Circuit City Liquidation: If You Buy A Shattered TV, You Are Out Of Luck

WCVB TV in Boston has an interview with two Circuit City liquidation customers who are out $1,100 after they bought a Samsung LCD TV from Circuit City’s liquidation sale — only to find out that it was totally shattered. When they tried to return it — Circuit City’s liquidator told them the merchandise was sold “as is” and cannot be returned for any reason. WCVB TV says there’s a sign in one store telling customers not to open the merchandise, and another that allows customer to check their merchandise only after they’ve paid for it. Is this ethical?

Team 5 Investigates discovered that while consumers are warned about final sales, they have no way of knowing if what they’re buying is bad. In the Natick store, inspections are allowed only after a customer pays, and in Somerville, one sign says “Check your purchase,” but another sign says, “Don’t Open The Merchandise.”

In Minnesota, we found a similar story. A family paid $1,500 for a TV at the Circuit City liquidation sale — and claim that they were prevented from opening the box to make sure the TV wasn’t damaged. The TV was, of course, totally shattered. When the local Fox affiliate tried to investigate, they say they were “kicked out” of the store.

Meanwhile, back in Boston, the customers told reporters that they were going to try to get their credit card company to help them — but honestly, we’re not optimistic. All sales are final in a liquidation sale. That’s only one of the many reasons you should avoid them.

UPDATE: For those of you asking why state laws don’t apply here, it’s because federal bankruptcy laws are in play.

Customers Burned In Circuit City Closeout Sale [WCVB]
(Photo:catastrophegirl)

Comments

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  1. dreamsneverend says:

    Liqidators rule…honestly what can stop you from inspecting your goods before you leave the store? It’s like checking your eggs before you leave the store, no one wants to come home and see cracked ones.

    • Corporate_guy says:

      @dreamsneverend: If you check after you checkout you are out of luck. And technically you don’t have the right to open the box and look before purchase.

      • ScottRose says:

        @Corporate_guy:

        It’s true. The property is not yours until you pay, and you have no control over it (re. opening the box, hooking it up, etc) until you’ve paid for it.

        Buying as-is without inspection is like lending money to friends. Never spend more than you’re willing to lose.

        I hate to be anti-consumer here, but those people were stone-cold 100% idiotic for buying the TVs to begin with [under those restrictions]. Actually, I’m going to give the legal system 5% of the blame for not protecting consumers in this situation.

        • JRB says:

          @ScottRose: I agree with you to a point, but at the same time there IS a (moral if not legal) onus on sellers, even ones that are going bankrupt, to ensure that what they’re selling is functional merchandise, especially in these egregious cases of obvious physical damage to the device.

    • ricosoma says:

      @dreamsneverend:

      What the TV report didn’t emphasize is that the consumer in question is disputing the sale through their credit card company. They should prevail with this approach. One more reason to always use a credit card for a purchase from a vendor you’re not sure about

      • Satanicat says:

        @ricosoma:

        Although I’ve come to realize that is seemingly the best option. Why do credit cards care to get you back the money you lost? I’ve had disputes before with one of my credit cards, and within a day, I had my money back, as I was charged for something on a website that I did not receive, and couldn’t get in touch with anyone at the company.

        I figure it’s to keep me happy (and boy did it do that), but do they have to do that? I don’t get it. So many companies want our money, yet my CC company will fight to get my money back if wrongfully taken.

      • Blueskylaw says:

        @ricosoma:

        Doesn’t the product have to work for the use for which it was intended? Such as the television. The television might be dented and scratched but it still has to play, otherwise you are entitled to a refund.

    • drdom says:

      @dreamsneverend: Sorry to hear that anybody got hosed.

      Several points to make here:

      1: Knowing what the terms are in advance, you have the choice of proceeding with the transaction knowing the risk you’re taking, or insisting on checking the contents first before you buy. Since all sales are final, as clearly posted, you have the option to ask them to permit you to inspect the product, or go across the street and buy the identical item from Best Buy, for more than likely a lower cost.

      2: You are probably not actually buying the merchandise from Circuit City. Most liquidators either buy the entire inventory for a fixed price, or in some cases, for a percentage of the total sales. The use of the trade name for the purposes of facilitating the liquidation sale may be part of the terms of the agreement.

      3: Despite what is posted above, I believe local and state consumer laws may very well apply. Once again, it depends on who owns the merchandise being sold. If the liquidator acquired the merchandise through a bulk bid, and are reselling it on their own behalf using Circuit City’s name, state and local laws most certainly do apply.

      And even if the assets were still under the direction of the bankruptcy court, I am unaware of any prohibition regarding the inspection of a liquidation asset prior to or at the time of purchase. This sounds more like a condition of sale imposed by the liquidator. Part of the proof of my point is that even in liquidation sales supervised by the federal bankruptcy court, sales are still subject to state and local sales taxes.

      Federal bankruptcy courts rarely impose restrictions which circumvent consumer protection laws. Even bankruptcy auctions generally permit a reasonable inspection prior to bidding.

      This sounds more like the policy of the liquidator. You can choose to accept their terms, and take the risk, or decide not to do so.

  2. Pylon83 says:

    It really sucks that he manufacturer won’t help, but I do hesitate to blame them since the product wasn’t defective. Circuit City is handling the liquidation poorly, but there is something to be said for the fact that the signs do indeed say “All Sales Final”. I suppose I tend to expect people to read and understand stuff like that. If you can’t check it before you buy it, and you know all sales are final, you should know you’re taking a huge risk. Just another reason why one shouldn’t buy from Circuit City.

    • Corporate-Shill says:

      @Pylon83:

      Circuit City no longer exists.

      This is a liquidation company making decisions.

    • HunterJoules says:

      @Pylon83: I think you unfamiliar with the concept of merchantability. Most states have laws of merchantability, requiring all items sold as being fit for sale. A television with a shattered display is certainly not “usable for the purpose it is made”.

      Most states have implied warranties of merchantability, which I would imagine would apply even in a liquidation sale.

      • supercereal says:

        @HunterJoules:
        From the summary:

        UPDATE: For those of you asking why state laws don’t apply here, it’s because federal bankruptcy laws are in play.

        Reading is fun!

        • HunterJoules says:

          @supercereal: That update wasn’t present when I first read the article. Which I believe is what makes it an update.

          • SonicMan says:

            @HunterJoules: So, what is to stop this liquidation company from putting bricks in tv boxes, and selling them as TVs?

            Since all sales are final, there is nothing you could do. Right?

        • RedwoodFlyer says:

          @supercereal: Odd…What part of federal bankruptcy laws exempts a company from state merchantability laws?

          Also…I keep hearing that “It’s not Circuit City anymore…it’s the liquidator company”… fair enough. Well…since the liquidator isn’t going bankrupt, why are bankruptcy laws CYAing?

    • ShadowFalls says:

      @Pylon83:

      Circuit City isn’t handling the liquidation at all. They are being liquidated by the same ones that did CompUSA. Circuit City is gone, the blame lies strictly with the liquidators.

      Interesting concept though, saying you can’t check before you buy, but then say you can check after you buy, but all sales are final…

      The interesting part is, what if they were selling this product and knew it was broken? You can’t prove it, which makes me believe that is the kind of thing they are likely to actually do.

  3. TKOtheKDR says:

    Unfortunately, they can refuse service to anyone. If they see you beginning to open a package, they can kick you out. As long as they don’t do it along discriminatory bases, (i.e. race, religion, etc.), I do believe it’s legal.

    I would never buy anything at a liquidation sale, **especially** from Circuit City.

    • Corporate-Shill says:

      @TKOtheKDR:

      Circuit City no longer exists.

      This is a liquidation company making decisions.

      • coren says:

        @Corporate_guy: The counter argument to this is that Gordon Brothers has a history of liquidating big box electronic stores, as they’ve already got CompUSA and someone else under their belt.

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

          @coren: The thing is, there could be hundreds of thousdands of reports of Gordon Brothers screwing customers, but it doesn’t matter. It’s not like they are going to lose potential customers. The next place they liqudate, most people won’t know who’d doing it, nor to avoid that particular liquidator.

    • Fletchb says:

      @TKOtheKDR:

      Agree 100%. Have read nothing but horror stories about CC liquidation all over the net. You have to be crazy to buy from them because the deals are not very good and they are not standing behind them.

      My paper had a picture of the sale in the paper recently.

      It looks like they are hiring cretins to stand out on on street corners holding signs with 30% off. The guy looked like he might be on something and need clean cloths and a haircut.

      Best advice is stay far away from CC and buy from Amazon or newegg /etc.

  4. silver-bolt says:

    Afaik, AS-IS has a legal implication of only covering disclosed damages or state of the merchandise. If you buy a display model as-is, you can’t complain about that huge dent in the side you saw. The biggest things towards their favor would be that they were not allowed to check until after the purchase, and no returns even at that point. A policy meant to prevent being able to make an informed decision.

    Its not like buying a used car, which you know is used, and have the option of getting it checked out by an independent mechanic.

    IANAL, Laws Vary.

    • silver-bolt says:

      @silver-bolt: Err, it’s seen like tortuous interference in contract law, where one party intentionally does something to prevent the other party from fulfilling their part of the contract.

  5. donjumpsuit says:

    Once again, stupid human tax ……

  6. Anonymous says:

    The sad part is, the $1,500 cracked ‘liquidation’ tv was probably still priced 50% more than the same-brand flat-screen at Walmart, which could have been returned. Retail is changing forever.

    • comic0guy says:

      @ConstanceMaynooth:

      The sad part is, as well, the Walmart TV is a specific Walmart model and would be made more cheap than the tv from circuit city

      • supercereal says:

        @comic0guy: As far as I know, that is very much the case. Wal-Mart, being the enormous business that it is, negotiates lower rates with manufactures, which in turn causes them to use lower quality materials. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a model that’s being sold at Wal-Mart sold anywhere else.

        • HogwartsAlum says:

          @supercereal:

          I bought a 27″ Sanyo CRT television at Walmart five or six years ago for about $250 and it was fine. It still worked great when I bought a new TV and gave it away. The remote was a piece of crud, but that can be easily replaced.

          I’m not standing up for Walmart; I’m just saying that it’s possible to get decent stuff from time to time. As for liquidation sales, they don’t care if it’s broken. They just want the money.

      • Trick says:

        @comic0guy:

        So a cheap Wal*Mart TV that works or can be returned is not as good as a big piece of crap from Circuit City?

        Wal*Mart has its issues and I refuse to shop there but they are freaking Gandhi compared to Circuit City.

      • RedwoodFlyer says:

        @comic0guy: I have yet to see one…just one iota of proof that companies purposefully make products of less quality for Wal-Mart, especially considering Wal-Mart’s liberal return policy. The TVs at Wal-Mart are sometimes given a different SKU to get around MAP (minimum advertised price) obligations, but it’s the same stuff inside.

        Wal-Mart puts pressure on suppliers to reduce costs, but they do have some criteria for items that shouldn’t be shortchanged…. among those are that Wal-Mart expects a quality product, and they also impose wage-floors for overseas suppliers – which I find quite admirable.

        Don’t forget that Wal-Mart is the reason that the bovine growth hormone was phased out by Kraft and most major dairy suppliers…It was also Wal-Mart that became the first retailer to independently test pet food, toy lead content, etc.

        • D-Bo says:

          @ComcastRedwoodFlyer:

          Excerpted from an article in Fast Company:

          “The Wal-Mart vice president responded with strategy and argument. Snapper is the sort of high-quality nameplate, like Levi Strauss, that Wal-Mart hopes can ultimately make it more Target-like. He suggested that Snapper find a lower-cost contract manufacturer. He suggested producing a separate, lesser-quality line with the Snapper nameplate just for Wal-Mart. Just like Levi did.”

          [www.fastcompany.com]

        • Anonymous says:

          @ComcastRedwoodFlyer:
          I used to work for wal-mart and left for a diffrent retailer. Wal-mart tv’s work fine…the thing with wal-mart tv’s is the fact they are not the same as all other retailers. The model numbers are diffrent, they dont have all the features. Take a wal-mart tv and set it next to one from best-buy, video only or any other electronic store and you will notice a difference.

    • snowburnt says:

      @ConstanceMaynooth: Myer-Emco is running a deal where you are guaranteed a price below the circuit city liquidation.

      I’d shop ANYWHERE before Walmart.

  7. chucklebuck says:

    I don’t really see what you have to lose by opening the merchandise anyway. You get caught, they throw you out, you don’t gamble your $1100 on potentially broken merch. You don’t get caught, you see it’s broken, you DEFINITELY don’t spend the $1100.

    • Trick says:

      @chucklebuck:

      Good luck on getting shoplifting charges pressed as well. Most stores have to wait until you leave the store before they can press charges.

      I remember when MicroCenter went out of business in Orange County, CA. I went to it and I found some oddball items that nobody wanted for cheap. I opened each item and when we went to pay, the clerk was being a total ass about it. I’m talking a real pompous ass about not being able to open items up…

      My normally docile better half got to the point that she said “I know you are losing your job and all but you think acting this way towards us will keep me from punching you your or pompous little face you are seriously mistaken…” also meaning she will expect me to do the punching of course!

      I wanted to punch that little douche… but I was more afraid of what the better half would do to *me* if I dared say so…

    • MarComm1 says:

      @chucklebuck: @chucklebuck:

      Trick is confusing Micro Center with another retailer such as CompUSA. Micro Center’s Orange County store is profitable and has NEVER held a liquidation sale. You can visit it online at [www.microcenter.com]

      Ed Lukens
      Marketing Communications Manager
      Micro Center

  8. ztoop says:

    From [www.mass.gov]

    “Implied Warranty of Merchantability:
    Under the implied warranty of merchantability, the merchandise must do what it was designed to do with reasonable safety, efficiency and ease, and for at least a reasonable period of time. For example, a toaster must toast, a TV set must have a picture and a clothes dryer should not overheat and catch fire when properly operated.
    Every item sold by a merchant in Massachusetts automatically comes with the implied warranty of merchantability. There is no warranty of merchantability if the seller is not a merchant, or if the seller is a merchant but does not ordinarily sell goods of that kind. For example, a computer purchased from a restaurant that does not usually sell computers will not have this implied warranty.

    Under this law, a merchant cannot sell merchandise “as is”, “with all faults”, or with a “50/50″ warranty. (M.G.L. c. 106, §2-314)”

    • Corporate_guy says:

      @ztoop: “There is no warranty of merchantability if the seller is not a merchant, or if the seller is a merchant but does not ordinarily sell goods of that kind.”

      They could argue a liquidator doesn’t usually sell any certain kind of goods.

    • MrEvil says:

      @ztoop: Problem is this liquidation is done on a Federal Bankruptcy, I’m sure that Federal Law will trump any state laws, at least the liquidators will use that defense.

    • cf27 says:

      @ztoop:

      From the Mass. Statutes…..

      Chapter 106: Section 2-316. Exclusion or Modification of Warranties
      […]
      (a) unless the circumstances indicate otherwise, all implied warranties are excluded by expressions like “as is”, “with all faults” or other language which in common understanding calls the buyer’s attention to the exclusion of warranties and makes plain that there is no implied warranty;
      […]

      I don’t know who put that web site together that you mentioned (mass.gov!), but it’s wrong.

  9. ztoop says:

    Also from the same site… this is the important one in massachusetts:

    Defective Merchandise:
    A store, however, cannot use its disclosed policy to refuse the return of defective merchandise. When the item purchased is defective, you can choose a repair, replacement or refund. This right is contained in the Implied Warranty of Merchantability law. Under that law, merchants cannot limit your remedies. In addition, this means that if a merchant chooses an “All Sales Final” return policy, it must disclose that policy without limiting your rights. For example, the disclosure of the return policy must be similar to a posting which reads:
    “All Sales Final, With the Exception of Defective Goods.” (940 CMR 6.12)

  10. AcceptingTheAward_GitEmSteveDave says:

    While in Natick, make sure to check out the Twinkee factory before you go to CC>

  11. tc4b says:

    Why doesn’t some kind of ‘lemon law’ apply here?

  12. Corporate-Shill says:

    Circuit City no longer exists.

    This is a liquidation company making decisions.

  13. Admiral_John says:

    I’m curious as to what model TV is involved here… I just bought a 47″ 1080p Philips TV from Walmart for $1130, with tax. Circuit City’s pricing has been awfully dodgy during this liquidation.

    I bought a copy of “Orange Box” for the PC for $19.99 with 10% off and the following week the same game was $29.99 for 20% off.

    • formatc says:

      @wchamilton: It could be better specs for $1500. Especially if you’re comparing them against a TV from Wal-Mart, which has been well-documented for using inferior parts to bring the price down.

      • KStrike155 says:

        @formatc: Wal-Mart doesn’t build the TVs, how can you say they are “well-documented for using inferior parts?”

        A Philips 47PFL5603D at Wal-Mart is the same 47PFL5603D you would buy at Best Buy, Circuit City, or Amazon.com.

        • asplodzor says:

          @KStrike155: Not that this is the case here, but there are a ton of models in many different product categories that are made specifically for Walmart.

          • Admiral_John says:

            @asplodzor: The TV I bought is also sold online at Amazon, if that matters, but the reason I wondered what TV the person in the article bought is I’m curious what Circuit City is claiming the TV cost before they marked it down.

          • RedwoodFlyer says:

            @asplodzor:

            No there are not! There are products made for different distribution channels…such as one line for K-Mart/Wal-Mart, one made for CC, Best Buy,.. and one made for Crutchfield, Magnolia, etc… but rarely is a product made specifically for one store. Name 10 products (a reasonable number since “a ton” of models are supposedly made for WM) that are single-channel items. Store brands obviously don’t count.

            Now..if you want to talk about things that are made specifically, why don’t we talk about things like Milk… Wal-Mart is mandating the phaseout of bovine growth hormone, and milk suppliers are caving in since WM is so huge. Or maybe we should talk about Pineapples – WM demands a longer shelf-life for those, so Del-Monte gives them the newer product. Or maybe we should wonder on over to the toilet paper aisle…where Wal-Mart is demanding a reversal on the practice of using a huge center tube to shortchange your ass of wiping tissue. And when you need to get rid of your skidmarks because you ran out of TP that you bought from Target, you can thank WM for pressuring companies to remove the excess water from their detergents, to save space, shipping costs, fuel, plastic, etc.

            Basically…provide concrete examples like I did…don’t just rattle off some propaganda one-liner.

        • RedwoodFlyer says:

          @KStrike155:

          He can say it because he’s a parrot for the union-funded Wal-Mart bashing groups.

      • RedwoodFlyer says:

        @formatc: Please provide links to said credible documentation. I’ve yet to see actual proof… see my post above.

  14. menty666 says:

    I see an opportunity for a flash mob of people coming in and opening boxes like the gremlin on the wing of the plane in The Twilight Zone movie.

    • JollyJumjuck says:

      @menty666: Heck, I say finding a shattered TV ought to give you license to shatter some liquidator skulls. Maybe then there wouldn’t be so much shattered merchandise pawned off on unsuspecting customers.

  15. redskull says:

    This situation falls under the category of “You Asked For It.” One would think that by now people would know to give liquidation “sales” a wide berth.

    Circuit City stunk when they were open, so why would anyone expect things to suddenly improve during their liquidation? I wouldn’t buy a pack of gum from them, much less a $1,500 TV.

  16. failurate says:

    Wow, huge money making opportunity for them. They can buy broken stuff from other stores for pennies on the dollar and then sell it as is/no peeking, and suckas will buy it because they have those huge “Going Out of Business” signs.

    • coren says:

      @failurate: That’s actually not too far off – frequently liquidators bring in their own inventory as well

    • madanthony says:

      @failurate:

      even better – they can buy empty boxes, fill them with bricks, and resell them!

      Hey, it works for Best Buy, and they aren’t even liquidating.

    • Outrun1986 says:

      @failurate: Yep, this is exactly what it sounds like they are doing. Buy up a bunch of broken merchandise cheap, stick it in boxes, don’t allow anyone to open anything until its paid for and scam away!!!!

  17. mikedt says:

    The sign in the CC near me said they consider opening packages the same as shoplifting and will prosecute. Nice way to have your cake and eat it too. Can’t inspect before hand, can’t return after.

    • Mollyg says:

      @mikedt: Shoplifting is a criminal offense and only the state, not private companies, can prosecute them. Also, just because a company considers opening a package to be the same as shoplifting, it does not mean that the law says the same thing.
      We are not yet at the point where companies can make up laws.

      • Rob Weddle says:

        @Mollyg:

        We are not yet at the point where companies can make up laws.

        Well, not directly, anyway.

        • VeeKaChu says:

          @Rob Weddle: As I’ve stated in other threads (mostly receipt checking items) unless you are breaking the law, stores have only two real rights. They can refuse to sell you a thing, and they can ask you to leave.

          They cannot look in your bags (as in the ubiquitous “We Reserve the Right to Inspect…” signs), they cannot force you to allow them to inspect items you’ve legally purchased, nor the receipt that they gave you when you took ownership, and you don’t have to “come back” when the alarm goes off because their cashiers can’t de-mag a DVD (or goes off for any other reason).

          So the whole “Opening Items = Shoplifting” threat is as empty and meaningless as Bush’s brain. If you don’t steal the item, and don’t render it un-salable in some other regard, then what harm is done? The retailer certainly wouldn’t be able to claim that they can’t sell “open” items, because they quite clearly do.

          So yeah, it’s just more dick-headery from the ‘repo men of retail’ who are only interested in the fabled “phase 3″.

      • silver-bolt says:

        @Mollyg: Some states allow you (or representation), as a company or private citizen, to prosecute certain petty (Non-inditable) crimes. You can prosecute someone for shoplifting in NJ.

        @VeeKaChu: An alarm going off can be considered, by law, reason to detain someone for shoplifting. Nj again.

  18. GMFish says:

    This nearly happened to me. I tried to buy a PS3 guitar for Rock Band from Circuit City because the price was pretty good. I could tell the box had been opened before, so I took it to the counter and asked if I could open it to make sure everything was there.

    Shockingly, I was told “no.”

    I said, “You want me to buy a product that I cannot return sight unseen?!”

    The clerk stone-faced replied, “I can’t open it. If you don’t want it, don’t buy it.”

    I didn’t buy it.

    I hate to blame the victim here, but really, who would spend over a grand on something sight unseen which they cannot return?

    • silver-bolt says:

      @GMFish: Who asks if they can open already opened stuff anyway?

      • GMFish says:

        @silver-bolt: “Who asks if they can open already opened stuff anyway?

        God, learn to read. I did not say that box was open. I specifically said “I could tell the box had been opened before.” Which means was opened in the past, but not in the present.

        Maybe you go around retail stores ripping open boxes, but I don’t.

        • silver-bolt says:

          @GMFish: I know how to read, and knew exactly what you mean. It was opened in the past but was not when you got to it. God, learn to realize some things have two meanings… Dick. Evidently, you did not say it was resealed.

          @supercereal: A far stretch of opening to destroying it, as long as its not shrink wrapped, in plastic casing, or taped up. If it can be opened without damaging, there is no destroying.

          • Cyberxion101 says:

            @silver-bolt: Yeah, I get what you meant, or at least I think I do. It appears that you were questioning why he’d ask to open it when it had already been opened before, instead of just…opening it himself. Am I right?

    • Pixelantes Anonymous says:

      @GMFish: What would the clerk have done if you opened it regardless? Call the cops?

      • supercereal says:

        @Pixelantes Anonymous: No reason they shouldn’t. You’re technically destroying their merchandise. As-is liquidations are great, but greed takes over for most people to the point that they make stupid decisions. If you can’t see it (and can’t later return it), you’re best off not buying it.

    • Spaztrick says:

      @GMFish: “who would spend over a grand on something sight unseen which they cannot return?”

      You were going to pay over a grand for guitar for Rock Band? I’ll sell you one new in the box, never been opened for half that. I’ll even ship it directly from Amazon.

  19. Xerloq says:

    What I want to know is why the bank hasn’t helped with a chargeback yet.

    • philmin says:

      @Xerloq:

      Chargeback for a purchased “as-is, no returns” item? They’d have to make a case that the store is falsely representing that all the products are in working condition. I think there is an argument there… there is implied representation of functionality even for “as is” products, especially when sold at full price.

      Still, the credit card company will have a hard time getting around the fact that you want a chargeback on a item which was clearly sold as-is, no returns.

  20. JobStratton says:

    Anything that is taken out the door is technically the customers. The areas to check items after purchase is put up to help the customer. If something is broken and checked before departure the situation is different. Let’s be honest it’s not as if the liquadators/ccity knows that a tv is broken. Why is the blame not with Samsung for packaging a tv that is broken?

    • Warbrain says:

      @JobStratton: Because it was most likely not broken when boxed. The blame is with the liquidators not letting people inspect items. They’re playing a dirty game, attempting to repay the debts of Circuit Shitty, and will screw the customer at any cost.

  21. NotATool says:

    This is certainly underhanded by the store.

    But, at the same time, if someone is willing to fork over $1,500 for a mystery box, all sales final…well I guess sometimes greed can cloud good judgment.

    • RandomHookup says:

      @NotATool: Taken to its logical end, why would anyone buy anything at a liquidation sale if there isn’t the most basic of protection?

      That box over there…yeah, that’s a TV or maybe a box of rocks or tissue paper.

  22. Anonymous says:

    If they allowed people to open the boxes of everything before they bought it, then everybody would be complaining that they are selling all those open boxes as new, even though the boxes have never left the store.

  23. backbroken says:

    Liquidation (def) – a sale where the discounts are not commensurate with the risks

  24. Wolzard says:

    Ok, there is a huge point that seems to be forgotten here or at least was ignored by all the investigators.

    Our CC store is set up the same way- items cannot be opened before the purchase. The point of the “testing station” is that if a customer opens a product right there in front of us, and there is legitimately a verifyable problem/defect/missing parts, our Liquidation Manager WILL allow a return/exchange.

    If the customer chooses to not at least open and visually inspect the merchandise before leaving, it’s their own fault and our LM will not extend them the same courtesy. The signs about not opening the merchandise is because people are, for lack of better words, savages, and it creates issues of missing/damaged product, or yes, as mentioned, attempted theft, which there is ALOT of. If we see someone opening a box, we have to assume they might be stealing something from it.

    That said, it was the customer’s own fault for not inquiring about testing the product before leaving, and the news company should have investigated a bit further before simply going “Gee, they have 2 conflicting signs up, news story!” Nothing was stopping the customers from opening their item before leaving.

    • minsky says:

      This could have all been avoided very simply: Don’t buy anything at any liquidation sales. Period!

    • coren says:

      @Wolzard: It sounds like this store isn’t allowing them to do that, as there is signage that indicates one can not open items in the store, purchased or otherwise.

    • Fletchb says:

      @Wolzard:

      It sounds like the savages are the employees. Using trickery (conflicting signage) to sell someone rocks is a good way to get shot!!!

      And you should see the picture our local newspaper had of a CC employee holding up a 30% off sign at a street corner. The guy looked like a real cretin with oily long hair, dirty cloths and a stoned look on his face.

      Talk about how to run off customers!!!

      • JobStratton says:

        @Fletchb:

        Way to be ignorant, the people who are “sign holders” are outsourced by the liquadation company, not circuit city workers. Possibly conflicing signs, but if people are so worried about the problem then they should take advantage of the opening station.

  25. Urgleglurk says:

    The answer here is actually quite simple, but tough to pull off.
    Don’t buy anything from CC at all. Let the liquidator stand there and look at an empty store full of s— for a few days…or weeks.
    Of course, this requires some discipline on the part of the public…

  26. cametall says:

    I bought a shoddy GH3 controller from one CC. If I buy anything else it’s just going to be games and movies =/

    Though the Onkyo receiver I bought is working wonderfully.

  27. SecretAgent8 says:

    No you can’t open it before you buy it, which is why they have tables and everything set up before you get out the door. Once you buy it as long as you check it before you leave they can swap it for you. If you don’t want to check it before you leave and think you’re better off going home and finding out something is wrong with it then that is your own fault.

  28. econobiker says:

    I have never been to a liquidation sale where there were NOT opened boxes.

  29. vastrightwing says:

    Not to blame the victim here, but…. $1500 is a lot of money & if a vendor is doing ANYTHING suspicious, run for the door (without a purchase). I’d rather pay an extra $50 – 100 to insure a safe purchase than take a chance & possibly deal with small claims and/or disputing a charge.

  30. Trick says:

    Circuit City spent years screwing their customers to the point they were forced out of business. Now people are to think that Circuit City will not screw you after they went out of business?

    It sucks these people lost their money but really they should have known better. There is no such thing as a good deal with companies that have went bankrupt.

  31. Outrun1986 says:

    I am even afraid to buy games at this liquidation, because of all the stories I hear of people stealing the games from the case and then re-shrinkwrapping them with no game in the case. If this is rampant in regular retail imagine how bad it is at a liquidation. There has to be a shrink wrap machine at CC. You can’t always tell the difference either because some game manufacturers use cheap shrink wrap too. With certain games you can also slit the package, remove the game and then put it back so its nearly impossible to tell with the naked eye.

    If there is anything left when I go I might buy something with packaging that allows me to see that it has not been tampered with and that the item is still in the package. Like an undamaged blister package or see-through box. So far I haven’t even stepped into a CC store under liquidation left.

    • porcuPINE says:

      @Outrun1986: i got fallout 3 and dead space for 36 bucks each. the cashier even said to open them right in the store. he said he would swap it out if the disc was cracked.

      i think he was pretty upset he was losing his job and didnt give a shit about whatever policy the liquidator had lol.

      • Outrun1986 says:

        @22pine22: That’s pretty cool, if I go into the store I will have to see how its structured, and if there is a testing station. It seems that stores do have different policies, and some stores don’t allow you to open the packages in the store regardless if you have paid or not, and some do. Even if you did open it in the testing station, would they honor the return or not?

  32. coren says:

    The only real deals to be had were things that never see discounts anyway – certain MP3 players, consoles, some of the guitar hero/rock band stuff, etc. Everything else gets cleaned out well before it’s reached a good price

  33. aguacarbonica says:

    I WISH I had $1500 to spend on something when there was a large chance I couldn’t return it, without so much as looking in the box. And then complain about it afterward. This story is sort of ridiculous when you try to fathom what would be going through a person’s mind when they put down that amount of money on an item at a going-out-of-business sale. Even if you don’t know anything about the shadiness of liquidations, it’s not rocket science that if a store is on its way out, expecting good customer service is not common sense.

    • Cyberxion101 says:

      @aguacarbonica: Not everyone has the same information we have, bucko. You might be savvy, but not everyone is.

      Rather than taking a holier-than-thou attitude, your efforts would be better spent educating people. Spread the word about this site or something. Make sure people know better instead of just assuming they do.

      • aguacarbonica says:

        @Cyberxion101:

        “Even if you don’t know anything about the shadiness of liquidations, it’s not rocket science that if a store is on its way out, expecting good customer service is not common sense.”

        Why don’t you go teach people COMMON SENSE with your time. Even when I was little, well before I had ever heard of the Consumerist or was at all financially savvy. It was easy. I knew that sometimes electronics end up broken. I knew that a store that was going out of business might not be there for a return very much longer. I didn’t buy from such stores. How is this difficult or holier-than-though? Why would you buy such an expensive thing with no warranty, and a questionable ability to return it when quite often, such things take a month or longer to display defects?

  34. I_am_Awesome says:

    “and claim that they were prevented from opening the box to make sure the TV wasn’t damaged”

    It’s not clear from the article whether they actually asked if they could open it, or if they just dutifully obeyed the sign. I went into a Circuit City for the first time since the liquidation started yesterday. I saw the signs. First thing I thought was “why the hell would I buy a $1000 TV with a NO RETURNS policy if I can’t verify it works?” Simple solution – ASK. Find the guy in charge, and tell him that you’ll buy the TV if you can open it first and verify that it works. If he says no, walk away. Let some other sucker take the risk. The NO RETURNS sign is right at the front of the store; the risk is known before you even see any of the products.

    The article also doesn’t say how the TV was transported; if they laid it flat in the back of a pickup truck, the damage very likely occurred between the store and their house.

    • catastrophegirl chooses not to fly says:

      @I_am_Awesome: some stores seem to emphasize it even more – i took the above picture and it seemed every structural support in the store looked like that. and the end caps.

    • Outrun1986 says:

      @I_am_Awesome: Yeah, if I asked and they said no, then I would definitely drop everything I was intending to buy and then run. Liquidators bring in their own merchandise to these sales and I don’t know if they purchased a bunch of damaged equipment and are trying to pass it off as new in the box (by sealing the box and not allowing anything to be opened) when its really shattered in the box. They should be trying to make a sale, and if they weren’t being shady then they would have no problem opening the box right in front of me and testing out the TV. I understand the need for rules, but when you are trying to sell fragile merchandise to people without a return policy there has to be some exceptions.

      Most stores when you buy a TV will open the box to verify the contents, make sure the TV is in there and that it is not smashed. Its not really necessary to test it out right then and there as most retail stores will take back a TV if it doesn’t work out of the box.

      • Chris Smithson says:

        @Outrun1986: Retarded. Coming from the inside THESE liquadtors did not “bring in their own merchandise”. Where is your evidence to support that this has actually happened?

  35. Matthew Broder says:

    You all should check out dealnews.com. They had an article when Circuit City first started their liquidation sale. It has a side by side comparison of items found at the “liquidation sale” and prices from other retailers for the same items. Their findings are pretty amazing but not surprising.

    Take a look:
    [dealnews.com]

  36. jp7570 says:

    Ethics and Circuit City?? Why start now?

  37. rekoil says:

    You are incorrect that federal Bankruptcy laws override state statutes. The customers in question didn’t purchase the TVs from Circuit City, they bought them from the liquidator, who AFAIK is not in bankruptcy. So state laws and/or bank chargebank policies should still be in play.

    Chargebacks actually can protect you even with pre-liquidation purchases – I was able to successfully make a chargeback claim for an undelivered television when Montgomery Wards went out of business in 2000.

  38. metaled says:

    The customer is trying to go through their credit card company? Don’t most liquidations sales enforce a CASH ONLY policy so they are sure to rip you off?
    Anyone walking into this sale is playing the lottery, they should expect a 50/50 chance of getting ripped off. They are liquidating EVERYTHING, including all the broken and returned stock. You may get lucky and have a working item, but a lot of people are going to end up with crap that has been returned to the warehouses, gathering dust for years.
    I wouldn’t go to these sales, unless I needed some electronic components I could remove from these products (i.E. LASERS from DVD writers may be a good deal). But most everyone is going to get ripped off. The owner of the liquidation company has sold his soul to the devil and has come to terms with the fact he will be spending eternity in hell, so he is living it up while he has life. They have no morales and will box up broken shit and sell it to you at full price. If you walk in the door, you are going to get screwed.

    • catastrophegirl chooses not to fly says:

      @metaled: i took the picture that’s accompanying this article in a circuit city store and it clearly states that they accept visa, mastercard, american express and discover.

    • Outrun1986 says:

      @metaled: There are items you can buy that are safe to purchase at a liquidation sale, but if I am going to purchase at a liquidation sale, it better be one heck of a deal and a price that is significantly lower than at any other online store or B&M store.

  39. Randy Treibel says:

    This is what you get for being “the masses”. The same type of people were on NPR saying they didn’t know “bears from bulls” and they wondered how bernie madoff scammed them. HA HA HA

  40. metaled says:

    It’s the customer’s fault, they didn’t beg to buy an EXTENDED PROTECTION PLAN!
    They are lucky they used a CC!

  41. Gray Wolf says:

    though it’s not quite as bad as buying a really expensive tv I bought a copy of The Orange Box for PS3 (only $10) only to get home and discover there was no disc in it

    and they kept telling me to just go to [www.kccllc.net] and file a claim except I see nowhere on that damn site to do so

    good riddance Circuit City

  42. PLATTWORX says:

    These liquidators are major companies in the business of doing this type of sale. The Attorney General should be investigating any policy that says “you can’t check the merchandise to see if it’s broken” BUT “if it’s broken when you do after paying, no refunds.”

    It is just absolutely STUPID to buy at these sales. The prices are usually high, the merchandise damaged. Why do people insist on shopping them!

  43. CSUSam says:

    You’re allowed to test out anything after you buy it. I would highly recommend testing anything openbox if it is not already on, and if possible test all the features you plan on using before leaving. Such as all HDMI inputs on a TV.

  44. dr1024 says:

    If a charge back to the credit card doesn’t work, they should file a small claims suit for rescission. The liquidators in effect broke the implied contract that they where selling a working TV, and not a physically broken one. This is not a manufacture’s problem, or a warranty issue. Even with an “all sales final” disclaimer this is a very strong case, especially when you add the fact you can’t open the box ahead of time.

  45. Anonymous says:

    like one person said circuit city was’nt worth a crap when they were still in business. i personally have been told that they used to return used merchandise, and resell it as new. hence remember they had a thirty day return policy. ever wonder where all that returned stuff? pt barnum once said, there’s a sucker born every minute.

  46. acemannw says:

    What is going to happen if they try to stop you the worst they could do is kick you out of the store. Why take a $1500 gamble on something like that!

    On the flip side why do the employees care if they let someone exchange something like this? They are all loosing their jobs.

    • consumerfan says:

      @acemannw: The employees don’t care but the liquidators lock down what employees are authorized to do.

      • JobStratton says:

        @consumerfan:

        Why do employees care? Wel primarily becuase of the fact that the liquidators can fire anyone at anytime for any reason. And if they feel dickish enough they can find a way to fire you for theft ala helping customers open boxes. This causes the employee to loose benefits and loose unemployment. Sorry accmann that we are all not willing to “loose” our jobs for your precious sale.

  47. Anonymous says:

    As far as I know it was a requirement that all stores have a “testing station” that allow customers to test their products, once purchased, before leaving to verify they want to keep them. It was also my understanding that if the customers found the products to be defective before they left the premises, they were able to return them. All stores around my area operated under these same rules, and I believe they were set by the bankruptcy court.

    I feel bad for the people, but why would you not check your purchase before leaving? Everything I’ve read on this website has always been to twist it against the company, but in this case I must say it is the consumer that is at fault for not checking their purchase.

    You all must realize this is like shopping at a garage sale, this is no longer a company it is a country-wide rummage sale. If you fail to check what you are purchasing, that is your own fault.

  48. Nate Lenny Kravitz Garrett says:

    My friends and I recently purchased a receiver only to have it blow on us with a nice flame, sparks, and smoke. We tried taking it back (for an even exchange, even off the record) and they wouldn’t let us. Sure it wasn’t $1500 but it was still frustrating, thankfully Sony will repair it for free since its still under warranty but the hassle is frustrating none the less.

  49. Anonymous says:

    I recently helped close one of the many Linens N Things stores. The same kind of thing happened there, but on a smaller scale. Honestly, the employees preferred people checking their stuff before they left, I helped MANY people check their items. The liquidating company made us hang signs that said Do Not Open. Lesson: never EVER buy something from a liquidation sale without checking it, plugging it in, something! If they won’t let you it’s not worth it. And they will get away with it every time.

  50. Kevin Wolf says:

    ouch. When I went to best buy the other weekend there was nobody around… except at the registers. I went ahead and opened a few things that had suspicious packaging before buying. Nobody seemed to care.

  51. Marshfield says:

    I’m pretty sour on liquidation sales ever since I got a “deal” on an ink-jet ink cartridge at the CompUSA sale, got home and found out it was past the expiration date and was dried out. All sales final!

    Fortunately IBM/Lexmark helped get me a replacement but they weren’t obligated to do so.

  52. wagnerism says:

    I just bought two TVs at Costco Online. They allow local store returns, including shipping. They also increase the warranty to two years AND their customer service is awesome.

    Buying a functional TV from CC is a bad move. Zero local support, zero returns… and higher prices.

    Even if their prices were better, doesn’t anybody consider risk anymore?

  53. twophrasebark says:

    Here’s a question:

    Why don’t let you inspect the item before you leave the store?

    What do they care?

  54. twophrasebark says:

    This sounds like what is called a legally “unconscionable” sales practice…

  55. HurfDurf says:

    God why do people still do this to themselves? STOP DRINKING THE KOOL-AID!

  56. JC says:

    Dear Circuit City Liquidator,

    Thank you so much for “allowing” us to purchase your “merchandise”.

    Best Regards,
    “Consumer”

  57. Anonymous says:

    I just want to say. My brother was working for these guys in IF, ID and was asked to sell merchandise that he KNEW was broken. He refused saying it was unethical, and was told that they would find someone who would sell them. He refused and quit with no other option. He lost a 60 day severance package and another month’s worth of work, but he did what was right. I’ve been telling everyone I know here not to buy from these guys. I wish there was some retribution for doing this to innocent consumers.

  58. rhys1882 says:

    An “as is” or “all sales are final” disclaimer is not sufficient for the liquidators to avoid liability on the issue. Selling a broken product is fraud, plain and simple, you cannot disclaim fraud. Bringing a lawsuit against Circuit City itself isn’t going to fly because they are in bankruptcy protection, but you could bring a lawsuit against the liquidators themselves. Of course they will try to claim they aren’t liable, and they probably have an indemnification agreement with Circuit City, but you might still have a claim. The liquidators would then turn around and try to recover any money they had to pay out from the funds Circuit City has generated from its sales. It might be a long a painful process to try to recover anything, but it’s theoretically possible. People really have to stop believing every disclaimer they read.

  59. Mr.Gawn says:

    i dont get why there isnt a huge internet uprising against circuit city…. the prices arent good… and it sounds like there are LOTS being cheated

  60. WillG says:

    Hmm, I just bought the vonage kit with the 3 cordless phones at the CC closeout, I got to the counter and opened the package right there at the checkout, the checker objected but when I replied that since it was non returnable & non exchangeable why would I buy something that I had no proof was actually in the box. She stopped talking and just let me do it. Some manager type was giving me the eye but I just smiled and said loudly, no returns or exchanges eh, and he just walked away.
    After I had looked and seen all the components were there and still wrapped, I handed over my card. It took all of 2 min.

    Personally, if I were buying any high value item under those conditions I’d make them plug it in and show me it works. If everyone did made them do so or didn’t buy, the liquidators would comply pretty quickly.
    I’m pretty sure that they are on a clock to actually make money on that kind of a deal.

    And FYI, the kit is the one with the $100 rebate, I paid $80 marked down from $160.

    Shop carefully and wisely and you’ll do OK

  61. Bargaineering.com says:

    If you can’t LOOK at your purchase, don’t pay for it. I feel bad for the buyers but they were foolish to buy it in the first place.

  62. Anonymous says:

    Well as a former Circuit City employee during the liquidation process I flat out told customers if they had
    any doubt about buying the product(being a display unit,not being able to see it, warranties etc) to not buy it. I’m glad it’s finally over. I know this is a customer oriented forum, but from my perspective the average liquidation customers were beyond insane( example throwing feces all over the restroom), Ive never seen people act so hateful and ugly. it was funny to watch co-workers who didn’t give a damn fight back with them.

  63. Anonymous says:

    I’m a Service Center and I’m left with telling the customer that the manufacture wont cover shattered LCD screens. My customer purchased one from Circuit City for about $1500.00 and it was damaged out of the box. The estimate for the repairs is $3159.69 dollars that is $1200.00 for the part. $1650 for the Core since manufactures do not accept damaged cores, $200.00 for labor plus tax. Please do not buy from liquidation sales and do not break your LCD TV screen.

  64. From the cubicle of PGibbons says:

    Anyone who plops down over a thousand dollars to purchase a box with unknown contents (could even be full of bricks) from someone that clearly states there are no returns for any reason – well, you are a bit too trusting.

    I think I understand how the dotcom and housing bubbles managed to find so many suckers. I guess some people will believe anything is safe if an “expert” leads them to believe it.