Goodbye, CompUSA!

A major computer retailer ceases operations.

Last Friday, it was announced that computer retailer CompUSA will close all of its 103 stores, which includes a store just down the road (about a mile) from here. This decision comes on the heels of our Director of Operations declaring that she will no longer purchase anything for our company from there due to systematic failure of customer service at these stores.

In analyzing the situation, I think that the only surprise in this announcement is that CompUSA managed to stay in business (here, anyway) as long as they did. There are three fundamental errors that this business made to lose our business:

  1. First, the service to customers in the retail stores was reliably “last rate”. On our final visit there, we had four red shirts standing around debating nothing of substance, and not dealing with customers, while the one cashier on a lane went to the back of the store to find something, leaving a line of customers, credit cards in hand, waiting indefinitely. This was not merely a regular occurrence, but the usual situation.
  2. Second, most of the advertised “deals” involved mail-in rebates, unnecessarily. Frankly, rebates are a scam, especially when instant savings offered elsewhere ostensibly give the same end result. We had a policy in place not to consider rebates when calculating costs, which resulted in far fewer purchases there.
  3. Third, CompUSA is a spammer, using (fraudulent) third-party mailing lists. I know this because they regularly mail one of our honeypot email addresses that has never been added to any mailing list (and, in fact, never even existed until spammers started pummeling it with UCE). It was certainly not double opt-in.

After doing my basic analysis, the first web news article I found about this, CompUSA To Close Up Shop, has comments which show that others had similar experiences, tending to indicate that the failures were truly corporate, not merely bad management at our local store. Although it is generally better to have more choice, I say “Good riddance to CompUSA!

For local purchase of hardware, we strongly recommend Digilink Computers. They are always helpful when we have to buy computer components, usually in an emergency situation. (Yes, this includes the new server on which this blog is hosted.) My only complaint is that they are no longer open on Sundays, which sometimes requires us to go elsewhere.

The second choice in this area is Best Buy, which is much larger, but is oriented toward general consumers, so individual components (e.g., processors, fans, or empty cases) are either not available at all or only in severely limited selection. (Digilink has a sales case with various motherboards on display; do not look for that at Best Buy.)

Let me end this post with an open invitation to Fry’s Electronics to open a store in this area. The closest Fry’s to our location is almost 250 miles down I-69 to Indianapolis, not exactly convenient. However, I know of a perfect computer retail location nearby that will be available and vacant within a month or so…

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