Experiences at Fry's Electronics, Page Eleven

April 26, 1997


I suppose I am one of those people that agrees with everything everyone has said here, yet keeps going back because of the good selection and reasonable prices. Of course, I do that not expecting any service whatsoever, and I don't consider 15 minutes that bad of a drive, even to go to where "Your Worst Computer Buys Are ALWAYS... at Fry's!"

Some of my experiences:

Sunnyvale: While shopping for various computer knicknacks (Zip Drives and disks among them - word to the wise, to the best of my knowledge, a zip disk is a zip disk, and and a jaz cart is a jaz cart; if you have a PC and see only Mac disks, just format them and vice versa - get the cheapest ones) my roommate and I spy one of those "VR" headset things among the joysticks, and though pricey, decide to split it and try it out. Of course, it kinda sucked (a cute toy, promising technology, but the res just isn't there yet) so as expected I packed it up and took it back the next day. I guess this is one of those "go early" stories, because I did, and the return people were in a pretty easy going mood. I explained that the resolution wasn't as good as I was expecting, and I'd like credit towards another purchase. (I intended to take the plunge and get a new TV, silly as that might be to do at Fry's.) They insisted on opening it up and hooking it up right there to their terminals so they could see what I was talking about, not so much because they didn't trust me, but because things were fairly slow and they wanted to play. Cool, we hook it up, and compare it to another one from the shelf, and sure enough, you can't even read standard text with them. So, a return without hassle.

Armed with my credit slip, I wander back to the nether regions of TV land at Fry's. Foolishly, I thought I might benefit from a little help from a commission hound. After picking out a few likely models, I wandered around in TV Land for about 45 minutes with a glazed over look, just to see if someone might notice me - I had plenty of time and patience that day. Of course, nobody did, but since for big stuff like this you've GOT to get somebody's attention to get the printout, I asserted myself and sought assitance. The guy at the podium had been on the phone the whole time, so forget him. There was a guy fooling around with a pile of what looked like broken remotes and other crap on the floor, so he was having too much fun to help me. I finally flagged down a guy at a terminal among the camcorders. First choice - out of stock, naturally. Second choice, we have one, but it's an open box, so I'll give you the extended warranty thing for free. He says let me go in back and check it out. Um, okay... I haven't signed anything, so what's the worst that could happen. He comes back, says there's a problem with it, and shows me - the casing of the TV has a big nasty crack in it. Dammit, what am I doing in Fry's buying AV stuff anyway, I think, ready to leave, but apparently he thinks he is selling cars, and offers me a discount on a slightly better model. Amazingly, unlike most of the "bait and switch" stories above, his knocking $100 off the price actually brings it down to the level of the other models I was considering, yet it's a Sony with more features and unquestionably a better TV. Strange things can happen at Fry's; maybe it was some odd alignment of planets that made it a good day to go to Fry's. I've had the TV for 4 months and no problems.

Of course, never buy RAM or CPUs there, or basically anything not in a box on a shelf that you might reasonably be able to tell right there if it's been returned. My roommate bought a pair of 16 meg simms there. Brought them home, they were 8's. Took them back, give them to the return people, take the slip to the cashier, blah blah blah, they give him THE SAME SIMMS. He says, dammit these are the same ones, oops they get some others, and they are still different, but obviously still 8's. They must have had a big bin of simms marked "16 meg," and of course nobody working there knows the difference. My roommate took his money instead and ran.

Actual POSITIVE experiece at San Jose: My father was looking to get a printer for use with both his PC and his SO's Mac. And lo and behold, there was a printer guy to help him out, and he WAS helpful. We had already singled out HP as the brand to get, so it was a matter of which model, and the guy was very knowledgable about them. Of course, the catch here is that I don't think he was really a Fry's employee, but an HP rep, he had a badge that said HP on it, and his card said as much. This is a good turn for Fry's also, though, because it shows they might have sense to recognize that since their customer service is lousy, they should allow brand reps to send in troops to help the consumers. As it happens, (invariably) they were out of stock, so we picked it up from an Office Depot at the same price later that afternoon.

Interestingly, I've never experienced the check nightmares related above. One day I found myself with over $200 of stuff to buy and all I had was my checkbook. I had read this page before, and expected the absolute worst, as I had an OLD address printed on my checks, and worse, an OLD address that was DIFFERENT on my DL. But get this: there was no problem! Just wrote the current info on my check, and of course the standard DL# and exp., and away I went, without even a 20 minute wait. Maybe I'm just lucky with Fry's or something, but I know all that other crap happens - it just seems to happen to my friends. Still, for physical non-silicon stuff, there are few convenient alternatives to Fry's. Just don't buy RAM or CPUs, and if getting a hard drive or other computer component, the sales people don't know what they're talking about. Shopping at Fry's is not for novices!

( Donn S. Thomson )

P.S. The Final Indignity certainly bites - I walk by whenever I can. Even when I feel like ALLOWING them to look at my purchases, often they merely glance in and check off the receipt. As if they're really going to stop any theft that way!


April 27, 1997

Subject: What about the other side?

I had a lot of fun reading your the experiences you have collected and found many of them quite humorous (because they didn't happen to me!). However, I also thought many of the comments were disturbing. For instance the person who spoke of "renting" things by returning them on the last day he was able and purchasing new equipment. It is people like this that make it so difficult for honest people to make an honest return. I think you have forget about the "other side", the employees.

My husband is a department manager for Fry's and I hear the "other side". Customers coming up yelling from the beginning (like that is going to make someone want to help them?!), customers getting irate when they cannot return something that is outside of return policy (Open software for instance. How would they be able to tell if it was used or not other than it was open? They can't return that and get credit and you all complain when you purchase something that was previously opened!) What about the customers who just flat out lie? Unfortunately this happens so often it is easier to believe someone is lying than telling the truth. And those managers who have been doing this for any length of time can usually tell who is lying and who is not. Another disturbing occurance from one of your letters was the person who started opening software to get attention of a sales person. He should have been forced to buy all the merchandise or be arrested! That is the type of thing that drives prices up for everybody! With regard to not getting any help there, I do agree. It is a problem. I would, however, rather be completely ignored like everyone else than be ignored only because I am a female like happens in other electronic stores (no, we don't purchase EVERYTHING at Fry's!).

I am not saying that Fry's is perfect. My parents about had a heart attack when I started dating a Fry's employee because of all their miserable experiences there. Fry's hires people. People aren't perfect. Rather than just complain about how miserable your experience was, think about how miserable the experience was for the person you were yelling at! It is usually not their fault (although Fry's does have a number of people with apparent below average IQ's working there!). There are plenty of honest, hard working, caring, intelligent people who work there. There are plenty of lazy, uncaring, idiots who work there. Don't treat them all bad because some of them are. Fry's does try and hire intelligent people with a knowledge of the product, but there aren't many who know alot about the product who are willing to work (and get yelled at by customers) for the little amount the sales people get paid. If shopping at Fry's is that miserable of an experience for you, don't go there! Rather than live with all the anger and rage of something that happened in a instant for a long time, let it go. Get on with your life. Complain to the store. Write Randy Fry if you wish (he really is a great guy that does genuinely care about what customers think!). THEN LET IT GO! Life happens. Deal with it and move on. If Fry's were that bad, people would quit shopping there and they would go out of business.

Well, this forum is for letting out pent up anger about Fry's. In a way I guess I have also, just in a different sort of way than most. I am angry that I have to worry about my husband's safety when he goes to work because so many people get so upset with the message that they are ready to take it out on the messenger.

( the wife of a Fry's employee )

April 29, 1997

Most of what is on your web page jibes with my experience at Frys. However, I still do shop there since they good selection and often have great prices. However, I have developed several rules for Frys shopping:

1. Never ask for help. The sales associates do not know what they are doing, where they are, or anything about the merchandise. Unfortunately, they are also not smart enough to admit it when they don't know the answer so they just make something up.

2. Know what you are doing, you won't get any help from the sales people (see above).

3. Know your prices. Frys can be a good deal sometimes, but can be outrageously expensive too. Don't assume something is a reasonable price.

4. When the sales person suggests a more expensive item, buy the cheaper one.

5. If something doesn't work, return it. Don't try to fix it or talk to the manufacturer, just try another one.

6. Always return an item for cash and buy a new one. Exchanging just shortens your 15/30 day return window.

7. If a salesperson won't take a return, come back later or go to another store.

8. Once again NEVER NEVER NEVER ask a salesperson a question you don't know the answer to!!!!!

If you stick to these rules, Frys is a pretty good place. I just wish the lines at the return desk were shorter :-)

( Sam )

May 2, 1997

This sounds like a store we have here in Columbus except that they don't carry alot of computer stuff. Recently though the store has been going through a lot of changes, many for the better. The store I am talking about is Meijer. They are a mega-store type deal. The carry almost everything under the Sun (except computers, but they may not be far away.). The have the best prices in groceries and decent prices on everything else and they are open 24 hours a day (great for me because I am at work as I am typing this! :) ) One the down side, most of their stores have between 30 and 36 registers not counting ones in the cafe, garden center, sporting goods and pharmacy, but rarely is there ever more then say 5-10 of these open and when I go in they almost always only have one open. Since I shop late night there, they are also in the restock phase. This is also the time they clean and wax floors. The associates rope off the areas they are waxing and 5 x out of 10 it's the area you want to go. Most of the time, the associate will allow you in the waxing area, but more than 2 x when I was going in there anyway, the associate yelled at me to get off of the floor! (I sympathize, because waxing floors is hard work! and being open 24 hours leaves thm no real down time) Now, the store I always go to (Brice Rd in Columbus, OH) is getting a remodel! It's going to look like their newer stores. Thank God, cuz Brice was getting awfully dingy! :) I guess the only real bad thing about Meijer was working for them. If you wanted to work there you always had to work weekends (yech). Also, they are only closed one day a year (Christmas). That means I almost always had to work on Thanksgiving. Thank God for my new job.

What does this have to do with Fry's? Maybe that it has more to do with upper echelon management (I ain't talking about Store Managers, but the district managers) than anything else. Nine times out of ten the store manager had a DM breathing fire down his neck about reducing labor and and and..... Not to mention Meijer has silly policies as well too. (hasn't anyone there ever heard of no wax floors? :)) and just cuz you can't work weekends doesn't mean you can't work for them! (God knows they need help during the week too!) Most of the associates at Meijer are overworked (including management). Looks like it's the same with Fry's too. I am glad Sun TV is taking over our IU we had!

( Joel )

May 2, 1997

I have experienced the same as the others both good and bad, but the bottom line is "BUYER BEWARE." You can go other places and pay more to have someone be nice to you. Or you can go to Fry's with the attitude of "I'm going to get what I want and I'm not leaving without it."

Knowing which store personnel are agreeable can help, only talk to the people who usually say "yes" to your requests.

On mother board combos, they don't switch components anymore on the combos so the customer has to buy the board and chip possibly twice to get the highest MHZ chip with the best deal on the motherboard and return the components he doesn't want.

I was told by Myron Wilson at the Fountain Valley store that the only way to get a great deal is to play the aforementioned game (buy and return).

Never write checks to Fry's (they treat everyone like criminals, making you wait fifteen (15) business days for a check to be issued back to you). I had less than a $200.00 check take over a month to be refunded. This was rectified after repeated calls demanding my money, at the store level.

The more you complain to Corporate in San Jose, the more likely you'll receive a $25 gift certificate from "RANDY FRY" appologizing for your inconvenience.

So, go get brown-nosed at another retailer or learn something before going into Fry's and come out the winner.

Good luck.

Please post this, it might help others understand how to come out ahead at FRY"S!

( another customer )

May 2, 1997

I was disappointed to find that the Fry's Web Page does not contain information concerning their week by week sales specials. I was hoping to find price/availability information.


This gives your page author the opportunity to repeat: I do not work for Fry's Electronics. I do not represent Fry's Electronics. I have nothing to do with Fry's Electronics. It does not appear that Fry's has a web site.

May 3, 1997

Is this the right spot to bitch?

I've had many bad experiences (and for some reason, continue to shop there!!).

I work for a security company and we do work on computers that operate our security software. Well, one day the Western Digital HDD in one of our computers crashed, BIG TIME. So I went to Fry's to get a replacement. It was a 1.2 Gig and I thought Fry's would at least sell one.

I knew exactly what I wanted and went to the Hard Drive section. I looked around for about 15 minutes for a 1.2 Gig WD hard drive. I couldn't find one. So I hunted down a Fry's employee (because you can't find one) and asked if he had any 1.2 Gigs in stock. He said "no," and walked away.

So looked at the next biggest WD. It was a 1.6 Gig. I hunted down another Fry's employee to make that purchase. He said "ok," and wrote up my order. After about 15 minutes he said he didn't have any in stock! But conveniently said he had plenty of 2.1 Gigs.

Getting tired of waiting to buy a hard drive (and knowing I'll get reimbursed for it), I grudgingly bought a 2.1 WD.

I then went to that long line to actually pay for it. I waited 30 min. to reach a cashier, and then once I was there, it took them another 20 min. to actually get my hard drive!

What a crock of sh*t.

I some times wish they didn't have such good prices so I wouldn't get tempted.

Anyways, thanks for letting me vent.

( Jim )

May 4, 1997

Can you tell me where is fry electronics located at?? I see that the prices are pretty cheap...

( another computer user )

Page author's note: That's not what this page is about. I do not work for Fry's Electronics. I do not represent Fry's Electronics. I have nothing to do with Fry's Electronics. It does not appear that Fry's has a web site. The cities in which Fry's stores are located are shown on Page One.

May 5, 1997

Here's one for ya.

My hard-Drive crashed and I needed a new drive very badly. I (reluctantly) went to Fry's to purchase a new one. After finding the display (which was in dis-repair) I located my choice of HD to purchase. After that, things went fine.

After getting my HD back home, I went through the usual process of installing it (10-15 min max). Well... The computer told me that the HD I got was not the one on installed ( after turning it on). And also, said that it was not able to access it! I played with it for an hour. Nothing. The next day I called the manufacturer of this HD, I gave them the serial # and I was told this was a refurbished item. Aha! That's it! But there's more...

I took the HD BACK to Fry's and after having to fill my own return-item paperwork, I did so. Then after 10 minutes, I just grabbed someone to help me (he looked frazzled). I explained that the HD I purchased did not work.. He replied "Do you know what you're doing?" He said this word for word. I said "Yes," somewhat sarcastically. He next asked, "Maybe you need a controller board"... boil boil. I said, "Look.. I called the manufacturer and I was told this is a refurbished hard-drive. The instructions it came with aren't even showing the same HD"... He didn't even bat an eye. He took my HD and within 1 minute handed me a new HD (in original bubble-wrap). THIS HD looked like the one shown in the instructions.

( Scott )

May 5, 1997

After dealing with Fry's Electronics for a number of years, I thought that I knew how they supported their customers. After moving from the Bay Area, I had the opportunity to buy a computer system at the Sacramento store (Incredible Universe)--cpu without the monitor. It took me three weeks to get a monitor. Eventually bought it at the Sunnyvale store. When the system was ready to run, it didn't.

Talked with HP Tech Support and they were of great help. Finally after two more weeks of hassle, the system was determined to have a "system board" problem. When I notified the Sac. store, I got the run-around by saying that the system was five (5) days out of warranty. I did not buy an extended warranty. Is this service?

After blowing my stack, it remains a poor policy of Fry's not to support the products that they sell. Thank goodness for the manufacturer support. There is no way that Fry's will ever see my face again. So customers beware!!

( Richard )

May 7, 1997

Some time ago (when people used 5.25 drives)

I overheard a customer, who was carrying a small notepad and hurriedly writing-down notes, ask a Fry's employee: "Which drive should I get, 3.5 or 5.25?"

The employee responded: "You need to get the 5.25 drive, they hold more."

( another customer )

May 8, 1997

My only other option to Fry's is CompUSA. CompUSA recently changed their return policy from 30 days to 10 days. Upon learning this, I refused to purchase anything at CompUSA since it was unlikely that I could try and return a product within 10 days.

Fry's has numerous problems and terrible customer service. On the other hand, they have decent prices and a 30 day return policy. Recently I've seen prepaid postage comment forms at the checkout lanes.

Thank you for maintaining such an informative page.

( Mike )

May 9, 1997

They're here...

The other day, I was reading the San Diego Union-Tribune when I saw a full-page ad on the back of the front section of the paper. The ad contained those boxes with item descriptions on the left and the price in big numbers in the bottom right corner. As a former resident of Fremont, CA, I immediately recognized the ad as identical to the Fry's ads in the San Jose Mercury News, but it was for Incredible Universe. The only difference was the Incredible Universe logo replacing the Fry's logo and the "chip guy." Fry's Electronics bought several Incredible Universe stores from Tandy (i.e. Radio Shack) several months ago and the change is starting to happen. The store is located near the I-15/I-8 intersection in San Diego near Qualcomm Stadium. I'll give them a year for the customer service that Fry's is famous for to work its way into the San Diego store.

( Jeff C., Oceanside )

May 15, 1997

To Whom it May Concern:
Your comments about Fry's Electronics should all be ripped up. Have you ever gone into a store and not had a bad experience? Why must customers always take it out on the people who are employed by Fry's. I am one of them and when a customer comes up to my register I will explain to him the procedures on which I was taught to do but it still doesn't click into our customer's head! I always ask the customer if its the 1st time in writing a check, granted Fry's has a tough check policy but think about it people, if someone is writing you check for $5,000 and over, wouldn't you want to be guaranteed that the money is in their account! Or would you rather them say ok take that new computer system away and we won't check on your account to see if your check is good. There are some bad people who insist on still writing bad checks (even though they know they're bad). I believe that maybe half of the problem could be solved when the salesmen on the floor tell the people about our payment policies before they reach the checkouts. Look, people, we're only human and these policies are put there for a reason. As a Fry's associate, I deeply apologize for all the bad times at Fry' s that you have experienced but remember WE'RE ONLY DOING OUR JOB!

( a Fry's employee )

May 17, 1997

Hi Dave,

Thanks for creating this venting area for all the frustrating Fry's customers. I have one thing to say, I hope Fry's goes out of business. All the stories I heard sounded so familiar to me. Here is another stupid one. I live in Stockton, and I called the Fremont store to find out the store hours, some idiot told me they closed at 10pm. Everyone in my office heard it, since I was on the speakerphone. I drove 1 hr and 15 mins in summer highway heat to get to the damn store at about 9:10, only to find out the store closes at 9:00. I explained the situation to the door guy, and told him I know what I need, it would only take me 2 mins to get it. Still, he wouldn't let me in. I don't understand, does the people work in the story actual work in the story? How can they not even know their own store hours??????????????? I suggest all the customers who are reading this, not to shop at Fry's anymore, but if they have to, don't even treat the employees there like humans. Fry's is the only store in the world take about 20-30 min to wait in line, and another 15 to pay at the register, after you are being lied to and screwed at. FRY'S: you guys sell computers, but don't you try to upgrade your own systems to something faster than a 386 server that services the entire store, maybe we dont have to wait as long.

( another former customer )

PS: Try to shop there at Christmas, or better yet, return something a few days after Christmas. Hmmm, bring your lunch, snacks, and maybe dinner, and oh, don't forget, maybe a foldaway chair!

May 18, 1997

Way to go Dave. I have made the mistake of shopping at Fry's and I refuse to give them one more cent! I refuse to be treated like a criminal by an institution I am handing hundreds of dollars to. After making my second purchase from them (yes, I was stupid enough to go back), I thought that buying something from them was a ridiculous and humiliating experience... returning an item is a nightmare. I tell everyone I know "DO NOT BUY ANYTHING FROM FRY'S" and will continue to as long as they are in business or until they start respecting people.

( Tom )

May 18, 1997

I recently went in for 64MB EDO RAM. The guy really wanted to sell me the premium variety (which had a longer warranty and cost about 50% more).

Anyway, I paid about $180 for each "mixed" piece--total $360. 17 days later the $180 product is advertised at $129. I do the usual return thing--one thing that works for me here is to do returns between 8 - 9 am on a weekday. The manager came over and looked at the return and said, "only 15 days on memory." But he went ahead and signed off on it and gave me the break..

As others have said, keep calm and you will prevail with Frys..

( another customer )

I am no longer actively soliciting comments to be posted on this page.

The experiences posted here are those of the individuals involved.

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Last updated at 20:15 PDT on May 5, 1998.
David W. Schultheis, San Josť, Silicon Valley, Santa Clara County, California, USA