Experiences at Fry's Electronics, Page Nine

March 15, 1997

Hey, your page is great.....another one to add to the list:

I bought two Seagate Baracuda 9-gig drives from Fry's, among other components, basically enough to make two computers. It took about two hours to do since every time I would run into a salesperson, they wanted to look through my cart and type up quotations for EVERYTHING in the cart. I had a lot of stuff, so this quickly became a royal pain in the butt.

Well, after spending about 3 hours in the store collecting everything I needed and finally paying for it all, I made my way home, about 30 minutes away. I put together one computer, no problems, everything seemed to work ok. I started on the second computer, and noticed that the 9-gig drive had been dropped! The frame was not only bent on one corner, but the circut board was broken and hanging there by a trace! I took it back, only to find out they were out of stock.

Well, this was fine....they said in about a week they would have another one in. I called in a week to find out if the drive had come in....."sure, come and pick it up!"

I get there....guess what? IT WAS THE SAME DRIVE I HAD RETURNED. I told them this, and they said, "Well, our tech people tested it and it works fine." They seemed to have trouble understanding me as I explained, "When you pay $2000 for something, you want it to be new and undamaged."

I think that many people who buy computer components there have found that the key to success is not to ask any of their salespeople anything. I was in Fry's at Manhattan Beach the other day and heard a salesperson selling a multi-I/O card to someone. He gave him an ISA version and a VLB version explaining to the customer, "The only difference between these two is that the VLB version is faster." Doh!

( Nathan Leach )

March 15, 1997

My only experience with Fry's and I am starting to suspect that they are dealing in the usual bait and switch trap after reading a number of postings in which the exact same thing happened to me. A while ago, just as the memory prices took it's first real tumble I saw in the paper that it was considerably cheaper there than I could get here. After giving the local dealers a try (some of which I only did it to bug them) I called them and asked them the specs on the memory, found it was to what I needed. Knowing that a few friends and my brother also needed to increase their memory, I called them and asked "Hey, I'll make a run if I can get enough memory to make it worth my while," since it was a two-hour drive to the nearest store. They agreed and I called Fry's to make sure they had exactly what I needed in stock. Two hours later I was there with cash in hand and they were "out of stock" but they had plenty of their "premium memory" at a substantual increase in price; of course I did not have the money, nor did I want to pay it. At the moment I explained very carefully who I talked to on the phone and what I was told and I explained to them that there must be a mistake, otherwise that what you are doing is not morally right. "Making me drive two hours to find out that I was lied to had to be incorrect because you do not lie" was the point I was making, rather calmy. Once the realization of what I was implying sunk in, I was passed on to a few upper supervisors and I got the "premium" memory, in the quantity I wanted, at only a dollar and a half more a meg than the cost of the original advertised price. It left a bad taste in my mouth but I did get almost what I wanted for the price I was quoted, but I am begining to believe someone should do an investigation of their practices.

( Matti Smith )

March 17, 1997


After recently moving to San Jose, I visited the Fry's Campbell store with my uncle who was looking for a portable CD player for his trip to London. We arrived at the store with out a hitch and made our way to the CD player aisle. After perusing the prices, we spotted a Sony portable on sale with "shimmy and jerk" control. At this point my uncle asked me if this was a decent player. (I work with professional audio equip, that's why I'm there.) At this point, a CSR asked us if we needed help (which I know is rare now) and I asked him for some headphones and a CD. He said that he would be right back with one. We stewed for 20 minutes without avail. Finally I said F**K THIS S**T! I went to the headphone aisle and ripped open a pair of headphones; the best, er, most expensive headphones they had of course, if you're gonna f**k em, you might as well do it right!. I still needed a 1/4" to MINI adaptor so I proceeded to the Adaptors and continued with my jocular escapade. Ok. Now all I needed was a test CD. Off I went to hmmmmm.....U2 will work. It has a good beat and you can dance to it! Returning to my uncle in under 2 minutes, I plugged everything in and tested the CD player.....DAMN'T I FORGOT THE FRIGGIN' BATTERIES! Be right back Unc! Returning with the batteries in hand I see the CSR talking to my uncle. My uncle sent him away to look for a power cord, unaware of my good fortune of finding brand new Energizers! We tested the Sony portable CD player and some others for about 20 minutes and decided on one. During this period wondering what the hell happened to our well-informed CSR. On our way to the counter we spot him talking with other CSR's. As we pass, he asks if we found everything we needed. Yeah, no problem, buddy. I don't even think he recognized us as the guys he was helping.

The moral of this story is that even in the world of Fry's, God helps them who help themselves! Needless to say when I do (grit teeth now) go to Fry's, I do all my shopping this way. Try it! You'll like it!

( another customer )

March 17, 1997

Your page author had another Fry's experience. Actually, I almost feel uncomfortable admitting that I had two good experiences in two days.

Upon arriving in the parking lot of the Fry's store in Campbell at about 10:00 a.m., I found a parking place about 10 cars from the door. Inside, I was greeted by a "badged" employee with a cheerful "good morning." There were several checkstands open, 2 or 3 customers buying things, and no line at all.

I ran into some friends and their child, and talked to them for a few minutes, (including asking them to deny having seen me at Fry's).

When I turned to the "telephones" aisle, I was immediately greeted by an employee who asked if he could help me. I was looking for a particular set of features, and he pointed out those products that had those features. Although I did not buy a telephone that day, I feel that the employee was helpful.

(As I left the store, I passed by "the Final Indignity" empty-handed and stated "nothing to declare," as if going through Customs.)

After having visited five other kinds of stores looking for a cordless telephone, I returned to Fry's the next day at about 3:30 p.m. I found a parking place even closer to the door. The same employee, who was in the same aisle, answered more of my questions and even provided to me, at my request, the operation manual from one of the products I was asking about. After much thinking and looking, I finally chose a particular cordless phone. I picked a box that appeared to be factory-sealed. The employee wrote up the "quote" (a process I still don't understand) and I headed for the checkout line. There were only about 6 people in line and it moved quickly. Checkout was easy (I used a credit card) and I breezed by "the Final Indignity" by clearly displaying my receipt and not slowing down.

When I got home, I checked the product again and it appeared to be in original factory packaging. I plugged the unit in, charged the battery and read the manual.

It appears to be working properly. If it continues to work, I can chalk it up as another positive Fry's experience.

( Dave )

March 17, 1997

Fry's reminds me of that burger place in Boston where waiters are intentionally nasty and people go for the entertainment value of it all. Except sometimes Fry's' people are just clueless instead of nasty.

I went there with my wife. My wife tagged along while I looked for a modem to work with NT 4.0. She decided to look for vacuum cleaners, which we also needed. When she was finally able to drag over a salesperson, he was nasty and surly when she asked some questions and finally said that "I can make more money selling VCRs" and left.

I, however, found a very helpful salesperson who showed me a modem. I said: "I've got NT 4.0, not Win 95, will this work with it?" "Yes", "Are you sure, NT is different from Win95?". "Yes it will work". Well, silly me, I believed him.

( Gary )

March 17, 1997


I love your page, but isn't complaining about customer service at Fry's a bit like complaining to a whore that you didn't feel loved? I mean, really, people go there for big selection and low prices (whether or not they are), not customer service. Just like going to Costco or Home Depot, service and customer treatment are not supposed to be good. You just don't get much for $5.25/hr these days. The entire staff at Fry's is a bit like the bottom of the gene pool.

The best way to be delighted with the experience of shopping at Fry's is to lower your expectations. I mean, really low. Even better, don't go back. I still ask myself every time I go there why I subject myself to it. More and more frequently now, I go to Computerware first (Sunnyvale, not Palo Alto where they are snobs). There, I get good service and knowledgable sales people who are always willing to help and are friendly. The best way to vote for my favorite store is with my money. I cast my votes at the store with the best service and don't shop elsewhere.

( Bob E. )

March 18, 1997

I have worked at the Incredible Universe store in Sacramento for 9 months and recently Fry's took over operation of our store with the official name change in about 5 weeks. I have noticed that the management cares very little for the customer. The people they have brought in to help with the transistion (whom I would assume would be their best people) are terrible. They are either incompetent or act like used-car salesmen. I fear that the excellent staff of Incredible Universe will become disgusted and quit. I know I am close to quitting already and it has only been a couple of weeks. Whenever you voice concerns about things, they always just tell you how much money you are supposed to make. Like money is the only thing that matters. They care nothing for the employees either. The "final indignity" is even worse for us. They don't allow us to bring in any item that is sold by Fry's. They claim the right to search our purses, organizers or other bags. They also will not allow us out of the store on breaks, only lunches. No smoking on the property including the parking lot. It is such a shame because I felt like Incredible Universe offered good prices and great service. Now the prices are higher and the service I fear will get worse as the old employees go to greener pastures. I hate looking for new jobs but I think I am going to start because I won't treat the customer like garbage and I won't sell used merchandise as new. If you are in Sacramento, take advantage of Fry's in the first couple months while the old Incredible Universe employees are still there and you may be satisfied, but beware in the months to follow as the Fry's mentality takes over and those who have pride in themselves and care about customers quit.

Feel free to print this. All responses are welcome.

( Comdukakis@aol.com )

March 24, 1997

Hi My Name Is Gil I Worked At The Fry's Store In Campbell
And I'll Tell You What Man They Are So Backwards You Would
Think They Have There Heads Up There Ass.
Fry's Is Known For Bad Service More People Complaind To Me
Than Anything. The Costermer Allways Comes In Second And
The Employee Comes In First.
The Employee's Are The Worst I Spent My Life Learning
About Computers And Half The People In The Computer
Department New Nothing About Computers They Just New
How To Sell Stuff So Don't Listen To A Sales Person Unless
They Know What There Talking About....
Well I Allso Have A Great Story :-)
It's About The Manager Of The Service Department
A Costemer Was Complaining About His Pg (A.k.a. Performance Garantee)
And How He Thought The Problem With His Computer Should Be Coverd
By The Pg But The Head Of Service Said He Was Not And Had
To Pay Money Of Coarse Any Person Would Be Irate So The
Costomer Sorta Got Sarcastic With The Manager
Of Service And He Said Get The F**k Out Of My Store
As You Can Guess He Left But I'll Tell You What Fry's
Could Yous Some Customer Training For Sure :-)
If You Can Get Past The Stupidity And Rudeness Fry's
Does Offer Good Deals And Is Not That Bad Of A Store
But With A Little Work It Could Be Better...........

( Gil )

March 25, 1997

I loved your article on the Fry's Electronics. The funny thing is even though the customer service sucks there, and the salea people there seem like they are so important that they have to be on the phone. People just keep going back and shopping there. I have to say I am guilty of that:)

( another customer )

March 25, 1997

I guess there is no e-mail address for Fry's? If there were, I'm sure it'd be flooded with duplicitous service complaints. Oh well. I wanted to comment to them about a crappy piece of software they sold me, that is mis-labeled, and has no documentation whatsoever. No instructions, no read-me's. It obviously was meant for the very experienced C programmer. It has nice, user friendly packaging, however, easily drawing in the unaware. I guess I'll return it.

( another customer )

March 26, 1997

I bought a TV at Fry's on 2/1/97 and 5 days later, I found that Sears and Circuit City sell it cheaper. I brought my receipt back and tried to talk to the refund clerk. "Can you show me the ad?" he asked. I told him: "I do not have the ad!". "How do you prove it is cheaper?" he again asked. "You can call and find out." I was then directed to the TV department where I was asked the same question again (I started to be irritated), after 20 minutes of talking, the clerk gave me a printout and told me to get back to refund desk, then I was redirected to #1 cashier to wait for another 10 minutes. I FIGURED THIS THE TACTICS OF FRY'S ELECTRONICS TO MAKE IT HARD FOR CUSTOMER TO RETURN OR GET THE DIFFERENCES ON HIGHER PRICED MERCHANDISE.

P/S : Two weeks later, I came back to check on the same TV, Fry's still sell it at $50 higher than Sears and Circuit City. SO WATCH OUT FOR THEIR SO CALLED "LOW PRICES GUARANTEED." They figured not many customer would be able to check the PRICE every week. After all, their refund desk and customer department need to take a course on how to deal with customers politely and professionally.

( another customer )

March 26, 1997

I've been reading your site on Fry's, a topic of interest only in the sense that they purchased a number of the Incredible Universe stores, and wanted to pass two points of interest on to you (which you may or may not be aware of, as I've only gotten through page two so far...)

If you want another example of Fry's action, check out http://www.frys.com
Without the "dash."

Second, in regards to the guy who wrote "bad" all over the back of a package to force Fry's to send it back to the manufacturer (he couldn't find an actually "new" item to begin with...) I worked for Target once, and know many who have worked for other major chains, and I can tell you from their experiences and mine (both as an employee and a consumer) that the art of "Rewrap" is commonplace. In fact, each Target has a department called exactly that.

If these chains can't rewrap it for sale (and that takes quite an effort, such as the "bad" writing job) they don't go to the manufacturer. They get thrown away. It's cheaper than the hassle of dealing with the manufacturer. Occasionally, an employee will keep the item.

It doesn't take much of a job to do an acceptable "rewrap" and the job is usually an obvious one. I strongly suggest that, no matter how desperate you are, if it's an obvious rewrap, if the box looks like it's so much as been opened (and a close inspection of the lid should tell you, even minor cracks), don't buy it. If you have to go elsewhere and pay more, you're better off in the long run. Maybe in the short run.

ESPECIALLY computer parts, where a "bad" part can instantly damage or ruin other parts, if not virtually all, of your system, costing you thousands.

Maybe I'm just babbling now. But I know one thing for sure. I've never set foot in a Fry's, and, after cruising the web, I never will. The only web sites with anything to do with the word "Fry's" were put there to bash them. I would presume this would not include Fry's own URL's (www.fry-s.com and www.fryselectronics.com), assuming they ever actually get them to work. Nobody likes Fry's. I can't believe they're still in business.

The Evil Sam Graham
The Evil Sam's Drive-In Theatre Guide

March 26, 1997

Well, it's nice to see so many people speaking their minds about their experiences at Fried Electronics. I too have had more than my share of bad experiences at Fried Electronics. Actually, I'd like to start out by telling of a good experience. Within a period of two weeks, I managed to make about $80 off of them. The first $30 was made when they neglected to charge me for a floppy drive I was purchasing along with many other items [I was building a PC for a friend]. It wasn't quite worth the 2 hours I waited at the register for them to approve the check we wrote [He doesn't have a drivers Lic. only a State Issued ID]. Then, while returning a CPU for CASH [see following] I was given $80 for the cpu though we only paid $30 for it. [They used the price for the item above it on the receipt] And hey, who am I to complain about making almost $80 from a company which is constantly screwing people over.

CASH: This is a word of advice to those of you who need to exchange something at Fried Electronics. GET CASH AND GET THE NEW ITEM AS A NEW PURCHASE!!! Even if it is an exchange for the same thing. Most of the items at Fried Electronics carry their 30 days cash back [or however you paid]. However, if you do an exchange, what they do is give you a store credit, then you go pick your item, and use the credit to pay for it. If that item also dies [not exactly unlikely with items purchased at Fried Electronics] and you decide you want your money back, too bad. They will only give you store credit, since your receipt shows that you purchased that item with a store credit. I imagine that if you try hard enough you could get your money back, but it's not worth it when you can avoid that scenario in the first place.

RETURNS: There have been rumors that people have actually taken legal action regarding Fried Electronics' policy of selling used items as new. Whether or not this has actually happened it should be clear to anyone who has been there recently that it has done no good. There are still plenty of packages with the little sticker that claims that though the item has been returned, it has been "TESTED" and is in good working order. Take NO heed to this sticker, and avoid it at all costs!! My bad experiences with this include a friend getting a motherboard that was completely screwed up. The BIOS chip not only was the wrong kind [it was a 486 board, and had a pentium BIOS chip] the chip wasn't even inserted into the socket correctly!! The pins were bent and missed the socket completely. I have learned to avoid these stickers, and am quite willing to wait and come back at another time when they have an actual unopened product. I've even watched a guy in front of me be refused a return on a product because he didn't have one of the inserts [ie: junk mail] for a sound blaster, then proceed 30 seconds later to return a modem with no manual at all with the same CSR. How's that for consistency.

ALTERNATIVES: The best alternative I know of is NCA. If you live near any of the Northern Ca. Fried Electronics stores, then you are not too far from an NCA. I actually worked at NCA for a year, and while not all of the CSRs are more knowledgeable, you're more likely to find someone who knows what they are doing. Besides, the prices are quite often better than Fried Electronics, the lines are a tenth as long, and it's a million times easier to find what you need.

( Ender Wiggin )

March 26, 1997

I was browsing for Fry's service dept. when I came across your page. I bought a Canon Innova Book from Fry's in San Jose, Ca (also purchased extended service plan) anyways after having the laptop for about 7 months when the H.D. mysteriously became unformatted. I have ample experience building computers and tried every angle I knew of to reformat it but to no avail. Anyways I sent it to Fry's (I now live in Springfield, IL) with a description of the problem. They fooled with it for about a week then sent it to the factory. The factory sent it back to Fry's saying that it was a software problem. So Fry's once again tried to format it and once again failed! So far this has taken them about 2 months!!!! Fry's then sends it back to the factory to have a new H.D. installed and I am still waiting. It has now been over 3 months and I still don't have my unit back! I think they are dicking me due to the fact that I am not there to raise hell.

Well this is just my little experience with Fry's crappy customer service.

( B. )

March 26, 1997

Though the quality of service at Fry's is terrible, there was one occasion where their incompetence worked to my advantage. I went in to buy 2 8MB simms, came home, and installed the memory. Lo and behold, they had packaged 2 16MB simms and labelled them as 8MB. I felt obliged to accept this peace offering as compensation for the previous times I have shopped there and regretted it.

( Hien )

March 27, 1997

Out total was only up to approximately $268.00, when we looked at the charge sheet, it read $1268.00. Just another shark-like salesperson looking for a big Commission.

When asking about a good tutorial book on C++ development, at first the Fry's employee stocking books in the proper section tried to send me one aisle over to look for one. When I clarified my request, the salesperson simply told me that he did not normally work in that section, and nothing more. He did not direct me to the desk, he did not recommend a more aware or more intelligent person to speak to and he did not offer to page someone to help me. After looking for an hour, I was forced into a bad decision (due to the urgent need for a tutorial) by a rude young woman who said "O.K. gentleman WE must leave this section now because it is closed." When I went to return the poor tutorial the next day, I think she sensed my agitation and recognized me, so she (lucky for her) accepted return of the item even though I had broken the seal on the included CD ROM.

I am currently paying for a lie told to us by a Woodland Hills store employee who told me that "network in a box" was all I needed to network my DOS applications. He was wrong, it requires networking software. Did he really think I was about to write my own?

It is a shame that Fry's has so much to offer as far as goods, but has no one to support it! I had always admired them from their ads in the newspaper, but now I know that it was too good to be true, I will never buy anything from them ever again and I am getting ready to drop a lot of money on a better, more friendly store.

( Ender Wiggin )

April 3, 1997

After reading over many of the horrible experiences, I am happy to say I live near the Burbank store. I haven't had a single bad experience there. Mind you, don't expect good advice or technical answers from the floor help most of the time. Do your research first and decide what to get, proceed to Fry's and buy it at usually a great price.

I ALWAYS open boxes before putting them in my cart. I've found some shrink wrap like new things were repackaged without manuals, software, warranty cards, etc. Also, with the ISDN service terminals and salespeople, if I need more info on something, I just walk up, do a search, get the info I need to make a decision.

I've taken stuff back, no sweat. The people staffing the hard drive, CPU, and memory area are extremely knowledgeable and aim you towards the best bang for the buck. I've had ZERO problems at check-out, be it check or credit card. No waits or delays.

Maybe the execs at Fry's have frequented here and tried to implement some improvements. I think the Burbank store is one of the newest. Great SciFi theme too!

Happy so far....

( Gary M. )

April 5, 1997

Your Fry's "experience" web page links to the "Breakfast at Fry's Page". Well my story is "Lunch at Fry's". A friend and I went to Excess Solutions, which is near to the Fry's Wall of TVs Brokaw store. After shopping at a real electronics store, we headed over to Fry's with the intent of trying out the Myan Café, which is the restaurant located in the far right hand corner of the store.

I was expecting something like a Togo's, manned by tattooed body-pierced not-qualified-to-work-at-Taco-Bell types. What we found was one young woman (good appearance with no tattoos or visible body piercing) and trays of pre-made sandwiches, all neatly wrapped in plastic like a Heaven's Gate disciple getting ready for a trip. Now I can't stand mayonnaise, so in the spirit of the old Monty Python "Eggs Bacon and Spam" routine, I inquired which sandwich had the least mayonnaise, which turned out to be roast beef. Clearly you can't have it your own way here.

We sat down and ate our food, or what might pass as food in some third world nations. The roast beef was bad, but the tomato on it was worse. I swear it was plastic or tofu soaked in Red Dye #2. After ingesting the food-like substances, we bussed our tables using a trash can near the back of the eating area. My friend noticed a few magazines laying face down on the table near the trash. They turned out to be Playboy and Penthouse and similar stuff. [To make the investigation complete, we checked the magazines out. All I can say is I never thought of using a lolly-pop in that manner, nor do I think it is FDA approved!] Given the amount of porn Fry's sells, this makes perfect sense.

BTW, I hear Playboy wanted to have a "Girls of Fry's Electronics" feature, but Fry's nixed it because they have a policy of not allowing cameras in their stores. :)

( Gary S. )

I am no longer actively soliciting comments to be posted on this page.

The experiences posted here are those of the individuals involved.

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Last updated at 10:25 PST on February 23, 1998.
David W. Schultheis, San José, Silicon Valley, Santa Clara County, California, USA