November 25, 2012

When you need a disk drive on a Saturday …

One of the family desktop computers developed a problem. The disk drive was failing. After tinkering with various disk repair utilities, I determined that we needed to replace the drive.

We were coming in to the Thanksgiving holiday week, with only two days of school, so I didn’t hurry to order one online. I figured I could find one at a local store, install it, and set it up over the long weekend.

When you go to Staples, you discover that the disk drive product boxes on the shelves not only do not contain disk drives, but do not even represent disk drives elsewhere in the store. The message on the box says,  Please ask an associate for assistance. I asked. I learned that they don’t keep drives in stock. They could order one if I’d like.

After a Thanksgiving dinner that couldn’t be beat and another day around the house, I thought I could pick up a drive at Best Buy and perform the aforementioned transplant.

Almost.

A kind, blue-shirted sales associate pointed out several drives of varying price and capacity. I picked out one and proceeded to the checkout counter. Best Buy in the Greendale Mall in Worcester has an entrance/exit to the mall. We figured that we’d make our purchase and walk around a bit. The checkout was staffed by another blue-shirted associate who told us that we couldn’t check out at that checkout station, that we had to go to the front of the store, the side away from the mall entrance.

Fine.

I brought the drive to the checkout. A loud, blue-shirted employee told us that we could use Register 8. The nice blue-shirted cashier took the drive and brought to another desk to remove the do-not-steal tag on the box. She brought the box back, scanned it, and waited for me to pay the $170 or so. I said that was not the price I was expecting, that the sticker on the shelf said $70. I wanted to go back to the shelf, check the price, and, if needed, pick up one that was truly the price I wanted.  The nice blue-shirted cashier told me to wait.  She told the loud blue-shirted employee who called loudly to unseen person to check the price. At this point, three people were trying to figure out if the scanner was incorrect.

There was a good chance that I’d picked up the wrong box. I was fine with that. I wasn’t fine with having to wait while they checked their inventory-scanner system. I left.

By the way, the tools on Hiren’s BootCD are very good. I was able to clean up the disk enough to muscle out the User directory tree. I have a disk on order from Amazon (next day shipping), but may be able to get a used one from a local repair guy.

This is the part that the retailers don’t get. Online shopping isn’t about price-matching. It’s about having the product I need and letting me buy it easily. A 10-year-old running a lemonade stand knows this. Staples and Best Buy, it seems, don’t.