Since I’m looking to buy a television to replace my broken one, I decided to a lot of window shopping… the online kind of window shopping. I went to all the basic deal sites that I know – Slick Deals, Ben’s Bargains, and the fat wallet forums. I came up empty in those searches. So I moved to on to Amazon, Best Buy and finally to Fry’s. Fry’s was my last stop because I frankly forgot about them. They are a region electronics chain out here on the west coast and my head is often stuck in the east coast.
During my online trip to Fry’s, I realized something… they must really hate customers. I don’t quite understand it, because you’d think they’d want more customers. Alas, they kicked this potential one to the curb. How did they do it? The wouldn’t tell me the price of the television that I wanted to buy. It’s not unusual for stores to make you add a product to your cart to see the price. I know sites do it to avoid the robots on the Internet who scan websites to grab prices and consolidate them (like Google Shopping for example). Online stores dislike these robots as this practice puts them into price wars.
Fry’s takes things a step further and requires you to go a little further than putting a product in your cart. You have to give them all your shipping and billing information as well. I know I’m Lazy, but that’s a lot of work to find out the price of a product. Imagine going to a store and finding out that you have put all the products in your cart and bring it up to check out before they tell you prices of what you bought. That’s essentially what Fry’s is doing. Insane!
Fry’s I would have liked to be customer, but you simply make it too difficult. Send me a letter when you decide you want a customer.
Update: It seems like Amazon does this as well. I think I give Amazon a little more slack because I, like everyone else in the world, have an account with them. This means that I don’t have to fill out a complicated form. A regional store like Fry’s is on a different level.
They lost a 42″ LED TV sale from me for the same reason. Like you, I do not mind putting an item in the cart to see the price, but seriously???
I wonder how much revenue Fry’s missed out on this Christmas because of how hard they make it to window shop.
Love your blog by the way…
Fry’s electronics as a whole, not just the website but the entire trademark is crap. Ask any electrical engineer or hacker about what they think of Fry’s and they will most likely say that it is good for amateurs. Most of them will say that the prices, availability, and service are abominable.
If I am truly wrong on this (as likely as common sense actually becoming what it says it is) then I will retract my statement. But only then and still just as unlikely
Really LM? Amazon as well?
I tried the US & UK Amazon websites to check this for myself in “anonymous” mode on two different browsers and also via the Tor browser — both domains showed the prices of random articles as well as the price for a searched item.
Maybe they do it by your perceived IP location? I was looking from Germany via the Tor browser as well as the UK “normally”….
Lazy Man says
I think it is only a small subset of products. However it is usually the ones that they have on a special.
[email protected] says
I wasn’t impressed by Fry’s. When I bought our last TV, they were no help, and ended up back at Costco.
Kosmo @ The Soap Boxers says
How much longer before brick and mortar stories try this :) You won’t know the price until you check out – at which point you can go to the service desk and return the item …
I have a long reason of lists I dislike Fry’s.
The ONLY thing they have going for them is a large selection and some good sales prices. Otherwise just about everything about Frys is bad.
Big - D says
@ lazy man – I can see your point about giving amazon a pass, however I still think it is a shady practice
@ Theo – I am no amateur (dual MS, CS and EE) and I like frys from time to time. I know what I want, they have the best prices on most component parts that nowhere else has, etc. If you know what you are looking for, know what a good price is (I.e. are an educated consumer) you won’t get raked. I use them for audio equipment when cheap, computer equipment when cheap, A/V media when cheap (Rare however), and software you can get good sales. I am not saying they are the best, and they suck from a customer service perspective, but if you are educated, you can get out not felling like you were put through the wringer. All this is true if you stay away from the “mail in rebate” fiascos :)
@ Kosmo – I know several stores that do. Best Buy, Walmart, Kroger, etc. It is called go in for a sales item, they don’t change the tag at the items display, and then you have wait to see what it rings up on the register to see if you want it (or if they have the sale price). The only difference is if you are paying attention you can say it is wrong and if they won’t fix it – then you don’t want it. No store (Brick and Mortar) can legally require payment prior to telling you the price. They can require marketing info (such as name, address, email, etc.)
@Jim – Agreed, read my comments to Theo
They don’t do that to fight bots, they do it to get around Minimum advertised price rules from the manufacturers.