Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Generation Techno-gap

I have been hearing all these commercials for HD radio, including the local NPR station, which is boasting of their three channels, each carrying different programming: one all classical music, one folk music and one news. All this with better reception as well. I thought this sounded like a good idea, especially since WCLV, the great classical music station which used to be on the east side of Cleveland but moved a few years ago to the far west side (to Lorain, in fact, and is now only accessible to me on my computer) has been HD for quite a while. That's the only radio station around here which still broadcasts the Met on Saturday afternoons. Now I don't know for sure if I could even get WCLV with an HD radio, but I decided that I'd check it out.

Since Best Buy has been running commercials for this product, it seemed the logical place to go. My past experience with Best Buy has not led me to be too optimistic for reasons that will become obvious as I relate my tale of woe and frustration. I headed for the electronics department where I managed to flag down an "associate," as they are called these days.

"I'd like to see your HD radios," I said to a 12 year old associate.
"A Walkman?" she queried.
"No, a radio," I responded.
"Oh, a boom-box," she replied.
"No, just a radio," I rejoined.
Consternation played over her chubby little baby face.
"The boom-boxes are over there," she pointed out.
"I don't need a tape deck and a CD player, just a radio," I snapped.
"A radio?" Doubt cast a shadow over her innocent visage.
"Yes," I said, " the kind you just plug into the wall and turn on and sound comes out, like music, or people talking. You put it on a table or some kind of flat surface and listen to it."
"A boom box." Her little face brightened.
I decided to go back to my original question.
"I've heard your ads for HD radios. Does anyone here know where they might be?"
She tagged a passing 14 year old male.
"Do we have any HD radios?"
He was moving pretty fast, but he managed to say, "Yeah, but just for cars."
So much for communication between the advertising department and the actual store. Never had said anything on TV about HD being just for cars. In fact, in the recent NPR begging fest, an HD radio was one of the premiums if you sent them a couple hundred bucks. Cars were not mentioned.

By this time, my eye had caught sight of a tiny little flat screen LCD TV on a nearby shelf. Giving up on HD radio, I wandered over to have a look.
When TV went HD, I had to give up my little black and white desk model analog TV, which I kept on my drawing table. I missed it. I turned to the 12 year old associate.
"Hey, does that thing work without having to be connected to cable or a converter box?"
She picked up the box and pretended to read what was written on it.
"It doesn't say, but it looks like it just works with this antenna that comes with it. Maybe."

My God, I thought don't thee people have any clues about what they're supposedly associated with? I examined it. It would fit just fine on my drawing table. It didn't seem to have any connections beyond the outlet it was plugged into. I didn't see any other cables.The 14 year old male associate drifted back into view and wanted to discuss the HD radio thing again, but I told him to just forget it and did he know anything about this little TV. He didn't.

I decided to take a chance on it. I could always bring it back . When I got to the check-out, I mentioned that the associates back in Electronics seemed a bit poorly informed and could she find someone who could give me information about this little TV. She sent a 16 year old back to ask, and when that person returned she said that I would need a converter box with it. I didn't believe her, since there had not been any sort of thing connected to it in the store. She surmised that it could have been hitched up in some way invisible to the casual observer (well, she didn't put it exactly that way) but that it probably was hitched up to something like a cable. Since I had not seen anything other than the usual cord, I said I'd take my chances with it, and bring it back if it didn't work on its own.

And then I paid and got the hell out of there. Sure enough, when I brought it home, I plugged it in and it worked just fine - no converter box needed.



dianne said...

ha ha ha! i detest Best Buy ... the manager at the Best Buy here had the stupidity to tell my daughter that HIS store is the ONLY SHOW in town ... guess he hasn't heard of eBay or the Internet ... but he'll get no more of MY money

floribunda said...

I've had mixed experiences with them here in California -- the first time I went was to buy my digital camera and I found them quite helpful. Sometimes there's a good person around the computer area, but sometimes not -- or else they're out of everything!

SallyB said...

They don't require people who are hired to work at those places to know anything about what they are selling, unfortunately. I've had the same problem trying to ask people questions at such places and all you get is either blank stares or "Let me call the manager", who also doesn't know anything, either. Sheesh, they ought to at least require people who work at electronics stores to know SOMETHING about what they are selling!

Nancy Near Philadelphia said...

Guess BB is the same all over. And these 12-year-olds are great for setting things up, for trouble-shooting, even for repairs. But they can't read. Oy.

WV: Manutize, downgrade from semi-automatic to fully self-operated