Experience in a LFS shop.

Discussion in 'General Discussions and Advice' started by Alfie, 24 Mar 2008.

  1. Alfie

    Alfie

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    Saturday morning I was in a LFS shop and got chatting to a guy that came in to buy a TDS meter. He and a friend (new in the hobby) were getting a few things like PH/KH buffer when we got chatting about RO units. Anyway it ended up with the friend buying and RO unit (way overprised) and he then asked me how to connect it. I explained to him and when we got to the end the I explained which pipe was waste water and which RO. Having just done this the friend that had just purchased the TDS meter exclaimed, "no wonder I have problems, I have been using the waste water as RO"

    My point here is that the LFS does not take the time to advise people, as long as the sale is made all is fine.
     
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  3. Kanga

    Kanga Retired Moderator MASA Contributor

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    Alfie you are so right, (although ANGRY has used the waste water before as well :D) there isnt enough good info out there for newbies starting out from the LFS
     
  4. LikesFish

    LikesFish

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    I must be honest in saying that I do not believe it is the LFS's responsibility to educate customers. Before I get flamed for saying this - consider the following identical parallel scenario.

    I decide I want to take beautiful photos, so I go to a speciality shop like say Outdoor Photo or Etkins etc. I look through the cameras and lenses and ask for some advice on which camera is better. The guy behind the counter typically knows just enough to be dangerous - as is the case with many LFS employees. So he tells me what *he thinks* is best. Next I want to buy lenses. One of two things is going to happen. He is either going to sell me the cheapest lens to make the sale (as has happened to me when I started photography long time ago), or if he gets the feeling you are not cash strapped he will sell you whatever is the most expensive. Point of the matter is that it is highly unlikely he will sell you what you really *need*.

    So there are two parts to this scenario. The first is a bit debatable - whether I can be justifiably upset he sold me stuff I did not really need - such as a R30k lens if I am never going to make use of the extra quality as I always print everything jumbo size. In the LFS parallel this would correspond to the LFS selling you a fish that you either cannot support well, or that is incompatible with the rest of your tank mates. I personally believe it is the buyer's responsibility to research before buying and have the required knowledge before stepping in to the shop. If the seller has good advise and is knowledgeable, it is definitely a plus and I will try to buy from him instead. But I think it is unfair to expect the seller to be your Source Of All Information.

    The second part is the one I wanted to address - whether I can be justifiably upset that when I bought the camera and lenses, the seller did not give me a free course on how to use the equipment and become an expert photographer. Put like this it sounds ridiculous to expect the seller to train you on the equipment you just bought.

    If I buy a car - the seller does NOT teach you how to drive. You are expected to know how to use what you are about to purchase. If however you ask for advise - say asking how to put the camera in Av mode - then you can usually for trivial questions justifiably expect the seller to provide advice - it is just courteous. But it is completely unreasonable to expect a seller inspired blurt of training and advise without ever asking for it.

    And if you do ask - never solely trust the seller's advice. Always double check. If you invest in a hobby so delicate and expensive as keeping marine animals in your house, you are *obligated* to do your homework upfront as you are responsible for the lives of all the creatures you keep. Having only one point of reference/information is immature and naive. Especially anyone in it for the commercial benefits. Are you seriously going to expect a guy selling cigarettes to provide truthful advice on how bad it is for your health? No! Of course the guy is going to do whatever it takes to make the sell. Same with most LFS's - they have a bottom line and need to make a profit otherwise they will go out of business.

    Some are outstanding in that they will actually hurt themselves to keep their customers happy - such as Exotic aquariums, in specific Steven working there. However this is also a commercially motivated tactic - it is better to loose out on a sale of R500 for a incompatible fish or one that will die soon, but have a customer that always comes back due to this level of service, than making a quick R500 but loosing a long term customer. Obviously they are the better LFS in regards to service and I'd rather go to them, but I still cannot *expect* this from them.

    2c...
     
  5. Kanga

    Kanga Retired Moderator MASA Contributor

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    Morning Likefish, although I agree with most the points you make I still dont believe this should be this way.

    For example I buy a new 4x4 and try to shift into low range on the fly with this particular model and the gearbox says goodbye guys, should the seller not have explained to me how to use it before I drove it out the showroom, spent a 30 min drive on the basics of this vehicle? I would like to see him use the argument that "I should have known or researched first before" while I am smearing said 4x4 with vaseline for him:D

    Also, if I walk into a camera shop and I say I want to take pics of my son playing rugby, and he sells me a Pentax K1000 with a 28mm lens and some infrared film or a Hasselblad with portrait lens and 50ASA film, yes I might have done research realised thaat film was old school and I actually needed SLR with a 28-300mm for the odd sport shot and some family pics, but would it not reasonable to expect the LFS/Camera shop/car dealer to be able to help me in the right direction and give me the options? Yes sure it gets to the stage where the advanced aquarist/photographer could tell the man in the store things he didnt know he didnt know, but a novice walking in should be comfortable that he will get sound advice. After all this is why we allow people to make a profit from our purchases. I dont expect the camera store to understand Reciprocal law of failure or the LFS to know what ORP is and means to a reeftank, but at least give me the newb the basics and give them to me right

    We have a woodwork store who has a workshop and if you buy a plane they will take you to the back and show you how it works, now they get my business and I will refer anyone new there with a smile.

    But like I say this would be a perfect world:D
     
  6. LikesFish

    LikesFish

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    Yeah you make valid counter arguments. In a theoretical world what you said is how it should be. But you know as well as I do that the world we live in is not like that. And it is not limited to LFS. Dare I name the Incredible Connection store... I guess they are the prime example of a store with n00bs for salesmen.

    Because of that, if someone has been using the waste water from an RO unit for their "pure" water source, then unless the LFS told them to use the wrong outlet (in which case it is a different story), I still think the onus is on the guy how to use it properly. You compared the gearbox on the 4x4 in your example - that would be like saying the seller should have explained that this particular RO unit can only handle 5 micron filters - nothing else. It is something that is not necessarily obvious but it is paramount to using the device. However the 4x4 guy did not explain to you how to start the motor - unless it is different from most other vehicles (like the BMW's push to start button), there is no need and the assumption is the buyer already knows this. If you buy a RO unit, the assumption is you will RTFM and know which is the waste water and which is the good water - the basic operation of the unit, not some obscure detail.

    But this is really a grey area - what is "obvious" and what not? It is relative to the experience and knowledge of the buyer. And that is subjective.
     
  7. viper357

    viper357 Admin MASA Contributor

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    Good on you Alfie.

    LikesFish, it's not Incredible Connection, it's Incredible Corruption (and a few others) :)

    If a someone walks into a fish shop and wants to start a new marine aquarium, if he doesn't know anybody who has a tank, he has no internet access.....where does he go to get advice and research? Only one place, his LFS. It's no good saying he must go to the library and do some research there, what books have they got...bioballs and undergravel filters? They don't have books by Calfo, Fenner etc. That LFS is going to be taking thousands of rands from that hobbyists, surely he must be able to tell the difference between RO and waste. Any decent and honest businessman should know each and every product he sells in order to satisfy his customers.

    I didn't have a clue about SW tanks a few years ago, all I had was a LFS that sold salt and jebo skimmers, that was it. Until the day I found the Guppies For Yuppies forum, after 2 days of reading that forum I went out and bought my first 5ft marine aquarium. The rest is history :p

    What I am saying is if it wasn't for the internet, I still wouldn't know a thing about this hobby.

    This country is still very much behind in terms of the percentage of population that has internet access, until that changes, I believe the sole responsibility lies on the LFS to educate their customers and to know all there is to know about the products they sell.
     
  8. Warr7207

    Warr7207

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    I think the biggest problem is LFS get into Marines because there is bigger margins to be made, but they take on marines like selling puppies, mice and goldfish.

    My personal experience is shocking, the stories of LFS trying to get me to buy the oddest things :whistling:

    The internet was my saving grace and is now my definitive source.

    I agree with Likesfish's RTFM comment, I would never trust a LFS so the manual is vital.

    I think we would all agree that Marines are hectically overwhelming in the beginning and to expect every Noobie to know all the correct info is crazy, they really need a bit of help.

    You only start getting around the LFS's salesmen's bullshit once they can see you know your Marine knowledge.
     
  9. Muz

    Muz

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    That being said.. what you did not know about the TDS meter..

    1) The meter came with a solution to calibrate the meter.. the packet was open and the contents used.. it had been taped back together, there was no instruction booklet.. so it was being sold second hand by the LFS.
    2) The meter was nothing short of useless.. my TDS of my R/O measured with a good TDS meter is 11, his TDS meter said it was 0.00.. the water tested out of his R/O unit measured 0.06 on the TDS meter ( and that was with the good side ) his tap water measured about the same.

    Probably the reason why the meter was returned in the 1st place 1st time around. It makes me wonder why we support these LFS.

    The R/O unit he was sold for about R1300 was nothing short of useless as well.

    As far as I know the TDS meter is being returned and a decent one from a trusted supplier is being bought.

    Muz
     
  10. Warr7207

    Warr7207

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    That is ridiculous. I wouldn't trust a LFS with that kind of purchase (TDS)
     
  11. LikesFish

    LikesFish

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    Hmmm the Internet caused the good old fashioned library and book shops seem irrelevant ;) I purchased numerous books all containing the most modern of technologies - and it was not expensive.

    I personally believe the Internet can very easily cause much more harm to newbies' knowledge than good. There are a billion self professed experts lurking everywhere on forums - it is extremely difficult to distinguish the good from the bad.

    Whereas reading books published by well respected people tend to provide more solid information - since these books had to undergo reviewing and editing and some level of scrutiny before being published. Furthermore, it is quite a big effort to publish a book - so usually this deters trolls from writing books.

    My advise to new reefers is to FIRST buy two or three good books, read them and understand them - and only then go on to online forums to get the latest and greatest in advise. This allows for a more solid base knowledge so that it is easier to recognize bad advise. And if there is no internet access, it allows for less dependency on the LFS to fulfill the role the Internet has started to fill.

    But that is just my humble opinion.
     
  12. viper357

    viper357 Admin MASA Contributor

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    If you saw the books in the LFS's in PMB you would cringe. Really not up to scratch at all, although they do contain fairly basic information they are not up to date and do not contain the latest 'trends' in reefkeeping.

    It is a real pity that our local LFS's (in PMB especially) do not invest in some really good quality reading material.
     
  13. HenkHugo

    HenkHugo

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    kalahari.net and take2.co.za works wonders dean :p
     
  14. viper357

    viper357 Admin MASA Contributor

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    For sure, but I'm talking about the guys that don't have internet access and have to rely on the LFS for reading material.
     
  15. HenkHugo

    HenkHugo

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    yea i know :p just joking....

    a few of the LFS's around cpt been nagging me for a weekly news booklet thingy....
     
  16. viper357

    viper357 Admin MASA Contributor

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    That's another thing this country severely lacks....a decent aquarium magazine.
     
  17. Alfie

    Alfie Thread Starter

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    Oh and just to mention I was at the LFS returning 2 probes which he ask me to check as a customer had returned them and they do not have the means or know how to check the probes. Both probes in fact were mulfuntioning.
     
  18. jacquesb

    jacquesb Retired Moderator

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    ;) :thumbup: :wave2: :whistling:
     
  19. HenkHugo

    HenkHugo

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    alfie please pm me the name of the shop
     
  20. Kanga

    Kanga Retired Moderator MASA Contributor

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    :whistling: :whistling: :peroni:
     
  21. Muz

    Muz

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    That is because we lack credible people willing to write mags locally so we have to import... to put anything out there you have to know what you are talking about and unless you have a degree in Marine Biology and 10 years diving and reefing experience anything you say will be discredited in about 30 seconds.. ( usually by someone who has keps a reef for under a year in his bedroom.) It is the problem we have with the forums world wide.. ( and I agree with LikesFish ) is that if someone keeps a reeftank for a year, all of a sudden they are dispencing advice which frankly are in many instances factually flawed.

    A newsletter going out to LFS is a very good way to educate fishkeepers.. Henk you should follow that up. If you need help shout. It could work very well.

    Muz
     
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