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CompUSA To Close All Stores 509

Posted by Zonk
from the actually-kind-of-liked-them dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Mexican telephone and retail magnate Carlos Slim, in a rare defeat, will exit the US consumer electronics market, shutting the last 100 CompUSA Inc. stores after sinking about $2 billion into the business. Gordon Brothers Group, a Boston-based retail store liquidator, will oversee a piecemeal sale of the Dallas-based business, the company said in a statement. Financial terms were not disclosed. Stores will remain open through year-end under the supervision of Gordon Brothers, which will also negotiate the sale of real estate and other assets."
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CompUSA To Close All Stores

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  • Meh. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Vthornheart (745224) on Saturday December 08, 2007 @06:14AM (#21622671)
    I never really liked them, personally. I don't know if it was different on other regions of the country, but in the Sacramento area the CompUSAs were always overpriced. I guess it's sad to see any store that sells computer products die on some level, but there's better stores still on the market.
    That being said, if CompUSA was the only brick and mortar computer store in your area, I guess this would be a sucky development. Maybe a Fry's will move in. ;)
    • by astrotek (132325)
      EggHead 2.0, same shopping centers too :)
    • by zakezuke (229119)

      I never really liked them, personally.
      I liked them just fine, as much as one can like a big box computer store. They were somewhere between the big office stores and best buy, and actually did carry much in the way of essential hardware such as fans, heatsync compound, screws, and other misc things. It beats a trek to frys which for me is about 30 miles away.

       
      • "... actually did carry much in the way of essential hardware such as fans, heatsync compound, screws, and other misc things."

        In Portland, Oregon [slashdot.org] the closing of CompUSA stores will mean that the retail Fry's [frys.com] store has no competition in selling the more unusual items. Since Fry's is very adversarial toward its customers, in my opinion, that will mean prices will rise.

        My experience is that Com-pooza is horrible, though.

        Both stores sell cables for more than $20 that cost less than $2 wholesale.
      • by Gropo (445879)

        ...and actually did carry much in the way of essential hardware such as fans, heatsync compound, screws, and other misc things
        Last month I took a little bike trip to the CompUSA in midtown Manhattan looking for a simple HDD power line jumper. Zilch. SATA ribbons, ATA/IDE... No power cable supplies.
    • Re:Meh. (Score:5, Informative)

      by flyingsquid (813711) on Saturday December 08, 2007 @07:14AM (#21622895)
      What I remember about CompUSA is that on multiple occasions, when I went into the store looking to buy an item, they were sold out of it. It's like it didn't occur to them, "hey, we're sold out of this. Obviously it's popular. We better buy more of it, and put it on the shelves, so we can make more money". After that happened two or three times, I got tired of dealing with them, and would go online or to a different store. So I'm not that surprised to hear that they're going out of business.
      • by PopeRatzo (965947) *
        What's the matter, you guys don't have MicroCenter over by dere? One of the nicest things about Chicago is the Microcenter Store.

        That, Ozzie Guillen and Jimmy's Hot Dogs on Grand Ave & Pulaski. Don't ask for ketchup, though, or you might catch a beatin'.

      • by boredMDer (640516)
        I suppose you don't consider that sometimes stock just flies off of the shelves after a day or two?

        Many times in my store, we'd have quite a few of an item, then the ad would come out, and they'd all be gone within two days, at most for the good items. The ordering system was such crap that it'd take maybe a week to order and get new product in, at that point the sale flyer would be over and since we didn't give 'rain checks'...

        In some of the cases it was the fault of the ASM, most of the time it was comple
        • Re:Meh. (Score:5, Insightful)

          by putaro (235078) on Saturday December 08, 2007 @09:11AM (#21623331) Journal
          Basically what you're saying in a more informed way is what the original poster said - they weren't able to manage their inventory. It's a basic part of running a retail business. Yes, it's hard. Those who are good at it (Walmart) succeed in the retail space. Those that are bad at it will close their doors.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward
          I suppose you don't consider that sometimes stock just flies off of the shelves after a day or two?

          How about flying off the shelves before the store opened the day the ad came out? This happened all the time. The last time this happened my buddy needed an HDD and CompUSA had one on sale in their ad with a mininum of 10 per store. We met up at a local restaurant for breakfast, then went to the store. We got there 15 minutes before they opened and there was 1 person waiting outside. When the doors opened
          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by R2.0 (532027)
            ":The employees bought them before the store opened. This should never be allowed. "

            Likely it was this one. My wife worked as security at Sears for a span, and it was routine to allow associates to purchase items at sale price (minus an employee discount) before the store opened.

            Fair? No.

            Did I tell her to grab an Xbox 360 for immediate resale on eBay? Betcherass I did, but they were all gone by the time her shift started 1/2 hour before the store opened. Other employees came in early.
      • by houghi (78078)
        It depends on the product and the advertisement that goes along with it, but it often is used to get people in the store. People who just are interested to buy that one item is not who they are interested in, because margins on that product can be minimal.

        What they could be interested in is people comming in the store and buying other things.
      • From my experience working at CompUSA back around 1997-1999 (Store #787, Minnetonka, MN), I can tell you that the problem you noted was system-wide for the chain. And IMHO, the problem's source was with the people who did purchasing for the company. As far as I could ever tell, the purchasing was exactly the same for the entire chain - hence if one store was out of product X, there wouldn't be any to be found anywhere else, either. This was particularly problematic with advertised items.

        I was my obse
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Yehooti (816574)
      I'll miss them. When I wanted to find a store where I could walk in, select my software right there, then pay and walk out with it then and there, they were always there. Fry's is about the same distance from me as they were, but I've never felt comfortable with their wares. I could get in and out quickly, not like the long lines at Fry's. If I had a problem, they handled it smoothly, not like at Fry's. I paid more for this privilege I'll admit. When I'm not in a hurry I order from online sources.

      Thei
    • CompUSA is overpriced here as well. They were cheaper on their printer ink than other places though. I wish a Fry's would open in Jacksonville, FL
    • by FlopEJoe (784551)
      We lost ours last year. The prices sucked and most of the staff were idiots though some exceptions to both complaints were a nice surprise like when you found a good sale or a helpful employee.

      But... and it's a big but... the best thing about CompUSA was their parts section. There is absolutely no other place in my area where I can take in my a busted up connector or a too short cable, walk up to a shelf and look at the available parts to compare, and walk out with what I need. And, if it didn't work out, I

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by zullnero (833754)

      Maybe a Fry's will move in. ;)

      Fry's: Where you always know you can find the most substandard of substandard computer and consumer products!

      The trick with Fry's, for those who don't know, is that the good quality stuff is priced roughly the same as any Best Buy/CompUSA/Staples/etc., but the absolutely crappy imported stuff makes it all seem cheaper. It's like WalMart like that.
    • Re:Meh. (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Seumas (6865) on Saturday December 08, 2007 @10:09AM (#21623601)
      What's stupid is that I'm told by an employee of CompUSA that they've been working on opening a new store in Colorado this coming week. Only, now instead of having a grand opening, the first day the store opens will also be a liquidation day.

      It's kind of amazing how fast they did all this. Management got the news Friday afternoon, via telephone. Within a couple hours, there were a couple of guards on premises to make sure employees did not steel anything. Employees were forbidden from buying anything "at cost" which employees apparently have always been allowed to do. By the end of the night, liquidation guys had arrived from corporate and were going through the process of taking inventory and repricing so they could (presumably) begin actual liquidation sales this weekend.

      It's just damn crazy. I've never cared for CompUSA except that since there are no longer any real mom and pop independent computer stores around, your choice is between CompUSA and Fry's. And Fry's isn't available in most places (which is a shock to those of us from the west coast when we visit other parts of the country). Without even a CompUSA around anymore, I don't know where you're going to pick up hardware in person? It was always nice to have a place you could go to as a last resort if you needed to replace a mobo RIGHT NOW.
      • Re:Meh. (Score:4, Informative)

        by drew (2081) on Saturday December 08, 2007 @03:33PM (#21626015) Homepage

        Without even a CompUSA around anymore, I don't know where you're going to pick up hardware in person?


        MicroCenter?

        I know they aren't available everywhere, but those that do have them, I would take them over CompUSA or Fry's. These days I usually go to Best Buy, as I've been rather unimpressed by the CompUSA near me, and there aren't Fry's or MicroCenter around here, but I can't help feeling a little dirty when I do.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        to make sure employees did not steel anything

        I'm confused. Is steeling related in any way to ironing?

  • Goodbye (Score:5, Funny)

    by aero2600-5 (797736) on Saturday December 08, 2007 @06:17AM (#21622685)
    The only thing impressive CompUSA ever did was make the idiots at Best Buy look like geniuses.

    Their prices were ridiculous, the staff under-qualified. If you wanted to know what 1994 felt like, all you had to do was wander into one of their stores.

    Aero
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Walt Dismal (534799)
      I was chagrined when Carlos Slim bought The Good Guys audio/video stores and merged them into CompUSA. The Good Guys had excellent stock including the superb Loewe HD TVs, good sales every so often, and the salemen didn't entirely suck. The bastard child of the merger was that CompUSA began pushing LCD big screens but almost no other A/V equipment.

      As many others have noted, it would be useful if Fry's had some stores in other parts of the country. (You hear me, John Fry?) Even if Fry's has issues with stu

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by ericlondaits (32714)
        Don't know about Japan, but when Tower Records came to Argentina it was as a franchise AFAIK, since it was owned by local investors and it even changed hands one or two times during its life. I don't see how franchising can be bad for a company, since it means it's getting money for its brand.
        • Re:Goodbye (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Dogtanian (588974) on Saturday December 08, 2007 @09:13AM (#21623337) Homepage

          I don't see how franchising can be bad for a company, since it means it's getting money for its brand.
          Then you clearly haven't thought about it for more than 5 seconds. If the franchisee(s) aren't up to the standards of the original chain or generally screw things up, they damage the name of the franchise, and that reputation can feed back to the original store.

          In short, you lose some control of your own name, and while you can impose conditions on the franchisees, there have to be limits.

          Now, the benefit of a franchise is also its disadvantage; people associate the local franchised operation with its original owner, and if this isn't up to scratch, then- at best- people may assume that other franchises are run to poor standards and- at worst- people assume that the original company is responsible and at fault.

          "But... but... it wasn't us, it was one of our franchisees" won't cut it in the face of widespread complaints that swamp the ability of your PR to explain the true situation. And do the public care anyway? It's a double-edged sword- if a company is willing to exploit its name (and associated reputation) by selling it to others, it has no right to complain if it's too lax or greedy in controlling the franchise and these actions come back to haunt it.
          • Yeah, I used to think that Tower Records had a great selection of alternative music, dozens of listening stations so I could sample the music (in the days before iTunes and Amazon made that easy online), and a not-too-corporate-and-homogeneous atmosphere.

            But then I went to Argentina for a weekend and the Tower Records there was a total mess. I'd never heard of half the bands in their inventory and the clerks couldn't even speak English! I was so disappointed that I never went to another Tower back in the
  • That sucks (Score:5, Informative)

    by ragnarok (6947) on Saturday December 08, 2007 @06:21AM (#21622697)
    CompUSA is the only real computer store near me (in Rochester, NY). Of course there's Best Buy and Circuit City (etc) but the selection was always a lot better at CompUSA. When I needed a hard drive or something in a hurry that was always where I went.

    When is Fry's going to make it to the east coast?
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      You could always try Rochester Computer Recycling and Repair if you need parts fast. Otherwise I would suggest Pricewatch.
    • by Kizeh (71312)
      That's the same for us in Florida. There really is no comparable store for the breadth of selection, as sad as it is. BestBuy and Circuit City just don't cut it. I really do hope that this will give Fry's incentive to swoop in.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by transer (112036)

      You can always try Microworx. They don't have as big of a selection, but for the "gotta have it now" parts, those they generally have.

      I'll agree on Fry's, though...wish they'd make it out this way....
    • Have you tried looking for a computer store that isn't part of a big chain? I generaly prefer small stores because there you find people who know what they're selling and who can give you decent advice on what to buy, decent hardware at usually decent prices and service that the big guys just can't match.

      Example: I needed some thermal grease for an emergency repair. I drove to a small local store and asked for some; what gets handed to me is a small tube that they just happened to have lying around, free
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by guruevi (827432)
      Circuit City in Rochester, NY sucks. Went there to buy a printer for my Apple and Linux-based systems. The box said it was supported, but after a day or two with HP support they (HP) came to the conclusion they didn't have scanner drivers (yet). I went back to Circuit City and they didn't want to change or take back my printer. They would take it back if I went more expensive, otherwise there was a 15% restocking fee, said it was store/corporate policy. I said forget it, took the thing home and gave it to m
  • the thing about CompUSA, was that everything was way overpriced, except when it was on some kind of special advertised deal... and when THAT was the case, they never had any in stock. HORRIBLE store, and I won't miss it one bit... though, I may have to give it a visit when they shut down, see if I can "pick the carcass."
  • As an ex employee... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by boredMDer (640516) <pmohr+slashdot@boredmder.com> on Saturday December 08, 2007 @06:36AM (#21622737)
    Glad to hear that they're shutting down. I worked there for nearly a year on the front end...awesome coworkers and general atmosphere, but store policies, managers, etc, sucked. Bad(ly?). Ripped off customers on return policies, warranties, replacement plans, etc. Restocking fees? At the manager's discretion, of course.

    Thank god, is all I can say.

    -- 297504 from store 354...
    • by Obyron (615547) on Saturday December 08, 2007 @10:37AM (#21623765)
      Likewise an ex-employee (store #349 in Lexington, KY). I definitely feel the same about the place going. They treated me, and all the other employees-- up to and including "back end" people like HR and low-level managers (front end, inventory)-- like complete trash. About a year after I was laid off (because the store was losing money) I heard that the then-General Manager had been embezzling money from the store and had finally been caught and fired. No clue if they ever pressed criminal charges. We actually had a lot of good experiences with their warranty, especially the full replacement. They followed it well enough that salesmen weren't unknown to use it to close a sale (ie: "accidentally" break your shiny new PDA two days before your 2 year warranty runs out, and get the dollar value toward the purchase of a new one). The restocking fee always came down to how much we didn't like a particular customer's attitude. There was a lot of stuff that went on to basically screw the customer (like fast-talking old people into spending 100 dollars on getting a tech to "set up" their computer before they took it home, for which the techs just held the computer for 30 minutes before bringing it up front). Given shit like this, and the way the stores were managed, it's no surprise to me they're going out of business. At my store we had probably 6-8 sales people and 4 cashiers working at any given time, and we had 8(!) managers-- General, Sales, Asst. Sales, Front End, Operations, Inventory, Business Sales, and Tech. No wonder they couldn't afford employees! I'm not the least bit sad to see it go.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by AFCArchvile (221494)
        Same here (327, worked during the dot-bomb days of 1999-2000). All the "down to earth" coworkers were great colleagues, but there was a big rift between the red-shirts and most of the white-shirts. At times, it felt like working at a car dealership, since the push to sell TAP and replacement plans was never-ending. If a store can't be profitable by selling its product, and certain services with legitimate value, what kind of a store is it? In the case of CompUSA, a dead store.

        The key to shopping there w
  • fare thee well (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ruebarb (114845) <colorache@hot m a i l.com> on Saturday December 08, 2007 @06:36AM (#21622743)
    my first tech job was refurbishing a certain model of PC at the CompUSA tech shop - got me to where I'm at today - many a techie got his start in one of those little tech shops at a retail store.

    lower profit margins are a drag on any business - almost inevitable but a fact of life - they lasted longer then the company I left them for by trying to diversify but I guess BB/CC will be taking over the world now.

    RB
    • Slimy business practices killed them. Even my non-technical friends know that a restocking fee is bullshit and they hired some of the dumbest people (maybe more recently) that I've ever had the displeasure of interacting with.

      Good riddance.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Jesus_666 (702802)

      I guess BB/CC will be taking over the world now.

      You mean the USA and maybe Canada, right? Other countries have their large chains, too, and as Wal-Mart's failure in Germany shows, being a large player in the USA doesn't neccessarily mean squat elsewhere.

      For those who don't follow German supermarket corporation politics: Wal-Mart pulled out of the German market in 2006 after losing ~$3 bn and sold their local assets to the Rewe corporation, one of the big players in the German supermarket business.

      If BB/

  • my eyes are dry (Score:3, Interesting)

    by theheff (894014) on Saturday December 08, 2007 @07:03AM (#21622857)
    I'm not going to miss the snooty comments made by their staff members after asking them where a part is... and then try to sell me a warranty on top of it. Give me a break. Margins usually drop in most industries over time. Poor business design is what killed this beast. While I'm sure a number of talented people work for their chain, and I truly feel for them for their upcoming layoffs, you can't say that you didn't see it coming. Rest in peace.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by zakezuke (229119)

      I'm not going to miss the snooty comments made by their staff members after asking them where a part is... and then try to sell me a warranty on top of it. Give me a break. Margins usually drop in most industries over time. Poor business design is what killed this beast.

      I remember looking for a PCMCIA to CompactFlash adapter, they were not quite grasping that CompactFlash was so large that it wasn't on those 5 in one units, handy though they may be. I can't blame them too much as CF is rather old as far as standards go.

      But the warranty... you do have to keep in mind that was really their bread and butter, the store warranty. For something like an inkjet it was a godsend. Esp the sub $100 epsons, you know the ones, the ones that get a waste ink full error and refuse to

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by jddj (1085169)

      I'll never forget the experience...I'd just arrived in Atlanta in 1994, and I was in a Marietta CompUSA. I'd asked the CompUSA staffer about a particular accessory for my Power Macintosh 7100/66.

      "A Mac? Get a real computer!"

      I thought: "I'm a multimedia developer trying to buy one of your highest-margin products, and you're working a crappy retail job. Will getting a real computer skyrocket me to the corridors of power you walk? I hope not..."

      Over the years, I've only visited CompUSA out of sheer despera

  • by zakezuke (229119) on Saturday December 08, 2007 @07:03AM (#21622859)
    Quad Slim jewel cases [compusa.com]

    Seriously, I know I accept the risk of being modded down here but I use these guys. They fit 4 CDs in the size of one standard jewel case. It was a pain when they left my state, and it'll be a bigger pain when they close their doors.

  • Loved to browse the local CompUSA store and make a detailed list of the stuff I really wanted to buy and then later but it at a better price on eBay, or at Best Buy, Fry's, etc... Prices were a bit high, but CompUSA seemed to sell at least 1 or 2 items at or below cost to bait bargain hunters... (if you could get to the store early enough).

    Once worked in their Dallas, TX Call Center as an 9x/ME/2k/NT4/XP v1.0 Tech for CompUSA's (awful) TAP Program http://www.compusa.com/services/tap/default.asp [compusa.com] ...worst
  • No tears here... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by nugneant (553683) <c45kyew02@snea k e m ail.com> on Saturday December 08, 2007 @07:06AM (#21622869) Homepage Journal
    The local Comp*USA went out of business about six months ago. They were like the pricier, smaller, and less exciting version of Best Buy (which is the pricier, smaller, and less exciting version of Fry's - God, that's the one thing I miss most about living on the west coast). Anyway, long story short, the only good part about Comp*USA was not giving money to Best Buy when I needed something computer-related that day, right then. Fucking D.C.

    The "final week clearance" finally had some okay deals. Nothing too great, but stuff like no-name PS/2 keyboards with the stupid "function" key for $3 a pop, 100-spindle DVD-Rs for around $40... I picked up a couple SD-cards as well. You know it's sad that when stuff's 70% off, it's still barely less pricey than ordering online.

    They finally opened up a MicroCenter in the location where Comp*USA used to be. Sweet, sweet heaven... it's like Fry's, except, yeah, only about 1/3rd the size.
  • The good old days (Score:5, Informative)

    by davmoo (63521) on Saturday December 08, 2007 @07:08AM (#21622879)
    Back in the day, CompUSA was a decent place to buy computer parts. They had a good selection, knowledgeable sales people, and good prices. Those days have been gone for some years now. It got to where their prices were so ridiculously high without a sale, and the "sale" required a rebate to get a decent price, that it was no longer worth shopping there. Especially when Fry's opened. I haven't been in the local store in 4 or 5 years.
    • by zakezuke (229119)

      It got to where their prices were so ridiculously high without a sale, and the "sale" required a rebate to get a decent price, that it was no longer worth shopping there.
      CompUSA wasn't alone in the rebate game. Much to my delight OfficeMax was right next to my local CompUSA and swore to not to rebates. I know bargain hunters loved playing the rebate game, but you know what I would gladly pay just a little more just to get the good price in the first place.

    • When was this and in what alternate dimension did it take place. CompUSA has *never* had salespeople who knew what they were doing, with a few rare exceptions.
    • by fermion (181285)
      In the good old days, the computer store was the only place to find computer related merchandise, and the only place to get help. Now most stores have basic computer parts, not to mention newegg, amazon, et al.

      The thing is that even in this heavily competitive environment, computer stores still make it. Why does CompUSA not? I think like so many stores, they are customer hostile, and yet do not have low prices to compensate. It is one thing to be accosted at best buy by insane managers, or at Wal Mart

    • Re:The good old days (Score:4, Interesting)

      by beheaderaswp (549877) * on Saturday December 08, 2007 @10:49AM (#21623843)
      I used to work for CompUSA in the 1992 time frame, in Skokie IL.

      Back then they were paying a living wage to their hardware salespeople (Or fairly close to it), had a decent tech department, and had a great Mac section.

      I left in 1993 and ended up working for Apple Computer.

      The funny thing was, I left just as Best buy was coming into the market, and CompUSA management was all freaked out about it. I didn't understand why Best Buy scared them (and still don't). CompUSA at the time was a "computer store" and a big one. Best Buy was what? Appliances, with some computers?

      Back then CompUSA resembled Fry's more closely than Best buy, and they made the decision to go "retail". They could have gone the other way and been a little more "geeky".

      Fry's, which currently looks like a big success story from my standpoint, flew a banner outside of their store at grand opening in Naperville IL which read: "Welcome IT Professionals".

      I'm no fanboi for any retail chain. But there's some things I observed that first day shopping at the Naperville Fry's:

      1. I ran into three of my contemporaries, all accomplished IT professionals.

      2. When I talked to a guy in the computer components department about a logic board, he knew what chipsets were, which one I was using, why I chose it, and which boards used it.

      3. It was amazing to me that I had the option of buying a 19" relay rack, an oscilloscope, coffee (Love their french roast!!), computer components, and a vacuum cleaner. (And have over the years bought some very strange permutations of geeky products, and rejoiced at the opportunity)

      Strangest purchase combination: A DVD player, laser pointer, exercise DVD, tea, 19" relay rack, and a radio controlled car.

      4. I noticed that under certain circumstances I'll forgo internet shopping for the brick and mortar shopping experience- even if I pay more.

      Sadly, CompUSA never tried to touch the above market. As disjointed and strange as that product mix seems it *works*. CompUSA could have gotten a lot more techie in response to Best Buy. They didn't- and they lost.
  • Good riddance (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ricegf (1059658) on Saturday December 08, 2007 @07:28AM (#21622949) Journal

    I purchased a computer from Computer City just before CompUSA bought them out - and it had trouble reading CDs. It was transferred from Computer City's shop to CompUSA's shop, where it languished for 13 weeks while I pleaded, cajoled and threatened. Finally liberated, I fixed it myself with a CD-ROM from Fry's (discovering in the process I didn't need some big box store to build PCs for me).

    Fast forward two years. I'm building a new computer, and Fry's doesn't have the graphics card I want. In a charitable mood, I buy one from CompUSA. It doesn't work. I return it to find they've sold out, too - but insist on charging me a 15% restocking fee, even after I complain to the manager. I asked him if he would enjoy my $30 (since it was the last dollar they'd ever see from me), and he simply assured me they would. He never even apologized for the trouble they caused.

    I never set foot in CompUSA again.

    Perhaps I'm not the only potentially loyal customer they drove away through sheer greed and incompetence.

  • The Customer (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DeanFox (729620) * <.spam.myname. .at. .gmail.com.> on Saturday December 08, 2007 @08:01AM (#21623063)

    The chain went through several CEOs and tried different turnaround strategies...
    Except one: Customers are not our enemy.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 08, 2007 @08:01AM (#21623065)
  • I wonder how they are going to handle CompUSA-specific warranties. For example, I just had a new audio system installed by them in my car. There will no longer be a physical store to take my car to, and of course I can't mail my car to some central repair depot. If a problem arises, hopefully I won't have to take Carlos Slim to small claims court. :)

    And there are all those extended warranties they are always trying to push on you.

    • I can't speak to the specifics of your warranty, but more often than not, big box retailer extended warranties are actually handled through an outside firm, not by the retailer itself. For that reason, I'd imagine that if you've got an 800 number to call on your warranty form, you'll be OK for the future.
  • Opportunity (Score:3, Insightful)

    by reboot246 (623534) on Saturday December 08, 2007 @08:10AM (#21623105) Homepage
    Seems that it would be a great opportunity for Fry's to buy a bunch of empty stores and gain thousands of customers. We don't have Fry's around here, but I'd shop there if they were willing to move in after CompUSA moves out.

    I shop at CompUSA by default -- it's the only computer store nearby. For most common things I just go to BestBuy or one of the bigbox office supply stores, but CompUSA has items that the others don't carry.

    With no CompUSA and no alternative, it looks like even more of my buying will be online.

  • My local CompUSA has been a terrible place to shop for many years. Nothing was priced, things were misplaced, and the workers were nowhere to be found on the floor or allowed to be helpful in any way.

    My friends and I gave up on CompUSA years ago. Most folks I know only go there if they are in desperate need of something and can't wait for mail order.

    What a shame. Now my local options will be whatever Best Buy and Circuit City carry. There will be the occasional mom&pop store that will open up but fo
  • The closed a few months ago. I took my i-mac (egg shape) for repair there and they actually ordered the part and repaired (for $300 Dlls! and 65 dollars up front just for diagnostics). The 2nd time around I took there my HP pavillion PIII laptop with a broken adapter jack and they turned me away ( it was a laptop ). I took the laptop to a momNpop shop in Bound Brook NJ and they guy actually opened the laptop, replace the jack piece with a soldering gun! He charged $240 and paid them gladly since I really th
  • or the American version of that one, "adios, motherfucker!"
  • MY experience (Score:4, Interesting)

    by DoofusOfDeath (636671) on Saturday December 08, 2007 @09:22AM (#21623381)
    What I remember is a service manager who said he'd look into something for me, and then didn't. And then when I confronted him with the fact that he wasn't following through on a promise, he didn't care. Neither did the store manager. It was clear that in their minds the problem was with me, rather than their crappy service or in not keeping their word.

    I don't much care what happens to the corporation. I want justice for those employees.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by itsnotmi (616186)
      I had a completely different experience. My wife had her PC shipped over from Italy, and the processor became dislodged. I was out of town, so she took it in to CompUSA, and the guy (I think his name was Andy) remounted it without charging a dime. He calls occasionally just to check on the PC, stops by (usually when i'm at work...) oshit.
  • CompUSA started out as a small storefront in Dallas in the mid-1980s named "Soft Warehouse". They sold IBM-PC software at a significant discount from the MSRP then being charged by the local "mom & pop" computer shops. They grew rapidly and were moving into larger quarters about every three months, and started adding other computer-related stuff to their shelves. When they went public they changed the name to CompUSA, in part because the "Soft Warehouse" name was trademarked in another state.

    They see
  • computers have gotten cheap & people dont need to upgrade their old machines, makes for a very bad catch 22.
  • I live near Milwaukee so I can choose between CompUSA, Worst Buy and a local computer chain called Milwaukee-PC (which never has anything in inventory). I don't shop at any of those stores. I buy *everything* from Newegg. Newegg has an awesome selection, good pricing and, best of all, I don't have to deal with cashiers asking me if I want to buy the extended service plan.

    When I am building a new machine at home, I put together my Newegg shopping list and then place the order with Newegg (sometimes in
  • That is what happened in major metro areas like Atlanta. They simply could not compete with retailers who were pros in that industry; like Best Buy and Circuit City. They even picked up console games in plenty yet failed to price compete there. Worse their selection was usually not as good either.

    Combined with an industry that moved away from component sales. Yet CompUSA didn't see this and expanded their component offerings too late for the game.

    Finally they seemed completely at a loss when it came to
  • by Average_Joe_Sixpack (534373) on Saturday December 08, 2007 @09:45AM (#21623481)
    I guess its back to Radio Shack
  • Good Riddance (Score:3, Interesting)

    by CyberDave (79582) <davecorder AT yahoo DOT com> on Saturday December 08, 2007 @10:06AM (#21623583)
    All I can say is..."good riddance". I've been on a self-imposed boycott of CompUSA for about 2 and a half years now, after the dickhead of a manager at the CompUSA in Spokane, WA, wouldn't sell me the AppleCare package for my iPod and fed me so many lines of BS that I just wanted to jump over the counter and punch the guy after I was done talking to him.

    I kinda needed the AppleCare quickly at the time, though, since my iPod's hard drive was flaking out. It was still under the 1-year factory warranty (but nearing the end of it), but I didn't want to pay $40 or whatever the service fee is after 6 mos to do the exchange by mail with Apple, and thought the AppleCare package would be a good deal, since it'd essentially just cost me an extra 20 bucks for another year of warranty service. I thought it'd be quick and easy to get AppleCare in a retail store (and CompUSA was the only one in my area that carried Apple stuff), rather than waiting a few days for Apple to ship it to me. I was wrong.

    The manager at the CompUSA I went to kept insisting that I had to have purchased the iPod at CompUSA within the past 90 days, or Apple would deny the AppleCare registration. I tried to explain to him that's not how AppleCare works (the only thing in the box is a registration code, and Apple doesn't care where or when the iPod was purchased, other than that it was still under the 1-year factory warranty) -- having worked at an Apple reseller (my university bookstore) for several years, I knew this. Still wouldn't sell it to me. He tried to tell me that CompUSA was somehow different in this regard and that Apple would "know". Tried to convince him that I would take the risk of it not registering...still no go. Then he tried to tell me it was just store policy not to sell AppleCare if the iPod had not been purchased within 90 days from that store. Tried to get him to tell me where the hell this "policy" was actually written down...it should come as no surprise that he didn't even bother to try to look it up. Even tried, at one point, to tell me that if I had purchased the iPod more than 90 days ago, regardless of where I bought it, then the only place I could buy the AppleCare enrollment kit was directly from Apple.

    At this point, I was somewhat set on proving a point and getting AppleCare immediately, so I went to my campus computer lab nearby, logged onto CompUSA.com, and ordered the AppleCare package online for in-store pickup. Half an hour later, I was back in the store at the customer service desk, trying to pick up my online order from the (relatively clueless) salesperson there. I almost got away with it, until somewhere near the end of the checkout, either the salesguy flagged down the manager (or the manager happened to wander by--it was so long ago I can't quite remember), noticed it was me and what I was trying to do again, and shot me down. Apparently "the website was wrong" and shouldn't have let me order AppleCare.

    Since then, I haven't set foot in a CompUSA and moved even more of my computer parts purchases to places like NewEgg. Of course, now that I moved to Seattle, I have a Fry's nearby, and it's actually _fun_ to just wander around that store.

    I kept telling myself after that incident that I would write to CompUSA's corporate offices and complain about that manager, but I never got around to it. Oh, well. The kicker is that the following Monday, I went to my University Bookstore, walked up to my old manager and asked they had any AppleCare enrollment kits for iPod. They happened to have one or two in stock, so about 10 minutes later, after sharing a laugh about the idiocy of the CompUSA manager, I was back at my desk across campus and my iPod was now covered under AppleCare.

    Ah, the venting...it feels good.

    *end rant*
  • A Question.... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by CuriousCuller (1198941) on Saturday December 08, 2007 @10:25AM (#21623683)
    I'm from Europe, so I don't really get it... but please, help me. Why is it that the majority of Americans (and many Europeans to be fair) seem to think that only "Big Name" chain stores can provide these essential services to them? As far as I can see this model seems to cater only for corporate greed mongers, and the crappy service you recieve seems directly related to this. What's was flaunted as capitalism has emerged as an oligopoly of one or two market leaders at best. I read here that people have only 2 stores to choose from in their town, or not even that many. Wow, there's choice in action. Might as well sell only two brands of cola and be done with it. You say "but hey, it's cheaper this way..." and sure, the chain stores might save you a few cents due to their vast economy of scale, but what about everything you loose to tighten the purse strings?

    You complain about the service, but greedy corporate chains don't pay much, so who works there? As the old adage goes, pay peanuts and you get monkeys. Moreover, as they're the only store in town you can like it lump it as far as they're concerned. No wonder they treat the public with contempt, we let them. Perhaps its time we returned to the old days of smaller, private stores??? After all, if my business relies on a good reputation and repeat trade I'm likely to offer a good service in return. Yes, things might cost a little more, but then you have to also ask the question about whether you're paying the true cost of anything these days. For example, I live in the Sub-Carpathian region, but amazingly bananas are cheaper than apples in the supermarket! Eh? Same for most products now, be it computers, food, clothes... all the same, someone gets screwed somewhere because the end user is tight fisted. Maybe, just maybe, we have to stop thinking about everything in simple $$$$ terms. People say they saved x number of cents on a product, but wasted x number of hours (and stress) when it didn't work, went wrong etc.

    I for one will continue to support my local, privately run computer store. I pay a little more, but I get to talk to a guy who knows what he's on about, can find what I want and competently fix my machine when it's wrong. I save a lot this way, time and blood pressure namely, and as an added bonus I know a decent chap's getting paid fairly for his work. Chain stores will never compete with that level of service, not in a million years.
    • Re:A Question.... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by BenFranske (646563) on Saturday December 08, 2007 @11:43AM (#21624161) Homepage
      The problem is that in the United States the local shops have several things going against them. First, the selection is often not all that good which is a problem for informed consumers who usually want one of a couple options none of which may be carried by the small retailer. Second, and perhaps more important to Americans is the price difference. It's usually a lot more than the few cents you cite. Often a product will cost at least tens of dollars more and depending on the price of the product perhaps $50 or $100 more from a local store. These are not insignificant price differences and people, at least Americans, will put up with just about anything to save $5. Unless your local store is within $5 on just about everything you will loose customers to the big store no matter how much better your service is, many are not. This is not to say there are not successful small, local computer (and other) stores but there are a limited number of them, usually in densely populated cities making it much more convenient for most consumer to shop at the (much closer and much less less expensive) big box retailer.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by pla (258480)
      Why is it that the majority of Americans (and many Europeans to be fair) seem to think that only "Big Name" chain stores can provide these essential services to them?

      Because in the US, only huge chain stores survive. We can largely blame ourselves for that, but such it stands.

      Small stores have two major problems... First, they can't get as good prices for small quantities as WallyWorld can when they buy out a manufacturer's entire production run, so they need to survive on a thinner margin. Second, t
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by zakezuke (229119)

      I'm from Europe, so I don't really get it... but please, help me. Why is it that the majority of Americans (and many Europeans to be fair) seem to think that only "Big Name" chain stores can provide these essential services to them?

      I tried supporting the smaller shops, really I did. Pre-web I would check out computer shopper then visit the local shops looking for the item in question. I tried to support the shops that were most supportive of me when I was a teen, but they all gave up the ghost. The ones which remained pretty much ordered from computer shopper on demand with the exception of a few.

      There is an indy shop that has been around for a few years which I will continue to support, except for ram. Ram is one of those thing

  • by LaughingCoder (914424) on Saturday December 08, 2007 @10:37AM (#21623773)
    I personally will miss CompUSA. In our area they are in the same shopping center as Best Buy, and it was very common for me to park midway between them and get prices from both stores before buying. And contrary to most folks' comments, our local CompUSA was always very well-stocked. If both Best Buy and CompUSA had a good sale, we would be almost guaranteed of getting it at CompUSA, and almost guaranteed of NOT getting it at Best Buy. Of course you had to pick-and-choose what you bought there, like any store. Their cable prices were ridiculous (I buy all my cables from newegg), but they often had really good deals on hard drives, memory, video boards, keyboards, mice and such. And they always had a much broader selection of computer stuff than Best Buy.

    Anyhow, where I think they went wrong was getting into consumer electronics like big screen TVs. Their prices were outrageous and their store displays were woeful. And the thing that drove me the most crazy was they never even bothered to properly set up the TVs. They would always be running noisy content with maladjusted displays in the wrong aspect ratio, in a bright environment. I was actually embarrassed for them. In all my years of going there I never, ever saw anyone in a checkout line or leaving their store with a TV in their cart, as contrasted with Best Buy, where it was commonplace.
  • by Doc Ruby (173196) on Saturday December 08, 2007 @11:39AM (#21624141) Homepage Journal

    CompUSA was founded in 1984 as software seller Soft Warehouse, then branched out into computers. It took on the CompUSA name and went public in 1991. It bought Tandy's Computer City chain.

    I always wondered why Radio Shack didn't turn into a huge computer retailer, which was a perfect growth for the only store like that until PCs got huge, even selling the first laptop to sell well, the TRS-80 Model 100 [wikipedia.org]. Evidently it was CompUSA that contractually obligated the Shack to stay mainly a Battery Club. I be the Shack would have made something closer to Fry's, but instead with actual live nerds all too willing to explain the inventory.
    • by dohmp (13306) <dohmp@nOSPAM.yahoo.com> on Saturday December 08, 2007 @12:18PM (#21624413)
      apparently you weren't around for the short life of Incredible Universe [wikipedia.org]?
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Watts Martin (3616)

      I always wondered why Radio Shack didn't turn into a huge computer retailer, which was a perfect growth for the only store like that...

      They tried.

      It's been lost to the mists of time now, but Radio Shack was doing the equivalent of the Apple Store a quarter-century ago, with the "Radio Shack Computer Center" stores. They were not only huge in the pre-PC days, they were the leader in "PC clones" for a while.

      In the early '90s, though, they decided the Tandy Computer brand just wasn't making it anymore, and they decided to go all-out for retailing. They sold their computer divisions (which included Victor and GRiD) to AST, spun off other bran

  • by GregPK (991973) on Saturday December 08, 2007 @12:04PM (#21624311)
    The first thing that built them up as a company. Good salespeople who were paid good commissions. It was typical for people to make 40-50k a year in sales. Even those in software did well.

    Then, management(VP's, RM's, DM's) somehow went crazy. Sales were going down a little. So, they started to go crazy on people anytime something was amiss. Maybe perhaps pressure will increase sales, In reality more training and more unity would have.

      Then they bought out good Guy's. They took away the commissions, and fired 95 percent of the sales staff who all ended up in better jobs. This left the incompetants on the floor who really had no motivation to sell other than pressure. They never trained them properly either. Even worse, they all now made about 6-9 bucks an hour. For these people the job was just a fling. Nothing they cared about beyond the next check for booze. Even the ones who did care weren't promoted to a place that they could do anything.

    Then, they started to model what good guys had been doing in creating high end selling rooms with pretty fixtures(expensive). However, there were no high end sales people to sell them. So what happened? Duh....

    The pay consistently sucked. Good employees where like finding needles in a haystack. Even then, they never respected them if they were good. The management was always overworked. What did they expect? It's like the entire chain suddenly lost vision with the real world.
  • as someone (Score:5, Interesting)

    by waspleg (316038) on Saturday December 08, 2007 @12:05PM (#21624319) Journal
    who used to work there (10 years ago) i can tell you that this has been along time coming, yes they were somewhat overpriced on a lot of items but the worst thing was pissing people of with being out of the advertised specials as many people have pointed out

    what i've not seen mentioned is that this was done on purpose, at least at the store where i worked at (indianapolis) i worked at the parts counter selling harddrives/ram/whatever and they would put out massive ads for ram that was like half retail price but they would only stock maybe 5 or 6 sticks (which i often bought all of myself ;P) and it was bsaically just used as a device to get people in the store.

    on top of that they had a rampant theft problem, i worked there during high school and while i wasn't part of the group i knew about 10 people who were organized in stealing shit from the store and reselling it to their friends, that group expanded until they were eventually caught but even then they worked out a deal with some kind of minor fine and returning all the shit that they knew was missing (a fraction of the actual), that went on for at least a year that i'm aware of.

    compusa has alwasy had a better selection adn lower prices than the likes of circuit city though (at least around here), so i am kind of surprised to see them closing down, they moved out of free standing buildings and into a nearby strip mall here cause the rent was too high on the land they were on (someone once told me it was like $30,000 a month or more and they supposedly owned the building)

    i'm almost certain teh last nail in the coffin of the one here has to be Fry's even though its further away frys has an obscene amount of shit at far lower prices than anyone else around here (hardware specifically) and they finally made it out here, and when they did no one i knnow who builds their own machines goes anywhere else (myself included).

    waspleg
  • They're all the same (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Avatar8 (748465) on Monday December 10, 2007 @11:20AM (#21642109)
    As someone who lives in the Dallas area, I have had the opportunity to shop at all of the stores being discussed here.

    Computer City was good for the little things and gadgets: cables, CDs, accessories, books, etc. It was not a place from which anyone with any intelligence would purchase a computer. Good prices and decent customer service. When CompUSA bought them, it changed drastically. It still was not a place from which to buy a computer, but with CompUSA at the helm prices went up and service went down.

    Best Buy, the running joke of technology stores. Poor choice of brands to sell, jacked up prices, the most ignorant computer salespeople I've ever encountered, close to the worst customer service I've ever experienced and protection plans for generating more income everywhere you turn. Let's not even talk about the useless-before-they-were-exposed-for-collecting-porn-and-personal-information Geek Squad.

    Circuit City is less of a computer store than Office Depot. They carry a small variety of name brand computers which they buy straight from the manufacturer in bulk and then jack up the price. Besides being as ignorant as Best Buy salespeople, Circuit City people work on commission last I heard, so you get attacked as soon as you look at any high dollar item.

    CompUSA used to be reliable and would provide good customer service... if you worked at a business that could afford it. Home users were SoL. As someone else posted if you were unfortunate enough to relinquish your PC to this store, when you got it back not only had two successor computers been released but the amount you paid for the repair could have bought you a brand new computer. They definitely fell behind the curve of every technology they tried to sell. As with most brick and mortar stores, they're structure doesn't allow them to stay ahead of the availability or price curve.

    Microcenter makes CompUSA look affordable and friendly. Unless the item you want is on sale then you'll likely pay 25-50% more for it than you would if you bought it online. The only item I've found Microcenter to be useful for is books. They have an extensive selection of technology books and thankfully, they don't mark them up from the cover price.

    Fry's, the current darling of geeks everywhere, is showing some of the worst practices of any of these stores mentioned above. Fry's must keep their shrinkwrap machines running at full speed. This mainly centers on computer components. It is rare to see the always-long return line populated by people carrying TVs or small appliances; they almost always have a computer component in their hands. I know that's what put me in that line three times last year until I finally learned my lesson. I suspect that since Fry's has its own computer service department that this group has free will over the components that come into the store. They "borrow" from inventory to troubleshoot and then package the item back up and put it on the shelf. Ever notice how *every* motherboard box on the shelf is only sealed by strapping? How easy is that to re-package? Aside from creating/allowing product defects, Fry's also has poor customer service. Good luck finding someone to help you in any department except printers and TVs where they obviously get commission. Read the fine print on the back of the receipt carefully and ignore it, because if you show any signs of frustration from your experience with them, they'll likely refuse your exchange/return and blow you off. I also feel Fry's deliberately causes store rushes by offering irresistable sales on items and only carrying a limited number per store. (I recall going to Fry's at lunch to check on a sale item. When I asked about it, the employee laughed and said, "Oh, you have to get here before we open for those items.") I strongly suspect that Fry's has a great many underhanded dealings going on as well, and I predict within the next five years they will be exposed.

    What choice does that leave anyone who only has a choice of purchasing computers or components

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