Thursday, January 24, 2008

My encounter with a computer salesman (or justification of my obsession with FUD)

Today, I went to an authorized dealer for HCL computers. I was interested in their offering of a mini-laptop just like the Asus EEE-PC, and was slightly cheaper to boot (costing about 14,000 Rs + taxes for the 2 GB model against Rs 15, 900 approx for the ASUS EEE PC 4 GB model; I intended
to use a 2GB pen drive to make up for the difference in storage) . I also had to help a colleague of mine make a purchase of a cheap desktop for his office. So I asked the shop manager about the laptop. Imagine my surprise when he began dissing the product, saying that it was good for nothing but opening MS Office (Yes, MS Office, this is not a typo) or surfing the internet. Now, I am getting a little ahead of myself. Let me put it the way it happened (I may have missed something because I was in a red mist by the end, and the exact wordings may have been a little different):
Me: When are you stocking the lightweight 7" computer ?
Dealer: We will have that, but we also have a better laptop (proceeds to point out the specifications of a 47,000 Rs laptop running Windows Vista).
Me: I am more interested in that particular laptop I was talking about, the 7" one. By the way, which Linux does it run?
Dealer: It runs on Linux.
Me: I know, but which one? There are quite a few, you know.
Dealer: I do not know. Perhaps Red Hat. And why do you want that model. That is useless. That will be released in February. That will only run MS Office and surf the internet, nothing more. You cannot do anything more with that. Do you know how much hard drive capacity you need? That has only 20 GB or so, you cannot do anything else.
Me: Open Office, you mean?
Dealer: That model is not worth it, buy good laptops. That model is just for show, no body will buy that.
Me: If I am concerned about the storage, I will just buy an external hard drive and still will have a laptop costing less and which is more mobile. And I know what I can do with it. By the way, the computer which your company is copying, the Asus PC, is already a superhit in the international market.
Dealer: That laptop is useless (or something of that sort) and is of a low configuration
Me: Listen, that laptop runs Linux, and it will not need a high configuration probably. It may very will be faster than Vista in one of your costly models.
Dealer: Who cares about Linux. Ask the persons outside, everyone uses Windows. Who will be able to run this laptop?
Me(Getting angry): Well, I am interested. And you should know that Linux is just
as easy. And you very well know that people don't buy Windows, they pirate
it. Tell them about Linux,and force them to buy Windows, they will take Linux.
Dealer: That is not Microsoft's fault. What is Linux doing about that? Whose fault is that?
Me: The customer's fault, for being a thief
Dealer: That is not Microsoft's fault. That is the fault of Linux. What is Linux doing about that? Who runs Linux?
Me: Listen, I could not care less what the other people think, but let me make it clear, it is the customer's fault and the dealer's fault. Both of you are in it together,
Dealer: Who runs Linux?
Me: The community (looking at the quizzical look on his face, still not realizing that he had never heard of the community). The Linux community, everyone,(then realizing that he knew nothing about Linux) RedHat, Ubuntu (I should have said Canonical, would not have made any difference, anyway), Novell all the companies with the community
Dealer: That is not Microsoft's fault
Me: (Surprised, not getting his meaning) Linux is Open Source, you know?
Dealer: Not all Linux are Open Source. Open Source does not work. The better Linux are not Open Source.
I just looked at the dealer in amazement. And in my anger, I left the shop and waited outside for my friend to come out, calming myself by means of a cigarette. Of course, he heard the altercation, left the shop and then we went away, amid choice swear words uttered under my breath.
Now, that dealer was just under the influence of FUD. He thinks Windows is the be all and end all of computing, and is afraid of his ignorance about other systems being exposed to the customer. He, in his own ignorance, and narrow minded knowledge of Windows, will be ready to give all this wrong advice to his customers. And when dealers, whom the customers rely on as knowledgeable people, are such, what chance does Linux have in India? Countering FUD is essential if Open Source is to spread.
As for the dealer, he has lost a customer. I will not recommend anyone to his shop because I have understood what his limitations are. I also know that he does not know much about the products he is selling (Imagine calling a 2GB SSD drive a 20 GB drive. or putting MS Office in Linux). If I have to buy the HCL Laptop, I will buy from somewhere else, or will wait for the Asus EEE PC to reach Pondicherry.


mcmlxxii said...

It is frustrating to hear of your experience, but we all know linux is the better operating system :)! Perhaps it would help to tell these people that Google, Wikipedia and over half of the rest of the internet runs on Linux...

Nilotpal Chowdhury said...

No use, they just give a blank look. For them, Google is just a search engine, Wikipedia-What's that?
I just bring some people over to my home and show them my 3-D desktop- yes, then they are impressed!
Sad that I do not have a laptop. Otherwise I would have gone over to that shop and showed the manager what visual effects really were!

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