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November 09, 2003

Do not shop at Fry's Electronics

Fry's Electronics: Where the Customer is Always a Criminal

I am never shopping at Fry's Electronics again. Their customer service appears to be modelled on the antithesis of customer care: for them, the customer is always wrong and, if you're trying to return electronic media, you're probably a criminal as well.

Last weekend, Jay and I were at Fry's Electronics to return a Netdisk network storage device that didn't want to work with our wifi router. Despite a 30-minute customer service line that Jay had to endure, this transaction was fairly smooth. But while I was waiting and wandering around the store I picked up the DVD box set of Babylon 5 Season 2. I'd bought the first season set on Amazon a while back (after having seen and loved the entire series in the UK), and Jay had watched a few of the episodes with me and was getting into the story. So I decided to splurge on the next season.

When we watched the first disk on our Malata multiregion DVD player, the picture started to distort and skip after the first 10 minutes. Repeated attempts to clean the disk didn't help, and on closer inspection there seemed to be a manufacturing defect in the disk itself. I'll just take the disk back to Fry's and exchange it, I thought. No problem.

Would that it were! After making the 20-minute journey across the lake, I took the box set and receipt to the customer service desk expecting a quick exchange. But after I explained the problem, instead of just taking my work for it and making the exchange the customer service rep insisted on watching the DVD first to see the problem! After inspecting the contents of the box in detail, it took about 5 minutes for him to set up the system, and another 5 minutes for me to explain to him how to navigate to the section where the problem first occurred. (The DVD monitor was in full view of Fry's entryway -- I wonder what they do if a customer tries to return a porno title?) As luck would have it, the problem didn't manifest itself on their DVD player (no doubt a top-of-the-range model), but he said they'd make the exchange anyway. So what was the point of the viewing session, other than to waste my time?

Next -- get this -- he tells (not asks!) me to walk over to the DVD section of the store and find my own replacement. Apparently my time is worth nothing to these people. I couldn't find the title on the shelf (seasons 1 and 3 were there but not 2), so I walked back and told me so. At this point he checks his terminal and tells me they are out of stock! Why couldn't he have done this first?

Now we are at a bit of an impasse. Fry's does not accept DVDs for refund, and will only exchange within 30 days. But I can't make the exchange because they don't have the title in stock. He says that the only thing I can do is go back to the DVD section in the store and see if they can help.

I do so, and am presented with the most sanctimonious arsehole I have ever met. He clearly viewed me as some cheapskate geek who had bought the DVDs for the sole purpose of burning them and returning them. He too, wanted to see the problem for himself. He didn't seem to care when I showed him the manufacturing defect. He was not open to any suggestions as to how Fry's might help me. "Just come back on Wednesday -- we might have it in stock then -- and this time make sure you call first." Clearly this was fault it was not in stock. When it comes in stock, could you ship it to me instead of making the trip all the way out here again. His aggressive response: "Well, will you pay the shipping and handling?" Fat chance. By this time I was so angry I just stormed out. I refuse to be treated like a criminal.

From now on, I'll stick to Amazon (where this set would have been $10 cheaper anyway). I suggest you all do the same.

Posted by david at November 9, 2003 12:47 PM | TrackBack
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Comments

Oh, apparently we're party to a genre we never suspected existed: Fry's hate letters. To wit: http://archive.salon.com/21st/feature/1998/05/cov_21feature.html

Maybe we need to start organizing big parties of people (kind of a "bash mob") that will go to Fry's and be as irritating and worthless as their staff-- and ask hundreds of questions without buying anything... section by section, hapless associate by hapless associate. There are worse ways to spend a rainy Saturday in Seattle!

Posted by: jay on November 10, 2003 07:59 PM

I bought a personal computer from fry's last summer. The employee gave me an advise to also buy a warranty with it, so I said OK. And I paid $50 for 2 years warraty. After 4 months I had a software problem in my computer, so I went there to fix it; however, I was totally surprised that the warranty doesn't cover software problems in contrast of what was written in the warranty. I was so mad that day, and I decided no to buy anything from Fry's electronics anymore.

Posted by: Hassan Serhan on May 13, 2004 10:38 AM
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