Saturday, January 22, 2011

Fry's Electronics

I'm posting this letter on behalf of my mother. Now you see where I get my skills. I learned from the master! This letter is incredible. You rock, mom!

Dear Fry’s Electronics:

Times must be good for your company. I am assuming times are good based on my recent sales and services experiences at my local Fry’s. In my experience, when times are good, companies and their employees seem less concerned about the consumer’s store experience. And that seemed to be the case on Monday, January 17th.

Before I relate my experience I would like to provide some background information. My husband and I purchased two refurbished HP Pavilion Laptops from our local Fry’s in 2006. They have been fabulous laptop. However, I now need a smaller, more portable laptop. Based on my previous experience I wanted to look at Fry’s. Imagine my delight, when on Saturday, January 15th, I dropped by and found a Toshiba Satellite T135, refurbished, on clearance for $400. I was very excited. I had wanted that type of laptop, but most were nearly $600-700, out-of-range for my start-up business. I happily purchased the last one and added a three year warranty with the replacement coverage.

I took the laptop home and was ecstatic with the performance and light weight. I added software and felt I had made a wonderful purchase. Unfortunately, I realized the battery was not charging. So, Monday morning I took the laptop back to Fry’s, thinking I had my bases covered and regardless of what they found, I would have a computer.

I went to the service department and was amazed that you had nine service people. Even more amazing was that half of them appeared to be on their phones, and two or three were helping one customer. The line got significantly longer behind me and department managers and employees carefully avoided making eye contact with any of us in the line. Finally, someone decided a second service attendant might be necessary. I believe at that point there were at least ten people in the line behind me.

My computer was checked and the service technician wrote down that either the battery was bad or the mother board was bad. He gave me a slip and told me I would need to go returns since my computer was broken. I went to returns and did not have to wait long, fortunately. However, I was told I could not use my warranty because I was in the “15 day return window.” They gave me my green credit slip and said I could use that towards my new purchase. I was beginning to feel somewhat disgruntled at this point. I thought I would have a replacement. I knew from my previous trip that there were no $400 laptops like I wanted. But, I went back hoping someone would help me replace my laptop.

I went back to the computer section and asked the manager if there were any Toshiba’s like mine at another store. He reported there was only one in San Diego, but he would get a sales person to help me. We looked at the displays, and sure enough, there were only two laptops, each $599. The sales person was kind enough to check in the back to see if there were any open boxes or last items. While I was waiting for his return, another sales person came up and asked me if I needed help. He said I looked, “sad or upset.” I told him I was very frustrated and why. He told me “I needed to let go of my negative energy and find positive energy. My frustration would not change the outcome. I should look for something positive to take away from the situation, like ‘I would go home with a laptop because he was sure they would price match and take care of me.” I must admit, I was a little put off by his comments, but tried to put on a face of “positive energy.”

The sales person came back and told me there were no open boxes or last items. At this point, I felt desperate. I started to wonder if there was a way to keep my original laptop. So, I went back to the service department to see if we could get a battery for the computer and determine if that was the problem. Andy, said sure, and told me to go back to computers and ask them to get me a battery. I went back to computers and asked the manager, Martha, if they had any batteries. Martha, looked very busy, but took the time to look up and me and say “no, we don’t have any batteries.” I was surprised, and asked again, and she said “no, we only have the long Toshiba batteries.” I was impressed with her ability to keep the battery inventory in her head, she had not even needed to look it up. She did suggest I go to components to see if they had a universal battery. She was a little brusque, and I had the impression I was interfering with other more important matters.

I dutifully went to components where I met Ben. Ben looked for a universal battery, but there were none. After I explained my dilemma and frustration, he was kind enough to take me back to see Jim in computers whom he thought could help me. Jim went to the back and came back with a battery, but it was the wrong one. He told me I needed the actual battery from the computer so he would know what it looked like. In fact, he said the probably should have brought the battery from service the first time.

Once again, I went back to the service department. Andy got the battery and went with me back to computers. Jim went to the back and found a new battery. I guess Martha missed it in her mental inventory. Andy and I went back to service and he tried the battery. Unfortunately, the computer could not see the battery. And so, after over two hours of back and forth, I took my green slip to the cashier and left with my $580.00 and what little “positive energy” I had left. I was disappointed, frustrated, and disillusioned by my buying experience at Fry’s.

My son suggested I call a manager when I was calmer to discuss the situation. He wondered if my experience would have been different if I had waited two weeks to take in my laptop. Then, I would have qualified for my warranty. So, today I called my local Fry’s. Unfortunately, when I asked to speak with a computer manager, they said they were going to transfer me to Martha. I hung up, I couldn’t imagine I was going to get any satisfaction from Martha, who was not helpful on Saturday.

I then decided to try the other Fry’s in town. The sales person was helpful. I explained I had a “bad experience” at the other Fry’s and was hoping he could help me. I told him I had been looking at Amazon and gave him the prices for similar computers. He found one Toshiba Satellite, which was a newer model, and it was an open box. The manager was willing to come down to the Amazon price or the open box price, but not both. Either way, I would still have sales tax at Fry’s and the warranty was $20 more than the one at Amazon. (the computer I was looking at was not on display, it was the last one, and in an open box in the back…so when was it going to be sold at all?)

Although I received help and some discounts, I decided I did not want to spend the additional $180.00 to have the computer and three year warranty. I did not think it made sense as I could get the same thing at Amazon for only $130.00 more. Once again, I left Fry’s with my $580.00.

In conclusion, if Fry’s had honored my warranty, even though I was in the 15 day window, Fry’s would still have my $580 and I would have a laptop. So, I conclude Fry’s must be making a lot of money since my $580 was not significant enough for anyone to really make an effort to save the sale and have a satisfied returning customer.

I would like to thank Ben in components, Jim in computers, and Andy in service. They each used what power they had to try and help me out. I wish your managers had been more motivated and caring. Perhaps, I have come to the wrong conclusion. Maybe the managers are the ones making money not the Fry’s store.

I hope you can use the information to improve your customer service. I look forward to your response.
Terry Cole


  1. Shelly,

    This is funny. I can see so much of you in your mother. I love this part, " So, today I called my local Fry’s. Unfortunately, when I asked to speak with a computer manager, they said they were going to transfer me to Martha. I hung up, I couldn’t imagine I was going to get any satisfaction from Martha, who was not helpful on Saturday."

    I'm sad for your mom. I hope she finds the computer she wants soon.


  2. How about a follow up letter?

    Dear Fry's,

    I just wanted to write and say "thank you" for messing up so badly. Because you were so unhelpful and incompetent I didn't buy the either computer I looked at. I found an amazing deal from Dell and ended up with a significantly better computer for less money. I can't thank you enough for your help in solving my laptop issues.

    Keep up the good work! I know you will...

    Warm Regards