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Subject: FLGS employee demoing a game incorrectly: out of place to correct them? rss

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Rana Puer
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Short version: if a FLGS employee is demoing a game and explains important game rules incorrectly, are you out of place to correct them?

Long version:

So my FLGS hired a new employee about half a year ago, and at the time she knew absolutely nothing about board games outside of the mainstream ones. Since then, she has been really enthusiastic about learning new games and learning how to teach them. She's a good employee.

However, she really doesn't know that many games (a few months ago, I walked in and she was trying to teach Dominion out of the rulebook, because she didn't know how). As someone who browses The Geek, I just know more about the rules to games in general.

Tonight, she demoed 7 Wonders to myself and some first-time customers. She put a lot of effort into the demo and clearly put in effort to make it go well. She taught mostly from memory, but did consult the rulebook on some things. I thought she might be in over her head when she said "this game works really well with 2 players." When she said "the guilds don't show up until the second age," I didn't say anything, because that's not really a bad error. I also didn't say anything when she said "science only counts for points if you collect sets of different ones" because, while technically incorrect, it probably pushes newcomers toward a better strategy.

However, I did jump into her rules explanation to clarify a thing or two, such as the fact that if you want to get three gold on your turn, you dump a card too (she just said "you can take three gold instead of a card if you want"). The big moment came when one of the first-timers found himself in a position where he needed to buy two goods to play his card. "No, you can't do that, you can only buy one good per turn." I jumped in, because that is definitely not the rule, and that's a big one to play incorrectly (it was the difference between him being able to play a big blue card or having to pass). "No, only one per turn." I countered by finding and reading the rule verbatim that says you can do that. The new player was really happy to hear about this. The employee was visibly upset."Well, then I was taught wrong."

Then, at the beginning of the third age, she dealt me a hand containing 6(!) guilds. Then she realized she had three cards left over. "What happened?" I tried to quietly inform her that she needed to remove three guild cards before dealing. "Here, take these three and give me those ones." I gave her the topmost three guild cards from my hand and we were back on track.

We finished the game (she got the science scoring rules correct when helping us total them up and apologized for missing them the first time). The new players seemed to like the game overall.

tl;dr while demoing the game, an employee with the best of intentions got a ton of the rules wrong.

important part starts here

As we were all leaving the shop, she pulled me aside. (the following quote is remembered as best as I can, obviously wording might be off, but this is the general idea).

"Can I talk to you for a second? I appreciate that you're trying to help, and you're a nice guy and all, but when the shop is running an event, the shop needs to control an event. That means we need to be able to demo the games we want how we want. When you're showing people some game I don't know, you can do it your way, but we need to explain in a way that works for us." The basic translation: don't interrupt me to correct my rules explanation.

So the minor question is this: was I out of place to correct a store employee when demoing a game with key rules errors? The bigger question: what should I do if this happens again? Let it slide and play by the wrong rules? Charge ahead and preserve the game experience? Ask her in a way that makes it seem like I don't know she's wrong, so she can assert control of the explanation herself? The biggest question: What can I do to help her out here? She is a very nice employee and I want things to go well for her, although I feel I may not be in a position to help in this regard.

Also, I'm wondering if I owe her a more explicit apology.

Any thoughts on the matter would be appreciated.
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Hugh G. Rection
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If people buy the game as a result of the demo, and then later find out that they were taught incorrectly on several points, that's not going to reflect positively on the store. They might think, "If the people selling these expensive games have no clue how to play them, why are we bothering to buy from them and not the internet?"

FLGS employees are sales people. Sales people need to know their product, at least the successful ones do.
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Chris Robbins
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I really can't bring myself to pass judgment either way. Damned if you do, damned if you don't. But I appreciate your sharing. This will stick in my memory if ever I'm in the same situation. My conscience will have to be my guide.
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Curt Carpenter
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It's their shop. If they ask you to not interrupt when they're explaining a game, then don't. I fyou don't like playing in games where the rules are explained incorrectly, then perhaps stay out of games where she's explaining.

I wouldn't worry about what happened; it's water under the bridge. Unless you were belligerent when she asked you to not interrupt her (which it sounds like was diplomatic in doing).
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Gadi Oron
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Tough question; if you are good at it you might offer to explain the games you are experienced with in her place. Do it in advance and not in front of other customers and she might accept your assistance. This will be a clear win-win situation.

Otherwise, I personally will not play with a group where you cannot clarify/ask/argue freely about the rules.
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Gary Tanner
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I would absolutely correct them. Politely, mind, which it sounds like you were doing. I would probably offer to help out "I'm really familiar with this game, so if you want a hand, let me know." And if she took me aside afterwards and gave me that speech, I'd simply tell her that I understand the importance of the store controlling the demo. That I'd be more than happy to come in on my own time and demo games for customers, or demo them for the staff so that the staff can demo them with more confidence.

I've offered to demo games for stores before and been taken up on that offer, because the staff weren't as familiar with them as I was.

But if she had a really negative attitude about it, I'd probably shrug it off and say something along the lines of "No worries, you want to teach your games wrong because you're too lazy to read the rules, your choice" and find a different store. Attitude is everything.
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Steve
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My opinion comes down to one question: If their misleading rule interpretations lead me to buying a game on false pretenses, can I get a full refund? If the answer is yes, then let them say what they want or bring your concerns about the negative image this type of action causes to the owner.

When it comes down to it, the rules make the game. A horrible/great experience with a game can sometimes come down to a misinterpretation of a games rules and eventually playing correctly could alter your opinion greatly. If no one at the store cared, I would find a new store or purchase online for cheaper. If they cannot take the time to care, why should I?
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Bryan Thunkd
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Tell her that you are just trying to help out. Tell her that she got many rules wrong and it's not fair to other players if she teaches the game wrong. Offer to go over the rules with her before she demos something in public. But you know what, if I'm at a public game event and someone is teaching the rules wrong... I'm going to correct them.
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Dan Edelen
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Hugh_G_Rection wrote:
FLGS employees are sales people. Sales people need to know their product, at least the successful ones do.


1. You can't learn the rules to all games. There are simply too many games and too many rules.

2. You can't remember the rules to all games when asked to play one on the spur of the moment.

3. While knowing the features of a product is important, games are different. One must know all the rules of a game for its basic function to work as intended, whereas with most complex products, most people rarely need to know how all the features operate to use the product effectively. (I mean, I've been using various incarnations of Microsoft Word since v1.0, and I don't know how half of its functions work, yet I would be considered an adept user.)

I sold computers and electronics at one point in my life. There are general facts about those items that transcend one explanation of them. Detailed specs are often best explained with a comparison chart. Most electronics have a back page with all the specs, so one always knows where to turn.

This does not work with games. You must know the details at all times or be prepared to know where to find them in the rules, which can often be daunting.

My assumption? If I am having a game demoed at an FLGS and I know the salesperson is trying to teach the game on the fly, I would assume the rules explanation is wrong. Just assume it. And I don't care how adept the employee is. Based on the realities above, chances are that something in the explanation is wrong.

If it were me, I'd preface my demo with "This is the basic gist of the game. I may be blowing some of the details." If it was a game I was familiar with, I would leave out that excuse.

If done that way, I don't think anyone getting the demo would be upset.

In short, when it comes to sales, honesty is always the best policy, and that extends to one's shortcomings as a salesperson.
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Bryan McNeely
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No, it's not out-of-place to correct them.

Defend the game and the potential new fans!

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Booker Hooker
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This employee sounds like a nice person who wants to take their job seriously, but with a "don't correct me" attitude they're not taking it as seriously as they should and they've apparently got an ego issue on top of that.

Tough situation. It's easy for me to say "don't play games with this employee any more", but I know sometimes as gamers we take em where we can get em.

I think if she asked you not to correct her you should not correct her. But then you have to ask yourself what's more important, playing the game right, or just playing the game.
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Alan
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edelen wrote:
Hugh_G_Rection wrote:
FLGS employees are sales people. Sales people need to know their product, at least the successful ones do.


1. You can't learn the rules to all games. There are simply too many games and too many rules.

2. You can't remember the rules to all games when asked to play one on the spur of the moment.

3. While knowing the features of a product is important, games are different. One must know all the rules of a game for its basic function to work as intended, whereas with most complex products, most people rarely need to know how all the features operate to use the product effectively. (I mean, I've been using various incarnations of Microsoft Word since v1.0, and I don't know how half of its functions work, yet I would be considered an adept user.)

Respectfully, I disagree with most of your reply.

1. Correct, but that should be tempered by which games you teach. For example, if I'm not comfortable enough to teach a game then I won't offer to teach it (i.e., if I don't feel that I know the rules or remember the game well enough). Don't bill yourself as a game teacher if you can't live up to the implied expectations.

2. This one is a red herring. No one is asking you to remember all of the rules for all of the games. I'm asking you to remember all of the rules for the ONE game you are teaching and for which you have now billed yourself as being competent to teach.

3. Yes and no. Everyone forgets a rule at some point or another while teaching. One point is to be as correct as you possibly can and, should this occur, apologize, explain and move on. The other point is that you should not teach a game if you cannot do so. Miss a rule or two and I forgive you. Miss more than one or two BIG rules and I will think twice before learning another game from you.

edelen wrote:
My assumption? If I am having a game demoed at an FLGS and I know the salesperson is trying to teach the game on the fly, I would assume the rules explanation is wrong. Just assume it. And I don't care how adept the employee is. Based on the realities above, chances are that something in the explanation is wrong.

If I'm seeing a game demoed at a FLGS, I would assume the person knows what they're doing and what they're talking about because otherwise why are they demoing the game? If you're representing a business, you shouldn't talk about what you don't know. A good salesperson will know their product, know their audience, pitch accordingly and be willing to make adjustments (learn) in order to improve their skill and sales. It's a win-win when done correctly and a lose-lose when not.

EDIT: And to get back on the OP's topic, I would politely correct them. I'm kind of a stickler on correct rules and something like that would annoy the heck out of me. I'm not entirely sure what I would do if she then said something to me afterwards. Then I might start being slightly less than cordial.
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Just let her know that every game comes with a rulebook. As long as she follows that, she'll be fine. Even if she was taught some things wrong by someone else, the rules will (most likely) have the correct way to play in them. Since she is playing games like these, I assume she is capable of reading. I understand that some people can interpret the rules wrong, but "that's how I was taught" should never be an excuse.

My friends and I have definitely learned our lesson in trying to teach a game that we learned from someone else without reading the rules.

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Tim Earl
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How often do you frequent this store? Enough to have a relationship with the owner? If you have a good relationship with him or her, you may want to start there. Obviously, be very diplomatic, like "She's very enthusiastic (or whatever, something positive), but if she's teaching people the wrong way to play, it may reflect poorly on the shop when they discover the error later." And of course, offer to demo the games to the staff as mentioned earlier. Try to make it positive.

You've described her as a nice and well intentioned person, but the comments about the store "maintaining control" and running the demo "in a way that works for them" are troubling. That's an indication of someone who is either on a power trip or very defensive. Either way, she does not seem like she will be amenable to your help. If you care about the store, it's time to go above her head to someone who has a financial stake in the success of the store.
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Matthew Soares
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I think you did the right thing and I would likely do the same, which is to correct any incorrect rules demonstrated by someone. I think its important to know how to play a game properly because it affects the game in play, including the opinion of the players on whether or not the game is worthy of purchase.

If the employee responded to me in that manner, I would have likely said something to the effect of, "I understand you are running the demos and must maintain control, but I also think it is important that a game is taught correctly, and if anything it benefits your business and is reflective of the store's reputation. However, if the store wants to teach its games incorrectly, I'll gladly stay out of it."

I can agree with edelen's view that its not possible to remember the rules to every game you learn, nor is it possible to always remember every single fiddly rule within a game. However, that person is there to instruct others, and if its not possible, it should be indicated by the instructor that he or she is not familiar with the game.

For me, I'm kinda shocked that she got upset by being told the correct rules. I teach games all the time, and I want people to correct me if I'm wrong when explaining rules. So if anything, if I was pulling ranapuer aside, it'd be to say, "Hey dude, thanks for helping me out with the game. I'm still learning this one and knew I was probably going to mess a few things up."
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Matt Freitas
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A game teacher needs to be humble, especially if they aren't 100% on all the rules.

If someone has played the game at the table before and they start correcting you i can see how that can look a bit embarrassing to the person running the game. And when it's supposed to be a paid employee teaching the game i can see that being even worse on them. I imagine them thinking the other players might not want to go to them for help anymore because they don't know games they are teaching very well.

But the employee needs to be able to clearly state their experience with the product. And be willing to roll with the rule corrections. The employee from the sounds of it is required to demo any game people want to play, which is cool. But it can be led to them teaching out of the rulebook (like with dominion) if she's upfront with it being like, "hey i've only played a few times i can't say i have every rule memorized perfectly" then people are fine with how it goes.

I ran mageknight tables at a con having only played half way through the tutorial game once because it was either i run it or no one runs it. I simply told people i have the basics down and taught that and relied upon the rulebook and other experienced players who showed up later to help everyone through. Everyone was grateful to play the game and get a gist of it and most walked into the dealers hall and bought it right there. Even with a poor rules explanation from the teacher.

Just be nice and straight with her. Look i understand you want to run the demo and i'm completely fine with things like that. But if you make a mistake you should be open to corrections so people learn to play correctly.
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ronald fraigun
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This is not a hard game to learn or to teach and if she got that many rules wrong then there is an issue there other then control. I for sure would correct not just the big rules but the small ones she messed up also. Learning a game correctly is important enough to be done properly and if she hasn't played the game enough to do that then she shouldn't be.
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Dan Edelen
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Alan Stern wrote:
Respectfully, I disagree with most of your reply.

1. Correct, but that should be tempered by which games you teach. For example, if I'm not comfortable enough to teach a game then I won't offer to teach it (i.e., if I don't feel that I know the rules or remember the game well enough). Don't bill yourself as a game teacher if you can't live up to the implied expectations.


Problem is, as a game store employee, you don't get to pick and choose which games you are asked to teach.

One could argue that employees should know the basics of every game that has a demo copy in the store, but then in some big stores, it would still be a daunting task.

Alan Stern wrote:
2. This one is a red herring. No one is asking you to remember all of the rules for all of the games. I'm asking you to remember all of the rules for the ONE game you are teaching and for which you have now billed yourself as being competent to teach.


See my response above. Essentially, some are implying that an employee should know the rules for every game the store sells.

Now, if the store is claiming a demo night and featuring a specific game, then I would expect the employee to know the details of the rules.

But to ask an employee to be able to sit down and teach any game the store sells to a customer who asks, that's not feasible for the reasons I noted.

That said, given how developed BGG's list of videos is, a salesperson might legitimately use a walkthrough video off BGG as a substitute demo. (Though the question of commercial use, public display, and copyright applies here.)

Alan Stern wrote:
3. Yes and no. Everyone forgets a rule at some point or another while teaching. One point is to be as correct as you possibly can and, should this occur, apologize, explain and move on. The other point is that you should not teach a game if you cannot do so. Miss a rule or two and I forgive you. Miss more than one or two BIG rules and I will think twice before learning another game from you.


Most games today are complex enough that even a minor rules omission will skew outcomes. In short, there really are no passes allowed here.

The bigger question concerns the issue of sales. If the demo is simply to sell the game, then more flexibility is built in. If it's to give a simple overview, then again, more flexible. But if it's to play the game as the designer intended, the flexibility dminishes.

What is the expectation?

I absolutely do not expect much of a salesperson selling a board game. A car? Yes! (Is this car's engine belt-driven or timing chain?--that's a critical difference with all sorts of future implications.) But not a game.

Alan Stern wrote:
If I'm seeing a game demoed at a FLGS, I would assume the person knows what they're doing and what they're talking about because otherwise why are they demoing the game?


As I noted, there are several kinds of demos. Each carries a different level of responsibility for the demoer.
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Dan Edelen
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TheLastAntidote wrote:
For me, I'm kinda shocked that she got upset by being told the correct rules. I teach games all the time, and I want people to correct me if I'm wrong when explaining rules. So if anything, if I was pulling ranapuer aside, it'd be to say, "Hey dude, thanks for helping me out with the game. I'm still learning this one and knew I was probably going to mess a few things up."


You're not thinking like a salesperson but like a gamer.

As someone who sold computers and electronics, the last thing I wanted on a sale was some outsider jumping in to comment on my sales pitch. In almost every case, all that does is force damage control. That outsider was wrong 99 times out of 100, and if that outsider contradicted what I had just said, the effect on the customer was to consider the possibility that I was intentionally lying. That ruins sales.

If I were the outsider, I would just not stick my nose into the sale UNLESS it was perfectly clear that the salesperson was intentionally deceiving the customer into making a poor choice. And even then, I am less apt to do it than I once was simply because my impression that a mistake is intentional may not be as accurate as it first appears.

Today, I don't interrupt any sales presentation unless I know the salesperson and my contribution isn't anything more than agreeing that the item is wonderful and should be purchased.
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Mark L
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There are some good pros and cons discussed in this thread. On the one hand, correct rule explanations are important. On the other hand, the store is not your business, so you should abide by their rules when you're in there. It might also be that she took your comments as implied criticism of her ability to do her job.

I'm really not sure what I'd have done in that situation, but here's an idea. Maybe next time you see that employee, you should ask to have a private word with her. Say something like:

1. You didn't mean to insult or offend her, and you're sorry if you did so.

2. You've thought about what she said, and understand why she doesn't want you correcting her rules explanations in front of other customers.

3. The reason you corrected her like that was that teaching the game wrongly to customers may give them a false impression of it, which may put them off buying it. Or they may get it home, read the rules and find it doesn't work how they were taught, and think less of her and the store.

4. Still, it's the store's business, not yours, and you won't do it again if that's what she wants.

(Start by apologising,to disarm any potential hostility. Then acknowledge her position. Then explain yours. Then clearly state that you will abide by her wishes.)

Hope that helps!
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Alan
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Edelen, let me pivot slightly rather than respond to each point:

What are the expectations of a store employee demoing a game?

Here are what my expectations are:

1. Familiar with the game on a general level, either from having played it at least once or from reading about it. This could be expressed by giving a one-to-three sentence summary of the game, either noting its general theme(s) and/or mechanic(s).

2. Able to teach the game to at least a moderate level of competency. I do not expect nor ask for perfection. The instruction should be sufficiently capable to enable mostly accurate play of the game. Admittedly, there are a few subjective determinations built into this.

3. At least passing familiarity with the rulebook (e.g., from having read it or at least looked through it for 5-10 minutes).

4. At least a moderate level of enthusiasm for the game.

5. Ability to accept corrections to gameplay and adjust accordingly. This may be from someone more familiar with the game and may be confirmed by an attempt (preferably a quick one if gameplay is held up) to locate the rule(s) in the manual. (In other words, attitudes and actions that I expect of gaming groups with whom I participate.)



If, as a store employee, you are unable to fulfill these expectations, don't open up the game and demo it. Discuss it, give general impressions, relate experiences you've heard from others, hold the shrink-wrapped box in your hands and go ahead and try to sell me the product, but don't open it up and teach the rules of it to me unless you can. Very simple.

I'm not asking or expecting a store employee to know all the rules to all of the games in the store. I'm asking and expecting that if they have a game opened up and are teaching it, then they should be familiar with it and know enough to be able to teach it competently.
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Lee Fisher
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edelen wrote:
TheLastAntidote wrote:
For me, I'm kinda shocked that she got upset by being told the correct rules. I teach games all the time, and I want people to correct me if I'm wrong when explaining rules. So if anything, if I was pulling ranapuer aside, it'd be to say, "Hey dude, thanks for helping me out with the game. I'm still learning this one and knew I was probably going to mess a few things up."


You're not thinking like a salesperson but like a gamer.

As someone who sold computers and electronics, the last thing I wanted on a sale was some outsider jumping in to comment on my sales pitch. In almost every case, all that does is force damage control. That outsider was wrong 99 times out of 100, and if that outsider contradicted what I had just said, the effect on the customer was to consider the possibility that I was intentionally lying. That ruins sales.

If I were the outsider, I would just not stick my nose into the sale UNLESS it was perfectly clear that the salesperson was intentionally deceiving the customer into making a poor choice. And even then, I am less apt to do it than I once was simply because my impression that a mistake is intentional may not be as accurate as it first appears.

Today, I don't interrupt any sales presentation unless I know the salesperson and my contribution isn't anything more than agreeing that the item is wonderful and should be purchased.


I wouldn't want to go to a FLGS where employees think like salespeople.
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Matthew Soares
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edelen wrote:
TheLastAntidote wrote:
For me, I'm kinda shocked that she got upset by being told the correct rules. I teach games all the time, and I want people to correct me if I'm wrong when explaining rules. So if anything, if I was pulling ranapuer aside, it'd be to say, "Hey dude, thanks for helping me out with the game. I'm still learning this one and knew I was probably going to mess a few things up."


You're not thinking like a salesperson but like a gamer.

As someone who sold computers and electronics, the last thing I wanted on a sale was some outsider jumping in to comment on my sales pitch. In almost every case, all that does is force damage control. That outsider was wrong 99 times out of 100, and if that outsider contradicted what I had just said, the effect on the customer was to consider the possibility that I was intentionally lying. That ruins sales.

If I were the outsider, I would just not stick my nose into the sale UNLESS it was perfectly clear that the salesperson was intentionally deceiving the customer into making a poor choice. And even then, I am less apt to do it than I once was simply because my impression that a mistake is intentional may not be as accurate as it first appears.

Today, I don't interrupt any sales presentation unless I know the salesperson and my contribution isn't anything more than agreeing that the item is wonderful and should be purchased.


You're making a comparison of your experiences of selling electronics to demoing games with the intention to drum up sales. I think electronics falls into the same category of your previous example with automobiles in that it's a very different story with limited flexibility.

I get what you're saying though... It looks bad. Period...

However, providing incorrect information is just as bad too, especially if the buyer feels misled as a result of the inaccurate information.

This is one of those topics that can be seen both ways, but for me, I think it was to the benefit of the shop having a person clarify incorrect rules for prospective buyers.
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Richard Shay
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Norwood
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The world is littered with people who would rather be in charge than right. I avoid people like that whenever possible. They often end up in positions with some kind of authority, no matter how little, and that is more important to them than life itself. They do not want your suggestions and especially your corrections. They want your attention and obedience. It always seems lamentable to me, but it is very common.
Any kind of bureaucracy or hierarchy attracts them. Geeks don't mix with them well, because being right or effective is what we cherish. New ideas and improved capabilities are what we prefer.
Its almost opposites, like good vs. evil, light vs. dark.
When you look, you see it in many situations.
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Serious? Lee
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Coppell
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A polite correction to clarify rules during a demonstration seems perfectly acceptable. I would appreciate being on the receiving end of such assistance as either the one giving or the one viewing the demonstration.
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