Sunday, July 30, 2006

Circuit City A-No-No

Never again will I buy anything at all from Circuit City. Do I make myself clear? N -E - V - E - R!!!!! Not once, zero, zip, nada.

The story began two weeks ago....Dan bought me a new computer for my birthday because my old one took a big dump and crashed beyond repair. Very nice of him, yes? He even got me my longed-for but unexpected flat screen monitor to go with it, even though I had a perfectly good monitor already.

We get the computer home, after waiting roughly 45 minutes to be waited on at Circuit City and then spending another 25 minutes telling the salesman that "no, we don't want anything else. Not a printer, not a wireless mouse, not a high speed internet connection, not a special warranty, not a thing, nothing...just the damn computer, please, and quickly."

I put it together, amazingly simple nowdays since everything is color-coded and ta-da....I have a brand new working HP desktop....but wait, did I say "working?" I meant...NOT working. Actually, it DID work, but every time I attempted to shut it down, I would get the message "WARNING!!! HARD DRIVE FAILURE IMMINENT...BACK UP FILES IMMEDIATELY" definitely not something I want to see splayed across a new monitor coming from a new computer. I got in touch with the HP people who said, "Hmm...doesn't sound good. Take it back to the store and have it replaced. Tell them we said so." They even sent me an email saying those exact things.

Circuit City has a return policy which states all defective computer related products must be returned within 14 days for a full refund. Not a problem. We took it back yesterday, on Day 12.

First we went to Customer Service where the man behind the counter said, "No problem, take it over to the Computer help desk and they will look at it and take care of the problem." No problem for him, maybe, but the damn thing weighs a ton and it's in an huge box on top of that. We cart it over to Computer Repair and there's one guy working and about 6 people standing in line. We hold our box for 15 - 20 minutes and he finally says, "What's the problem?" We tell him our message story and he says, "Fine, take it back over to Customer Service and exchange it." Which is exactly what we tried to do a half hour ago. We ask him to please call the desk and tell them he is sending us back and that it's ok to exchange the computer and he says, "Ok, if you want me to."

We cart the box back over to CS and there's a line of 5 or 6 people in front of us. We patiently wait our turn and finally, after another 30 minutes, get to the front of the line. We ask if the man from Computers called and we get a blank look in return. The CS rep then has to call over to Computers and get the ok we were promised a half hour ago.

The CS rep then asks us if we want a refund or an exchange. I really liked the computer, so we ask for an exchange. He says, "Oh sure, no problem" and gets on his computer. After a 10 minute search he says, "Gee, we don't have any in stock, would you like me to order one for you?" So I ask how long it will take and he says, "Two weeks" and then, when I look crestfallen, says, "Maybe Wednesday." I say, "Ok" and he starts ordering the new computer. After another 10 minutes, he says, "It's a discontinued model. They aren't making it anymore. Would you like a comparable model?" I say, "Sure, show us what you've got" and he says, "Let me find you someone who can help you."

He finds a gentleman who works there, speaks no English, and is waiting on three other people, but the dude's game, and he asks us to wait a few minutes and he'll be glad to help us. (At least I think that's what he said...he may have cursed my mother for all I know, but at least he did it with a smile.)

So now we sit down and wait another 15 minutes. (Are you with me here, we've been in the store for over an hour and a half and we've accomplished exactly nothing.) The salesman comes back and walks us over to Computers and immediately tells us that we got a very good deal on the original computer and there's no way we're ever going to find anything comparable in that price range, but he'll be glad to show us the ones which cost several hundred dollars more if we want to stick with HP...or he can show us E-Machines which are only a little more expensive than what we spent last week. Not gonna happen, yanno? I don't WANT to spend more, I want to spend the SAME. It's not my fault they sold me a defective machine and it's not my fault they don't have any more in stock...it was not sold as a discontinued model, it was not advertised as a discontinued model and I didn't BUY it as a discontinued model. We ask for a manager. Salesman gets snippy, but agrees to find us a manager.

We stand in the aisle and wait....and wait and wait and wait....for over a half hour, we stand and wait. I go to the bathroom...a public bathroom in the store. One with a sign and everything. Not an "employee's only" bathroom which they let me use, but a regular, run of the mill, ordinary, public washroom. Inside there is a store employee leaning against the wall, talking on her cell phone. She tosses me an annoyed look, I toss her one back. I think she'll leave out of politeness, she thinks I'm an idiot who is ruining her talk-time. I go into the stall and pee...she leans against the wall and continues her conversation at the top of her lungs. I flush the toilet...loudly...three times. I am annoyed. I don't LIKE to pee where other people can stand around and listen. It's impolite. She doesn't care. There are 25 customers waiting to be helped in the store, but goddamn it, this is obviously an important phone call...I can tell it's important and probably work-related because it's laced with profanity and loud squeals of indignity at "What he did after that."

I go back out and Dan is STILL waiting for a manager. We start stopping everyone who walks past us and asking, "Are you a manager?" No one is.

Finally the manager comes and says, "Can I help you folks?" Arghhhhhh!!! We explain the situation to him and he says, "No problem, let's see if another store has this computer still in stock." Ok, I'm game, Dan's game, off we go - back to customer service where we wait another 10 minutes for them to look up the computer availability at other stores in the area. Turns out there are two of them....one in Fairfax City and the other in Rockville, Md. Nice....if you want to drive for an hour or better each way to pick up a computer that you deliberately bought only 5 minutes away from your home. We tell the manager we really don't want to spend any more time on this whole mess and could we just get our money refunded. He says, "Sure, minus a 15% restocking fee since the box has been opened." SAY WHAT?????

1. Dude, you are so not going to "restock" it, it's defective. It doesn't work. It's broken. It's going right back to the manufacturer and becoming their problem.

2. How would we KNOW it was defective if we hadn't opened the damn box?

3. I am so NOT paying a restocking fee.

Seems Circuit City has a "refund policy" which states that opened computer items can only be exchanged if they are defective. If you wish the store to take it back and refund you your money, you must pay them for the privledge.

Fine, but they can't even-exchange my computer, they don't HAVE my computer. Manager says, "ah, but we do have it.....in Fairfax City or Rockville." I say, "Fine, I don't have a car. Can you have it shipped here for me and I'll pick it up when it arrives?" Manager says, "Sure, if you pay for shipping."

This is going nowhere quickly. I am getting louder, Dan's face is getting redder and people are looking at us. We've now been in the store for well over two hours on our only day off.

In desperation, I say, "Fine, find out if the store in Fairfax really has the computer and we'll go get it." The manager then hands us over to another salesman and leaves.

We ask the salesman to call Fairfax and confirm that the computer is, indeed, there. He says, "The computer says it is, I don't have to call." I say, "Dude, two hours ago the guy at the service desk told me that he had the computer in stock here and he didn't." I say, "Humor us. Call them." He does and wonder-of-wonders, they really DO have my computer. We say we'll take it, and salesman says, "Fine. I'll turn you over to Customer Service and they will take care of you." (Isn't this where we started?)

We wait there another 10 minutes for a CS rep to be able to help us. He is upset because someone apparently already entered our returned computer into the computer system and he can't figure out how to move it from "returned" to "exchanged." He is waiting on two other customers while he complains about our "already entered" computer. He finally decides he needs HIS boss to come tell him how to do this. That takes another 10 minutes. His boss is busy. We must wait some more until he is free.

Finally we get the paper work all finished. We ask directions to the store in Fairfax because neither Dan nor I are familiar with the area. The CS rep and his boss say, "No problem...just go right down Route 7. You can't miss it. It's on the right hand side of the road."

Wonderful....off we go!! We drive 35 or 40 minutes down Route 7 - we find Circuit City - on the right, just as promised. One problem....it's the WRONG Circuit City. They gave us directions to the WRONG Circuit City. The Circuit City WE want is over on the other side of town...but no one in THIS Circuit City can tell us exactly where.

It's now Hour FOUR Going On Hour FIVE. We're hot, we're tired, we're irritated beyond rationality. We decide that the casino in Charlestown is also "right down Route 7" and that's where we're going.

And we do.

We got up early this morning, I MapQuested the Fairfax Circuit City and we drove an hour and picked up the computer and then drove an hour home.

Best Buy....Next time I'm going to Best Buy. Or Office Max. Or Dell. Or Something. Not Circuit City, tho....never again Circuit City. I urge all of you to do the same.

Buy anything anywhere - just don't buy it at Circuit City.

2 comments:

shann said...

write letters, NOW- to everyone involved- and Better Business Bureau and maybe even Comsumer Reports-

I od it all the time- succinct, exact letters- it may not help every time (and I don't do it for free stuff)but it doesn't hurt.

look what it's done for the republicanchristianright-

Dana said...

This is horrible! It was so hard for me to read it, let alone imagine you experiencing it!

I hate Circuit City, too, by the way. I've been avoiding them for years.