Experiences at Fry's Electronics, Page Twelve

May 20, 1997

I know you're not seeking more comments on your Fry's pages, but I wanted to let you know that a bunch of us who work at Fry's were greatly entertained by some printouts of the comments. And everything in them is true.

Fry's main problem is that it is a mom & pop organization run by parents who know zip about technology and their kids who have never worked for anyone but mom & dad. There's nothing wrong with Fry's that having the kids stand behind one of their own cash registers (with only a cashier's password) for a week wouldn't fix pronto.

They are so paranoid about anyone else knowing who shops at their stores that they use their own homebrew credit card system and as everyone knows, make cashiers call the bank rather than use Telecheck. The fact that the homebrew system isn't up to the challenge of adding more stores is just frosting on the cake.

To add to your stories of customer woes, though, let me tell you some stories from the other side of the cash register. We have a lot of customers who think that just because they spent a lot of money and/or time in the store, we are then required to change the laws of physics, let them out of the store with something for nothing, bow down before their blinding magnificence or all of the above. What these folks don't know and won't learn is that the checkout is the only place in the store where NOTHING can be done to give them a discount or change the price on something. It all has to go back to the floor, and how long that takes depends on how long it takes to get a sales clerk on the phone and convince him or her to do something about the situation. Stuff gets entered into the cash register by number (bar code scanners are way too hi-tech) and the price either comes up or it doesn't. Doesn't matter whether you've just bought one of everything in the store and still have half a million bucks in your back pocket, that's the way it works.

True story: Customer buys printer in December, takes it home and promptly throws away the receipt. Sometime in mid February he gets around to opening the box for the first time and decides he doesn't like the printer. Returns it and gets a nonrefundable store credit to use at some future date. Mid May he comes in the store to buy something with a company check and after the transaction is all finished he plops the store credit down on the counter and says "Apply this to that other purchase." Well, since the printer was bought with his personal credit card AND the credit says nonrefundable, no can do. Supervisor demanded. Situation explained to customer. "OK then, credit back my credit card." "Sir, this says no refund and that was explained to you when you got it." "I don't want a refund, I want a credit back to my credit card." "Sir, a credit back to your credit card IS a refund." "No, you don't understand, I don't want a refund...."

Or this: Cash register system freezes completely, as it has been doing a lot lately. Customer says "I just spent $3,000 in your store and I want to get out of here. Take this to another register and finish NOW." "Sir, ALL the registers are frozen, it will be no different at any other register." "I just spent $3,000 in your store and you can't even finish a transaction?" "Sir, the registers are all frozen..." "I don't want an explanation, I want action and I want to get out of here NOW, I don't care what your stupid computers are doing." Somehow the freeze seems to be between the ears and the brain, but it's not affecting the mouth.

Anyway, more customer funnies: Sale on video tapes, 99 cents, five per customer. Guy comes up to the register with 10. Sorry, only 5 per customer. Now, the usual response to this is the person buys 5, goes out to the parking lot, puts the tapes in the car, comes back in, fiddles around back in AVT for a few minutes and then brings another 5 tapes up to the register, repeat as often as they think they can get away with it. This guy took a different approach. First the standard "I drove miles and miles to get here" tactic. Sorry, 5 per customer. Then the "Call the supervisor" approach (like the supervisor is going to be able to do anything to get an extra 5 tapes past the Door Nazi). And then came the REALLY cute attempt: "Last time you guys had a sale on these I came in and you were all out of them, so I think I'm entitled to buy ten today!" Sorry, 5 per customer. The guy ended up shoving them across the counter in a snit and walking out with zero.

Check verification funnies. Normally the "we don't subscribe to Telecheck because then the competition would know who shops at Fry's" philosophy hacks off the customers something fierce (as your other respondents noted in graphic detail). However, sometimes it does have unexpected results. Guy comes in, wants to buy mucho stuff for his "computer consulting" biz. Has roughly $600 worth of merchandise in his cart. Cashier goes to verify check. Money is there in account, but since it's over $500 cashier is required to call Loss Prevention to have them look up the address. Address turns out to be a mail drop. Cashier advised to tell customer "We are having some problems getting through to the bank, so how about this, when we can verify your check we will deliver this stuff to you for free." Hmm. All of a sudden the guy really only needs $65 worth of stuff and will pay cash....

Big horse's heinie came in with a stack of stuff to return. Said he couldn't be bothered filling out the forms (this was when we were still using the forms that meant 5 pieces of paper per item returned--now we've got a New Improved system that only generates 4 pieces of paper per item) and said that the return associates were going to take care of it for him. Naturally there was a protest at this since the return associates have enough to do without filling out some arrogant weenie's paperwork for him. But he insisted, went to the Person In Charge and argued about it (thus spending about twice as long in the return area as he would have if he'd just filled out the forms in the first place) and the associates were directed to take care of it. So they did, deftly generating a refund by check for the merchandise so Mr. Arrogant Weenie would get his money back two weeks later instead of that day at the cash register. He was handed the paperwork when he flounced up to the return area about half an hour later and escorted out of the store without his ever being aware of the switcheroo. Sometimes the little people win one.

( Today a CSA, tomorrow working for someone else! )

May 23, 1997

The Mother of All Sales and Service - The Fry's Fiasco

It began with an ad, 3 Giga Bytes of hard drive for $206.00 and 8 RAMs for $28.88. I was running out of space and also could use more memory. Little did I realize that I was about to embark upon a journey of wasted time and total frustration the likes of which are sadly all too often seen these days. These days are characterized by businesses being too cheap to adequately support their employees causing them to be expected to perform miracles in an environment on the brink of chaos.

The salesman on the phone said I needed 2.5 Giga Bytes, not the 3 on sale because I owned a Packard Bell Pentium computer. It was $199. Fine. I mentioned the sale on 8 RAMs that I needed. He told me the installation cost would be $34.95. I also requested that my files be backed up. The total of what I wanted would be $425. He told me I could expect to have everything done in one to two hours once I picked up my will call.

After hanging up, I decided to request a breakdown of costs when I got to the store because my brother thought that it was a bit high. I arrived at Fry's in Burbank a little before 1 on Saturday afternoon. It's about a 30 mile round trip from my house. My plan was to pick up the will call, leave the computer, go to lunch in North Hollywood and come back to pick up the computer after an hour or two. The best laid plans of mice and men, etc.

Upon arriving at Frys, the first problem was finding the will call area. I asked a clerk and he told me it was the check out counter. The check out counter consists of many checkers (which is good) with numbers on a stick to hold up so that when they are available you can see them waving their stick in the distance. I was fortunate enough to get a close stick after waiting about 20 minutes.

I gave the clerk my will call number. Naturally, my order of about 45 minutes earlier was not in the will call area yet. After about another 15 minutes they came up with my order. I asked for a breakdown of costs only to discover the following:

1) There were two 8 RAMs instead of 1. Both were over $32 each before taxes. Remember, I only asked for 1 RAM - the $28.88 sale item.

2) The installation fee was $34.95 for installing the 8 RAMs which I later discovered takes approximately 3 minutes to install and another $34.95 for installing the hard drive.

3) There was another $30 or so for an extended premium warranty which was never mentioned over the phone. I had them remove that and take away one of the 8 RAMs. Unfortunately, I was to later discover that I needed both 8 RAMs due to the nature of my computer. This was not explained to me when I told them to take 1 of them away.

The cost of backing up my files was to be $54.95 - but not for long. Unfortunately, I was to later discover the price would change.

I wrote out a check for $374 and change. It took another 10 or 15 minutes for them to verify it because it was through my credit union. By the time I was ready to go get my computer and take it to the "Service" Department, close to an hour had expired. That wasn't all that was close to expiration.

I went to the car, got my computer and returned to the store to head for the "Service" Department. First I had to sign in my computer at the door. No problem, less than 5 minutes. However, upon arriving at the "Service" Department, I discovered that there was no apparent system for telling who was next in line. All of the service people were either working on computers, helping people, or standing around in the back away from the counter. One of the problems appears to be that the service people must wait on customers and work on the computers at the same time. This can lead to mistakes which naturally happened as you will later discover. After having set the computer down and waiting for about 10 or 15 minutes, a service clerk was free. I told him what I needed done. He told me it would take three days! THREE DAYS!!! I told him I was told by the salesman it would be an hour forgetting in my exasperation that he had said 1 or 2 hours. He asked me if I would like to talk with someone in charge. I said yes. He went to the back to the gentleman standing around, said a few words, and walked back to the counter flashing a hint of a smile as he headed for another victim. After waiting another 15 minutes with no response from the gentleman in the back, I picked up my computer and went to look for the store manager. Luckily I found him right away and only had to wait another 5 minutes or so for him to finish helping another customer.

The manager heard my plight and sent another employee back with me to the "Service" Department. Gino helped me and started work on the computer right away. However, he discovered that 1 8 RAM would not work in my computer, it was necessary to have two units, be they 2 fours or 2 eights. Why didn't the salesman who originally sold me the 2 eights when I wanted 1 tell me that when I was paying for it an hour earlier??? Gino also asked me if I had Windows 95. I said yes. That's when the cost of backing up my files went from $54.95 to $89.95. He told me where I could get the 2 fours of RAM. I first had to get a paper printout, then take it to the check-out counter to pay for and receive the goods and then go to a long line, probably a half hour minimum wait, to return the 8. After getting the paper that would enable me to get the 2 fours, I decided because the price was almost the same for 2 8's to forget about returning the 8 avoiding the return line and just go with 2 8's instead.

I returned to the "Service" Department and left the two 8's with Chris (Gino was going to lunch). I asked for a phone number to call the next day. Chris gave me one. Of course, it turned out to be a recording. END OF DAY 1.


I called the number and got a recording saying that someone would contact me in the next 24 hours. I waited a couple of hours and then decided to go down there. I asked a friend if she wanted to go for a ride. She was down for it.

The first wait in the "Service" Department was approximately 15 minutes. I was given a slip to take to the cashier to pay for the difference in backing up my files. The wait in the cashier's line was only about 5 minutes. My friend and I went back to the "Service" Department only to discover a lot of people waiting around with no distince line. However, one lady did exclaim, "I'm going to punch the next person who crowds in front of me!" My friend and I decided that we should go to lunch instead of waiting around for another hour or so. Also, we wouldn't have to leave the computer in the car while eating.

Upon our return, my friend had had enough of Fry's and wanted to wait in the car in spite of the heat. When I arrived at the "Service" Department I was first in line. People actually lined up behind me this time. The only people in front of me were the ones already being helped. After about 40 minutes, I was helped. However, Chris was not around. The invoice couldn't be found. Also, it took about 10 minutes to find my computer. While waiting, a young woman on the verge of tears came up to one of the clerks and said "Could you please help me? I've been trying to get someone to help me find these 4 items for an hour and a half."

The clerk helping me decided to fill out a dummy invoice. Just as I was walking out one of the Latino clerks pointed to the counter and said, "There's the invoice." Back to the counter. I got the original invoice and finally was allowed to leave. Is the bogus over? Of course not!

I got home and hooked up my computer only to discover that they hadn't put in the new hard drive yet, the main reason I went to Fry's in the first place!

I called them up and talked to Chris. He said he tried to find me after I left to go pay the additional monies for backing up the files which was not done, but assumed by them to have been done. He never found me although I had gone back to the department before deciding to go to lunch. Apparently he didn't see me waiting. Thus, I had to bring my computer back to Fry's for a third round trip and must make a 4th round trip today. My car only gets about 14 mpg around town. I have spent an extra $10 on gas for this bogus thus far. I would think some sort of refund is due for their mistakes which have cost me time, money and undue frustration. By putting this on the net I hope to save someone from getting "fryed" this bad.


I called up late in the afternoon. The person in the "Service" Department who answered the phone said he would connect me to the project coordinator. He connected me to a recording that said to call back later.


I called a couple of times on Tuesday afternoon. The last time was quarter to five, fifteen mintues before leaving work. I was told that it wasn't ready and it wouldn't be ready until around 7. Thus, I couldn't pick it up on the way home from work, another round trip was on the itinerary. Gino said he would call me when it was finished.

I waited until almost 7:30, then I called. I told George what I wanted. He immediately put me on hold, never to return until I finally hung up after about 10 minutes and called back. George answered again. I started to go "Frytal" on him He then came back in less than a minute to tell me that my computer was ready to pick up.

Upon arriving at the "Service" Department, a nice looking woman with a computer was standing in what I guess was the beginning of a line. I said, "I guess it's another 45 minute wait." However, she was sent to the counter almost immediately. She was stacked. Then an opening appeared for me less than 5 minutes after hers. The first really pleasant "Service" Department clerk began helping me. However, he wound up inadvertantly breaking the plastic cover that goes over the on/off button on the front of the computer. He used super glue to fix it. I didn't want to press the issue because I wanted my computer tonight - not next month. All of a sudden, I could hear a burst of frustration at the end of the counter. The lady with the great body apparently was another victim of Fry's. In other words, she wasn't very happy with what they were telling her. Meanwhile, I said to the "good" clerk, (he shall remain anonymous because I don't wish to get him fired for being decent), "Ya know, you shouldn't have to wait on customers and fix computers at the same time." He then said, "What about people who have something easy like adding memory to their computer?" (which incidently was part of what I had been there for). He then proceeded to tell me that if he had waited on me in the first place he could have put in the hard drive and added my memory without even checking in the computer. He could have done the work right there at the counter. Fine time to tell me this!

Something should be done to compsenate me for having to go through what appears to be a totally unnecesscary horrendous experience. This whole episode is simply a microcosm of this world's current condition - lying, laziness, incompetence, total lack of respect for your fellow human being. All of these came in to play in this "The Mother of All Sales and Service - The Fry's Fiasco".

( another customer )

May 24, 1997

I would like to make people aware that Fry's in San Diego, formerly Incredible Universe, sell counterfit, knock off, HP Print Cartridge, 61629A. The heads are different, they do not fit the printer, and the ink leaks.

Nice try Fry's...perhaps you should look at the fake merchandise first before you try to rip off the public.

I call HP and they are going to look into the problem. In the meantime I would advise all indviduals not to shop at Fry's Electronics.

( another customer )

May 24, 1997


I used to work for Incredible Universe which has just been bought out by Fry's. After going through the orientation I am optimistic of the opportunities at Fry's. I was sent through a two hour class on customer service. I think Fry's is taking steps to improve the customer's experience at Fry's. Randy Fry is at our store in Portland, OR overseeing the remodeling. I will print out your page and bring this to his attention. I will see if I personally can change your opinion of Fry's.

( new employee at Fry's )

May 28, 1997


I've read your story with great interest. I'm not surprised but very dissapointed about the conception of Customer's services. I've always heard that American's customer services is the best in the world. Unfortunately Fry's is not a good reference. This is my experience : I was in USA for my job (I'm from FRANCE) I've bought in February 97 CEASER II 29.95 USD at FRY's SAN JOSE. I went back to France and tried to install this game. But I could not. The CDROM is unreadable ! I tried with two others PC ! The result is the same. I call to Fry's (of course long distance). I had a lady, I explained my problem. She could not resolve. She transfered to her manager. I re-explained my problem. She could not resolve. She called her manager and so on...


The last person told me that he could not do anything because the product was bought more than 30 days.

What I will do now ? The next time when I'll be back in San Jose. I'll go to fry's and request absolutly a change.

May be you should do the same.

Best regards.

( another customer )

May 29, 1997

I am a network engineer. The only reason I shop at Fry's is because they carry what you want and with a decent price once in a while. God help the poor fool that has a question. I haven't met one sales person that remotely knows any product that is sold there, except for maybe soda and candy bars. Anyway, I was testing Voice Modems for a company that was writing TTS (Text-To-Speech) and VR (Voice Recognition) applications. I went into the modem department looking for the Creative Labs Phone Blaster, a TAPI (Telephony Application Programming Interface) compliant voice modem, capable of processing TAPI commands. The Phone Blaster was one of the first to hit the market with this capability. I could not find the modem on their shelves, so I proceeded to do the fatal mistake. I asked the sales person in the modem department if they carried the Creative Labs Phone Blaster Modem. He looked at the ceiling with a blank stare then suggested that I try the telephone department in aisle 4. I told him to forget it and left. If Fry's paid their employees a decent salary, maybe they could find somebody with half of a brain.

( another customer )

May 31, 1997

Today I spent several thousand dollars at Fry's in Campbell to buy computer equipment for my work. I figured they would be more than happy to serve me, and I was right. In selecting my computer equipment, I made them get fresh, unopened packages from the back. The two sales people who gladly assisted me (shaking my hand, smiling, addressing me by last name) scurried all over the store getting the cables and adapters I needed (I just stood there, they did all the work). They eagerly assisted me and my three shopping carts to the registers.

Unfortunately, the cashier was not so helpful. As I stood in line, I had to wait ten minutes for a supervisor's password/signature (entirely separate story), and I said to the cashier "Gee, I'm spending three thousand dollars here, I would think you guys could hurry up before I decide take my business elsewhere." She gave me a smirk and waved her yellow register number a little harder.

Anyhow, I was glad to see that at least the sales people know where their commissions come from, but it is unfortunate that we customers don't get treated that way regardless of the amount of our purchase.

( T. A. W. )

June 1, 1997

The reason sale prices, all prices, for that matter, comes from a very old American retail tradition.

Some paranoid retailer decided he wasn't making money because his clerks were stealing cash sales. If the clerk was forced to make change then it would be harder for them to pocket, say, a $5 dollar sale, paid for with a $5 dollar bill. In theory, if the price was $4.95 then the clerk would be forced to put the money in the till and make change to the custome.

This is just a story my business teacher told the class I was in many years ago. It made sense at the time and, so far, I haven't heard any other logical explanation. Just thought I'd pass it along.

( Patrick )

June 4, 1997

OK, I also have had bad experiences at Fry's, but guess what? I actually chose to stop buying there as opposed to continuing to give them my money and then whining about my experiences. Fry's apathy towards the people who whine about their service yet continue to shop there is due to just that. If it ain't broken, why fix it? Guess what? Fry's (and no business for that matter, inspite of what they claim), doesn't care if you are happy. They are in business to make money, not to make you happy. Apparently, since so many people who criticize them are still willing to shop there, they have no reason to change. I don't blaim them. The only language they speak is $$$. With Fry's or any other business, if you want to affect change, you MUST be willing to boycott until you get what you want, otherwise you are just wasting your breath. I do think that what you are doing is an excellent and healthy way to vent your frustrations, as well as informing other people of your dissatisfaction, however, it ain't gonna do no good unless more people are willing to DEMAND better. I'm sure that with the current total lack of consumer activism in this society, your site has probably generated 10x more business for them than what you may have cost them. Inspite of my criticizms, liked the site very much.

( Sean )

June 4, 1997

In the military we learned one thing:

Anyone can put out complaints or show the negative side of things, but it takes some effort and brainpower to come up with solutions for these problems. I have noticed with every person who complains, it seems that instead of using their time constructively to come up with solutions, they spend it complaining, arguing, trying to file lawsuits (give me a break and get a job), anything but putting forth effort.

Don't get me wrong; I've had several bad experiences at Fry's, and have spent several thousands of dollars at their stores, but life is too short to spend criticizing, complaining, moaning or whining. Perhaps if there were less people who thought they deserved everything in life on a platter, things would be much better. Can you imagine how much everyone would get done as a team, as human beings, if this much negative energy was placed into something constructive? I really do feel sorry for some of these individuals...


( Jake )

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 10:55 PDT on November 1, 1999.
David W. Schultheis, San Josť, Silicon Valley, Santa Clara County, California, USA