Circuit City announced last week that it was closing up shop for good. Put aside the fact that the national electronics chain has been in a financial mess for the last 18 months – anyone watching CNBC or FBN knows that story. What surprises me is that people would be surprised by this news at all.
I’m not sure about the rest of you, but there are two Circuit City stores that I used to frequent and another few stores that I’ve been in and out of from time to time. The main store that I went to was in West Long Branch and while I knew some of the people who worked there a few years ago, I have no issues with saying that the customer service at the local store was horrendous. I’m not necessarily saying that the people who worked at the store were rude, but the local store never had the cash register open. In order to pay for your items, you actually had to stand next to the register in a line waiting to go to customer service to pay! What sense does that make?!
And almost without fail you’d reach the front of the line and the person in front of you would have an issue with the item that they were buying or you’d be caught behind a person who was returning an item in an overly involved transaction. I don’t fault the customers in these situations, but you have to wonder about the quality of the store when these types of things pop up during each trip to the place…
And it would appear that many consumers did begin to question the quality of Circuit City and instead started to spend their ever-scarcer dollars at the bigger box stores like Target and Wal-Mart. But there is another reason why my local Circuit City quickly fell out of favor with consumers…
Circuit City was notorious for charging 15% – 25% higher for DVDs and CDs than what you could buy them for at Wal-Mart or Target! And to show you how out of touch the Circuit City people are with both the market and what their consumers want, I went to big liquidation sale at the local store over the weekend and I saw that DVDs were marked down 20%. Are you kidding me? Even after the 20% discount you still wind up paying more than you would by just going to Wal-Mart in the first place!
It’s incredible, really.
And to add an insult to the bargain shoppers, the local store had no price cuts on video games, computer hardware and software, or car radios and speakers. Amazing.
So while I do feel extraordinarily bad for the 30,000 employees who will now need to find a new job, I can’t say that Circuit City closing down is a surprise. They didn’t care about basic customer service, charged way too much for their products, and didn’t stay competitive with the times. What else could you expect from such a company?