Sunday, October 14, 2007

To the Douchebag in the Skokie Best Buy who tried to convince me to spend $220 on an HDMI cable:

I had started noticing on the HD channels of our new television that we were getting a strange sort of horizontal color banding that alternated pink and green and scrolled upward through scenes where it was mostly closeups of people talking. Some channels it was less visible than others, but on HBOHD, the signal was so strong that it was distracting me from the show and all I could see were the lines. I had thought about this and tried wrapping the cables through the ferrite cores that the TV came with to cut down on interference, but it still didn't make them completely go away. The fact that re-cabling everything and moving my old TiVo out and away from the television seemed to improve it, paired with the fact that even when paused the scrolling lines could be seen, led me to believe that I probably had a bad component cable. The one I was using had been provided by Comcast, and was clearly a no-frills generic cable.

Now anyone who has ever been soaked by one of these things knows that these cables are retardedly expensive to begin with, but especially so in places where they assume a certain level of stupidity from their customers. I walked into Best Buy anticipating prices that were unrealistically inflated, but I was completely unprepared for (1) the fact that the salesdork in the home theater section was going to be an unapologetically dishonest asshole, and (2) the cables would be marked up 1000%. As I learned later, this is something that people have come to understand about Best Buy in particular, but I learned it through a rather blunt and exasperating conversation with possibly the lowest form of working human being imaginable. Here's how the conversation went:

Best Buy Douchebag: Can I help you?

Me: I'm looking for an HDMI cable.

BBD: What size display do you have?

Me: A 42" plasma. Where are your reasonably-priced cables? I've seen these online for $20.

BBD (with a sneer): You get what you pay for.

Me: Yeah, I'm not paying $200 for a cable.

BBD: I've seen them online for $20, too. You get what you pay for.

Me: That's funny, I've heard exactly the opposite. (This is true, by the way, and this advice came from my technophile friend Austin, who -among other legitimizing factors-actually owns and listens to a MiniDisc player and claims to be able to tell the difference between high-end audio heahphones. He specifically forbade me to spend more than $60 on cabling for the TV.)

BBD: If you use a crap cable you'll get a crap signal.

Me: Don't you have anything in the $30-50 range?

BBD: How long do you need it?

Me: (indicating a length of approximately two feet)

BBD: About four feet?

Me: (nodding my head and trying not to roll my eyes)

BBD: You'll be looking at about $80 minimum, even for cheap cables, there's just no way around it.

Me: (walking away in disgust) Whatever man.


Good old Radio Shack came through when Best Buy screwed the pooch on this one. Gold plated HDMI cables: $50 with a lifetime warranty. As you can see from the links above, even $50 is probably inflated past the point of reason, but I wanted the cables in a timely fashion and I wanted some that had decent signal shielding and wouldn't snap off in my HDMI ports. I liked the price so much I bought a component one for my DVD player too, so I can take advantage of the Progressive Scan feature.

Nevertheless, this whole experience with this careless moron has proven to me that I really have no need to ever shop there again. It is inconcievable to me that someone who knows I just bought a high-end TV thinks I would be dumb enough to spend $200 on a single cable. I have almost never been so insulted or felt so flatly lied-to by a retail employee before. Apparently, Best Buy and some of the other chains are known for gouging the living hell out of the prices on stuff like this, under the assumption that they can dupe idiots into buying cables on a 400% or more markup. Links:

http://gizmodo.com/gadgets/deals/hdmi-cable-price-gouging-180281.php

http://gustheghost.vox.com/library/posts/tags/price+gouging/

Guess who won't by buying anything from Best Buy ever again.

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