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Businesses The Almighty Buck

The Last Will and Testament of Circuit City 600

Harry writes "Sunday is the final day of business for Circuit City, the once-dominant national consumer electronics chain done in by the rise of Best Buy, the crummy economy, and multiple failings of its own. I paid a final visit of respect to my local store, and found that they'd gotten rid of just about all the unopened electronics products, and were therefore selling off stuff like broken computers and the toilet-paper dispenser from the restroom. Whether or not you were ever a fan, it was a sad scene." NPR has a segment on the end of the Circuit City era as well.
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The Last Will and Testament of Circuit City

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  • sad? (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 08, 2009 @04:44PM (#27114371)

    "Whether or not you were ever a fan, it was a sad scene"


    • by Anonymous Coward

      "Whether or not you were ever a fan, it was a sad scene"

      Hey, that reminds me of something...

      I just heard some sad news on talk radio - electronics retailer Circuit City was found dead in its Stripmall, Illinois home this morning. There weren't any more details. I'm sure everyone in the Slashdot community will miss him - even if you didn't enjoy his work, there's no denying its contributions to mass market electronics. Truly an American icon.

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  • Really? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fuzzyfuzzyfungus ( 1223518 ) on Sunday March 08, 2009 @04:50PM (#27114401) Journal
    Circuit City cut their own throat in a series of dreadful missteps(culminating in their brilliant "Hey, let's sack all the halfway competent salespeople and attempt to hire them back at downright insulting newb wages" scheme), their demise is well deserved. Even in death, their prices are high and their service lousy. Why is their death sad?
    • Re:Really? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by damn_registrars ( 1103043 ) * <> on Sunday March 08, 2009 @04:59PM (#27114473) Homepage Journal

      Why is their death sad?

      For a lot of people the only substantial consumer electronics retailers are best buy and circuit city. After circuit city is officially gone, best buy will have numerous markets without even token competition for consumer electronics (unless you count walmart).

      Hence even losing a lousy retailer is still a loss for the consumer. One could potentially expect to see best buy starting to carry even less variety of product, as they won't have much to worry about competing against.

      • Re:Really? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Sponge Bath ( 413667 ) on Sunday March 08, 2009 @05:08PM (#27114531) buy will have numerous markets without even token competition

        Buy online. Between newegg and Amazon I get everything I need with no hassle and good prices. The only time I have bothered to go to a brick and mortar store like BB in recent memory was for a cable. After seeing how outrageous the price was I went home and ordered that online as well. I'll pay a 100% premium for a last minute local need, but not a 1000% premium.

        • Re:Really? (Score:5, Informative)

          by Saint Stephen ( 19450 ) on Sunday March 08, 2009 @05:56PM (#27114887) Homepage Journal

          I like Office Depot things I used to go to BestBuy or Circuit City for that I don't buy on NewEgg. Cables, SD cards, maybe a keyboard, a landline telephone. They have a nice selection.

        • Re:Really? (Score:4, Insightful)

          by drinkypoo ( 153816 ) <> on Sunday March 08, 2009 @06:20PM (#27115085) Homepage Journal

          Those of us who like to do business in cash so that Uncle Sam isn't privy to our every fucking purchase are just left out in the cold, then? Progress cuts both ways.

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            I guess so, unless you've got Best Buy or Fry's nearby. Or a local electronics store. Or pay for one of those gift cards from one of the credit companies and ship to a PO Box or something.
          • Re:Really? (Score:5, Insightful)

            by Atlantis-Rising ( 857278 ) on Sunday March 08, 2009 @07:27PM (#27115613) Homepage

            Those of us who are afraid of Uncle Sam spying on all our credit card transactions are called paranoid.

            • Re:Really? (Score:5, Interesting)

              by couchslug ( 175151 ) on Sunday March 08, 2009 @08:33PM (#27116215)

              "Those of us who are afraid of Uncle Sam spying on all our credit card transactions are called paranoid."

              My credit card purchases are not useful information for even the most toxic government. If anything they just add to the data burden such government would have to sift through.

              If you decide to do things you don't wish government to be aware of, that same innocent activity becomes your smokescreen. You can manipulate the perception people have of you by what you reveal to them. You could even fake a persona by your choice of purchase, especially media. The way to hide FROM the system is to hide IN the system.

            • Re:Really? (Score:5, Interesting)

              by EdIII ( 1114411 ) * on Sunday March 08, 2009 @10:18PM (#27116963)

              Those of us who are afraid of Uncle Sam spying on all our credit card transactions are called paranoid.

              Are you really that naive? Seriously?

              It's easy to marginalize somebodies opinion by calling them "paranoid". That does not address the fact that government after 911 IS looking for tools to fight terrorism. The credit card companies already analyze purchasing habits to fight fraud. Is it really that much of a stretch that the credit card companies are going to use this data to provide targeted advertising? Detailed profiles on individual customers?

              Of course they ARE. It's already happening. So why on Earth would the government not want in to start using that profile data to fight terrorism?

              They ARE. There is a large list of items such as pre-paid cell phones that the government flags to start profiling certain people to determine just what threat they may represent. Purchase a pre-paid cell phone and have a middle eastern last name? Welcome to the "no-fly" list in the airlines.

              Yeah, call us paranoid. There is no way governments have EVER been caught abusing their powers. Nope. No Sirrree.

              Wait..... Wasn't Hoover obsessed with Martin Luther King and wrote scathing letters about he hated the man and abused his powers to spy on him and THOUSANDS AND THOUSANDS of others? Those are little things we call FACTS now aren't they?

              Nahhhh. You're still right. We can trust everyone in the government to only violate our privacy when ABSOLUTELY necessary. I stand corrected and I see your point *now*. Gosh, I feel better.

            • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

              Just buy a preloaded credit card and pay for that in cash.
          • Yup (Score:5, Funny)

            by coryking ( 104614 ) * on Sunday March 08, 2009 @07:38PM (#27115705) Homepage Journal

            Pretty much you are left out in the cold.

            There is way better arguments for using cash than tin-foil-hat paranoia though:

            1) Banks fucking suck. They don't always post your CC transactions right away so they can lie about your true balance and fuck you over with overdrafts and NSF's.
            2) It is cheaper for the merchant. Cash = no merchant fees.
            3) You can tip waiters and know they have the option of pocketing the cash instead of reporting it.
            4) That is about all I can think of.
            4.1) Oh yeah, the NBA, CIA, and Odwalla is spying on you when you use credit/debit cards. Only Russians and Odwalla spy on your cash transactions.

            That said:

            1) Pay in cash, and you can't reverse the charge if the seller fucks you over. You can sue them, yeah, but that is more expensive and you might not win. CC's let you chargeback.
            2) Loose your wallet, loose your cash. Loose your wallet, deactivate your credit card.
            3) You can import your bank statements (after everything settles down and posts correctly) into your favorite financial app and account for your spending.
            4) The NBA and the NSA have joined forces to provide you with personalized mind control based on your credit card transactions. This is a good thing because all hail Uncle Sam.

            • Re:Yup (Score:5, Informative)

              by dyefade ( 735994 ) on Sunday March 08, 2009 @08:28PM (#27116153) Homepage Journal

              2) It is cheaper for the merchant. Cash = no merchant fees.

              Depends. Often large stores want to get rid of cash as over a certain point the handling fees become prohibitive. Ever noticed how they always try to offer cashback?

              • Re:Yup (Score:5, Informative)

                by philipgar ( 595691 ) <{ude.hgihel} {ta} {2gcp}> on Monday March 09, 2009 @12:42AM (#27117895) Homepage
                Mod this poster up. While companies pay credit card handling fees, handling cash is often more expensive. While banks generally don't charge them for depositing, etc, you have to have places to put the cash, deliver it to a bank, etc. All this costs money. More importantly is the concern over employee theft. If most everyone pays in credit there isn't much cash in the drawer to hide the fact that someone stole a $20. Most stores do checks at the end of the night, but don't care too much if its off by a few dollars as employees make mistakes. The more money in cash they collect the more mistakes are allowed. Credit means that the exact amount is charged, and the employee has no easy way to take the money.

                Plus of course there's the fact that credit cards tend to move lines faster. If this means a store can have only 4 lines open instead of 5, they're saving money right there.

            • Re:Yup (Score:5, Funny)

              by AdamHaun ( 43173 ) on Sunday March 08, 2009 @09:24PM (#27116587) Journal

              Oh yeah, the NBA, CIA, and Odwalla is spying on you when you use credit/debit cards.

              If it weren't for this comment, I never would have known that the National Basketball Association and a juice company turned Coca-Cola subsidiary were spying on my credit card transactions. Thanks, Coryking.

            • Re:Yup (Score:4, Informative)

              by Bored Grammar Nazi ( 1482359 ) on Sunday March 08, 2009 @09:48PM (#27116751)

              2) Loose your wallet, loose your cash. Loose your wallet, deactivate your credit card.

              loose (verb)
              1 loosen, relax, loose
              become loose or looser or less tight; "The noose loosened"; "the rope relaxed"

              lose (verb)
              4 misplace, mislay, lose
              place (something) where one cannot find it again; "I misplaced my eyeglasses"

              • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

                by fractoid ( 1076465 )
                When my wallet contains only cash, all I can spend if I loose my wallet is the cash in it. If I have a card in it and there's an ATM nearby I can unleash up to my daily withdrawal limit, which is a lot worse the next day when I look at my bank account...
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by rpillala ( 583965 )

          It also seems that Amazon understands of customer service. I ordered an external hard drive and on the day that fedex reported it delivered, there was no package at my house. I called Amazon at 6:15 AM or so the next day on the off chance that someone would be able to help me. Actually I used the website and had them call me. Anyway they overnighted me a replacement drive, no questions asked. It would have been completely reasonable for the lady to ask me to wait one more day and see if it arrives and

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            True... I've had fantastic, similar experiences with Amazon overnighting replacement faulty goods, and non-delivered goods (I work from home, and basically do all my online ordering for work from Amazon).

            I've also had downright abysmal experiences:

            My wife decided she'd buy me an Epson Stylus Photo R1800 for Christmas (great printer btw). What a travesty.

            She signed up for an Amazon card. Approved with an initial limit of $400, or so. Fine. Pay the balance on a second card. Oh no, you can't do that. You'l

        • Re:Really? (Score:5, Insightful)

          by EvanED ( 569694 ) <[moc.liamg] [ta] [denave]> on Sunday March 08, 2009 @07:20PM (#27115537)

          Online isn't a complete substitute. I can't walk into Amazon's camera department and give a bunch of the cameras a try to test their shutter release delay. I did do that in Circuit City and Best Buy a couple years ago. (Wound up buying a camera from CC; it was on sale, and with the free SD card that came with it, wasn't much worse than online, and I had reason to want it then.)

          Of course, you can still go into Best Buy to give it a shot, then buy online, but if the hypothesis of the parent is correct and people would lose selection, that's not great. (You can also look at stuff like, since they actually have these numbers for some cameras, but it's hard to change "0.1sec" to "acceptable/unacceptable".)

        • Re:Really? (Score:4, Funny)

          by Guysmiley777 ( 880063 ) on Monday March 09, 2009 @09:36AM (#27120385)
          But, but, but the Best Buy MONSTER CABLE©®â has nitrogen-filled, oxygen-free copper hand-wound by Franciscan monks. It's insulation is specially designed and has a racing stripe and a spoiler to make the signal go faster. How could you NOT want to pay a 1000% premium??
      • Where are you that you don't have the internet?

        And how are you posting to Slashdot?

      • by Toonol ( 1057698 )
        So let's count Walmart, Cost-Co, and the numerous other places that retail consumer electronics. After all, their share of the electronics market is obviously going to go up, and nobody's ever claimed Walmart wasn't competitive.
      • by JonBuck ( 112195 )

        We have Fry's Electronics here also. But the Best Buy is three miles away, the Fry's is 16 miles.

        I find I buy more and more electronics on Amazon anyway. With Prime, I can get it in a day for four bucks. Ordered a 26" Samsung HDTV that way.

        I'm sad to see Circuit City go.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by cyn1c77 ( 928549 )

        Why is their death sad?

        For a lot of people the only substantial consumer electronics retailers are best buy and circuit city. After circuit city is officially gone, best buy will have numerous markets without even token competition for consumer electronics (unless you count walmart). Hence even losing a lousy retailer is still a loss for the consumer. One could potentially expect to see best buy starting to carry even less variety of product, as they won't have much to worry about competing against.

        I guess I view it differently than you. The loss of a lousy retailer provides an opening for a better store to compete in the electronics market. It's capitalism at work... out with the old and weak and in with the new.

        CC went out of business because they were not able to maintain their relevancy. Now there are free customers and space in town for someone to try out some new business concepts in the electronics market.

        Personally, these days it's hard for me not to just order what I want online. And I d

      • For a lot of people the only substantial consumer electronics retailers are best buy and circuit city.

        This is only the case for the uninformed. Everybody has access to any consumer electronics they want off of the internet. I haven't bought any consumer electronic device from Best Buy or Circuit City in years, and Best Buy's product list is now so generic that you could buy anything they have at Target or WalMart instead. I have a feeling that Best Buy will be in the same boat as Circuit City in a few years

      • I think Office Depot/Max have started to expand into the electronics area. They don't really carry TVs, but they do have computers, printers, cables and other things. Between that and Walmart (a great deal of people probably turn to them first these days), which does have some intriguing selections of high end electronics, I wouldn't say competition is dead, it just doesn't look quite the same.
      • Re:Really? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by jlarocco ( 851450 ) on Sunday March 08, 2009 @05:37PM (#27114761) Homepage

        Circuit City only went out of business because most consumers already realized Best Buy, Walmart and the Internet offered better deals. In other words, they weren't even competing when they were in business. If they were offering a decent alternative they'd have been able to get enough customers to stay in business. If anything this just forces Circuit City's few remaining customers to wake up and realize what everybody else already knew: better deals can be had else where.

        And I wouldn't worry about Best Buy becoming a monopoly. There's still Walmart, Target, Fry's and Ultimate Electronics. And then there's the Internet with hundreds of websites competing against Best Buy and each other.

    • Ya pretty much (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Sycraft-fu ( 314770 ) on Sunday March 08, 2009 @05:02PM (#27114491)

      I quickly had written it off my list of places to go when it was in business and hadn't been there in years. When they were shutting down, I figured I'd go and check to see what kind of deals were available. Answer? None that I could find. Most things were no better than retail, I could go to Best Buy and get the same price. Oh sure they were "marked down"... but they'd been marked up first. There were a few things I saw that were lower than you might see in most brick and mortar stores, but not by much and not any lower than you'd find online.

      I never understood why they thought that their high prices were sustainable. I mean I understand that retail stores charge more than online. No problem, you are paying for the convenience. However they charged more than other retail stores. Well guess what? I can drive to Best Buy just as easy.

      Also you can justify higher prices with better service/experience. Some high end AV shops are like that. The prices are high, even when you consider the gear they sell (which is already very high priced) but the service is top notch. You can spend hours milling around, trying out things. They have knowledgeable people who will answer your questions and such. Thus you are willing to pay more.

      Well CC didn't have that, at least not the ones I'd tried. Their sales people didn't know shit and were rather pushy.

      Ok so if you aren't going for the service, and aren't going for the price, why go? Well the answer to that question for me and apparently many others was "you don't." Thus they are out of business.

      I feel bad for their employees as this is not a good time to be looking for a job at all, and probably doubly bad looking for a retail job, but I do not feel bad for Circuit City. They were a crap business, and that's the whole idea in a capitalist market: You run a crap business, you fail and are replaced by someone better. Best Buy is by no means perfect, but they are better than CC.

      • Re:Ya pretty much (Score:5, Interesting)

        by IICV ( 652597 ) on Sunday March 08, 2009 @06:43PM (#27115241)

        The Circuit City near my house had those great big "Going out of business, massive discounts" signs up, so I decided to go inside and take a look.

        There was nothing I couldn't find for cheaper online, even including the price of S&H.

        I was quite surprised, though, to find some plain, 256 MB sticks of PC133 SDRAM (you know, the stuff that came before DDR). It was some plain Circuit City branded stuff. I was mildly pleased to see that that Circuit City catered to people with old computers.

        Then I saw the price tag. They were trying to sell it for $109.

        One hundred and nine dollars. For technology that's fifteen years old, and has been mostly obsolete for the last five.

        What the fuck.

        I was so appalled by this that I actually asked one of their sales associates why they were charging such an unreasonable price for obsolete hardware. He responded in true Slashdot fashion, with a car analogy: "It's like the way people pay lots of money for an old car - it's old, but good!".

        So yeah. They're going out of business because, apparently, nobody there knows anything about anything.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by mrchaotica ( 681592 ) *

          One hundred and nine dollars. For technology that's fifteen years old, and has been mostly obsolete for the last five.

          That's normal: technology gets cheaper until it hits a minimum at the "slightly obsolete" stage, then the price goes back up because it stops being manufactured and gets harder and harder to find. Go check pricewatch or something, you'll see.

          'Course, you're still stupid if you pay it, since you could just go grab a less-obsolete whole computer from a thrift store for the same price (or a use

    • Circuit City cut their own throat in a series of dreadful missteps(culminating in their brilliant "Hey, let's sack all the halfway competent salespeople and attempt to hire them back at downright insulting newb wages" scheme), their demise is well deserved.

      What happened to their boneheaded execs that cut their own throat? Took their golden parachutes and went screwing other companies?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      I'll second you on "Prices high."

      By the time I checked in, the store was sparse as hell. However, everything - even with the discounts - was about the same price as I could get from Best Buy, down the street. I actually looked up the price of the big stack of HDTVs they were selling - you're trying to sell me a $1400 TV for $1500, claiming that you're doing me a favor by marking it down from $2200?

      Good Riddance.

    • Re:Really? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by phantomfive ( 622387 ) on Sunday March 08, 2009 @06:10PM (#27115013) Journal
      Because at one time they were an AWESOME company. They were the first big chain to accept returns for any reason, no questions asked. At the time, it was a big idea, there were newspaper articles trying to figure out how they could afford to do that. Their motto was "Come to circuit city. Where service is state of the art."

      Then over time, other companies started accepting returns for any reason as well. The gimmick of "matching your competitor's price" stopped bringing in as much traffic. People in the US aren't actually willing to pay for good service, so the service quality started to decline, and they failed to keep up with their competitors.

      But back in the day, they were really innovative (well, as innovative as one can be as a chain retailer).
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        One word: DIVX. When they came out supporting that abomination, it was the beginning of the end.
  • by Sesticulus ( 544932 ) on Sunday March 08, 2009 @04:54PM (#27114425)

    I remember in the early nineties when the Circuit City car audio installation department employed all those otherwise out of work recent EE grads. Good times.

    Where do EE majors work now? The wife is looking for work.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Renraku ( 518261 )

      When I took my previous car to Circuit City to have some stuff installed (four speakers and a head unit, nothing fancy) they screwed it up, double-charged my debit card, AND charged me for the full rate instead of the special rate.

      They could have resolved the problem in an hour. By having someone skilled to go in and fix the wiring/install errors, and by either giving me cash or some kind of proof that the money would be put back into my account. Did they do it? Nope.

      The same guy worked on my car again,

      • by IKnwThePiecesFt ( 693955 ) on Sunday March 08, 2009 @06:00PM (#27114923) Homepage

        Okay, so I know I'm sticking my neck out here by admitting this on /., but I work at Best Buy. I can also say that no one in a Best Buy store below a supervisor position has any fear of losing their job any time soon unless their store is SEVERELY under performing. Maybe it's not the whole company, but I'll tell you at my store if a supervisor wants to fire someone and goes to a manager (since a sup can't fire an employee) the first thing the manager will ask is what the sup has enacted to correct the behavioral issue with the employee. We're not graded on magazine subscriptions and haven't been for a year+ and even then it was only cashiers that ever were (not salespeople) and I doubt anyone actually got fired for it. As far as selling the service plans, we have periodic corporate memos going to all employees that care to read them saying that the service plan is not for everyone and that our job is to let the customer know they have the option, not that they have to have it. Sure management would like you to try to sell it and show the value in the plan, but no one CAN get fired for not selling a service plan, let alone actually does.

        Say what you will about the customer experience but don't claim the employee experience is something it's not.

        • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus ( 1223518 ) on Sunday March 08, 2009 @06:53PM (#27115313) Journal
          That's terrible. You're telling me that BB employees are voluntarily obnoxious?
        • by zerocool^ ( 112121 ) on Monday March 09, 2009 @01:35AM (#27118107) Homepage Journal

          You haven't worked at Best Buy long enough to know better.

          I worked at a Best Buy back in the late 90's and early 2000's, eventually becoming the Senior product specialist in the Computer department. The service plan USED to be pushed VERY hard. We were graded on the percentage of overall revenue that was service plans. I remember being told by MANAGERS, not supervisors, that if some customer didn't want to buy the $220 service plan with their $2000 laptop, that I should discourage them from buying it, or try to get them into a cheaper one. We learned all the tricks, what to point out that looked fragile or otherwise likely to break due to "normal wear and tear", etc.

          It was always a big deal that we weren't supposed to "inboard", which meant reducing the price of something in order to get the customer to buy the service plan. But the unwritten rule was to not get caught doing it, since reducing the price to include the service plan both got the sale and increased the percentage of the sale that was the service plan.

          This may sound really weird to you now, but back in the day, we'd set people up with the computer, and staple the service plan 8.5x11 trifold brochure to the - what's it called, the 3 part carbon copy paper they use to change prices. Anyway, the brochure used to have a blank square on the bottom of the back page, where you wrote in your employee number. Even though there was no commission, they kept track of individual performance, and would use that in your performance reviews, etc.

          It's gotten better. When they refocused (after i left) on making the sale and getting the revenue, it became a more pleasant place to shop.


  • by MaineCoon ( 12585 ) on Sunday March 08, 2009 @04:54PM (#27114431) Homepage

    Years ago, when I first moved to California, I had never seen a Circuit City, only Best Buys (and was suitably appalled by BB and business practices, they tried a bait and switch on me once).

    I found the Circuit Citys I saw to be clean, maintained, decent prices, friendly employees. But then, a few years ago, I noticed a reversal taking place - the CCs near me had become, for lack of a better word, 'ghetto' - unfriendly employees, broken equipment on display, and lack of product - while the Best Buys had cleaned up and trained their employees. I switched back to BB, occasionally walking into CCs, and finding them just getting worse and worse.

    • by 0100010001010011 ( 652467 ) on Sunday March 08, 2009 @05:21PM (#27114639)

      That's because they fired all their employees and offered to rehire them at a lesser wage []. Some Exec somewhere decided that 'knowledgeable' and 'trained' employees were stupid for the kind of job CC did so lets replace them with some HS kid off the street that doesn't know a thing.

      The ONLY reason I set foot in a brick and mortar store is to feel in my hand what I'll be buying online. I did it with my Rebel XT before I pulled the trigger on an awesome online deal.

      Best Buy and Circuit City have both appalled me as of late with the prices of their cables. $30 for a 6' USB cable? Sometimes if I know I'm going I'll take a MonoPrice print out and stick it up by the cables.

      I have to wear headphones when I go in too because of the insane amounts of stupid spewed by the staff. On more than one occasion I've corrected something they were telling some poor soul.

    • by kuzb ( 724081 ) on Sunday March 08, 2009 @05:43PM (#27114807)

      I found the exact same thing happened to Radio Shack up here in Canada. It used to be the go-to place for all things electronic. As a kid I remember getting all my project kits and much of my early computer equipment there. The staff were slowly replaced. They went from knowledgeable people who knew what a diode was for to people who had problems operating a screwdriver.

      Then as the years went on it got more and more ghetto. The electronics were cheap and the store was littered with useless novelty gadgets nobody wanted. The staff got more and more aggressive with pushing their extended warranties. I worked there for a short time as a kid and the EWPs (Extended Warranty Plans) are pushed so hard it is amazing. Customers are hounded for all their personal details and the staff are trained to tell them it is for warranty information - whether an EWP was involved or not. The wage was hourly but you got more if you sold more of their useless trash and EWPs as it went from an hourly wage to commission if you sold enough.

      When Radio Shack got bought out and became 'The Source' it got even worse. My once beloved Radio Shack had become the dictionary definition of everything I hate in a store.

      One might ask what all this has to do with Circuit City though. In 2004 Radio Shack was bought out by Circuit City from InterTAN. It then became 'The Source by Circuit City'.

      • If you hate it now, you're gonna get to hate it even more in the future ... Bell wants to buy 'The Source by Circuit City' [] so they can pimp their crappy sympatico and bell mobility brands, screwing their franchisees in the process.

        Sounds like a marriage made in heaven. After all, there's no love lost for BCE either.

  • Dibs! (Score:4, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 08, 2009 @04:55PM (#27114433)

    I call dibs on the lady that worked in printers.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 08, 2009 @04:58PM (#27114463)

    here in washington they couldnt even go out of business right!! The prices at 40% off were either the same as best buy or more!!

    • If they can get people to *think* they're getting 40% off in the frenzy, that's all that matters. Doesn't really matter if people realise that it wasn't that great a deal later on and say "I'm never shopping there again!"

      IIRC there was some legal loophole allowing them to claim "40% off" compared to the old prices; something to do with the "40% off" being relative to the prices set by the administrators when they started running the company.

      Personally, I found Zavvi []'s (ex. Virgin Megastores UK) closing
    • by PrescriptionWarning ( 932687 ) on Sunday March 08, 2009 @06:57PM (#27115359)
      My sentiments exactly, I went to my local CC during the closeout looking for a wireless-N router I know to be right around $100 at Best Buy, even with 40% off the one at CC was still $120. The only real deals would be with some of the new video games that had been released in the last few months, which were 40% off from $50 or $60. However I ended up buying an older game which was about $24 after the 40%. I went to the nearby Best Buy afterward and saw it for $19.99.
  • Overheard (Score:5, Funny)

    by Waffle Iron ( 339739 ) on Sunday March 08, 2009 @04:58PM (#27114469)

    and were therefore selling off stuff like broken computers and the toilet-paper dispenser from the restroom

    At the checkout:

    "You know, I've got a couple of these toilet paper dispensers, and they always seem to jam at the most inopportune times. Could I interest you in purchasing our exclusive 5-year extended warranty protection plan for only $179 more? It would really give you more peace of mind in the bathroom."

  • What took so long? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by grapeape ( 137008 ) < minus author> on Sunday March 08, 2009 @05:04PM (#27114507) Homepage

    Circuit City was dead to me when they lauched their DIVX plan back in the late 90's between that and their jacked up warranty policy (back then if you returned an item that you had purchased an extended warranty for, they pocketed the warranty fees) I had vowed never to step foot in one again. I managed to steer free from CC until a few months ago when I went by the local one to pick over the corpse during its going out of business sale.

  • by mrroot ( 543673 ) on Sunday March 08, 2009 @05:06PM (#27114519)
    I really think their biggest problem is the whole time they thought they were competing with Best Buy, but they were really competing with Target, Walmart, and online retailers like Newegg,, and TigerDirect. Best Buy should try to learn from their demise.
  • by gelfling ( 6534 ) on Sunday March 08, 2009 @05:07PM (#27114525) Homepage Journal

    Even under liquidation they were selling their stuff for maybe 10% off. I can't tell you how many I watched walking out and telling each other "This is why they're going out of business..."

    • by Megatog615 ( 1019306 ) on Sunday March 08, 2009 @05:18PM (#27114609)

      Actually that sort of thing is handled by the liquidation company and in no way is set by the former Circuit City management.

      Basically, as in all liquidation sales, they put everything up to MSRP, then take 10%(or whatever the starting discount is) off. Chances are you'd have gotten a better deal the week before liquidation began.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 08, 2009 @05:31PM (#27114711)

      I agree. I went in there a couple of weeks ago to see if there was anything worth buying. Even with all the discounts I couldn't find a thing. I was actually in the market for a keyboard - for which I would normally pay $0-$5 - and couldn't find anything under $50. They were selling 500G hard drives for more than it cost me to get a 1T drive months ago.

      In general, retail prices suck - but retail stores do offer you the opportunity to try products in person. What we need is some hybrid model, say for example an Amazon store.

      In such a store they would have many products on display or people to answer your questions about them, and for books they could have ebook readers and comfy sofas to let you browse most of their selection (most of it is print-on-demand anyway so they could do this), but there would be no need for the warehouse at the back for stock. You try things out there and order either there or at home, and a few days later your item is delivered.

      There is of course no guarantee that people would actually buy the product from Amazon rather than anywhere else, but by providing such a service the company would gain goodwill, and they already manage that a similar risk when it comes to their review system. If a company makes it really convenient for you to figure out what you need, and they provide you the option to buy at a reasonable price, most people will buy. Companies like Amazon already provide that to some extent, but you can't try the product unless you find a retail store that carries it. And those are dropping like flies.

      Places like circuit city make it easy for you to believe that what they want to sell you is the thing you want, and they give you the option to buy at an unreasonable price. That's a lose lose scenario.

  • by OzPeter ( 195038 ) on Sunday March 08, 2009 @05:08PM (#27114529)
    This is a letter [] in the Richmond Times Dispatch today giving a Circuit City workers perspective on the closure and the almost lynch mob attitude of people after bargains once the closure was announced. (Richmond is/was the headquarters of the company). The letter starts off as

    "I am writing this message in representation of the employees of Circuit City here in Richmond who are having to deal with inexcusable conditions being brought on by customers with retribution. Walk into any Circuit City store on any given day and you will find a handful of employees and a sea of customers. The fact that people have flocked to our stores en masse on a daily basis, creating Black-Friday style crowds, has been insulting to our employees and our business alike.

    Where was this support when we needed it? Liquidation, for us, has brought great havoc on a series of levels. I've been working for the company for almost two years, and I have never seen anything worse than I have seen over the past month. Customers have gotten enraged over the fact that our discounts aren't good enough for them."

    While I only shopped there if I wanted something *now*, I did go in once the closures were announced and you could see people loading up on stuff just because it was some % off. I never saw anything that I couldn't get a similar deal online at the time (and also came with warranty) so I couldn't understand the why people descended on the store en masse. The only explanation I can think of is a feeding frenzy brought on by greed. So from that perspective I can understand where the letters author was coming from

    • What do they expect? (Score:5, Informative)

      by voss ( 52565 ) on Sunday March 08, 2009 @05:57PM (#27114905)

      1) customers do not owe businesses "support", If a business treats their customers with courtesy, good service, and respect for their intelligence they will earn customer loyalty even in bad times.

      2) Customers tend to get outraged when they hear about 40% off sales and then go in and see that the 40% off item was marked higher than it had been the week before the sale started. Its not a matter of "didnt get the discount they wanted" its a matter of being suckered into a store and having their time wasted.

      3) Their customers didnt kill their store, their bosses did. They shouldnt blame their customers for simply looking for an honest bargain.

    • by mattwarden ( 699984 ) on Sunday March 08, 2009 @08:38PM (#27116243)

      What a stupid letter. The author complains about crowds in their store. How do you think they got there? Perhaps it had something to do with their company advertising amazing liquidation deals.

      And then the customers take time out of their day to travel to CC to get these amazing liquidation deals, and there are none.

      So they get pissed, asking where the great deals are.

      Please indicate the point where you consider this to be a departure from completely rational behavior.

      Perhaps blaming the customer instead of mismanagement is part of the reason you're going out of business.

  • by Knara ( 9377 )
    I was never really a huge fan of Circuit City I still miss Computer City, though. Was pretty good in my area.
  • A sad day (Score:5, Insightful)

    by girlintraining ( 1395911 ) on Sunday March 08, 2009 @05:11PM (#27114553)

    It was a sad day when Enron closed its doors after making horrible management decisions that cost their employees, customers, and the general public billions. But curiously enough, nobody ever blames management. "The market is bad." Yes, the big bad evil market -- tell me, even in a recession or depression, does the market for electronics suddenly disappear? No. It might shrink, but a business that's properly built will shrink with it, not simply die off. A corporate mass-extinction like this has only one cause: Bad management. Period.

  • by enderwig ( 261458 ) on Sunday March 08, 2009 @05:14PM (#27114581)

    I never put much stock into the psychological games retailers play to get you to buy products until I went into a Circuit City. Whoever they got to design their stores obviously didn't understand what makes people feel at ease and happy. Every time I stepped into a CC, I couldn't wait to get the hell out. Something about the layout, the ceiling, and/or the lighting just made me feel uncomfortable. Then on course, you had the staff. When you wanted help, they were no where around. When you wanted to be left alone, they came in droves.

    I admit their online->in store pickup functioned much smoother than Best Buy's.

    • It did kind of creep me out. My local Circuit City only opened about 9 months ago. The first day I stopped in, I decided to browse, to see what they offered and what the prices were, etc. Hey, new store, maybe they have something Best Buy didn't.

      In every goddamn department, I was bothered by someone asking me if they could help me, and if I'm finding everything alright. I expected it the first time - but after about six times with six different staff members, I actually complained to the manager about i

  • CC closing is sad (Score:3, Interesting)

    by keytohwy ( 975131 ) on Sunday March 08, 2009 @05:21PM (#27114633)
    It is sad for so many employees there. It is certainly easy for us to sit here and comment on how crap their knowledge was, blah, blah, blah. But in reality, most of the people that worked there were not bad people. They were in a bad business, though. Their company did not support them through adequate training, etc. Couple this with declining margins, and the bottom falling out of several of their key products (PCs, TVs, etc) and they didn't really stand a chance. So all of the points here are valid, but I really feel for some of those folks that showed up, and worked to the best of their abilities. This is a shitty time to be looking for a new job.
    • It's true, but in effect we're seeing the same thing that Wal Mart did to the Main Street independents. The difference here is that online is taking larger retailers. Wal Mart did it on price, and online can beat just about any B&M store. It's a shift that occurs in an ever-changing market, and Circuit City hastened their demise by piss-poor management decisions. Best Buy is next. B&M can't compete with online in terms of price. So the only thing left is service, and Best Buy isn't exactly high
  • by david.emery ( 127135 ) on Sunday March 08, 2009 @05:33PM (#27114721)

    There's the time I was pricing DVD drives, and got thrown out of the store because I dared to -write down- prices.

    And the time we bought a 'open box return' DLT TV, and the bulb blew out a couple weeks later. The installer pointed out there was about 150 hours on the bulb, a lot more than you'd expect for an 'open box', but consistent with this as a demo/floor model.

    My neighbor had a disastrous experience with their installation service, he ended up having to redo it all.

    And of course, that's before their dumb-assed management failures. Unfortunately, I'm sure the -corporate officers- won't suffer (except in the loss of future rip-off income...)

    So Good Riddance, Circuit City! You sucked!

  • by microcars ( 708223 ) on Sunday March 08, 2009 @05:57PM (#27114899) Homepage
    from : []

    The company was unable to reach a deal with a new buyer or secure debt refinancing.

    Mexican billionaire Ricardo Salinas Pliego, had been named as a potential buyer of the troubled retailer, but an agreement was not reached.

    "We were just looking to buy one company," said Pliego in a statement, "We were sure it would just be an easy in-and-out. Five minutes, tops."

    However, during takeover negotiations, Pliego said he stood around Circuit Cityâ(TM)s executive offices waiting for someone to show him "a balance sheet, an income statement, a cash flow statement, anything."

    After fifteen minutes of being ignored by Circuit City executives, Pliego decided to try to find the documents himself. Frustrated, Pliego ultimately tapped acting Chief Executive James A. Marcum on the shoulder and told him he couldnâ(TM)t find the financial statements he was looking for.

    Marcum said he would go in the back to check if they had any more. He reportedly did not return.

    "I think he went on break," said Pliego as he stormed out of the building, sarcastically muttering to himself, "Sorry to bother you."

    Hopes of making an 11th hour deal with the Golden Gate private equity firm broke down late last night after the organization became annoyed by a hard-sell on an extended warranty plan.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 08, 2009 @07:00PM (#27115377)

    Having an extensive memory like I do and also having lived in Richmond many years ago and then most recently; I feel I have a pretty damn good over view of the whole fiasco. The problem was with management. The problem was with management every single step of the way.

    When I was a teenager, Circuit City was THE place to buy anything electronic. Why? The salespeople worked on commission so it was in their best interests to know what they were talking about. You could stand and talk with them for however long it took and the lions' share of them knew what they were talking about in every aspect of what you were considering buying. The service was so good that people used to refer other people to the salesman that had helped them by name.

    I can remember CC winning design awards for stereo eq that came out on occassion as well as many other things. At the same time, their return policy was bar none, the best you could get anywhere. So what happened?

    First, management decided they wanted a larger chunk of their employees pay. To that end, they cut all the salespeople and offered them entry level wages on a per hour basis. Almost immediately, the good sales people left. They moved on to greener pastures. Instead of walking in and talking to someone who knew what they were talking about, you got a teenager who was more concerned with who he or she was going out with on Friday night. Not that there is anything wrong with teenagers, I used to be one too. But, a teenager making minimum wage is never going to be able to compete with someone who lives and breathes whatever the product is that they are selling.

    Next came the elimination of the large appliances. Who is honestly going to buy a washer and dryer from a 16 year old kid? You see, when people realized it was kids in there, the high dollar purchases ended. It ceased being THE store and became a so many others. As many of the commissioned sales people left, many of the management also left. What they were left with was a company with salespeople who did not understand what they were selling along with a management team whose understanding of technology was "It's the next big thing!"

    In a mad dash to recoup the losses generated by idiot management, they turned to many deals that were ill advised at best. The most glaring of these was the DIVX support. They tied almost all of their fortune to Toshiba and in turn provided the buffer zone financially if the whole thing fell apart. As we all know...Americans like to own their media (we can argue about that later).

    When DIVX collapsed as everyone who knew anything about formats knew it was going to, CC took the brunt of it. Then as we all know, the dot com boom blew out and that was it. One of my favorite incidences that occurred was about 10 years or so ago, you found out you had been laid off on Monday mornings by a sign on your desk. If your stuff was in a box and there was Kleenex next to it on your desk and a security guard in your department wandering around, you were laid off. You can only do that so many times to employees in your headquarter town before you hit a point where noll amount of advertising is going to save your company from bad press.

    But, time had moved on and Best Buy had shown up on the sidleines and was edging their way in. BB opened stores that were clean and bright and made their fortune off of friendly helpful people who knew what they were doing. As CC began to circle the drain, more stores closed, more layoffs took place, items got cheaper and their price went up. Where at one time in CC you could walk in and buy just about anything for a great price and have your neighbors over and have them oohh and ahh for the next three days; now, it was a shady looking place where you kind of expected someone to offer you 'grey market' items in a dark corner.

    They never dropped their prices after they stopped paying their commissioned salespeople. In many ways, CC was THE MOST EXPENSIVE place to buy something. Yes, you

  • by unfortunateson ( 527551 ) on Sunday March 08, 2009 @07:16PM (#27115515) Journal
    Circuit City won't be mourned, except that it's nice to have an alternative everyonce in a while when you need to have something, and it's out of stock at Best Buy. Yes, I get the majority of my media and tech stuff online, but CC didn't start that way, they started as an appliance vendor. So did Best Buy, and there's a nice bright corner of BestBuy that nobody notices that has fridges, stoves, microwaves and that kind of crap you only buy once every ten years. So what did CC do wrong? 1) Crappy selection: Once upon a time, I liked CC's CD selection better than Best Buy: it was large, well organized, and deep. More recently, they've got squat for selection, the same lousy prices as every other retailer, and when they've got big sales, everything's just basically in a pile, no alphabetizing to speak of beyond the first initial, if you're lucky. 2) Crappy service: Buying a camera or a laptop (I helped an idiot relative buy one of each, even though I told her the prices could be beaten online), requires the attention of a sales droid, and printing out about eight yards of paper, none of which are a receipt. 3)Computers, HD-TV, Blu-Ray are a commodity: if you can get them in WalMart, they're not a specialty item. Don't sell them like they are. but mainly 4) Failed to adapt: Their stores continued, even after recent revamps, to look dark and scary, the way TV stores always used to look in the 70's. Who wants to go in there? The color red may have been a failure too: it means warning, danger, stay away (then again, BestBuy's black on yellow is the classic warning color combo, our eyes see that contrast better than anything else). I seldom went into a Circuit City. The ones nearest to me were closed long ago (one's an Off Track Betting parlor, another became a Bed Bath and Beyond). They won't be missed.
  • by TW Burger ( 646637 ) on Sunday March 08, 2009 @07:51PM (#27115837)
    Circuit City is text book example of what attempting to become very rich very quickly almost always results in. It is a perfect analog of the national and world economy. The blue print for demise Circuit City followed:
    Action: Remove staff with knowledge and ability and start paying less to less capable people.
    Reason: Keep immediate profits high.
    Outcome: Reduced sales due to less customer service.

    Action: Leave prices high.
    Reason: Keep immediate profits high.
    Outcome: Failing to see that the consumer electronics market is shifting to a Walmart model (aggressive pricing, low profit, high volume) sales go down.

    Action: Eliminate deep discounts on open box, out of production, or discontinued merchandise.
    Reason: Keep immediate profits high.
    Outcome: Reduced repeat and casual traffic resulting in reduced sales.

    This is what happens when any business runs itself based on the principle of "Keep immediate profits high" rather than "Keep customers coming back".
    Gordon Gecko was wrong - greed is bad.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by TW Burger ( 646637 )
      Keep your customers happy and your employees happy and your business will be happy and can last forever. If you are not happy, you are the problem.
  • by Teppy ( 105859 ) * on Sunday March 08, 2009 @08:10PM (#27115991) Homepage

    Yeah, I went in there yesterday for the sale. Got a pretty sweet deal on a Divx player. Anyone know how long the "waiting for server" screen takes?

  • RIP (Score:5, Interesting)

    by cashman73 ( 855518 ) on Sunday March 08, 2009 @09:35PM (#27116657) Journal
    Having worked for Circuit City back in the 1990s, when the company was the #1 retailer of consumer electronics and had a healthy balance sheet and was looking quite good, I have to say it's somewhat depressing to see them go. Even after I left, I always tried to give them some business (it sure beat Worst Buy and Wally World for electronics). In a bit of irony, however, I still remember those morning meetings back in the 90s when management would brag to us about the company's financial durability, and "deep pockets", and every now and then they'd read off what they referred to as their, "obituary of electronics stores" that have previously went under. I never thought they'd eventually add their own name to that list.

    I think there are several poor business decisions that the company made in the past 10 years or so that can explain why they failed. Starting with their venture into the DIVX fiasco [] (hint: if your "partner" in a business venture is a law firm, it's probably one to avoid). They probably could have recovered after they finally killed DIVX, if it wasn't for also deciding to get out of the major appliances business. Talk about pure stupidity there -- you see, most major appliances customers are older people, homeowners, with money, and while they're buying that refrigerator or dishwasher today, in six months, they'll probably be looking for a new wide screen television or laptop. Getting rid of appliances just eliminated a huge segment of the market, and lots of sales!

    Mistake #3 was just simply not figuring out your basic store structure. After I left the company, every time I walked into the store, I swear to God, they had a new format and arrangement! I could never find anything! If you can't figure out something as simple as this, you're doomed. Going along with this, Firedog was simply at least three years too late in responding to the Geek Squad -- Best Buy won that one easily.

    The final nail in the coffin (and I'm sure this has already been stated in this thread somewhere, but I'll put it here just for my own completeness) is firing all of their experienced salespeople and replacing them with non-commissioned, inexperienced, Wal-Mart-esque, clerks. I do understand that ultimately, they had to ditch the commissioned model, simply because of the change in the marketplace. But they went about it totally wrong -- a better solution would be to take advantage of the high turnover rate in retail as it is, and just not hire new commissioned salespeople, and grandfather the experienced ones, who can then be a huge resource to the newer salespeople in teaching them the ropes.

    So, it's sad to see them go, but not surprising based on their business decisions of the past 10 years. I did learn a lot from working there back in the 90s, especially regarding computers, installations, and technology in general, so I thank them for that. In the meantime, I guess I'll get my electronics from Newegg [] or TigerDirect []. At least until some new entrepreneur decides to open up a Buy More [],... ;-)

  • Only in America (Score:3, Insightful)

    by GrayCalx ( 597428 ) on Monday March 09, 2009 @08:51AM (#27119999)
    Only in America would anyone consider mourning the closing of a retail store.

    Fucking pathetic really...
  • by PortHaven ( 242123 ) on Monday March 09, 2009 @08:59AM (#27120051) Homepage

    I remember applying for a job at Circuit City while attending college for computer science.

    The application essentially boiled down to "Would you lie to make a sale to the customer. And would you hard sale push the service plans."

    As I endeavor to lead an honest life, most of my answers to their veiled questions were no. But I don't need to. I used to wander the aisles of CompUSA and Circuit City and sell goods for them. Because I was pretty much always more knowledgeable than the salespeople.

    But I believe the above philosophy is in part why Circuit City went under. When you build a foundation on lies, you're not going to have good customer loyalty in the long run. And the only thing you're going to have is price-stalkers.

  • by stry_cat ( 558859 ) on Monday March 09, 2009 @02:26PM (#27124413) Journal

    Right after college, desperate for a job, I interviewed with Circuit City.

    I had to go to the main place down near the city instead of out in Henrico.

    First thing I notice is there are a bunch of people who look like a bunch of junkies hanging out in fron of the door.

    I walk past that into the reception area. After a brief wait, a guy and a girl who I think were younger than me at the time, took me into an office for the interview.

    As soon as I sat down they started reading questions from their clipboard.

    These questions weren't the kind that would see if you knew anything about their products or could otherwise do your jobs. They were all about "If you saw one of your coworkers using illegal drugs in their home, what would you do?" With few exceptions they were all about drug use.

    The last question was, do you have any questions for us? My answer was "Yes I do. Since y'all seem extremely interested in drug use, does Circuit City have a lot of employees with a drug problem? I certainly don't want to work in such an environment."

    They gave me some BS answer about weeding out that kind of employee.

    I walked out the door knowing I would not accept a job with them no matter what.

    Of course they didn't call me either so I guess I didn't give them the answers they wanted.

Garbage In -- Gospel Out.