Experiences at Fry's Electronics, Page Two

I've got a nice little story for ya...

Today I went to Fry's in Anaheim (the new "Space" store) to buy a P75 motherboard and CPU they'd advertised the day before and to pick up some other stuff for a computer that I'm building for a friend.. Well, as usual, they don't have any of the motherboards on stock, even though the computer says there's 9... so we get a rain check and go to look at cases which they'd advertised also. Suprisingly, right after we picked it out, a salesman was right there and he promptly got us the case and we were on our merry way to the cursed RAM area (why did they split up the RAM, CPU's, and motherboard areas, it's so inconvenient to walk from one end of the store to the other, just to match up a cpu with mb and some ram..) Well, we get to the RAM area, pick out what we want, and this cocky sales-lessthanperson asks how many slots are left on the MB and we tell him it's a new board so they're all free, (we were only buying 8 megs of ram) and he asks if we were planning on using Windows, and of course I told him yes, and then he says "You can't run Windows with only 8 meg of RAM" .. after doing it for a few months, I know that's BS... so I tell him he's wrong...and he just changes the subject, then he asks for our name, and my father doesn't like to give out his name, (to this day, Fry's doesn't have our current address or phone number) so my dad tells him that he's not going to give his name, and the guy says "We need a name" so my dad says "John".. lying of course, and making it obvious.. so the guy says "I can't sell you RAM without knowing your name, its the LAW"... that set my dad off, he asked to see the law and the guy brought us to a manager who apologized for the other guys action, and said that they just need the name for warranty purposes, so they worked out a deal, from now on, my dad's known as John dowd... but then we still had to wait in that 1/2 mile line, which is pretty sickening because they have more than 60 registers... the "final indignity" guy just looked at the receipt and marked it and we left... after reading some other stories from Fry's, I think I'll just walk past them, they waste my time... ( AcE, SySoP, THe SaNiTaRiuM BBS) , ( web page )

I go to the Fry's in Fountain Valley. I like it because of the wide selection and low prices, I hate it for every other reason. The last visit to Fry's was to purchase a hard disk drive and some 16 meg simms. They were out of stock on the simms of course but I did manage to get the hard disk. I headed over to the checkout counter where there were at least 35 people in line. No problem, I thought, so I picked up a magazine from the world's largest magazine rack and waited my turn. When I got to the register I was there for about 15 minutes. The sales person did not once tell me there was going to be a delay or what the reason was. He was playing with my check and seemed to be printing out a history of all the checks I had written at Fry's. At any rate it was just another checkout nightmare that is a typical occurrence with Fry's.

The bad point of this whole story is this. All my friends who know of Fry's hate it. We go there just to get a good price. The thing is, we know what we are looking for and for the most part won't get screwed by them. Think of all the people who don't know what's up and buy things there. They are the ones getting screwed by the Fry's machine! ( Aaron Bernard )

PS. Yeah, you can print this if you want! Great web site!


Thank God you posted these comments. I have never been so steamed at a store as *every time* I go to Fry's, but given their business, I figured my experiences were either isolated or rare. Apparently not.

The only way to get a job at Fry's is to be either totally incompetent, incapable of speaking English, or obnoxious in the extreme. Special preference given to those who possess all three qualities.

But, I go there. I found your page after searching Yahoo to find out their hours tonight. Yoohoo! Competition! Are you out there?! The only thing I can say is that I'd have more sympathy for the UnaBomber if he had gone after that abominable establishment.

Yet Another Totally Dissatisfied Fry's Customer.

( ... and the next day ... )

You know, I went there tonight, and for the first time (of course this happened after I wrote my message) someone *actually* helped me. Furthermore, when I went to the other store to find what I wanted--you may want to sit down for this--it was there! On the other hand, I still encountered someone with *minimal* and I do mean *minimal* English skills and waited a veritable eternity in line.

I really do appreciate your efforts as I think oftentimes we all just put up with the crap and don't complain enough. Do you want to take on the DMV next? Talk about rants.....

Best wishes. ( L.C. Johnson )

September 8, 1996

After seeing advertisements for a couple of items in which I was interested, I took the unusual step of considering a trip to Fry's. I decided to visit the Brokaw Road store in San Jose.

It was Sunday morning around 9:30 a.m. and the parking lot was not full. I found a spot about 20 spaces from the front door.

I found the "battery" aisle and followed it down to the "flashlight" area. There I found the Mini MAG light with 2 AA batteries and black nylon holster, for sale for $7.49, exactly as advertised. So I put one into my basket. I checked later and it works fine.

In all fairness, I must state that a clerk asked me if I needed any help as I was walking by the computer section. I thanked him but said I didn't need any help.

Then I found the manila folders I was looking for, but instead of "500 folders for $1.49," as advertised, I found a note on the shelf stating that Fry's was sorry but the ad was wrong; it was supposed to be "100 folders for $1.49," so I picked up a box of 100 folders and put them into my basket.

I happened to pass by an X-10 home control display and picked out a three-way switch I've been looking for, and put it into my basket.

Then the fun began. I walked over to the "wall of television sets" to verify how many there were. (On my only previous visit to this store, I had failed to count them.) I noted this time that the TV sets were stacked 7 high and 10 across, each showing a different network. Still quite impressive.

I stopped at "cordless telephones" but could not find one that really met my needs. No clerks were available to help. This could have been a blessing in disguise.

I stopped at "cellular accessories" and looked at leather carrying cases for my "flip-phone." Another clerk, a "mature woman," asked if I needed help. I expressed my concern that I buy the correct carrying case. She peeled back the label to make sure that it really was for a flip-phone. She said I was lucky because the flip-phone cases usually sell out quickly but this one had been hung on the wrong peg. It was with some trepidation that I put the case into my basket, but it turned out later that it fit just right, so I really was lucky.

Then I looked for video-tape rewinders. I found some marked $19.95, some marked $69.95, some not marked at all and a shelf-tag that said $12.95 but there weren't any left. I moved on.

(I couldn't help wondering why one of them was so much more expensive then the rest. The label said that it cleaned the tape on the way back, but still, that's an awful lot of money.)

So I moved to checkout counter. I discovered that the line ends at checkout number 40, all the way to one end, but I only had to scan the whole line for about 30 seconds before a cashier was available.

The cashier announced each price and each price was correct. I presented my credit card and signed the form. She put my purchases in bags and I headed to the door.

When I reached "the Final Indignity," someone was presenting his bags for inspection but I proceeded right on past. I might have heard a small voice calling out "sir," but I'm not sure.

So, in summary, everything worked and I was charged the right amount.

I'm willing to disregard the error on the advertised price of the folders; I'm willing to disregard the unmarked rewinders and pronounce this a positive Fry's experience.

It's just too bad they can't all be positive Fry's Experiences. ( Dave Schultheis, author/editor of this web site )

I bought a new answering machine ($84) at Fry's Campbell last week. When I got it home, I could clearly tell that it had been used (tapes in machine). I played the tapes - sure enough, there was an outgoing message and several incoming messages (apparently test messages). I kept it though. But I didn't like the FEEL of paying that much money for something that was used! I would have gladly paid a discounted price, but not a full price. So I took it back, and told them I wanted a NEW one. They gave me a new one, and it actually works better. If I buy something used, I want to know why the first owner didn't want it. ( T. A. W. )

Great page Dave. I am a frequent shopper of Fry's in Palo Alto (the western-themed store). I always go there knowing exactly what I want, eliminating any hassles with the so called "customer servants." I read something on the Breakfast at Fry's site which talked about returns, and how they are often just taped up or shrink wrapped and put back on the shelves. I finally experienced this for myself. I needed to pick up a couple quickcams for a project (http://firstvip.stanford.edu). All of the packages looked fairly mangled and had tape slapped on them to hold them shut. I asked if they had any more "in the back." Of course not. So I hesitatingly picked out the two least mangled boxes. Of course I knew it was a bad idea. I had the unfortunate luck of a new employee at the front counter. It didn't end up being a problem. I guess at 8:30 AM they are still in a good mood and actually fairly helpful (hint hint - go early). Amazingly, one of the cameras actually works! 50/50 isn't too bad for Fry's. On the one to be returned, I wrote that it was bad all over the box so they couldn't put it back on the shelf. Heh heh. This one's going back to the manufacturer.

Fry's has got to be the weirdest store I've ever been in. Strangely though, I keep going back. there is something irresistable about it. ( Shawn Stepper, Stanford University )

Dear Sir;

My friend who lives in Long Beach Ca. is a computer systems engineer for a law firm in Ontario Ca. His employer has an open account at Fry's which my friend used successfully for three months, then one day in August 1996 the store manager denied the use of a California Identification Card. You know one of those [state] issued things. Well, I was enlisted as driver for this particular outting because my friend doesn't own nor can he drive a car. He relies on a carpool to get to work and friends to help him shop for equipment. My friend was quite livid and I persuaded him to leave. We returned the next day with all his past purchasing orders and receipts, along with social security numbers and birth records. We again were denied because it "isn't policy to accept a California ID card." My friend showed the receipts and P.O.s and the supervisor said "Well, I don't know what to tell you, but I won't let you use that." My friend who just about lept the counter left with me again. After calling his boss, he called the customer service line, remained on hold for a documented 1 hour 12 minutes to be assured he could use his ID. We returned the next day to find that we were again denied and it was suggested to us that my friend "learn to drive as well as get the hint." Fry's is a great place but don't go there if you can't take things in good humor and patience.

Thank you; I was aching to tell another soul this, I thought it was only me and my friend. ( Richard )

I've been tinkering with computers for the last 14 years, mainly as a hobby. Therefore, I don't find it necessary to ask salespersons their "advice" on certain components because they usually don't know jack. Nonetheless, one day at Fry's I was interested in purchasing an 8X cdrom that was advertised at less than $100. When I got to the Woodland Hills location, there were none on the shelf. I looked around for a salesperson nearby to ask if they had any more in the back. He was in the process of "helping" another customer but nonetheless stated that the famous Fry's motto: "if it's not on the shelf, it's not in stock." But he didn't stop there. He then went on to offer his advice by stating that I should buy another model. He pointed out one that was about $90 more in price. I smiled and said, "Yeah, it's also $90 more." He responded, "Yeah, but it's also faster." I then looked at the cdrom he was referring to, it was 8x with an access time of more than 250ms, while the $99 out of stock 8x cdrom had an access time of around 150ms. Of course I pointed that out to him and asked that in light of that how could he possible say that the more expensive one was "faster." He looked dumbfounded and at a loss for words like I was speaking Greek which I probably was to him. After some pause, he gave me his final reason for recommending the "faster" drive, the cheaper (and faster) one that I wanted made a noise like "Shhhzzzzz" and the other one didn't.

I started to laugh hysterically. I told his customer, whom he was "helping", "I hope you don't spend too much based on his advice." ( Robert Balbuena )

What ever happened to the customer is right?

On a recent visit to the Burbank store I had gone by to pick-up a 5-pack of Jaz cartridges for our NT server at work. It's not a small purchase at $500. Yet when I get there I find out that Fry's only carries the 5-pack for the Mac, not for the PC. Since I have a PC, I must buy them as singles, at a 29% premium. Yet, Iomega sells them either way, and Iomega's list is the same as the shelf price.

So, I figure that Fry's seems like a decent, forward looking company, I ask if they'd sell 5 singles at the 5-pack price. Boy was I surprised. Without hesitation, the supervisor, in a cocky tone, said "no, they're sold-out, and they can't do that." I said, "Yea? You sell them? Where's the shelf tag?" I must say that I'm now through shopping at Fry's.

I work for a small to medium sized company where I give recomendations on what and where to buy nearly $20K/year of equipment and consumables in the Burbank area. None of this will go to Fry's anymore. I give advice to numerous people an other people at companies in the area, and I must say that I will actively discourage people from going to Fry's. They don't take care of their customer.

I've got bigger fish to Fry. ( Rob Lawson )

Hey Dave,

You are so right. Everything you have mentioned is so true. Fry's is not a very pleasant place to shop if you like talking to people. It's more for those who know what they want and also know everything else about the item they are purchasing.

I was just at Burbank's newly finished Fry's today. I was looking for some cartridges for my removable hard drive. I entered, made a few turns, and came up a podium where three employess were standing around. As I stood there staring at one guy punching something into the computer, waiting for him to look up and ask if I needed help (as if my stare wasn't obvious enough), I notice two other "salesmen" next to him watching him as he was typing in whatever it was he was typing. I looked half-way down the computer aisle behind the podium and saw another employee playing a computer game. And there I was.. standing there like an idiot waiting for some response, or at least a "I'll be right with you" or something, anything. After a minute of silence (I didn't say a word, waiting patiently and politely), I decided to look for other help and turned around to look for other employees, when someone finally comes up to me and asks me if I need help. I tell him that I'm looking for "cartridges" for my removable hard drive. He says, "those drives are in aisle 15." So I said, "No, I'm looking for the cartridges, not the drives." I had told him that I couldn't find it in aisle 15, where it should be. I asked him, if they had the drive for sale, shouldn't they also have the cartridges??? But the emptiness of their shelves wasn't really what bothered me. It was that there were a total of seven employees that could have helped me, but the only one that even came close sent me home, with no clue of where I could possibly get the cartridges.

Fry's is really that bad. All they have going for them is their low prices, and somehow it has managed to be enough. All I know is that I'm not going to ask another salesperson to help me get anything, that is, if I ever go back. I wish there were more Best Buys around.

It's nice to be able to let some steam off with others who have the same problem. Thanks for the forum, Dave! ( V. Cam )

First things first. I wholeheartedly agree. Yet, I must say we did it to ourselves. We want low price, selection, and tons of stuff. This equals big store and no service. Any large company in retail can't hope to provide any level of service on a consistent basis and maintain their profit margins unless they see "us" as the expendable portion of the equation. What to do?? Some solutions:

Check out NCA or Hi-Tech USA for prices and support. They can beat Fry's any day of the week. Big tip: they're small.

Californians!! Stop being so apathetic. I am originally from Canada and we let our displeasures be known about service. Make yourself heard. This means in the store at the "peak of the experience" and let other customers hear you. I don't mean go bananas and cause a scene but use your rights and demand, (don't ask!!) for the service your deserve. You will be suprised at the number of customers that will back you up.

Everyone must absolutely refuse to stop for "The Final Indignity." This is a form of arrest, and most people don't know or don't care that they are being ARRESTED when they are stopped by a clerk and have their property examined. Remember, you bought it, you own it, IT IS YOUR PROPERTY and it's up to them to prove otherwise in a little more dignified manner. And, duh!! who the hell do they think they are kidding? Show me some statistics on this little art form and I might give it a couple more nanoseconds thought. Yeah, RIGHT! They are just pissing off all the good, hardworking, PAYING customers. Let's put a stop to it. They can pay for loss prevention a little more than $5.00 an hour.

Well, you have my support and are welcome to use my name, comments, e-mail. Hope things get better. ( KM )

There seems to be a pattern with idiots tryin to sell computer equipment. As we all know IB"WHO" started this pattern selling their PCs through underqualified merchandisers to keep their profits up. Fry's Electronics seems to be just one of them.

I exchanged so many motherboards that (of course) didn't work, that after comparing the serial numbers, I got the bad boards back after I exchanged them. I had no problems exchanging them, but I did not expect to do unpaid 'quality control' for Fry's.

Just lately I brought a motherboard back to Fry's for "repair" and after I didn't hear anything back from them for almost 8 weeks I tried to find out what was going on. Then they finally moved and told me they found a vendor that would "repair" the motherboard. Well I'm in this business for more than 2 decades and I've never heard from anybody that would repair a board. I tried to get this joke in writing, which of course, they refused. I had so many problems with them that I'm inclined to finally sue them.

( ... and a few days later ... )

I'd like to point out that I will take legal action against Fry's in regards that they sell used equipment, mostly not operable, for new. Just yesterday I had a run-in with the store manager in charge - "Myran Wilson" that he did not want to take a CPU back, even though they sold me a broken one just a day before. I strongly urge all potential customers to thoroughly inspect all merchandise, which means open the case and check the pins and manual. Mostly you'll find writing in the manual or see scraped pins which indicates very often that somebody else already did their Quality Control and returned the merchandise as non-functioning. For CPU's, memory and other silicon material, insist on seeing an actual check in the store. They might give you problems returning the stuff when it's bad. And please don't believe a word they say ever: THEY LIE!!! ( Dr. Herb Kuhnert )


Thanks for the great page! I bought a Fujitsu hard drive at Fry's Anaheim in June (the 21st to be exact). On the 15th of September, while running scandisk on the drive, it identified a bad sector. I backed the drive up, and was able to save everything of value, before the drive went south, which it did a couple of days later. Well I knew right where the reciept was (having only purchased it a few months prior), so I figured I'd just run the drive in, pick up my new one, and restore the files. WRONG. After waiting in the return line for a half hour (the poor lost souls that you usually drift right by on your way into the store, at least until you're one of them), I was informed that since the drive was older than 30 days, they would have to send it to the manufacturer for repair, and gave me an ETR of 6-8 weeks. I told him I thought this sucked, and asked to have the drive replaced. He said he couldn't, but if I had bought their extended service plan for the drive they could have. I asked to talk to a manager, and asked him to replace it, since it was only a few months old. He said he couldn't, but if I had bought their extended service plan for the drive they could have. So they marched me over to their service counter, gave me a bunch of forms to fill out, and as I'm filling these out someone from the service center came over and took a look at my receipt, then proceeded back to talk to a manager. I became hopeful, and sensed a bit of light in the midst of an otherwise dismal experience. His manager told him that he would take the drive back, but he woud have to get approval from his boss. So he called his supervisor, who told him that he couldn't take it back, but that if I had bought their extended service plan for the drive they could have. These little plans are invariably a rip-off, in fact there's often a lot more of a profit margin in selling extended warranties than in the merchandise itself. The drive comes with a three year warranty (a fact that was noted on my receipt), but when I talked to them about that, they simply said that this was from the manufacturer, and all I could do was get service from them. I told them I thought 90 days was a little short of a life span for a hard drive, and if they thought the drive was good enough to sell, they ought to at least be willing to stand behind it. Of course all of this is immaterial as I am now without the drive for 6-8 weeks, and if there is any lesson I have learned from this, it's not that "well next time I'll get that darn insurance", but that I'll be taking my business elsewhere. ( Dan Badgett )

Today I bought a $6 video tape rewinder shaped like (of all things) a car. I walked in, got my product, paid with Visa, left in under 6 minutes. No problems! Yea! ( T. A. W. )

UPDATE: It broke 1 week later.

Today (9/22/96), my wife and I headed to the Fry's store in Campbell to purchase a TV, a small stereo, and a phone/answering machine combo. I should have known better than to go to Fry's; we have had several bad experiences at the Campbell store before. My first warning was the parking lot--there were several parking places! With 20/20 hind-sight, I now know that those spaces were vacated by other unhappy customers who went home empty handed.

The second challenge is getting into the store. You have to fight your way past the animal cages(customer service) and get through the little gates. Naturally Fry's uses this confined area to display their latest high priced junk and naturally those that aren't smart enough to know they are being ripped-off stop and look at something they neither need nor can afford.

Finally we made our way past the junk food, sodas, magazines, and other assorted merchandise left over from the supermarket days, to the aisle with phones. After looking over a sizable assortment, we picked out a cordless answering machine but could not find any in the stock below the display. About now a "salesperson" walks up and asks if he can help or at least I assume that what he said. When I asked for the make and model we had selected, he simply said "out" and walked away. We gave up on the phone.

Our next stop was the stereo my wife need for school. The one we had gotten her two years ago had been stolen. There were thirty or more models on display but only a few of the top price models appeared to be in stock. We did find one box with a model and price that was suitable, but I wanted to see it before we purchased it. Foolishly, I sought out another "salesperson." This young man was able to ascertain that they were indeed out of virtually everything on display. He did however give me permission to open the box of the one not on display. Now on the TV section.

The dark and dank aisle of the TV section at Fry's remind me of their old supermarkets. Getting help is a joke. We looked at several but a "salesperson" tried to sell us on a floor model that was more than twice as much. He insisted on checking with his manger to see what the floor model would sell for. Naturally, he came back with a few dollars of the posted price. When we said no, he went off to greener pastures.

When he finally gave up trying to sell another guy a TV he said he could not afford, we asked him to write up the order for the TV we had settled on. OUT OF STOCK. OK! how about this one? More checking-OUT OF STOCK. Virtually every 25 inch TV was out of stock. Then he gets the brilliant idea to check the other stores. Well none of the other stores have that model either except Palo Alto and they have 14! He tells me that the Palo Alto store is very close to where you live. RIIIIIIGHT!!! We came to the Campbell store because it was FAR AWAY from where we live.

I was willing to take the floor model, after all I did not want to spend my life trying to buy a TV at Fry's. His response, "can't sell floor model." When I reminded him that he had wanted to sell me the expensive floor model he again said "can't sell floor model" at least that is what I think he said. I told him he might as well make himself useful by putting the stereo and tapes we had selected back on the shelf and walked off.

On the way out of the store, I stopped at the "security check" also known as the "last Indignity" and politely asked for a manager. The guy gave me a dumb look for about thirty seconds and finally said that the "person in charge" was that lady in black at customer service. We assume that the manager and "the person in charge" are not one in the same persons. After another round of dumb looks, we found out that the ¾person in charge¾ was a different lady in black. Finally getting the person in charge, I asked for a complaint form but she said she was out of them! How about running a copy? OK! Good! 10 minutes later we left Fry's without the TV, stereo, phone, OR the COMPLAINT FORM. We are also convinced that there is nobody in charge.

Hello Circuit City!! It took all of fifteen minutes to make all of our purchases. The salesperson was friendly and helpful. He wrote up the order on the computer and we were on our way. By the time we got to the front door and customer service, everything was there ready for me. Just drive your car up to this door and WE will load it for you sir! Now that is service!! We even got a better deal than we would have at Fry's!

I let my feet do the talking! From now on I will go anywhere but Fry's. ( AN EX-CUSTOMER )

You want an example of Fry's customer service? Go to their web site at http://www.fry-s.com. Your network connection will be refused, just as it has been refusing connections since January. ( The Saint )

PS: Here is the whois info for fry-s.com

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 on January 10, 2003.
David W. Schultheis, San José, Silicon Valley, Santa Clara County, California, USA