Radio Shack Sales Staff Unfazed By 2,400% Markup

No one goes to Radio Shack to take advantage of low prices. They go because they need an electronic component on short notice, and Radio Shack is pretty ubiquitous. That’s how Chris and his fiancée found themselves at a Wisconsin Radio Shack in search of a mini USB cable, but they encountered such high prices and high-pressure sales lies that they walked out and found what they needed…at the dollar store.

As a loyal reader I must inform you of a recent incident I had at “The Shack of Price Gouging” (formerly Radio Shack). Last week my fiancé lost her mini USB cord for her digital voice recorder which she uses to record her nursing lectures. She realized that the critical piece of equipment was missing when she went to download the lectures to her computer. We quickly went to the nearest Radio Shack to find a new cable where the salesman attempted to pressure us to buy a $24 digital camera replacement cord. The horrible part is how the salesman tried to pressure us into buying the cable telling us that we won’t find a better deal elsewhere.

Irony!! Desperate and running out of time, we went to the Dollar Tree right next door and found a 2 foot cable that worked well for a single Dollar! The best part of the experience was going back into “The Shack” minutes later to confront the salesman with our new cable and receipt for $1.05. His reaction was priceless: “You mean to tell me that you came back here just to show me this?” I will admit that the salesman was just trying to do his job; however, I used to go to radio shack to get affordable wires and cables. What are they doing? Honestly, I would have never looked at the dollar tree if a simple $10 or less option was available in their store. But, with prices so outrageous I will not be shopping there.

Maybe the high pressure sales tactics are in order to prevent customers from wandering out of the store and going next door.

(Photo: Mike Hepp/Penn Can Mall fan site)

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  1. taking_this_easy says:

    well, i doubt he’ll be able to a HDMI cable in the dollar store, and will have to buy the $50 premium Monster Cable-branded HDMI cable at radioshack/bestbuy….

    i guess the key is that convenience pays a price… either pay the premium, try to find it somewhere else, or wait a few days for it to be shipped from monoprice.com

    • GitEmSteveDave: #RosaRocks says:

      @taking_this_easy: Harbor Freight sells HDMI cables: [www.harborfreightusa.com]

      As for USB, I bought a variety of adapter ends I keep in my “repair” case which will convert a A to B cable into almost anything: [www.monoprice.com]

    • daveSH says:

      @taking_this_easy: Even these days you can find more reasonably priced HDMI cables at Wal-Mart, Home Depot, Lowes, et al.

      But, Monoprice is still the best bet.

      • RedwoodFlyer says:

        @daveSH: Thanks for proving my point that people prefer good deals over bad ones. I’m willing to bet that RS’s wholesale cost is more than $ general’s retail price.. you know who has a very lean markup though? Wal-Mart. If people in general wanted inflated prices and random frills, they would deliver that. In reality, people want good deals – yet when Wal-Mart puts small stores like Radio Shack out of business, they get accused of lynching gays with HDMI cables.

    • bohemian says:

      @taking_this_easy: Target has HDMI cables for under $10 in the store. Ta-da!

      • neuromonkey says:

        > i doubt he’ll be able to a HDMI cable in the dollar
        store

        At two surplus stores near me you can get HDMI cables for $3-4. One of them also carries Monster Cable cables at similar prices.

    • Megalomania says:

      @taking_this_easy: people make all kinds of assumptions about what salespeople actually know. I remember arguing with a floor monkey at best buy about HDMI splitters, which he said they didn’t sell because they were “too expensive”, citing the ones that they used cost $300. I later that day bought two for $50.

      • Joeb5 says:

        @Megalomania:
        Likey the 2 for $50 don’t pass HDCP and the $300 does.

        • YardanCabaret says:

          @Joeb5: “Likey” the $50 ones work just fine and the $300 was a 1 in 5+ out device not a 3 in 1 out(or 1 in 3 out) like megalomania needed.

      • Costner says:

        @Megalomania: Since when does Best Buy not stock something because it is “too expensive”? These are the same people who at one point were stocking gold plated optical cables for $50!

        Think about that for a second… gold plated OPTICAL cables!

        They also sell a flat panel wall mount for $169 that I can buy for $21 via monoprice, and they sell USB cables for $29 that run less than $3 at monoprice or other online retailers.

        Monoprice sells unpowered HDMI splitters for $7 each, so that would suggest Best Buy could sell them for at least $80 a pop.

    • P=mv says:

      @taking_this_easy: Good HDMI cables can be had for $20 or less at brick and mortar stores. No need to buy Monster even if you can’t wait..

    • JohnDeere says:

      @taking_this_easy: i got 3 hdmi cables 6foot long for $4.99 and free shipping from meritline.

    • dkev says:

      @taking_this_easy:

      Let me just say, if you are dumb enough to buy Monster branded anything, then you deserve to be parted with your money.

    • fatetwister64 says:

      @taking_this_easy: Yeah but he will be able to find some coat hangers there.

  2. temporaryerror says:

    I think that Dollar General may carry HDMI cables from time to time. I know that I’ve seen them at Big Lots for $10-$15 for a 6 foot philips branded cable.

  3. Saydur says:

    Obviously all part of Radio Shack’s new plan to steal the niche of Monster Cable. I’m still impressed by finding a USB cable for a dollar, I’d have expected two or three, even for the cheapest Chinese no-brand stuff.

    • wickedpixel says:

      @Saydur: you’d be amazed at what yuo can find at the dollar store sometimes. A few years ago right after the ipod shuffle was introduced my local dollar tree stocked these little ipod shuffle usb docks. i bought every one they had (around 25) and resold them on ebay for $8 a pop.

    • vastrightwing says:

      @Saydur: But can that $1 cable offer you the highest fidelity bits? Sure, a $1 may look like it can do the same thing, but the bits may go bad or totally missing due to cable inverse reactive current in unilateral phase detractors, capacitance and inductance loading. A triple shielded cable multi-strand gold core with low oxygen high isotope CERN certified cable is necessary to ensure you get the full abilities of the state of the art voice recorder. If you get excessive bit errors, you could hear the wrong audio and then you’d be sorry and wish you’d spend the extra 2400% markup for a better cable. In other words, you get what you pay for.


      + Watch video

    • consciousj says:

      @Saydur: Oh this isn’t a new plan. Years back I must’ve smoked something funny and bought a Centrios (Radio Shack brand) 2MP camera. It’s a piece of crap, but that’s beside the point. I lost the proprietary cable it had and went in looking for a replacement. The salesman comes out of the back with a $45 sealed package containing 4 or 5 different cables. I told him I only needed one, but he held steadfast that there was nothing he could do – the package came as-is. He actually became visibly angry when I told him I didn’t want it and walked out. I found the cable the same day at home. WTF, who actually falls for this crap?

  4. katstermonster says:

    I needed a USB/PS2 adapter…$3 on Newegg, but I needed it immediately. $20 at The Shack. Grr. The salesman looked at me blithely when I mentioned that any geek worth his or her stuff knows to go with Newegg, etc. unless it’s an immediate need.

    • TinaBringMeTheAx says:

      @katstermonster: Radio Shack has a liberal return policy. Wait for the $3 cord to be delivered, then return the $20 one.

      I am happy to pay a premium for the convenience of going to a store that is just a few blocks from me. But it has to be a reasonable premium, like $14.95 vs $12.95, not $20 vs $3.

      • katstermonster says:

        @TinaBringMeTheAx: I was going to do that, and then promptly lost the receipt and forgot about it anyway…oops! :)

        Oddly enough, I think there was actually an article on here about their return policy last week. Some adapter (may have even been USB/PS2) was marked in the system as software, but they alerted the guy before he bought it, so he’d be able to get it somewhere else and return it.

      • Nighthawke says:

        @TinaBringMeTheAx: Folks call RS Rental Shack. They would buy gobs of PA equipment, speakers and mixers on Thursday or Friday, then hold a massive party over the weekend, then return it all on Monday.

        Same scam goes for camcorders and DVD players, esp, weekenders.

  5. MooseOfReason says:

    I’ve never seen USB cables sold at a dollar store.

    I would like to see Consumer Reports to test that USB cord Chris bought at the dollar store and compare it to other USB cords.

    You never know, though. Kirkland (Costco’s brand) sells batteries that ranked really well in CR’s testing.

    • inadequatewife says:

      @MooseOfReason: I picked up a USB cable for my printer and one for my digital camera at the Dollar Store. Both cables have worked flawlessly for almost a year.

      • JCWhitless says:

        @inadequatewife: Agreed, I grabbed a bunch of them at a local dollar tree when I was building my home office. I don’t use the really cheap ones on the important connections (externals drives, etc) but they are great for putting on a giant usb hub inside the wall and making little charging/connection points for random camera’s, MP3 players and other odd ball USB powered crap, like humping dogs.

    • mianne prays her parents outlive the TSA says:

      @MooseOfReason: I suspent for the most part, a USB cable works or doesn’t work. I really doubt you’ll see any different in data transfer rates between a $1 cable and a $25 cable.

      You could test this with a stopwatch by transferring some music to your MP3 player using one cable, erasing it all, and repeat using the other.

    • ktetch says:

      @MooseOfReason: Dollar Trees here in Ga often have a rack of different USB cables. They’re ok, nothing great, but they work

    • PsiCop says:

      @MooseOfReason: I’ve seen USB cables in dollar stores. In fact, I own one … and I’d used it with a digital camera. It worked as well as any other. Heck, I might even have it in my drawer someplace (I don’t use that cable much any more since I got another camera that used SD cards and I just stick those in the computer).

      Anyway it was about 3 years ago, and I bought it in a Dollar Tree here in CT. (Don’t remember which one … and in fact it might have been the one in Westfield MA.)

    • Outrun1986 says:

      @MooseOfReason: They have been selling USB cables for a couple years now. This was more handy a couple years ago when USB cables were a bit more expensive because now I have a large stash of them that came with this and that. They also sell things like led lights and other various small electronics, and I hear they have cassette to MP3/CD adapters but I haven’t seen them yet.

    • riverstyxxx says:

      @MooseOfReason: They sell usb cables here for a buck, and there are dollar stores on every corner.

    • That's Consumer007 to you says:

      @MooseOfReason: That’s because you haven’t looked. I shop at Dollar Store too, the OP isn’t making it up.

      A 5 second google search gets at least 20+ references to the fact they are sold there.

      Here’s a hint: Just because YOU haven’t personally seen it doesn’t mean it’s not real.

      • MooseOfReason says:

        @Areyouagoodlittleconsumer: Wow, I make an observation based on visits to several dollar stores and you start foaming at the mouth.

        Also, you capitalized “Dollar Store” as if that were the name of a franchise.

        Here’s my advice – don’t be so defensive about AN OBSERVATION.

  6. Quatre707 says:

    Any time you need a cable same day you’re going to get screwed like this. Dollar stores carrying a 5-pin mini usb to usb-A is new to me though.

  7. twophrasebark says:

    Circuit City… gone.

    CompUSA… gone.

    Radio Shack… still exists?!?

  8. scoobydoo says:

    I don’t think any real geek would ever work at Radio Shack. Perhaps as a summer job when they are 16, but the people I encounter at the shack are just plain useless sales staff who happened to pick Radio Shack over the used car lot next door.

    These people know nothing about technology, and they exist purely to squeeze cash out of people who are in urgent need of a cable, and the elderly.

    They have tried to extend their life support by selling mobile phones, but even that will come to an end when people realize the “deals” at Radio Shack are pathetic.

    Like the previous poster said, I suspect Radio Shack won’t last beyond some time in 2010.

    • cbcowan says:

      @scoobydoo:

      Not to bust any idealistic bubbles here – but I do suspect they’ll be here for quite some time.

      Net income by year:
      2006 – $73MM
      2007 – $237MM
      2009 – $192MM

      people vote with their feet.

      • LeChiffre says:

        @cbcowan: “cbcowan” is probably correct. There is a large percentage of the population that:
        1. don’t care.
        2. don’t know any better.

        The Shack bets on those mom and pop’s that come in, fully knowing that mom and pop are spending more than they should, but mom and pop feel justified because they don’t have the time to shop.

      • scoobydoo says:

        @cbcowan: You made my point. The chain has 4500 stores, 35000 employees and revenue of 4.5 BILLION. Yet, they only have a net income if 192 Million?

        That comes down to a net income of just $45,000 per store. Seriously – how the hell can they justify staying in business with those numbers?

        Best Buy has 1150 stores, and revenue of 45 Billion / net income of 1 Billion (just under one million net income per store).

        • Akula765 says:

          @scoobydoo:

          Ummm… what?

          4.5B x 10 = 45 B
          192M x 10 = 1.92 B

          So basically radioshack has a better profit margin then BestBuy… and this is bad?

          Of course bestbuy has more income per store… they have fewer, bigger stores. Radio shack has more, smaller stores.

    • Coles_Law says:

      @scoobydoo: Eh, a few people at my local Radio Shack are knowledgeable and helpful. Their cable prices are ripoffs though, and it wouldn’t surprise me to see them go under.

    • mac-phisto says:

      @scoobydoo: i’d say this is probably true today, but 4-5 years ago it was a different story. RS still paid a pretty healthy commission rate back then & i made some good bucks working their p/t. $200+ net for ~20 hrs. even higher around christmas – $400-500 easy. the sales staff was a lot more knowledgeable back then, imo. there was a reason to learn about the crap – it reflected in your sales.

      not anymore though. a big reason their net income has close to tripled is b/c the commission is all but gone. what’s the point of knowing anything when you’re making minimum wage?

      • Coelacanth says:

        @mac-phisto: Maybe, just maybe – if you’re the only person who knows something amongst a sea of ineptitude, one may be promoted.

        • mac-phisto says:

          @Coelacanth: you would think, right? unfortunately, i don’t think so. i can’t speak company-wide, but in my district, manager-candidates for the MIT program were never pulled from existing staff.

          not like promotion in that company is a good thing. in addition to cutting sales staff wages, RS destroyed the compensation schedule for managers. on the surface, it seems like a good job, but then you realize that bonuses are based on unachievable numbers (if paid at all – they’ve canceled bonuses in the past when it suits them), that your employer expects you to work 60+ hours/week, that your sick & vacation time will go unused b/c your DM will never approve leave, & that when you divide your gross pay by the number of hours worked in a week, you likely will have grossed ~$5/hour.

  9. BabyFirefly says:

    Some of us HAVE to buy at RadioShack. I wanted to buy an Ipod Touch 32gb, and none of the stores I went to had it (we don’t have an Apple store so that’s totally out of the question). I ended up buying it at RadioShack, paying $50 than what it cost me on Amazon.com (who refuses to ship electronics where I live).

    The worse wasn’t the prices, it was how bad the employees were at answering basic questions about items.

  10. LostAtoll says:

    radio shack is nothing but fail. all over fail. I used to go in there as a child, and even then I thought their stuff was overpriced, and they rarely had what I wanted. But now it’s gotten ten times worse. Please, everyone, tell your grandparents, and parents not to shop there.

    • ablestmage says:

      @LostAtoll: I generally only go there if there’s some obscure connector I need that other places would normally not carry. I don’t mind paying $5 cash for a $0.50 connector if I can get it today and not pay some strange company with credit on the Net with shipping tacked on. I would never go there for electronics of any kind.

  11. doctor_cos wants you to remain calm says:

    Once in a while, you might be surprised by rat shack. Back in April or so, I went to Staples and balked at paying $40 for a SATA/USB enclosure ($30 at Newegg), went into rat shack, and found them on clearance for $10.
    Also got a Roku M500 in there when it was on clearance, for about $40.

    But I would agree, they have gotten away from their roots (switches, connectors, cables, resistors, and such) and what they do have is usually overpriced.

    • Ragman says:

      @doctor_cos: Even their root products (electronic components) are pricey. I love having access to the Altex and Tanner electronics stores. Altex has some really good cable prices, and Tanner (family owned shop) sells discrete components at bulk prices – you can get resistors/capacitors for pennies apiece.

      The electronics I’ve bought that use USB all came with USB cables. Over the years I’ve amassed a collection of USB cables that cover my all of my needs and have spares. I don’t think I’ve ever actually purchased a USB cable.

  12. MooseOfReason says:

    Yes, Radio Shack, and other electronics retailers, overcharge for their products.

    What I’d like to know is, what was the length of the cord in radio shack, and the cord in the Dollar Store?

  13. Deezul_AwT says:

    Five Below sells HDMI cables.

    It’s geared mainly to the tweens and teens, but they have some good stuff there, too. And everything is under $5.

  14. hicks says:

    I stopped shopping at Radio Shack several years ago, when three salespeople ignored me while obviously looking for something (I think it was a soldering iron). One was vacuuming (three hours before closing), and had to maneuver around me to finish the aisle, and the other two were teaming up to sell another guy a Radio Shack credit card at the checkout.

    At this point, I was curious to see if anyone would break away from their obviously urgent duties to ask me if I needed help (I know I could have asked them, but I was running a customer service test), after about five minutes (and getting dodged by the vacuum again), I tossed my items on the floor and walked out.

    A little passive-aggressive? Sure, but hopefully it actually registered, whereas “aggrieved shopper telling them why they suck” likely wouldn’t have.

  15. Dukebruno says:

    Kudos to the OP for knowing the “proper price” for the cable. I made the mistake of not researching the “special battery” that my car’s keyfob needed. Went to the dealer who sent me to the parts department. I was handed the same battery that most computers use on the mobo (the CR2032). I buy them on eBay for around 50 cents each. Dealer price: $12.50. They did install it for “free” but next time I looked up on the internets to see how easy the battery is to replace and I used the 50 cent kind instead of the $12.50 kind. DOH!

    • Ragman says:

      @Dukebruno: Yeah, they seriously jack the battery prices at RS as well. I picked up some cheap Chinese button cell batts from DealExtreme for my kid’s toys.

  16. louiedog says:

    When I was in college I added a new hard drive to my computer and was out of connections from my power supply, so I needed a y-cable to split one into two. I normally liked to buy things like that online or at the nice mom & pop computer store in town because I prefer to give them my business. However it cold and I was walking so I went to the university computer store which was a lot closer. The salesman looked around and informed me not that they didn’t have it, but that such a product didn’t exist. I told him he was wrong and he acted offended and insisted I didn’t know what I was talking about.

    So I walked to the mom & pop store, paid a couple of bucks, and bought my part. If it hadn’t been cold out I would have returned to show him the non-existent item.

  17. JoeTaxpayer says:

    Maybe $1 was clearance or just plain cheap, ok.
    Fair price for that cable is maybe $4.95.
    RS was still nearly 5 times the price.

    Sorry to say, it doesn’t surprise me, but it’s not the employee’s fault, they don’t set the price. He should at least know the price was way out of line, and not act the way he did.

  18. RonDiaz says:

    Even Wal-Mart is in on the cable scam. Monoprice or bust, or as you found the dollar store occasionally has a few cables.

  19. ChemicallyInert says:

    Can we have another Consumerist roundup of most annoying business practices? This time focusing on frequently overpriced items.

    I’ve been an electronics hobbyist/power-user since I was a kid, and I will tell you now that there is no reason, NONE, that a stereo-to-stereo cable for your car/mp3 player should cost more than 5 bucks (they’d still make a profit). I went to a local electronics retailer -not “The Shack”- for something else and thought I’d pick up a stereo cable so I could listen to my mp3 player in the car by hooking it to the auxiliary port. It was $20! Are you kidding me? Hell, for that much, I’d buy a pair of computer speakers and cannibalize the stereo cable that’s included at that price. I could make one for pennies at home! It wouldn’t be pretty, but it’d work just fine. I still prefer to buy one just for cosmetic reasons, but the ability to mold plastic and make your wires look fancy is not a license to print money. These people are laughing all the way to the bank, I guarantee you.

    • ahleeeshah says:

      @ChemicallyInert: When I got my iPod Touch, I bought a dash mount to ease my mother’s mind (she pictured me trying to change songs with the thing on the seat next to me) and then bought an FM transmitter (I was slow and didn’t realize I could use the AUX jack). This all came out to an ungodly amount. As soon as I got in my car, I realized that the dash mount (about $20) came with the AUX cable for free. I happily returned my FM transmitter immediately.

      That being said, when my boyfriend finally got an AUX input in his car we went cable shopping only to find that the package I had bought no longer existed (we couldn’t even find a cable at all at Wal-mart), and the cheapest cable we could find was over $10 at Best Buy.

  20. RichL says:

    The Dollar stores are selling more and more electronics, from cables to cellphone cases. I’m sure that there is some marginal difference between a high-end cable and a cable from the dollar store, but most people would not notice if the transfer speed was %5-10 slower.

  21. scootinger says:

    Shit like this is insane. Why are cables insanely overpriced at EVERY brick-and-mortar retailer, even so-called “discount” stores? And why is it that printer makers cannot even include a 50-cent USB cable with a $100+ printer…forcing you to buy an overpriced $20 one at the store?

    I suspect collusion among electronics retailers, and possibly among printer manufacturers and cable/accessory makers (i.e. Belkin and Monster Cable) as well. How is something like this NOT illegal?

    • blandname says:

      @scootinger:The idea is to sell the main item (TV/Computer/Printer) at a price at or below cost to draw people in, and then gouge the customer on accessories, protection plans, etc. Most people shopping for more expensive electronics have researched the item in question and have a rough idea of what prices are good values for the item itself, but don’t really know whether a $25 USB printer cable is a good value or not, nor do they know how much cheaper the Monoprice version is. It isn’t illegal because the retailer can’t force anyone to buy anything, because you are perfectly free to shop elsewhere (like the OP did) if you disagree that $25 is a fair price for a USB cable.

    • FDCPAGuy says:

      @scootinger:
      If you guys want a USB cable with your printer buy a network enabled printer ;) Those come with cables. The cable is used to configure the network settings on the printer so they give it to you in the box. Sometimes, the network enabled printer can be purchased for less than the lower end printer and usb cable.

    • AaronN322 says:

      @scootinger: When I worked at bestbuy and radioshack (I have since long moved on) my answer for the whole USB cable not coming with printer always was: “They always used to include USB cables in the boxes, but sometimes you need a 10 or 16 foot cable instead of the included 6 foot cable; and since the manufacturer obviously isn’t going to loose money they charge extra for that cable. So to save you money we have worked with the manufactures to eliminate the extra cost so you are free to choose the cable size that works best for you.” or something like that. You always caste the blame onto the manufacturer(who isn’t there to defend itself) and make yourself and your company look like the hero; they then think you exist solely to help the customer and lookout for their best interest. And then of course quickly move on to finding what cable they need or whatever, not giving them anytime to deeply digest the pitch I just gave them or formulate additional questions…

    • secret_curse says:

      @scootinger: Cables and other accessories have insane markups because most of the time big box retailers are going to lose money on a laptop. People want laptops that cost $300. It costs a hell of a lot more than that to make a laptop and pay for its copy of Windows, so the laptop manufacturers load it up with crapware. The crapware vendors pay the laptop manufacturers to put their version of crapware on the computer. The store sells the laptop at a loss and makes the money back on extended warranties, cables, mice, bags, and all the other sorts of accessories you’ll need with the laptop.

      People gripe about the crapware that comes on computers and high margin accessories, but without those things computers would cost a lot more.

  22. alshultz says:

    I’ve got something similar. Went to a radio shack for a new DVI monitor cable, it was going to cost me $35 bucks. I asked the guy “you’re kidding me right?” and he basically responded “yeah I know it seems like a lot for a simple DVI cable, try across the street, there’s a computer repair shop there”

    Went across the street and bought one for $10

  23. shiftless says:

    I’m amazed they were even able to FIND a cable to BUY. I’ve gone there dozens of times and they just don’t have anything at all! Thank goodness for the internet!

  24. memphis9 says:

    About a month ago we stopped at “the shack” expecting to pay some kind of premium to get a S-Video to mono adapter on-the-spot, but it was $5, comparable to Amazon and the rest. Great!

    Only at the register it rung at $25. The clerk walked back with me to price check when I balked, saw the shelf price, and switched that label for a price label that was in the holder thingie for another set of items. No apologies and even a bit of snark even that I didn’t still want it, but I just smiled and wished him a good day. Working for RS has got to be punishing enough without me rubbing it in.

  25. sinfonian94 says:

    $1to $24 is a 2300% markup, not 2400%

  26. jwissick says:

    Radio Shack… You have questions. We have blank stares.

  27. No_Moleste says:

    Thank Zeus I live in a city with a Fry’s Electronics. Because of it, I haven’t had to step foot in a Rape Shack in years.

  28. Pupator says:

    I agree the The Shack is a ripoff and I’m glad you found a cheaper cable.

    However I do agree with the saleman’s final question of “You came back just to show me this?”

    Really, get a life. Petty and lame aren’t becoming of anyone.

  29. SigmundTheSeaMonster says:

    Freewill folks. You can choose to buy where and when and what.
    Most stores have a markup on items to ____.
    (hint…make a profit).
    Profit is good. Unusually high profit, well, someone is foolish enough to buy and shop there, yes? But if there store is open and you need that item, isn’t it worth it?

    Monoprice-great prices, but you need to consider shipping with any online vendor (unless free shipping).

    I don’t recommend Radioshack for USB cables unless that is all that you have nearby. I do not recommend Best Buy either as they mark up $2.37 1meter USB cables to $24.95 and 2 meter USB cables to $44.95. (I’ve seen the inventory screen from a blueshirt guy…)

  30. jpdanzig says:

    The Sh*t — I mean, Shack — has been a resource of last choice for years now. First there was the notoriously unreliable junk they sold under their own name. Then they raised the prices on all the little widgets, like plugs and cables (and replacement foam pads for earbuds — $5 for four!!!) And the coup de grace is the endless campaign of upselling — NO, I don’t need another cell phone, thank you very much — not to mention requesting your phone number, even when you’re just paying with cash. Only their ubiquity has kept them in business, but even the mighty GM failed eventually; the Shack can only prey on time-challenged customers for so long…

  31. temporaryerror says:

    When I worked there several years ago, when I was bored (most of the time) I would select a button cell battery or RS branded expensive “premium” gold cables off the shelf and look up the store’s cost. Often times a cable that sold for $50 would cost the store $2-$3. The $5 button cells cost the store $.20.
    Also, my manager specifically put all the standard non-gold RCA and coax cables in the backroom and instructed us to act as if we only sold the expensive gold plated ones. I usually ignored this if a customer balked at the price and would go grab the cheap one from the back.
    Working at RS was truly a low point in my life.

  32. Covertghost says:

    Places like Radio Shack/Best Buy/whatever generally LIVE by feeding on the technologically uninformed.

    They try to portray their word like gospel, though that’s common with many sales(wo)men.

  33. YouDidWhatNow? says:

    “I used to go to radio shack to get affordable wires and cables.”

    Radio Shack never, ever, had affordable prices for anything.

  34. ceez says:

    i had the displeasure of working at RS back in 1999 when they only sold rs branded equipment (car radios, speakers, tv’s and other junk).

    the pressure they put on the sales people to sell and get their ridiculous ‘spiffs’ (bonuses) is just out of hand. i know times have more than likely changed since I was there, but they had the stupidest things like selling sprint long distance home ph service, then later they got a deal with dtv…imagine someone comes in for a fuse and you’re trying to sell them the above items.
    and if you happen to be a store that wasnt in a mall (my case) also try selling mobile phone service. back in the days if you didnt have spectacular credit you’d have to pay a deposit of up to $500 bucks for a bellsouth cell phone….and then trying to convince the people to pay $500 bucks and they get the motorolla flip phone for only a penny! wow what a deal!!!!

    that store is just crap to work or buy.

  35. Panamapeter says:

    [www.monoprice.com] all you need to know

  36. shubox215 says:

    In lieu of the economy, I went on a job interview for Asst Mgr at Radio Shack…45 hour work week…minimum wage and 1% commission on sales. FOR AN ASST MGR!! I respectfully declined to say the least.

  37. RSCustomerCare says:

    The customer experience described in this posting clearly does not meet our expectations. Although we are still reviewing the matter internally, we want to apologize to Chris’ fiancée for the unfortunate exchange that’s described here.

    We may not be able to offer the lowest pricing on products every time, but it is our goal is to help every customer get it right. In this case it seems like we missed the mark.
    RadioShack Customer Care

  38. WelcomeToMyWorld says:

    I think the difference here is CUSTOMER KNOWLEDGE.

    If you don’t know any better, you’ll fork over $24 to Radio Shack because . . . you don’t know any better. Once upon a time, we were all like that, and we believed everything the Radio Shack guy told us.

    But nowadays the Radio Shack (or Walmart) guy is dumber than I am. I can reseach and find the exact part before I go into a store, and I have a pretty good idea what it should cost me. If the guy in the store tells me a BS story, I already know that I don’t have to buy it.

    Congratulations to the original poster, and anyone else who is smarter than the Radio Shack guy.

  39. Android8675 says:

    It’s called making a profit Consumerist, just because Radio Shack and Best Buy make all their profits off accessories doesn’t mean you have to buy it from them, kudos to this person for finding a better deal, but honestly, rubbing the radio shack managers nose in it just because he’s trying to keep his job and his company in business is mean and insulting.

    Everyone here should KNOW by now that accessories is where the money is, if you want to get a better deal, buy online or go to the dollar store, but don’t rub peoples nose in it.

  40. fuzzymuffins says:

    i’m looking at the photo… and deja vu overtakes me. wondered where i’d seen it before. checking the credits…. woah. the very mall i would have visited many times as a kid in 76.. thanks for the trip!

  41. perfectoon_0901 says:

    Oh my god. I think he lives in my town! It wouldn’t happen to be Ukiah, CA would it? there is a Dollar tree right next to our Shack

  42. nstonep says:

    Dollar store computer cables work fine; I picked up a bunch of the retractable ones for travel (I believe they were plain usb); can’t remember what I did with them…but I digress…you can’t buy electronic components at any other physical retail store. I guess you could go e-tail but then you have to pay for shipping. The prices aren’t great but you don’t see walmart selling individual leds…yet.

  43. silver-bolt says:

    @Raekwon: Signaling wires, extra pairs, voltage on a line, resistance combos, internal chips that do code knocking or handshaking to enable the output.

    Its about as hard to design as a bird house.

  44. NoHoldsBarred says:

    Important thing to remember:

    Big box retailers mark up because they have more expenses like higher shrink, property tax, etc.

    Big box retailers carry name brands which are always more expensive.

    The $24 cable was probably made of better materials.

    I deal with people every day who tell me they aren’t buying a $150 Monster cable because they can get a good one for $20. Then I prove them 100% wrong, without lying once (I’m non commission anyways).

  45. chriscrob says:

    Radioshack’s prices are a bit ridiculous…but I can sort of understand. Imagine trying to keep a store open when 99% of your customers come in asking for a $2 cable. It’d take a lot of customers to cover the cost of a couple of employee’s much or less the rest of your overhead. It is very nice to be able to run get a part that would require a few days of waiting on the mail otherwise…unfortunately that is a privilege you have to pay for. If I want to be able to run get an extra 1/4″ jack or the cables required to get audio from component cables to a 1/4″ stereo or i need a project box on short notice I’m going to have to help cover the cost of them keeping it available in my town.

  46. idip says:

    @RSCustomerCare: Just have your associates lay off of the hard sale technique.

    My own Radio Shack turn off was when I went to go get a digital tuner and the guy tried to hard sell us an expensive HDTV despite repeated comments that we only wanted the tuner. Ummmm…. NO!

    Even though they had the tuners in stock, we ended up going to Best Buy and bought a more expensive one there. Oh well.

  47. Darrone says:

    @RSCustomerCare: Radio Shacks business model is overpriced cables and accessories. “may not be able to offer the lowest pricing on products every time” is a joke. The markup on the majority of your products is absurd. You’re only selling point is its easier for housewives to get a cable at radio shack than it is to trudge through a large best buy.

  48. laffmakr says:

    @RSCustomerCare:

    “The customer experience described in this posting clearly does not meet our expectations.”

    Sorry, I had the same experience the firs time I bought HDMI cables. The sales rep basically laughed at me when I asked if they had anything cheaper than $34 for a 6-foot cable. He told me I was crazy to think I could find one cheaper.

    That evening I ordered three of them from Amazon for $1.50 each with free two-day shipping. They have worked perfectly from the start.

  49. TheOrtega says:

    @laffmakr: But you can order almost everything cheaper online.

  50. zarex42 says:

    @Darrone:

    You’re paying for convenience; if you need a quick cable, that instant, you can get one, instead of digging around online. You pay a premium, but it’s not that big of a deal for most people.

    Of course, once that “premium” is excessive, more and more people will take the trouble to order online.

  51. Chongo says:

    @TheOrtega: yes, even on RS’s own website! of course they only stock the higher priced items.

    I recently found a good DVI-HDMI adapter on Radioshack’s website for 16 bucks. Thinking it was like the old days when people advertised items they actually stocked, I went into a radioshack only to realize that the cheapest one they had was a $50 adapter.

    I decided to be patient and ordered one for 6 dollars on amazon.

    I won’t even go into RS anymore to waste a few mins

  52. savdavid says:

    What he means is “I don’t know how to cover my ass. You have caught me so to save face I will accuse YOU of doing something wrong like coming back to show me the receipt”.

  53. GrandizerGo says:

    What a joke RS has turned into..
    While visiting family in CT, I found I had left one of my computer bags at home.
    No problem, I can run to RS and pick up a 10ft ethernet cable for 10 bucks or so. They wanted close to 35 bucks!
    I laughed at the guy!
    The same thing happened because I use my laptops usb to charge my cell phone, that cable stayed at home as well. They wanted almost 28 dollars for a 1.5 foot cable.
    HDMI cable to hook my lappy to the Hidef LCD? almost 33 bucks for 6 feet!
    The guy trying to sell me tried to tell me that I needed an adapter for the end of the cable that goes into my laptop. I told him I didn’t, he argued with me and tried to tell me “NO LAPTOP COMES WITH AN HDMI CONNECTOR SLOT!!!
    So they wanted me to pay ALMOST 100 bucks for 3 cables that should cost LESS than 20 bucks TOTAL! And sell me an adapter I didn’t NEED!

    Needless to say, I drove to a electronics store and brought the 3 cables for ~25 bucks total.
    The funny thing? The electronics store wanted almost 13 bucks for 4 AAA batteries!!!
    I went back to RS for them! 2.99!!!
    Hahahahahahahaha!!!!!

  54. webweazel says:

    @idip: I don’t have too much bad experiences at my local store, but have had a few where I just walked out.

    A long time ago, we were buying something, I don’t remember what, and while we were checking out, the clerk was pushing a new cellphone on us, HARD. We didn’t need one, and we weren’t there to look at cellphones. Shaddap.

    It seems to depend on the crew working that day, and how many other customers are in the store at the time. I have had good experiences with helpful salespeople, and miserable experiences with pushy idiots who just wanted to sell me something I did NOT need. But yeah, back off on the hard sell, and just have the salespeople be helpful and ask questions about what you need. Like good hardware stores.

    RadioShack if you’re still reading:
    If every other store (office stores, BestBuy, etc.)sells cables at $20-40 and above, why not carve out a niche for yourself, and advertise gobs of basic 6-foot or smaller cables for $5-10 or less all the time? Maybe most basic adapters or gender changers for $5 or less, all the time? Rather than people laughing in your salespeople’s faces looking at a $35 pricetag on a cable they KNOW they can get elsewhere for less than $5, and buying said cables somewhere else, make up a rack, price accordingly, and put the word out. Once people figure out that they can pick up inexpensive cables at your store after buying their new printer somewhere else, for example, they’ll flock to your store to buy cables, and you’ll generate some more foot traffic? Maybe sell some other stuff too? Hello?

  55. MYMHM says:

    Damn. I don’t even go to “The Shack” for emergencies anymore. I was in a pinch and needed a card reader. I Got one of the RS branded ones as it was the cheapest one there ($20 before tax GRrrr). After only a couple uses (that same day) on a CF card one of the pins broke off, got stuck in the card, and wrecked the card slot on a Canon 5D2.
    It also shredded the plastic dividers on an SDHC card.

    If I need something in a hurry, and can’t get something from a Target, I just don’t bother…

  56. ethereal_pete says:

    I used to work at one of the pilot Radio Shack stores that they placed in Blockbuster video stores for no discernable reason (yo dawg, I heard you like failing stores, so I put a failing store in your failing store so you can go lose money while losing money). I would regularly tell customers that they could buy “x” cheaper at a variety of stores around town, typically did that so I could get back to drinking whisky under the counter and playing with the radio controlled toys. Turns out that one of those whom I provided that info to was a mystery shopper, 1 month later our store was shuttered…oopsies.

  57. trujunglist says:

    @webweazel:

    I would go to Radio Shack right now if I knew I could get a not as cheap as maybe monoprice but cheaper than BB/Target/Walmart optical cable and HDMI cable. In fact, I would never order from monoprice again because, even though it only takes maybe 1-2 days to get to my place from the facility that is approximately 80 miles away, I’d much rather drive the 8 minutes and pay $5-10 more. Yep, that’s right. But not like $25-30 more. That’s stupid. I could drive up there and get the cable directly from monoprice for that mark up.

  58. laffmakr says:

    @TheOrtega:

    Re-read my post and you’ll see the point I was making.

  59. Blueoysterjoe says:

    Radio Shack has lost sooooooo much money from me because of their high prices. I would rather shop at Best Buy than Radio Shack, and that is a sad, sad thing, folks.

    I am surprised they are still in business, honestly. I went in a couple days to get an HDMI cable quickly and laughed when I saw their prices. I then went to Target and got a much better deal.

    They must hate money.

  60. Winteridge2 says:

    I stopped at Radio Shack looking for batteries for a audio device. Salesgirl said they did not carry the batts, but I could buy a similar device WITH Batteries for only $20. I said this was not even an option, but what would happen when the batteries go dead on the new one? Oh, we carry this device all the time. And that made sense to her? I found the batts at Walmart of course.

  61. parrotuya says:

    Online stores like eBay or Amazon are great for finding cables at low prices. Radio Shack is not the only store that overcharges on cables. Best Buy makes a lot of its profits by overcharging on cables, too. Nearly all the big-box stores do it. As usual, it always pays to take the time to do a little research to compare prices before buying.

    DOWn, baby, DOWn!

  62. uclajd says:

    Radio Shack is like 7/11, you don’t go there for price.

    See:

    [www.theonion.com]

  63. coffeeculture says:

    @dragonfire81:

    This is when knowing technical jargon would come in handy…anytime I get the “sales talk” I just spit out some jargon and it usually will leave the seller a bit dumbfounded.

    At least…dumbfounded enough for me to make a hasty exit.

  64. arsenicookie says:

    @dragonfire81: when the 360’s first came out they didn’t have hdmi ports and you had to buy the microsoft brand hdmi cable because it came with an adapter. he might not have been informed yet if this was around the time that the port was added…

    or he could have been an idiot.

  65. trashbaby says:

    @lmarconi: You can get HDMI cables for under 6 bucks at monoprice.com and that cable in the story looks like it’s available on their site for $0.97

  66. The Dude says:

    @lmarconi: C’mon, you have to be single and live with your parents to work at Best Buy.

  67. aka_mich says:

    @lmarconi: I can understand the need to pay rent, make a living argument. That being said though it shouldn’t be too hard to expect at least partial honesty in salesmanship. I don’t think this case is a great example because $24 isn’t that bad a price for that type of cable if ordering it online isn’t an option. If you have to lie though to make the sale then the salesperson deserves to be called whatever bad names the customer wants. I’m not saying they should be transparent with all their sales and tell customers about things like monoprice and what not, just don’t say anything at all about the price in this case and let the customer make their own decisions. There is no need to flaunt it as something it’s not.

  68. nbs2 says:

    @lmarconi: Calling them a floor monkey is not degrading. Degrading is telling them that you’ll but an extended warranty if they do the monkey dance for you. And then not getting the warranty.

    Hmmmm…now I want to try that.

  69. MrHowser: less comments, more followers? says:

    @The Dude: I applied to Best Buy when relocating with my wife to an area with a slow job market. Got a job elsewhere, but give some folks a break. One has to earn a living somehow.

  70. Shadowfire says:

    @fantomesq: Honestly, I think you’re taking it a bit too far, but both parties were DBs here. The salesman was kind of a jerk, but so was the OP.

  71. DangerMouth says:

    @fantomesq: Dollar stores are liquidators? Maybe they used to be, maybe some independants still are, but the majority of dollar store merchandise is coming out of what I imagine to be thousands of chinese dollar store factories.

    Seriously, that crap is mass-produced to be sold for a buck with a healthy margin.

  72. Powerlurker says:

    @fantomesq:

    It’s a similar deal with opticians. Gross margins for frames and lenses run in the realm of 1000% for a bricks-and-mortar store. That’s why internet opticians can sell you a pair of glasses with lenses for 10 bucks, especially if you don’t mind waiting for them to ship from Hong Kong.

  73. LastError says:

    @fantomesq: Market rate has NOTHING to do with the price of something.

    Ultimately something is worth what someone is willing to pay for it. That’s its value, regardless of market rate or cost to the store or anything else.

    This person was willing to pay a dollar for the cable, but not $24 dollars. So the cable was not worth $24. That’s how simple this is.

    RS is totally free to try to find someone who does think it’s worth that price. Customers are totally free to laugh and shop elsewhere.

  74. elizass says:

    @fantomesq: Careful there. You are using logic on the Consumerist! That doesn’t work around here. All companies are evil.

  75. wvFrugan says:

    @Trai_Dep:
    If that mother fucker hurts the public insurance chance I hope he dies a misserable death, prolonged painful cancer or something.

  76. Greasy Thumb Guzik says:

    @Trai_Dep:
    Just print up a sign that reads: “A schande fur de goyim”!
    Maybe in Yiddish it will get through to that creep!

  77. MrHowser: less comments, more followers? says:

    @Trai_Dep: Way to go… injecting politics for absolutely no reason.

    @wvFrugan: Really? You hope that if someone doesn’t agree with your opinion on government policy that he should die a painful death? I don’t understand this ridiculous hatred.

  78. That's Consumer007 to you says:

    @Trai_Dep: Bravo on both comments :)

    My response would have been

    “Yeah, and now I’m going to further show it to your manager while you watch and ask him to rethink your little “career” here! Don’t go anywhere – this will be fun!”

    (Follow that by a word of mouth damages calculation to the manager saying how many thousands of dollars over the next 10 years the employee just lost them, and that is BEFORE you post on the internet.)

    You see – abusive lying anti-customer retail bullies need to be put in their place. There are 250 decent people just waiting for the chance at their jobs – so be it!

  79. Eldritch says:

    @Adhominem: Because the economy has nothing to do with one’s job at all? I worked very hard during college and I work in a retail environment. My area isn’t hiring right now. Don’t be so quick to judge.

  80. wellfleet says:

    @Adhominem: This generalization is so patently absurd as to be laughable. Walmart’s VP Int’l for Chinese marker started out unloading trucks in a Walmart store. BBY CEO started out as a salesperson in the original pre-BBY BBY. Some people enjoy meeting lots of new people, enjoy the challenges of salesmanship and problem-solving, and enjoy helping people.

    I can’t imagine what you do for a living, but having worked retail a long time, including time as a BBY manager, I can assure you that I did not fit into neither of your two silly assertions.

    Not all salespeople are liars, not all big-box stores are terrible. Speak to your own experiences, don’t just make blanket statements, the true last resort of the unimaginative.

  81. fantomesq says:

    @DangerMouth..Passed the Audition!: @Outrun1986: Perhaps I should have said “Many (generic) dollar stores”, not specifically the Dollar Store. While some of the product is cheap foreign produced non-name brand product, much of it is brand name overruns, clearance and liquidation.

  82. Adhominem says:

    @wellfleet: You’re right, I made a very cynical generalization that was widely inaccurate and I apologize.

    Though, I do defend them for my personal experiences working in the retail industry.

  83. j-o-h-n says:

    @trashbaby: Monoprice is GREAT if you can wait for it to be shipped to you, but the OP sounded like they were in a “need it today” sort of situation.

  84. Earl42 says:

    @MrHowser: less comments, more followers?: The problem is, they are choosing to make their living by lying to people. They are either lying about the product or lying about their knowledge of the product. Either way they are choosing to make their living by lying. Which in my book is equivalent to fraud.

  85. Raekwon says:

    @silver-bolt: How exactly would they do that? HDMI is just copper wire. It has no computer and anything in it that Microsoft could detect.

  86. ShadowFalls says:

    @arsenicookie:

    That is not a HDMI cable. It was basically a cable and a switch in one. It allowed for use of Component or Composite (RCA), which ever one you needed, with a flick of a switch. Those actually came with the consoles, so you only needed one if you somehow damaged it.

  87. Radi0logy says:

    @PsiCop: Computer City was purchased by CompUSA – I was working at CompUSA at the time and I remember we were FLOODED with useless stuff from Computer City after those rip-off liquidators were unable to sell the assets in a timely manner.

  88. PsiCop says:

    @Radi0logy: I learned not to trust any hardware from Computer City after a friend who needed to replace a CD drive on his PC took me to one and got one at a ridiculously low price. I installed it, and initially it worked, but inside of a week it had failed … it would spin endlessly if you put a CD in, and the eject button didn’t work, to open it you had to use the paper-clip mechanical bypass. (Of course, it opened up still spinning, which was fun … NOT!) I ended up ordering a new drive online — it might have been from CompUSA! — and put that in. No problems after that.

    It would have been nice had CompUSA made a go of things, but I guess there’s too much money to be had in liquidating some businesses rather than continuing them.

  89. jenjen says:

    @Outrun1986: Hey, now that’s a useful tip – I never would have thought to look there. Yesterday in JCPenney I saw very inexpensive mp3 players in the linens department – no idea why.

  90. dragonfire81 says:

    @Persistence: The customer is NOT always right. Policies exist for a reason and although sometimes rules can be bent other times they can’t. Just because you walk into a Gamestop and demand they replace your broken 360 with a brand new PS3 doesn’t mean they are going to blindingly oblige.

    Even retail jobs require training to become effective at. Let’s say you sell mobile phones for AT&T. You have to be familiar with the features and functions of every device, then you have to know the features of details of all AT&T plans. It also helps to have some general working knowledge of the cellphone industry in general. This training is not acquired overnight, it takes time to learn and understand at all and become effective at helping customers.

    Obviously, working the counter at a gas station selling potato chips, beer and smokes doesn’t require much fancy training.

  91. fantomesq says:

    @Areyouagoodlittleconsumer: There may well be 250 people waiting for the chance for the jobs but Radio Shack management WANTS much of the behavior that this salesperson demonstrated, so complaining to them wouldn’t be effective… Word of wisdom – do not spout out your “word of mouth damages calculation”. If you want him to help you, then telling him that you know his job better than he does is a bad strategy… lay out the situation and IF he agrees with you then he’ll draw that conclusion on his own. More likely you’ll just get platitudes and the manager will commend himself for his employee’s followthrough of his instructions… you think that hard sell comes from the employee?!?