heh, fun post to wade it.
57, I've certainly been there. I've got some ties to FS, people who work there (I'll be vague...
) I've seen it happen even when I'm in a store with them, an employee who -claims- to know something when they obviously doesn't. This is bad. When they then argue that -you- must be wrong, that's frankly worse.
However, and I think you made this point, this is certainly not symptomatic of FS, let alone Best Buy et al. I've consistently got far worse service over the years from the smaller chains (2001, et. al. - remember Majestic? hehe) then from FS. FS, BB, etc. are far better to shop at when -you know what you are looking for-. And, frankly 57, methinks that you do.
Now, not sure it's kosher for John to chime in, as he's obviously a direct competitor. Still, I respect his opinion so damn much doesn't really matter if it's necessarily unbiased or not.
As somebody who buys a heck of a lot of computer hardware direct from wholesalers, there are still some things (monitors, printers, etc.) that tend to be cheaper at FS - something to be said for mamoth buying power. Electronics are obviously the same.
I really have run into some employees that were excellent in one of two ways - 1) they were patient and informative, and never arogant, or, 2) the best kind, wise enough to let me "play" for a bit, and even eager to learn a thing or two that might help them with another customer.
For now, I buy all my stuff from one retailer on Kennedy, based entirely on excellent prices and, most imporantly, incredible service. They've bent over backwards for me, and I'm someone who rewards that loyalty. FS isn't really setup that way, so you certainly lose out on that. However, for the little things you might need, it's kinda nice to have a place to go.
As for the plasma prices, never play the US dollar exchange game with anything that needs to be plugged into a wall. Just some polite advice, it'll drive you nuts. Be happy we have the cheapest dvds/cds in the world.