Misleading Sales Techniques or Stupid Salesman?

I had a very strange sales experience today

The PC I have at home is starting to get a little bit long in the tooth so I decided it was time to treat myself to a new system

I was looking for something a bit different from the usual Dell/HP/etc so wanted to use one of the many well known system builders here in the UK

After lots of research I found exactly the system I wanted at the sort of price I wanted to pay

I was about to place the order online when I noticed the web site ordering system wouldn’t let me choose which flavour of Vista I wanted. The system I’m ordering has 8GB of RAM so I needed the 64-bit version.

The web site has one of those ever so helpful “live chat” facilities so I connected to one of their sales staff to ask some questions

I was told that they don’t offer the 64-bit version of Windows as so many of their customers have had problems with it so they wouldn’t be able to support it

So I had to ask

“But you’re selling a system that has 8GB of RAM? What is the point in selling it if you can’t use it all”

A valid question I thought, what do you think the reply was?

“The systems we sell are future proofed

This took me back a little so I replied to say

“Ok but it doesn’t indicate that anywhere on your site?”

“Why would we need to do that?”

“Because if an average consumer paid for 8GB of RAM they would expect to be able to use all 8GB”

“Intel and AMD sell chips that have 4 cores and are releasing chips with 8 and 12 cores. But you can’t use all of those”

I then went on to point out that while lots of current software packages don’t take advantage of multi-cores Windows operating systems are quite happy with many cores and there are already applications that do (Excel does, plus various graphics/video encoding packages) and since I’d also be using this PC for testing (virtualisation, servers, etc) that argument didn’t stand up

They were also various other “discussions” over wether they should provide me a 64-bit operating system and his solution was

“After we have generic ativan dosage supplied you the system you can format the hard disk and install any operating system obtained from a 3rd party”

So basically I’d have to pay for a 32-bit OEM version of Windows Vista (they wouldn’t sell me a system without an operating system either!) and then get a retail version of 64-bit Vista, basically paying for it twice instead of just getting 64-bit OEM

After this I went away and did some research.

Well I tried to do some research. What I wanted to know was if I got the 32-bit version of Vista from this system builder, am I entitled to switch over to 64-bit and if so should the system builder provide the media?

I struggled to find any useful information on this

Eric Ligman has a post on this here but since it’s OEM he points the reader back at the system builder

I’ve asked some other people but the feeling I get is that you choose which flavour you want from your system builder and then your stuck with it?

The problem is I can’t find any information on this anywhere. I’m a little bit fortunate that I can ask other partners and contacts at Microsoft about it (I even checked the system builder information in the action pack and on the partner portal but I couldn’t get an answer)

What if my dad or my brother was doing this? To test the theory I called the Microsoft customer care help line in the same way a consumer would. This didn’t help at all as the person in the call centre didn’t know anything about it and referred me to the web site which also doesn’t help

I’m digressing slightly here. So am I being unreasonable in saying that if the PC can’t use 8GB the web site should indicate this?

I’m not naming and shaming the company just yet as the price vs system spec is pretty good and they are a well respected PC builder here in the UK so it could just be that their sales staff aren’t as clued up as they should be and once I’ve figured out what I’m going to do about a 64-bit version I may still buy it and become a customer

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Andy Parkes is Technical Director at Coventry based IT support company IBIT Solutions. Formerly, coordinator of AMITPRO and Microsoft Partner Area Lead for 2012-2013. He also isn't a fan of describing himself in the third person.

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