Experiences at Fry's Electronics, Page Fourteen

June 26, 1997

Recently, Fry's Electronics just moved into what was once called "Incredible Universe" building here in San Diego. I decided to shop there. I was amazed by their wall to wall items, but I was never greeted by an associate. All I wanted was to buy some memory. Then, I greeted the associate and asked for what I wanted. Then, there came the check-out lane. I was all confused and messed up. Then, I went to customer service and the lady was a big turn off. I gave her the order slip and told her to cancel the order. I said, while walking out, "I am never coming back to this store ever again."

( Chad )

June 27,1997

I think your site is great. I too shop at Fry's, and... suffer the same "indignities" that you've gone through. My opinions are these:

First, regarding the idiots that stand at the front door wanting to see all that you bought (for whatever stupid reason) are, at the least NOT NECESSARY. I wonder... if all those minimum wage "do-nothings" as I have called them weren't there to begin with, would I be saving any more money at the check out stand? Probably.

Second, the salespeople. I have never in my entire life been to a retail store of any kind that has such incompetent, undertrained, and incapable individuals! I went to the new Brokaw store (in San Jose) on June 7th, 1997. My girlfriend and I walked over to the disk drive section to buy a new hard disk. I looked at the selections by myself (by preference because I already know what I would've expected from the infamous Fry's salespeople). I saw an ad about a week prior, of a Fujitsu 2.1 GB HDD. it's sale price I believe was $179.95. This was the drive I wanted (mostly due to it's performance spec's) and liked the price. So I saw my drive, but the price tag read $209.95. So I asked the salesperson about the ad price. He said it was no longer on sale and that $209 was the price. So I decided to search for a new drive at around $180. The sales person said that I wasn't going to find a drive with 2GB for under $200 and that they had the best prices in town.

I was appalled by that statement. Because I know about 20 other places I could've gone to for a better deal- and WITH a warranty- which by the way is extra at FRY's!! But it gets worse... That person goes on to say that he has a drive in stock that he could sell me for $199.99 (still warranty extra) called something like JTS with a storage capacity of 2GB, 3600rpm disk speed, and 14ms access time! Hell, some tape drives are faster that that! He also said that JTS (whom I've never heard of) is the most reliable, and has the smallest return rate of all the disk drives they have- better that Seagate, Quantum, IBM etc.

So anyway, I told him what I thought of this BS he was trying to lay over on me and said and left. Up until I read your web site I kept thinking I should have spoke to his supervisor, but after what you described, it would have been pointless.

In closing, I just want to convey that you really need to be careful when you go into Fry's. A novice who doesn't know much about computers has no business going in that store. There are much better stores to go to for home appliances, and if you don't know anything about the computer component you are looking to buy- bring someone with you who does know. The sales people there will try to push anything they want on you.

Good luck to you!

( Jeff, San Jose CA )

June 29, 1997

Subject: Fry Spy's Report #1


After spending a little time getting used to the change from Incredible Universe to Fry's, I'm starting to understand how Fry's Electronics operates. I think I can answer one question about them..

Rudeness to customers.. Due to the fact that they have a VERY good commission rate [and full of customers], being a salesperson, you have 2 choices: Do you spend 15-30 min with that one customer answering question after question, not even sure if that customer is even going to purchase anything, or do you take care of those 2-3 customers in that same time span who know what they want and are ready to go??

I've personally been in those situations where I spent up to 1 1/2 hr explaining everything there is to be said about an item just to get a polite "Thank You!!"..

For customers to get good service, it's a good idea to know what you want BEFORE you go to a Fry's store.. In that high commission environment, salespersons are looking for sales.. A good way to get your questions answered is to ask the person in the high chair..


( Ex-I.U. Insider/ Now Full Fry Spy )

June 30, 1997

Subject: I treat Fry's like a military operation

I have made countless visits to Fry's since I moved here to Los Angeles. Between my clients and other place where I have worked, I tend to visit one of the nearby Fry's (Manhattan Beach usually) almost every week. I stopped bothering to pay by check years ago when they refused to take a company check and I spent over an hour at the register only to be told at the end of this ordeal that I was not allowed to purchase these items and would I be so kind as to leave the store. (It was then when I lost my temper, not before.)

I have found that if I treat my visit to Fry's like a military operation, I can get exactly what I want and quite quickly.

First, always attack at dawn. If the store opens at 8 am, I'm there by 8:03. Parking is easier and usually you can get instant service and no line.

Know exactly what you want and where to find it. I always figure out precisely what I'm going to get before going in the store, often down to the SKU numbers. I have taken to making intelligence missions where I spend about an hour at any time with no plans to actually purchase anything. I figure out what they have and the approximate price and then go home and check out mail order sources and the like just to make sure that everything is supported and priced fairly. Then when I go to purchase, I can strategically make my purchases. I once bought a hard drive, memory, motherboard, and processor in under 10 minutes, including the check out register. (I paid with a credit card.)

I never attempt to ask a sales associate any technical questions. I often like to listen to other people ask questions to the sales associates and listen to the strange answers. If the answer is so way out of control (which it usually is) I jump to the customer's rescue and do what I call a "drive-by consult." (These few minutes in the store have also gotten me some of my best clients.) There is one person in the software sales section at the store in Manhattan Beach who is so clueless that I have (just because I was bored) stood near him, pretending to check out the most recent version of CorelDraw, and listened to what he says to the other customers for the pure entertainment value.

I avoid any boxes that have the "Checked by Associate #xxx" sticker, since those are obviously customer returns. I also avoid anything that says it was remanufactured right on the little price guide. I also never buy a fully assembled computer there.

If I encounter any customer service problems, I immediately turn on my super charming attitude, filled with smiles and laughs and a seemingly endless stream of patience. I think the fact that the people there know me fairly well after my many visits might help this strategy as well. When I hit one of the dreaded non-posted policies that affects me, I usually laugh and just remind the clerk that it is not their fault and I don't want to kill the messenger and ask if I can talk to their immediate supervisor. This usually cures the problem because we are dealing with human beings.

If this does not work, I usually just thank them for their time and leave or take the store credit and get some RAM or a hard drive (ready for the next client). I tried to get Fry's to match prices the way they claim that they do, but it just is not worth the effort.

The real key is patience. If you can outlast the enemy in this regard, you will find that you have lots of success at Fry's.

( Howard )

July 1, 1997

Our family has been screwed by Fry's before, so we've decided never to shop there. However, I might go there once in a while to purchase a book or a "small ticket" item, if not for one thing. The Fry's near us (Fountain Valley) has a Roman theme. It's interesting, but the noise in there drived my parents nuts! There is too much sound bouncing around, making it really loud, especially with (unfortunately) the cash registers ringing on end (that is, if they ever get their checks verified!) I really don't care, but since I can't drive to Fountain Valley, I have to convince them to drive me there. No way will I ever go there now!

Also, why am I so compelled to look at their ads?

( another former customer )

July 1, 1997



( another customer )

July 2, 1997

Fry's, Wilsonville, OR


I think Fry's suck and the first time and last I was disappointed in three things and no positive. Plus they wouldn't even honor a pack of batteries marked $1.49 and said to me the price was $2.98. Well I guess you know where I told them to stick it.... I can't believe that a store would allow their employees to toss a customer for a lousy $1.49...Go Back to Calif. you won't make it here, as I am spreading the word.

( Jim )

July 7, 1997

The thing that really gets me is that Fry's basically deceives their customers. I purchased a PowerBook 5300/100 from the Brokaw store last October. I had a problem with the Notebook and so I took it back, I got a new one and had them test it in the store, I found it had been used before and told them I needed another. The sales person there became agitated by my requesting a new one. He lied to me saying that they were just as good, that they had never been used by a customer. This was a lie because who ever had used it had their files on the drive! This was an hour after entering the store, I made the guy go through his stock of them to find one that was new and worked. About 30 min later his manager starts talking to him, telling him that he should give me back the one I purchased originaly and have me call Apple. So I said "Excuse me, I purchased this here, not directly from Apple, so you need to give me a new one." The manager responded in a verry nasty tone, "I wasn't talking to you." So that did it for me, in the middle of the computer department I made a scene, I raised my voice and told them exactly what I thought of Fry's. I told the people arround me not to buy a computer from Fry's because it was probably used merchandise and that the customer service after the fact was awful. The manager and his minion got me a brand new PowerBook that actually worked right quick!

The other situation was in the Campbell store, I purchased an AT&T digital 2-line cordless phone $320.00, I got to the car, opened the box and found it had been opened. I took it back to the store and presented it to "the person in charge." The person in charge was a very nice African-American lady, I wish I knew her name because she deserves to be complimented for abilities. She told me that she would make an even exchange with a new one, she said I should go get a new one and bring it back to the desk. I tried to do so but was stopped by the lady in the aisle, she said I had to have an invoice, after arguing with her for about 10 minutes, when she turned around to talk to her manager I walked back to the returns desk only to find a different person in charge. I apologize for the language but I can only describe ger as a blonde bitch. She was rude and discourteous and insisted that there was nothing wrong with the phone. She insisted that if it had been used it would have a QC sticker on it (a little blue sticker on Fry's stuff, don't buy anything with that sticker on it, it has been used for sure). She insisted that people in the aisles take boxes apart to look at the product. Here's the catch, the phone is supposed to be shipped discharged with a plastic strip over the battery terminals; it came to me fully charged with tape over the terminals of the battery and all the cords just wadded up in the box. I demanded a refund or discount for the insult and after shouting at her she finally did just that, a 20 dollar discount, but at that point all I wanted to do was get out, I passed the stupid people with the highliters at the exit door and told them exactly where they could stick it and that I was never going back to that store again, and so far I haven't.

( Alexander )

July 8, 1997

I used to live in California and shop at Fry's every once in awhile. So when I heard that Fry's was opening a store here in Oregon I was a little happy that I would have another toy store to shop. Well the store is 50 miles from me so I put in one hour getting to it with nothing but bad feelings from them. I needed a video card for the new system I was putting together and they had the one I wanted on a leader special. I tried calling them, but the telephone number never gets answered. So I drove there, only to get a rain check. Now this was two weeks ago and I've been trying everyday to call to see if the board is in, with no success. In their new advertising I noticed that the board I have a rain check on is now on special sale. After this transcation I will never go to Fry's again.

If you have an address for the owners or something, I would like to have it so I can blast the SOB's for their lousy business practices. They may be growing, but they're going to fail big time if they don't change their ways. As I said I will never shop there again!

( Sheldon )

July 9, 1997

You think it's bad shopping at Fry's? Try working there! I worked at Fry's for a year and a half. At Fry's you are treated like family until your second day, that's when all the fun sets in. If you are a cashier, you can not leave at your scheduled time if there are people in line. Policy is to make all the new people do all the work and the veterans sit back and watch. This is how you get the little crowd of people talking when there is a long line. If you are a sales man then you have to cheat the customer into buying something that they don't want (something more expensive). When this happens all the truly good salesmen get a bad name. The only good department is software because they are not working on commission. But that also has it's downs. The worst department is returns. They are taught to find every reason not to take your return, then when they do, the manager comes up and overrides them and makes them look like the bad guy. This also gives them a bad name. The reason I left was because I got real sick and could not call in for two days but I called in the day before and the day after. When I returned, the manager refused to accept my doctor's notice and requested I get more proof. Needless to say, I quit and sued them for employee harrasment.

( a former employee )

July 9, 1997

Dear Dave:

Do you know if Fry's purchased the Incredible Universe chain from Tandy awhile back?

[ Page author's note: affirmative, they did. ]

I am having some real problems with them concerning a premium for a warranty I did not purchase. Any information about class action lawsuits for unfair billing procedures? Thanks for your response.

( Jack Wurster )

July 9, 1997


I have had some good and some bad expierences with Fry's Electronics.

Most of these stories happened at the new Southern California store, major crossroad is La Palma (I don't know what city it is in).

Today, my father and I went to buy a motherboard, and a p166 CPU. When we realized that the total was under $200 (I called ahead to the Fountain Valley (of Hell) store to get the price, and the chip itself was $168 while the board was $69). We had NO PROBLEM getting the motherboard, nor did we have a problem getting the CPU. The sales person was acually very courteous, and kinda looked like Ron Wilson (Washington Capitols coach). I was saying all along that there were these Fry's web sites with MAJOR complaints about it. He said that he would personally check them out and probably let co-workers know.

Anyway, we decide to get 512K cache as well (we're building a computer piece by piece) and he prints up a sales slip. My dad and I look around a bit more, but decide that we have spent too much money already, so we head to the (c)heck out line. This is one of those that has the line at the end of a line of 40 registers (75% closed).

We get to our (c)heck out line, and the cashier says "That'll be all?" to which we say "yes." The guy goes to get someone who'll get the CPU and cache. We notice that the heat sink that the CPU comes with is missing. We complain and the guy goes back to get it (the entire check-out takes 20 to 30 minutes). We go past the 'Point of Indignity', just breezing past like he wasn't there. He tried to stop us, but we kept going and he let it go.

Seems that this new store is much better than the Fountain Valley (from hell) store. I've been there, and EVERY thing is where it shouldn't be. In fact, I found the card of one of the sales reps and the manager of the store in the toilet... (don't worry, I didn't try to get it). In fact I flushed it.

( James )

July 10, 1997

Excellent page, I can't remember enjoying reading like that! How come Consumer Affairs is never called by these people? I would've made sure FRY'S was fried by the government for false advertising and used equipment.

( Anthony )

PS: [here's their address:]

-----Consumer Affairs
-----400 R Street,Sacramento, California 95814
-----1-800-344-9940 or (916) 445-1254
-----TDD Only (916) 322-1700

July 11, 1997


I saw your "bad experiences at Fry's" page. It was very humorous, as anybody who has ever stepped foot in that store knows exactly what those stories are all about. I think I have an excellent addition for your page.

I purchased a new U.S. Robotics modem at Fry's, drawn of course by their good price. After a few nights of complete frustration trying to configure the thing correctly for my machine, I gave up and had to return it. (And of course, the sales person who sold it to me told me there would be NO problems.) So I took it in for an exchange. I got to the exchange aisles at the Fremont store. As I arrived, there were 3 cashiers there helping and I was second waiting in line. Should have taken 10 minutes tops.

However, one of the cashiers was trying to assist two highly irate customers. I wasn't paying much attention to them, but glanced every so often to see what the ruckus was. After some time, a small crowd of Fry's employees had to gather around the dispute. First some other sales associates joined in the argument, and not long after, several managers showed up to put in their $0.02. Not long after they called to security as the customers began using foul language. The next thing I see is two behemoth, Hercules-like security guards show up and stand around literally flexing their muscles at these two customers.

All three of the associates assigned to the exchange desk left to literally stand around watching this dispute. The customers that were being helped were left standing there. 60 minutes into my attempt to exchange this modem, a different sales associate finally returned to the counter.

But they do have good prices ;)

( Bill R. )

July 12, 1997

Once upon a time there was a store doing business as Incredible Universe (located around Aero Drive and I-15 in San Diego). Incredible Universe was gobbled up one day by a bigger store doing business as Fry's Electronics.

One day, a little daddy bear saw a very nice ad in the newspaper from Fry's Electronics. The little daddy bear went to the store and bought some things for his home computer. The little daddy bear was not able to see the line of customers, waiting to pay for their own purchases, because, somehow, the view from the entrance area and the exit, where the registers are, was totally blocked. If the little daddy bear had known or seen the line of customers waiting to pay for their purchases, the little daddy bear would have left without buying the little things for his home computer. Being a good little bear, after he got some things, he waited in line, and waited some more, until he got to the register. The brave little daddy bear even made a friend while waiting in line for forty-five minutes. The little daddy bear's new friend identified herself as "Deb". Anyway, the little daddy bear and his new friend finally went their own ways after paying for their purchases. The little daddy bear was forgiving this time because he was told the congestion was due to being the store's Grand Opening Day.

The little daddy bear knew that his little bear wife had been wanting a computer peripheral which sends and receives faxes, prints, copies, and answers the telephone. The little daddy bear had seen one of this devices at Fry's Electronics on his first visit, and decided to take his little bear wife there to purchase this very nice and expensive device (around $1,000).

The little daddy bear and his wife entered the store, looked around for awhile, picked up some other things, and decided to come back later to buy the very expensive device when the little daddy bear got his next paycheck.

The little bears went to the registers, waited for about twenty minutes before getting to the register to pay for their little things which had cost about $100. The clerk leaned on the register for about ten minutes apologizing because his register had "gone down" and he was waiting for the transaction to be approved. The two little bears were beginning to get upset because the other registers were ringing stuff up and the transactions were being closed in a jiffy. The little daddy bear's transaction was finally approved and the printer spit out the receipt.

One of the items purchased was an educational Reader Rabbit CD ROM for their little baby bears. Daddy bear noticed, as he was leaving the register, that a small Radio Shack item, worth probably about $10, had been charged incorrectly (overcharged). Daddy bear turned around to speak with the register attendant "Antoine" but he was already punching in another customer's transaction. The daddy bear, being a little daddy bear with great patience, stood by with little mommy bear waiting at his side. The other customer's transaction, having been conducted within a few minutes, ended and the little daddy bear told young "Antoine" that an item had been overcharged. Antoine instructed the little daddy bear to run back inside the store, locate and talk to the Fry's Electronics employee in charge of the area to obtain a written note with the correct price for the item. Daddy and mommy bear could not believe what they heard, looked at each other, and promptly said "no". Daddy bear and mommy bear did not want to give up their status as consumers to become Fry's Electronics employees. Daddy bear told Antoine to get his supervisor. Antoine did not get his supervisor and opted to run into the store to look for the person in charge of the area where the item came from. See, Daddy bear and mommy bear had earlier tried to find a person in charge of the area where the binoculars were displayed, and couldn't. Mommy bear, while in the store, had remembered that her father, Granddaddy bear, was going to have a birthday within a few days and mommy bear was going to buy him a very expensive set of binoculars. Granddaddy bear did not get his binoculars for his birthday from Fry's Electronics since mommy bear did not find a person in charge that could unlock the storage cabinet in order to retrieve a set of binoculars.

Daddy bear and mommy bear waited and waited and waited but Antoine was not coming back. Daddy bear figured Antoine was probably having problems finding the person in charge as well. Daddy bear arbitrarily asked other Fry's Electronics employees to get a supervisor. After waiting for awhile, a customer service supervisor came and talked to daddy bear. Daddy bear asked "Chris", the customer service supervisor, to kindly cancel the transaction and return daddy bear's check. Chris said he could not do that because he did not have a special password for the register. Daddy bear told him that he was aware most point of sale systems, if not all, have a key to bypass the electronic access, and manually open the cash drawer in case of power failure. Chris said it was not possible. Daddy bear told him that he did not believe him. Chris turned around, said he would check with someone, and left. Daddy bear and mommy bear were left standing there some more. Daddy bear lost track of time.

Chris finally came back, with a funny looking, curly like white elastic plastic thing holding a little key, and said that he had not been aware of the existence of this little key. Chris opened the cash drawer, picked up the checks and promptly passed daddy bear's check as he was looking for it. Daddy bear had been looking very intently at Chris manipulating the checks and immediately asked him to stop going through the rest of the checks since his check had already gone by. Chris found and returned daddy bear's check, daddy bear ripped it in tiny little pieces, and placed the pieces in his own pocket. Daddy bear, along with mommy bear, began to leave the store and could hear Chris saying in a very naughty singsong tone: HAVE A NICE DAY!!!. Mommy bear held on to daddy bear's arm as daddy bear was going to turn around and probably do or say a not so nice thing to this customer service supervisor.

The moral to the story is: Little daddy bear and mommy bear kept their money and will probably spend it somewhere else. Little daddy bear is never going back to Fry's Electronics.

( Edgar )

July 13, 1997

I would like to thank you for putting this information on the net. I will be buying a new Sony XBR 61" TV in the next month and saw it first at "Fry's" in Sacramento. After reading all the remarks about them on this web page, I will find another store to buy my new TV.

( Sharon )

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 13:25 PDT on July 27, 1998.
David W. Schultheis, San Josť, Silicon Valley, Santa Clara County, California, USA