I've browsed this site for quite a while, but this is the first time I've actually posted. An experience I've just had during my lunch hour has galvanised me into action, and I'm still wide-eyed with disbelief.
I was putting a couple of rolls of T400CN into my local chemist - they actually do a pretty good job on it, but that's by the by - when two people came up to another assistant at the counter and asked, 'What's the difference between these two films?' The assistant said, 'I think 200 is faster than 400, but I'll just check.' She spoke to a colleague, who agreed. At this point I thought I must be hearing things. But no, the assistant came back and said to the customers, 'Yes, 200 is faster, so it's better for action and that sort of thing.' I couldn't let this go by, so I leant over and said, 'Er, actually 400 is the faster film, so that's what you'd want if you were shooting action, or in low light.'
The look the assistant gave me spoke volumes - I think she would have got me thrown out of the shop if she'd been able to! My intention wasn't to point out her lack of knowledge, or that of her colleague - after all, that's the fault of the company for not giving her basic training - but simply to help out two customers who wanted to get some half decent pictures and needed (accurate) advice. By the way, this chemist is a branch of a large, very well-known chain in the UK.
I know this forum is for experienced photographers, but we all started somewhere, and we all made (and still make, in my case) mistakes on our journeys. Generally speaking, I prefer to be responsible for my own errors, rather than make them because of someone else. I feel very strongly that even those who shoot just a roll or two of film a year are as valid as the rest of us, and are entitled to the best pictures and advice they're able to get. If these customers had bought the ISO 200 film and expected good results from a challenging scene, they would have been sorely disappointed, and the resulting photographs would quite possibly have put them off bothering again. Thus the chemist would have lost out on future D&P revenue, the film manufacturer on sales, and so on. It's the kind of thing that just gets my blood boiling - and similar situations must occur every day. It really is about time employers gave their staff some thorough training in the basics. We'd end up with far more happy occasional snappers as a result.
I'm not sure whether this is the correct forum to post this in, but it seemed as good a place as any!