Both of my local pet stores seem to know little to nothing about bettas.
Two years ago an ex-partner decided he was going to get me a pet, so off we went to the local fish store (part of a pet store chain that has since closed and become part of the pet store next door) and, trusting the advice of the employee there, came home with a small tank (can't remember the volume off the top of my head) a heater, themometer, one poor red VT betta and five neon tetras. We were assured that they'd all be fine in such a home, and not knowing any better (thinking that employees at an aquarium store must know their stuff) took them home.
Knowing what I know now, I feel an overwhelming sense of guilt when I think about Commander Worf and the Club Kids. My blind trust in a pet shop employee caused the maltreatment and death of these poor guys.
A month or so ago, my boy and I decided we would get a fish, because my grandmother, whom we live with, didn't want another cat (we've always been cat people but she said she couldn't stand the sadness of another cat dying - she'd had three in her lifetime who reached ridiculously old ages, and didn't want to see another go) so we visited our local pet stores. Before I did any heavy research, I thought I'd just visit them to inquire about what we could keep with our means. My father had bought me an 8L (2.1 gallon) tank, so we asked what we could do with that setup. One store told us we could keep several comets in it (whaaaaaaa??) and another -- the one that had sold me the tiny tank with tetras and Worf -- said we could have 3-6 guppies in it.
I'm extremely glad that I had a gut feeling that neither of these stores were telling me the correct things. I went into full research mode after visiting those stores, and found this forum. Yay! I also discovered two great fish stores only a short trip via public transport away from me, one of which I got Falkor from. Both keep their bettas in amazing conditions in comparison to any other place I've visited, and are helpful and knowledgeable.
Last week, on our way to dinner, my partner and I went past the first pet store I spoke about in this post. I didn't particularly want to go inside, because I knew I'd get excessively upset by the conditions they keep their bettas in. So my boy went in, had a browse, and mentioned to one of the staff that a couple of their bettas had fin rot, and it might be a good idea to treat that ASAP. Apparently, this employee stuck her hand into one of the tiny "tanks" and swooshed it around, snapping "There's nothing wrong with them, what are you talking about?!"
As my partner was leaving the store, he overheard a group of teenagers asking why their betta wasn't active or eating, after bringing him home the day before from their shop. I wonder what they'd been told in the way of fishkeeping. Had I known, I'd probably have stopped them on their way out of the store and asked them what was going on, and given as much advice as my still somewhat limited knowledge base could offer.
Wow, that was long. Sorry! >.<