This one didn't happen to me though. I was at GC today, picking up a bass and a pile of cables, along with a new SDC mic. This put me in the pro audio section, where I was on the fence between another set of MXL990s and a Sterling ST31 for about 10 minutes, Googling away right by the sales counter. (I ended up with the ST31.)
Anyway, as I'm there, in walks two older women, who walk up to the sales counter and start talking to the clerk. Turns out they know nothing about music at all, but are the mother and aunt of two 10 year old girls. One plays violin, the other plays sax and flute.
They open the conversation with "We have two 10 year old girls, and need a super simple way for them to record themselves playing and put it on the web for their friends". I think that's pretty cool, so my initial (kept to myself) thought was Reaper + a couple of mics and a basic interface. Mom plugs in something like a Firestudio Mobile, Reaper is free, and hey, MXL990's are $75 for two condensers. Make any config you want, but for simple recording for 10 year old kids, there are a billion options out there.
So as I'm pondering my mics and being a fly on the wall, the guy behind the counter recommends.. Pro Tools and an M-Box. Now, I don't know 10 year old girls as well as JJ does, but it struck me as a little over the top for basically a soccer mom and her two daughters to be recommended a $700 recording package w/PT as a "quick and easy way to record themselves".
So I said as much, politely, which got me two dirty looks from the women and a snide remark by the guy behind the counter about how he's been "Doing this for 30 years". Good on you sport, you've been a counter clerk at a music store for 30 years, and your peer is the 18 year old stoned high school kid next to you. But I digress.
As I was ringing up, they did, indeed, walk out with ProTools. I know that kids today are getting smarter and the average 10 year old kid completely destroys me at Modern Warfare, but if you had a pair of 10 year old daughters, would you get them PT and an MBox for their birthday? Or would you be spending $700 on frustration and aggravation?
I know the GC guys work on commission, and no doubt the dude behind the counter was pissed of that I caught on to him basically suckering two women trying to do something nice for their kids into blowing almost a grand on non-returnable software (they mentioned that they lived "far away").
It struck me as all sorts of dickish, and it's a bummer because when I had my first cheap Tascam 4-track as a kid, I LOVED making my own little recordings, and I stuck with it because it was simple and easy to do. Plug Zoom into this hole, hit record, play with levels, woohoo I'm just like Motley Crue!
Nutshell: Cock employee dupes parents into getting Pro Tools rig for 10 year old kids.
I probably would have argued with that guy. I always warn my friends about this sort of thing when they are looking at buying a new computer; making them aware of marketing hype, and telling them to avoid Best Buy's people like the plague. "My computer is sooo fucked, I think I'm gonna go to the Geek Squad" "ooohhh no you don't!"