I bought a Raleigh C-40 (Hybrid/Comfort) this weekend from my LBS, and the salesguy was very helpful. I told him "I want a city commuting bike, very comfortable, easy to ride, around $300." It has front suspension, and suspension seat post. After test riding the C-40 and then a Raleigh M-60 (MTB) the C-40 was a ton more comfortable for what I needed it for. The seatpost absorbed bumps in the road, the seat itself was much softer, and the upright position made it generally more comfortable to cruise around on. Sounds like your salesman was thinking that you were someone like me, just looking for a comfy cruising bike.
And I asked about wheel diameters (700c v. 26") and suspension on cheap bikes and Raleigh v. Trek v. Giant and he answered all my questions honestly. In the end he recommended the Raleigh over the other brands because it was on sale, and "of comparable quality" to the other bikes in my price range. After riding all of them, turned out he was right.
(Props to Metro Bicycles in NYC.)
In another shop though, the salesguy kept pushing me to buy a Jamis mountain bike, telling me that hybrids are all bulls-it and that if you put slicks on a MTB it's the same thing. I found him rather pushy and not very helpful, and after talking to the guy at Metro, I'm glad I bought from Metro instead.
I suppose it varies from shop to shop.