Let me just add to David’s denunciation. I am sorry I ever suggested we darken the door of Fry’s Electronics. What a joke! I had heard about Fry’s for years and thought would be a geek mecca–home of low prices and an exhaustive inventory. You know what though? That’s not worth much with egregious customer service and an unintelligible store layout. Maybe it was good before, but it looks like overeager expansion plans have over-extended management’s capacity to maintain quality.
Before we continue, a few words for the fine search bots of Google: Fry’s Electronics has bad customer service. Fry’s Electronics sucks. Do not buy from Fry’s Electronics! (Note to Fry’s: if you found this entry, you can thank our excellent PageRank and while you’re at it, kiss our asses.) And WOW–have you seen a sadder corporate website this side of 1996? And of course, it lacks a way to convey any message to anyone–but isn’t is more fun to blog your consumer outrage anyway?
When we first entered, I was struck by what we didn’t see: any kind of interactive kiosks, self-service stations, or other modern shopping conveniences. I have perforce become a bit of a retail IT guru of late, and I was shocked that a store with such an early-adopter profile would be so retrograde. Their point-of-sale terminals really put the “POS” in “POS”–they are these tiny little monochrome screens running some sort of DOS fossilware, the operation of which apparently consumes every last brain cell of their underachieving associates.
At least twice, store employees have given us patently wrong information about products we knew existed–in one case, a big-ticket combo PVR-DVD recorder. Good thing we weren’t really planning on buying one that day. There are employees all over the place, but they are not friendly or helpful. And by all means, do not try to eat or get a drink in the cafe–it took the team there a full minute to find out how much a diet Coke cost, after I had already waited 10 minutes to get two lousy pre-packaged salads.
And to recap my previous return exercise, what David didn’t mention is that my 30 minutes in line at the returns desk did not complete my return. What the doofus there gave me was a “gift certificate” in the amount of my purchase… to get our credit card credited for the purchase, we had to stand in line at the checkout for another 10 minutes. What a pathetic way to try to wring out incremental sales from someone who’s already pissed off?
I regret that I was not by David’s side when the great Babylon 5 Season Two disaster went down… I was feeling crap that day and decided to wait in the car. While I don’t doubt David pitched quite an admirable fit, the two of us together do a great good cop/bad cop routine in retail crises–he had my back for the great Best Buy debacle of 2003, and that turned out well. I really owed him a few minutes of my most menacing, crossed arm surliness while he made his case.
My experience with the “big box” retailers is so roundly terrible that I am completely willing to order every last bit and atom of content and appliance from Amazon. I would rather pay shipping than endure the minimum-wage idiots and horriffic business practices I’ve been victim to at Fry’s and elsewhere.
A final word on Fry’s. I’m all for small businesses, and I suppose it’s cute that the Fry family still owns the business they founded back in ’85… but guess what Fry family? Once you’ve pissed off all the people who should be your best customers, and have no recourse to the capital markets (who will surely dig up tidbits like this and confirm them with a little first-hand research), you’ll find yourself forced to sell out to some faceless retail conglomerate that will take over your stores and eat your lousy brand for dessert. And much as I hate Wal-Mart, there can be no question that they could walk in and on day one show you how a real company runs a real store that delivers real service. And on the day that happens–not one second before–I’ll be happy to shop at Fry’s again.