Thursday 27 August 2015 was the Grand Re-Opening of the Dion Wired Store in Woodmead, Sandton, and I was fortunate enough to be there to cover the story.
I can remember in 2007 when the first Dion Wired store opened in Gateway, Umhlanga and I was there with my dad. We were fortunate enough to be at the front of the queue when the doors officially opened.
I can remember the amazement when I walked in, so many laptops, cameras, cellphones and music systems in one store, and I was one of the first people to see it.
I don't think the other people even realised what they were a part of. Everyone rushing around trying to fill their trolleys with ALL the products on special before the next allotment of 20 people were allowed to enter.
This was exactly the same experience, almost 8 years later. The mind set of the customer had not changed. They saw or heard an advert, that there would be a sale. They rushed down to Dion Wired, and as soon as they were in the store they rushed to get the products in their cart before anyone else got their grubby hands on 'their precioussss'.
Before we entered the store at Woodmead at their Re-Opening sale, there was live entertainment and even a jolly pair that were taking photos of the customers before they entered. Nobody was interested in either of them, they were only focussed on the man who was guarding the main entrance doors with a small rope, which surprisingly kept the hungry tech crowd at bay.
When I got in there were a lot of people already in queues around the store waiting to purchase their bundle of 'Christmas gifts'. The emcee was giving away gifts to customers that were waiting in these queues; gift cards and external hard drives to assist with their purchases and complement the products the customers were purchasing respectively.
Great atmosphere, great deals and great giveaways…. but service is debatable.
Sales assistants would come up to me and ask for assistance but as soon as I asked them a question regarding the products I was looking at, they were unable to assist. I was looking at the Magimix blenders and an assistant approached me, I asked him if the Magimix that they had on display was all that they had, he responded by saying, "No there is the Kitchen Aid as well!" and then just left. Magimix and Kitchen Aid are two different products but I'm sure he knows best as he is the sales assistant.
I moved to the Apple products stand and was hoping for someone with a bit more intellect. I asked the assistant at the Apple stand if the iPad Mini and iPhone 4S that they had on special was still available. She told me that they ran out of stock but they will get more in the afternoon. She was also ready to leave when I wanted to ask her if the price that it was marked at in the advert would still apply. She responded, "No that was only for the morning", and proceeded to tell me the new price. By that time I wanted to leave the store. Half a loaf is better than nothing but half a story doesn't really help me.
Before I had given up all hope I decided to check on the external hard drives. I was torn between a 3TB Western Digital at R1400 and a 2TB Seagate which was supposedly on special at R990. After weighing up the pros and cons of the two I was ready to make the purchase of the 3TB when my eye caught a 4TB Western Digital - Cloud Storage Device. Unfortunately there was no price so it looked like I would have to do the thing that every sales person was dreading... and ask for assistance.
Just then a gentleman came and also started looking at the 2TB Seagate external hard drive. Since there was no sales assistant in sight, he asked me if it was compatible with USB 2.0, as it only had USB 3.0 compatibility on the box. I told him that they usually are backwards compatible but he should ask someone for assistance who would actually know. Sales being second nature to me, I couldn't resist and I proceeded to show the gentleman the 3TB and explained why it was more value for money than the 2TB that he was looking at. After my sales spiel he was actually leaning more to purchase the 3TB.
Eventually two sales assistants came to "our rescue" and the gentleman asked them if the 2TB was backwards compatible. The first sales assistant told us that the Seagate representative was suppose to be there and didn't show up (basically telling us he couldn't assist us), and the second assistant tried a bit harder and looked at the box for some clues. We explained to them that there was nothing about backwards compatibility on the box to which they both looked very dumbfounded. They eventually agreed among themselves that they would have to open a box and test it on one of the laptops in the store.
After the gentleman's problem was almost resolved even though I'm sure he ended up buying the 3TB if he had actually bought anything, I managed to ask what the price was for the 4TB. The sales assistant didn't know the price off hand and told me that he would have to get it scanned. I'm still waiting for him to come back with the price...
I left the store without purchasing anything and I'm not sure if I will go back, unless I know exactly what I want and I don't need to ask any questions.