ASUS K40INTime and again, on this blog, I’ve always stressed the importance of customer service. Having worked sales before, I know how tricky it is to guide a person from being a prospect to a buying client. I don’t know if computer salesmanship is a totally different ballpark but I don’t think it is. Too bad there are a lot of sales people who miss out on the basic salesmanship skills.

Credit cards and lower laptop prices have made it possible for many to purchase on installments but, in my book, any transaction above Php 10,000 is a serious purchase – something that would require financial planning for at least a couple of months. Heck, I even sleep over decisions on Php 1,000 purchases given my kuripot nature. Acquiring something as valuable as a laptop is a year-long project for me at a minimum.

I’d have to say that I’m not the run-of-the-mill customer and I do pose a challenge to sales people. I do know my tech and I’m shrewd when it comes to money. You can’t just come up to me and bullshit me into buying. I do my research before I approach stores so it’s very hard to fool me with bogus claims and the like. But I’m not tough of a cookie to crack either. For one, I have often made my decision about buying even before I go to a store so closing a sale with me often hinges on the deal and customer service.

Rish and I had our eyes on the ASUS F81-Se since the first time we saw in the market a couple of months ago. Best buck per bang mid-range laptop in the market in our opinion. Being the kuripot kids we did survey models and several stores for their prices and took time before we even seriously considered buying. Since Rish had the more immediate need, she decided to purchase a laptop today and so we went to SM North Cyberzone.

The thing with ASUS laptops here in the Philippines is that the low prices and two-year warranties make their releases very popular. When we checked out the F81-Se this morning, we found out that all the stores had ran out of stocks and that ASUS has phased the model out for the Philippine market. And all the major stores didn’t have them already. ASUS’ latest offering with similar specs with less bells and whistles – the K40IN – has only been in the market for a month and yet stocks are running out.

We tried looking for the F81-Se at several stores and had quite the time getting different reactions from the sales people. It does help to have a winning attitude as a salesman but that attitude should be tempered with tact and politeness.

Complink‘s attendant just told us there were no more stocks for the F81-Se. He lost us when he just told us, “Wala nang stock.” The dolt didn’t even offering us information whether there will be new stocks arriving or even offer alternatives. That’s a lost potential sale.

Octagon‘s people were quite helpful even though they didn’t have the model in stock. At least they tried calling their other branches just in case they can pull out a unit for us and offered us different models for consideration. They also suggested the K40IN but they also didn’t have it on stock.

Villman tops my list of PC stores with good customer service ( though their prices are higher than most) and they didn’t disappoint. Too bad they didn’t have any on stock as well. At least their attendant made the effort to call the distributor’s representative to inquire about ASUS’ current prodict line. That’s when we found out that the F81 had sold out and that ASUS is only offering the K40 and K50 to fill up the gap left by the F81 in their product line. Rish then decided to spring for the K40 instead. Too bad Villman didn’t have it on stock either.

Our next stop was the ASUS store by PC Gilmore. The attendant remembered us from last time we checked for models a month or so ago. When we asked if they still had the F81 in stock, he told us, “Wala na yun. Eh antagal naman na nung nagtanong kayo dati eh.” I could very well discount it as part of his register since he had this brash way of speaking but come on. Do these sales people really expect customers to make purchases on a whim? Does thinking purchases over really make you look like you don’t have money? We were supposed to ask him for the K40 but the guy’s attitude turned us off.

The last store we checked was Gigahertz. Their salespeople were courteous and friendly. They even ran us through the features and even compared models from other brands to give us options given what we’re looking for and out budget. Textbook salesmanship. Good for them, they also happened to be the only store aside from the ASUS store to have the K40IN readily available. So we finally decided to buy one from them.

The K40IN’s quite nice actually. It’s got a 14 inch screen and a Intel Core 2 Duo T6400 2 GHz processor. It comes with 4GB of RAM and 320 GB of disk space. It’s got a 512 MB dedicated NVIDIA GeForce G102M GPU and Altec Lansing speakers to boot. It’s a bit connectivity-impaired though since it only has Wi-Fi and ethernet, lacking firewire, Bluetooth and a 56k fax modem. It comes with Windows Vista Home Premium with an free upgrade to Windows 7 when it comes out. It scores a 4.6 on the Windows Experience Index only limited by the graphics processor. Still, a very well speced laptop for its price. (List price of Php 40,999 but can be had for lower for cash purchase.) So congrats to Rish for the purchase! If I were to buy one right now, I’d spring for the same model.

As for me, my A8Jr’s still holding up superbly. I might be able to wait until a newer model comes out, just in time for when Windows 7 comes bundled with the units.

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