You may have been following the Gizmodo scandal over the past few days – where one of their staff was visiting the huge CES trade fair, and acquired a TV remote control which enables the user to switch off TV’s regardless of brand/model. They thought it a laugh to go around the conference turning off TVs and monitors all over the place, even disrupting a press show by Motorola.
Opinions on the blogosphere are somewhat divided, with some saying it was a good laugh and others castigating their lack of profesionalism at a trade show.
The trade show organisers are not happy, and this morning it was confirmed that the blogger would be barred from all future trade shows, and there may be further action taken against the publication itself.
I fall into the “why don’t you just grow up” camp and think the prank was childish and annoying.
I used to work in the UK consumer electronics retailer, Currys many years ago, and we had to put the remote controls for TVs on display so that people could see what they looked like. People like to know these things, quite understandably I think. We also had to usually put batteries into them as well though, as demonstrations were usually required.
That lead to the inevitable – people of all ages, but of a singularly childish mentality playing with the TVs and thinking it mightily funny to screw around with our carefully set up systems.
When serving a customer – I didn’t have time to run around turning the volume on TVs back down to mute or changing the channels back from the more adult satellite channels etc.
One particularly annoying character was a chap who walked in each lunchtime and used a TV to check his share prices – and would get quite angry if a sales person approached him. That was tolerable, except that he never ever had the courtesy of putting the TV back to the state he found it in! In the end, we removed all the remotes from display for a few days – and later spotted him in a competitor store behaving in the same manner. You’d think a person trading shares could afford to buy a cheap teletext TV for the office, or would at least be polite when using the TV in our shop.
Anyhow, having been on the receiving end of such childish pranks for several years, I can fully appreciate the inconvenience caused by the Gizmodo idiots at the CES show and completely support their actions to ban the blogger from attending their trade shows again.
On a slightly different note – having all those TVs and working remotes did have one positive moment in our store. I should point out that this was all happening before internet access was commonplace.
When I joined the branch (in Slough high street), and took over much of the merchandising of the window displays, I instantly set several of the TVs in the window display to show a rolling news service from Teletext, as well as subtitles on one of the TVs. People actually liked that and I would see people standing outside watching the news (or soap operas).
On Jan 17th, 1991 was the first day of the first Gulf War, when the UN coalition invaded Kuwait – and naturally this dominated the news media. In the store, we set all the TVs in the shop window over to Teletext and had each one focusing on a different news page. We did the same inside the shop as well, and when the 1 O’Clock news started, deliberately turned the news volume up.
The store was packed – absolutely packed – full of people who had come inside just to watch the news.
I actually popped next door to a competitor and they were not full at all – which told me that our policy of providing the news in the shop windows had been noticed by customers/passers by and they chose our store to visit to catch the news during their lunchtime. We probably lost sales that lunchtime as the shop was given over to being a public news service – but I bet we won a heck of a lot of customers in the long term.
So – in conclusion, childish antics of disrupting display televisions and monitors are bloody annoying for the staff, but when managed correctly, a retail outlet can turn the “hassle” of displaying TVs into a valuable service for the local community.