Circuit City Lies About Guitar Hero Release Date To Get You To Go Away

David went to Circuit City yesterday to buy a copy of the new Guitar Hero game, which, according to our extensive research, is currently on sale at Circuit City. Unfortunately, the employees at this particular store refused to sell him the game, then lied about its release date, so that they wouldn’t have to correct an error in their computer system. Why were they so reluctant to fix the mistake? Because the game was priced at $10,000 in the system, and to mark it down to its actual price would “look bad.”

David launched an EECB (Executive Email Carpet Bomb) on Circuit City and CC’d us. Let’s listen in:

I came to Circuit City hoping to purchase Guitar Hero: World Tour Complete Band Set for my wife’s birthday. I had tried several other stores before coming to Circuit City, but all were sold out. When I arrived and asked an associate if they had the complete band set in stock, I was pleased to learn that they had one left. However, when they attempted to ring the item up, instead of the $189.99 list price, the item rang up at $10,000.00. We all had a good laugh at this as the associate went for a manager to clear up the error.

The manager looked at the price and told me that that normally happens when an item is marked unavailable because the item was not yet at its release date. Of course, this game was released last Tuesday, Oct. 28, and the manager and various sales associates told me that they had already sold a ton of them. After speaking to his supervisor on the phone (I believe it was a district manager), I was told that they could do a price adjustment to the correct price, but since that would throw off some numbers, would it be all right with me if they set the item available online, where the price is correct, and just pay for it on the web with immediate “in-store” pickup? I was happy to do whatever was needed, and did not mind helping, so I said sure.

Unfortunately, for the next 45 minutes I waited as the employee trying to make this happen ran back and forth from computer to computer trying to get the inventory and the website to match up. Finally, as I had been in the store over an hour at that point, I asked that the manager just do the price adjustment and let me buy the game. He got back on the phone with the district or regional manager, and I was the told that the Guitar Hero: World Tour Complete Band Set was not supposed to be released until NEXT Tuesday, so they could not sell it to me. This is untrue. Multiple CC employees told me that they had sold many of the sets earlier in the week. Also, here is a small list of stores and sites selling the set as of RIGHT NOW:

–WalMart
–Best Buy
–Target
–Amazon
–CIRCUIT CITY (At multiple stores, according to the website)

When I told the manager this was not true and that the manager had in fact earlier offered to simply price adjust the price, the truth emerged. The district manager told the store manager that a price adjustment that large would make their numbers look really bad, so they could not do it. The “It hasn’t been released yet” line was just that, a lie to tell me so I would leave. This is unacceptable.

This is what I would like from Circuit City:

1. An explanation why Circuit City’s internal variance numbers are more important than a customer trying to spend several hundred dollars at your store, and why I was lied to.

2. An acknowledgment that the item I was trying to buy was in fact available, and that I should have been allowed to purchase it.

3. A phone call from the District Manager, Regional Manager, or higher up at corporate to explain 1. and 2. to me.

Finally, one personal observation…perhaps it is customer service like this that is forcing you to close 155 of your stores?

Sincerely,

David

UPDATE:
David has an update and a happy ending!

David says:

I wanted to give you an update for my Circuit City issue. This morning I got a phone call from the District Manager for the Memphis stores and surrounding areas, Michael. He was “mortified” and had investigated the issue with the store in question as well as the asset manager that the store called. He went over what happened with me and addressed all my points. Apparently, there was a company-wide glitch that goofed up the price for my item. He apologized profusely during our 15 minute conversation, and though I did not ask for it, he gave me the complete band set for free. I just got back from Circuit City, and the game was waiting for me there. So, Circuit City, or at least Michael, really went over and above to address my issue.

Comments

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  1. friendlynerd says:

    Can’t look much worse than getting delisted from the NYSE. I’m sure they all wonder why they’re circling the drain, too.

  2. idip says:

    Stuff like this is why I never shop at Circuit City. If they don’t want customers… what do they expect other then to go out of business?

    • Jabberkaty says:

      @idip: When hubby and I were looking at new computers we stopped in. Waited 10 minutes for a rep to help us blow $1,000, when none came, we asked at the service desk. The girl looked at us like we were ruining her day, sighed, went to find someone – never came back. We left and spent our $$$ elsewhere.

      I mean, what do they expect?

      • mariospants says:

        @Jabberkaty: and doesn’t it just ruin the fun of having $1000 burning a hole in your pocket when nobody is willing to help you spend it?

        I can’t even begin to count the number of times I’ve been to a store with money in hand, ready to buy something only to have the staff dismotivate me from any purchase whatsoever.

        Sad, really. ;-)

        • howie_in_az says:

          @mariospants: I hope both you and Jabberkaty followed up with emails to the stores in question saying how, due to inattentive employees, you simply took your money elsewhere, because otherwise companies will never learn.

      • Darkest Daze says:

        @Jabberkaty: @mariospants:

        And this is the exact reason that if you have to buy big ticket items in a retail store, you’re best off going somewhere that still has commission. While you’d think that by going to somewhere with commission, they’d try to bilk you out of every dollar possible, it’s usually the opposite. The salesmen will usually try to make sure you’re happy with everything you get, so you don’t turn around and return it 2 days later because they oversold you or made you feel “ripped off”.

        Plus, they run to serve you since you’re their paycheck.

  3. The 12 Men on the Field Watch Intern says:

    Never would have happened if he had bought Rock Band 2.

    /kidding, kind of

  4. tande04 says:

    Ironically I’m sure that the CC death watch had a lot to do with it becoming a problem in the first place.

    The store probably wouldn’t of cared about just taking the markdown if the company was hunky dory. I’m sure the manager and district manager had heard the rumors too (why else would the manager even bother talking to the DM?) and knew that blowing the entire month on one customer wasn’t going to help their odds of not making that list.

    Not saying this is justified or “right” in any way. I can just see where they’re comming from at a time where I’m sure the manager and DM are just as worried about their jobs.

  5. semanticantics says:

    He got lucky. This game blows. Buy Rock Band 2 instead.

    • Haplo9000 says:

      @semanticantics: Maybe, but my wife likes it, so that’s good enough for me.

      • bucklefilledbird says:

        @Haplo9000: IMO, however the GH:WT hardware (drum kit, guitar) are far superior than RB2, and as such, I’m willing to drop coin for that… cause I beat the S@#T out of my hardware and know for a fact that RB guitars suck it.

        • semanticantics says:

          @bucklefilledbird: That is why the GHWT forums, both official and non, are riddled with hardware problem threads.

          At least when it happened to Rock Band, they responded as well as one could hope. Activision is charging for shipping on their broken instruments.

        • ludwigk says:

          @bucklefilledbird: have you tried the RB2 wireless fender? it’s a lot nicer than the previous one.

  6. themikebrown says:

    I have never been that happy with their customer service. But then again this is one place I go where I know I will be left alone to browse without interruption every 20 seconds.

  7. catastrophegirl chooses not to fly says:

    is this part of the new clearance pricing for the closing stores?
    or are they doing some funny math like saying ‘we would sell x many copies at 600+ stores at $y dollars, so now that we are closing z number of stores, we need to increase the prices to make up the dollar amount that we would get in volume by having other stores open’ ?

    on a serious note, this does seem like the kind of customer service that would lead to the end of days for a retailer. blatant and transparent lies … never a good way to win customer loyalty

  8. blackmage439 says:

    So, it’s come to the point where Circuit City won’t even take your money even if you’re shoving it in their face?

    They have become Sears. Only Sears is magically somehow still afloat…

  9. Courteous_Gentleman says:

    Wait wait wait wait wait, he got the entire product for free?!

    That is some pretty stellar customer service, as well as a sound explanation as to why CC is getting shitcanned. (Sure, just take the $150 product!)

    • Haplo9000 says:

      @Courteous_Gentleman: I really did…believe me, I was as stunned as you are. I didn’t ask for anything free in my e-mail, as I did not want to come off as a money grubber or anything, but Michael offered it without any prompting. I have it sitting in here next to me in my office even as I type.

      • howie_in_az says:

        @Haplo9000: I guess employees are free to do a lot of things when they know their employer will be out of business in the very near future :) Still, awesome that you got everything for free after going through all these shenanigans.

  10. Macroy says:

    Let’s hope he won’t run into any trouble if any of his instruments are defective.

  11. Wayfaerer says:

    I had a fifty dollar CC gift card I received as rewards on my credit card that I was going to use when I bought Rock Band 2. Rock Band came out on a Sunday, so I went to the store and looked around and it was nowhere to be found. After trying to get anyone’s attention for 10 minutes, someone finally stopped to help me. After he looks around in the same spots I just did, he calls the “warehouse” to find out about it. They told him it wasn’t released until Tuesday, even though it said “Available now” in their own flyer.

    I figured I’ll just pick it up elsewhere (bought it at Gamestop that same day), because I wanted to get the wireless “guitar” and could use the 50 dollars on that. I kept checking back in the next few weeks, and I’m still not convinced they ever actually received the game or anything else related to it.

    This is not one of the stores marked for closing either.

  12. PlasmaMachine says:

    Didn’t read the story 100% through, but the game was released on October 26th.

    • Haplo9000 says:

      @PlasmaMachine: You know, that’s what I thought too, but since I saw all over the internet at various sites that the release date was Oct. 28, I used that as the release date. I wanted something that I could point to and say “SEE!”

  13. Anonymous says:

    Something similar happened to me 1 year ago when buying Desktop memory. They had an ad for 1 gig of memory for $50 dollars I got to the store and was told that this is a mistake in our ad and that the actual price of memory is $150 dollars. I asked to see the display of the memory and right there in front of my face was the memory they were advertising for the price of $50. They had three extras available but when they rang it up it was $150 dollars not the $50 dollars like they told me in the ad or on the display. I finally recieved it for the $50 dollars when I showed the display inside their own store. Typical Circuit City.

  14. springboks says:

    This is really a shame. Circuit City keep digging themselves deeper in the hole.
    – Telling lies
    – Marking products up to $10k
    – Closing of 155 stores (more jobs lost)

    The only good thing they have going is their stock is up 10cents today. They’re up to 36cents

  15. FuryOfFirestorm says:

    On a similar note, around April, my friend Gary went to Wal-Mart to get the whole Rock Band box set for the PS3. There none on display, so the head of electronics went in back, and there was one box left. Lo and behold, when we got home an opened it, it was a DEMO SET! The box said nothing on the outside to denote this, but there was a disc in a white sleeve, drum sticks with tethers, and the guitars were not wireless! We sent it back, and asked for another. Didn’t have any, so we called every Wal Mart in a 30 miles radius, and none had it for the PS3. Guess Wal-Mart doesn’t want his $200 dollars. However, a few weeks later, Best Buy showed an ad for Rock Band at $99! The ad even showed the PS3 box! We ran like hell to Best Buy, showed the ad, and got it! Wal-Marts loss was our gain!
    Sorry if this was off topic, just had to get it out there.

  16. MightyDwarf56 says:

    From every CC post I see on this site, stuff like this doesn’t really suprise me. But wow, when your company is on life support and you pull this crap, BB keeps looking better and better(add lots of scarcasm).

  17. nursetim says:

    This story is a prime example of what is wrong with CC. You have an obvious error which should never occur in the first place, then you have the mentality that you can’t help the customer because it would make their “numbers” look bad. At no time did anyone with a functioning brain step up and fix the problem. Everyone in this situation was a slave to “the system” and “the numbers”.

    This is how Skynet is able to take over, because no one wants to deviate from what “the computer” says.

    • The 12 Men on the Field Watch Intern says:

      @nursetim: I do want to point out that at least the original cashier and possibly the store manager seemed to be attempting to help, but apparently didn’t have the direct authority to do so. An hour trying to resolve an issue like this isn’t exactly tossing this guy to the side. The district manager guy seemed to be the single point of failure.

      • The 12 Men on the Field Watch Intern says:

        @The 12 Men on the Field Watch Intern: Asset manager, rather.

        • nursetim says:

          @The 12 Men on the Field Watch Intern: After reading the article again, you are right, but my little aside about being a slave to a computer still holds some what. It all revolved around trying to let a computer sell the game at the right price, and an asset manager being more concerned about numbers than taking care of the problem.
          Many stories posted here seem to have a theme of a computer or a system preventing a CSR from addressing a problem, which can be used as a built in excuse. I watched Terminator 2 last night, so thats where the Skynet reference comes from.

  18. BoomerFive says:

    Circuit city is like Gone with the Wind + Titanic epic fail

  19. Bahnburner says:

    Nationwide chain of electronic stores staffed by flunkies and going bankrupt is providing less than upfront purchase experience? I, for one, am shocked.

  20. smurph0404 says:

    CC is hilarious I think. The one by my place had a single customer service cashier open and handling all customer service issues as well as purchases. I waited in line to return my DOA router with people buying games and people with other service issues to talk to the same 19 year old girl who is magically supposed to know everything.

    • Anonymous says:

      @smurph0404: thanks for the sympathy…i’m that 19 year old girl/single customer service cashier handling all customer service issues as well as purchases. believe me, it’s not easy, and we can thank the higher-ups at CC for thinking that since customer service doesn’t make the company any money, they don’t need to be paying more than one of our wages at a time.

  21. Lucky225 says:

    I am pleased to read stories like this. To think, they were worried about NUMBERS making them look bad, the impression left with a CUSTOMER can ALWAYS make you look WORSE. Esp. when said customer puts you on blast on consumerist and an EECB! Props to Circuit City for taking prompt responsible action, even if it was after the fact.

  22. Tiber says:

    It’s a minor mistake. Looks they just mixed it up with its European pricing.

    Seriously though, why is everyone mocking them? Yes, the store was stupid, but he got a $190 item free! Most people are satisfied with a $50 gift card!

    • ezacharyk says:

      @Tiber: Yes he got a $190 dollar item for free. Only after he was willing to pay $190 for it and they refused to take his money.

      They are making fun of CC for losing money when they could have made a sale.

    • tande04 says:

      @Tiber: Plus the part about the item being free was an update to the story so there is going to be a percentage of comments where that wasn’t even there. Just a story about CC not taking the guys money.

  23. Anonymous says:

    As a fellow circuit city employee, I sincerely apologize for what you went through at this store. However it is not fair to lump all stores and associates together as one bad apple. I promise that if you had come into my store, you would not have had any problems because we believe in taking care of the customer.

    • Haplo9000 says:

      @ShreelaMenelaus: I am fairly certain I did nothing of the sort. In fact, I made it a point to mention that for most of the hour I waited, various employees were running around trying to find some way to “game” the computer into getting the correct price to show up. It was a single “Asset management” employee that was not even present at the store that was the “bad apple”. The way I was treated was still not right, but certainly the majority of the people in store were working hard to help.

    • Lordstrom says:

      @ShreelaMenelaus: lol you say it’s unfair to lump everyone, meanwhile your company is on the brink of death. Did you really type that with a straight face?

  24. Anonymous says:

    Having worked retail sadly not fixing the price was probably the right thing to do from the store’s point of view, if they had sold it at the correct price it would have affected the store buying power, many bonuses and commissions could be lost (could be $3000 or more for a manager if the quarter did not meet expectations) Head offices will almost never fix such errors on a store level so the store would look like someone stole $900. but once it was fixed on the database level everything works fine for everyone and loosing ~$100 is nothing for a normal store like that (although the free game is probably still taken off of the store’s balance even though it was arranged by corporate)

  25. sqwigeebo says:

    I’m not sure if i believe the DM. On the West Coast, part of the Operations of the store now involves a paper to be filled out whenever a price adjustment is done, as to about a year ago, where they could just be done without the paper. The higher up’s required proof that the price adjustments were being done to stay competitive and not just to give price breaks. It’s no wonder this place is going out of business, they feel that filling out a piece of paper is a strong enough operational tool to get them out of the red and into the green.

  26. halo969 says:

    I was going to ask why the OP didn’t just leave and buy it elsewhere, but I guess the extra hassle got him a free game so kudos.

    • Haplo9000 says:

      @halo969: I went to several locations BEFORE I tried Circuit City; in fact, Circuit City was just a last ditch “It’s on the way home” stop. Everywhere else I went was sold out of the Band set that I wanted for my wife. I could get the game easily, but if I wanted all the instruments as well, it was Circuit City’s one remaining box set or zilch.

  27. starbreiz says:

    Are you sure? I just looked it up to purchase on Amazon, and I see pre-order availability with “Release Date: November 16, 2008″

  28. starbreiz says:

    Sorry, what I looked at was the Band Kit that’s not released until Nov 16. It looks much like Rock Band: [www.amazon.com]

  29. angrykeyboarder says:

    There is nothing I want badly enough to buy at Circuit City. If everyone else is sold out on the product I want, I’ll wait.

    I wouldn’t go to Circuit City even if they were giving everything away.

  30. Con Seannery says:

    Wow, this is why Circuit Shitty is dying. They prefer their numbers in the system to their money in the register.

  31. elislider says:

    wow they actually did something to earn his respect. maybe this massive store closure is part of a large scale circuit city redirection towards actually making happy customers and in the process some profit

  32. eiflerb says:

    If only this game was worth getting even for free. I bought the complete band bundle for the Xbox 360 for $189.99, and it was riddled with problems. The main problem was that the drum kit doesn’t work correctly. It doesn’t register drum hits. Activision claims a USB to MIDI cable (hooked up to a computer, your drum kit, and the game console all at the same time will fix it.) Truthfully, it is just a band aid to faulty wiring as mine was fixed for a day then went completely out. Activision’s discussion boards are riddled with people having problems like I had. I was fortunate to be able to get a refund for mine, others were not so lucky. Major retailers have halted exchanges for opened boxes and are directing people to take it up with Activision, the game’s publisher, only to find out they have to spend their own money to have the defective equipment shipped to be repaired. Hope your free Guitar Hero World Tour kit works properly, or your free game may end up being costly and causing you unwanted grief.

  33. eiflerb says:

    IS it a big surprise to anyone that CC is a sinking ship? Anyone who has shopped there could have seen this coming miles and miles away.

  34. zsta2k7 says:

    Interesting seeing as how I bought the set Saturday from CC.

    (And returned it tonight, not worth picking up. RB2 > GHWT)

    PS: It looks like they marked it down, the CS rep made mention of the price showing up at $1000.00

  35. mistajaymes says:

    that guy really needs to get the stick out of his ass. that 189.99 has no margin so they dont care what they say to you in the long run. why do you insist on waitintg around for a hnour when you can go to the [insert competing store name here] across the street and go buy it. no one at CC will care if you go somewhere else to buy a VIDEO GAME.

    • Haplo9000 says:

      @mistajaymes: well, I’m going to try and say this one more time…I WENT TO SEVERAL OTHER STORES AND THEY WERE ALL SOLD OUT! So, if I wanted the game for my wife’s birthday, CC was pretty much it at that moment.

      So, perhaps YOU need to get the stick out of YOUR ass and use the extra focus you get as a result to read the article and comments before you comment on someone else’s experience.

  36. Anonymous says:

    I had an almost polar opposite experience at Circuit City this weekend. After finding that Fallout 3 was in stock at a local Houston Circuit City, I went by. After not finding it on the shelf, I asked someone who appeared to be a manager, mentioning that I had seen it in stock online. He quickly walked to the front of the store, went into a room, and pulled out Fallout 3 – the deluxe edition. I asked him if he had the non-deluxe version, which was $59.99 vs. $79.99 for the Deluxe. He checked the computer, wrote down an sku, and I wandered off while he looked. When I back to the front he explained that they did not in fact have the regular version. I explained that I didn’t mind, and I’d buy the deluxe version. He found an associate to ring me up, whispered something to them, and I purchased the deluxe version – at $59.99, the cost of the regular version. I didn’t ask for a reduced price, he just did it. I don’t prefer Circuit City, but not everyone that works there is vile, and Gawker could be a little more objective.

  37. gStein_*|bringing starpipe back|* says:

    let’s do the math.
    cost: $10000
    other stores carry for: $189.99
    difference: $9810.01
    10% of difference as price-match guarantee: $981

    even if they don’t do the “find a better price and we’ll give you the difference plus 10%” deal, it would show in the system as a 98.1$ discount.

    the best solution would be for them to add a “DO NOT SELL” option to their items in the database, since someone can always override the cost. (sorry, i’m tired and can’t think of the proper technical term. which is just as well, someone wouldn’t understand it anyway)

  38. Meathamper says:

    Good on ya, CC. I’m really sorry you guys had to shutter 155 stores.

  39. Mr_Mantastic says:

    Was it the Wolfchase store? That place is pretty shady!

  40. JazzyGebsite says:

    Stopped shopping at CC 6 months ago. Purchased an item online and headed to local CC (Manassas, VA) for my “15 minute pick up”..

    Stood at the counter for 10 minutes waiting for someone to wait on me. Watched the sales drones wander in and out of t he back room, apparently having a good time chatting. All the time, a person was at the sales counter 10 feet away ringing up sales — and the line there was 10 people deep. Finally got the attention of one of the yakking drones and asked to speak to manager. This lumbering oaf walks up to me and I explain the situation and he has the balls to tell me there is only one person working the sales counter and she is too busy to handle the web pickups – tells me to get in the 10 people deep line. I say, nope – you just lost a $350 sale…

    To make it worse, I walk outside and immediately call their “custom service” line. They explain to me that each store handles their own issues and that I would need to speak to the mgr…. no wonder they are circling the drain. Never went to CC again.

  41. Anonymous says:

    I have had NOTHING but trouble with Circuit City over the past year or so all involving pricing: not following our state laws on pricing, and a situation similar to yours with a TV on “clerance” rang up $100 bellow the marked price, and the quickly marked the price up to reflect what was on the tag. Haven’t been back since.

    No reason to be curious why there stock is at .34 cents and share and they are closing over 100 stores! They are in big trouble!

  42. altryan says:

    That’s an awesome example of an EECB working yet again. I think the guy went overboard in giving you the system for free, maybe he was trying to bribe you into NOT posting this on Consumerist. Whoops.

    • Haplo9000 says:

      @altryan: I made it pretty clear that I had ALREADY submitted the letter to The Consumerist, so I doubt he was trying to bribe me in that way. As far as I could tell, he honestly was mortified and he wanted to make it right for me.

  43. Anonymous says:

    That’s great that you got it for free, and after all that you deserve nothing less. Oddly, I went to Circuit City last week for the same exact thing (to buy the full band set for GH4). They seemed to be the only store for miles that had it, but when I was there I couldn’t help but notice that there were easily twice as many employees as there were customers. And I think that every time I go in there, which is maybe once a year at most. I thought to myself “wow how much longer is this place going to be open for”. A couple days later they made the announcement that over 100 stores would close and I think it’s safe to assume that this store is going to be one of them.

  44. Anonymous says:

    I had a similar problem but didn’t get the same satisfaction in the end that you did. Last thanksgiving they had all 4 bond dvd sets for $20 each. I ordered them all in the same order going to the same address. They shipped the items seperate and I never received the 1st set in the collection.
    I called them and asked if a they can verify and since there was no tracking on the package they couldn’t trace it. I asked if a new one could be sent out and they said that I would have to wait 15 days before they would send a new one out. After 15 days I called back and told them the package never arrived, and would like another one sent and not a refund.
    They told me that if I would have called within 14 days they would have sent a new one, now I can only get a refund. That wasn’t acceptable since I received the others and the set was now double the price. They also told me to wait the 15 days. After several calls of them refusing to send another I told them to issue a refund and haven’t shopped there since.

    Glad you got what you needed but I’m glad they are going out of business.

  45. arkaycee says:

    The CC near me has actually been pretty decent in terms of customer service,though I have noticed a decline in the past year or so. Maybe the fact that they have NOT sucked is why they have survived the (first?) cut of 155 stores.

  46. Bs Baldwin says:

    After all of that hassle, the store manager should have just wrote off the product from inventory when the customer was still in the store. Whatever the DM did, the SM could have done. Morons like this just need to be out of a jo, oh wait they are now.