Confirmed: CompUSA's "Fire Sales" Suck

Reader Dave writes in to confirm that CompUSA’s “fire sales” do, in fact, suck. Dave reports the soon-to-be-shuttered Monroeville, PA CompUSA is offering most items for 10% off MSRP. Some items sport discounts of up to – hold your breath – 20% off.

Dave spied a pair of $130 headphones and decided to indulge. An employee told him that no returns would be accepted. Defective merchandise could be exchanged.

    “Well, I guess it was a self-fulfilling prophesy: of course, no sound come out of the left side unless I jiggled the volume switch. It was clearly a pair of badly-wired headphones. I took them back the next day, and was told that no, all sales were final, and I could not swap them out. Of course, I was furious. Not that anyone cared, since they were going to be fired in a couple of weeks and weren’t really concerned with customer satisfaction.”

Don’t be seduced by false discounts. If it’s not truly a steal, and it probably isn’t, then shop with a retailer that allows returns and exchanges.

Dave’s email, after the jump…

I went to check out the sale going on at my local ex-CompUSA in Monroeville, PA. Basically, everything is 10% off MSRP, with no sale prices currently in place (they aren’t honoring CompUSA prices). Some items are 20% off (game guides, tech parts, and other low volume sellers). I had my eye on some headphones (expensive $130 ones) and figured 10% off and instant gratification was a good deal. I asked the checkout guy specifically that even though sales were final, if they were defective, could I swap them out for a new pair. He said, yes, I could, I just couldn’t get a refund. Well, I guess it was a self-fulfilling prophesy: of course, no sound come out of the left side unless I jiggled the volume switch. It was clearly a pair of badly-wired headphones. I took them back the next day, and was told that no, all sales were final, and I could not swap them out. Of course, I was furious. Not that anyone cared, since they were going to be fired in a couple of weeks and weren’t really concerned with customer satisfaction. Just a heads up, the 10% discount isn’t worth it. Just avoid these sales entirely, unless you plan on buying something “unbreakable” (paper?). Time to break out the soldering iron…

Correction: CompUSA’s “fire sales” really suck. — CAREY GREENBERG-BERGER

Previously: CompUSA’s “Fire Sales” Expected To Suck


Edit Your Comment

  1. scoobydoo says:

    It’s really tricky. There are some nasty deals, and then there are also some downright awesome deals. The only way to find them is to spend quite some time in their stores. For example; I found an Archos PMP (normally $499) going now for $160.

  2. jretzer says:

    With a “No return” policy, five to twenty percent off doesn’t justify the risk. They’re going to have to do better than that.

    I visited and found that their desktops and laptops are going for — hold on to your chair — 5% off.

    I see better deals in every weekend’s Sunday flyers at the big box office supply stores. But that may have been the problem with CUSA all along — and why they’re closing half their stores. The office stores always seemed to have better deals.

    I will not miss CompUSA

  3. Roger says:

    Sounds like this is what chargebacks are for.

  4. NeoteriX says:

    I’m unfamiliar with the use of chargebacks. When can you use it, why, and what do you have to do with the credit card company?

  5. Namrepus says:

    well it looks like I’m staying home today (I had planned to go to the same CompUSA as I am a native of pittsburgh)

    If they think they are gonna move anything with those prices. they are gonna be sorely mistaken.

  6. cabinaero says:

    Just call your credit card issuer and explain the situation to them. Tell them that the sale was posted “no returns” but not “no exchanges”.

    You might also want to contact your attorney general’s office. I’m not sure what Pennsylvania law is like, but most states have laws on the books regarding “Going Out of Business” sales. Primarily the laws are to counter businesses that are always “going out of business”, but they might have some language regarding defective items.

    And I wouldn’t take after your headphone with a soldering iron just yet — that would void the manufacturer’s warranty. Your case is a clear case of out-of-the-box breakage. The manufacturer should have no problems with replacing your unit.

  7. webwbr says:

    Quick thread-hijack here…

    Two weeks ago I bought an HP Laptop from a CompUSA not going out of business, not every CompUSa in Chicagoland is going out of business.

    1) Think I’ll have trouble with the rebate?

    2) I bought the extended 2 year warranty (I know, I know… but if i bought a Dell I would have bought an extended warranty too) should I see if I can cancel that since the nearest store will be 70+ miles away in Rockford? (of all God-foresaken places)

  8. erockO says:

    The prices do suck but i’m sure the rest of the stores are ready to absorb the inventory. This just lessens the blow.

  9. Coder4Life says:

    Ha, I believe there was a post ealier that mentioned it all. No returns, NO MATTER WHAT…

    they dont want it back at alllll..

  10. The Bigger Unit says:

    @scoobydoo: An Archos like the one BestBuy has on sale now for $199? (I think it’s BB…anyway one of the big box stores with a flier). If so, CompUSA is showing some crazy mark-up MSRP’s for their sale!! $499…sheesh!!

  11. dat5150 says:

    The CompUSA ‘fire’ sale is only in the first quarter. Over the next 60-90 days, the discounts continue to increase in order to clean out the stores. CompUSA doesn’t own the inventory anymore…its been sold to a company that specializes in liquidating stores so don’t blame them anymore. I recommend checking into your local store 2-3 times week as the discounts increase. There will be some great deals. The question is, will you be there to get it?

  12. emax4 says:

    I was under the impression that the CompUSA near the airport was closing. I checked their website and it didn’t list the location as Wilkins Township or Monroeville, not Pittsburgh or Robinson. I thought I read that one reason stores were closing is that the rent charge on certain properties were too expensive, and Robinson s known for that. From the website deals it didn’t look like one would save as much. I did get a great deal before even hearing of this though, a Kensington wireless keyboard and mouse for $15 after rebate. It only cost me $35 out the door.

  13. CeilingCat says:

    This is almost a word-for-word repeat of a month ago when Radio Shack pulled out of Canada — this is the RS that is *not* owned by Circuit City, who have rebranded themselves as “The Source: by CC”. The Rat Shack that pulled out of Canada is a US owned company… err wait, so is the one owned by Circuit City. Confused? Join the club!

    Anyway, there were some great deals and some really crap deals to be had in the remaining Rat Shack stores — like an opened Xbox360 that doesn’t power up ($150 CDN). I did manage to grab one of those normally overpriced iGo power adaptors and a handful of the proprietary tips for 80% off, so it wasn’t a total loss. No returns, exchanges or refunds though makes you think twice about buying something at one of these sales.

  14. bigdavediode says:

    Went to the Springfield, NJ CompUSA’s sale this weekend to buy an Antec Trio 650 power supply. Advertised on their website (for both mail order and in-store) as $169, minus $50 instant savings and $30 mail-in rebate for a final price of $89.

    Took it to the cash register, it rings up for $169 – 20% = $135. Told that normal price breaks no longer work in “sales” stores.

    So, not only does the fire sale suck, the prices are actually HIGHER than normal!

  15. SlappyPappy says:

    My local CompUSA is now 20-50% off.

    Video games were 30% which I thought wasn’t a terribly bad deal. Certain iPod accessories (like docking speakers) were 50%.

    It’ll get cheap. It just takes time.

  16. I went to my local CompUSA yesterday, as it is on the list of stores to be closed.

    Just about everything was “up to” 20% off. Even at the discounted price, most products were still more expensive than what I would pay online at amazon, newegg or whatever. They did have a full load of Vista machines though, and plenty of Mac systems as well. There was decidedly no exceptional deals. That’s for sure.

    The biggest thing I noticed was that the store was probably over staffed, yet not a single associate offered their assistance. There was a striking number of the red-shirted employees standing around talking… but then again, what’s management going to do? Fire them?

  17. MoodNiatrec says:

    Why are you guys complaining so much about the firesale? Have you never seen a clearance sale before? Everything doesn’t just go 50% off right away, it slowly drops.

    I’m a salesman at one of the CompUSAs that is closing, yea it sucks that they aren’t honoring the add anymore, but oh well, you’re only gonna have to deal with them another 60-90 days anyway, if that. At my store, despite merchandise only being 5-10% off for the larger stuff, half of our machines are already gone, so I wouldn’t be suprised if a lot of CompUSAs are gone in 30-45 days, assuming their situation is the same as ours.

    As for being overstaffed, at this point the are most likely just trying to help out there salesman getting them as many hours as they can before they lose their job. I’m not suprised that they aren’t really helping customers either, when you know you only have like 2 months left to work, wouldn’t you rather relax rather than deal with asses all day? And trust me, the majority of customers coming in at this point are asses. And Honestly, if you’re that desperate for assistance, just walk over and ask, I’m just a 20 foot walk won’t kill you.

    I’ve heard very few “Sorry to hear about you guys closing” and a lot of “Since you guys are closing anyway, just give it to me for more off”, maybe you guys will notice at the bottom of the clearance tags; “NO FURTHER DISCOUNTS!”

    I guess you don’t realize that it’s still a business, now it’s in control of a liquidator, but the liquidator doesn’t make any money by just giving everything away at 90% off.

    If you really want a good deal, just wait it out, stop by periodically and even ask the salesman how much of whatever product they have left. Just keep in mind the stuff that’ll probably be your best bet for getting cheap are stuff like Windows Vista, which aren’t being sent back to Microsoft and are kept locked in the back, so 30 days from now when all software is 50% off, you can get a good deal. Also keep in mind that most CompUSAs have a cage in the back where returned and defective merchandise is kept before being sent back. The closing stores are no longer shipping out, so you can potentially get a great deal on an opened laptop and there’s probably a good chance there will be nothing wrong with it.

    1 more quick tip; Macs do not get sent back to Apple when they are opened or defective, so if you’re a Mac user, wait til laptops are down like 25% or more and inquire if they have any in the back opened.

    Also, they employees are no longer getting stuff at cost and they get no further discounts, they pay what you pay.

    As of now these are the prices in my store:
    5% off Desktops, Laptops and Ipods
    10% off Monitors, Gamining Consoles, Networking, Flash Drives and Memory.
    20% off Cables, Tech Parts
    30% off HE Cables

    No clue why I went off on the rant and please excuse any poor grammar. Hopefully that clears some stuff up.

  18. @MoodNiatrec

    You went on a rant so that I didn’t have to. Honestly, customers don’t think sometimes. While Consumerist is a good website it also seems to bring out a lot of jerks in the comments.

    I’m glad all you elitests hate CompUSA. We hate you as well. The customers here are sorry to see us go.

  19. kevincw01 says:

    2 years ago the compusa employees in huntington beach, ca. were all jerks. i always make it a point to be as nice as possible to retail employees because i used to work it. 2 months ago, the compusa employees in long beach, ca. were all jerks. And now…they’re still jerks. i hope all you compusa employees dont get jobs in retail ever again. In fact, you should be banned from customer service all together.

  20. digicool says:

    be carefull when you buy some items at compusa, they do still take returns that were within 21 days before the announcement of the closing and they still do replacement plans. And you wonder where all that defective crap goes? it goes right back on the floor on the shelves. One good thing is there is no shrink wrap on those items so you can tell.
    Also a tip. every thursday a new catagory will go cheaper. today tech parts, cases and fans are going 30%

  21. plumerjr says:

    I went to one of the stores closing locally. Unfortunately I didn’t find any super deals, plus I wasn’t looking for anything in particular. I was just passing by and saw the signs and decided to check it out. A friend of mine went a few weeks later and said he got some stuff cheap he wanted. I guess it depended on what you were looking for. I did frequent the store every so often unfortunately I bought most of my computer parts/software online cheaper(Like Newegg )if I needed tech books or software I got them on Amazon. Unfortunately they rarely could match online prices. they were only good for in a pinch. I think that’s what hurt them.