- Report: #63489
Report - Rebuttal - Arbitrate
Complaint Review: Circuit City
Circuit CityAll Locations, Nationwide U.S.A.
Circuit City Amazing Deal Of The Century Disappearing Reappearing PC Scam of 2001 Nationally And Louisville Kentucky
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First of all, I am host of a local television show here in Louisville, KY. Called "Crazy Kip's Psycho Ward", which is mostly a comedy/variety entertainment show which features local musical, and other talents. We are also partly political and constantly alert our viewers in the local area to scams, rip offs, and political corruption.
Almost two years ago, I myself was the victim of Circuit City and thier Bait and switch scam. I have spoken to many people who also fell victim of the same scam, as well as others who have had very similar experiences with this same company in the past.
It all started with the weekly sales circular from Circuit City which I got in my local newspaper, The Courior Journal, on September 2, 2001. They had advertised a computer, eMachines Model T1801, complete with a 17" color monitor and a Lexmark Z23 color printer. The price tag was $704.99 with two instant rebates totalling $510.00, and mail a mail-in rebate of $175.00, making the final cost of the computer $19.99.(Excluding state sales tax.)
The ad mentioned nothing about "limited quantities" or "While supplies last", but I knew that they would go quick so I camped out at one of the local Circuit City stores and was one of the first customers in the door the first morning that the sale started. But when the doors opened, the advertised computer was not available. No rainchecks or substitutes were offered. (The ad also did not mention "no raincheccks or substitues")
I had gone to every Circuit City store in the city of Louisville, as well as making the trip to their only store in Clarksville, Indiana accross the Ohio River. Not one of these advertised systems were available.
I finally went back to the first store that I camped out at and they did have a display of the advertied computer and I attempted to purchase the display. The sales person told me that they cannot sell the display while the item is in a current ad as per Circuit City policy. The reason being that they needed to keep the display to show that they had the item, but that they now do not have the item. I personally know that having a display does not prove that you ever had the item in stock, particularly when I was first in on the first day of the sale and they did not have this item to begin with. So having one on display does nothing to back up their case.
They told me that the manufacturer had discontinued this item before the sale started and that it was no longer available. Now I have experience in retail, and this is an insult to my intelligence. Any time a big company like Circuit City runs offers a spectacular deal on an item such as this, they always have arrangements with the manufacturer made many months in advance to be sure that there will be enough supply to at least have enough units available to sell in the stores on the day of teh sale. Yes, they may have a rush of people come in and buy them all up in the first 10 minutes after opening, but they do usually have at least 10 or more units available in each store location.
I tried going to another location on the last day of the sale, right at closing time, to see if they would sell me their display model. Five minutes before closing time on the last day of the sale, they still would not sell me the display. They no longer had to "Prove that they had them, but now they don't", but if this item had been discontinued and they were no longer going to be selling this model, then they did not need one on display.
They still would not sell me the display. However, they did tell me that they made a deal with the manufacturer to produce a few more of these computers and that they could go ahead and sell me one, but I would have to put the money down on it (full cost minus the instant rebates) and start an Compuserve account under a three year contract in order to get the $400.00 instant rebate. Then, they didn't know how long it would be until the computers came in, and there was the possibility that it may not come in at all since the manufacturer only agreed to make a limited number more of these units.
So, I would have over $200.00 of my money tied up in a computer that may not come in for a long time, or may not even arrive at all, plus I would be under a three year contract for an internet service provider, that I couldn't use until the computer came in, and if it didn't come in at all, I would still be paying monthly payments for three years under the contract of Compuserve for a service that you obviously cannot use without a computer!
This is just the beginning! Two weeks later, in the Circuit City Sales Circular for September 16 through September 22, 2001, They featured the SAME COMPUTER, eMachines model T1801 on sale, only this time the final price after all of the rebates was $499.99 instead of the $19.99 from the ad two weeks earlier.
I went to Circuit City to see what was up and if they would honor the price from two weeks ago when they had none in stock. They did have plenty of these computers in stock, but they would not give me the deal from the first ad (Violating thier own price match policy)
They were selling these computers this time at the higher price, but the people who had paid thier money to order one from the previous ad still had not gotten theirs.
I wound up talking about this subject on my television show. I dedicated a whole show to this subject. I tried contacting managers in the store and none of them would confront this issue with me in the store, I tried contacting store managers and district managers, but no one in authority at Circuit City will confront this issue at all. I informed them via email and snail mail that I would be talking about this issue on television and invited them to come on and give me, and their other customers, an explanation, but I never heard from anyone.
When I went onto CircuitCity.com the only response I got was from a customer service rep that just sent an email back to me saying that my complaint had been forwarded to a store manager in my area and that they would contact me shortly. I never heard anything from anyone!
I know only of one person who got the computer. She lives in Arizona. She had bought one the week before the first ad came out, and she took it back in and got the price match that way, however, she is still waiting on the mail in rebate to this day. She also knows many people in Phoenix that had gotten ripped off by this scam as the stores in Phoenix also did not have this item in stock.
As a result of the airing of my show, I have gotten many emails and letters from many people who fell victim to this scam. I was at least smart enough not to put any money down to order one during the first sale, but many people did attempt to go ahead and pay for "The Computer That Never Was" and they are stuck with 3 years of Compuserve, still don't have the computer, and while some have gotten refunds, that was another nightmare for all of them.
The sales people were still big on selling the Compuserve 3 year contracts. With or without the computers. I got an email from a person who claims to have been an employee of Circuit City. He said that he quit his job there because of this whole ordeal. He claims that they knew they wouldn't have these computers and pushed them to sell the Compuserve Internet Service Contracts.
To top it all off, he states, that the person at each store who sold the most Compuserve 3 year contracts during that week of the first sale (9/2-9/8, 2001) got the display model of the eMachine T1801 as a prize. Which would explain the real reason why they would not sell the display under any circumstances. In the employees own words - "We were told to encourage the customers to place orders for these computers by telling them that the last day of the sale was also the last day you could get the $400.00 Compuserve instant rebate. Go ahead and sell them the service, take the money for the computer, then if they never get the computers, we still have made our commissions from Compuserve and we can sell them a different computer.
" So basically, this was all a way to con people into getting tied up into a 3 year ISP contract that the retailer gets commissions on. Of course, this part of the story I have not been able to confirm, however, at this point, I have no reason to doubt it. I would hope that any other Circuit City employees that may have been working at the time of this scam would have the integrety to come forward and speak out against this corrupt institution.
I know of no one to this day that ever got the deal on this computer system for $19.99 after Rebates. You know the old saying, "If it sound too good to be true, it probably is!"
I have called for a boycott on Circuit City until they can clear this matter up, not only for me, but for the hundreds, or even thousands of people that they took advantage of. I encourage everyone to take thier business elswhere. I shopped at Circuit City for over 20 years. The only store in Louisville back then, opened up in what used to be a service station.
I have not stepped foot in a Circuit City store since all this went down. And they couldn't have picked a worse time to anger me, because HH Gregg, and Best Buy had just recently came to town. So they are no longer the only electronics superstore around. I tend to give all of my business to Best Buy because thier prices and service are so much better than Circuit City has ever been.
I would like to know how many people nationwide got duped on this one.
Still, almost 2 years later, no one in authority will speak up on this issue, and it still gets brought up on my TV show quite often.
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This report was posted on Ripoff Report on 07/12/2003 04:45 PM and is a permanent record located here: http://www.ripoffreport.com/r/Circuit-City/nationwide/Circuit-City-Amazing-Deal-Of-The-Century-Disappearing-Reappearing-PC-Scam-of-2001-National-63489. The posting time indicated is Arizona local time. Arizona does not observe daylight savings so the post time may be Mountain or Pacific depending on the time of year.
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