Jon, your point(s) are all well taken and have plenty of merit, sorry if I came across as overly defensive about shops and the folks who work there.
As for my opinion on what nitro has done to the hobby, it has only helped it grow. The real problem IMO is not nitro versus electric, clueless or rude counter help, or even rookies with preconceived notions. The single biggest problem I see with r/c models of all stripes is also the single most important factor in the phenomenal growth the industry has recently experienced. That would be the overly aggressive marketing and associated growth pains of the RTR concept.
Even the most complete, everything included in one box RTR's (all of which are electric BTW), still requires a rookie owner to read, comprehend, and follow the (often vague or nonexistent) instructions, installing and/or charging batteries, and at least some light assembly/adjustment before they can play with their new toy. This is true even with the "toy" grade stuff available from major electronics and general merchandise chains. While the quality and completeness of hobby grade RTR's has improved enormously in the last few years, the included instructions for the most part are still woefully inadequate, and some so called RTR's still don't include instructions in english or have a few horribly copied sheets that don't apply to the model they are packed with, or at best skim over generalities associated with several models in the makers line. The problem is, all advertising for these products gives the impression a model can be used minutes after pulling it from the box even if one has never seen an r/c in their life. IMO, sellers of RTR's need to do a better job of educating their potential new customers BEFORE the sale rather than seeing how many hot buttons they can push with every ad.
Credit where it's due, some makers such as Traxxas and E-Flite have done a masterful job of assembling very complete and comprehensive instruction sets to include with their models while also minimizing the amount of assembly/adjustment required to make the model ready for use. Of all the RTR cars out there, Traxxas nitro cars and trucks are the only brand I can sell to a rookie with confidence in their success, provided they read, comprehend, and follow the included instructions.
It would be simpler to lay blame for these short comings in advertising with the makers and leave it at that, but I also want to see my favorite pastime grow so I always stress those points the makers "forgot" in their ads when dealing with new customers, as well being clear to not be shy about asking questions regards any aspect of their new purchase they don't understand. I also make sure they know we are there for them if they hit a sang. Given the current quality of most RTR's, counter help need not be a grizzled r/c veteran to be effective at insuring a good first experience for rookies, simple training in how to effectively convey what to expect when they open the box is enough to insure those who are willing to accept it get the info they need to make an informed first time r/c purchase decision.
We are witnessing the largest growth spurt in the history of R/C, and all credit for this goes to the RTR concept and the way it opened the door for those who would otherwise be intimidated by a box of loose parts and an instruction manual. For any concept to grow, there are lessons to be learned which must be heeded for that growth to continue. There is no doubt the RTR concept is here to stay and will continue to attract millions of fresh souls to our particular madness. What remains to be seen is who will adapt and prosper and who will continue to gouge every penny out of what they see as a short term fad.
In a nutshell, it's a great time to be involved, or to become involved for the first time, in the fun only a hobby grade r/c model can provide.
Just my $00.02