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CompUSA Closing More Than 50 Percent of Stores 423

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the trouble-in-paradise dept.
Zurbrick writes to tell us that CompUSA hs announced that they are closing the doors on over half their stores over the next three months. "CompUSA said in a statement it would close 126 of its stores and would receive a $440 million cash capital infusion, but it was not specific as to the source of the cash. The company also said it would cut costs and restructure. The company operates 225 stores, which its Web site says are located in the United States and Puerto Rico. "
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CompUSA Closing More Than 50 Percent of Stores

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  • by dada21 (163177) * <adam.dada@gmail.com> on Wednesday February 28, 2007 @01:35PM (#18183146) Homepage Journal
    Disclosure: I worked for CompUSA about 18 years ago during a court-mandated stint forcing me to have a "real" job. It was a 6 month stint at which time I was the top performing sales person month after month, even though I was only 16. I learned a lot of corporate retail problems, which continue to this day.

    I have 2 CompUSAs in my area, close to clients that my company still maintains. They're both depressing -- too many workers, but no one with knowledge. I hear a lot of lies, get pushed on extended warranties that don't work, and have to deal with waiting and waiting when I need to find something that their website shows as in-stock. The company is inept because the company is trying to compete in the wrong market.

    I honestly see a lot of retail collapsing because the time is getting close that the manufacturers can sell products cheaper, and at a higher profit for themselves, directly or through direct-partners. I can't imagine a Luddite like my father trying to buy something at CompUSA when the typical sales person there is no different than Best Buy's brilliant teen workers. But that's the end problem: CompUSA is still trying to be a consumer store rather than business-oriented.

    CompUSA has a much wider inventory than Best Buy or Circuit City, but they obviously can't compete with those power houses who have more stores and also have a lot of value-added items they can sell to make up for what they don't make on popular laptops and LCD monitors. Yet the typical business that I deal with still prefers solid advice over bottom-line price. Consumers want it cheap, and they tend not to have long-term relationships with a particular sales person or a store. CompUSA dropped the ball when they started to lose to CDW and MacWarehouse -- the corporate clients of mine haven't used CompUSA in years because of their change from business-focused to consumer-oriented and cheap.

    Even on price CompUSA doesn't compete -- often times when I need something I am shocked at the prices. Sure, we're all familiar with the $6-USB-cable-that-sells-for-$39, but even basics such as a stand IEC power cord are overpriced. Their selection is decent, but they are trying to compete in a market that they can not penetrate, especially with Amazon and eBay destroying the price competitiveness of the big box PC store.

    This is a good thing for CompUSA, but I don't see them lasting. Every CompUSA near me has both Best Buy and Circuit City nearby, and I admit that I've had more intelligent sales staff at the big box store than at CompUSA. If they want to save their business, they have to focus on local businesses rather than trying to be the answer man for people who want cheap prices and sales. Without the business customer (who tends to accept a higher cost in exchange for GOOD advice and support), their business is heading to the toilet.
    • by jimicus (737525) on Wednesday February 28, 2007 @01:43PM (#18183248)
      Here in the UK, there is 1 (yes one) company which pretty much has a stranglehold on about 90% of the bricks & mortar large computer stores. While smaller ones exist, I'm only talking about the large places with a reasonable selection that tend to be located in out of town industrial areas, since that's the fairest comparison with CompUSA and BestBuy.

      It's the closest thing we have to Best Buy or CompUSA.

      It's called PC World, and it's run by a company called the Dixons Stores Group.

      Let's just say: £80 network cards (that was apparently the cheapest), £20 USB cables (again, the cheapest), £1,200 PCs. They stock cheaper ones but I've never met anyone who ever bought one - I suspect those who are savvy enough don't go there in the first place, and those who aren't are generally told "You want to send email? Well, in that case you'll need this...". And extended warranties which cost 70% of the value of the PC, yet are serviced by spotty 16 year olds who wouldn't know a PC if it dropped on their head.

      • by Dogtanian (588974)

        £80 network cards (that was apparently the cheapest)
        Much as I dislike some of PC World's ludicruously inflated prices (£10- approx USD $20- for a 2m Ethernet cable), I was able to pick up a no-name white-box network card there for £6 about a year ago.

        OTOH, I didn't ask their staff for advice on which card I should buy (^_^)
      • by aslate (675607) <planetexpressNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Wednesday February 28, 2007 @02:23PM (#18183860) Homepage
        Okay, PC World is not a lovely company that's nice and whatever, but i'd buy from them any day over Dell. I've been working in a store for 1 and a half years (Student job, nice pay for retail) and i know where they're dodgy and where they're not. Yes, you can get a lot of stuff really cheap online, but like Amazon, they don't have the overhead of real stores. The PC margin is small, often no more than 10% which may not even cover the time paid to the guy helping you, the profit does come from stuff like cables, inks and peripherals, but that's how the PC market has worked and still works.

        Let's just say: £80 network cards (that was apparently the cheapest)
        I've been selling £7 NICs for ages, most expensive i remember was a Gigabit card that cost about £20.

        £20 USB cables (again, the cheapest)
        Nope, cheapest is £10, although the standard 2.1 metre cable is £14.99. I agree, that's expensive but you can just go to Maplin and buy them there, i often tell people about that. Cables are the place where you get ripped off most, with network cables costing £9.99 for 1 metre and most people can spend well over £20 on a long cable.

        £1,200 PCs. They stock cheaper ones but I've never met anyone who ever bought one
        You what? We only have 1 PC at the moment going for £1,200 and it's a beast by Packard Bell, it's trying to be like a custom-PC with a side window and lockable front and case. Frankly, 90% of the PCs i've sold are under £600 with quite a lot of people going away happy with a £300-£400 PC.

        And extended warranties which cost 70% of the value of the PC, yet are serviced by spotty 16 year olds who wouldn't know a PC if it dropped on their head.
        Extended warranties are PAYG and about £8/month, now i know that's not cheap but it does cover anything that goes wrong with the thing. With that your PC gets taken away and repaired by proper techies, you don't get the guys that work in the store servicing PCs under the warranty.

        I'm a computing student at Imperial College London, i got my friend hired who's also a computing student, his cousin works there (again into PCs), and the tech guys actually know what they're talking about. Now our store might be a wonderful exception to the norm, but come in when we're on shift and you won't get bullshitting from us.
      • by kd5ujz (640580) <william&ram-gear,com> on Wednesday February 28, 2007 @02:30PM (#18183944)
        In the US, we call that store Radio Shack. You have questions? We have blank stares!
        • by dgatwood (11270) on Wednesday February 28, 2007 @02:48PM (#18184232) Journal

          Depends on whether it's a corporate store or not. It used to be that you could tell the difference pretty easily because the non-corporate stores looked pretty different. Now, it's hard to tell except by the service. With the corporate stores, you get some random manager who has training as a manager. With the non-corporate (franchise) stores, you often have a manager who is a hobbyist him/herself.

          My home town RS back in Martin, TN has a manager who knows the stuff cold. "I'm looking for something to do X," usually gets an "I'm not sure. Let me ask Jeff." I wish he were managing a store here in the Silicon Valley; most of the stores here seem to exemplify the "We have blank stares" problem in my experience. The point is that it varies a lot from store to store.

          At least it isn't Fry's, though. I went in to buy potentiometers. They only had long shaft pots, so I had to saw the shaft, which was obnoxious.... Then, I asked where the knobs are. "Knobs?" "Yes. Knobs for pots." "Aisle 3." "I just looked there." "I saw pots, but no knobs." "Oh, knobs. We don't sell those." "What!?! If I have to go to Radio shack for something as basic as knobs, why the *&^%^& am I wasting my time coming here at all?" Yes, this was a real exchange, minus the last line, which was my muttering as I walked out to the car.

          Fry's seems to be good at carrying the really obscure stuff, but they seem to have a complete lack of common, basic parts... like I couldn't find a 555 timer IC. Had to buy it at the Rat Shack. Knobs for pots. Rat Shack. Decent soldering gun that wasn't obscenely priced. Rat Shack. Copper shielding tape... the garden section of Orchard Supply Hardware. Yeah. That one was weird.... CD markers? Fry's was out of stock. Grocery store. Dr. Pepper? Albertson's was out of stock. Fry's.

          Clearly, we live in a world where stores can't be bothered to give a rat's ass about customer satisfaction, sensible stocking, or generally knowing anything at all about the products that they carry. Were it not for the shipping, I'd even order my groceries online---not because it's cheaper, but because it would save me from having to deal with incompetent people. :-)

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by indian_rediff (166093)
          To help the people that are not from the US, Radio Shack's tag line is 'You have questions? We have answers'. Hope that makes the parent post appear funnier.
      • by Richard_at_work (517087) <richardprice.gmail@com> on Wednesday February 28, 2007 @04:11PM (#18185304)
        I saw this post and thought it didnt ring well, so I popped down the road to check at my local PC World -

        Cheapest Network card: Dynamode, £6.99
        Most expensive Network card: Dlink, £34.99

        Cheapest USB Cable: 3 meter, £5.99
        Most expensive USB Cable: 10 meter, £19.99

        PCs: Yes, there are cheap £349.99 PCs in store, but the following one caught my eye - £479.99 AMD 64 4000 Dual Core, 1GB ram, 160GB hard disk, wide screen 19" monitor

        The 'spotty 16 year old' actually turned out to be a well dressed 20ish year old who was very knowledgeable, took my 'needs' and pointed me to the above system while informing me of some pretty good reasons why it was better than the basic £349 PC - as an IT professional I couldnt fault the reasons either.

        Why do a hatchet job on PC World when it hardly ever deserves it? Ive had brilliant experiences with them and while they dont have the best prices, they are competative when time is a factor.
    • by kimvette (919543)
      My first 32-bit PC was a Compudyne; they actually offered (for the time) VERY nice cases which made serviceability easy, they used decent motherboards - not workstation quality but a hell of a lot better than the crud Dell uses today, and the price, for the time, was very reasonable. Sure, Packaged Hell, er, Packard Bell was cheaper, but they were the Dell of their day.
    • by nuzak (959558)
      > CompUSA has a much wider inventory than Best Buy

      Arooo? Best Buy sells Computers, CDs, TVs, and major appliances. CompUSA sells computer gear, and a smattering of TVs and PVRs. If anything, CompUSA's inventory goes deeper, but certainly not wider. And it's NewEgg and the like that are cutting their legs off by offering as base price what CompUSA makes you do the rebate dance for.

      Best Buy also seems to put more into store appearance -- the CompUSA in San Francisco is a freaking dungeon, while the Bes
      • by dada21 (163177) *
        Arooo? Best Buy sells Computers, CDs, TVs, and major appliances. CompUSA sells computer gear, and a smattering of TVs and PVRs. If anything, CompUSA's inventory goes deeper, but certainly not wider.

        Good catch, bad wording on my part. I intended to mean wider inventory of IT/PC based products :)

        Thanks for the catch and clarification.
        • by Da_Biz (267075)
          I intended to mean wider inventory of IT/PC based products ...and that's why I go there. If I'm buying anything from CompUSA, it's because I'm really pressed for time, can't find a comparable item from Circuit Sh*tty or Beast Buy, and don't want to drive to Fry's (depending on traffic in Portland, that trip takes anywhere between 15-45 minutes).

          Sure, if I'm ordering lots of stuff, online is a much better option, but there are times when it's roughly the same price to buy locally when shipping is considered
      • I've been in the SF store and I kinda like it because it is dark and close. I've gotten tired of the current crop of designed-by-shopping-psychology-consultants-to-be - annoyingly-bright-and-cheerful-all-stores-must-be- the-same-all-salespeople-must-have-the-same-rictus -grin stores that you find in malls.

        It also helps that their selection, although smaller, is a couple of orders of magnitude better than Best Buy. I only go to that CompUsa when I need only one thing and don't feel like driving down to Fry'

    • by Alfthemack (17146) on Wednesday February 28, 2007 @01:49PM (#18183340) Homepage
      It's just bad management! Fry's is doing relatively well in most of their locations. Best Buy is doing okay. Circuit City is limping along. Shipping costs negate the whole buying direct thing. Who wants to spend $3 on shipping for a $5 cable? Radio Shack is having similar issues. There are way too many non-Slashdot consumers that like their hands held when purchasing computers and other electronics. Yes, computers are electronics with semi-conductors. Wal-Mart and Target carry common USB cables, blank CD's, etc. IKEA carries powerstrips.

      15-20 years ago, the big box discounters were putting the smaller mom and pop retailers out of business. Now, the better managed (Wal-Mart, Target, Fry's, OfficeMax, IKEA, BestBuy) big box stores are putting the lesser managed (K-mart, Toys'R'Us, Circuit City, CompUSA) stores out of business. Retail is obviously still strong for even the smaller players. Apple and HP are doing well with consumers via retail. Dell and Gateway? They are both in a small funk right now.

      CompUSA would be better off emulating Fry's. K-mart is one retailer that as proven that one can't shrink it's way back into the hearts of consumers. (Note to those in the Bay Area: The Fry's in Austin, TX actually has competent employees!)
      • Who wants to spend $3 on shipping for a $5 cable?

        It's better than paying $29.95 for a cable worth $5 at a big box store. Cables seem to be right behind extended warranties and printer ink in the retail cash cow category.

        • It's better than paying $29.95 for a cable worth $5 at a big box store. Cables seem to be right behind extended warranties and printer ink in the retail cash cow category.

          I think the point was that CompUSA was one of the few retail stores that didn't gouge like that. Sure, they weren't as cheap as mail-order, but they didn't try to screw you the same way that Best Buy, Staples, and the rest of them do.

          I have a very nice CompUSA down the street from me, and I tend to go there whenever I need something that I either don't want to wait for, or don't want to pay the shipping on. I've gotten some great bargains off of their clearance table over the years, too. I'll really miss them if the store closes.

          For me, if I want a cable, going down to CompUSA and paying $8 and having it in my hand immediately is a no-brainer, compared to having to order it online, pay perhaps a dollar or two less when you factor in shipping, and waiting three days, or going to Best Buy, being assaulted by the noise and idiot salesdroids there, and paying $30 for a sub-$1 part.

          If they go under, at least I still have a MicroCenter in my area, which is decent, but it's a heck of a drive.

          There is a market for a store that's in between the Best Buy big-box stores, and the mail order IT supply houses, so if CompUSA fails, I think something must have been wrong with their management.
      • I'm curious, I mean, people have talked about them my whole life, but I thought they were a small western-only chain.
        • by Qzukk (229616) on Wednesday February 28, 2007 @02:16PM (#18183778) Journal
          It started out as a small western chain, but it grew. [outpost.com]
        • by Canthros (5769)
          Wikipedia says they have 44 stores. They have one in Indiana, though, and a couple in Georgia. (And loads in California.)
      • From what I hear from Radio Shack employees, the bulk of their sales are those cheap cables, and it's going poorly for them as, unless it's Monster branded, they're not making any real money off of it.
      • Shipping costs negate the whole buying direct thing. Who wants to spend $3 on shipping for a $5 cable?
        If I'm not in a rush, I'll take that bargain every time. Even assuming the item is just as cheap the store, what are your shipping costs for driving your personal car there (30-40 cents per mile), and the 40 minutes of labor that takes?
      • Paying $3 to ship a $5 cable beats the hell out of paying $30 to buy a $5 cable at retail, at least in my book.
      • CompUSA would be better off emulating Fry's.

        Are you kidding? Fry's "does anyone speak English here" Electronics seem to go out of their way to provide the worst possible buying experience. Aside from the cacaphony of music coming from three or four different sources, their staff don't seem to last long enough to know where anything is in the store, to say nothing of know anything about the products. I once walked the entire store looking for something, and when I tracked down someone to help me, she led

      • Just yesterday, at lunch, I went looking for a second Wiimote, after two months of having just one.

        Leaving my office, the first electronics store I drove past was a Circuit City. I didn't bother to stop - even if they sell game systems, the odds that they have Wii hardware in stock are next to nil. (Do they sell game systems? Their signage doesn't say.) In the next shopping center up the freeway, I skipped the CompUSA. The last CompUSA I was in (around Christmas) had completely removed its Nintendo sec
    • by garcia (6573)
      I admit that I've had more intelligent sales staff at the big box store than at CompUSA.

      That statement scares me.
      • by Xabraxas (654195) on Wednesday February 28, 2007 @02:30PM (#18183956)

        I admit that I've had more intelligent sales staff at the big box store than at CompUSA.

        That statement scares me.

        Believe it or not not all big box sales people are idiots. Some of them are actually computer geeks in college getting their computer science degrees, or programmers that want a part time job. I think the stereotype of the idiot salesmen is a huge over-generalization. In fact I worked retail while I was in college and I often ran into assholes who thought they were so much smarter than me because they had "real" tech jobs, not knowing that I was just paying my way to a computer science degree. I've found that a lot of customers who claimed to be techies were actually not that intelligent at all. So it works both ways. You have some extremely intelligent sales people and some clueless ones. It's just as common in the tech world. Some of my colleagues are on the same intellectual level as the generalized sales people you speak of.

        • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

          by Anonymous Coward
          In fact I worked retail while I was in college and I often ran into assholes who thought they were so much smarter than me because they had "real" tech jobs

          That should be "so much smarter than I", Mr. Brilliant.
          -- one of those assholes
        • by soft_guy (534437) on Wednesday February 28, 2007 @02:49PM (#18184246)
          If you are down at CompUSA trying to show off your "intelligence", it is probably because you have none.

          I work maybe a block from a CompUSA and once in a while I go in there to buy something that I need right now and can't buy elsewhere (like dual layer DVD-Rs), but I never go there to have discussions with the employees. Why the hell would I do that?
    • by morgan_greywolf (835522) * on Wednesday February 28, 2007 @01:52PM (#18183394) Homepage Journal
      It's unfortunate, too, because CompUSA used to be the place for business customers. They had a corporate sales desk (which they no longer have), good in-house service and support (which they no longer), CompUSA-branded in-store built PCs (which they no longer have), and the level of knowledge used to be much, much better.

      Then one day CompUSA decided that their main competition wasn't the local computer shops (which are a much better resource for the SOHO buyer) or CDW or MacWarehouse, but Best Buy, Circuit City and OfficeMax. For crying out loud, I shouldn't get more knowledgeable sales staff out of a freaking office supply story than I do out of a store whose main goal is to sell computers and accessories!

      I don't think retail will entirely go away: Office Depot and OfficeMax make quite a hefty sum selling routers, network adapters and notebook computers. Especially in the SOHO market, where people like the convenience of walking into a store and walking out with a computer. And in the SMB market, CDW and MacWarehouse will continue to reign supreme. Dell works for the larger corporates who have in-house IT, and while some SOHO and SMB people get their PCs from Dell, many are finding Dell support to be too poor to be useful. Many SOHO and SMB folks are turning to outside services to handle IT issues, and Geek Squad, 1-800-905-GEEK and other companies are making money hand-over-fist selling services to them.
    • by dr00g911 (531736)
      One thing I've noticed at CompUSA and all the big box stores lately:

      There used to be a section in all of the stores with "cheap" cables... the equivalent of radio shack generics.

      Now, it's a wall of Belkin Premium and Monster, and the sub $140 HDMI cable (or sub $40 firewire, etc) is nowhere to be found. Even Radio Shack is starting to jump on the bandwagon. I mean, I know their house-brand audio & data cables are utter crap, so they're starting to carry midrange Monster stuff and double the price on the
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by dada21 (163177) *
        There used to be a section in all of the stores with "cheap" cables... the equivalent of radio shack generics.

        That section exists, but it is online only! Talk about frustrating:

        14 foot patch cable, pick-up, $34.99 [compusa.com]

        14 foot patch cable, delivery-only, $6.00 [compusa.com]
        • by AJWM (19027) on Wednesday February 28, 2007 @02:56PM (#18184348) Homepage
          Yep, and if you're going to order, might as well go somewhere like Microbarn:

          14 foot patch cable, $1.99 [microbarn.com]

          Microbarn doesn't have the selection of rapidly-obsolete gear (like hard drives and system boards) that somewher like Newegg might, but their prices are great for the stuff they do carry, especially for things that should be cheap, like cables.

          But yeah, all the retail places these days are carrying high mark-up stuff like Belkin. (Price aside, I won't touch Belkin because of the stunt [google.com] they pulled a few years ago where their routers would periodically hijack HTTP requests.)
    • by hurfy (735314)
      hehe, they seem to forget most of work at a business....

      We have a company account there with a discount even but i never use it !

      It is not worth waiting around for someone who knows how to deal with selling on an account to get the discount. I spent extra 20 min buying a monitor. Corporate discount = $7.30. Amount company paid for me to wait = $6.67. Frustration > $.63. WooHoo we saved almost one-half of 1%

      Even more frustrating was this was during a push for more business accounts with signs and poster
    • by Misch (158807)
      The single remaining CompUSA store in New Jersey (Mount Laurel) is in a plaza with a Best Buy, a Circuit City, a OfficeMax, and a Staples store.

      I was kinda shocked when I moved into the area. I needed to replace my monitor, which pretty much died in transit. I looked up the stores in the phone book, and was kinda surprised when they all had addresses on the same street.

      I was even more surprised when I saw how physically close they are to each other.
  • by vought (160908) on Wednesday February 28, 2007 @01:37PM (#18183168)
    I guess that's just Louisiana. We're keeping our Baton Rouge and Metairie locations, but we can't get a Fry's or an Apple Store to save our lives.

    I guess that's a good demonstration of the mean intelligence level here. People would rather go into ChumpUSA and be abused by surly salespeople than order something online to save a few bucks.
    • by LoudMusic (199347)

      I guess that's just Louisiana. We're keeping our Baton Rouge and Metairie locations, but we can't get a Fry's or an Apple Store to save our lives.

      I guess that's a good demonstration of the mean intelligence level here. People would rather go into ChumpUSA and be abused by surly salespeople than order something online to save a few bucks.
      Or maybe that's all that is available to work in a computer retail store in Louisiana.
    • Which was a surprise to me as I always see customers in there.

      I cannot say I am surprised that the corporation is having problems, moving into TVs had to be painful and their pricing strategy cannot withstand the big box stores. Now with Best Buy offering Apple products there is less reason for many to visit a Comp USA

      So, when does the Radio Shack follow suit?
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by nickname225 (840560)
      Damn - I was hoping for some close out sales.
    • I've been planning a move to the north east but I have to say a big hesitation is not having a local Fires Electronics. The closest would be 1,000 miles away. We've got two in the area now. I rarely go but it's a massive help having them. It's tough ordering every cable and component off the web. When I build a new machine 75% of it I buy off Newegg but the remaining odds and ends I get from Fries. It's mostly that their motherboard selection leans on the side of the consumer and they only stock a few prole
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Trelane (16124)

      I'm not surprised.

      I mean, you expect a CompUSA to sell COMPuters, in the USA. Fry's? Apple?! WTH? They must be a fast food joint and a fruit stand or something!

    • by cowscows (103644)
      I find the Metarie CompUSA to be far more pleasant to go to than Best Buy, Circuit City or any other computer place I can think of. Compared to its alternatives it's quiet inside, parking is much easier, and the sales people have never been pushy with me. While I don't have anything against ordering online, sometimes I decide I want something, and I want it today, and saving a few bucks is not worth it to me if it means I have to wait three days to get it.

      I wish we could get an Apple Store. Apple is just th
  • Half of nothing... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by amuro98 (461673)
    The CompUSA's in my area closed a long time ago. Can't say I'm disappointed or anything. The last time I went to one looking for an external HDD enclosure. I was shocked to discover they really were hardly selling computers anymore, but were very intent on selling me a flat screen TV (way over priced compared to the nearby Best Buy, Frys, even Circuit City...) They had no more Mac stuff. Their PC displays were about 2 years old, and still selling at full price. Made me wonder why the store was called
    • I still shop at Compusa fairly frequently. Not too long ago my motherboard died and needed an RMA, but I couldn't cross ship. So, I bought a replacement at Compusa without having to wait for shipping. It was definitely overpriced, but was comparable to getting overnight shipping anyway. Even more recently my power supply died and again, Compusa allowed me to get my computer up an running the same night at around the same price of getting a new power supply shipped overnight from Newegg. I also buy keyboards
    • Between its crummy customer service, bad sales people that make Frys employees look like geniuses, terrible prices and even worse selection, does ANYONE actually shop at CompUSA anymore?

      Yeah, I do. I don't know what they must have done to the store in your area, but the one near me isn't like that. Yeah, it has a TV section in it somewhere, but it's small relative to everything else. They have a big (compared to other B&M stores) selection of parts, including barebones systems, cases, power supplies, et
  • kinda sad. (Score:5, Informative)

    by TinBromide (921574) on Wednesday February 28, 2007 @01:45PM (#18183292)
    Here on the east coast, we don't have fry's electronics. Where i'm at, the nearest circuit city is in the next city, the best buy usually has like 3 video cards, 1 sub-par motherboard, and approximately 23 hojillion music cd's, dvd's, and washing machines.

    For all its shortcomings, when my hard drive failed, i went to compusa to get back up and running the same day, when the 9700pro didn't offer an oem, compusa ran a special that was cheaper than the internet in general (same price + shipping). With a corporate buyer, they beat the other big box stores in both volume pricing and responsive service (usually 2-3 account reps on staff in the one by work).

    Reasons why i'll miss it aside, I've gotta say that compusa is failing for a reason. The corporate office treats its parts, employees, and customers as commodities. Refunds are a pain if its open box (like a laptop keeps overheating, you gotta take it in 3 times, and the 4th time it fails you get a refund), the repairs are shoddy and if its dll hell, rather than find and replace the dll or do some other moderately advanced repair, they'll charge you 200 bucks for a reinstall of windows, provided you still have the disks. The employees will rarely be honest or knowledgeable about if a product is in stock, and most likely will say yes just to get your hopes up and you in the door.

    I've also heard stories where the cashiers are told to cheat the sales people out of commissions for big computer sales, where they'll "forget" to punch in a 3 digit code that signifies bonus to the sales rep. No wonder you get minimum help for minimum wage.
    • by jackb_guppy (204733) on Wednesday February 28, 2007 @02:00PM (#18183554)
      There is a Fry's on East Coast!! Atlanta... 8hrs away for me.

      I am lucky, I live between 3 Fry's, Chicago, Atlanta and Dallas. They are only a day away!
    • by evilviper (135110)

      Here on the east coast, we don't have fry's electronics.

      No Fry's within 100 miles here on the west coast, either...

      the best buy usually has like 3 video cards, 1 sub-par motherboard, and approximately 23 hojillion music cd's, dvd's, and washing machines.

      Yeah, it's the same everywhere... and it has been exactly that for 10+ years. Don't even get me started on their selection of monitors, and the utter shittyness of what they chose to stock.

      For all its shortcomings, when my hard drive failed, i went to compu

    • by fermion (181285)
      The computer retail store has been consolidating for a long time. Part of it has to do with internet and mail order. Part of it has to do with the decision to stock only high volume parts and accessories. I recall when CompUSA took over a store a I used to shop at. They removed all the cool stuff.

      So now they can't compete. When I need to simply replace a failed part, Microcenter provides a better experience and selection. The salespeople are always willing to help, and the cashiers always give them

  • by jellomizer (103300) * on Wednesday February 28, 2007 @01:45PM (#18183296)
    CompUSA is a major competitive threat to small buisness. First the take potentional Customers away. Next they sell them Crap that makes people in general hate PC. Then when they break They take the buisness and because they have under trained people fixing the systems they do a halfassed job and charge 2/3 the price a Pro will do it right. CompUSA was much like the Walmart of Computers. It really hurt the sales of companies who pay more for skilled labor.
  • by Cr0w T. Trollbot (848674) on Wednesday February 28, 2007 @01:50PM (#18183354)
    Somehow, I don't think Gabe and Tycho are heartbroken. [penny-arcade.com]

    Crow T. Trollbot

  • Oh, no! (Score:5, Funny)

    by saintlupus (227599) on Wednesday February 28, 2007 @01:50PM (#18183358) Homepage
    Wherever will I find gold-plated $30 USB cables?

    Oh, okay, Best Buy will still be open.

    --saint
  • This is the moment many of us have prayed for. The beginning of the end of one of the most incompetent technology chains to have ever existed.
  • by DigitAl56K (805623) on Wednesday February 28, 2007 @01:59PM (#18183536)
    ...would receive a $440 million cash capital infusion, but it was not specific as to the source of the cash

    Someone finally paid for the retail version of Windows Vista Ultimate.
    • by Rude Turnip (49495) <valuation@[ ]il.com ['gma' in gap]> on Wednesday February 28, 2007 @02:07PM (#18183662)
      The $440 million came from its parent company. My friend works in a CompUSA and received a memo about the cash infusion a couple weeks ago. He asked me if that meant there was anything to worry about and I said "no, don't worry, that means they're investing more the expand the business, it happens all the time." So, this morning I got a phone call..."hey, remember when you said not to worry?!"

      Here is some hot news for you...almost all of the inventory is going up on eBay for pennies on the dollar.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Theolojin (102108)
      ...would receive a $440 million cash capital infusion, but it was not specific as to the source of the cash
      --
      Someone finally paid for the retail version of Windows Vista Ultimate.


      If I said it once, I said it a billion times: Dude, don't exaggerate. $440 million is way more than a single install of Windows Vista Ultimate. This is for a *site* license.

      Sheesh. You people on /. *never* stop exaggerating. Not for one single femtosecond of the day.
  • Too bad (Score:4, Informative)

    by LaughingCoder (914424) on Wednesday February 28, 2007 @02:00PM (#18183546)
    First Computer City, now CompUSA. We have 2 CompUSA stores within a half hour so hopefully one will survive. I find CompUSA has always had a much wider selection of computer parts like video boards, drives, networking gear, etc. And their sale prices are often excellent. For example their hard drive sale prices are usually very competitive with the best mail order prices. Ditto for memory and video boards. I think their downfall was getting into home theatre gear like flat screen TVs and such. Every time I have checked out their TV offerings I have found them sorely lacking. They are over-priced and, worse, their displays are not properly configured. Most of their display TVs have poor picture adjustments and they almost always have incorrect aspect ratios. They are a tech store; they should know how to set these things up. It's pathetic. Hopefully they will get back to their roots, which is computers, computer accessories and software, and leave the home theatre, cell phones and digital camera gear to others.
  • NewEgg 1 CompUSA 0 (Score:2, Insightful)

    by utefan001 (968352)
    NewEgg 1 CompUSA 0
    Anyone know when NewEgg is going public?
  • by mikesd81 (518581) <mikesd1@verizon. ... minus physicist> on Wednesday February 28, 2007 @02:03PM (#18183606) Homepage

    CompUSA said in a statement it would close 126 of its stores and would receive a $440 million cash capital infusion, but it was not specific as to the source of the cash


    From this article [app.com]: The closings will leave 103 stores. Nunez said CompUSA said the restructuring will include receiving $440 million from Mexico City-based parent U.S. Commercial Corp, a holding company controlled by Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim.
  • by Nightspirit (846159) on Wednesday February 28, 2007 @02:05PM (#18183638)
    I stopped shopping at best buy due to an extended warranty fiasco, and nearly everything at my frys electronics is refurbished. Circuit city doesn't really carry much hardware. So I guess that pretty much leaves newegg and tiger direct. They tend to be cheaper but sometimes instant gratification is good as well.
    • by Itninja (937614)
      Yeah, and this from TA was not really accurate: "CompUSA competes with Best Buy and Circuit City."

      When I need a 1U, rack-mountable, 8 port, KVM (or some other piece of professional networking equipment) I don't even think of going to Best Buy or Circuit City.

      Does anyone know if the ones in Washington State are staying open?
      • by soft_guy (534437)

        When I need a 1U, rack-mountable, 8 port, KVM
        CompUSA has this?? Mine doesn't. Or at least, I couldn't find a decent KVM over there - I just needed one that had USB and DVI. All they had were cheap ones with crappy PS/2 ports.
    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      and nearly everything at my frys electronics is refurbished.

      I have had far less problems with refurb'd products than with new ones. See, when they're refurbished, they fix what's broken. So you know (most of the time) that the product has already broken and been fixed.

      The problem with Fry's is that when people bring things back they often just re-shrink-wrap them and put them back on the shelf. Once I bought a box that claimed to contain a PCI UW-SCSI card. I got it hope and opened it and it had an ISA F

  • by xted (125437) on Wednesday February 28, 2007 @02:10PM (#18183700) Homepage
    I worked for Compusa in Chandler, AZ (Store 249) for two summers and it was almost too much to bare. The sales people on the floor are generally lazy, dishonest, and unwilling to go out of their way for customers. We were in a relatively low traffic store because of our location. The managers were generally 23 year old kids in there to make their $35k a year until they got fired.

    The thing I always was frustrated with was we were threatened into selling warranties that would not cover anything other than factory defect. For each warranty we sold we got anywhere from $1-$4 on cameras, peripherals and $5-$10 on computer warranties.

    We almost never had anything in stock. Probably 50% of the questions we got we sent to other nearby stores.

    The other problem I had was the amount of time it took for people to be able to buy laptops. Somebody would pick out a laptop, then I would need to check the stock on the item, then go back up to the front of the store grab a UPC sheet for that laptop for the person to get checked out, and we could only ring the person out through the tech shop, so I would need to page a manager to unlock the register and check them out. Usually it takes at least 5 minutes for the manager to come over, then the manager would raz you for not selling warranties as we walked over to laptop lockup. We had to Find the matching UPC laptop, which generally we could not find because somebody took that one already (in which case we would have to return and re-ring the poor guy's laptop), but if we do find it, we fill out a checkout form. walk out and hand it to the guy. This process usually takes 30 minutes if the store is at all busy.

    The other thing was the stores stocked so much shit in them. Paper.. landscaping software.. desk gadgets..lame PC mod stuff & lame cases... off brand overpriced external drives.. offbrand networking devices.. Video Games.. Books.. We spent more time moving old shit around than we actually spent on the sales floor. They should should have less selection.. more stock. They needed to go through with a fine tooth comb and fix that.

    It was a great job in the summer because it was indoors, pretty easy, the hours were flexible, the people were okay, but I have seen a big decline in the last few years.
  • FTA:
    CompUSA competes with Best Buy and Circuit City.

    I never knew they existed until visiting up north (black friday in OH).

    But got a BB and CC nearby and there is a fry's in atlanta (never been, yet).
    • by tweek (18111)
      Actually there are now TWO Fry's in Atlanta.

      Alpharetta (up 400)
      Gwinnett (Near the mall)

      I enjoy going to Fry's for an hour and wandering around. They have stuff I need and my wife actually enjoys it too since it's not JUST a geek store.

      The amazing thing about Fry's is that I can find pretty much anything I need. I needed to bolt a 19" telco rack to a concrete floor the other day. Fry's had the bolts.
  • by CptChipJew (301983) * <michaelmiller@NoSpaM.gmail.com> on Wednesday February 28, 2007 @02:12PM (#18183736) Homepage Journal
    Their biggest mistake was not letting Belkin build the entire store. Their lack of gold-plating around the buildings led to low performance.
  • by NovaEona (1069708) on Wednesday February 28, 2007 @02:16PM (#18183768)
    Last I heard from the management, only four of the stores were closing down so far, the rest was up in the air. That could just be a calm-the-sheep lie though, so I'm not arguing. I do know that the last six or seven American execs just got canned and replaced with imports (money from Mexico, execs from Mexico), and that they're doing a level-by-level layoff scan. With any luck this might be a good thing though; my store is one of the better performing ones, with a few actually honest people. I'm one of the repair techs, and an honest one at that; they don't pay me enough to lie for them, and I've told the managers that. My little badge of honor is that no customer has ever asked me about Vista and then went on to purchase it. The stores are desperately understaffed though, so maybe we'll actually get some funds to fill out the staff (right now if anyone in the tech department calls out, a manager has to take his place, and the sales floor isn't doing much better). On the other hand, if my store was one of the closers, that'd be okay too.
  • Why shop there? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ivan256 (17499) on Wednesday February 28, 2007 @02:26PM (#18183894)
    CompUSA seems to be going through the same type of identity crisis that is common amongst retail stores that are soon to be out of business. What do they sell? Computers, and accessories? Software? Video games? Consumer electronics? Cell Phones? They do a dozen things and none of them stand out. There is nothing that people want to buy where they think "CompUSA" when they are deciding where to go to get it.

    Since they've lost their focus, things that they used to do well have suffered. They used to have a wide variety of computer parts and accessories. Now it seems they've opted for the "thousand types of the same item" style over the "thousands of options". If you want a wireless router or a video card, sure, you've got a huge selection. Otherwise, sorry... Best to shop online. In the new areas they've pushed into, they are only making a token effort. Why would you go to CompUSA to look for video games? Sure, they sell Video Games, but they only have a few titles, and low stock levels, so chances are you're not going to find what you're looking for. Same goes for TVs, or Cell Phones.

    They should pick something and do it well, or they should go out of business.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by danpsmith (922127)

      CompUSA seems to be going through the same type of identity crisis that is common amongst retail stores that are soon to be out of business. What do they sell? Computers, and accessories? Software? Video games? Consumer electronics? Cell Phones? They do a dozen things and none of them stand out. There is nothing that people want to buy where they think "CompUSA" when they are deciding where to go to get it.

      You touched on the primary issue. When I was helping my brother with a drive install, I noticed it d

  • Good riddance (Score:3, Informative)

    by anomaly (15035) <tom DOT cooper3 AT gmail DOT com> on Wednesday February 28, 2007 @02:27PM (#18183914)
    I shop CompUSA - although I'm not a great customer - I shop the rebate sales and actually complete the rebate paperwork, and no, I don't buy the regularly priced merchandise while I'm there.

    I find that they don't consistently post pricing for items, and their customer service is terrible. Ever order over the web for in store pickup? I keep going to the store hours after placing the order and then waiting in line for the management to task a sales clerk to go fetch the products from the shelves. Ick.

    They don't know their products, nor do they know where the inventory is, they advertise products at a cheap price that are sold out when I arrive 2 hours after store opening (and when their inventory system says that they have items in stock.) They have been doing an awful job of meeting the market needs, and this is what happens in a competitive market.

    I hope that a well stocked, fair priced alternative arrives. Shockingly, I'd pay more for good quality products, skilled sales people, and efficient customer service when I go to a store. I concluded long ago that this was out of the question for CompUSA, and decided to work the angles for cheap after-rebate merchandise from them while waiting for them to collapse.

    It's the old Montgomery Wards -> Sears story repeated a hundred years later. Wards was a huge mail order powerhouse, but were upstaged by technology and marketing powerhouse Sears when they didn't adapt to new technology and business models in time. Of course the same thing happened to Sears, too.

    Good by, CompUSA. Hello Buy.com, NewEgg, and Fry's! :)
  • CompUSA's instore inventory is not so good compared to the online inventory but that ship to store option was great. I picked up lots of rebated gear that way. An 802.11g PCCard NIC for net $5 including tax.
  • by bill_kress (99356) on Wednesday February 28, 2007 @02:31PM (#18183984)
    I don't go to CompUSA much any more--It's downtown and there is a BestBuy, CircuitCity and Staples nearby, but I always thought that CompUSA tended to be a lot cheaper than BestBuy and CircuitCity.

    I really don't ever expect help from any tech salesperson, but I can't imagine them being less knowledgeable or helpful than BestBuy (although I have to admit that BB's salespeople are always bugging you, so at least if you need to get into a locked case you can.

    What I do remember from CompUSA is they used to have fantastic sales. at BB if a $32 product goes on sale, it always seems to be for $29.99 at best.

    CompUSA sales often featured products at 40% or half off. The first week a game was out, I used to always look for it in the CompUSA flier because they always seemed to have a great sale the first week--like $30 for a new $50 game.

    On top of that, with all these stores I couldn't find a single decent hard-drive enclosure, CompUSA had a dozen to choose from, and I know that there are many other components I won't find at any of the others..

    If our Spokane store closes, we're going to have to travel 500 miles to Seattle to get decent computer parts, or we'll have to pay BestBuys terribly inflated prices for what little they do stock.

    Strangely enough, Staples has decent sales. I consider that my best alternative, bought a 20" LCD monitor there for under $140, but the selection is probably the most limited.

    Hmph
  • One of my local compusa's just went through a remodel. It now sells plasma and lcd tvs. Though, I think it should dump it's Apple store. My area finally has a Official Apple Store. I highly doubt it will close. And if they close down apple part, they can use the space for DVDs. CompUSA is a Mexican company.
  • by supernova87a (532540) <kepler1@hotma[ ]com ['il.' in gap]> on Wednesday February 28, 2007 @02:48PM (#18184238)
    if it's not on this new list, it's closed:

    this list [compusa.com]
  • by Phoenix666 (184391) on Wednesday February 28, 2007 @02:54PM (#18184320)
    CompUSA is the most irritating, useless waste of space. Surly, clueless employees, rebates that are never honored, over-priced crap, utter ignorance on basically every level. You're always going to run into good and bad employees everywhere, but when every time you go someplace it's always consistently bad you know it's not just you and it's not just chance, but systemic.

    The location in Manhattan in 57th and Broadway is a perfect example. All the businesses and corporations in the world within 5 blocks' walk and yet the place is always empty. You ask an employee an incredibly simple question like, "where are your flash drives?" and the answer you get is a surly, "what's a flash drive?"

    Contrast that with the Apple store in SoHo, which is crawling with people every second of the day they're open. After many years of dealing with CompUSA for PC parts I went to the Apple store to check into buying an iBook for my girlfriend running the spiffy new OSX OS (yes, a few years ago). I dubiously asked a salesperson, a random salesperson, how to open a terminal to work on the command line. He did so and wrote a quicky little PERL one-liner to demonstrate that, yes, the kernel really was *NIX.

    I nearly wept.
  • by pla (258480) on Wednesday February 28, 2007 @02:55PM (#18184336) Journal
    A few people have commented that they attribute this to the steady death of brick-n'-mortar stores due to internet vendors undercutting them. Let me tell you a story that should illustrate the (lack of) truth of that idea...


    10-15 years ago, back before our favorite set of tubes made online shopping easier than physical shopping, my friends and I used to have a game we'd play (when very, very bored).

    Back then, geeks had a huge thick magazine full of nothing but mail-order ads (I think it might have had some content, but no one read it for anything but the ads) called "Computer Shopper". Need a computer? Check the CS. Need a video card? Check the CS. Need a printer? You get the picture.

    Anyway, CompUSA carried this magazine. So, my friends and I would go to CompUSA, grab a Computer Shopper, and start playing as follows:

    We would walk around, comparing in-store to mail-order prices, looking for the worst deal in the store (and of course, correspondingly, the best deal in the magazine). The person who found the best worst deal (ie, the highest markup over the lowest mail order price) after an hour (or when we got thrown out) won.


    CompUSA's average prices usually came out to roughly double what you could get the same thing for in Computer Shopper. The "winner" of the above game usually managed to find something in the 10-20 times more expensive range.

    CompUSA won't die because the internet undercut them. It should have died years ago from simple competitive market forces, and having held on so long says a lot for the saavy of the average tech consumer.
  • An old customer (Score:4, Insightful)

    by davmoo (63521) on Wednesday February 28, 2007 @02:56PM (#18184364)
    I used to shop at CompUSA extensively, spent thousands a year for both myself and clients, had a CompUSA credit account, yadda yadda yadda.

    I stopped shopping there mainly because of their damned rebates.

    I live in a small town. To shop at CompUSA, I had to drive about 125 miles round trip. I can drive a few miles further and shop at a Fry's and get both better prices and (usually) not have to deal with a fucking rebate to get it.

    When I shop at a brick and mortar store, I want the best price when I walk through the door. Not 8 to 12 weeks later. And if you want my business, then you're going to offer your best price when I walk through the door.
    • by QuasiEvil (74356)
      Well said. I stopped buying anything with a rebate years ago in protest. If you want to give me a good deal, then give me a good deal and I'll buy from you. I'm even willing to pay a bit more if I can buy it locally, because I can have it *now*. However, if you make me wait for weeks on a rebate, I'd just as rather buy from the mighty internet and save the hassle.

Machines certainly can solve problems, store information, correlate, and play games -- but not with pleasure. -- Leo Rosten

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