Friday, August 03, 2007

Amberly & the Digital Sell

I finally bought myself a digital camera.

Anytime I buy electronic stuff more than, say, a hundred bucks or so, I do my research first... I took about three months to forget the new Zune or the Creative Zen mp3 player, and decide on the 60gig iPod, and I've already started my preliminary looking at laptops, even though we won't buy one until at least spring.

In this case, I began looking at cameras around April or May, deciding not necessarily what brand or style I wanted, just determining what features I wanted. Viewfinder, at least 7 or 7.5 megapixels, large screen, good nighttime shooting, good flash, battery powered, video with sound, and perhaps the most important thing, a slim design that will fit into my pocket.

As much as I'd like a more expensive camera, I didn't want to be walking around Disney World with a fat, packed camera case slapping me in the waist everytime I took a step--plus, you'd have to set it down for some rides, hope that no one swipes it, and so on and so on...

So, I wanted something to slip into my pocket. But I didn't want cheap. I could get a cheaper model for $125 or maybe $199, but there's something to be said for a higher price sometimes--better features.

The Lovely Steph Leann wants the Nikon D40, the newest digital camera on the market. I've heard good things about it as well, but too big. Maybe that would be a good "we're debt free" purchase for her later, but right now, I've been saving, counting on bonus money and such.

I went into HHGregg, the newest electronic kid on the block, and looked at what they had. There were pretty good deals, and I went to Circuit City... I hate Circuit City. Not because they don't have good product, but NO ONE talks to me. I'm big on customer service. Yes, I could ask someone for help, but its your job as store representative to approach me and say "Can I help you with anything sir?", and its my job to either say "Why no, thank you, I'm just looking", and then ask when I do need help, or to say "Why yes, I am looking for..." and allow the person to help me.

When I was searching for my iPod in Spring '06, Circuit City actually had them a little cheaper... but I spent 30 minutes looking at the mp3 player section, and the two Circuit City guys, standing there chatting and laughing, never offered any assistance. Same with the camera... never a "How can we, as Circuit City employees, help you to not only earn your business but keep your business?" And, like with the iPod search, I know they saw me. Not even a "Hey, sir, I know it looks like we aren't doing anything, but we actually are trying to resolve a situation, but we will definately be with you in a just a minute. Thank you for your patience."

Off to Best Buy, who pretty much attacks me every time I come in. Maybe because they know me by now, or something. Anyway, I went to the camera section, where I met a nice young lady named Amberly.

That is just a cool name... Amberly. Not just Amber, but Amberly. Not Kimberly, but Amberly. I'm going to keep a mental note... in case some of the couples in our Sunday Sch... er, Life Connection, steal Lorelei Addison (the name Steph Leann have decided on when and if we have a girl, almost ensuring us of a houseful of boys), I'm going to toss Amberly into the discussion.

So, Amberly and I talk about cameras for about 20 minutes. She teaches me the following facts, when looking for a camera:
  • Viewfinders are good. Though not necessary, it helps when taking photos in high light situations, such as the beach, where the screen may be washed out because of the light.
  • Higher megapixels are great if you are taking pictures for special photography, such as enlarging, or commercial photographs. By making them bigger, you want something with a higher pixelaton rate like 9 or 10 or more. However, for just vacation photos and everyday use, 7 to 8 will do just fine.
  • Any camera that you buy will necessitate the purchase of a memory card or stick. The camera itself comes with about enough memory to take 10 to 12 pictures. That's just how they roll nowadays.
  • Its good to buy one that uses a battery that can be recharged. Otherwise, you'll have to charge the camera itself, which is inconvenient on long days of heavy usage.

They had a Panasonic for sale, one that I had seen at HHGregg, and Amberly told me they would price match, and I almost bit... but I stopped. I had the money, but it would be a little tight. I would rather buy it when it wasn't tight, when I had the cash in my pocket. So I waited.

Skip ahead a month or two later, and I have the cash in my pocket. Five Benjamins. And I was ready. I went to HH Gregg first, just to see what unbelievable deals they might have, and they didn't really have anything unbelievable. Besides, I preferred Best Buy.

Traveled across the street to Best Buy, and guess who's in the camera section? Amberly. So I asked her a few questions, she answered them, and in discussion, I narrowed it down to two cameras... one was $299, the other was $399.

"Honestly, Amberly, out of these two, which do you like? What makes this one a hundred bucks more, even though it has the same pixelation and much of the same features?" I asked.

"Well, I like control. The more expensive one has more manual controls, and I'd rather turn off the auto control and do it myself. But thats me. If you aren't concerned with that, the $299 Sony Cybershot is really your best bet," she replied.

The moment had arrived. A graduate student of Financial Peace University, I was ready for my first negotiation test--FPU's motto is "never pay retail", and so I was ready to negotiate for a better deal. I added up what I wanted in my head... the camera case, the extra battery, the 2gig memory stick and the camera together would be about $450 or more... but I didn't want to pay $450.

"Alright, Amberly, I want that camera, a case, a battery and a memory stick, and," I paused as I pulled out 4 Dead Presidents, "I have $400. This is what I'd like to pay."

She looked at me funny, and shifted slightly, "Um... well, there's tax...""That's cool. $400 plus tax sounds fair to me." I smiled big. This might just work.

So, I followed her around as she grabbed the Sony battery, a brand name memory stick (not the cheap one, mind you) and then we discussed camera cases, in which I decided on a slim, compact case that retailed for about $15 or so. Then Amberly opened up the case, pulled out a box and handed me my camera. As we walked to the register, she said, "Okay, so like, I'm going to have to ask about taking money off."

I smiled back, and nicely said, "That's fine. I'll wait while you ask. If they say no, I think HH Gregg has the same stuff across the street, and I know they'd do it--you guys are probably killing them in market share." She smiled back, and disappeared into the store, headed for a manager.

I waited perhaps ten minutes... kinda curious if she couldn't find anyone, if it took that long to convince someone to do it, or if she spent 9 minutes griping about customers not wanting to pay the price and one minute asking. Either way, she came back, and said "Alright, $400 plus tax".

"Thank you for not making me to go HHGregg," I replied.

"Yeah, well they probably don't have any of this stuff," she said in a little dig to the new store across the street.

And so, I came home with my new Sony Cybershot W90, with face detection, double anti-blur technology, megamovieVX software, 8.1 pixels, 2.5 inch display, viewfinder and so on. Now, please don't email me telling me I shoulda bought this other brand, because "for the money, you coulda..." or tell me "I got the same camera for only $259 at...", 'cause that's just not necessary.

I love my new camera, and I'm excited that its mine--I paid cash for it, I'm not making a high interest credit card payment, and I've been taking pictures of everything for a week.

Thank you, Amberly. Thank you very much.

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