Well, it’s not every day you hear about 30,000 people losing their jobs all at once.
The reality is, I’m amazed Circuit City held out as long as it did. They were already in trouble before the current economic situation. So I guess I’m not surprised. Indeed, I wasn’t surprised when they started being in trouble.
I sometimes went to CC, because they tended to have occasional deals buried in among a lot of things that weren’t good prices at all. Their selection was erratic; they might have a few things much better than anything comparable at Best Buy, and a lot of random junk. Their music selection was mostly astoundingly bad, with an occasional unexpected rare album. Their selection of “anime and sci fi” was smaller than my home collection by far.
The big weakness, though, was the annoyance value. For many years, there were no checkout lanes; instead, each area of the store had a separate checkout counter. If you went shopping around lunchtime, this meant that there were six counters, widely spaced out, of which only three had people. Finding someone to ring a purchase up was hard. Furthermore, they were by far the pushiest store I ever dealt with in terms of phone numbers; they refused to sell me something without a phone number on some occasions.
In general, the impression I got of the store was that they were simply incompetent. Many years back, I thought I’d apply for one of their store cards, since I tend to get a lot of electronics. The service rep I spoke to insisted that she couldn’t process my request because I needed to provide a full name – but I had; my first name is a single letter. After this went back and forth a bit, she claimed that I had no credit history and couldn’t qualify for credit. This is an innovative claim – I’d just bought a house, and I had a several-year credit history. In short, either their software sucked or she was lying. Either way, the net result was less interest on my part in dealing with them.
I once picked up a charge+sync cable for a Palm Pilot there. It didn’t actually allow communication – replacing it with a cheap cable I got elsewhere made it work.
My overall impression of Circuit City is one of crazy and ill-considered store design, bad service, and incoherent policies. I’m sad for the employees, but totally unsurprised to see the store fail. It was just plain poorly run.
From: Mark Deisinger
Date: 2009-01-16 14:06:11 -0600
I also am unsurprised. I always felt like I had to double-check everything the employees did or said when I went there. I was buying a TV there about four years ago, and the salesman kept encouraging me to get a digital TV or one with a digital tuner because the FCC was going to be turning off analog signals “in September of this year”. I almost laughed in his face, but I got the idea that he actually believed what he was saying.
From: Matt Hajicek
Date: 2009-01-25 15:36:01 -0600
These are the guys that laid off all their highest paid (read: best and most experienced) employees in the summer of ’07. We all knew that was a mistake, and many of us informally boycotted them for it. This is the result.