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)
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)
Depth: 3.8″(12.9″ on optional base)
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.
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]
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.
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!