Returning A Defective Home Theater To Circuit City Makes You Bang Your Head Against A Wall

“On November 29th, 2007, I purchased a Phillips HTS3544 HTIB (Home Theater in-a-box) online at circuit city.com for $197.47. This included the extra that I paid for expedited 3-day shipping. Done. I thought with the weekend coming up I would receive it around December 3rd-4th. And thats when the problems started rolling on it. The first problem was that the circuit city warehouse didn’t even notify FedEx until December 4th, and I didn’t receive the item until December 7th (which is 3-day on FedEx’s part). Okay, fine, I think Ill just call and have the extra charges refunded. But no way did I know this would spiral into what it has become.”

Once unpacked, I proceed to wire everything up and, after all that work, plug the receiver in. Hmm… no red standby light… no fan… no nothing. I try another outlet… great… I got a defective unit. Okay, thats fine, things happen, I’m sure Circuit City’s customer service will work things out with me. Not.

I called the customer service number, went through the usual prompts, and was put on hold… for 10min… 20…30…40…50…1hr… someone picks up. Okay, I’m tired of waiting but now I can get this resolved. I explain what has happened, and “I’m sorry… you have to talk to the returns department, please hold”. Son of.. no, no, just wait.

10…20…30…1hr…and an hour and a half rolls by and someone picks up. I explain the situation and the fact I’ve been on hold for over 2hrs cumulative now… they take all my information and..

“I’m sorry sir, but this item is an online-only offer, so it will have to be returned via fed ex express. The charges for this will be $60.43 and there will be a 15% restocking fee; your balance to return the item is $87.42; would you like to use your previous payment method to fund this?” –WHAT!? I’m speechless…. you can’t be serious. First… the product CAME LATE and DEFECTIVE. Second… ME pay for the shipping charges? No way. I try and get things resolved… no go. They wont budge. I then request a supervisor and get this response: “I’m sorry sir, but my supervisor is going to tell you the same thing; this is our policy and we cannot change it for you. Your account has been noted.” I demand a supervisor a second time. “Sir, a supervisor is not going to change this.” Deny me a supervisor once? Wrong. 2 times? Now I’M getting severely upset. I demand a third time. “Sir, I’m sorry but I cannot do that. Your account has been noted, have a good night.” Click. What… hung up on!? Now I’m furious.

I call the number again…hold for over an hour again.. I get another rep… and I demand a supervisor immediately… “Sir, what is the issue you are having? I am sure that i can assist you with it and a supervisor will not need to be contacted.” What is wrong with this company? Why do they deny supervisors? I request again… deny… again… deny…again…and deny. I finally am outraged and demand a supervisor and FINALLY, they tell me they will transfer me. Hold again… 30min…45…1hr… “Hello, I’m a supervisor what is the issue?” Finally.. I explain… and… “I’m sorry…but this is our policy and we cannot change it”. You have got to be kidding me. I request their corporate office and she gives me another 1-800 number. She hangs up, without saying anything more.

By this time, I have spent almost 5hrs on the phone cumulative and it is very late and I am irate to say the least. I head to bed and call corporate tomorrow; surely this has to be a bad luck thing.

Tomorrow comes and I call the corporate office… within holding for 5min someone picks up… amazing… no hold? Maybe this is a good thing. I speak to a lady and plead my case. She apologizes for everything that has happened and agrees to expedite shipping of a new product for me and says she has to verify some information and puts me on hold for about 5minutes. Good,things will get fixed. She comes back on the line… “I’m sorry sir but we cannot ship this product 3-day for you and you will have to pay the shipping to us to return in and we will ship you a new one in 14-21 days.” WHAT!?!?! I explain this request is outrageous and question if I am able to do ANYTHING through a store location. She informs me that I, in fact, CAN return it to a store and have a new one shipped to me. Amazing the lack of communication here, isn’t it? Good, I say I will do that and the conversation ends.

I call up my local store and ask for a supervisor and get one. I explain the situation that I have been going through and the supervisor understands and I head to the store. I return the item to them and they set up the new shipment… but there is still an issue. Remember how I paid for 3day? They refuse to honor that for this new shipment… by this time I’m so done with this company I just tell them to ship it to me and be done with it. I get the receipt and shipping info and leave.

December 10th comes.. and I have a package? Whats this? 2 days? Amazing. I finally think this process is over… but no, it’s not. I open the package and this time, before unwrapping ANYTHING, I plug the receiver in, laughing, thinking there is no way I could possibly get a SECOND one that doesn’t work. … no…red light… no fan… no…nothing. You have to be kidding me. ANOTHER defective unit. I immediately call the store and explain what happened and at this time, I am infuriated. They understand and want to ship ANOTHER one to me.. but by this time this is not going to work. I demand that the supervisor find a comparable product that they can exchange IN STORE TONIGHT for me. She agrees and finds me a Panasonic 5 Disc HTIB with the same features, minus and plus a few. Good, I bring the product in, exchange it, bring the new item home, plug the receiver in and… IT WORKS! We’re done!

Now… lets recap… I received two defective products… wasted over 7hrs of my time via phone and driving to locations, was told contrasting information on return policies, and was told I would have to furnish shipping for a defective product? During the phone conversations with their 1-800 #, I had to struggle to understand EVERY rep I had, INCLUDING the supervisors, I assume due to outsourcing. I then FINALLY get the product exchanged and.. IT DOESN’T WORK! I get a comparable product after having to cohort the supervisor into this and finally, I have a working product, 2 weeks of waiting and 7hrs of phone conversations PLUS having to drive to and from a store location TWICE and I wound up with a product that I didn’t want but suffices. Now, you’re probably wondering why I didn’t just get a refund and go elsewhere? $125 of the purchase was on gift cards I bought at a local store for the fuel perks prior to shopping… burned on my part for that. The moral of this story? I will NEVER shop at this company again and I will make sure my family does the same. I have contacted the BBB regarding this but I don’t expect to have a reply. Take your business elsewhere… often-times, an ad price you see here can be matched somewhere else that will actually give you something called Customer Service.

What a nightmare, made all the more frustrating because the store could have instantly exchanged the unit, rather than made you wait for two weeks—for another defective unit. We like to simultaneously pursue multiple avenues when dealing with thickety customer service issues. If a CSR tells you to wait two weeks, call the store and ask for faster response, or to provide an alternate resolution. Just because customer service agents are bound to a handbook, doesn’t mean you can’t try to outflank them.

(Photo: alaspoorwho)