RadioShack Employee Buys Customer An Accessory In Order To Get System To Approve Phone Upgrade

Has RadioShack gone too far with its sales quotas? Allison wrote us to say that when she tried to upgrade her phone recently, the employee had to add accessories to the transaction before the system would approve it. She said he canceled some, and she ended up paying $2 for “two plastic covers for phones I don’t own.” But she says her mom had an even more bizarre experience at a RadioShack, where the assistant actually paid for the accessories herself.

Earlier this week I went in to RadioShack to upgrade a phone. Of course it was a hassle trying to get RS and my phone company to actually make this work, but eventually things were going through and I was happy just to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Suddenly the assistant says something like “Oh hold on, they don’t let us do mobile upgrades, we have to sell you an accessory.” He spoke quietly so it was hard to understand his explanation, but that was the gist of it. He randomly grabbed accessories off the wall, rang some up, canceled some, and tossed some in my bag. So now I have two plastic covers for phones I don’t own. Together they were like $2 and I was ready to get out of there, so I didn’t complain.

When I told my mom about it (my whole family recently upgraded our phones, in RS stores in different states), she said the same thing happened to her–except in her case, the assistant added the items, then insisted on paying my mom cash out of her own pocket! My mom tried to refuse, but the assistant pressed the 5 bucks on her. She said that the employees would rather pay a little of their own money than catch hell from their higher-ups about not selling accessories–even dinky little dollar accessories, apparently.

With great policies like that, no wonder RadioShack is in such great shape.


Edit Your Comment

  1. broncobiker says:

    I always upgrade through Best Buy. I make them match the best deal I can find online and all usually goes through well.

  2. Tommy J says:

    Ya this is why I left working at RadioShack. I used to make them decent money by actually doing a good job matching customers needs to products and accessorizing as appropriate. When they told me that the number of accessories attached to a sale mattered more than the amount of money they actually made, that is when I had it. A lot of the $1 or $2 accessories that these people are adding are being sold under cost just to clear out inventory, but when the DM’s get the report it looks like they are making the company more money because there accessory attach rate is better.

  3. mmmsoap says:

    If I were the OP, I would contact Radio Shack via their website. Can’t find the exact link right now, but I was able to use a link to a “Contact us…” style page on their website several months ago with a similar situation.

    In my case, RS employees refused to sell me a new phone unless I bought minutes to go along with it (it was a Virgin Mobile pay-as-you-go phone). I didn’t need the minutes because I have an account in good standing, and–while my phone broke–I didn’t want to add money to the account. After contacting RS, I got a response from the regional manager, who said that it was a mistaken understanding of corporate policy on the store employee’s part, that they had been “re-educated” and that I was fine to go ahead and make the phone purchase.

    It wouldn’t surprise me if corporate policy was being misunderstood and/or mis-applied at the ground level, or even the regional level, and I bet corporate would want to hear about it. If you remember that show Undercover Boss, something that came up regularly was the CEO in question discovering how policies made with good intentions either didn’t make sense at the ground level, or were just not being executed the way they were intended to be.

  4. Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

    Someone should write a book on strange policies that failing companies employ before going under.

    And then make it required reading for CEOs.

    The title? “Strategies That Do Not Avoid Bancruptcy.”

    • xxmichaelxx says:

      That’s actually a great idea. At least 3 companies I worked for did the whole “sell accessories!!!1!!” thing before tanking: Borders, Sam Goody/Suncoast, and Hot Topic.

    • Megladon says:

      They should start by interviewing bob nardeli former ceo of home depot and current of Chevy and ask him what “innovative” ideas he’s come up with while working at either.

    • stormbird says:


      Really, now that I think about it, +2

    • RvLeshrac says:

      Unfortunately, these retarded policies won’t outsell the retarded management books from whence they came.

    • RvLeshrac says:

      Unfortunately, these “Retarded Policies” books won’t outsell the retarded management books from whence those policies were gleaned.

  5. Shappie says:

    or perhaps upgrade at an actual company store?

    • Dover says:

      Or online, over the phone, etc. I don’t understand why someone would even think–let alone want–to go to Radio Shack for a phone upgrade. (at least in the US where equipment is so closely tied to carrier)

      • seth_lerman says:

        Sometimes it’s just a better deal. When my mom went to get a new phone/upgrade last Thanksgiving, all the phones she liked were free at RS but $50 when bought directly through T-Mobile.

      • bsh0544 says:

        The biggest benefit is that Radio Shack and Best Buy both offer instant rebates in place of what would be mail-in rebates if you purchase directly from the carrier. Sometimes they also offer an extra discount or a free accessory or something.

    • MNGirl says:

      I use to work for Radio Shack, and a lot of phones we had would be free, where elsewhere they were more like $50-$100, some phones we had were only $50, but going for about $200 at corporate, so it is much cheaper.

  6. WiglyWorm must cease and decist says:

    I used to work at Radio Shack, about 3 years ago. They were circling the drain even then. Forcing employees to hawk accessories, ESAs, and batteries on EVERYTHING.

    That said, the employees don’t get paid very well, but make a commission on cell phones. I’d have been happy as a clam to buy an accessory for someone if it meant they signed a contract for me.

    • jessjj347 says:

      That was my thought. I suspected this clerk was making a commission, so he/she would rather pay $5 to may xx dollars.

      • lukesdad says:

        Yep, when I worked there you’d get a $5 spiff for each accessory up to three. So, attach two $2 plastic covers, pay the customer for them in cash and boom… $10 extra on your paycheck. RadioShack deserves everything that’s coming. They are a horribly run company and I’m surprised they didn’t fold 5 years ago.

        • MNGirl says:

          I worked there up until July of this year, and you do not get spiffs on accessories anymore. You do on phones, (Sprint, new customer would get you $30, AT&T, and Tmobile would very from about $10 to $45 depending on how many extras, like texting or data they add on, upgrades were about $7) You get sales commsision from selling other things, but it’s usually only about 1.5% of your total sales.

    • Tom Foolery says:

      Especially if they’re still doing 5 dollar spiffs on each accessory.

  7. scoobydoo says:

    Blockbuster went last week, and Radio Shack can’t be too far behind. I’m at a loss why this chain is still in business.

    • FrugalFreak says:

      Where is Sears?

      • IphtashuFitz says:

        I actually heard a story involving Sears that really surprised me just yesterday. My parents have a Kenmore refrigerator that they got from Sears (long story, but in a nutshell the only two models that would fit in the space they had was a Kenmore and a GE, and GE has a much worse reputation with refrigerators). The refrigerator is now about 2 years old and my parents recently noticed that the interior lights were staying on when the door was closed and overheating as a result. My dad did a quick search on-line and found that it was a common problem and that Sears even had a service recall for the model of refrigerator they have. He posted a question to a Sears forum asking how to go about getting it repaired, and within a day or two he’d gotten a call from Sears and within another day or two had a repair man show up. The repair man had a laptop that contained all the details, including the specifics on the model & serial number of the refrigerator, the part that needed to be replaced, etc. Less than an hour later a module in the refrigerator was replaced and everything has been working fine since then.

        After all the horror stories I’ve read here involving Sears I was absolutely stunned that they had such a positive experience with the company.

  8. marksmith413 says:

    It’s a bunch of crap. That’s why I quit my job there. My boss would say “in order for you to get this blackberry for 19.99 you will have to purchase an accessory, otherwise you’ll pay the full upgrade price of 59.99” Then she reprimanded me for not lying to the customers. I mean sure, they have great deals and awesome prices on phones because you don’t have to screw with the rebates. But in turn, the associates are forced to screw with you and lie to get their numbers up. It’s a twisted little system I tell you.

  9. Holybalheadedchrist! says:

    Hadn’t been into a radio shack in years, but stopped in looking for a CB radio. I go off-roading and actually need it for two rigs where we might not have cell service. They didn’t even sell them anymore. All they seemed to have in the store were overpriced cell phones and RC cars with the odd karaoke system or flat screen tv. Best of all, the staff is utterly retarded, so best of all possible worlds, IMHO. I can’t understand why anyone goes there.

    • WiglyWorm must cease and decist says:

      You just hit on exactly what is killing RS.

      They used to be known for their knowledgeable sales people, and they had niche items. CB radios (and the whips/dualies you need to use them), resistors, circuit boards, replacements. They were a DIY/Hobbiests dream.

      They have, unfortunately, decided that they want to be a best buy with half the stock (and an unwillingness to price match).

      *shrug* they’re a dinosaur and they won’t be missed when they finally liquidate/get bought and shut down by a competitor.

      • NeverLetMeDown says:

        Actually, they’re doing quite well. The decision to give up on the hobbyist market, and focus on mobile devices, has probably saved the company.

        • IphtashuFitz says:

          Yeah, but I wonder what it’ll mean for their long term viability. If I want a mobile phone or other electronic device I already have Best Buy, Staples, Apple, AT&T/Verizon stores,, etc. Even places like Target, Costco, etc. are increasing their push into consumer electronics. I think all of those retailers have better service/support/pricing than Radio Shack does in most cases.

          When Radio Shack regularly stocked a good selection of electronic components they were offering something that nobody else did. It may have been a smaller niche market, but it was an active one that brings in customers, and getting customers into the store is the most important thing next to making a sale itself. I now go 30-45 minutes away to a local store that’s a lot like Radio Shack used to be when I need to purchase pretty much anything I used to get at Radio Shack (You-Do-It Electronics, in Needham, MA).

          Radio Shack has nobody to blame but themselves for making people like me decide that it’s worth our time to drive past half a dozen Radio Shack stores to go to a store where I know I’ll find what I want and get decent service doing so.

          • Holybalheadedchrist! says:

            On that note, I’d also like to point out that when somebody says “let’s get donuts” I think Dunkin. When they say, “Let’s rent a video,” I say Blockbuster or Netflix (in theory of course–no one rents anything like that anymore, but for sake of argument…). There is simply nothing I can think of that I would have the response: “Let’s go to Radio Shack for that.”

    • LastError says:

      Try truck stops for CB radios. Truckers still use them and some have a standalone radio shop either on the property or nearby. You may need to try some of the more rural truck stops as compared to ones in metro areas. Call around.

      Walmart also carries a CB radio item in the car audio display case at most stores. Not all Walmarts sell car audio so check around.

      If you have a Frys Electronics in your area, they also sell CB. There are also plenty of online shops and eBay.

      Many people use FRS for this sort of offroading use. If that range is not enough, you can always get ham licenses for you and your pals and buy some much better radio gear that’s waterproof and able to hit repeaters and other things CB cannot do.

  10. Destron says:

    Never upgraded a cell phone there, not sure I would want to attempt that… but man they can sure push the batteries on you.

  11. Ihaveasmartpuppy says:

    How sad. Radio Shack used to the kind of place you could find a weird electronic part for $2.50 on a Saturday afternoon when you were working on a fun project. Who wants to wait a week for something like that to be shipped?

    My last experience there was when I bought a battery. They SAID it was the one I needed, it was about $5 and I paid in cash. Halfway out the door I glanced at it and yup, it was NOT the one I needed, and they were out of the right one. It took forever for a simple cash refund, it required that they checked my drivers license and take my address and phone number. I had never even left the store. Sheesh. I just won’t go back.

  12. tundey says:

    Ever time I hear about RadioShack, I am surprised they are still in business.

  13. dcarrington01 says:

    I am still waiting for RS to call me and tell me that my iPhone 4 pre-order has arrived ans I can pick it up…………. nevermind I got it from apple, and am curious as to when RS will actually call and let me know LMAO

  14. robphelan says:

    ack.. RS has nothing but overpriced items. I refuse to shop there unless I’m totally in need of something right away. I needed a cassette adapter(yes, cassette adapter) for my mp3 player to my phone – it was 21.xx at RS. online, i could have bought it for less than $3.

  15. dragonfire81 says:

    Tell me if this would upset you if you found about it. We had a guy come in today and he could have got a rewards card for around $1 but he didn’t want it. As soon as he left, the employee that handled the transaction immediately voided it and re-ran it with a rewards card attached to it. (We have quotas too)

    Now this didn’t affect the customer any, and in truth the company was probably happier with the rewards card showing on the transaction and less concerned about the $1 short in the till, but it’s still not something I’m comfortable with, despite the immense pressure to make quotas.

    • PencilSharp says:

      As a former RS ground-level grunt, I wouldn’t be at all surprised by it. As a consumer, it also wouldn’t bother me a whit, as I got nothing I didn’t want. Having said that, I’ll add this caveat: if I ran my credit or debit card for that transaction, you better not mess with it. If I as the cardholder found out about it, I’d scream for your head. If I as your supervisor found out about it, I’d have your head.

      As for real customers, YMMV…

    • ames says:

      I’d fire that employee.

  16. carlathecommander says:

    Years ago I went with my Dad to buy a Direct TV system. We were there for more than 2 HOURS. It was painful. The lady told my Dad he had to buy an antenea to get local channels, which he ended up not needing. I vowed to never buy from Radio Shack again. They have no idea what they’re doing.

    • Master Medic: Now with more Haldol says:

      They know exactly what they were doing. Preying upon the ignorant consumer who stumbles in. Kinda like the Venus Fly trap for electronic sales.

  17. Re: Your Brains says:

    The title and category is absolutely wrong. It isn’t “to get the system to approve the phone upgrade” – it’s so the salesman doesn’t get in trouble for having a 0% accessory attach rate! At RadioShack we (I work there) are required to maintain a 100% accessory attach rate, so occasionally salesman will (if they’re honest) let the customer know this, and offer a free cheapie accessory if they don’t want to buy anything themselves, or if they’re not, just try to slide it in and hope the customer doesn’t notice. They also force us to sell accessories on pre-paid cell phones which, as another commenter noted, includes minutes. I can almost guarantee that no customer will ever buy a $24.99 car charger for his $9.99 Virgin Mobile cell phone, so that’s a 0% attach right there. If this happens enough, a salesman can lose his job.

    I do sympathize with the salesmen to a point, but they have to be honest about what they’re doing and why they are doing it to the customers.

  18. Anonymously says:

    I’m convinced Radio Shack’s entire business model is centered around selling phones to people who can’t realistically afford them.

  19. Rickdude says:

    The only time I go to Radio Shack is to get the little electronic doo-dads that no one else carries. (LEDs, wire connectors, circuit components, etc.) I’d never purchase anything else from them.

    And I still am amazed when they want my address, etc. for a 1.50 purchase.

  20. jro says:

    I formerly worked for the RS in downtown Philadelphia, and the accessory-attach requirements were pretty rough. Since the phones and high end electronics (LCD TV’s, home theaters, XM/Sirius systems) were kept in a lockup in the back, you had to get a manager to unlock it and grab you the device you were selling. He also would not give it to you walked into the back with 3 accessories you were going to sell, and then he’d watch to see if you scanned and rang them up with the main purchase. It got to the point where if you didn’t sell something, he’d pull you off the sale and put someone else on it, taking money out of your pocket by stripping you of the commission for the sale. It was soul-crushing to work there.

  21. sopmodm14 says:

    i think alot of retailers do this, i used my best judgement and saved one customer from the upsell script required at my store, and she THANKED me for it !!!


    i find it absurd that corporate dolts haven’t done it themselves, and try to make extra money by not implementing it themselves

    “here’s a good idea on paper, it must be a GREAT idea in real life !”

  22. justjoe says:

    I’ve been selling phones for the better part of a decade and have done this on several occasions. Although I don’t work on true commission anymore (pooled “bonus”) I am still hounded for numbers. I do make my best effort to get the customer something that they can use, though.

  23. sopmodm14 says:

    for a measly $1 plastic case, is understandable, but not $50 take-along speakers or somethign

    i charge my phone through my computer, so if it dies during school, work or commuting, its on less thing to worry about (don’t want it to ring during lecture, work, or driving anyway)

  24. VeganPixels says:

    After reading this, does anyone still wonder why or how ‘muricans would rather live with 62% of all personal bankruptcies caused by medical bills — and 78% of those falling upon people who had medical insurance — rather than give over to the Commie notion of universal single payer? Surely I’m not the only one who doesn’t.

    /inb4 don’t call me Shirley

  25. AustinTXProgrammer says:

    I miss Radio Shack.. What we have now is not the same as we had 20 years ago.

    Always overpriced, but at least it used to be an interesting store.

  26. kingdom2000 says:

    I feel bad for the employees. Anytime you have a management structure that manages exclusively to a spreadsheet, the results are rarely good for anybody except as mangerial CYA. All it really shows is the upper management of Radio Shack are a) incompetant and b) have no real world ground retail level experience (always bad when your fundamental job is to manage the ground level retail experience). Net result is a bad experience for employees and the customers that causes loss confidence and sales. This then leads to the drainage cycle of more bad spreadsheet policies leading to more bad experiences leading to more loss sales until the company goes under.

    Now this can be headed off at anytime but that requires competent management which if you had that then would not have the bad spreadsheet policies. A change in command struture can also do it but since usually incompetent managers tend to hire and promote other incompetent managers…well you can see why the cycle usually always leads to bankrupcty.

    So yeah things like this make it very clear that Radio Shack is not long for this earth.

  27. cvstrat says:

    I simply can’t understand what compels companies to allow this type of sales reporting. For example I worked for Wachovia (Wells Fargo) for all of 6 weeks. During this time I was expected to open up a shit ton of checking accounts at all costs. It didn’t even matter if the account was ever going to be used. It was simply so important that management send up the end of day numbers with the correct amount of checking accounts that nobody cared where they came from or how valid they may be.

    Radio Shack should be more worried about the dollar amount of accessories per sale the reps can achieve. AT&T expects around 60 dollars per contract in accessories. If you have someone buy a new phone and not buy any, or have a family upgrade 4 lines and only buy two car chargers, you’re not going to get yelled at. You just sell twice as much to the next guy, or hope you get a customer that buys accessories and doesn’t upgrade.

    Expecting a 100 percent attach rate for anything is simply idiotic. What I can’t grasp is why upper management would be happy seeing a 100 percent attach rate when the accessories are 1 or 2 dollar pieces of crap, not generating any real revenue or profits. Doesn’t someone in the company care that quantity without any quality cannot sustain any business? I just can’t understand how large companies can allow this.

  28. Flexo says:

    Radio Shack was my college (and a few years after) job. The middle and upper management was filled to the rim with ass-kissing douchebags. My store was attached to a shopping mall with a Walmart on the end. Well one year Walmart bricked over the entrance from the mall cause they didn’t want people shopping in the other stores (classy as always Walmart). The mall went into rapid decline and every store suffered. Many closed forever. The Radio Shack did okay with the start of the cell phone boom. We were #1 in our district for cell phone sales — beating many larger stores — and didn’t need any of these stupid tactics to increase profit. But because overall sales were down because of the mall dying the management blamed my manager and fired him. Poor guy was a family man and was a really good manager and salesman. No amount of logic would get it across to management that the store’s problems weren’t the fault of the store manager. They just don’t’ care about people at all, only numbers on a spreadsheet.

    • webweazel says:

      Not about Radio Shack, but related. A relative worked at a local Walmart for a while. It was in a “trapped” summer seasonal-tourist area. Winter local population was around 50,000 and the summer population was around 250,000 or more. Well, obviously, summer sales at Walmart were slamming. In fall, the numbers would taper off, and during winter, the sales numbers would plummet. EVERY SINGLE YEAR, corporate would send out their ax-men to investigate the low sales numbers in winter. And every year, they would get the same answer. I bet they’re STILL sending out the ax-men every year.

  29. Dr.Wang says:

    It’s a good example of why I hear Radio Shack employees refer to management as being in Fort Worthless.

  30. doofus666 says:

    This is typical of big corporate thinking. I am sure it all comes down to some upper middle manager who all of a sudden has his ass on the chopping block unless he can find something to obsess over to look important. For example, i worked at a call center for about 7.5 years. Periodically they would fuss over some stupid metric. I remember ACW (which is when you hit a button to not take a call so you can finish up notes etc.) being a evil thing, we found that if you made a outgoing call as someone hung up to the IVR we could get about 2 min to do what we wanted and it didn’t see acw. We all started doing it. Soon uppermanagement was “great job on controlling ACW”. Not that any more calls were being handled. Same with hold. turns out the same trick worked. Everyone had their panties in a bunch on hold since customers hate hold. Of course they never clued into the fact that the hold they were talking about is hold to get to me, not hold so i could get an approval on something.