Problems with Apr 8 strip (computer store series)

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Problems with Apr 8 strip (computer store series)

Postby Tolvor on Wed Apr 13, 2005 9:21 pm

The problem is that I really can't see it happening in real life. You worked in Staples. I worked in Best Buy for almost 2 years, and in a medium sized computer shop for 4. Anyone who works in a techshop know there are 5 kinds of people who walk thru the door.

1) Corporate and business users (or their secretairies or drones). They usually wear suits or good business wear. They walk quickly and directly to what they want, and don't pay attention to the attention-grabbing gizmos in between. They generally don't care much about price, they want it to work, and NOW. They do not want to be disturbed with a sales pitch. The good employee should be nearby ready for questions, but otherwise, don't bug them.

2) Nerds. Pretty much like the corporate types, they go directly to what they want. They only glace at the technical details on the boxes, if ever. They already know everything about what they want, and there is very little that a store drone can say that will change their minds. They DO care about money. The reason they are standing there in the aisle with an intent look isn't because the technology confuses them, they are debating whether to buy the new doodad, or eat more than raman noodles till next payday. Don't disturb.

3) Lookers. These are people who aimlessly wander the aisles with a vast confused look on their face. They only have a vague sense of what they want. They come in two flavors, the 'Some-technowizard-told-me-I-need-a-firewall-thingy', and 'Buying-a-gift-for-a-technowizard-Is-twenty-dollars-enough'. These are the people that store employees can talk to and guide their dollars to our profit. We LOVE these people. They even buy the in-store EXTENDED warrenty (woohoo)! A good store empoyee handles them carefully, never EVER giving them the impression that we think they are dumb (and they aren't), nor are we condensending.

4) Fondlers. These are people who for one reason or another want to touch the computer equipment. They are Lookers without the desire to buy. They just are in the store to kill time, or waiting on someone else. They come in three flavors, normal (they will look at every item on an aisle, examining the specs on each item), annoying (teenagers and older people who either make too much noise doing it, or need help fondling the items), and %^*&@#-ANNOYING (kids, who DROP computer equipment, and then deny it, and love rearranging your shelves). A good employee avoids this person, as they will cause you to pull you hair out

5) Annoyed. These are people who got lied to by some salesidiot last time they were here. The expensive item they bought doesn't work, or works incorrectly, or needs parts they don't have. BAD employees tell people buying home wireless networks (without boosters) that the network has no reception problems in anthing less than 500 feet (BWAHAHAHAHA, if I even find you I will hurt you bad salesidiot who did this). They are vocal, they are mad, they want your supervisor, and they want their MONEY. They will seriously consider mauling you when you tell them store policy on opened software (written in three foot letters behind the registers). A SMART store employee avoid them like they are radioactive, poisonous, and rabid.


Whats the point to this? In your cartoon you are a LOOKER "I want computer memory". A NERD would've said something like "I need some PC2100 (or whatever) memory." Something very specific.

The correct answer to "I want computer memory", is "Memory chip are thataway. What type of memory do you need?" (On nerds, just point them to the chips). BAD employee tries to tell you you don't need memory (you probably do), and is condensending.

NOW you respond with a specific answer with valid numbers "PC133, 256MB" I'll then label you a nerd until you prove otherwise. Correct response, "Let me know if you need help." MAYBE, if you look receptive, I'll ask if you are going from 256->512 system memory (the minimum for most modern systems), and whether you have noticed that it is more economical to buy 512mb memory sticks. (You *did* start with a general memory requirement, maybe you want more than 256). If I feel VERY daring I'll mention that our store has a very reasonable service of installing the memory for you (for a not so reasonable price), but only if you look somewhat confused, and still have a high LOOKER score.

But in no way would any employee try selling you whole computer systems, or software. It's just silliness. Besy Buy, Staples, and techshops have VERY clear policies on how to handle customers DELICATELY and SUBTLY. This is what confuses me. Your cartoon shows a sort of fictional store-drone (a car salesman in techgeek clothing), and then your commentary indicates that this hasn't happened once, but many times. Very very strange. It's like someone telling me every Lexus they buy is a lemon, or that the employees at McDonalds consistently give them gourmet meals. It just doesn't fit with the business model of the store.

I'm not saying it didn't / doesn't happen. Just that there had to be more to it than that. And I don't believe that it's a "OMG! A *female* just walked into hardware! I gotta talk to her!" We're too busy, and tech-savvy females just aren't so rare anymore, in fact, they are downright common. So I just don't understand why you would get incredulus look in hardware.

There is ONE exception. We do push plans. Boy, do we EVER push the plans. We have a ton of them, and guess what? They are the biggest profit potential the store can make!! We will be terminated if we don't push the plans. Supervisors walk around the store making sure the good employees are pushing plans. There are scorecards keep on display showing who has pushed the most. Don't make their lives more miserable. We hate the plans too.

Of course, your solution is to enter the store in a queen-bitch (couldn't think of another politer term) mood. Wonderful. First time you do that you'll ruin some employees day. Second time you'll start to be remembered. Around the third time, we don't want you. Shop elsewhere. We'll find out what you came for, and make sure it's out of stock somehow (as an employees sneaks the 10-15 sticks you need out of the display case). Or we will take forever to unlock the case. Or need to try every key to get it to unlock. Or simply act dumb. Or taking said memory and examining it closely to make sure it is right. Until you get the message. Shop elsewhere. Please.

What confuses me is that you worked at Staples, so you should know this.

Sorry for long rant. Its been bugging me for four days now. (whew)
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Re: Problems with Apr 8 strip (computer store series)

Postby Symok on Thu Apr 14, 2005 5:36 am

Tolvor wrote:2) Nerds. Pretty much like the corporate types, they go directly to what they want. They only glace at the technical details on the boxes, if ever. They already know everything about what they want, and there is very little that a store drone can say that will change their minds. They DO care about money. The reason they are standing there in the aisle with an intent look isn't because the technology confuses them, they are debating whether to buy the new doodad, or eat more than raman noodles till next payday. Don't disturb.


Geeks (I dislike being refered to as a nerd) not looking at all the kewl new gizmos that are out? Inconcievable! :D:lol:
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Postby bloodeye on Thu Apr 14, 2005 11:42 am

In some ways, yes, you're correct. A decent store doesn't pull crap like that. However, not all stores are decent. Many have sub-quality products, clueless employees, bad policies, apathetic managers, and all in all are not someplace anyone should be shopping at. As the experiences at these places tends to be horibally memorible, they are the ones that get talked about. At great length.
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Postby GabrielTane on Thu Apr 14, 2005 3:38 pm

mostly, i think it's the same phenomenon as a women going to a Oil-Chaning place or other auto-related shop. some (not all) employees at such venues believe that if you have boobs, you don't know what you want and/or don't know what you're doing. I can easily a see salesperson approaching a woman (especially if she's attractive) much like what was depicted in the strip.

The other thing I've seen happen is the woman who doesn't know what she's doing but has been told just enough by a knowledgable friend to think she does. Case in point... on of my ex-girlfriends. She wanted to go buy a CD Walkman. I told her that, for the most part, they are the same (this was long before all the nifty features were around). I told her to get the one that shows the best skip-protection... which was, at the time, the best feature you could get on them. I didn't go with her (had work), but she told me the experiance. She didn't have a Kestral-like event, but I feel sorry for the clerk that she asked for help. "But by boyfriend told me..."

Yeah. I'm probably cursed from that one. Meh.
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Postby Ambystoma4 on Thu Apr 14, 2005 6:14 pm

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Re: Problems with Apr 8 strip (computer store series)

Postby Aeire on Thu Apr 14, 2005 8:21 pm

Tolvor wrote:The problem is that I really can't see it happening in real life. You worked in Staples. I worked in Best Buy for almost 2 years, and in a medium sized computer shop for 4. Anyone who works in a techshop know there are 5 kinds of people who walk thru the door.


No, I worked in an Office Depot, not a Staples. I got moved around and promoted four times in the course of year, and my last postion in there was doing computer sales.

There are no TYPES of people that walk through that door. There's one type. The 'customer'. And it was MY JOB to talk to them, ask them what they needed, and help them with it if they needed help - and either help them figure out what would work best FOR THEM and SELL IT to them, or get them what they needed as quickly and politely as possible, NOT to sit there and file them into some magical 'category' of person I made up in my head. Period. Not to push product plans on them (yes, I offered them. We always had to offer them, but we didn't have a quota of the damn things to sell in a week or any of that other bullshit that some store like to hang over employees head like a fucking guillotine.), not to 'upgrade' them to some fancy system that they didn't want, didn't ask for and didn't NEED, just to make sure they got what they wanted and that when they left my goddamned store they were HAPPY and they were TAKEN CARE OF.

It's assholes like YOU with your 'rating' system that have made damn sure that I will never, EVER come into your store or give you my money. I've found a MUCH easier solution - I go to one of the local computer parts stores here in town, of which there are PLENTY, where they treat me like a HUMAN BEING and not some TARGET DEMOGRAPHIC to needlessly push shit on.

As far as *I* went, I was the best goddamned saleswoman they had in that store, and they knew it, which is why they were trying to shove me into an assistant management position at the end of my first year - I ended up leaving the company not because I was unhappy or being treated poorly, but because I simply didn't want to move into a salaried position, because I knew I'd end up working more hours for less pay if I did. I ended up leaving on good terms and with one hell of a letter of recommendation.

And as far as 'Best Buy' goes, 'best' my lily white irish ASS. I haven't shopped there in years and will continue avoiding the place because it's chock full of some of the shittiest employees and most overpriced equiptment I have ever, ever had the unpleasantness of experiencing. So you don't have to worry about my 'type' coming in your store, because it'll be a cold day in HELL before I do.
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Re: Problems with Apr 8 strip (computer store series)

Postby Aeire on Thu Apr 14, 2005 8:46 pm

One more thing:

Tolvor wrote:But in no way would any employee try selling you whole computer systems, or software. It's just silliness.


Maybe next time you should keep in mind this is a comic strip first and foremost before you start quibbling over technical details.
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Postby dqbiggerfam on Thu Apr 14, 2005 10:23 pm

Um, wow. You post in here so infrequiently, it's kinda shocking when you do.
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Postby Symok on Fri Apr 15, 2005 4:30 am



In any business there are going to be people who are satisfied, and people who have bad experiences. There are lots of people who thing PayPal sucks as well.

I've only gone to Best Buy a few times (They're fairly new in Canada - though the company that owns them now owns Future Shop as well, which I frequent) but I've never had a bad experience with them.
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Postby Ambystoma4 on Sat Apr 16, 2005 1:32 am

I used to work for them. I go there to waste time, and pick up deals on the open items. They get marked down by 10% from the previous total every Thursday. :)

That site is pretty acurrate about what the company is about.

What Tolvor is refering too is Best Buy's "Angel and Devil customer" policy. Angels are classified as people who neve send in refunds, hardly return items, and buy the service plans and accessories, also known as easy marks, suckers, pigeons. While devils are usually more "informed" consumers, or consumers who actually exercise their consumer rights.

Tolvor has just overdosed on the kool-aid Best Buy keeps in the break room.
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Postby Symok on Sat Apr 16, 2005 4:10 am

Ambystoma4 wrote:Tolvor has just overdosed on the kool-aid Best Buy keeps in the break room.


It's also increasingly likely that he was just being a troll. He has yet to make another post. :evil:
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Postby GabrielTane on Sat Apr 16, 2005 6:47 am

Tolvor, if you're still reading the fallout of your original post, I did want to interject one small point.

I think Aeire meant something like this in her adendum-post, but I wanted to voice it.

A comic, estecially one that ended in amature organ-relocation, is meant to be a hyperboly. It's meant to make a point by demostrating it at an aboslute extreme. Look at political cartoons. Same strategy.
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Clarifications

Postby Tolvor on Sat Apr 16, 2005 6:54 pm

A comic, estecially one that ended in amature organ-relocation, is meant to be a hyperboly. It's meant to make a point by demostrating it at an aboslute extreme. Look at political cartoons. Same strategy.


I thought Aerie was wrong when she said it originally, and you also are missing it. Is Doonsbury just a comic? How about Non Sequiter? Outland? Are they really just a comic? How about Dilbert? (Scott Adams got terminated for his comic. For some reason his boss (who DID have pointy hair) didn't think it was funny) Those comics are full of hyperboly and metaphor also.

Then add her commentary, which indicates that this isn't humor, rather mostly truth, and she wishes she could inflict massive pain upon them (and me, now).

It's also increasingly likely that he was just being a troll. He has yet to make another post.


Noooo... I put much thought and consideration in my post. I got stomped on hard by Aerie, and didn't respond because there was little point. The likelyhood of me getting her to understand me - zilch. And vice versa - zilch. So why continue to argue to point? I had made my point and would let it stand until there was interest for clarification from 3rd parties.

Three points I would like to clarify.

1) I never claimed Best Buy was a good store. They were somewhat bad when I worked there as a floor salesdrone. I wanted (and wanted badly) to get into computer repair. Wasn't happening. Switched to a job that did. It was a good experience, but I only got promoted twice (and meaningless, non-merited ones at that, ones everyone got), and never was a top seller (nor did I have a bad or mediocre rating either), so you win.

2) I didn't make up those classifications. Maybe my manager did, but not me. I liked it, and so remembered it. He also had the three types of emloyees (the good, the bad, and the smart), and the four types of employee mistakes (lack-of-foresight, lack-of-communication, lack-of-workethic, and lack-of-teamwork) Nope, didn't make that up either.

3) I'm sorry you don't like store classifications. Guess what? Business love it. Your credit card company classifies you (your credit limit), your grocery store classifies you (the super saver card you carry), your library (the library card), the IRS (tax day), Microsoft (in soooo many ways), RIAA, the airlines you fly AND the airport you walk thru, and your friendly police department who have an entire BOOK on classifications (NIBRS)(what kind of actor was it? What type of weapon was involved? What was the relationship from complaintant to actor?). I'm sorry you don't like it, but it's the new rule of business. Ever hear of Data mining?

Stores love classifications because big stores can expect between 200 - 1500 people entering the store an hour. There aren't enough employees to handle them all. So yes, the store does pick out those who have high potential for profit, and coddles them. Some stores have a successful business model NOT doing this, like Walmart. (shrug)
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Postby Dedigan on Sun Apr 17, 2005 1:25 am

Stores love classifications because big stores can expect between 200 - 1500 people entering the store an hour. There aren't enough employees to handle them all. So yes, the store does pick out those who have high potential for profit, and coddles them. Some stores have a successful business model NOT doing this, like Walmart. (shrug)


When I worked as a manager at a large chain toy store, I would routinely get in fights with the store director and the regional director about just this issue. Since they thought that the catagorizations were right, they would preach them every time they opened their mouth to other employees. I would preach the opposite, that everyone who walks through the door is willing to spend money unless they prove otherwise. I almost got fired over the issue, but didn't thanks to the season. At the end of the story, both of them DID get fired over the issue because their catagories did not work.

But I can't say that the strategy doesn't have its merits. For example, 99% of the time, large groups of children under 18 years old would only be in the store to cause trouble. I apologize to the last 1%, because after a while, I immediately started making them leave. Since we were in the 200-1500 customers per hour stores, we didn't have time to deal with "trouble."
So some catagorizations are mandatory.

But overcatorizations are also bad. You can look at me and see that I'm a blond haired, blue eyed caucasian male with not-perfect hair, a moderate amount of money-but not too rich, who likely knows what he's looking for in a technology store, eats well-but not too much, excercises regularly... et cetera et cetera. All of those traits (including skin color unfortunately) can put me into a catagory. But by the time some people are done catagorizing me, I'm already out of the store because they didn't TALK to me. As a customer, I like to know that the stores I buy from care about the people who shop there more than the money they spend. That means I don't shop much at large chains where I don't personally work.

And yes, a comic is just a comic. Humor can be found in truth. Especially if the truth is a desire to participate in "amateur organ relocation."
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Re: Clarifications

Postby GabrielTane on Sun Apr 17, 2005 7:57 am

Tolvor wrote:I thought Aerie was wrong when she said it originally, and you also are missing it. Is Doonsbury just a comic? How about Non Sequiter? Outland? Are they really just a comic? How about Dilbert? (Scott Adams got terminated for his comic. For some reason his boss (who DID have pointy hair) didn't think it was funny) Those comics are full of hyperboly and metaphor also.

Then add her commentary, which indicates that this isn't humor, rather mostly truth, and she wishes she could inflict massive pain upon them (and me, now).


Yeah, they are just comics. Regardless of the reaction of the reading of said comic, it's just a comic. They are not social documentaries, textbooks, historical representations. They are a (sometimes) humorus way of demostrating an observation (usually a social observation). I happen to absolutly love almost every comic in your list.... never really cared for Doonsbury or Dilbert... but they are still just comics.

My point was that you can't expect these comics to be an accurate portrayal of the subjects on which they are commenting. For example... after reading Dilbert, I don't think my boss really needs her Etch-A-Sketch shaken every time she asks for computer help. Yes, there are some higher-ups who would be better served by being restricted to a pocket calculator and a notepad instead of a computer, but the comic in my example is an exaggeration of this idea. A rather severe exaggeration in my opinion... but funny none-the-less.

That was all I was saying.

As far as Aeire's commentary...

On 4/7/05 she wrote:Originally aired 11/04/02: Oy. So this series of comics is probably one of the more popular series that I've done, because apparently it's not just me that is treated oddly when I go in looking for computer parts, it's every woman on the planet. Please, for the love of whatever - if you work at an Office Depot. Or a Fry's. Or a Circuit City, or any other retail establishment that sells computers - yes, there are girls out there that know how to put computers together. A lot of them, judging from the amount of email I got from this series. Would you just, please, make sure that we're treated like human beings when we come in? Breasts do not automatically equal brain-deadness. Please.


As I said in a previous post, it's a similar phenomenon to women going to a mechanic's shop. For whatever reason, some of these people think that because you're a woman, you don't know what you want/need and they treat you in that light... maybe by trying to sell you stuff you don't really want/need, or maybe by talking down to you (which, I think was one of the points of this first of the strips).

On 4/8/05 she wrote:Originally aired 11/06/02: And really, both Kestrel and I came to the same conclusion - the best way to get what you want in these stores is to be as bitchy as possible to the people that are getting it for you. I don't WANT to think this is the only way, and when I DO go in for computer parts I try the being pleasant and friendly approach, but I am invariably met with several return trips to the store because for whatever reason the salesperson wasn't listening when I told them what I wanted. This makes me cranky, and each return trip makes me crankier.


This comic and commenary is about how Aeire approached (both in her imagination and in reality, respectively) the problem of the salespeople she has delt with before that thought and reacted as though she didn't know what she wanted/needed. Kestral got violent, Aeire got bitchy.

As my favorite saying goes: "you can attact more flys with honey than you can with vinegar, but if you rip thier wings off, they'll eat anything you give them".

On 4/9/05 she wrote:Originally aired 11/08/02: I have not done any of the items shown in this strip. I just really, really wish I had.


Just a restatement of how she wishes she could solve such problems... hell , I'm a guy and I wish I could respond to some sales-people lke this.

Nowhere in the strips or in her commentary did Aeire say that some guy approached her in a computer store and said "That's hard stuff to do for a gal. How about we get you a nice computer that's already made. We have ones that have little flashy shiny pretty fun pictures on them - they're called 'screensavers'-" (I do believe that if you talked that way to a woman, you'd get the crap kicked out of you.) As I have made point of and (hopefully) clarified, these are just a (in my opinion, at least) humorous exaggeration of an observation. I honestly don't see where you've interpreted this as
Tolvor wrote:Then add her commentary, which indicates that this isn't humor, rather mostly truth, ...


I'm not trying to bust on you or anything, by the way. I just enjoy debates that allow me to see how people perceive things and how thier thought-process works.
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Re: Clarifications

Postby Symok on Sun Apr 17, 2005 8:08 am

Tolvor wrote:Noooo... I put much thought and consideration in my post. I got stomped on hard by Aerie, and didn't respond because there was little point. The likelyhood of me getting her to understand me - zilch. And vice versa - zilch. So why continue to argue to point? I had made my point and would let it stand until there was interest for clarification from 3rd parties.


Ahh, I understand and you have my appologies then. A simple mis understanding :) Getting such a reaction and NOT returning generally leads one to assume the reaction was all that was wanted.

Hope to see you around more, as the comentary progresses :)
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On the subject of Customer Classificatins

Postby GabrielTane on Sun Apr 17, 2005 9:30 am

Since this is a completely different point from my most previous post, I thought I'd put it in another post so that it could be viewed by itself.

Tolvor wrote:3) I'm sorry you don't like store classifications. Guess what? Business love it. Your credit card company classifies you (your credit limit), your grocery store classifies you (the super saver card you carry), your library (the library card), the IRS (tax day), Microsoft (in soooo many ways), RIAA, the airlines you fly AND the airport you walk thru, and your friendly police department who have an entire BOOK on classifications (NIBRS)(what kind of actor was it? What type of weapon was involved? What was the relationship from complaintant to actor?). I'm sorry you don't like it, but it's the new rule of business. Ever hear of Data mining?

Stores love classifications because big stores can expect between 200 - 1500 people entering the store an hour. There aren't enough employees to handle them all. So yes, the store does pick out those who have high potential for profit, and coddles them. Some stores have a successful business model NOT doing this, like Walmart. (shrug)


You're talking about two completely different types of classifications here. The 5-point list you first posted is classification based on behaviors. These classify people based in how they act and react, not on who they are. These behaviors are subject to personal observation and, therefore, personal interpretation. These cannot be quantified in any way and are therefore based solely on the observer's opinion and experience.

The classification systems you mentioned in the quote above are actually a few different types of classifications

    1)Credit limit: this is based on past performance as an individual (or some statistical modeling, in the case of new customers). You credit limit represents the risk you represent to the credit company. Again, its based on your personal financial performance. This is close to the 5-List you first posted. But the credit company doesn't treat you differently simply because you have a certain limit. How they treat you (i.e. will they waive a late-payment fee, lower your rate, etc.) is based on how you have paid your credit card(s) in the past.

    2)Grocery Store Super Saver card: this is not a classification. You, as the customer, are choosing to enroll in a premium service (premium as in 'you pay a premium for this'). When you walk through the door, you are not greeted or treated any differently because of a piece of plastic in your wallet... they don't even know about it until you check out.

    Now, I think you meant that you pay less for your groceries because of that card. Yes, you do, but you're paying a premium for that discount. It's not a classification that's based on you as a person.

    3)Library card: that's not a classification at all. Yeah you can check out books whereas someone without a card can't, but that's for tracking purposes. The library just wants to know who has their books.

    4)IRS (tax day): hmmm... sorry, I'm not sure what you meant on that one.

    5)Microsoft: Again, I'm not sure exactly where you're going with that one... there's a few ways that I could have gone with it, so I'm going to leave it alone.

    6)Airlines and Airports: still, I have points to make, but since I'm not sure what you meant by adding them to the list, I don't want to go down the one path if you went down another.

    7)Police: ah... profiling. That one is the closest thing I can see in this list to the 5-List you first posted. Yes, profiling examines observational traits and actions to group you into what kind of person you are likely be.

    At least, I assume you're talking about profiling... correct me if I'm wrong.

    8)RIAA: (yeah, i just noticed I missed this one in the order of the list... oops). Like ones above, the RIAA does a lot of things with consumer data. I'm not sure which one you meant. If you meant "what is that person likely to buy", then read on... I address that in a moment.

The ones that deal with consumer data and likelihood-to-purchase look at quantifiable facts (what did they purchase, how much do they spend, what gender are they, what race are they, etc) and then use that data to create a frighteningly-accurate prediction of your propensity to purchase the goods/service they are offering. Yeah, they screw up... some of my female-friends still get derpdrugs and penis-extension offers. But the can be spot-on.

In my employment, we have this fun little tool that analyses out customer's data (the company I work for has the nation's largest database from which to draw... not exaggerating here) and gives us a report that shows that client's propensity for purchasing certain products (and I know my company is not the only one that does this). Almost every time I ask a client "have you thought about refinancing your home?" when a refinance is listed high on their propensity list, the answer I get is "how did you know I was thinking of refinancing?"

This is miles-different from what your first 5-List did. Most of the examples of classification you used to defend your original list are not a good defense, because we're talking apples and oranges here.

Stores love classifications because big stores can expect between 200 - 1500 people entering the store an hour. There aren't enough employees to handle them all. So yes, the store does pick out those who have high potential for profit, and coddles them. Some stores have a successful business model NOT doing this, like Walmart.


This is more in-line with the 5-List you first posted. Yes this happens... you really see it a lot at car dealerships. I'm going to be treated significantly differently if I come in to by a car wearing a 3-peice suit as opposed to wearing cut-offs and a stained tee-shirt. I don't agree with it, but I know it happens.

I think the problem that people have had with your first 5-List is that it gave the impression that as soon as a customer walked through the door, you were immediately grouping them into one of these 5 types and then treating them accordingly. The idea that we, as customers, are immediately reduced from being a person to being a stereotype is quite infuriating. It may not have been the point you were making, but I think that is how it was viewed.
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Comics and reality...

Postby Tolvor on Sun Apr 17, 2005 9:40 am

Yeah, they are just comics. Regardless of the reaction of the reading of said comic, it's just a comic. They are not social documentaries, textbooks, historical representations. They are a (sometimes) humorus way of demostrating an observation (usually a social observation). I happen to absolutly love almost every comic in your list.... never really cared for Doonsbury or Dilbert... but they are still just comics.


Comics is a small part of literature, and literature, in its many forms is extremely powerful, and widespread. The power of the written word has never been underestimated ("The pen is mighter than the sword"). I'd even be willing to argue that mass-readership of comics is more important than textbooks. If a Doonsbury comic read by tens of millions of people portrays a certain politian as weak and ineffectual but numerous political analysis books indicate that the situation is more complex, and in fact the politian is doing a somewhat average job but the heavy and boring book is read only by a few thousand people (maybe), which is more powerful and influencial? Heck, comics were regualarly in World War I and (especially) II by both sides extensively for propaganda purposes. (See http://www.vintagepostcards.com/catalog/ethnjua.html for a lot of WWI german anti-semitic examples) Prior to television comics were a primary means of espousing one candidates views, and smearing the other. In other words, yes comics are very historical, and document and attempt to validate a viewpoint.

I'll agree that in general comics aren't meant to be taken absolutely literally (there are safety comics that are meant to - ex Stop Drop and Roll). But the message or moral of the comic are meant to be taken seriously. So while I don't expect bosses to be using Etch-A-Sketchs as computers, I do believe that the moral of the comic is that many bosses aren't intelligent enough to be holding their position. And guess what? A big book has been written on this phenonama - "The Peters Principle" (a person will rise in position to one level above his competence) Which do you think more people read - that short Dilbert comic, or the big textbook?

When the press (and comics is a integral part of the press) is loved and admired, it is called the "fourth estate". When hated, it's the "fifth column". Such is its power.

Anti-flame statement: I'm a political independant, and have no opinion on current politics or worthiness of candidates.

Anti-flame statement: I only mention the anti-semitic comics as a historical example, not as an endorsement. Nor is it my intention to imply that Aeries comics crosses the line into wartime propaganda.
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Re: On the subject of Customer Classificatins

Postby Tolvor on Sun Apr 17, 2005 11:17 am

GabrielTane wrote:You're talking about two completely different types of classifications here. The 5-point list you first posted is classification based on behaviors. These classify people based in how they act and react, not on who they are. These behaviors are subject to personal observation and, therefore, personal interpretation. These cannot be quantified in any way and are therefore based solely on the observer's opinion and experience.

The classification systems you mentioned in the quote above are actually a few different types of classifications


Businesses use the classification that is most appropriate for them. One information gathering model does not fit all, which is why I indicated Walmart at the end, which does not use employees to push in-store products.

(from the list of examples of businesses categorizing -)
[list]1)Credit limit: (snip) This is close to the 5-List you first posted. But the credit company doesn't treat you differently simply because you have a certain limit. How they treat you (i.e. will they waive a late-payment fee, lower your rate, etc.) is based on how you have paid your credit card(s) in the past.


They wouldn't use the 5 point list because credit card companies don't have physical products to sell, and my list categories people bases on likelihood of purchasing electronics or computer-related merchandise. The credit card companies sell convenience. They collect their data from other business entities and the card they offer you is their judgment of you. It's not just credit limit either. It's your interest rate, the fringe benefits to using your card (like automatic fraud protection when used over internet - most have this now), or like getting to choose minor items associated with the card (your pay due date within the month, the COLOR or PICTURE on the card, extra statements available, categorized statements for businesses...) The list I used isn't meant to fit every business.

2)Grocery Store Super Saver card: this is not a classification. (snip) Now, I think you meant that you pay less for your groceries because of that card. Yes, you do, but you're paying a premium for that discount. It's not a classification that's based on you as a person.

Again, my list doesn't fit their business model. But they DO collect information on me as a person, and it does have a direct effect. They DO keep a compilation of what you buy, and try to spot patterns to try to stock the least amount of products that will satisfy the greatest amount of consumers. No problem with that so far. They also cooperate with police, say, by telling them who buys lots and lots and LOTS of cold medication. And guess what? Skipping from MegaFoods Store A, to MegaFoods Store B, C, D doesn't work. The databases are linked. You can't escape. While I'm not a drug manufacturer, I do have a bit of problem with this. My point is that Aerie, who hates BB for categorizing, should hate most stores, because categorization in some form is taking place everywhere.

Library card: that's not a classification at all. Yeah you can check out books whereas someone without a card can't, but that's for tracking purposes. The library just wants to know who has their books.

And is available to the courts. I forget the court case where someone in Washington DC had all their bookstore and library checkouts examined both by investigators and press. And libraries already have a list of books they watch who checks them out. They silently categorize you.

IRS (tax day): hmmm... sorry, I'm not sure what you meant on that one.

IRS categorized you in so many ways. Low vs High income. Industrial worker vs Agribusiness worker. Investor vs non-investor. Married-with-children vs unmarried-and-no-kids. And they make you pay based on it. Direct categorization.

Microsoft: Again, I'm not sure exactly where you're going with that one...

Microsoft is trying to put DRM into its Windows XP operating system. I don't want DRM in my OS thank-you-very-much. It's a blanket categorization of everyone as pirates. Or I could point out all the lovely information that Microsoft hides about you on your own computer (and empty-internet-history and delete-temporary-files and clean-internet-cache does not take care of it. Or I could point out it's tech support lines (the worst in the business, and most expensive) where they judge you by what product you are having a problem with, and what aspect of it, and continues to categorize from there. Or I could point out its general attitude of we-don't-play-well-with-others when it comes to other businesses (look at OS2).

Airlines and Airports: still, I have points to make, but since I'm not sure what you meant by adding them to the list, I don't want to go down the one path if you went down another.

Apparently you haven't tried going thru the airport as a burly bearded olive-skinned male. Remember there was a big scandal when they actually asked such a person to exit the plane after boarding, and made sure to take off his baggage because the pilots were nervous of him. He turned out to be innocent. He did miss that flight though. Remember Slashdot story on the airlines sharing live data with the government for classification and screening of passengers (after they said they weren't collecting the data for that purpose)? And those secure pat-downs in the airport, you don't think they are TOTALLY random, do you?

Police: ah... profiling.

Not the point I was trying to make. They collect data on people and treat them accordingly. Those little computers in their car can bring up a lot of information up on you. That is completely legal, whereas profiling is NOT. Remember about two years ago, a Philadelphia kid was shot running from the police? The police said over the police band that the kid had "15 outstanding warrants". It has been alleged (and makes sense) that because of that information the police pursuit him far more aggressively than someone who had none. It turns out that all 15 warrants were simple traffic violations (no license was 8 of them), and didn't show up in court because he didn't have money to pay it off, and didn't want to go to jail. An extreme example of poor categorization. But police DO collect information and categorize upon it. Watch Cops. Lots of categorization statements in there (completely legal).


I think the problem that people have had with your first 5-List is that it gave the impression that as soon as a customer walked through the door, you were immediately grouping them into one of these 5 types and then treating them accordingly. The idea that we, as customers, are immediately reduced from being a person to being a stereotype is quite infuriating. It may not have been the point you were making, but I think that is how it was viewed.

When I was in BB, you weren't categorized immediately in the door. You were when you entered certain departments. While helping one customer or working on the shelves, or moving merchandise, or keeping aisles clean I and all other good employees where keeping an eye out for who was the best sale type. I'd hardly go up to a nerd type and say "I'm not going to help you because you already know what you want." And of course, the ever-vigilant managers would be observing who I was selling to and pointing out their choices that I should have been trying for.

Is it infuriating? Of course it is. Should you get mad about it? Of course not. The employees you see in the store aren't the ones gathering the data. Instructions have been pounded into us from on high based on those categorizations that corporate has decided on. Almost all businesses now have a pro-active information gathering policy. Margins are tight, competition is fierce, and consumers are pickier than ever. Business have to collect the information to survive. But refusing to be civil in a store because they try to categorize - either actively or passively, isn't an appropriate response.
[/b][/quote]
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Postby communist trees on Sun Apr 17, 2005 1:50 pm

Airport profiling isn't nearly that simple, for those who don't know. Whether or not you get your bags searched has to do with a huge number of factors, including if you're flying alone, if you very rarely fly, if you changed your ticket at the last moment, if you bought a one-way ticket, and similar. The current (completely legal) methods use a whole lot of statistical data (very similar to the marketing GT talked about), instead of race, gender, or build. There is a random element as well, but that's only part of it.
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Postby Ambystoma4 on Sun Apr 17, 2005 4:41 pm

Symok wrote:It's also increasingly likely that he was just being a troll. He has yet to make another post.


That's why I really didn't respond to his post. Usually it's best to let stuff like this sink to the bottom of the posts.
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Re: On the subject of Customer Classificatins

Postby Ambystoma4 on Sun Apr 17, 2005 7:54 pm

Tolvor wrote:Microsoft is trying to put DRM into its Windows XP operating system. I don't want DRM in my OS thank-you-very-much. It's a blanket categorization of everyone as pirates. Or I could point out all the lovely information that Microsoft hides about you on your own computer (and empty-internet-history and delete-temporary-files and clean-internet-cache does not take care of it. Or I could point out it's tech support lines (the worst in the business, and most expensive) where they judge you by what product you are having a problem with, and what aspect of it, and continues to categorize from there. Or I could point out its general attitude of we-don't-play-well-with-others when it comes to other businesses (look at OS2).


So use Linux/FreeBSD/Apple's OS X or some other alternative OS.

Let me explain what the DRM push is about. It goes beyond a simple "everyone as pirates" mentality. It can be used for that purpose, but it is much more then that. It's more about secure communications and system security.

It starts with the statement, "A secure computer means one that is not plugged into a network." Most people don't realize this, but networks were not designed with security in mind. For most of their history they've been able to get away with rudimentary security features due to the nature of the people who accessed them, academics and professionals who needed it up more then they cared to cause anarchy. Every now and then other people would get in and cause mischief, more out of curiosity then anything else really, but for the most part the user weren't malevolent. Now though connectivity is so pervasive that any one can get on, and there are a few who are more interested in being destructive then anything else.

It's fairly easy to collect information from a network. There are programs that are out there that will collect and read packets that flow across it, and spoofing packets is fairly simple as well. The fact that it's not easy to tell exactly where a packet comes from, and if it has been tampered with or not is a problem. The solution is to sign every packet and encrypt them. Signing and encryption software is the bulk of what DRM is; the functionality would be built into the OS instead of being provided by third party software.

Christ this is turning into a term paper. I'm about done though.

There are two parts to it. A chip, developed by AMD, on the motherbard that would be responsible for encrypting and signing the packets, and the hooks for the programs and programmers to use to leverage the power of the chip to sign and encrypt processes and data. It would also allow the system to keep unwanted processes from spawning, if you've ever had to deal with a spyware infection then you know what I'm talking about.

Microsoft tech support is very good. It's not for average users it's for corporations when they have a problem their admins can't fix. It may be $250 a ticket, but they will work on the problem until there is a solution. If a home user has a problem, call a local computer shop that does tech work or bug one of your computer literate friends. If you want to talk about horrible tech service, point at Dell. I can't believe how much time I've wasted talking with those bozos.

Of course their going to narrow catagorize the callers; it would be dumb not to. First off it's just basic troubleshooting to isolate the problem. Secondly, it makes it easier on the techs to just focus on one specific area rather then have to know the ins and outs of every application they make.

I don't see how OS/2 comes into play here. Of course they're going to make interoperability difficult; it drives the windows software world. People buy windows desktops because there is software that they need which creates marketshare, which makes it an attractive platform for developers who buy development tools to make software with which causes people to buy windows desktops... It would be a dump idea for them to not lock users in. If they didn't they would be throwing money away. The information that the computer stores can be changed. It's all in variables.
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Postby GabrielTane on Mon Apr 18, 2005 4:02 pm

Tolvor... I haven't forgotten about any of this or anything.

When I saw your last post, my mind started down so many wonderful tangents... all the while my fingers were saying "screw you buddy, you ain't typing all that".

What you exanded on was, in my opinion, just information gathering for the purpose of select marketing (credit cards, grocery stores, et. al.) or for "security" reasons (library tracking).

Everything you had mentioned in your last post is a completely different from catagorizing a customer in the manner that was exampled in the 5-List.

What I had seen in that first 5_list was just stereotyping. i may have been mistaken, but that was how it struck me. And again, that's where people seem to have troubles.
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Postby Tolvor on Mon Apr 18, 2005 7:48 pm

GabrielTane wrote:Everything you had mentioned in your last post is a completely different from catagorizing a customer in the manner that was exampled in the 5-List.

What I had seen in that first 5_list was just stereotyping..


Different businesses, different policies. All the business examples I mentioned are stereotyping also, more subtle than Best Buy does it, but still stereotyping. For example, my example where the police shot a kid because he had 15 outstanding warrents (most people with that many warrents is a VERY dangerous person and/or a career criminal) - isn't that legal stereotyping? And I can't see the police really caring a whit whether the person walking up to a drug house is a nerd or not.

Please clarify on how the businesses in my long list of examples are not stereotyping.
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Postby Ambystoma4 on Mon Apr 18, 2005 11:51 pm

Stereotype
A conventional, formulaic, and oversimplified conception, opinion, or image.
One that is regarded as embodying or conforming to a set image or type.

Profile
A formal summary or analysis of data, often in the form of a graph or table, representing distinctive features or characteristics:

Stereotypes are based on superficial data while profiles are based on a more indept study of the subject. There is a difference between profiling and stereotyping. Please stop getting the two confused.
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