Wednesday, August 13, 2003

This is a tale of poor systems treating a customer badly.

Yesterday, Tuesday August 12, I took time off from work to visit your store to buy a computer for my daughter who is going off to college. We brought in the two most recent flyers because we wanted a package.

We talked to a good sales associate who helped us decide between the eMachine, HP and Compaq that you had on display. Several times he had to ask the manager a question. When we got ready to purchase the Compaq system for $519, he informed us that he had none in stock and we could order online. So after about an hour at the store we went home, disappointed we did not have the computer in hand, but confident that we could get it online.

So at home I spend over two hours trying to order the package the sales associate said was available. online. It turns out that the monitor was not available and I could not find all of the rebates. (This is a particularly horrible aspect of your website and how it differs from your flyers.)

So completely frustrated, but still loyal, I dragged my daughter to the Fairfax store. The sales person tells me that they can do the deal because they have the computer and printer in stock and the rebates will bring the price down to the advertised price. So he starts to ring it up, but his shift is over and he asks another associate to complete the sale. So far so good. After some confusion about how the gift card is deducted from each item, we are ready to proceed. I complete the credit card application which takes more time, but I understand. Then the AOL service agreement for by daughter who has no room phone number yet, but the system can not handle it.

Finally, everything is approved and the paper tape is reeling our receipts and rebates. So I go to add everything up. Gift card fine, receipt fine, rebate one fine and rebate two fine. No third rebate. The sales associated get more receipt tape to spit out, but still no third receipt. A more senior person comes over, more paper and no receipt. The senior people now disapper for about 15 minutes. I'm told they are printing out the rebate form in the back room. We have now been trying to buy this computer package, which only two piece are in stock, for about 90 minutes.

The less senior sales person is assigned to tell us that the third rebate, from Circuit City, is no longer valid. The computer system will cost us an addition 30% or $150. Sorry, there is nothing I can do. No manager or senior person shows up.

If three different sales people and one senior sales person did not know that the advertised price, after rebates, was no longer available, how do you expect a consumer to know? Any why do I have to wait 90 plus minutes to find out? Apparently the package in the flyer was for a limited time. This information should have been flagged for the salespeople when they checked inventory! Your systems are failing your business.

So still loyal, I agree to buy the system that is on the front page of the current flyer even though I have to pick up the computer from Tysons Corner, pick up the monitor whenever it may arrive in Fairfax and take the printer tonight. The senior person is now taking care of me. But wait, while backing out the other system the printer is no longer available, but it will have to be shipped to me. So now I'm buying a system and nothing is available at the store! But it gets worse.

We have now been in the store for about 2 hours and it is about 8:00 pm. My daughter, who is diabetic, is going low and needs food or sugar. I grab a soda out of your machine and explain my daughter needs the soda. I pay $1.13. She get better.

And to top the day off, the receipts start printing. More and more paper. The sales associate adds up the rebates and it does not add up. The rebates are $50 short. After some apologies, he gives me an instant $50 credit/rebate on my new Circuit City card.

It is now too late to get dinner, which my daughter disparately needs, and get to Tysons to pick up the computer.

NO COMPUTER SYSTEM SHOULD PUT A CUSTOMER THROUGH THIS. There is no excuse to have four or more sales people look at the sale and not be able to be flagged to tell the customer what the final price after rebates will be. Though I generally think that Circuit City has been a leader in customer service for electronic products, this should not be accepted by management, associates or customers.

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