Circuit City’s bad service

Week of August 6, 2006

Q: I recently went to a Circuit City store to purchase a Toshiba laptop computer that was advertised for only $499.   When I stopped in to buy it, I asked the salesperson if they had it in stock. They checked inventory and told me they had five. I said I would take one, then they immediately launched into a very high-pressure sales pitch for an extended warranty that cost almost $300. I did not want to buy a warranty that cost almost as much as the computer itself! Finally they stopped their sales pitch. When I went to package pick-up to pay for my computer I was told they were sold out. Given I was there at store opening and was only there for fifteen minutes, I find it extremely unlikely that they sold five computers while I was getting my warranty sales pitch. Do you think they withheld product because I did not buy the warranty?

-Donald Carl, Plantation, FL

A: Yes, I do believe that they did not sell you a computer because you refused the overpriced warranty. This is not uncommon, especially with products that are priced very attractively at online retailers. If you call to order you will find the accessries such as the battery and charger have been stripped and you must purchase them at an additional cost, or you get another high-pressure warranty pitch. If you don’t take the extra-cost items, you are transferred to another line that mysteriously goes dead.   If you see a deal that appears too good to be true, go to and look up the retailer in question. You will quickly find out if they are for real or not.

Your case is a bit different because it takes a lot of gall to go from 5 computers to 0 computers in the space of 15 minuteswhile you are standing there! You really deserve better than the treatment you received if you took the time to get in your car and go to the store and give them a chance to sell you something and build a long-term relationship with you. I doubt you will recommend Circuit City to anyone after your experience!

If they are going to be underhanded, there are ways to get your computer at the price they said they would sell it for, and avoid being discrimintated against because you do not want to spend another 60% of the cost on a warranty.

Option one is to go online and buy the computer at the store’s website, opting for in-store pick-up rather than delivery. The websites check stock and tell you if the product is available at the store, where it will be taken aside for you when you pay for it online. Just stop in, pick it up abd take it home.

Option two may not seem nice but given what was done to you, I believe justified. Send a friend or family member in to get the computer and have them tell say they will take the warranty. (Bet they have it in stock then!) When you go to pick up the computer, ask to see the box so you can see the specs. After you have it in your hand, say “looks good… I don’t think I will need the warranty after all, cancel that part of my order.” You will get protestations that you really need the warranty but if you

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