October 2nd, 2005

My wifi card died last night after only six-months of use. No problem, it has a three-year warranty. I bought the card from Circuit City, which I’ve discovered, has a 30-day return policy. If I wanted a new card, I was told I had to send it back to the manufacturer.

Can you imagine driving your car to Detroit to get a new water pump? Me either.

The saleswoman told me that as a favor to me, she would sell me the extended, four-year warranty for only $14.99. And then I could get a new card. I declined. And it wasn’t because of the money. It’s the horrible service. I buy at a store because I don’t want to deal with shipping thngs back and fiorth.

Well, Circuit City is one store I won’t be buying from again. (And for the record, that’s where I bought my current laptop two years ago.)

I told the sales woman what I was going to do:

First, I was going to her competitor and buy a new card — MicroCenter, two doors down, $34.95. Done.

Second, I was going to blog about the experience. I’m not Jeff Jarvis, but a little local buzz won’t be too bad. Done. And,

Third, I’m sending emails to the local store manager and everyone up the chain that I can find. In progress.

I sent a copy of this post in letter form to the general customer service email. Here’s the automated reply I received:

Dear Customer:

Thank you for contacting Circuit City e-mail support.

At, we are committed to providing excellent customer service. As one of the nation’s leading specialty electronics retailers, we aim to exceed customer expectations in every facet of our business and attribute our success to a superior service commitment.

One of our Customer Support Coordinators will get back to you within the next 24 business hours.

Thank you for making Circuit City your shopping destination. We appreciate your patience and thank you for giving us the opportunity to serve your needs. We look forward to responding to you.

We are with you,

Circuit City Customer Support

As they say in Texas: that’s a lot of hat; ‘spose there’s any cattle?

Do I seriously expect to get any real response. Of course not. But we have to keep flinging those starfish and maybe, just maybe, one of them is going to land in the right place.

Hmmm… It is now Thursday morning and not a peep from customer service.

My Soundtrack: Kissing Families by Silversun Pickups on WOXY.

8 Responses to “SHORT CIRCUITED…”

  1. Daniella says:

    You are doing all the right thing to alert anyone that might care at Circuit City that their service is flaw. Please keep us posted, I am curious to see what will be the end result and to which level of the organization will it have to go before you get proper attention. Don’t give up. People often think that it is not worth it. I think it is.

  2. tadvent says:

    I just spent 2 hours on the phone with American Express. I have talked to the USA and somewhere in India. The problem is finally resolved… I think.

    Customer Service is a Lost Art.

  3. Jeff Hess says:

    Shalom Tadvent,

    Not dead, but at least in critical condition. Tom Peters continues to write about companies that get it.

    For the record, I still haven’t heard back from Customer Service at Circuit City.



  4. Jeff Hess says:

    Shalom Daniella,

    I honestly don’t expect to ever hear a peep from them. But I agree that the exercise is worth the effort.



  5. Tish G says:

    Hi Jeff…

    the way that corporate retail works these days (from my 4 year stint in it) is that the pions are the ones who get the flack and the higher ups do not hear a peep. So, more often than not, the manager of a store gets a “customer service complaint” which he/she then passes along to the clerk working the floor, who can do nothing about customer service unless corporate management approves. Clerks and lower management can be called “stupid,” “nimords,” “jerks,” or worse for following store policy on a return–but are also reigned in for giving away too much. Chances are, in your situation, the clerk gets the black mark (even if policies are out of his/her control), and is told that “the store” is going to suffer for his/her “poor” customer service.

    Honestly, “the store” never suffers, but the clerk usually does–with a withheld raise for “poor customer service.” And retail raises are never more than a whopping 25 cents an hour (usually less.)

    It’s a Catch 22 that the person on the floor has no control over. In most cases, even managers have no control over these sorts of situations, as they are also under a great deal of pressure to not only satisfy every customer’s personal needs within the corporate policy (which can be rewritten with each customer) but also to keep theft down and sales up (two things that often seem at cross purposes.)

    The fact remains that large corporate stores are more concerned with their bottom line than they are with customer service and will do anything, including bully and demoralize their employees,
    to boost that bottom line. It is easier for a corporate owned store to fire an employee for “poor customer service” than it is to address a legitimate customer service complaint and to institute measures to keep theft down.

    In a few words–corporate retail sucks for both the customer and the employee.


  6. Jeff Hess says:

    Shalom Tish,

    That’s true, you’re absolutely right.

    This is why I made a point of not going off on the saleswoman; she was powerless in this case.

    I find it interesting that I’m having a difficult time coming up with contact information for the people who do have power. The hierarchy of Circuit City in Richmond, Va., has done a good job of initially isolating itself from its customers. But as a former business editor and writer I know the right channels to pursue and I will get the information.



    p.s. it is now wednesday morning, and still no word back from circuit city customer service. why am i not surprised?

  7. Tish G says:

    Hi again Jeff…

    One of the BlogHer bloggers, who pens “Funny Business”, wrote an entry on someone tracking down a customer service telephone number for something tech related. It is amazing how they hide all those important numbers.

    Guess it keeps a comfortable boundary and the illusion that they’re doing a great job.



  8. Jeff Hess says:

    Shalom Tish,

    Open doors are seldom really open.



    p.s. i’m still having a hard time running these guys down. even their p.r. people are blockheads.

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