Photos: CompUSA Raises Prices For Liquidation Sale

We’ve been hearing over and over again that there’s something shady afoot at the CompUSA liquidation sale. People from all over the country have been telling us that CompUSA is raising prices before knocking 15% off, resulting in not-so-hot discounts.

Reader Matt went out and took some pictures:

I was at my local CompUSA here in Rochester, NY. I have visual proof of them marking up items before marking them down. The included images are of Western Digital hard drive that was originally $119.99 and then marked up to $169.99 with 15% off.

priceincrease2.jpg If you’re going to go to CompUSA to check out the liquidation sale, be sure to research the prices before you buy. A similar (if not identical) Western Digital 500GB USB 2.0 hard drive is currently on sale at Circuit City for $129.99, according to Google.

priceincrease3.jpg

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  1. no.no.notorious says:

    compUSA: stupid jerk faces

  2. B says:

    This just in, CompUSA sucks. I wonder why they went out of business, with lovely sales practices like these.

  3. dcartist says:

    CompUSA… this is part of why you’re out of business. Horrible. Computers there were always overpriced, and I never saw a need to go there. Terrible store.

    If you want cheap liquidation electronics, go after Christmas to TARGET for any electronics that are marked “seasonal”. they take straight 50% off to clear their Christmas stuff the next day… then a week later it drops to 75% off, until its all gone. No matter what it is. I got an ipod portable speaker for $7.50…

  4. unclescrooge says:

    this is why compusa is going out of business. they have pulled this trick for years. they raise the price by just enough to make their cost savings hurt them less.

    i once walked in on a saturday afternoon, saw a wireless router for one price, walked back in on sunday when it was on sale and noticed that they had jacked the price up by $15 dollars and then were touting that they were taking $20 off the price with a MIR.

    nope…i have not set foot into a compusa store since they pulled the rug out from under their customers years ago when the DOJ went after them for failing to properly process those MIRs.

  5. dancemonkey says:

    I can’t confirm that the downtown SF store is marking up prices (though I don’t doubt it), but I can confirm that their “liquidation sale” is bullshit. Their products are more expensive after “discount” than any other retailer in the city.

    They’re even selling their shelving for $20/foot. I mean come on.

  6. timmus says:

    Well in all fairness, isn’t this not CompUSA but a liquidation firm called “Gordon Brothers”? More info…
    [www.google.com]

  7. rjhiggins says:

    I don’t know for sure in this case, but typically stores like CompUSA sell everything to a liquidator, and that company does the selling. And yes, they’ve always marked things up before marking them down, hoping to sucker those people who believe every “SALE!!!” sign they read. And obviously it works.

  8. mike1731 says:

    The Wichita KS store has done this all over the place. I have a couple of items I’d love to buy if/when the price is right, but so far things are far above what I could buy on line. Which is interesting, as before the liquidation, the prices there were generally pretty decent, maybe not as cheap but certainly not way out of line. Think the first flag should have been that all the price labels that used to be on the hooks and shelves were pulled down for the liquidation. Of course, I’m sure that is just a coincidence, isn’t it?

  9. clank-o-tron says:

    This reminds me of the few months I spent working at a Suncoast (overpriced movie retailer found in malls). Even with the employee discounts – 15% on those newfangled DVDs and 25% on VHS – it was cheaper to buy them at other retailers. Nevertheless, people still flooded in every day to buy movies because they were ‘on sale’ at 120% of usual retail costs. Slap a ‘discount’ sticker on something and people will swarm it without even doing the simplest of math.

  10. mac-phisto says:

    hold on a sec, doesn’t that say “15% off original price”? wouldn’t that be the price on the bottom sticker?

  11. smitty1123 says:

    CompUSA had a computer case I as looking at before Christmas for the wonderful sale price of $99. I ordered the same case online for $68 (including shipping). As others have said, there is a very logical reason why they are going out of business.

  12. mikepaul says:

    There were deals to be had, but not on items CompUSA spent a lot of money on. I got a Monster 2-way cable splitter for less than expected when 25% off of $19.99 rang up at $13.99. Available elsewhere cheaper? Probably wouldn’t have bothered…

  13. EvilSquirrel says:

    The only reason I ever shopped at CompUSA was because they would never ask for ID when buying M rated games. That was years ago though.

    I think the biggest thing that did them in was when they started reducing shelf space for computer related stuff and tried to become a full fledged Best Buy type electronics store. Back in the day, they were pretty good if you needed some computer hardware in less than an hour.

  14. AlteredBeast (blaming the OP one article at a time.) says:

    I recall when my local Compusa went out of business last year, and the HD-DVDs were marked up, then back down. The HD-DVDs at regular price were cheaper at Best Buy across the street.

  15. quail says:

    Too bad such a thing isn’t limited only to the liquidating CompUSA. A few years back, I spotted the same happening at a KMart. Needed a cheap kitchen table. Saw one at KMart but waited until I could look at other economical stores and make comparisons. Went back to buy at Kmart only to find the price had jumped $50. In four months time the table I was looking at was put on sale. And you guessed it, the sale price was the original asking price a few months earlier.

    Thankfully I didn’t buy from Kmart. But continued to save my pennies and bought a better table elsewhere.

  16. Quellman says:

    The inventory isn’t controlled by CompUSA. They sold it all off. The employees aren’t even CompUSA employees. The bankruptcy company owns it all, the merch and the minions.

  17. parad0x360 says:

    @dcartist: Target doesnt sell “seasonal” electronics. Right after Christmas is just a time when certain items go on clearance. It happens all through the year. Best time to buy stuff at Target is during a “transition” meaning the whole dept changes.

    if you go in one day and notice a whole aisle or more is being marked down, wait a couple weeks and go back and you will find incredible deals on anything from hard drives to hdtv’s.

    I got my 1st HDTV at Target for $120. It was a 26 inch 720p samsung. lasted me about 4 years until i upgraded to a nice new 1080p Sony Bravia. I also got a Sony DVD player for $20 (was $120 at the time), I got a digital camcorder for $180 down from over $700, a metric ****ton of dvd-r’s for a few bucks, a 2 gig USB drive for $7 at a time when they were in the hundreds, a $500 digital camera for about $60, a wireless router for $20 down from $130, xbox 360 games for $7-$14 and a whole bunch of other stuff that I cant even remember.

    Target always has amazing clearance deals on Electronics and they come about 3 times a year, just gotta keep your eyes open.

  18. joeblevins says:

    I remember walking around CompUSA when I heard the sales manager gather up the sheep and tried to motivate them. He was giving them canned answers to customers statements about why CompUSA had higher prices than BestBuy/Circuit City and Sams. He was saying ‘Service’ and knowledgeable staff. They then talked about people that come in to talk to CompUSA peeps then still go back to the other stores for cheaper prices.

  19. dreamrot says:

    My guess is that they’re doing the same thing that happened when Media Play went under a couple years back. Put all the prices up at MSRP and discount off of that.

  20. Xerloq says:

    I like to go to these liquidation sales and use my phone to do price matching for other customers. It’s funny when “grandma” realizes that she can go across the street to Best Buy and get the same thing for cheaper now.

    Many people who shop these sales have no clue they’re getting ripped. Too bad most of them are too technophobic to shop online.

  21. mikelotus says:

    they die like they lived. wish they would die faster.

  22. LTS! says:

    Someone needs to post in LARGE LARGE LETTERS, this is NOT the CompUSA that was screwing you before.

    This is, as has been pointed out, Gordon Bros. A liquidation firm. At least point the finger in the right direction because it will be the same kind of firm that handles your next liquidation at your least favorite retailer.

    Of course if you REALLY follow the news.. SystemMax is now purchasing the CompUSA brand and up to 16 stores. Who is SystemMax? Think TigerDirect!

  23. schiff says:

    I witnessed this in the garden City store when it was closing. They are doing the same thing in their manhattan stores.
    I actually was in Rochester 3 weeks ago and saw this on at least 3 products that I looked at. I was under the impression that this is an illegal practice. How can they get away with it on such a widespread scale?

  24. Coder4Life says:

    Hey everyone,

    COMPUSA is not doing these price changes for the last time. they have a liquidator in the store that makes up all the prices for them. He/She also decides what to do with the prices.

    He/She also determines what the new employees get paid that they are hiring on the spot.

    He/She also works with the managers to create a schedule for the employees to work.

    The employees have no control over the prices anymore and are not allowed to make a single price change without talking to the “Liquidator” who will 99.9% reject the price change. Because he makes money off of the sales he does.

    I mean c’mon they are selling the pen/paper pads and the fake trees from the break rooms to employees, at a very non reasonable price…

    And to LTS – Yes TIGER DIRECT did win the bid for CompUSA and I am not 100% sure how Gordon Brothers and Tiger Direct are figuring everything out…

  25. crypticgeek says:

    Woah….WOAH! You’re telling me, that retailers MARK UP their products before they discount them?! WOAH!

  26. mikemar42 says:

    They have the wrong sku number on the tag, but 169.99 is the right price. Just look at the website…

    [www.compusa.com]

    You conspiracy theory freaks need to chill out. Compusa just was overpriced before this liquidation. You can’t say they are raising the price. Someone just tagged it wrong and then fixed it. You people should be happy because if it wasn’t fixed you’d go apeshit over it too.

  27. SaraAB87 says:

    I purchased this same hard drive from bestbuy.com on black friday for 115$ shipped. Thankfully I haven’t had any problems yet. The MSRP retail price on this particular drive is 169.99 so thats why the price is that. The liquidators mark everything up to retail price then take the discount off of the retail price. Compusa was probably charging 119.99 and then the liquidators marked it up to retail price of 169.99 then took their discount of 15% off it. They count on people to notice the signs and perceive a great deal in order to sell the merchandise at just slightly less than retail.

    Liquidation sales are mostly scams… avoid them or bring a calculator/use a self scanner if the store has them in order to figure out what you are actually paying for an item. Don’t rely on the signs.

    Watch out when buying this particular drive, the older models of the Western Digital 500gb My Book Essential have problems and are likely the ones on sale here, make sure you are getting the newer model if you buy this item. I wouldn’t go buying things like hard drives at liquidation sales either.. not really a smart idea.

    After these articles on here and seeing first hand what the Kmart that is closing near where I live is doing (512mb SD card for 69.99 for example!) I have been avoiding liquidation sales altogether. Better deals can be had online.

  28. revmatty says:

    Regardless of the liquidators role in this, CompUSA was doing this before they sold everything off to liquidators. I’ve shopped there off and on over the past 20 years when I needed a part fast and it was pretty normal to see (as others above have noted) something get marked up $40 and then ‘marked down’ $25 the following week.

    Whoever handled the first round of liquidations for them did a really crappy job. The first few weeks nothing was selling in the local store because the markdowns were garbage and you could walk across the street to Wal-Mart and find the exact same items for cheaper than the ‘clearance’ price AND you’d still be able to return it if there were a problem.

  29. Lawk Salih says:

    Why shop anywhere else when you have MICROCENTER?

    That’s my take on this!

  30. invaderzim says:

    I’m sure Circuit City will do the same thing when they go under… I remember stores doing this back in the early 90′s that were going out (Service Merchandise). I don’t think it’s new.

  31. PatrickIs2Smart says:

    My CompUSA took a Sharpie to the prices of all the tags on the merch before placing new tags on them. Sneaky sneaky… oh well. I was on my way out the door and got to having a nice little conversation with the “Security Guard” who demanded to see my receipt before I left. I stood my ground for a couple minutes, but caved because my other half wanted to leave… I did call and give the store manager a piece of my mind, however.

  32. revmatty says:

    @lawksalih: Some of us aren’t so lucky :(

  33. mammalpants says:

    thats just the restocking fee included because we cant possibly return the crap to them and THEN get the restocking fee.

    buh bye, compusa! i hate your guts!! tell jerry falwell hello in hell!

  34. uricmu says:

    @dcartist: That’s the great thing about Christmas. Anything in red (e.g., a bunch of flashlights for the car) is automatically Xmas stuff.

  35. iamme99 says:

    I brought 2 APC surge protectors at Comp-USA about a week ago. They were both labeled $10.99. The display sign also said 10% off.

    However, when I went to check out, the clerk scanned the items and one came up at $14.99 and one at $19.99 (the higher one had a 6ft cord instead of 4 ft).

    I pointed to the price labels. The clerk called the liquidator overseer (adult) who was standing a few feet away with his arms crossed over his chest. I argued with him a bit and he says OK, charge him $10.99 each. Then he says to one of the other people, go to the shelves and pull all the remaining stock on that item until he can review the prices! Then he says merry XMAS to me, like I got a great deal.

    Only after arriving home did I remember that I didn’t get the 10% discount. But when I went back the next day, they refused to give me the discount. Screw them.

  36. lostalaska says:

    I’m at a bit of a loss, how could this great computer retailer be going out of business. Oh wait… no… it all makes sense now. Silly retail dinosaurs, don’t they know about all the consumer sites on these here inter-tubes yet?

  37. twoply says:

    I went to my local Comp USA to check out the prices. I used this cool function of Google to find out if the price for an item was good: just send a text to 46643 (Google) with the 12 digit UPC of an item and it replies with the best prices found online.

  38. StevieD says:

    @timmus:

    Correct

  39. h0mi says:

    Thats because Comp USA is marking prices down off the “MSRP” or its equivilent.

    When the la mesa store was closing, I saw an Antec laptop cooler. 2 weeks earlier it was $20 on sale at compusa. On ‘clearance’ it was 30% off a $60 price or $42.

  40. EricaKane says:

    Yeah, “Gordon Brothers” uses the term “original price” very liberally, I mean original price is anything. And yes, this happened all the time.

    As far as I am concerned, its fair to stick CompUSA for Gordon Bros’ actions – these products are for sale at a store called CompuSA not Gordon Bros.

  41. giveUhell says:

    Good friend of mine was a manager until about a week ago. He was there for the transition with the liquidator. Yes, they did mark up prices and even pulled merchandise off the sales floor to create a “sense of urgency” to customers who do not know better. “Yes sir that is our last one”….Right

  42. quentin says:

    As experiencing the first round of CompUSA liquidations myself as a former team member (RIP #531), all this tinfoil hat craziness is getting on my nerves. CompUSA as company does NOT exist anymore (at least in the form we all know and love or hate, the SystemMax buyout on the other hand…). Gordon Bros. controls the show now. Whatever was in MSRP is locked in stone from the time the liquidation began. If those drives were 169.99 RETIAL price, then they will DISCOUNT from that amount.

    Not everything at CompUSA will be a good deal and in most cases you are beter off waiting until the last minute. Then again, as they keep on taking off %, they will probably be all sold before it’s all over. Of course, joe customer, probably thinks paying 169.99 for an external drive like that is a good ideal and thus will be tricked into buying a “bargain”. If you must, monitor fatwallet if you want to know when the good stuff gets cheap.

  43. krodinjw says:

    I remember earlier last year when they closed the St. Louis stores. Almost every product that I looked at was marked up and in some cases cheaper on the compusa website.

  44. okazionaut says:

    I thought this kind of rip-offs worked only in the fashion industry – I guess I was wrong :(

  45. rsg2003 says:

    This is common practice when retailers do “monster” sales or “storewide” discounts. When I used to work at Circuit City, we used to replace the “everyday low price” with the “regular” prices. that way when people came in to get their 10% off department-wide prices, it would never really amount to a couple of bucks off what they sold the goods for on any non-sale day.

  46. In other news… CompUSA purchased by TigerDirect (Systemax, Inc.)

  47. BuriedCaesar says:

    I only ever used CompUSA like I do Fry’s and BestBuy – to see what the product looks like – and then do my shopping elsewhere.

  48. coren says:

    @mac-phisto: No, it’d be the one before that discounted price.

    And come on, Consumerist, how many stories are we gonna see about “Comp USA” marking up prices when A) it’s not Comp USA and B) this is standard operating procedures for all liquidators and C) this gets said every time one of these types of things is posted?

  49. cheviot says:

    Okay…. A quick tutorial on CompUSA SKU stickers.

    Normally, when not in liquidation, CompUSA SKU stickers never have prices on them. They list the item’s SKU and the date the product arrived in the store. That all changed on the first day of liquidation, when they lock the prices in the POS system, sans sales and rebates, and have people price all the items in the store so there’s no confusion for customers as to what the original price of the product is.

    So… any price tag with a price was done on the first day of liquidation or later. But waitaminute… where’d the $119.99 price come from? It’s from the similarly boxed 320gb drive by the same company.

    Basically, the random employee enlisted to re-price product put the wrong price on it and corrected it, probably moments later, or possibly after a customer tried to purchase one at the incorrect price. So they fixed them.

    Miss-pricings happen, especially when people that don’t normally do this sort of thing are handed a price gun. Get a grip people.

  50. FessLove says:

    I doubt anything very “shady” is going on, just evidence as to why they are going out of business. They never have the best price on things. I have shopped there from time to time, needing an obscure part immediately, but I never expected a deal.

  51. nutrigm says:

    oh please, these are standard business practices. There’s nothing wrong with them in today’s capitalist market where everyone has access to the internet and hey if something seems ‘overpriced’, well then don’t buy it! If you can afford, go ahead by all means!

  52. AlphaTeam says:

    I’m sad to know that Systemax is putting them in business, but hopefully they can pull the crap out and provide better prices and service at the stores.

  53. texas1 says:

    CompUSA is not raising prices during the liquidation sale. If you don’t believe me, just look at the retail MSRP at a MFG’s website, or check out Circuit City or Best Buy for the regular price. Marked pricing is based off of the everyday price as of December 12, 2007. Any vendor kick backs are no longer valid.

    There has been some confusion if the regular price or the discounted price should be printed on the products. The regular price is what is suppose to be marked, and then you take the discount off of that.

    As far as pricing went, CompUSA usually went by the vendor retail MSRP. Surprisingly, Best Buy normally adds $2-$3 dollars to most MSRP based pricing, but nobody ever catches this. Educated customers generally realize that CompUSA was very competitive with pricing, but never spent money on marketing to make people realize this. With less competition in the market, lets all get ready for lower quality imported junk and HIGHER PRICES.

  54. photodude27 says:

    Texas1 is right, during the liquidation the store had to hard tag every single item and if it was priced incorrectly based on the shelf label of some other item, they would have to re-price it, thats all these pictures show! The reason CompUSA went out of business was not pricing, it was the prior upper managment that failed to respond in time for industry changes. Just an FYI…that CEO is now a big wig at an auto parts chain…I look forwad to them going under soon too!!!

  55. snoop-blog says:

    ths s nthng nw. strs hv dn ths fr yrs.