Circus City

Dear Circuit City,

Specifically the one on Sunset Boulevard up from Fountain Avene ‚Äî yeah you! Let me first make it clear that this is all my fault. As a rule yours is always my electronics store of last resort, but in this case I failed to heed my own personal avoid code and dropped in because you were conveniently located (and that’s the only thing convenient about you). What a mistake.

I won’t dwell too long on your store’s whacked floorplan, other than to say it’s purposefully designed to disorient and confuse so that a customer will have to ask for assistance, which is hilarious because apparently the first rule in your sales staff’s handbook is Avoid Being Of Any Assistance Whatsoever. Case in point: the first red-shirted human I found who wasn’t doing his best to avoid eye-contact or turn his or her back to me? Turns out he didn’t work there. He was just standing helplessly in the back near some high-def TVs, exhausted. Said he came in for an MP3 player hours ago and had given up trying to find his way out of the place. But rather than wander around getting even more hopelessly lost he figured he’d best stay put until a search and rescue team could come get him. I tried to show him the way, but he just thanked me and hunkered down to warm himself beside a big-ass plasma screen showing the awful remake of Gone in 60 Seconds.

So I left the poor guy to seek out the items on my short list of DV camera accessories: a battery, a memory card, and a couple of blank tapes. Were all these related items in one easy to find place? Of course they weren’t! The batteries were on one wall with the mini-tripods and the camera cases. The tapes were in a dimly lit back corner and the memory cards were in a cramped and dark glass-doored cabinet down another aisle that was locked up tight as it should be for maximum customer discomfort and delay.

After kneeling down to be sure the specific SD-type card was within, I stood up tall in hopes of snaring a sales associate that had walked unwarily by, but no go. Nearest were two reps a couple aisles away huddled and befuddled over a keyboard that they poked and prodded to see if it was still alive while their customer next to them pulled out War and Peacefrom his backpack having decided that now would be as good a time as any to read it. So I dropped low again between the aisles like a predator near a prey trail. And waited. And waited. Somewhere nearby a cricket sang. Finally, I saw a flash of red and pounced!

So startled was the salesdude I snagged that he actually bleated out “May I help y‚Äî!” before catching himself and looking around in fear that his manager might have heard him. Wasting no time I pointed out what I wanted from inside the lockbox. But of course he didn’t have the key and I begrudingly allowed him to escape with nothing more than the empty promise that he would go get it and return.

A minute passes. And another. The crickets commence cricketing and I curse letting him out of my sight as I paw at the glass wondering if I could just lift one of the panes off its track and get what I need. But before I act on that impulse the guy is back and fumbling nervously with a huge ring of keys until he finds the right one. I growl and point to the memory card I want, a 1-gig with the $15 mail-in rebate, and he withdraws one, re-locking the case quickly and telling me to follow him to the nearest computer where he logs my items: the card, the battery and a package of blank tapes.

In a perfect world my receipt and rebate form would print out and I would only be left to negotiate my way out of the maze. But this is Circuit City my friends… and the tardy party’s just gotten started.

First up, the printer malfunctions, so we have to journey to an entirely different department and he has to access another terminal whose printer hopefully isn’t malfunctioning. Fortunately, it isn’t and soon my receipt is given to me and the winded salesdude starts his beeline to the employee lounge for a much-needed break.

“Hang on there little tomato,” I call out. “What about my rebate form?”

Crestfallen at his escape being foiled. He mumbles something about that needing to be printed out at the original ‚Äî and broken ‚Äî printer. When he sees I’m not about to leave without the required documentation, he trudges back over there, keys in his access code and cue the fucking crickets we wait some more. Of course, this additional delay happens to work to my advantage because it gave me time to review my receipt, and right there in black and white I find I’ve been charged not for just one package of blank tapes, but two.

The thought inside my head is “Who the flying fuck are you to try to rip me off?” But what somehow comes out is an entirely more diplomatic “Hey there Red, why the double-dip?!” He snatches the receipt out of my hand in melodramatic disdain at what surely must be my poor vision, and when he sees the egregious overcharge he actually looks in my bag because he was absolutely certain I had two packs. he is proven wrong.

Difusing the situation just in time, the printer finally kicks in and spits out my rebate redemption form. But can he reverse the attempted $21.99 theft there? Of course he can’t! That requires a long walk over to the customer service area where with not even an apology and barely a thank you he disappears after depositing me in front of any even more disinterested employee who must then reverse the charge. This of course takes another several minutes, requiring a signature and another receipt to be printed.

But there is a happy ending. With your customer service area located just inside the main entrance, any misopportunity of becoming trapped inside and camped out by the TVs hoping for a rescue was eliminated. And after having my receipt and bag checked to make sure I wasn’t stealing anything, I quick-stepped out into the cleansing sunlight with most of my sanity intact… although I did catch myself chanting aloud: “Never again, never again!”

Sincerely,
Better Dead Than Red

6 Replies to “Circus City”

  1. oh my god. this is almost the EXACT same story that played itself out when i was at pep boys last weekend, except it involved 2 trips instead of just one.

    never again! never again!

  2. I feel your pain, Will. I’ve sworn off that Circuit City for life. In fact, I’ve had such teribble experiences with them that I won’t go to any CC anywhere.

    From where you live, it should be nearly as easy for you to get to Best Buy in Atwater Village, no?

  3. Best Buy normally would be where I’d go to even though it’s a bit further away. Trouble was I was headed to the Vons on Virgil just up the street from the CC and thus I caved in to my convenience gremlin’s pleas.

  4. Might I also add Radio Schlock to this list? No matter how exactly you know what you want, and how simple that want might be, there’s just no hope of getting satisfaction at the Radio Shack.

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