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Thread: Not Always the EXPERT!!!

  1. #1
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    Default Not Always the EXPERT!!!

    Alright, just some thought and wanted some input here on what you guys think about this.

    Real Example One:

    Was at a store the other day (not a retail or chain) , very well known in Eagle River, and asked if they carried Vortex Nomad spotting scopes. The owner said he never heard of em' and said if he had never heard of em' they are probably pieces of crap. I informed him that I know a few sheep hunters that use them, and they say they do very well for their hunts, very clear, light weight and weather proof like most high end brands.

    He got another guy who supposedly knew about glass, and told me the same thing the owner said: "There pieces of S***!! They wont last long in the weather and will break." These guys where getting pretty upset about some brand they never heard of, and just trashing it.

    I asked him where he was getting his information and he could not give me a reasonable and factual answer. The owner said I be better off with a Leopold or Pentax. I told him both are a very good alternatives, but did not want to pay thousands of dollars for a spotting scope where one could spend just under 500 dollars for a pretty decent one.

    I left the store, kinda perplexed, about just what happened in there. I happen to own a Vortex 10X42 Diamondback bi-nos, and they do very well for me while hunting I have used them in down pours, all day rain and moist conditions, and have had no issues with them. They are very comparable to other higher brands, just a little more affordable. Spending $900 dollars on a pair of bi-nos does not make them better than a $350 dollar pair in some cases.

    These guys at this store do know there stuff, and I have talked to them many times before, but just because you sell sell certain brands of glass, scopes etc, does not mean you are an expert in that field.

    Vortex is a fine product and I would recommend it to a hunter on a budget who could pay a little more that $300 for a good glassing option.

    Lesson to be learned: The little guys sometimes just don't know and trash alternative options that work just as well.
    RESEARCH RESEARCH RESEARCH!!!

    Real Example Two:

    As everyone here knows about the BIGGEST retail outdoor store here in, AK, this story takes place at the gun counter in this store. One of the guys that works there, is a great guy and really knows his stuff. He use to work at another gun counter in a big store in Anchorage. He should have his own shop.

    I have talked hours with him over rifles, pistols, loads, holsters etc; I have even tested his knowledge about certain loads in this and that, and he just blows me away with his knowledge. He also trains people to handle to handguns and to be a proficient shooter.

    He isn't very biased on different brands, and has owned a lot of guns over the years. He is very fair on the pros and cons of different models and basically points out: Its what you feel comfortable with".

    Every time I see him, we shoot off about the gun world. My wife just shakes her head when we are in our own little world. I am sure this happens to others as well!

    He has been very helpful and even recommends other places for a product if his store does not have them or carry them. I would stamp him as an expert and a go to guy.

    Lesson Learned: Sometimes you can find that rare gem in those big box stores of unpolished gems

    Real Example Three:

    So I went into Wally World the other day to pick up a Okuma Rod/Reel combo for the wife to learn how to fly fish Its a fairly cheap set up about $80 bucks, and a good newbie set up.

    I was being adventurous that day so I played dumb for the lady at the counter in the sports department. All I can say is WOW!!!! I asked the lady about the Okuma combo for fly rods and where they were located. She first took me to the spinning reels/rods section. I told here I was looking for a fly fishing combo. So she then took me over to the fly fishing set up, and showed me the fly rods. I told her I was looking for the combo.

    She was looking for the combo and pulled out the Okuma set up I was looking for but said this wasn't the combo. The combo came with a tackle box she said. I pointed out the product tag to her and said this is a combo, it says so here on your price sticker. "Oooh" was the reply.

    I decided I could not go any further on my antics, she really is a very nice lady, and thanked her for her help and finished up getting my leader line , and some sink tip for the wife's new rod/reel. She has been very helpful looking for things in the past, but does not have the knowledge or expertise to answer questions about most of the products for sale.

    Lesson Learned: No Experts at All, You are the Expert.

    Lets here your stories. I am curious about others experience with this.
    Hate America??....then get the Hell Out!!!

  2. #2
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    The various shops have their business models. Some shops will have better customer service. I find the different shops have their niche and generally visit them accordingly.

    If I have a bad experience at a store, I wouldn't hesitate to talk with the manager/owner. If that is the person that was helping you in your scenario number one, then perhaps he needs to really hear your concerns (while wearing the owners hat) and thus calm down. But with the apparent window shopping and ignorant shopper games (aka research) may have triggered a more "don't waste my time" reflex. Not saying they were right, but what are you trying to accomplish?

  3. #3
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    I have had similar experiences. Gun shops can be one of the most opinionated places you can go to, but often they do have a certain level of expertise. Doesn't excuse treating anyone badly.

    I have a friend/customer that is a magazine author for many outdoor hunting and shooting magazines. He often researches shops and their practices for industry mags. One of the problems many shop owners have is that unless they attend the SHOT show every year, subscribe to industry mags, and spend a lot of time researching products, it is really easy these days to fall behind on the new and interesting products that are out there. It costs a lot of money to keep up with the technology and I really can't blame shops for being a little behind on inventory that can cost them 10's of thousands of dollars to keep. The optics world is EXPLODING and I can't imagine being able to keep up with what is good and what is gimick. STILL NO EXCUSE TO BE RUDE TO CUSTOMERS. As a retailer I try to listen to my customers and if they know of a good product I will take a hard look at it. The proper way to deal with something you know nothing about is to admit you know nothing about it. Offer alternatives and if the customer doesn't like the alternative politely thank the customer for coming in.

    For the box store, I admit that the big box in Wasilla is usually a great place to buy guns. I HATE it when a big box has good service because I can relate to the little guys' shops. However, my experiences at that Wasilla box store have been great and I will be going back for more guns when I need them.

    Walmart? Well, it's Walmart, what more can we expect? I will say they exchanged my son's king pole/reel combo without question when we got out to the parking lot and found out it was damaged. I sent him in alone to deal with it (he's 14) since he paid the money for it and I figured it was a good learning experience for him. He says he was treated politely and was back out in 10 minutes.

    Vortex does make good stuff and I have been using various items of theirs for 6 years now.
    Bunny Boots and Bearcats: Utility Sled Mayhem

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    When I went into store number one, I was seeing if they carried the Vortex models to purchase one. The owner got really aggressive about it. I didn't understand why and suddenly had three guys attacking a product they had never heard about or used. I never have seen anything like this before. It kind of made me not to want to shop there again, but these guys are pretty knowledgeable about other stuff and have reasonable prices. Thing is, I have bought a few rifles, handguns, ammo, scopes, and misc items from these guys, and they know my face, it was just kind of awkward.
    Hate America??....then get the Hell Out!!!

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    Very true about the Optics world Exploding AKDoug. There is no much stuff out there, it is very reasonable to see that retailers, big or small, cant keep up with the market.
    Hate America??....then get the Hell Out!!!

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    Some people think that being a jerk will hide their ignorance. There is nothing wrong with vortex, I have and have had a few of their products, never had an issue. There is something to say about their VIP warranty, lifetime repair or replacement doesn't sound so bad when your hiking in the hills with all that glass in your pack.

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    i have that exaCt same problem wHen I shop in wasilla. Must be Over priced on everything, and the Stuff on their shelves are the best.

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    I guess I am kind of high strung about customer service, but there are a number of gun shops I won't go to because of their attitude. They are definitely not experts in all areas. They shouldn't act like it. I have gotten incorrect or false info when I've asked about certain items, incorrect info is not too bad, but the attitude with it lost my business. There are a few that I really like and I know others have had problems with them so???

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    I haven't been in all the local gun shops but don't recall them having chairs or couches so that customers can get in touch with their feelings.

    When one places an order with Cabelas or other internet company, how many people call them up, ask them questions, and physically compare the optics at their store and then buy locally? Yet the opposite is likely quite true (people window shop locally, ask for advice, then compare prices on-line and possibly buy online) and the perception is that the locals have bad customer service. If you were in the position of a local owner, how would you feel?

    I agree that the attitude at local gun shops can be a little taxing ... but then again, they are still in business. I would rather they keep the window shoppers and games players away so that they can keep a right sized staff, an inventory, and have comparable prices as the big box stores and mail order companies.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Wet eNuf View Post
    I haven't been in all the local gun shops but don't recall them having chairs or couches so that customers can get in touch with their feelings.

    When one places an order with Cabelas or other internet company, how many people call them up, ask them questions, and physically compare the optics at their store and then buy locally? Yet the opposite is likely quite true (people window shop locally, ask for advice, then compare prices on-line and possibly buy online) and the perception is that the locals have bad customer service. If you were in the position of a local owner, how would you feel?

    I agree that the attitude at local gun shops can be a little taxing ... but then again, they are still in business. I would rather they keep the window shoppers and games players away so that they can keep a right sized staff, an inventory, and have comparable prices as the big box stores and mail order companies.
    I agree with everything you just said. However, I can't support a local business that is gouging the customers simply because we live in Alaska. I know they have to make money to stay in business, and I will pay a LITTLE more to a local retailer, but I will not let them fleece me.

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    I know I'd hate to devote my life and fortune to opening a retail business, attempting to stock products the market wants, and making a play for my livelihood only to have folks show up to buy what I don't have and then fondle what I do have to go buy from my competition...and not being able to compete with those internet retailers and box stores willing to take a loss on the same item.

    Might explain his attitude...just sayin'.

    No excuse for a crappy attitude to a customer but everyone ought to be subjected to the realities of being in your own retail business for a while- it'll change how you look at the folks who manage to do it for the rest of your life.

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    Some great input on here guys. I worked retail at an electronics store (a pretty famous one) years ago back, and seen the same thing. It don't have to be just a sports/gun store it can be any store. Having a small retail store that carters to fisherman, hunters, etc, probably have the hardest job compared to the BIG BOX guys. Even though prices in Alaska are very high.

    I went shopping for some fly reels today and stopped at Sportsman, Mountain View Sports, and B&J's. Sportsman's had the reel I wanted but didn't have it in stock, guy at the counter was OK with the help, but trying to push me into a more expensive reel that I didnt need.

    Bought a Orvis for a steal at Mountain View, guy was Ok on help as well, but didnt push me into any thing I wasent looking for. B&J's had a nice Okuma reel, for the wife, that was a fair price.

    Of all the places I went today, Sportsman was way over priced, but some of their stuff was cheaper than the other places and vise versa. First time in B&J's today, I really like the place. A crap load of fishing gear in there for pretty good prices.

    There was a guy in there who was very helpful with a couple who never been fishing before. He even taught them how to tie the knots for their hooks and put new line on the spools for them.

    Pretty good customer service I thought.
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    On the Vortex Nomad spotting scope you were looking for, I own the Nomad 20-60x60 straight and have found that the optics quality is great, On a sheep hunt with my father I compared it to his Leupold and couldn't find much difference in image clarity or sharpness. My only regret with it is that I bought the straight instead of the angled, it probably would have been much nicer for long spotting sessions. I also have their Skyline 20-60x80 ED, it has better glass than the nomad and is brighter due to the lens size, it a great scope for long distance spotting. I don't know if I will be taking it sheep hunting though, at 67 oz it is a bit heavy and takes up a lot of room in the pack. It would be nice but I don't know if I want to haul all the weight and lose room for the other gear. For the money, I am not sure if you can find a better scope than the vortex's. I am looking at getting a pair of their bino's for my wife, how do you like the ones you have?

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    Quote Originally Posted by MT_SLDR View Post
    For the money, I am not sure if you can find a better scope than the vortex's. I am looking at getting a pair of their bino's for my wife, how do you like the ones you have?
    I have the Vortex Diamondback 10x42. They do a really nice job, and suit my needs very well. I think I got them for about $250 or so at Sportsman. I do not have any complaints about them, and have compared them to my friends Nikon and Swarovski binos and cannot tell much of a difference. They are very bright and clear and do well in wet conditions. I used them on a raining bear hunt about 3 weeks ago, and was pretty impressed with them.
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    "I don't know" always seemed an honest enough answer to me - and often the right answer. But, every once in awhile, the salesperson can't seem to answer just that. Years ago, many salespersons were sent to production facilities for training about the material and production details which made a product superior. Equipped with this information, the salesperson knew what s/he was talking about when using words like "eye relief", "field of view", "fluorite-coated lens", etc. Oh, and "combo" too .

    I suppose it's hard sometimes for a business to find help, much less good help - and the wages don't always attract great talent. Nowadays, I feel lucky when I meet someone at a counter who seems to be retired, only working for something to do, but sure knows a lot about guns (or whatever). Most of the time though, customer service is more about price margins, economics, marketing.

    Maybe owners have changed too. Context is everything, of course, but your experience in Real Example One sounds bizarre. "My way or the highway", eh?

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    I went to a store on the KP a few weeks ago and inquired about some Vortex Viper HD 10x42 Binos. The person behind the counter immediately locked his register and unlocked the glass case with the binoculars. He then grabbed a similar model and took me outside with both. He helped me properly focus both the Binos for my eyes. He explained in much detail about the Vipers while I compared the two models. I could not believe how much he knew and the enthusiasm he was putting out.


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    I had stopped in to a new store here in Soldotna right after they opened. I was getting some archery stuff for my son, while I was there I decided to check out the crossbows. At first, the clerk was very knowledgable, but when we started talking about the crossbow he was way off. He tried to tell me that I can't use a crossbow for ANY hunting in Alaska, only for target practice unless I am handicapped and have permission from F&G.
    I thought about what he had told me and gave him the benefit of the doubt for until I could walk to the customer service counter and look at the regs.
    Just because you think you are an expert, doesn't meen you are.

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    Small Mom & Pop types stores can not compete with the big boys, so they need to push there own brands. I don't begrudge them, I just go in with an open mind. When I first started into archery, the owner of the local pro shop made sure I was aware that he thought solo cam bows and carbon arrows were crap and they were just a phase. He assured me neither would be on the market in just a few years. I told him I appreciated his views, but I want things simple (solocam), and arrows that don't bend (carbon over aluminum). He was a smart businessman, sold me gear I wanted, and had a customer that would refer many others to him. He found out he could sell these products too and make a little money. Now, it is impossible to go into an archery shop and NOT find solocams and carbon arrow, they have become the standard.
    "...and then Jack chopped down the beanstock, adding murder and ecological vandalism to the theft, enticement and vandalism charges already mentioned, but he got away with it and lived happily ever after without so much as a guilty twinge about what he had done. Which proves that you can be excused just about anything if you're a hero, because no one asks the inconvenient questions." Terry Pratchett's The Hogfather

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    Well, I just picked up the Vortex Nomad spotting scope, and I am very impressed with it. Compared to other models, it is very hard to tell the difference between them. Good price too.

    Its funny how something new comes out, and in a few years becomes "the standard".
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    Since there aren't that many shops in Eagle River, I can kinda guess which one you were talking about The funny thing is, of all the sporting goods places in the greater Anchorage Bowl it's my favorites because the staff is friendly and don't try to push products onto you, they also treat your kids great, and happy to see them handling firearms, provided some materials for a science project gratus, and are usually handing tham lollypops.

    But, back to optics. Asside from someone like Doug, who goes to the trade shows and gets to handle alot of optics, most outdoor store sales staff haven't had the opportunity to handle or test everything out there. Also, many people have formed long standing predjudices against any products made from China. I don't think that shops attitude towards optics is unique, and likely if you went into many other shops and asked about Vortex they'd echo, made in China, has to be crap. I'd also venture to say you'd be hard pressed to find any sporting good shop in the state that sells enough optics to give an honest assessment of how they hold up in the field.

    While I like supporting local businesses, most of my optical purchases have been through Doug at Cameraland. Great guy, knowledgeable about optics, great prices, great service. He's not going to try and push a more expensive piece of glass by disparaging a lower priced product, and he'll also give you a fair assessment of that device.
    Those that are successful in Alaska are those who are flexible, and allow the reality of life in Alaska to shape their dreams, vs. trying to force their dreams on the reality of Alaska.

    If you have a tenuous grasp of reality, Alaska is not for you.

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