we were looking for more information on this particular printer and wanted to make sure it was 64 bit Windows 7 compatible and wanted to see the size and specs on the ink cartridges. Skippy marched us over to the cartridge area and read the box that gave the estimated page count, this was satisfactory. But Skippy went on to try to tell us that these numbers were just estimates based on some 10% something … dude you gave us the information move on with the next question… but he kept reading the box and the differences between the print yield of the black vs that of the other three colour cartridges… again dude, we are sold!

I told Skippy that we now just needed to make sure of the Windows 7 compatibility. He went to check the manufacturers website and left us for about 5 minutes. When he returned to inform us he could not get on the manufactures website as it had crashed. I suggested that the answer would be on the box and we were 99% going to buy it, so we would need him to bring us one anyway. Here is where Skippy gets really funny. He goes to the back in search of one of the four listed in inventory on their computer. Ten minutes later Skippy reappears with a box. He tells us that the box does not say it is Windows 7 compatible, he was able to get another associate to pull more information off a website that said it was.

Great, we will buy it! That is when Skippy tells us the box he brought out was one that had been returned with a broken paper drawer. He was not able to find one of the four good ones the computer said they had in stock. He asked us if we wanted him to continue to look, but quickly reminded us that he was off in 5 minutes. Yes, please go look, we want to buy one. About 10 minutes later, a manager in a blue shirt came up to us and asked us if we needed any help. I told her that Skippy was looking for a printer for us. As I said this I noticed him down the way leaning against a counter talking to someone (with his jacket on). I said to the manager, “yeah, Skippy (real name) is looking for a printer for us” pointing at him. She walked down to him and he quickly took off his jacket and ran over to tell us that he spent the last five minutes of his shift looking for the printer but could not find one. It seems Skippy had forgotten to come back to tell us he could not find it, but instead punched the clock and was ready to leave.