have Costco Concierge there.
Costco provides.”–Pam Bruner
is less than a minute, says Frances. The average
troubleshooting time is 18 minutes.
The nature of the beast
There’s little doubt we love our gadgets.
According to Advertising Age, we each own an average of 25 consumer electronics and were expected to
spend about $1,200 this year acquiring more. With
such an array of products, it’s no surprise that problems arise.
A common culprit is getting electronics made by
different manufacturers to work together, such as a
computer and a wireless router or a TV and a DVD
player. Jim Evert, a Costco member in Crescent City,
California, ran into this problem when he bought a
new computer from Costco. It wouldn’t work with
the printer he had.
A perplexed Evert contacted Costco Concierge
for help. After two and a half hours of trying various
solutions and scenarios, the technical-support rep
and Evert concluded that new software from the
printer manufacturer was needed for things to work.
Evert says he was “extremely impressed” by Costco
Concierge’s help, but in the end it was determined
that the printer maker no longer supported the
product. Evert ended up buying a new printer.
Are things getting better? Compatibility is
“something that the different industries are constantly talking about, through different conferences
and places like our big trade show every year—CES
[the International Consumer Electronics Show],
where various entities come together to work on
these issues—because everybody wants to serve the
consumer in the end,” comments Jenny Pareti,
spokeswoman for the Consumer Electronics
Association (CEA), a trade association.
Along with the annual CES—a massive trade
show where more than 20,000 product launches are
made each year—the CEA sponsors technical conventions called PlugFests, where companies converge to discuss new products and explore
ways to make sure they work together,
Other help for consumers is
available through a number of
online tools that have been
developed in the past decade
by manufacturers and by
other independent organizations. The CEA, for example,
offers several resources for
consumers, including the CEA Connections Guide
www.ceaconnectionsguide.com), which leads consumers through setting up TVs and audio equipment, and Digital Tips (
interactive buying and setup guide.
Other improvements are coming as a result of
recommendations and requests from retailers,
including Costco. As one of the country’s largest sellers of consumer electronics, Costco can work directly
with manufacturers on improvements that stem
from member feedback.
“We are in constant discussions with manufacturers about ways to improve their products, make
setup easier and eliminate confusion for our members,” says Geoff Shavey, Costco’s assistant general-merchandising manager for computers and cameras.
Some of the improvements are relatively simple. For example, simple packaging improvements
that clearly list features and benefits have been
made on some boxes to let purchasers know what
to expect. And quick setup guides, with user-friendly
illustrations, make it easier for people to get a product up and running without having to leaf through
the owner’s manual, which can be devoted to
Also, Costco includes cables with many TVs,
DVDs, printers, monitors and other electronics—
which is not only an added value, as some cables can
retail for $50 and more, but ensures that the righ t
cables are being used.
If these measures aren’t enough, Costco Concierge
is there to help. That’s what solved the problem for
the Bruners when their TV picture disappeared. It
turns out they just needed to press the “input” button on the remote control.
“It was such a relief to have them there,” Pam
Bruner says of Costco Concierge. “What a great service Costco provides.” C
Using the Costco Concierge
tech-support program is
easy. Here’s how.
■ Call toll-free
■ Have your Costco membership number on hand. Also
have the product’s item number (printed on the receipt)
and its make, model and
date of purchase.
■ You’ll be asked what language you want and what
type of product is involved.
Then you’ll be connected to
a Costco Concierge tech-support representative.
■ If the representative can’t
answer the question, he or
she will contact the manufacturer’s tech-support center while you are on the line.
■ Costco Concierge is open
from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. Pacific
time, seven days a week,