Experiences at Fry's Electronics, Page Seven

An amazing thing (to me) about Fry's is the number of employees it takes to sell you something.

I bought a UPS last week. It was $89. The newspaper had it advertised for $89. The price sticker was $89. The cash register said it was $149. To get the advertised price required a customer service person, a supervisor, and a person to generate a paper quote. Then they had to make copies of the quote and the receipt. Counting the cashier and the cavity checker it took six people, and a long wait, to sell the UPS to me.

One day I bought a bag of ten connectors. The price was about $8. I remember thinking, 'this will be easy, it couldn't possibly require extra personnel.' Wrong! Since they also sell the connectors individually, somehow the pack of ten was a special circumstance, despite that it had it's own proper price tag and Fry's part number. Again, it required supervisors, copies, etc. Amazing.


The cavity checker can be your friend.

On one occasion the cavity check person realized that I had been double charged for some items ($8 worth). Rather than going through the return line for a refund I went back into the store and got more of the items I was overcharged for.


The display motherboards often don't match what's in the box.

On two occasions I bought motherboards that were different than the display. In both cases I was looking for specific features to use the motherboard as a test bed for other products. Now I always open the box.


Used merchandise.

Some manufacturers now use custom shrinkwrap so you can tell if the box has been returned. I noticed this on USR modem, actually it wasn't custom shrinkwrap, but they had stickers on the outside of the new boxes for the rebates and the 56K upgrades. The returns lack the stickers.

Often if an item has a lot of returns and they want to sell them, they will not put new stock out on the shelf. Twice in one visit I asked someone if they had new ones in the back and they got them for me. One item was a 4x4 CD, I forget what the other item was.


Price Changes.

They change prices on items so rapidly, that often you'll notice many price stickers piled on top of each other on an item. If they try to charge you more than the price sticker on the top, protest and they'll back down.


Price Matching.

One nice thing about Fry's is that they match prices of other companies, even when the other companies have poor return polices, credit card surcharges, etc. But the ability to have them honor the price match guarantee depends on lunar tides. If one employee turns you down try another. I've gotten stories like, 'We don't match Hi-Tech,' from one person, then the next one cheerfully matches the price.


Don't give them your credit card until you're sure you've not been overcharged. It is difficult for them to correct the problem.


Double-Charging on Credit Cards.

Watch your credit card bill for double charges. They did this to me once, and it was difficult to get it corrected.

An amusing aside is that when I was buying two disk drives, one for home, one for work, I wanted to have them rung up seperately. The totals were the same. They would not let me use the same credit card for both purchases. Apparently someone was making purchases of the same amount, and claiming that Fry's was double charging.


Don't return cheap things

A colleague at work wanted to return a $10 printer cable that he realized that he didn't need. Nice to save the company $10, but it took 45 minutes to return it. At $40 per hour wages, he cost the company about $20 more than he would have had he kept it.


( Steven )

Great page(s). As an ex-Fry's employee I can believe all of the stories, and they represent only a small fraction. I recommend not buying anything that you suspect has been rewrapped, and bear in mind that the previously opened stickers are almost never used.

Never let the service department touch your computer. One time at one of the stores one of the techs was showing someone how not to put a new CPU in, and gave them a demostration of what happens if you power the computer up with the CPU in incorrectly. Oops.

Don't waste your breath yelling at salespeople, they need managment approval to breathe. Don't put up with the "final indignity."

Don't pay by check. Heck, just don't shop there.

( another customer )

January 20, 1997

I was wondering if you could tell me if a Class Action Suit is being levied against Fry's Electronics. Last year, I purchased some software from Fry's Electornics in Fremont. (Windows for Workgoups which did not come packaged in the customary sealed envelope.) After installing the software, I started having major problems accessing files, pulling up documents and slowly but surely it progressed to the point that I could no longer use my computer. I had owned my computer for a short time, about 3 months and had been bedridden due to an auto accident. The problems made it necessary for me to take my computer to a repair shop for service. I paid a great deal of money to find out that the computer had been injected with a virus. I lost critical legal documents and most of my software which was on the system when I purchased it.

The repair shop suggested that I get Norton Antivirus which I did. After installing Norton, I went to reinstall Windows for Workgroups. It came up with the virus that had destroyed my system. I immediately contacted Microsoft and they asked me where I had purchased the software. They also asked me if it was packaged in an envelope. I remembered that it had not been, it was loose in the box. They replaced the software, however, suggested that I contact Fry's immediately and tell them that they are not allowed to repackage software or hardware after it has been sold and returned.

I went to Fry's in Fremont and was told that they indeed repackage software and hardware, but that they check it first. I told them what happened and they told me that it is my reponsibility to check the software I purchase. I became angry and asked to speak with a Manager. Robbie Hanna is the Mgr of that store. I was not allowed to see or talk to him. I wrote a letter. I got no response. I went to the store and spoke with a floor supervisor and again did not get to speak with Mr. Hanna. I called and left messages without success.

I needed a new controller card and again I went to Fry's. I purchased one but had the floor supervisor check to see if it had been repackaged. I took it home and a friend who is a system engineer installed it for me. It crashed my system. Come to find out, it had writing in the book from the last person who purchased it who had the same problem. Fry's had repackaged it. I was very angry and went back to the store determined to speak with Mr. Hanna. I was asked to leave after they told me he wasn't in and he would call me.

I never received a call back. I spoke with the assistant Mgr, Randy Carroth, after Corporate called him and told him my problem and he tried to help me. He said that he heard about the letter I had written and he was sorry that they would make restitution for the money lost and the inconvenience. Before he could help me, he was transferred. I called Robbie Hanna again. No response.

On December 16 I sent copies of all the letters, receipts and information to Corporate, I still have not heard a word. Robbie Hanna has been unresponsive and I am very unsatisfied. I want to sue them.

If anyone else has had a similar experience with Fry's in Fremont, or elsewhere, Please contact me. I would like to get an attorney to look into the matter.


( Peggy Siers )

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

Greetings from Sacramento.

Interesting stories about Fry's....I wonder how that will affect the local Incredible Universe here in Sacramento... IU has had very good customer service so far... I never really expect much when I go to Fry's anyway, I'm just there for the deals, and to browse occasionally..

( Chris )

February 15, 1997


I don't work for Fry's, however I've been in electronics retail for 8 years on the sales floor and management. Guess what? People (customers) steal, lie and try to deceive stores all the time. Two per cent or more of all checks are bad and that is why they need to be verified. If the proper procedures aren't followed, the individual store eats the amount of the sale. That, plus theft, increases the prices to the customers. I agree most stores are under staffed but that's economics. I try to be as pleasant and helpful to customers as possible, but once you've taken complaints for 2 hours, it gets harder to keep pleasant.

I believe every American should be required to work retail 2 weeks a year. Then they would understand what it's like, and maybe give us the respect we deserve and they expect.

( Dave S. )

February 15, 1997

You'll like this, and it's theraputic for me as well.

I finally splurged and bought a multimedia system for my computer. You know, Soundblaster compatible, non-amplifying speakers, CD-ROM (4X, was pretty good at the time), card to plug the CD-ROM into, and software (encyclopedia, games, etc.)

Well, it was supposed to come with a $30 rebate, so when I got to the cashier (and while I was waiting too long for my new CPU), I asked the cashier about the rebate. The cashier went away for a long time, and when he finally came back I was told that "everything I needed for the rebate was in the box." Not being a long time buyer at Fry's, I accepted this and left the store (past the door Nazi).

Well, before I put my multimedia stuff into my computer, I first had to replace the CPU, VLB card (backup, reformat and restore disk), and VLB video card and make sure everything played together. Well, that took a few days, but finally I was ready to add my multimedia system. Finally opening the box, I looked for the rebate slip and guess what? It wasn't there! Surprise! Since Fry's is 35 miles from my house, I don't just pop down there anytime, but a few days later I went back and stood for a while in that famous "customer service" line. I explained my situation, and the nice man there showed me the rebate center on the wall next the the door nazi. Imagine that! It was there all the time, but the checkout clerk didn't even know it!?!

Well, being the smart person that I am, I read the rebate right on the spot, and, wouldn't you know it? It had expired! That's right, in the one week since I had been there buying the stuff, the offer had expired and it was too late to send it in! After butting my way back into the "customer service" line and getting the attention of my "customer service representative," I explained this new development, at which time they told me to send my ORIGINAL receipt and a letter explaining the situation to the service manager and they would send me the $30. Partially satisfied, I went home.

I wrote that letter and waited. And waited. And waited. No response. One month later I called back to see how my rebate was going, only to be told that the service manager had moved to head a new store, and that I should send a copy of the letter, along with the ORIGINAL receipt to the new service manager and they would check into it. Of course, the old service manager had my original receipt, so I sent them a copy. Eventually, after another wait, and a lot of work, I finally had my $30 rebate.

Oh, that the story should end there.

Four months after I bought the MM system, the CD-ROM jammed. Wouldn't budge. I took it back to "customer service," and after the standard half-hour wait, I explained the problem. After getting the third-degree about not having my ORIGINAL receipt, they sent it back to the manufacturer and explained that they would probably just replace it, but it might take a few weeks. I was patient. After 8 weeks, they finally called and said my CD-ROM had come in. Well, it took them 8 weeks, but they finally RETURNED MY ORIGINAL CD-ROM! You see, they needed the whole multimedia kit. That's right, to get my CD-ROM replaced, I had to gut the computer and remove the entire MM system. And it only took them 2 months to tell me that.

So I did. I went home and came back with all that stuff a couple days later. After another wait in the "customer service" line, I was ready for them to send it all back to the manufacturer. Oh boy, another 2 month wait!?! But NOOOOOO, I didn't have the original box! (The kids made a hampster playhouse out of it, or something). This, apparently, is a cardinal sin. They couldn't send it back! Finally, after 2 1/2 hours and talking to about 5 different "customer service representatives," they finally refunded my original purchase price.

After being without a CD-ROM for 2 months, I wasn't going to go home without a CD-ROM (I needed it for my Master's thesis work). I chipped in just a few bucks and bought a new 8X CD-ROM MM kit (with powered speakers). So far, no problem, but we'll see. If I have to wait for any more of their "Customer Service," I think I'll go nuts.

( Jon )

February 16, 1997


I love Fry's. I think most peoples' problem is they want their cake and blah blah blah. You want to be able to walk in and buy a motherboard or some other OEM type part for a bargain price but want them to hire an enormous staff of computer professionals to help you pick it out. You also want full support from the Chinese company that made the board. HEY, WAKE UP! That why the stuff is so cheap. That's why there are other stores that charge more (although I doubt they are really any more knowledgeable). Why do you think they don't carry motherboards or OEM drives at the other big computer superstores?

Fry's fills the gap between the computer swap meets and the big stores for me. I can buy stuff I could only get at the swap meet for only slightly higher prices and they will always take a return if I bought the wrong thing or match the price if I paid to much (I have never had a problem with this). Their return policy combined with the prices is the reason I always end up buying at Fry's.

It's not that I am never frustrated with Fry's, but you get what you pay for, and I'm happy with what I get for the price I pay.

I'm sure some idiot will eventually ruin it for all of us, because people are spoiled and stupid.

But that's just my opinion.

Oh yeah,

Why does everyone get so bent out of shape about the little stand where they check your receipt on the way out? GROW UP! Is your ego really that fragile? Have you never been to the Price Club, Home Base, Home Depot, CompUSA, or any one of dozens of other large "superstores" that do exactly the same thing?

It's a big, chaotic store with hundreds of people walking in and out with product. Should they just know by looking at you that you are obviously a superior person and would never try to pull a scam? I'm sure they lose an ungodly amount of stuff due to theft and checkout errors and would like to slow the bleeding just a little. I don't know how efficient the door check is, but it doesn't really hurt me and it makes them happy. They do a 3 second check on your receipt. I think you'll get over it. I hope.

( Billy )

February 17, 1997

Following are all the three brothers:

John Fry
Randy Fry
Dave Fry

382 Portage Avenue, Palo Alto, CA 94306; Fax: 415-496-4400

( N )

February 18, 1997

I don't get it. Most of the people writing to complain about Fry's seem computer savy. Haven't they figured out using the Internet can save big bucks. I was at Fry's last night with a friend. We were looking a CD-Rom drives; I had just ripped the tray out of a malfunctioning Teac 4X. They had the Philips 2x6 Recorder on sale for $799.00, you then get a $200.00 rebate from Philips. I found it on the Internet back in Bedford, MA for $499.00. That's a $300.00 difference and not including any rebate. I will pay $30.00 for overnight UPS, or $15.00 for 2-day, and best of all, NO SALES TAX AND NO FRY'S SALES PEOPLE. GOD.

( Bruce C. )

i like fry's but you need to have more control on the staf at the fontain valley store i went there to buy 32 mb of memory the sales clerk could not help me at all so i walked away i turned to him and said if you could of helped me you would of made a sale as i walked away he called me a pussy i did not hear what he said but another customer walked up to me and told me what he had said well i got to go

( B )

Febraury 24, 1997




( "Joe Smith" )

February 25, 1997

Dear Dave,

Fry's will continue to do OK because its competition isn't much better. I've been fortunate that I haven't had any serious problems with stuff I've bought from anywhere (Fry's, CompUSA, Computer City, etc), so I can't rate their service. From my experience the vast majority of all superstore sales associates are clueless, not just at Fry's (and that's true of more than computers - I'm sure you've bought a car). What I like about Fry's - the good (and eclectic) wide range of stuff you can see -- like tons of motherboards and Celestron C14 telescopes. Their prices are typically quite competitive. What I don't like - long lines anytime near closing, often advertise stuff that isn't in stock (but they're not the only one - NCA, for example, has also done that), and, based on their labels, selling plenty of customer returns. If you know what you want, there's no place around here (San Jose / Fremont) that I've seen that comes close to their selection, so I still go there more than anywhere else.

( Tony )

February 26, 1997

The only thing I can say is that I hate Fry's. The closest store for me is the Fountain Valley store, which is still 45 minutes away. I have now learned never to go out of my way to go there for anything after what happened to me:

I had purchased a 6 speed CD-ROM drive from Fry's for about $225 (which at the time was an EXCELLENT price). After looking for about 15 minutes for some help, I was told that it would work with my computer. Of course when I got home I could not get the drive to work at all. After consulting some friends, tech people, and computer experts, we finally figured that Fry's had sold yet another defective piece of machinery. However, before I took it back I saw an ad for a better brand's drive for only $200 at a CompUSA (which is only ten minutes from my house). My plan was to return the drive, get my money back, go to CompUSA (I didn't want to give Fry's any more business, and remember that CompUSA was on my way home), and get the better drive.

I drove for 45 minutes in incredibly undescribable POURING rain (never have I seen it rain like this in Cal) to the Frys. I went right to the customer service (HA!) desk, told them the situation, asked for my money back. Needless to say I eventually started yelling at the customer service guy (a LOT of things led up to this result) and told him I wanted to see the manager. When no manager came after 10 minutes, I decided to cause a scene in the store until somebody (even if it was the police) came to my assistance. Before the manager showed up however, the person I was with noticed a sign saying "we will match any competitors prices." Knowing I would not get my money back I inquired about the price-matching policy with the manager, and he said that if they had it in stock, then I could just swap the drives. After an even longer wait, they said it was in stock and I went to the hardware section to go pick the drive up.

Of course when I get there they tell me that they need to call up CompUSA and check the price. No problem I thought, and I waited. (At this point I have taken an hour and a half out of my day.....here's where it gets worse). I wait ten minutes until some employee can find the phone number for CompUSA. Here's the conversation that followed:

ME: So you know you have to call the Mission Viejo, NOT Fountain Valley CompUSA
FRYS: uh-huh (5 minutes to get a live person on the phone, then he is put on hold)
ME: So...you did call Mission Viejo, correct?
FRYS: yes
ME: (after 15 minutes of the employee holding) Umm.. you called Mission Viejo right?
FRYS: -blank stare into space- (at this point I see the phone list he is holding, and saw a Fountain Valley Comp. number, but no Mission Viejo)
ME: You DID call Mission Viejo, right? (now after about 25 minutes on hold and me in the store for an hour, he gets through)
FRYS (on phone): I'm calling about a CD-Rom drive (etc., he explains the situation)
CompUSA (to Frys): We don't have that deal..our drives are about $300, not $200
FRYS: (hangs up the phone) Sorry, they say that their CD drives are not on sale
ME (fearing the worst): Which store did you call? (at this point I'm praying he says the correct answer, Mission Viejo)
FRYS: I called the Fountain Valley store

I have to give myself a pat on the back that I did not kill this incompetent moron right then and there. I had just spent almost an hour waiting while he called the WRONG place to get an answer I could have told him. He responds with an "oh..do you know the phone number for the Mission Viejo CompUSA?" Needless to say it took almost another hour to get that phone number, call, verify the price was indeed $200, then give me the drive that I wanted. Oh wait, did I forget to mention I then had to stand in line for half an hour just so I could fill out paperwork to complete the transaction? After 2 hours in the store and over an hour driving in the rain, I got home and the CD worked fine. It wasn't worth this much trouble for a computer, but from now on, the only time I will go to Fry's is if I have the opportunity to loot the place and burn it to the ground.

( David N. )

Febraury 26, 1997

Hi, Dave! Thanks for the forum.

I read your pages with great interest. I purchased a Digital computer from them, only to find out months later that it is a rebuilt or "remanufactured," I think they call it (an interesting euphemism for "used stuff") - I thought I was buying a new computer! I'm having trouble getting them to do anything about it, but I don't give up easily. After all, I was paying the same price I would have paid for a new computer ( which, I'm sure, would have worked better than this lemon has...)

Any advice (other than to not shop there ever again?) I'm curious - have you heard from anyone who has taken any action against Fry's? If so , with what results?

( Karen )

February 27, 1997

Hi Dave, thank you for the page.... It is reall bad.... we buy stuff when visiting California and bring it back to Europe. The return of equipment is impossible. On two latest occassion I noticed that I have purchased previously returned stuff, which was put back on the shelf, presumably by Fry's employees. This is rather ennoying and we with friends will now shop exclusively at CompUSA. Keep us with blasting bad service, it does not costs much to do a decent job.

( Friendly Al from Switzerland )

March 1, 1997

All I have to say is I don't feel the employees at Fry's Electronics respect their customers. They look down on us and are absolutely no help at all. When we had questions to be answered, they answered with short, cold replies and were surely in a hurry to go elsewhere. Fry's is a disgrace and they should clean up their act in respecting their customers.

( c )

March 3, 1997

I'm in the US Air Force, now recently stationed here in South Korea. Before coming here I was at Onizuka Air Station (used to be called Sunnvale Air Force Base). I used to go to Fry's all the time. You and the other people here hit it right. You hate going there but there you are in line waiting for the person checking receipts to set you free. Most of my experiences been OK but then again it was after I had done my homework looking through the Mercury News ads. It's a shopping experience like no other and I think that's why I kept going back and why I've been reading your web page.

Thanks for the laughs,

( A. )

March 3, 1997

I have been selling Macintosh computers for the last four years, and because I live in the Southern California area, I have heard some pretty frightening things about Fry's. I can easily believe all of these stories, and can only give the readers several points of advice:

1. Know what you want, pick it up without talking to a sales rep.
2. Never buy the double shrink wrapped item.
3. Only buy items that are so new, that none could yet be returned.
4. If a sales rep won't leave you alone, ask a lying question, e.g. "How many Mips does this video card have, I'll buy it if you get the answer." If they answer, then they are a doorknob.

Every once in a while, I head to my local Fry's (Fountain Valley), and make a mockery of the salespeople. Because I know a good deal of minute details about the Macintosh platform, I enjoy waiting in the aisles of Mac computers, where confused customers ask Fry's salespeople (my coworkers and I call them doorknobs) simple questions. When surprise, surprise, the salespeople can't answer the question and either leave their customer, or leave to find an answer (this rarely happens), I move in, and answer all of their questions. I have yet to be kicked out of a Fry's mainly because customers appreciate the answers I give, and because the salespeople are probably a bit intimidated because some 23 year old knows what they don't.

( D. )

March 4, 1997

Well Dave.. just a thought to let you know the Fry's Headquarters address is 600 E Brokaw Rd. San Jose, CA 95112. Hope this helps a little bit.. :)

I also bought some items from Fry's and since then I lost the receipt.. and they said "too bad.. it's yours.."

I suggest you send all your web pages complain to the Vice President..which is Randy Fry.. and see what he respond..

( J. - SW )

March 4, 1997

Boy was I glad I wasn't alone.

I took a defective Fujitsu disk drive back to Fry's for repair (it was brand new, but never worked) on September 2, 1996. I still don't have any kind of status on my disk drive from Frys.

I call every week to ask for a status. They always tell me that they need to find out from someone else and they'll call me back, but I've yet to get a return call from anyone at that Sunnyvale store.

Frys employees have given me some real lame tales on what happened to my disk drive:

* The person in charge has left for the day; call again the next day.
* Since it's a Japanese product, it was returned to Japan for repair.
* Fujitsu won't return the drive; they'll try again to get the drive back for me.

Is there some legal action that I can take?

( Regina Loureiro )

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 17:50 PST on December 7, 1997.
David W. Schultheis, San Josť, Silicon Valley, Santa Clara County, California, USA