Reader Wins Epic Quest For Black Friday TV Deal From Circuit City

Mitch writes:

There are several types of people out there, but I’m the kind of person who believes people should stick with what they say. Circuit City offered a Sharp 46″ Aquos on Black Friday this year, but they weren’t about to let me have it easily. Now, having done Black Friday in the past I knew I would be in for a fight to get my TV, but what I had to go through was just ridiculous.

First off, there was the battle to get in the store. When I arrived I was told we couldn’t wait on mall property and had to wait in front of the Ross next door. So we had a line of cars waiting for 4am when the guard said it would be ok. A police officer from the Irving Police department showed up and told us at 4am there would be no running and we would go in an orderly line to the front of Circuit City. That didn’t happen.

At 2:30AM a guard came up and motioned his hands to let us go over….this started a MAD DASH towards the front door. I got a pretty good spot near the front of the line. We waited until 5am when they handed out the papers for some of the laptops…and then began Mad Rush No. 2. People from all sorts of directions came running. They ran in from outside the line, inside the line, everywhere. I was about number 4 or 5 in the faster of the 2 lines. The first guy in the line wanted the same TV as me. He walked away with this smile on his face, and walked up to me and said “They didn’t have any Sharps at all, so they sold me a Bravia!” Next thing I know I’m at the front of the line and the guy tells me “We never had any of those Sharps to begin with.” To which my reply was,” You had none? As in Zero? As in they didn’t even bother shipping any to you?” “Yep, that’s right, but I can sell you this Sony Bravia that’s just as good as what you’re getting. Everything is the same except is uses the Sony processor rather than the Sharp. It’ll cost an extra 150 dollars though.” Well, this sounded pretty good to me, so I took it, and went home to sleep.

8 hours after the mad rushes I get up and decide to do some research into the TV I just bought. I discovered the following:

Sony Bravia KDL46V2500:
Display Type: Flat Panel LCD
Screen Resolution: 1080p
Aspect ratio: 16:9
Contrast Ratio: 7000:1
Connection Options: 2 HDMI, 3 Component, 1 PC input.
Height: 29.8″ (31.7″ on optional base)
Width: 44.1″
Depth 4.8″(13.3″ on optional base)
Weight: 70.6 lbs.

Sharp Aquos LC46D64U:
Display Type: Flat Panel LCD
Screen Resolution: 1080p
Aspect Ratio: 16:9
Contrast Ratio: 10,000:1
Connection Options: 3 HDMI, 3 Component, 1 PC input.
Height: 27.5″ (29.8″ on optional base)
Width: 43.4″
Depth: 3.8″(12.9″ on optional base)
Weight: 54lbs.

Well, now I’m pissed. The Sharp is better in many, many ways. It’s smaller, has more inputs, and has a higher contrast ratio. Here begins the battle!

The local store won’t do anything for me, they never had the TV in the first place, so I have to start my battle with regular Customer Service. Well, the phone system now has a button to press if you’re calling about the Sharp Aquos 46″….it gives you a message saying they’re out of stock and disconnects you. Nice. So I call 3 or 4 times, and talk to random people from Customer NoService. I keep getting told the same thing- There’s nothing we can do, just go return the TV. Well, this just infuriated me even further. I mean at this point I’m pretty sure that I’ve been bait and switched.

The next step I took was emailing the consumer affairs email on consumerist. I gave them 3 days to respond before I filed a Better Business Bureau report. They didn’t respond. Wow, that’s some awesome service there guys! I file my BBB complaint. After filing my BBB complaint I did the all important EECB. The next day I got a call at 10:01AM, from the executive customer service division of Circuit City. Well, I was busy moving so I asked if they could send me an email back. I never received an email. I got the executive phone number, dialed the CEO’s office and said,” Hi, my name is Mitchell and I spoke to someone from executive customer service, they said they would send me an email but they never did.” The woman on the other end was very polite, and within 30 seconds we tracked down the person I had spoken to. She asked how I got to her number again if I never got the email, and I told her. She sounded a bit amazed and scared at the same time. This started emails and calls back and forth between me and customer service, some of them follow:

1. Dear Mr. M, I am very sorry that this did not get to you yesterday per our conversation. I will get back to you as soon as I can with what I find from my researching your issue.

Thank you very much, and again my apologies.

[redacted]
Executive Response Specialist.
Office of the Chairman, President and CEO.
Circuit City Stores, INC. Corporate

2. Good morning Mr M, how are you? I’m sorry it has taken longer for me to get back with you about this issue.
I wanted to let you know that I heard from our Merchandising department this morning and they will be working with
the Irving store to get you the Sharp TV. Once I hear back from them as to the specifics of the item getting to the store
I will let you know.

Thank you again,

3. Hello! Per our conversation I advised the store that you said you would probably be there on Saturday, that is what I thought you said. The store has moved the item from their regular store inventory and are holding it for you. The amount you paid for the Sony will be used to pay for the Sharp. There will not be a refund and a recharge on your card. Unfortunately, I am not able to give you the total amount of what the purchase will be from the Executive Office. I can tell you that you will be getting the Sharp TV for the sale price offered on Black Friday. When you go into the store you will need to bring the original TV which will be returned and the credit will be used to pay for the Sharp.

Alright- everything looks great. As I’ve now moved I get up early Saturday morning and drive down to Irving and grab the TV from my parent’s house. This is about 42 miles round trip, by the way. We go to the store, and about 30 minutes later we’re told that no one knows what’s going on and they can’t give me the TV for the price…. Despite me showing them the email from executive customer service. They take a bunch of copies of stuff and told me they’d call the executive office and get back to me Monday. I decide to send an email to executive customer service (I never did get that call). The email read as:

“I went to the Irving store today and spoke with Drew Begole- Store Director. No one at the store had an idea of what was going on, and they said they called their regional manager who also didn’t know what was going on. Could you please assist me with this?

If you need to call me I can be reached at [redacted]

Thanks,
Mitchell M.”

Monday rolls around and I get a call from the Executive customer service, and they tell me I’ll be getting a call from the Irving operations manager. I do. They said it will be a couple days and they’ll let me know.

Wednesday night I still hadn’t gotten a call, so I call and ask for the operations manager. She was busy. She called back and left me a message saying I could come in any night time and speak to sales manager and we would get it worked it. Today I grabbed my friend with a truck, went and got the TV. I even got 162 dollars back!

Moral of the story: it might take 3 weeks, a wasted trip to the store, 10+ phone calls, 14+ emails, and a BBB complaint, but if you were bait and switched there are options for getting what you were supposed to be offered originally.

- Mitch

Yep, that’s a bait and switch all right – advertised one deal and then they poo-pooh it and sell you another when you get down there. In retail, bait and switch is considered fraud and false advertising and can be punished by civil lawsuit. Mitch, we salute your dedication to getting the television deal you deserved. You rocked executive customer service and didn’t get discouraged when the local store professed to not know what was going on. Instead, you attacked on multiple vectors of the customer service hierarchy until you pushed the issue to completion.

Mitch, we salute you as consumer action hero of the week!

RELATED
Email Addresses For Circuit City Executives
Email Circuit City Executive Customer Service
(Photo: glindsay65)

Comments

Edit Your Comment

  1. MitchEvious says:

    I forgot to mention 1 thing. After executive customer support said they would replace the TV I got 2 emails from Circuit City. One told me I had no hope at all, and the other just flat out told me to return the TV and go on with my life.

    Oh well.

  2. incdeuce says:

    So now that you’ve seen both – which was the better TV? Was it worth all this pain?

  3. jesseraub says:

    Shitty. I got a 32inch LCD Olevia TV for $420 from KMART. Everyone was waiting for Wiis, so I got there way too early at 4:30AM, but the manager came out, had tickets printed up for about 5 different items at 5:30AM. I took my ticket, remembered that Starbucks usually opens at 5:30, drank a few cups, came back at 7:00, and bought my TV.

    My TV, however, is far inferior.

  4. meeksthegeeks says:

    This guy sounds like every other whiney Black Friday shopper that doesn’t get their way.

  5. savvy999 says:

    The original Black Friday all-nighter ruckus, an impulse buy, 3 more weeks, a wasted trip to the store, 10+ phone calls, 14+ emails, a BBB complaint, friend’s time and his/her truck…

    …equals…

    … $162, a wee bit smaller size, one more input, and a higher contrast ratio (whatever that means).

    Mitch’s math is a bit fuzzy to me, but congratulations are in order anyway. You “won”… something!?!

  6. meadandale says:

    @meeksthegeeks:

    This person and all the other stories that I’ve heard this year is why I avoid black friday sales like the plague. Seriously, standing in line for 12 hours or more, waging a war with a store for weeks on end to score your ‘sweet deal’.

    Meh.

    The ironic thing is that Amazon has the same TV he fought so hard for, in stock right now, for $1399–a measly $100 over the price on Black Friday at Circuit City.

  7. MitchEvious says:

    @meadandale: Actually, that’s a different model number. I did a LOT of research into the TV I wanted. If I wanted the 62U I could have gone to sears and gotten it for 1000, but I have 3 devices that use HDMI, so the 3 HDMI was pretty important to me.

  8. voteccow says:

    I honestly never would have shopped at Circuit Shitty to begin with.

  9. crapple says:

    When did this place become digg/reddit with all the rude comments.

    It was plainly a bait and switch and even if all he got (to you) was a moral victory, then that’s reason enough to celebrate. Quick sucking the ‘win’ out of the situation.

  10. AlisonAshleigh says:

    Maybe it’s just because I’m a monster bitch but whenever I don’t get something as advertised/marked, I just yell until they fix it. Rarely do I have a problem.
    (okay I don’t ACTUALLY yell but I find telling the manager exatcly what they’re going to do “You’re going to give me this, at this price, as it was advertised.” and then standing there and looking scary is usually enough.)

  11. randombob says:

    Wait, something’s wrong here. Didn’t they the original sales associate tell him that he was going to get the sony for $150 MORE than the Black Friday special?

    And in one of those emails, they explicitly state that they’re not going to refund and then recharge, he’s getting the Sharp for the same cost as he paid for the sony; basically, he’s paying $150 more than he was supposed to then, right?

    Sounds like after 3 weeks he got hosed.

  12. humphrmi says:

    @meeksthegeeks: Black Friday isn’t about customers getting their way, it’s about retailers making their numbers. Which is all wrong. They should make their numbers because they satisfy their customers, not at the expense of customer satisfaction. And fraud is a pretty shitty way to make sales numbers.

  13. Munsoned says:

    Have to agree with some of the other commenters here. Those that want to take the wind out of Mitch’s sails are just being DBs. I’m not shopping for a TV at the moment, so the details of the deal don’t really personally concern me. What does matter, I think, is that this story demonstrates that when others have a problem with Circuit City, whether it on TVs or other types of purchases, warranties, refunds, bait and switch tactics, whatever, there are procedures that can be used (along with the useful info on this website) to make it right. Black Friday, the cost of the TV, the number of connections, the contrast ratio–all side issues to the point of the story.

  14. UCLAJason says:

    @meeksthegeeks: whether it is whiney or not is not the point. The point is the BS that stores put people through this. This is against the law in CA (where the author is from). It is against the Consumer Legal Remedies Act which makes illegal “Advertising goods or services with intent not to sell them as advertised”.

  15. bigduke says:

    @MEEKSTHEGEEKS @meeksthegeeks: Why is it that every comment section on this site has an obligatory troll post on it. THis person got Bait and Switched, it is obvious. He did a great thing by sticking up for his rights as a consumer.

    Like or not this site is for the consumer, not a shill site for retailers. What is this need in the human mind for some people to insist that they are smarter than everyone else. Sure nothing like this would ever happen to you becuase you are just too darn smart. Yeah Right. If your that smart you don’t need to be reading this website, you have it all figured out all ready.

    Retailers love to treat us like mindless cattle. Don’t perpetuate it!

  16. meadandale says:

    @MitchEvious:

    Amazon also HAD the 64U for $1500 with no tax and free shipping until recently.

  17. meadandale says:

    I’m sorry if my post came across as a troll. I wasn’t trying to be rude.

    I’m glad Mitch got what he wanted. CC was certainly engaging in B&S and I’m glad someone held them accountable.

    I’ve just never understood the rabid consumerism during black friday–people standing in line, getting in fights, etc. Just doesn’t seem worth it to me to save a few bucks.

    Many of the items that show up on black friday are available at the same price (or cheaper) within a few months anyways and you can avoid all of the hassle.

  18. davej147 says:

    Jesseraub –
    Your TV may be inferior to the one in the article – but I bought two Olevia’s last Black Friday (from Microcenter) – a 37″ and a 42″ ($500 & $800). We LOVE them – the picture is beautiful and the sets aren’t bad looking either. I had an issue that required Tech Support – they returned my email within an hour – and followed up to ensure that the problem was resolved to my satisfaction (it was).

    We are very, very pleased with both of our Olevia sets…and see no reason to spend extra money for the brand name.

  19. ? graffiksguru says:

    Kudos to you Mitch, I probably would have given up and stuck with the Sony, partially because I’m a little lazy, and I only need 2 HDMI inputs at the moment.
    But if I feel I got royally screwed, I would’ve stick to my guns like you did, just for the principle of the matter.

  20. DrGirlfriend says:

    The Black Friday mania is irrelevant in this story – the store lied to a customer about the product being equal to the one that was advertised, charged him more for it, then ignored him. Good for him for not giving up and letting Circuit City get away with it.

  21. DAK says:

    Had a similar issue with Circuit City last year. Wife bought me a Samsung for Xmas – went to get it on the day it arrived (they confirmed it was in store), and they claimed it had been sold mysteriously and offered to “upgrade” me for an extra $200 or so.

    My approach was to call the store manager a lying, cheating, degenerate piece of trash and tell 3 customers standing nearby not to buy TV’s there. The wife, on the other hand, decided to politely inform them that what they were doing was illegal, and that they had the choice of either producing the TV immediately of having her lawyer up. They gave us a larger, better Samsung for no additional charge. Ended up with a $2000 TV for $1100, and I’ve never been back since.

  22. Myron says:

    I’m torn on this one. If this happened to me I would have probably gone bat shit insane also. Still, it seems like more stress than it’s worth from beginning to end.

    I’m glad Mitch put up a fight. I’m curious if he will participate in the Black Friday bloodsport next year.

  23. croeso says:

    The store you’re doing business with is at least as important as the product you’re buying… because if you have trouble later… a bad retailer will cause a bad experience.

    Circuit City is at the top of my list of stores NEVER to go to. My elderly mother went there with a neighbor and got loaded into a Polaroid television (which sent up red flags just hearing about it) that died 62 days later. Circuit City’s response? Too bad, so sad. It didn’t matter that these naive senior citizens bought what was recommended and that I had the receipts.

    I took the set to the TV department and dropped it on the floor right next to the identical sets on sale. The noise got the attention of not just the clerk, but more than a few shoppers as well. The clerk huffily asked me what I thought I was doing. I told him that I was returning the set… and that it was working as good now as it did for my mother.

    As I walked away the clerk was screaming that I better not ever come in there again. I agree with him. Fool me once, shame on you… fool me twice… shame on me.

    I’ve made two major electronics purchases since. A HD LCD TV, which came from Sears… and a Computer, which came from Best Buy. Circuit City wasn’t even on the radar screen, and never will be again.

  24. MitchEvious says:

    @Myron: If I do it will be at Fry’s or Best Buy. My step dad did fry’s one year and said they were incredibly organized, and I did Best Buy last year and they managed it well. At BB they kicked people out of line who tried to cut, wrapped the pillars out front with that saran-wrap type shipping plastic so people couldn’t run in from the front door.

    @croeso: That’s another reason I wanted the Sharp. You can buy a 3 year extended warranty directly from them, and they’ll do in home service on the TV for you, so you don’t even have to carry it into the store.

  25. Ahoatam says:

    FYI: There is NO standard for measuring contrast ratio, so it’s really only useful in measuring quality among televisions of the same brand.

    [tech.yahoo.com]

  26. GoBobbyGo says:

    @Randombob:

    The email also said “I can tell you that you will be getting the Sharp TV for the sale price offered on Black Friday.”

    I think what the rest of that was about was that they’d apply the original payment (and refund the difference) rather than refunding the WHOLE amount and recharging the OTHER whole amount. Since refunds generally take longer to go through than charges (go figure!), refund-and-recharge would have meant he carried the balance for both tv’s for a while.

  27. ConRoo says:

    I have to ask. Mitch, in the bigger scheme of life, was it really all worth it?

  28. Curiosity says:

    @meeksthegeeks:

    Actually the consumer isn’t whining. Depending on the advertisement, he has a right, if he fulfills certain conditions, to the original television.

    While it is one thing to dicker so that the consumer chooses another television if the first is still available, it is another to fraudulently offer a television to draw consumers in – a breach of contract case depending on the state and common law. This is not legal advice, but practical common sense so consult a lawyer on the law and with the full facts.

    The consumer should at the very least:

    1. Keep the advertisement that brought them into the store.
    2. Document that they fullfilled the terms and conditions of the offer by something other than a statement by the consumer (usually that they would have been in the position to take the offer by their place in line but other conditions may apply). A statement by the business would be good, but if videotaping (a common means) check the law.
    3. Document the lack of the item (the bait).
    4. Document the “switch” deal – the new deal and the dependency on the lack of the offered product.
    5. Document all the times and people talked to, as always if recording the conversation then the wiretapping laws of the state (and thus local) jurisdiction apply.

    While more could be done it is really dependent on the jurisdiction, the law, the facts, and the costs incurred. It seems to me that a business in this situation not only has an incentive to avoid litigation (which is hopefully not frivolous), but more importantly avoid the appearance of impropriety (even if they were at fault) or multiple lawsuits.

    While litigation is possibly appropriate, the consumer did the polite thing, despite actually losing money by wasting his time, since time actually is money (ask a lawyer, doctor, mechanic, or person earning minimum wage).

  29. stew33 says:

    Just an FYI.

    I saw this TV in the black friday ads posted online. About ten days before black friday and went into tth store and bought the TV. Then on black friday (I was paranoid they wouldn’t honor the price after black friday) I went into the store got a $750 dollar discount! The whole thing took maybe 10 minutes!

    Happy Holidays!

  30. rmontcal says:

    @ErnieMcCracken: I’m oddly psyched that I knew what you meant by “DBs”. hahaha

  31. UCLAJason says:

    BTW the law, at least in CA, is that if it is widespread you may be able to get class action status on something like this.

  32. MitchEvious says:

    @ConRoo: If I had just walked up to the store at 5am and they had told me they had none, it wouldn’t have been. I figured since I’d already put in over 8 hours of work(regular working day for me) I might as well see the thing through to the end.

  33. MitchEvious says:

    @UCLAJason: I’m actually in Irving, Texas versus Irvine, California. However, it’s illegal here too.

  34. Curiosity says:

    As an addendum, It is a tragedy that consumers expect to be taken advantage of and assume since a business is organized that they either know the law, or care about the consumer. They are “people” and are subject to the same flaws of logic, breaches of duty, and lapses of judgment as others, however unlike most humans they suffer from multiple personalities as well. In short, while a good business is uniform in its treatment of individuals and respects consumers rights, many are not. If consumers were rational decision makers according to cost benefit analysis, they would realize that the situation here may cost them more time than worth it and is indicative of the willingness of businesses to shift the cost to consumers by stealing their time etc.

  35. LatherRinseRepeat says:

    Yeah, just ignore Black Friday for a moment. This is clearly bait and switch. I mean, the Circuit City guys readily admitted to not even having it in stock. That’s pretty screwed.

  36. Curiosity says:

    @UCLAJason:
    True, but class actions are not always the way to go, since individual litigations (obviously) give a better stance for settlement or getting what the consumer wants (the TV). Obviously if it was just a money issue as well as providing an incentive for the greater good and lawyers that would be an alternative. But realistically one would go to a lawyer for their negotiation skills and more importantly their knowledge of the consumer’s rights in this case (assuming that the cost would be minimal).

  37. UCLAJason says:

    In this situation a class action would not be the way to go because the consumer got what he wanted, the TV. If all avenues had been explored and the retailer still refused to comply the choice is between an individual suit and a class action. An individual suit would probably not be worth the time or expense in a case like this. An individual suit in small claims may yield results without having to hire an attorney though the litigant would need to know their rights well against a big company like this. Class actions do have advantages even for the individual. Often extra compensation is given to the litigant who brings the class action as an incentive to police these types of actions. Class actions are also sometimes taken by attorneys on contingency. Further, a class action would teach the retailer not to do this again. Given that CC is a known offender in this field it would not be a bad lesson for CC to learn.

  38. evilkoala says:

    I’m glad you finally got the TV! I just wish that you didn’t have to go through all that crap to get what they should have had on Black Friday.

  39. Curiosity says:

    For the Illinois consumer examples of illegal acts under the the CFDBPA at 815 ILCS 505/1 et seq. and the UDTPA at 815 ILCS 510/1 include but aren’t limited to:

    1. Bait and switch advertising. Chandler v. American Gen’l Finance Co., 329 Ill. App. 3d 729, 739-740 (1st Dist. 2002); and Williams v. Bruno Appliance, 379 N.E.2d 52 (1st Dist. 1978).

    2. Deceptive pricing and bargain sale practices which falsely lure consumers into believing they are getting a bargain. Garcia v. Overland Bond, 282 Ill. App. 3d 486 (1st Dist. 1996).

    3. Misrepresentations of a product’s nature, characteristics, quantity, quality, uses or benefits such as a product’s uniqueness, durability, maintenance, performance qualities, or method of manufacture. Crowder v. Bob Oberling Enterprises, Inc., 499 N.E.2d 115 (4th Dist. 1986).

    4.Promoting or advertising anything by means of offering free prizes or gifts without disclosing the material terms and conditions. 815 ILCS 505/2P.

    5. Represents that goods or services are a particular standard, quality or grade or that goods are a particular style or model, if they are of another. 815 ILCS 510/2(7).

    6. Advertises goods or services with intent not to supply reasonably expected public demand-unless the advertisement discloses a limited quantity. 815 ILCS 510/2(10).

    7. Make false or misleading statements of fact concerning the reasons for existence of or amounts of price reductions. 815 ILCS 510/2(11).

  40. Curiosity says:

    @UCLAJason:

    True, considering the common situation where a business does not show up for small claims court. However, my tendency is to be prepared for the situation where they do. I hesitate to throw myself upon the mercy of the court without a lawyer, since usually there is none. I would assume that you may want to see more facts etc. to see if you could certify a class for a class action.

    Irrespective of that, good point.

  41. FezMan88 says:

    this reminds me of when Amtrak gave me a void ticket, then gave me cash to ‘run away and not tell anyone’

  42. Pylon83 says:

    Here’s the thing about bait and switch and fraud. It has to be INTENTIONAL. If they simply didn’t get a shipment, or someone mistakenly calculated numbers when they were ordered, there is no violation of the law. Good luck proving Circuit City intended to not have the TV’s. All they have to do is produce some documentation showing they ordered them, and for some reason beyond their control they didn’t show up. I don’t think there is a chance of winning any sort of lawsuit against them over something like this. Further, there is no breach of contract. Advertisements are not contracts (generally). They are invitations to deal. Unless the terms and conditions in the ad make it explicitly clear that you can accept with no further communication, it’s not an offer and no contract. I understand the anger, and I think that Circuit City should have made it right, but I don’t think they did anything illegal either. People are quick to jump to conclusions that a major retailer would initiate such a conspiracy that would have dire consequences. It’s simply illogical.

  43. Xerloq says:

    @Curiousity: Funny thing, if the CC guy had simply said “The Sharp TV is out of stock” and left it at that, CC would have been OK. The offer to substitute by the CC guy is what made it the bait and switch. Often the offer to substitute is made by the employee simply out of good customer service.

    However, if the customer asks or a substitution, then CC would similarly been off the hook, and free to show any other TV.

    When I worked retail, and we had an advertised special we were coached carefully on the characteristics of bait and switch. Our rules were as follows:
    1. Advertise the item.
    2. Ensure the item is in stock, and has a floor model.
    3. Show every customer who asks about the ad the floor model.
    4. Once stock is sold, keep showing the floor model. If a customer wishes to buy, inform them the TV is not in stock, and the floor model is not for sale.
    5. Shut up.
    6. If the customer asks about a substitution show similar items.
    7. If the customer insists on the advertised price offer a raincheck.

    That was about all we could do.

  44. Xerloq says:

    @Pylon83: Intent is the hardest thing to prove, because try as we might we cannot know what the other is thinking unless they confess. All you can provide is evidence that demonstrates intent.

    As stated above, Circuit City was fine until the employee offered a substitution. Since the TV was advertised (bait), and not in stock, the CC guy should have simply said “The TV is not in stock,” and left it at that. But he offered to, and did sell a different product (switch).

    The actions of the employee and CC indicate they had no possibility or intent of selling the Sharp because of the lack of stock and an offer to sell something else.

    Without the offer to sell another TV all you have is bait.

  45. econobiker says:

    Best quote: “She sounded a bit amazed and scared at the same time” in reference to Mitch getting the executive customer service phone number.

    Generally, the corporate folks have to realize that if they are not doing the right thing in servicing their customers (whether during the sale of an item, or service/repair, or rank and file customer service contacts, etc) that the internet has leveled the playing field in getting to the higher ups at the corporations. And getting to them quickly…

    And the ablility on one person of not anymore just informing 10 friends/relatives of a problem with a product/company/service, but multiple thousands… with documentation. It used to be the local newspaper’s “Trouble Shooter” or “Consumer Advocate” was the broadest audience a person might be able to get about a problem… but now the internet rises its huge stick for informing massive volumes of customers or potential customers. And if it goes from web to viral to real time news – just ask AOL about a recording on canceling an account…

  46. godai says:

    @Savvy999:

    Contrast is important if you are not watching tv in a pitch black room.

    Basically it is how bright a screen displays black vs white.

    The larger the ratio the larger the difference so he gets bright whites and darker blacks.

  47. FLConsumer says:

    Let’s see…

    3 trips to the store 3x @ 1 hr each = 3 hrs
    10 phone calls @ 15 mins each = 2.5 hrs
    14 emails @ 5 mins each = 1.2 hrs
    ==============================================
    6.7 hrs not including waiting around on Black Friday. Not sure what other people’s time is worth, but that right there would be enough to buy the TV at its regular price.

    That said, I do think the customer was baited & switched. Glad he got what he was looking for, but at the same time I hope he’s learned that if it looks too good to be true, it is.

  48. UCLAJason says:

    @Pylon83:
    You are correct that intent is hard to prove. The law in CA, where this act was committed, states that one must provide notice 30 days before commencing and suit and “[d]emand that the person correct, repair, replace, or otherwise rectify the goods or services alleged to be in violation of Section 1770.”
    If demand is made and the company does not rectify one may be able to show there was intent by the failure to try and rectify the situation.

  49. Jaysyn was banned for: http://consumerist.com/5032912/the-subprime-meltdown-will-be-nothing-compared-to-the-prime-meltdown#c7042646 says:

    Black Friday is for suckers.

  50. stopNgoBeau says:

    @UCLAJason: It wasn’t in CA, it was in TX.

  51. Sudonum says:

    @Pylon83:
    Then perhaps they should have offered Rain Checks to first X number of people who asked for the TV. X = the number of TV’s that did not arrive on time. That would have demonstrated their good faith. Instead he states he got this response:
    “I keep getting told the same thing- There’s nothing we can do, just go return the TV.”
    In my opinion that does not demonstrate any good faith on CC’s part and further reinforces the perception that they were engaging in B & S. Obviously there were TV’s available since he finally got one.

  52. UCLAJason says:

    @stopNgoBeau:
    Totally my bad. I read it wrong. The Law in Texas is the substantially same as the law in CA. Tex. Bus. & Com. Code 17.46(b)(9) prohibits the “advertising goods or services with intent not to sell them as advertised”. Further in Texas under this law the damages are economic relief including attorney’s fees and an order enjoining such acts. Further the court may adopt “any other relief which the court deems proper”.

  53. Curiosity says:

    @Pylon83:

    Of course it usually has to be intentional. And yes normally what constitutes advertisements are just that, advertisements, and do not constitute a contract (but they can), however that is just generalities not the facts specific to the situation.

    Obviously, none of us is in full possession of the facts. Assuming that some of us have legal knowledge it is perhaps unwise to give legal judgment (that did happen or what they should do in court) rather than practical advice about what consumers could do and what laws are out there. It is the burden of consumers to be informed, so in that way they appreciate and use their own minds to determine what is an is not authority and what their rights are – a minor point of my posts.

    The short answer is that if a person wants to use the law and knows nothing, I say that retaining a lawyer who can give them advice according to not just the facts but the evidence and the law and who will (unlike any of us) stand by their legal judgment after a proper full inquiry into the matter would be a smart thing rather than depending on just the internet.

    However per my point is that DEPENDING upon the facts the law and the cost, the person MAY be able to sue, and in certain circumstances it MAY be worthwhile. The private right of action of the consumer is obviously limited by the law and their (or their lawyer’s) knowledge of it.

    But, who said it has to be litigated or should be? Obviously it was not needed in this case.

  54. Canadian Impostor says:

    There is no standard way to measure contrast ratio.

    Every manufacturer uses their own method, and Sony’s 10,000:1 might be Sharp’s 7,000:1.

  55. Pylon83 says:

    @Sudonum:
    I don’t think it makes any difference. You have to prove that at the time they were advertised, they intended not to sell them. Whether they offered rain checks or not is irrelevant to proving whether they intended to sell them or not. I agree it would have been a nice gesture, but I don’t think they are guilty of “bait and switch” by simply not offering rain checks.

  56. UCLAJason says:

    @Pylon83:
    Intent is hard to show but not impossible. Intent can be proven from the circumstances. Intent is also an objective rather than a subjective standard. Therefore if a reasonable person in this circumstance would have thought that the likely result would be unavailability of the product then intent can be shown. It is not clear from the facts whether there was or was not intent.

  57. Sudonum says:

    @Pylon83:
    All I was pointing out was that if it was something as “innocent” as a failed delivery, then CC should have made good on their ad in some manner. The fact that this man went through what he says he did to get them to honor the ad shows a lack of good faith on CC’s part. The easiest thing for CC to do would have been to post a disclaimer at the entrance that the TV’s weren’t available, or that it was a misprint. Instead they tried to take advantage of the situation. Great for CC, bad for the consumer.

    As to intent, you are absolutely correct. You’d never be able to prove it without a whistleblower or other inside information.

  58. G-Dog says:

    that’s why I only buy stuff from online retailers I trust.

  59. goller321 says:

    @Curiousity: Great post. I wish they had this type of law for internet stores as well. Worst Buy has twice bait and switched me, but there is little consumers can do against the internet stores. I filed a BBB complaint, and wrote to the Minnesota AG (their state of operation) with no resolution.

  60. goller321 says:

    @Pylon83: They’re guilty of bait and switch by offering a “like” product, at a higher price, in its place. Had they listed in the flyer that the TV may have replacements and “models may vary by store”- for the SAME price then yes, there is no bait and switch. But if you advertise an item, you’d better damned well either offer a rain check or another item of equal or greater value to replace it or it’s bait and switch.

  61. jeffj-nj says:

    A lot of you are saying that this story had little-to-nothing to do with the fact it took place on Black Friday, but I have to say, you’re all wrong. The fact this took place on Black Friday is critical to the story. The bait-and-switch tactic which CC used on Mitch would not have worked on a calm Tuesday afternoon. It was early, he was tired, the store was an insane mob scene, etc, etc. His judgement was clearly impaired, and CC knew it would be. Mitch said he researched this specific television, and had he attempted this purchased any other day, he would not have waivered from his pre-determined TV of choice. So, yeah, “the Black Friday thing” is not just a minor detail; it is the crux of this story.

    That said, Mitch, you never should’ve changed your mind at the store. You never should’ve bought the Sony. You knew what you wanted, and you should’ve held your ground. If you’re unable to hold your ground at the crack of dawn after participating in a mob stampede, well, you shouldn’t go shopping at the crack in dawn after participating in a mob stampede. Plain and simple.

    Signed,
    Slept in on Black Friday

  62. thetanooki says:

    “Mitch, we salute your dedication to getting the television deal you deserved.”

    “Mitch, we salute you as consumer action hero of the week!”

    You have been saluted twice! You must have done a REALLY nice job.

    Seriously though, I’m glad everything finally worked out for you.

  63. dustinkyle says:

    The same thing happened to me in South Fort Worth. I went in at 8 am and they said that they never had any of the Sharps, but they had the sony that they could special order me from the warehouse for the same price. I wonder if it was a regional thing. We went ahead and bought the Sony and are really happy with the TV. It would be nice to have the extra HDMI inputs but I wasnt expecting to get the deal anyway as it being 8 and i had no intention of waiting in line that morning.

  64. Curiosity says:

    @jeffj-nj:

    Good point.

    Obviously the Black Friday business model properly done depends upon not only the emotions of the consumer, but on the idea of lost leaders to bring people in early to not only extend a shopping day, but also to impact people’s perceptions of what is a good deal.

  65. UCLAJason says:

    @jeffj-nj:
    I completely agree with you. Doing this on Black Friday is a way to kind of trap people into making a decision they may not otherwise have made. It may also be evidence of intent to do this considering posts saying other CC did the same thing.

  66. taka2k7 says:

    Something similar happened to my wife and I during Black Friday 2006.

    Not wanting to deal with the crowds (and having 2 small kids) we showed up at Circuit City at 1100.

    We asked if they had anything still on sale. They didn’t have any advertised stuff left, but the salesmen pointed out that they did have a killer deal on a 50″ Panasonic plasma, unadvertised.

    Not being a plasma fan I wasn’t initially interested. But then I saw the price, basically $1000 cheaper than normal (~$1600, installed with mount).

    So we pay for the TV and head out of town for the weekend. We get back and there is a voicemail from the store manager wanting to talk about the TV.

    We call him and he said there was a pricing error and that the TV wasn’t available at that price but that they would offer us something alternative.

    The alternatives weren’t nearly as good a deal, even though the other 7 customers who bought the same TV we had, agreed to one of the alternatives.

    We came into the store to look at the TV we had a receipt for and the alternatives. More and more we wanted our TV.

    At this point, we started escalating the issue. The store manager was caught between a rock and a hard place. He didn’t screw up, corporate did. But we weren’t budging.

    One corporate email with veiled threat of lawsuit and CC caved. We had a receipt for a TV that we expected to have delivered. CC didn’t have a leg to stand on.

    Thus, I’ve had 50 inches of HDTV mounted to my living room wall for the past year. I think you can now get the TV for cheaper than what we paid, but oh well.

    Sticking it to the man…

  67. bige311 says:

    Well you went through all that trouble and the Sony is a much better screen! FACE!!

  68. MitchEvious says:

    @bige311: Actually, I like the way the Sharp looks a lot more than I do the Sony. Thanks.

  69. doireallyneedausername says:

    Last year, I got in line for a 42″ Panasonic 1080i plasma at Best Buy. About 15 minutes before the open, I was told the Panasonics were all sold out and the only thing left is an HP Plasma. If we wanted those, we would have to line up at the TV line near the Magnolia Hi-Fi store-within-a-store. Similar specs, as I was told. A few ppl gave up and set their sights on other stuff. But I got into that second line.

    When I got there, I was #5 in the second line. When I got up there, I asked innocently if they still had any Panasonics left. They said yes, but its in their distribution warehouse. I was kinda shocked. Then I asked, “Can I get two, even though your limit is one?” They said “yeh, you can get as many as you want.” What a shocker! Although I didn’t walk out of the place with a TV that day, it was delivered within a week. Bait-and-Switch with a good ending

    On the way out, I noticed this family who bought TEN LCDs. I was about to sock them. So many ppl wanted these 27″ LCDs for $200. But they were allowed to buy TEN. But I wasn’t there for the 27″ LCDs, so I didn’t stay angry for long, lol.

  70. jaewon223 says:

    everybody whining about whether it was worth the time and effort spent to get such a minor change seem to have missed the point entirely. the store was clearly doing something wrong and all this guy was doing was just trying to cash in on what they originally offered. complacency leads to consumers being ripped off. job well done

  71. karmaghost says:

    I went to Circuit City for the same TV. I got into a register line with two other people in front of me. I dunno what TV the first guy wanted, but he got whatever it was. The 2nd guy, the one in front of me, wanted the Sharp. They were already out of stock. Apparently, they only carried 5 in the first place and with 5 registers open, less than 5 minutes was all it took. So I didn’t get it from Circuit City. Instead, I took their flier across the street to Sears, where the same TV wasn’t on sale. I asked a manager to pricematch it and without hesitation he did.

    Sometimes the best Black Friday strategy is to interact with people who benefit from your business; the manager who pricematched probably got some sort of commission for helping me out (read: selling something to me). Or maybe not, but there was something about the lack of a panicky atmosphere that made the whole experience a lot less painful.

  72. The Stork says:

    @bige311: I agree that the Sony smokes the Sharp, but that’s not the point. The point is that he wanted a specific telly and CC tried to pass off one that is a better set but probably also one with more margin that wasn’t what the consumer wanted. He fought for the product he desired, and he won.

  73. StevieD says:

    Black Friday is symbolic of retailers “breakeven” point. The Christmas seasons is the icing on the cake. BF sales might be “good”, but the day before Christmas Eve is usually even better. Oh, and the after Christmas sales are quite nice.

    I do most of my shopping from Dec 21 to Dec 23. Yes, I am a man, so maybe the late buying is a male trait. Funny thing, the price that I pay for stuff is as good or even better than the price you might have paid on BF.

    Why fight the panic stricken crowds? Just wait a few days and buy the stuff at the “fantastic” BF sale price.

  74. MitchEvious says:

    @pstork: I will agree that there are some 46″ Sonys that have better picture, but just like Sharp there are several models of 46″ Sony TVs, and I personally think this sharp looks better than the model they sold me.

  75. muckpond says:

    “black friday” = sleeping in, pancakes for breakfast, a day with friends, and turkey and dumplings.

    stories like this really make me sad that people can’t enjoy the small things that really make life worthwhile. it’s a four day weekend, people! sheesh.

  76. Trojan69 says:

    So, how hard would it be for most folks who are planning to put themselves out like this for Black Friday, to go to the store the day or night before to confirm that a given product is available? If it isn’t, demand a rain check for the Black Friday price.

    At a minimum, you’ve saved yourself an all-nighter with a bunch of fools.

  77. guymandude says:

    Personally I think Mitch is an idiot. Instead of all this nonsense he should have simply referenced the SEC’s truth in advertising law in a recorded phone call to the manager. Or you guys could just stop putting up with this kind of BS and stop shopping at places like best buy and circuit city. Was it any surprise that they tried to dupe you on BF? And you went there anyway!?

  78. PracticalMagic says:

    @Meeksthegeeks: Shame on you for calling a consumer a whiner because they were unhappy with the fact that a retailer committed fraud and deceptive practices. I think if all a person belonging to this site has to contribute is some snide remark in a case like this really IS on the wrong site.

  79. Curiosity says:

    Also for those who are curious about ads and contracts a good starting place is Lefkowitz v. Great Minneapolis Surplus Store (Minnesota Supreme Ct. 1957) (can be found at [www.law.unlv.edu])

  80. famboozled says:

    Congrats on getting the TV, good work. I see it like this: a deal is a deal. If CC did not want to offer the TV at that price then they should not have ever done so. I applaud you for you perseverance!

    On a side note, in California each and every counties District Attorney. Within each of these offices is Consumer Affairs Unit that is mandated by law to undertake just this kind of crime.

    Counties love them because there are rather large fines provided for in California Law. However, be judicious in involving these units as once you get them interested (if you can get them interested), it is likely that you will not be able call them off if you do get some satisfaction in some other way.

    This is a longer-term solution & will necessitate you to document your complaint in writing and in the worst case, testify in court (very unlikely but possible) However, if you are truly wronged as in this bait and switch and it is obvious that you will be getting no satisfaction- this might be one type of satisfaction. Again congrats on your TV!

  81. rikkus256 says:

    Good job Mitch!
    We need more people to do exactly what you did to send the dishonest stores a message.

    Shopper fights back! True consumerist spirit!

  82. ccemployee says:

    I think that everyone here is giving CCity way too much credit. I’ve been working at CCity for 3 years and the sad truth is that they just don’t know what they’re doing. They’ve got 18 year old kids who are getting paid $7.25 an hour in charge of inventory counts. Rules and procedures (and this is no exaggeration) change daily. Items that are on hold get sold on a regular basis. Training is next to non-existent and most of the product info that our sales staff gets comes from supervisors who are ill informed and is mostly incorrect. The only reason that I stay is because I know that no matter what I do or how much I screw up – nobody there cares.