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A Cautionary Tale About A 1st HDTV Purchase

Before attending HTSA’s “Sumptuous Social” in Sunny Isles Beach, Fla., I made a side trip to northern Florida last weekend to visit a couple who are old friends and transplanted New Yorkers.

Recently I advised them both about buying their first flat-screen HDTV and Blu-ray player, which they did about a month ago.

This is a cautionary tale that retailers should not assume everyone knows everything about HDTV just because the digital TV transition began last year.

When I got in on Saturday my friend put the Masters golf tournament on his new 50-inch set, but the picture didn’t look quite right.  I just thought the problem was with the cable company and then got distracted as their daughter and more friends came over.

The next morning my friend and I checked out ESPN for highlights and the picture still wasn’t right. I checked the resolution being received on the set and it was 480i. Yes, they have an HD box, so that wasn’t the problem.

He called the cable company and I spoke to the service person on the line. The first thing he said was, “Is the cable box connected to the TV by an HDMI cable?”

No it wasn’t. We went out later to buy an HDMI cable — not at the store he bought the set, but a nearby Target — and the problem was solved.

They told me that when they bought the flat panel it was a floor model and no HDMI cable was included, but the salesperson suggested they buy an HDMI cable for the Blu-ray deck.

But why didn’t the “sales associate” at the CE store they bought the set from suggest another HDMI cable?

I heard plenty of reasons and criticisms when I related the story to HTSA members on Monday, but the bottom line is this: poor salesmanship.

Not only did they lose a potential $29.99 add-on sale (or higher if they stepped them up to a more upscale brand), it could have caused them more grief down the road.

Imagine if the cable company gave them the wrong info and said the TV was to blame? A product return could have been the result.

This is another cautionary tale of a retail floor salesperson not taking the time to ask all the right questions … or not even knowing what the right questions are to ask.