Circuit City is Dead, Long Live Circuit City!

Have you heard the news? Electronics retailer Circuit City is closing over 500 stores in the U.S. Best Buy stockholders are pleased for a multitude of reasons not the least of which is their stocks increased $2.20 after the announcement.

In our local shopping mecca, Circuit City and Best Buy are directly across the street from each other. Even though Best Buy was right next door to Target (another one of my favorite shopping haunts), I would always make the trek across the street for one simple reason. Circuit City employees understood customer service. Circuit City employees were typically on the younger side but knowledgeable and friendly. When I was in the market for a digital camera. I did a lot of reading online, but still needed to experience my prospective purchase live and in person. I was clear with the salesperson helping me that I would not be purchasing the camera that day. That day I learned a lot about my choices and narrowed my selections to two cameras. I went home counted my pennies and made my final decision. I shopped online, but ultimately went back to Circuit City (even though they weren’t the lowest price, close, but not THE lowest).

Once I needed an obscure battery for an aging cordless phone system. I flagged an employee as I entered the store and asked him to point me in the general direction of batteries. He walked me to the department, and located the battery I needed while I bounced my 8-month old on my hip. I was thrilled not to have to crawl around and scour labels to find the write one. I actually completed the customer service survey on the transaction.

I will admit I was dismayed at the announcement in 2007 that Circuit City was laying off senior sales people. They could reapply for their jobs, but at a lower rate of pay. I debated taking my business elsewhere and I know many who did. Ultimately, I reviewed my options locally and I talked to several employees in our local store who said that particular store was not impacted by that policy. I kept shopping Circuit City.

My experiences at Best Buy have been less than stellar. Best Buy tends to employ young kids who may be knowledgeable about the products, but they are awful at customer service. I purchased a remote car starter for my husband for Christmas one year and it was nothing short of a nightmare experience. I wasn’t that educated about product options, but knew the features I wanted and what kind of vehicle it would be installed in. Not only did the sales guy sell me the wrong model for my husband’s truck, the product line I purchased was missing a key feature I had requested, but I didn’t find out until after the installation. Oh, and don’t even get me started on the installation process!

I’ll admit that I didn’t exactly do my part to boost Circuit City’s chances of survival. We would like to purchase a flat panel TV. Before Christmas, we stopped into Circuit City and evaluated our options. We even picked out a model, but ultimately decided to delay the purchase given the state of the economy.

I feel like a vulture, but I’ll admit I’ll probably stop in during the store closing sales that are slated to begin as early as today in some stores. That way I can put off any trips to Best Buy for as long as possible. Maybe Best Buy will pick up a few of the local Circuit City employees. I can only hope.

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