In which the middle-aged Peacenik mouths off about War Drones--and all the other things that make him cranky.

Mr Mahatma--who is a Mr in real life--lives in the valleys of Southern California with his wife, a herd of Dears, and an impressive collection of books. Pnorny!
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Little Mr Mahatma
Monday, August 06, 2007  
Another Frys Tale of Horror
I just returned from returning something from Frys. For those of you unfamiliar with Frys it's a superstore of electronics, like a cross between Best Buy and Radio Shack. They have a great variety and you never know what you'll find on sale. Their reputation though is thoroughly sullied by abyssmal Customer Service combined with a practice of rewrapping and reshleving returned merchandise. Most customers have true love/hate relationship with the place. You go there knowing you may find what you want but at the risk of having to return it. It's a perverse form of gambling.

Anyway. My wife and I were shopping for a VCR to DVD conversion package and my youngest son wanted an MP3 player like his older brother. Looking online, Frys had an MP3 player - 1 gb, white - for $20. My youngest had saved up his money and he had just that amount. So off we went.

Frys Failure #1: Poor Inventory Management. We found the VCR / DVD Conversion packages in the software department. Usually these packages have a hardware component that sits between your VCR and PC, plus software. That's exactly what we were looking for. Unfortunately I kept looking and found more packages - different packages - in the graphics card section of hardware. Same type of hardware / software solutions located in two different departments.

It gets better.

We collected the packages that looked like they may do the trick and asked an employee for help. Did this package have all the cables? DId that package have a certain type of cable? [Insert sounds of crickets. Hello?!?] We asked if they had a computer that had Net access so we could look up the specs. "Sure," they said, "in the Service Department." So off went to the Service Department.

The Service Department is incorrectly named because it's the last thing you'll get there. The person helping us said that they did have a computer with Net access - the one right behind him. But because some of the packages we wanted to look up were from the software department we'd have to get an employee from that department to stand with us while we used that machine.

Frys Failure #2: Clueless Customer Service Read that last paragraph again. The Service Department employee wanted us to get another employee to come stand with us while we looked online for a review?!? Un - freaking - believable.

Scrap getting the conversion package until we do more homework. Now for the Mp3 player and I have to say right off that my youngest kid showed the heart of a lion. As I will soon relate, he got disappointed not once but thrice and proved the better between us.

As I mentioned earlier we had found online an MP3 player - 1 gb, white - $20. We found it in stock in the flash drive hardware aisle, for $30. Same exact item - $10 more. That was the first disappointment. An employee came to help and I asked about the pricing discrepancy, he said that the online prices differed from the store prices because when you buy online you have to return it online instead of to a store. Huh?!?

Frys Failure #3: Poor Business Model Between Store and Online - that's all I'll say about that.

We noted that directly above the plethora of the $30 MP3 players the exact same model in black for $20, except they were out. The employee went to the back to see if they had any more but no. Sold out and no more expected, and - no - he couldn't sell us the white model for $20. My kid did the big eyes and quivering lips but to no avail. Second disappointment yet with a barb back. My kid said loudly that he'll find what he wants online from another store.

Frys Failure #4: Powerless Employees.

My wife had wandered off. She was in the radio aisle where she found - lo! and behold - MP3 players. On sale they had a 2 gb MP3 player/flash drive for $20. My kid was thrilled.

Frys Failure #5: Employees Who Don't Know What's On Sale. It's bad enough when you have the same items in two different departments but the problem gets compounded when your employees don't know that much less what's on sale.

We got the MP3 player and plugged it into the computer to download songs. Uh-oh! Norton says there's a virus on it but that it's been quarantined. Still, it comes right up as a flash drive and we copy some MP3s to it. Now insert a new battery and...nothing. It won't play or light up. Try another new battery and same result. Insert it back into the computer and nothing. Piece of junk and the final disappointment for my brave-hearted kid.

So today after work I suffered the hell that is the Frys Return. Honestly it wasn't too bad a wait but when I mentioned that I really wanted the $30 MP3 player and explained the whole scenario, I could hear those crickets chirping. I asked about whether they price match (they do) but they won't match their own online prices.

What an aggravating, pain-in-the-ass store. I was there when they opened in Woodland Hills. They had horrible service then and they still have horrible service.

Hello Frys! It's more than having the employees smile, it's about doing the right thing by the customer, about having your inventory ass-ets together, about getting past the nonsensical and illogical policies. You may be profitable but how much more so if you only had your collective crap together.

Meanwhile there's a disappointed 8-year boy who smiled throughout the ordeal. He will be shopping elsewhere.

8:05 PM

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