Circuit City Liquidator Demonstrates Its Ability To Do Math

Reader Scott went to the closing Circuit City in Oklahoma City and found that there weren’t many deals to be had. He also noticed that Circuit City’s liquidator seems to be having a problem calculating their discounts.

Scott says:

Not really any deals to be had there. As you can see from the picture, apparently someone there doesn’t know how to calculate “5% off”…

Scott was wondering if this was a widespread issue or something endemic to this store?

In any case, we searched the internet for a tool that can help them and found this neat sale price calculator.




Edit Your Comment

  1. SKURRY says:

    I am SHOCKED!

  2. Doofio says:

    Not to mention I can almost guarantee that if approached about this, any liquidator or sales associated would immediate claim that the 5% is a mistake and not the final price…so couldn’t this technically be construed as false advertising and/or bait and switch?

    Or does it even really matter due to them going out of business?

    • Anonymous says:

      What happened is that a HUGE pile of papers where handed out to all employees with about 50-100 inventory items. Listing the original price then how much percent should be taken off.
      The print is tiny and hard to read. Then use a cellphone calculator to find the right price and write it down in tiny little print next to the item. Then get a stack of tags and copy your sloppy handwriting to the tag.. then place the tag on the merchandise. Repeat x 10,000 for about 9 hours straight. You are bound to mess something up. They where not smart enough to put the inventory into a spreadsheet, apply math then print.

      -axed circuit city employee

  3. Smooooth says:

    What do you mean? This is accurate. You get 5% off the list price, but you have to add back in the 4% liquidator’s fee.

    • Gokuhouse says:

      @Smooooth: Sadly there is a small chance your comment is correct! Instead of charging the fee to Circuit City they are going after the customers for it.

      • Doofio says:

        @Gokuhouse: I know little about the policies that are in place when liquidators get their claws into pricing, but shouldn’t any extra fees be listed somewhere? I would definitely make the argument that any sale advertisement can be taken at face value when there is no “fine print”. If there is a 4% “liquidator fee” attached to this sale, the sign should read 1% off, not 5%. Any average customer coming in looking for a deal is going to read this as 5% off the price listed.

    • RodAox says:

      @Smooooth: thank you for that… I really did not know liquidators could pass on the cost to the customers…

    • bbb111 says:

      @Smooooth: “What do you mean? This is accurate. You get 5% off the list price, but you have to add back in the 4% liquidator’s fee.”

      Last week I actually saw this – a clothing store was closing and signs stated that for the fixtures there is a 10% buyers premium added to the listed prices (then some feeble excuse/appology about the deal with the store).

  4. Caprica Six says:

    i’m taking this seriously by not shopping there..unless they have 42″ (Sony, Toshiba, etc) HDTV’s for $500 :)

  5. Verucalise (Est.February2008) says:

    You are just paying for the restocking fees ahead of time…. I thought we all did it?? right?? RIGHT??!!


  6. Git Em SteveDave loves this guy--> says:

    Apparently Circuit City doesn’t sell calculators? Or cell phones, or anything else that has a calculator built in.

  7. Trencher93 says:

    What I trained myself to do was guess at these to do them quickly. Round up to $1000 and take 10%, or $100. Half of that (5%) is $50. So the price ought to be around $950, which is a little high, but the actual sale price is higher, so it’s not right. I can do the guess faster than using a calculator. But I rounded up about 1%, so it’s close to the ~$940 it should be if I take the fudge back out.

    This is a good technique to teach kids.

    The stores use crazy prices like 989.99 so you can’t easily do them in your head. So many 9, 8, 6, etc digits.

    • Verucalise (Est.February2008) says:

      @Trencher93: I’ve alway taken the $989.99 – 10% of that is just moving the decimal back 1 spot to the left, so $98.99 which we’ll round to $99. Divide by 2? $49.50, rounded to $50. $990-$50 is $940.

      Same with tipping, 15% of $100 is obviously $15, divide that by 2 is $7.50 for a $50 bill, or divide THAT by 2 is $3.75 for a $25, so on and so forth.

      If you are out looking for a great deal to be had, you should know basic math. Plain and simple.

      • SabreDC says:

        @verucalise: I tip 20%, so I use the “decimal point to the left, multiply by 2” method. And since I work in DC, if I go out to an actual restaurant for lunch, I just double the 10% sales tax.

        I agree with you though, people need to learn more of these tips to spot deals or easily figure out if they are being ripped off like in this picture.

      • ElleDriver says:

        @verucalise: Lord, I still can’t believe how many people I know still can’t figure out taxes and tips when handed a bill. (These are working professionals in their 30’s.)

        (I flunked a few of my math classes in school, but at least I know about the decimal point rule.)

      • Anonymous says:

        @verucalise: Another way to calculate tips (at least here in California) is to double the sales tax. Here the sales tax is 8.25% so doubling it will get you in the ballpark for what a good tip should start at.

    • AliyaBabasaur says:


      “This is a good technique to teach kids.”

      Yes, simple division is a good “technique” to teach kids. Why don’t we round up all the children into rooms, where someone trained in this “technique” advises the children how to use it. Perhaps later the children can be tested on it.

      What a BRILLIANT idea!

    • Tsubasa says:

      @Trencher93: I just thought “the difference is $10, and $10 is 1% of $1000”.

  8. medusasbedhead says:

    Doesn’t surprise me. Maybe if the suits at Circuit City could do basic math, they wouldn’t be underwater right now. FFS, I can’t remember *any* good deals at any Circuit City/Best Buy I’ve ever been to; 95% of the time, their prices were hilariously close to retail, and it was easy to get a better deal on a similar (or identical) product at just about any other big-box retailer that *didn’t* specialize in electronics. (Target, Wal-Mart, hell… even Sears!)

    No tears for Circuit City here, although it sucks that the workers are losing their jobs.

    • SabreDC says:

      @medusasbedhead: So THIS is why they thought they were making a profit in the past. Some exec came into a board meeting saying “Hey guys! Our profits are up 5% this quarter!”

      I feel bad for the employees too, but look at it this way. Circuit City stores are usually located in somewhat medium to large commercial areas, like around malls, plazas, etc. The employees, if they feel that their skills cannot get them a better career, can probably find another retail job in that same area. Many retailers have such high turnover that they hire constantly. Where there is a Circuit City, there is usually a Best Buy, a Toys ‘R’ Us, a Walmart, a Target, or some other similar retail store. The employees should be okay.

    • Solly says:

      Aren’t their prices by definition exactly retail?

  9. rpm773 says:

    That 5% is an adjustable rate. It’s like 1% now, but in 5 years will jump up to 5%. So it’s a hell of a deal.

  10. Anonymous says:

    This reminds me of one of my biggest retail pet peeves. For example, an item is 20% off, then an additional 10%, but the dumbass sales person tells you it’s 30% off.

    • Geekybiker says:

      @MeSoHornsby: Why complain? 30% off the top is in your favor…

    • jdhuck says:

      @MeSoHornsby: I am usually ok with that scenario. If they want to give me 30% versus 20 and % broken up, I should come out ahead.

    • Verucalise (Est.February2008) says:

      @MeSoHornsby: I’m kinda confused by your logic, if you took 30% off of an item, you get a better deal, whats to complain about?

      $300 TV- 20% is $60, so $240. An additional 10% off of $240 is $24, so in total, you get $84 off.

      30% would be $90 off, that’s not a pet peeve, it’s a bonus! If they say it’s 30%, by DARN, hold them to it!

      • Anonymous says:

        @verucalise: I think his point is that the salesperson says it’s 30% off, but the number on the tag is really 20%, then 10% (probably because it was reduced at two separate times). So you’re not getting the better deal that the salesperson is claiming you get.

      • Oranges w/ Cheese says:

        @verucalise: He’s saying you’re only getting the $84 but the salesman tells you you’re getting “30%” because he’s too much of an idiot to realize its only technically like 23%

        • katiegeek says:

          @Oranges w/ Cheese: 20% off plus an additional 10% off is the same as 28% off the original price. Always.

          • ludwigk says:

            @katiegeek: Nope, sorry. I know that your math is sound, but you’re not taking into account how the POS software applies discounts, which at the end of the day is the ONLY determinant in how 20% + 10% off will really work.

            I’ve worked with some systems where percentage discounts are ALWAYS taken off of the original price, and some that allowed sequential application of discounts, and the employees and managers didn’t know which way it was supposed to work, or how to get the desired result. As long as it worked out in my favor, I didn’t bring it up.

        • Verucalise (Est.February2008) says:

          @Oranges w/ Cheese: Oh, I know… just saying, if that’s what the salesman says, HOLD THEM TO IT!! lol.

  11. vastrightwing says:

    .5 % OFF!
    Was $998.95
    You pay $993.95*

    * Additional 4% liquidator’s fee & 10% discount fee & tax due at register

  12. GoVegan says:

    My guess that someone in Bush’s fiscal responsibility department must be doing the calculations for discounts at Circuit City.

  13. pgh9fan says:

    Is it possible that the sign is just poorly written, but correct? Could it be that they mean $979.96 THEN take 5% off?

    On second thought, no.

  14. se7a7n7 says:

    So, who buys stuff from these liquidation “sales”?

  15. eh_remraf says:

    Ok, here’s the deal, that 5% should be taken off that tag and replaced with “Clearance” All clearance items in circuit city’s inventory system end with a .96 and the liquidators will not lower the price of any clearance item beyond what it was already set in the system. So that tag should also have something about being a display item and or used, and or last one, and or missing something etc. etc. Sounds like a case of one of the new 15 year old employees they hired in to save the company only to tell them they would be losing their job, not that they care.

  16. katylostherart says:

    well at least the second one is a lot closer.

  17. wcnghj says:

    Is that strange code at the bottom of the picture supposed to mean hilarious?


  18. Killians1978 says:

    Hey guys, lay off here, seriously. This is actually a repeat of everything you’ve ALREADY been complaining about with Circuit City – the employees.

    The liquidator has a schedule of store areas and the price discount that will be applied to each of the different -types- of product (Desktops 5%, laptops 5%, televisions 5-10%, dvd/blu-ray players 10-15%, CD’s, paper products 10%, etc) and they delegate these lists to the store managers, who in turn assign associates to go along with sale tags, black markers, and (hopefully) calculators. It is THEN up to these employees to get the math done and mark it properly. I bet if you follow the employee around who did this one, you’ll find a bevy of other miscalculated prices.

    True, the manager should probably have spotted this, and they should correct it immediately if brought to their attention – something which the OP did not suggest that he had done.

    I’m glad you’re all having a good laugh here at the bumbling buffoons that must be in charge of the liquidation, but seriously I have been in the manager’s shoes who had to check some 2,200 sale tags. If only ONE got through their notice, that’s commendable

    • CalvertGanado says:


      So nice of you to shill for these liquidators, but this one group goes far and beyond the call of duty to rip people off. You probably didn’t pay attention to the CompUSA debacle, but suffice it to say that either you worked against the consumers, or you have no clue how badly that incident worked out.

    • Corporate-Shill says:


      And for every goofy screwup in their favor there will be one more in our favor.

      I saw a Mark Levinson Amp for $580 on a close out sale in a liquidation store because either some idiot slipped a decimal point or the store had no farking clue what they were selling.

      NO, I did not buy the Amp. Somebody else grabbed it before the mistake was realized.

      • CalvertGanado says:


        Sure, it’s possible. But if he’s going to be so snotty about being a retail manager, he shouldn’t expect sympathy, and he shouldn’t expect that the reality consumers know matches the perfect operation that only exists in his head.

        I’ve been behind the curtain, and while I’ve taken escalations for all manner of jerky customers, for every unreasonable customer you’ve got an equally dumb and “entitled” manager out there to match.

      • ludwigk says:

        @Corporate-Shill: Was it a “Madrigal by Mark Levinson” amp, or a Red Rose amp actually made by Mark Levinson?

        Ah ha ha ha! Just kidding, I don’t really care. I have long since ended my flirtation with high-end audio.

    • fashionista says:

      @Killians1978: Ummm, sorry, but if you’re going to work in retail, you really should be sharp enough to do mental math, if for no reason other than to ensure that you (or your employer) are not being taken by a shyster. I understand the workload of retail managers, and I understand that, occasionally, you have to hire the village idiot for shift coverage. But, honestly, it NEVER registered that $989 down to $979 is not 5%? I don’t know whether it’s a case of failed 4th grade math, or a sad testament to just how screwed the US education system is.

  19. pecan 3.14159265 says:

    Linens N’Things is doing this as well…I found something priced at $69.99 marked as 20% off and the final price is $59.99.

    I don’t know if it’s stupidity on the part of the staff, or their sly way of getting the customer to pay more than they should be paying.

  20. Scoobatz says:

    I pity anyone who just tagged the “neat sale price calculator” as a favorite.

  21. scoosdad says:

    I like how the signs are preying on people whose instincts to buy are triggered primarily by the perception of a big percentage price cut rather than on whether or not they feel that the final price they pay is worth it for what they end up getting. It’s kind of like saying, “wow, I got a 3% mortgage”, but still owing the bank $950,000 back on the loan when you’re working at McDonalds.

    I don’t care so much about whether or not the liquidator got the math right. I’d care about if the price they cut it to was a fair price. (Not saying it is, mind you.)

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

    I got kicked out of a Spencer Gifts onces for getting in a yelling match with the manager. He banned me from ever coming into the store again!

    They had a table of shirts with a sign that said “33% off”, and all were actually only 25% off. I told him how legally, since the sign is up, he is obligated to sell the shirts for the 33% off…and he just didnt’ get it, he insisted that the price on the shirt is the price on the shirt, and they won’t adjust it.

  23. vliam says:

    FWIW, it seems that the “was” price is actually the problem. The item is a tablet notebook that usually goes for just over $1K,


    • fashionista says:

      @vliam: Okay, but 5% off the Amazon advertisted $1049 still isn’t $979. Either the wrong price is listed, or someone just has some really jacked math skills. Either way, it makes CC look bad (as if they don’t already).

  24. audemars says:

    C’mon, they’re in Oklahoma. I think finding 5% of such an odd number is really asking too much from those guys.

  25. ironchef says:

    I just help them out with my own math….I will bring my own sharpie ;)

  26. Marshfield says:

    At least it’s a LITTLE off. If they had an auction, the items would likely sell for MORE than retail.

    I’ve been to business-closing auctions where 3 yr old laptops with P-233 sold for $400.00. Insanity rules at auctions.

  27. Jesse in Japan says:

    Wait, if the sign says “5% off” aren’t they legally obligated to honor that price? If the original price was 989.99 and they have a sign saying “5% off” don’t pricing laws require them to then sell it at 940 dollars, regardless of what the other part of the sign says?

  28. Anonymous says:

    The cashiers certainly can’t do simple arithmetic. I bought a $60.00 XBox 360 game that was 10% off. First, the cashier had to use a calculator to figure out what 10% of 60 comes out to. After that, she went and gave me the game for $48.00.

    Not complaining, just sharing.

  29. lowcajones says:

    989.99 ~ 999.
    999 x .10 = 99
    99 x .5 = ~45; 45 = 5% of 989.99

    989-979 = 10
    10/45 = 2/9 = ~.22; ~.2
    ~0.2 x 5% = ~1% of 989


    $989 = ~$1000
    10/~1000 = ~1%

    Someone call the SAT or the GRE people!! Circuit City just gave them a freebie for the math section!

  30. Psychosocial says:


  31. Alessar says:

    No see, it WAS $989.99, FIRSTthey marked it up, THEN they took 5% of the newly increased price off, leaving the consumer with a $979.96 price tag.

  32. Blueskylaw says:

    What kind of deal is it when they take off $10 on a nearly $1000 item during a regular sale let alone a liquidation sale?

  33. gravion17 says:

    The best time to shop at Circuit city is a week before the doors are closed for good! it won’t matter how bad their math is because they will be practically giving the stuff away in order not to be stock with inventory!

    • bbb111 says:

      @gravion17: “The best time to shop at Circuit city is a week before the doors are closed for good! it won’t matter how bad their math is because they will be practically giving the stuff away in order not to be stock with inventory!”

      Not always – sometimes the liquidator plans to move the stock to another location or even the next liquidation for a different store. I was at a liquidation where I found lots of price stickers from other stores. The clerk I talked to said that he would load up the leftovers and move them to the next liquidation. This was the last day and they would not discount more than the 75% off they had during the last week. [I’m sure that clerk didn’t last long – he was friendly, honest and intelligent]

      At another liquidation I went to on the last day, the liquidators were taking any offers to get the stuff out because they were paying to have the leftovers loaded into dumpsters. (They had %90 off everything the day before.)

      One factor is if the liquidator is working for the chain (or creditors) or if they bought the liquidation rights. If they own the contents of the store, then they can put in other sales or auction.

  34. Brynnana says:

    My boyfriend and I went in to the one by our house to see what we could find and we had a $15 gift card to use….so we found a drawing tablet we have been wanting and also received 10% off (yeah big deal). We thought we could just use our circuit city credit card which is actually a chase card but yeah no dice…. apparently you can’t use your circuit city card at circuit city….. (well the stores that are closing) but I think that is really stupid! This is just more evidence as to WHY THE ARE SINKING!! And because of the crappy service I have received there on numerous times I laugh at there demise……

  35. tworld says:

    Maybe if Circuit City knew a little math, they wouldn’t be going out of business. Hey, we’re not taking in any money . . . . let’s open a few more stores. Duh.