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We all find ourselves at the hands of the "experts" a retail stores. We are at worst forced to endure smarmy, overconfident, condescending know it alls whose only joy in life seems to be doling out tid bits of information a little at a time, always withholding that last piece of vital information that would stop you from, say,flooding the house or formatting the hard drive.

At best we find can someone willing to help, provided we don't come off as too aggressive, belligerent, or just plain rude in a futile attempt to get a preemptive strike in in case they happened to be one of the "bad" experts.

Here are a few tips to help make sure that the expert you encounter will be forth coming and helpful to you:

1. Let them set the tone of the interaction. Don't fall into the trap of attacking first because the last guy/ gal was a @#*&^%$. Let every interaction with someone new be just that: new.

2. If you are asking them for help and knowledge, be slow to contradict them. If you know so much in the first place, why are you there asking them? If you are 100%+ sure that the info you are getting is wrong, make sure you broach the idea that they are in error with tact. No one likes a sore winner.

3. When they tell you the right way to do something, and you want to do it wearing some mouse ears from that place in Anaheim, make sure that you acknowledge that you know it isn't the text book way, and then ask if there is a cheaper, easier, or simpler way to do it.

4. If they tell you that you can't do it the "other" way, find out why. There maybe safety or other important issues that you don't realize. Don't just assume that they want to sell you an extra few $$ of product. They may be really saving you from heart and head aches. Remember, there maybe legal or liability issues if they tell you how to do it in an unorthodox manner.

5. Don't interrupt them unless you have to. You don't like it when it happens to you, and neither do they! You asked the question, so let them answer it.

6. If all else fails, and you get the putz who will not help you properly no matter what, move on. Getting into a pissing match is what they want. Excuse yourself and find another more willing person to help you. Then after you get what you need, get the manager and calmly express you dissatisfaction with the putz while you contrast it to the stellar assistance you got from the better person. This will give you more credibility and leverage with the manager, especially if you point out how much you are spending because of the good employee as opposed to the big fat zero the store would have received due to the lack of help from the putz. Remember that money talks, and whiny, unreasonable complainers walk.

These simple rules can help make sure you get the answers you need with out having to have a coronary to get it. Happy shopping!

(No the 19 years of retail experience have NOT left me bitter!)

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