I’m sort of toying with the idea of recording a few .mp3 bits and bobs for my Englishisin web site, so the other day, I dropped in at a flash hi-fi shop to ask about microphones. Now while the chap there gave the impression that he knew what he was on about, after following up my visit with a little hunt around the web, I discovered that he really did not know all that much. His proposals were misleadingly highly priced and not really appropriate to my paltry needs. He did not even, for instance, know about USB type microphones that can save you quite a lot of hassle.
I’ve come across this a few times now – shop assistants that sound as though they know what they are on about, but that really do not. The best thing to do when you are hunting for something quite specific, is to surf around the www looking for information. If you post in a forum or two, you may even get some useful information too. You can also end up with information overload as a result of seeing so much stuff, so a little discretion is needed. However, on balance, the web can help you make a good decision and you should end up having fewer regrets about having purchased stuff that does not do what you want it to.
Of course, if you purchase via the web, you can find all sorts of stuff, but if it is outside Europe, you can have problems getting it into Italy, as I noticed that one Hong Kong based Ebay shop is advising against sending stuff to Italy, as a result of unpredictable customs. This means that the whole purchase process can end up becoming something of a lottery, especially regarding whether the item will actually turn up on your doorstep. This is a shame, because there are some very interesting products available on the US market that you just cannot find in Italy, for example. I suppose there is always the worry, especially in today’s climate, that someone could purchase dangerous items via the web and this is a valid worry. In fact I did read of a guy in the UK being caught by the police after someone found out that he was buying arms on the web.
Shops are easier to control, of course, whereas the web offers more choice, but much less control. One day, I hope, some kind of balance will be reached, but at present old-minds are running things and these minds seem to have problems predicting and solving the problems caused by the upstart digital market.