Sunday, January 18, 2009

Why I helped to put Circuit City out of business ...

The demise of Circuit City and its impending bankruptcy is difficult to watch. But, some of us knew it was coming.
I was a long-time Circuit City customer. I started shopping there after Lechmere [remember them?] went under.
We bought a TV there; I bought my first CD player and CD recorder there [holding out forever, since I was always a vinyl kinda guy]; we had a charge card there; and, thinking about it now, I bought a ton of other stuff over the years - blank CDs, video games, CDs, DVDs, a radar detector, and two car stereos. Thinking about it now, all we ever did was shop there.
But the minute they fired their highest paid employees only to rehire them at lower wages , that was the end for me. All I could think was, This is what you do to employees who are loyal to you? That could be me they are screwing over due to management's bad decisions! Hurting loyal employees like that when management was making millions running the company into the ground? I read the "logic" of it in the WSJ and then, wrote a letter to the company to complain and never got a response.
We canceled our card and I decided to take my business across the street to Best Buy.
And, I can tell you this: I have no regrets. Best Buy is great. Its customer service is great. The prices are great. The rewards program is great. Sure, it's too loud and flashy in there. But that is my only complaint.
I honestly didn't expect that someone from Circuit City corporate would respond to a long-time customer who has spent, probably, thousands of dollars there over the years. That's just not the way things are done anymore. Most companies have laid off the people who handle customer service inquiries [ever tried to get anyone on the phone these days?]. Especially with something so controversial. In addition, the stories started trickling out that the move was getting backlash and people were really, really angry about it. They just thought, Well, people will come back when we have a sale. But that didn't happen either [and the Circuit City sale prices could never keep up with Best Buy, frankly, and I can tell you that because I watch prices on electronics all the time ...].
Circuit City going under will have a ripple effect in this industry and will affect other industries. There will be Verizon Wireless folks who work inside those stores who could lose their jobs. The people that print the flyers for the company will lose business. Advertising will drop in other media outlets, hurting their businesses. More sales will go to places like Wal-Mart, as people continue to look for bargains. The days of someone starting up a mom and pop electronic store have long since disappeared [or, if you live in my area, you don't shop at the mom and pop store because the owner is a very evil man who was convicted of second degree assault against a very nice woman I went to school with who later took her own life because of the ordeal]. So, it isn't like there will be more competition due to this change.
In the end, unfortunately, as it always is, management won't suffer much for their behavior. They have already lined their pockets, taking millions and millions from shareholders and wrecking the company. The brunt of this will be felt by the workers of Circuit City and I'm terribly sorry that they have to suffer due to what management does. I truly am. We'll all pray for you to find new work. But companies can move forward knowing that we, the customers, are always right, as the saying goes. We will lash out at you when you treat your employees badly and it will cost you. We don't have to support that with our money. So do the right thing ... or lose everything.

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