Open Letter to Randy Fry

Dear Mr. Fry,

Fry’s had a chance to delight a customer today, but you blew it.

I probably should know better than to go shopping on Black Friday, but your ad in today’s Mercury News had one offer which was too good to pass up — Season 4 of Enterprise for $60. So my son and I drove to the Campbell location, found parking, and went to the video section, where we found what we were looking for. And if we’d stopped there, we’d have left happy.

But we also knew that Fry’s, like all large merchants, price-matches other ads, and we had an ad from Circuit City for Season 6 of The Simpsons for $16 instead of your price of $38. So, rather than drive over to Circuit City, we grabbed a copy of that DVD and got into line.

The cashier said that he was only authorized to price-match a difference of $5 and told us to go over to the returns line to get the ad price. So we did.

We were lucky; there were only three people ahead of us in the returns line, so we only had to wait about five minutes. But the person who was helping us said we’d have to go back to the cashier, buy the DVD, then come back to the returns line and get a refund. I was not happy, and said so.

A manager (Tom) heard me, and came over to help. He said that this multistep process was Fry’s policy, which he couldn’t override, but he’d make sure we didn’t have to stand in line again, so I was mollified. Off we went to the cashier.

We got a different cashier this time — one who wanted to help us. So before I could explain anything, he went off to ask his supervisor for help in giving us the correct price. Five minutes later, he returned, saying that he’d called Circuit City, and the location they’d called was out of the disks, so we’d have to pay full price. Fortunately, the original manager also walked over and said that he’d honor the ad price “because he wanted to”. So we paid for the DVDs, then went directly to the return line and got a refund processed. I hope — the cashier there told me that it might take two or three business days for the refund to be credited to my son’s account.

If the original cashier had had the authority to follow your policy of price-matching, I would have left the store a delighted customer. If there had been signs telling me the procedure, I probably would have left happy. But by the time I finished going through the full runaround, I was quite unhappy — even though I got the DVDs at good prices.

Next time I’m ready to buy something, I’ll remember this experience. And I’ll remember that price-matching works both ways — and last time I had a price matched at Circuit City, it only took them two minutes to help me.

(I’m also mailing this letter to Fry’s corporate office. I was going to post it through Fry’s website’s Contact Fry’s form, but the form doesn’t actually allow you to enter your comments!)

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