Experiences at Fry's Electronics, Page Five

Two weeks ago, I wrote [to a newsgroup]:

> * A 27" XBR15 TV was brought in for repair at Fry's Sunnyvale branch
> (where I bought it) on August 4th, nine weeks ago. The problem is
> probably a broken solder connection, common to XBR TV's, easy to fix.
> The TV is under Fry's five-year extended warranty coverage.
> * Fry's said the TV would be ready in 4 to 6 weeks. Not 6 to 8, not
> three months. I called them after 7 weeks (mid-September) to check
> if it was ready, and numerous times after that.
> * When calling Fry's audio/video dept, it's typically 20-30 rings before
> someone picks up the phone.
> * When I do get an answer, inevitably the person on the other end
> cannot answer my question and must call the manager.
> * It takes 5 to 25 minutes for the manager to pick up, if ever.
> * Once, I was left on hold indefinitely, waiting for the manager.
> The manager was in a meeting. While I was on hold, he left the
> store to eat dinner, according to another employee. This was
> at 4:15pm.
> * During this whole process, Fry's called Sony only once, and that was
> at my insistence. Aside from the one phone call, Fry's has made
> absolutely no effort to get the TV returned to me. (I asked what
> Fry's had been doing all this time to track it down; the manager
> said he made one phone call.)
> * It turns out that the TV was repaired by Sony, at their San Jose
> service center, within *one week* of my delivering it to Fry's.
> It was only after 7 1/2 weeks (on or about September 22nd) that I
> found this out, by personally calling Sony at their 1-800 number.
> Sony had an answer for me within five minutes. The TV had been
> sitting there for six weeks, not picked up.
> * Fry's made no attempt to pick up the TV, even after *I* notified
> *them* that it had been ready since August 13th. It has now
> been three weeks since I first notified them of this.
> * When I called Fry's for the last status check (October 11th),
> they had lost their copies (all three, apparently) of my claim
> form. I had to go there in person and show them my copy.
> (I don't have a fax machine).
> To their credit, Fry's employees have been courteous throughout this
> whole ordeal (as have I).
> A portion of my conversation with the audio/video manager today (Oct 11),
> in person, as best as I can remember it:
> manager: "Come back Friday, and the TV will definitely be here. You'll
> definitely get it on Saturday."
> me: "You just said Friday."
> manager: "Saturday at the latest."
> me: "You told me last Friday that it would be here today. There's
> some kind of miscommunication going on here. I would like
> to know why you keep saying it'll be here 'next week'."
> manager: "Sony takes up to six weeks to repair something."
> me: "It's already repaired. I called Sony -- it's been ready for
> two months, ready for the Fry's truck to pick up. I've told you
> this countless times."
> manager: "Sony is probably lying."
> me: "I had my VCR repaired directly through them, and it was out of
> warranty. They fixed it in less than a week."
> manager: "Sony gives a higher priority to repairs when the customer
> deals directly with them."
> me: "I paid $75 for a five-year Fry's extended service plan. Sony
> offers their own extended coverage. If I ever buy anything here
> again, why would I want to get a Fry's extended warranty instead
> of the manufacturer's own warranty?"
> manager: "You would actually be better off getting Sony's own extended
> warranty rather than Fry's."
> me: "Can I quote you on that?"
> manager: "Yeah."

Well, last Saturday, Fry's came through, after I called them yet again. They delivered my TV and I set it up immediately, to make sure it worked before the truck left. The picture came up, but the second tuner (it's a dual-tuner set) produced nothing but static. On top of that, upon inspecting the TV, it was the wrong serial number! If that wasn't bad enough, we checked the shipping document and it was yet a third serial number! So back it went all the way to Sony, eventually).

And I trek back to Fry's -- again -- to explain what was wrong. I had to bring my remote, because they don't have a remote that works with this TV. A Sony XBR15. Granted, it's three years old. I eventually get the Store Manager and five of his henchmen trying to figure out how this whole screw-up happened. After half an hour, any results? You guess. The Store Manager says he will "personally keep me informed of their progress". He will "definitely call me on Monday". He has my home number and my work number.

So it's Wednesday. I call Fry's (of course it's not the other way around) to see if they've located my TV. I talk to the video manager. Get ready for this. He's now giving me the line that the TV they delivered on Saturday actually *was* my TV... you see, this set has *two* serial numbers, yeah, that's it, that's the ticket. This set is apparently 7012260 and 7012305 at the same time. He actually expected me to believe this! And he expects me to believe that it's going to be delivered back to me in a couple days, with the tuner fixed.

Well at this point I urge anyone who has read this far to feel free to bring a copy of this post to Sunnyvale Fry's, along with any similar incidents you can find. I've seen many complaints on ba.general over the past couple of years, mostly panning their practice of repackaging returned software without so much as checking if the disks have been modified. Go and ask them why you should buy *anything* at their store with a level of complexity past stabilant spray.

While you're at it, ask anyone in their components department what stabilant is. (It's the stuff you spray on oxidized connectors to improve conductivity).

( jello biafra )

I say f**k Fry's, I use to love buying my software there, because of the wide selection. Until they changed their return policy. I tried to return an unused, opened CD, but the manager showed me no grace. He was very rude to me. I wrote to the General Manager, and he never even replied. I will never shop there again. I use to tell all my friends and people in business to purchase at Fry's. Not anymore, I no longer recommend them.


I recently had an experience that paralleled another customer's (victim's?) experience and got an interesting tidbit of info to share with all of us Fry's whipping-people.

I needed to get a printer for my brother to take to school with him. I went to Fry's, grabbed the printer (fortunately it was sitting out on the floor, I dreaded having to talk to a "salesperson" to get it) and sat in line for the usual 10-15 minutes.

When I got to the cashier, she rang up the printer and I wrote a check for it. She asked me for my ID and I showed her my DMV ID card, which to my knowledge just about everybody else in the state considers legal ID for writing a check.

The cashier took my check, verified funds, and then informed me that Fry's does NOT consider a DMV ID good enough for a check and that either the store manager or assistant store manager would have to sign off on my purchase.

I waited for 30 minutes for the assistant store manager to show up (I was in awe, up until now I always thought these people lived with Santa Claus and the tooth fairy) and he proceeded to authorize my purchase.

The amazing thing was, though, when I suggested to the store manager that Fry's join the rest of the state in honoring the DMV ID as valid for checks, he informed that Fry's would not based on the fact that it is (according to him) only a misdemeanor to forge an ID and a felony to forge a driver's license. Never mind about passing a bad check...

Can anyone else out there confirm these facts?

Thanks for the venting opportunity.

( Chris de Bruin )

My husband and I just finished reading your page. We can relate.

Here's my terrible experience:

My husband went to Fry's xxxxxx to get a PCMCI Sound card for a laptop. He asked the Salesperson in the department if it would work with the laptop. The Salesperson said "Yes". We purchased the product and brought it home. He spent 2 hours working on it, trying to get the card to work. He then went back to the store and purchased a different brand that the Sales person again said would work. Once again the product did not work. He was so angry he asked me to return the item.

When I returned the item, I tried to get our check back. It turned out the Customer Service person who originally rung up the item had left for lunch 1 (that's right O-N-E) minute before and I could not get my check back. I was told I could come back in an hour or wait 14 days for Fry's to cash my check so they could send a refund. Being my third trip to Fry's that day, wasting 2 1/2 hours of drivng time already I asked for the Supervisor.

The Customer Service Supervisor (What an Oxy-moron!)

The Supervisor arrived and told me there was nothing she could do about the check and that I should come back in an hour. I explained to her that this was my third trip to Fry's that day and each time the Salesperson said we had the correct item. I told her it was not my fault that their Salespeople did not know what was going on. I explained my husband was leaving for New York in a few hours and I did not have then time to run home and come back, since I had already wasted 2 1/2 hors in driving to and from Fry's that day. She still did not budge. I then (getting really frustrated) asked for the Store Manager. All of the sudden, she was able to open the register of the person who was at lunch. (Whose register just happened to be next to the register where all this was happening.)

Now the reason WHY I hate xxxxxx FRY's:

When the Customer Service Supervisor was almost done helping me she said to the person next to her, making sure I could hear: "I hate those stupid salespeople, they screw up and make the FRIGGEN customers get pissed at us."

Hello? This was the Customer Service Supervisor! It is her job to put up with the Friggen customers.

Thank you for this page, I hope some of the idiots down at Fry's get the idea.

Oh yes, I now have my vengance. My brother works at Fry's and I get everything at discount and I don't have to deal with Customer (Lack of) Service to get anything!


( another customer - name and store (city) name deleted )

Yesterday (1/24/97) I called Fry's in Burbank looking for an external (this is the important part) U.S. Robotics Courier V. Everything Modem. Well of course when I called all the phone lines were busy. So they took my name and phone number and said they would have a computer rep. call me back in 15 min. So two hours later some one calls me back. I asked if they had an external U.S. Robotics Courier V. Everything Modem, which is hard to find because of it being a very high end modem at a price of $299. The rep. said he had plenty of these in stock. They had it at a price of $275, which was cheap so I asked THREE times to make sure that is was the external version and he assured me that it was.

So today (1/25/97) I went out to Fry's in Burbank, about 30 min. away. So we got there and went to the Modem area. I did not see the external U.S. Robotics Courier V. Everything Modem, there only the internal version. So I asked a sales rep where they were, he could not locate them. So I explained that I called and the person who I talked said they did have the external version. So I started to say that maybe the sales reps should know the products they carry a little better. I was still very calm at this point. So he said let me have you talk to "the person in charge".

So I followed him to the the black lectern where "the person in charge" was. When we got there this sales rep. in front of the "the person in charge" says "You were cursing me!". I responded no way, and the sales rep goes good thing, other wise I would have you kicked out of the store. As "the person in charge" heard this he told the sales rep to get lost. After that I was starting to get very mad.

After much confusion they were able to locate a record of who had talked to me, and what about. After this they checked there computer (you know the ones with the small black and white screen and I thought Fry's was a modern store) and said they did not even carry the product. So I told the story of me calling, and being assured they did. I was clearly very mad, and a lot of other potential customers (or shall we call them fellow victims) were standing waiting for assistance. I asked well, what other high end modems do you have for the Mac. Well he goes we should have several, but of course they did not only the low end cheap ones under $150. So "the person in charge" says they might be able to order me the modem, and it would be here in a few weeks. I said no need I will mail order it and I would most likely I would get it cheaper, and it would be here Monday. So he pulls out his card and writes some stuff on the back and signs and dates it. He says present this next time you are in and I will get my best sales person to help you (this must mean one who knows something about computers, but I am not sure) and they will give me some type of discount (would not tell me how much) depending on the product I buy.

I then put his card in my pocket and left the store, not buying anything. As I was stopped at "the Final Indignity," and they asked to see my purchases. I explained that I had none, but they did not believe me, and started to question me about it, but I just left without looking back. Well as one can see this was a shopping trip from hell, and as far as I am concerned the card "the person in charge" gave me is a piece of trash, worth only the paper it is printed on.

Now on to my memory purchase from hell story.

Around Christmas I went to Fry's in Burbank to buy some memory for my brother's Macintosh Performa 630 series. They had RAM really cheap at his time so I went there instead of ordering from Data Memory Systems at http://www.datamem.com/ SO I went there and tried to buy the SIMM modules I need. I upgrade my friend's computers and do this all the time. So I find a sales rep and tell them exactly what simm I wanted as the speed, pin number and everything else they needed to know. But the sales person would not take that info, and asked what computer I was upgrading. So I told her, and she typed it in, and said they did not have any of the 72 pin SIMMs for that machine in stock. So I came back a week later and they did have the SIMMs I needed in stock, but they said I would have to buy two because the machine required that I upgrade in sets of two, which I know through experience and by the manual is not true. So, I insisted I only wanted one, and to my suprise the sales person said well if you don't want to buy two so your machine will work I can not sell you anything. This was two days before Christmas. So I went home and called Data Memory Systems which had a great price much better than Fry's and a life-time warranty included. They knew that I needed only one SIMM for the computer. I said it I needed it as soon as possible since it was a gift, and Data Memory Systems was able to get it to me from back east overnight and so I got it Christmas Eve. So I learned my lesson never to buy RAM at Fry's.

( another customer )

I appreciate you putting up your Fry's page as a "fair warning" to people who consider shopping at Fry's.

As you have mentioned, the place at the door where they check whether or not buying customers have shoplifted (called "Final Indignity") is really annoying, to say the least. Once I exchanged a hard disk I previously bought at the store for the same item. As I was walking out, "that place" checked me. The "FI" person asked for my receipt, which I forked over. Then she asked "do you know the item number of this?" I said no, thinking: "how the hell am *I* supposed to know the item number (that Fry's uses to keep track of inventory)?!?" I was held up for a VERY long time at the exit as they looked for the clerk who okayed the item exchange. When I was finally allowed to leave, I stormed out of there. In hindsight that episode might seem silly or even comical, but I was pretty pee owed back then.

( kyousuke )

So I see other people are commenting on the "Fry's Experience." Great, about time! One of my jobs is to buy parts for the company I work for. Until a year and a half ago or so I called them 25 to 30 times over a two to three period. You face two major obstacles dealing with Fry's on the phone. One is to find a person who speaks English beyond the level of a three year old. The second is to find someone who actually knows what they are talking about. Notice I said above "up until a year and a half ago", that's because I got so sick of it I haven't called them since. Then there is the experience of actually going to Fry's which I still do occasionally. My experience dealing with the sales people there has led me to establish the maxim, "Never trust what a Fry's salesperson tells you." Be sure to do all your research before you go...

They have the worst sales staff and support of any store I have ever been to. According to one guy I spoke with they treat their people just as bad. Ever see the employees smoking outside the front door at the Campbell store? That's their smoking area...That place deserves this page!

( Elmo )


Thanks so much for your page. It's a good service. I was thinking about the same kind of page. I hate Fry's.

Here is a copy of a recent letter to them. Of course, I got no reply.



November 3, 1996

Chief Executive Officer
Fry's Electronics
340 Portage Avenue
Palo Alto, CA 94306

Dear Executive,

I'm sorry to say that I have decided to no longer conduct any business at Fry's. That's too bad for you and me because over the past 10 years, I have spent an average of $12,000 per year there. I like your new store in San Jose, but not enough to shop there due to the experience I had during the last couple of months. It's interesting that about 5 years ago I sent a letter to you commending certain members of your sales staff. Gee, things have certainly changed.

Please review the enclosed fax that I sent to your store a couple of months ago after I purchased a projection TV. I never received a call from the sales manager nor anyone else. We called numerous times, but we would get put on hold for 10-15 minutes, then after leaving a message, no one ever calls back. No messages ever appeared on our answering machine either. That is horrible customer service. Actually, it is NO customer service. There doesn't even seem to be a customer service department there. I usually get bounced back to the sales person. As for the TV, they came promptly to pick it up, but credit never got issued back to our credit card. I had to dispute the charge. Even then, the credit card company said your store never replied to them.

I would have been happy to buy a better TV, but your sales people ignored me and my calls, so I went to Circuit City and purchased a $3600 TV. In fact, in just the last two months I bought about $8,000 of merchandise at Circuit City. Man was it nice to shop there. And you want to know something, the price was at least as good as Fry's.

I wish I could say that the poor customer attention was the only reason I stopped shopping there. There are two other things. One, I had being treated like a thief when I leave. I don't want someone searching my bags unless they suspect me of shoplifting! I'm not a thief. Who do you not trust? me or the employees? I always tell them they may not check my bag. The person at the door always tries to justify it by saying something dumb like "Well, Costco does it too." To which I reply? "That's why I don't shop at Costco." After all, I just came from the counter! Even at the counter, I wait for long periods of time while they hunt down someone with a password or some other authority. Furthermore, the system doesn't work that well. In just the last three months, I know of two separate occasions with two different people when they were not charged for merchandise, nor was it caught at the door. In both instances, Fry's lost from $150 -$250 each time.

The second item that bothered me is the ridiculous looking receipt I get when I purchase something. I can't read it even when the ink is new, much less when it isn't. That yellow paper is worthless. When I need those receipts at the end of the year, we can never read them. Your store keeps the nice white originals. Why can't the customers have one as well? Other stores give me one.

I can't image that this letter will change your opinion about anything or the way you do business. It seems that the attitude of personnel at the store is that Fry's does too much business to care about the loss of any customers. OK, I won't bother your sales people any more and neither will my business, employees, friends or other referrals. My referrals will now go to Circuit City.

I'm not expecting a reply because Fry's doesn't seem to care enough about customer satisfaction to call back or answer a fax. However, I hope that you can make some changes for the good of the company to help it grow larger. After all, you don't grow very fast if you gain 2 customers and lose one. I know of 4 other colleagues that don't shop there anymore because of the way they are treated when trying to leave the store (searching bags).


( another customer )

I've had relatively few problems at Fry's, certainly nothing on the magnitude of your experiences. If those events happened to me, I'd never set foot in the place.

I live in San Francisco and since there is no Fry's, I'm forced to go to CompUSA in Colma. This place is the poorest excuse for a computer store I've ever seen. There's one counter where most of the upgrade items are (hard drives, RAM, etc...). The counter is staffed by no more, and sometimes less, than one 18 year old kid. It takes 30 minutes to ask a question, if you're lucky. The add items are never in stock. Also, they've decided that since they don't trust the customers, most programs over $300 are also behind the counter. And, since this kid didn't have enough to do, they decided to put all the Sony Playstation machines and games behind the counter. Oh yeah, he's also has to ring-up the sale.

Mostly, I get disgusted waiting for the kid to help me and I go to the checkout counter. There are only eight registers available and usually only three or four open. So, what happens, it takes 20 - 30 minutes (seriously) to get to the counter and that's on a good day. This Saturday night at 6:30 there was one register open and the line was at least 30 customers long. It was insane.

I guess what I'm saying is, at least at Fry's I can get the help I need in a reasonable period of time, the items I need are usually on the shelves, add items are in stock and I can get to the checkout counter quickly. I'm not saying they have the right to jerk you around once you reach the counter, but at least you don't have to put-up with the other garbage to get there.

( Scott )


I look upon your site as a service to the digital community and a service to Randy Fry, who really should be reading this stuff. My stories, such as yours, are too many to intelligently relate, but I will pass along a few items. One, when I bought my son a hard drive for his computer, I bought a Fujitsu drive that was on special there. When I got it home and installed it, it had bad sectors -- not just one or two, but almost every other sector was reporting as bad. I had another IDE card handy, so I swapped it out, and same thing happened again. So, I reluctantly return to Fry's to experience what I refer to as the Fry's Torture Path, or the refund desk. After waiting almost an hour (!), I get a very nice but overworked teenager to write me up a slip for credit or refund. Then I have to go back to the components area, wait for a rep to print out a quote, then run through the Checkout Gauntlet, the Interminable Inventory Search, the Customer Service Approval Process (20 more minutes), and of course the Final Indignity. I get the new Fujitsu home, and guess what? More bad sectors than the last one. I make the circuit again the next day but buy a Quantum instead, for more money, which I figure I'll save in costs for gasoline and therapy. I tell this story to my friend Mark, who tells me the exact same thing happened to him, but with a unique twist: his second hard drive had programs on it. It seems that Fry's bought refurbs from some manufacturers and resold them as new, and Fujitsu was one of them.

On occasion, I will get ticked off enough to try to call the store and talk to a manager. Good luck. Their phone system stinks; the voice mail/auto call distribution will dead-end your call or simply disconnect you at different times. Obviously, I go there from time to time, but I have begun to do more shopping at CompUSA and Best Buy, both of which are close to the Fountain Valley Fry's store. The prices are the same, and at CompUSA, you get a significantly less snotty attitude from the teenagers they have there. Plus, CompUSA has an on-line order system on the Web now, so I can avoid going there when I really know what I want.

Keep up the cool site until Randy Fry gets his sh*t together.

( Captain Ed )

I would like to comment on the complaints about customer service and infrequent help, not only at Fry's, but other retail outlets.

I work in the retail business, and as such, I can only imagine what indignities some of these people go through to help others. A particular comment about "customer servants" particularly infuriates me. Do you REALLY think that these people WANT to tell you no? If they had their choice, they'd give you whatever you wanted - but oftentimes crappy corporate policies are the things that stop them.

I hardly blame the people who work at Fry's for the endless lines and the constant checking of IDs, credit cards, etc. It's the corporate policies that you should be angry with, not the checkout girl at the register. It's not HER fault she has to tell you no.

Yet, I observe every day people snapping at them, screaming their heads off, and yes, even THROWING objects at them. This is the way that society behaves?

I can understand the frustration and the feelings of utter hopelessness that a lot of customers have - myself included, sometimes. But it's simply no excuse for being rude or mean to someone who didn't CAUSE your problem. This is WHY a lot of times the customer service representatives are the way they are - they're hassled, rushed, being screamed at by both management AND customers all at the same time - is it any wonder there's such a high turnover rate in personnel at these retail outlets? A year in the job is considered "seniority". Do any of us really understand just how SAD that really is?

I can sympathize with all of you here - when you purchase a computer, that's like buying a car - it's a major investment, and sometimes you need help in learning how to use it. But I really think that the blame is being put on the wrong people. If we want things to change, we have to go to MANAGEMENT - not the people who are TRYING to help us. Eventually there won't be anyone LEFT to help you - because who in their right mind wants to be screamed at?

Just some food for thought. Thanks for the input.

( Guest )

Dear Dave,

After discovering your page concerning Fry's, I was captivated by everyone else's experiences.

Briefly I'd like to share my experiences with you, also.

I started doing business with Fry's about mid-summer of 1996. To date I have purchased 2 hard drives, scsi controller card, new motherboard, CPU, various software, ram, etc. With ONE exception, I have had to go back for exchanges every time! We're talking about spendy items, as I am into non-linear video editing and production.

The last time I went there, I was so p*ssed off that I almost came unglued! Especially since we live about 125 miles away from the Anaheim Store. As an electronics hobbyist, I think it is the vastness of the merchandise that keeps attracting us to the place! And, of course, the good prices.

Why don't they get it?

Most of us would go there more often if they wouldn't screw us around so bad!

Another thing I've noticed is that whoever is in charge of the "cage", never knows jack!

Once again, why don't they get it?

Thanks for your page, I feel so relieved that I'm not the only one!

( Bob )

I've never had a problem with Fry's, but I never expect anything from them either. I go into Fry's knowing exactly what I want and only ask people were to find it. This is about the limit of the Fry's customer service ability. I also find that the prices at Fry's of mixed value. One piece of hardware can be a great deal and another will be cheaper at NCA. Fry's is a good store for getting access to computer and electronic components but don't expect too much help from people who are either uninterested or don't have enough knowlege to help you, you're better off doing it yourself.

( Paul )

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 15:30 PDT on May 18, 1997.
David W. Schultheis, San Josť, Silicon Valley, Santa Clara County, California, USA