Thursday, November 29, 2007


I will do almost anything in this world to avoid going to CompUSA, including and perhaps even beyond sacrificing a virgin to Ba'al. For a store that should be cutting edge they certainly don't act like it. I had to go there to get a Tungsten E2 and even though they use a commission system to compensate their floor reps it took 10 minutes of me standing there and trying to look perplexedly at the locked cabinet and at all the people who didn't want an easy sale. Finally someone came over, asked if I needed help. I said that I'd like to buy an E2. He didn't have the keys for the cabinet, so he had to go get them from somewhere. I won't fault the guy for that. He comes back, unlocks the cabinet, and gets the Palm. He then escorts me to the cash registers, none of which look like they're open, and asks if someone can help me. They come to the registers, and that's where the fun starts. Before she even can scan my device she needs some information. I'm not talking about a zip code. She asks me what the phone number is. I give our company phone number. She asks what name I want it under. I give our company name. Apparently that's not enough. She asks for my name. She then asks for my address and my phone number (again). After I give her a blood and stool sample to actually buy something, she has to scan the E2 about 5 times in order for it to come up on the register. I really think this might have been her first day. She manages to get that part of the transaction taken care of when the real fun begins. They have a promotion in their circular where you get a $10 gift card for every $100 spent in a single transaction. This is certainly the most perplexing promotion in the history of the world to these rocket scientists. They don't know how to apply the promo. The circular for CompUSA came out over the past weekend (it's now Thursday), it's on the front page and there isn't anybody in the store who knows how to do it. My cashier goes and asks her manager. The manager doesn't know, so they go up the food chain. She asks her supervisor and there's a whole conference going on up front. Every single person, except for the person in charge of business services...the only person in the whole store whos job it is to make checking out even more difficult than regular checkout (after all, nothing says service like a half hour checkout!), is conferring with each other. They finally decide they can't do much about it, so they go into the general manager's office. Unlike a typical day at CompUSA, there's actually 4 people in line behind me waiting. They've been sitting there for at least 5 minutes at the only open cash register. Finally one of the salespeople decides that they should probably help the other people because chances are they will all be checked out by the time my conundrum is figured out. My saleswoman comes back and it looks like we might have some success. My Palm is $199.99, so I ask if that counts for one $10 gift card or two. This throws her for a loop and she looks at me as though I had just landed from Mars. I ask again...I'm not speaking Chinese here. She says "just one" so I look right around the register for the cheap crap that can add a penny to my price. She again gives me that "now...waaaa?" look. I don't think anybody's tried to add an extra penny to their order to get a cool Hamilton. She backs away from the register and runs back to the GM. Meanwhile I look for something as close to $.01 as possible. She comes back after I scour the front of the store and tells me the first good news of this trip: I can get me another $10 without padding my reciept by a penny. She pulls out over 100 gift cards and asks me "which ones do you want?" I point at 2 random ones that are the same design. "Are you sure you want those? They're the same design." I say yes. Now comes another difficult part: applying those to the reciept. She only has to ask for help twice and get the regular manager to come back over to the register once. She gets them taken care of and I swipe my credit card. CompUSA finally has stopped needing an imprint of your credit card (thank heaven for small miracles), but instead of that she had to go over to a copy machine and (no joke) make a copy of my reciept. They have a copy machine set up in front of the store for occasions just like this where people buy something instead of looking and leaving. She copies my reciept, brings it back over and gives it to me. She then asks if I want a holder for my cards. I said no and finally left the store, a little under an hour after I got there.
They've been in serious financial trouble for a while now and it's not hard to see why. They've managed to turn one of the most simple concepts in retailing into a song and dance that is like nothing I have ever seen. While it's been bad before, it's never quite been like this. We'll see if I decide to make them dead for me because it's not worth an hour of my time to shop at an overpriced retailer when I can go to and get good service and better prices.

1 comment:

Cheeth said...

The copy machine ritual is the one that had me laughing out loud, and literally, not an LOL way.

I love stores where the workers are clearly not savvy to the very technology they sell. Radio Shack is the greatest of these, and in its memory I leave this link: