Friday, March 05, 2010

Fry's Customer Service Story

It's a bit long, but as of this writing, they've done right by me. I see complaints about Fry's and they do some stuff I don't like (more about that later), but in this case they've done very well if not excellently.

Read on for the whole story.

I bought a marked down little remote control (infrared) heli that was shrink-wrapped together with the controller. It has a sticker on it that says 'Fry's Backs the Full Manufacturer's Warranty'. The cashier pointed this out to me. It was marked to $0.99 down from $24.99. So, sweet deal right? 99 cents and a warranty to boot!

Not so fast.

I was a little ticked when I got home and it was just outright broken. Anyone could have seen this, as it had two rotors and only one of them worked. I have to mention that Fry's is 12 miles away in Houston, so over 20 minutes. 40+ minutes round trip.

I made another trip not too long after for some other reason and brought the heli in. The assistant manager or someone in the chain basically tried to tell me it was really as is because of the price and that said something like: I'm not going to give you a $25 heli because you only paid 99 cents. They would not directly address honoring the warranty. I can see their point, but don't put it in print if you aren't going to honor it. It's not like that's a typo or mistake.

This would have been fine if: 1. It hadn't said they back the warranty. 2. The cashier hadn't made a point of noting the warranty verbiage. 3. If it hadn't been just outright broken. Why sell it in the first place if it's broken?

So, I emailed Fry's, and got a response from the store manager, Mr. Eddie Ashcraft. I told him my story and he said to bring it in, they would replace it.

I get home and this one's broken too, new right out of the box. It would spin and even adjusting the trim pot against the spin and holding full stick input wouldn't stop it. You could see from the interference pattern in the rotors from the light bulbs (60 hz cycle) that the rotors were not turning at the same speed.

So I emailed him again, saying it was broken, and this would be my THIRD trip to get a replacement, and this would bring my mileage to 72 miles after I got back home.

I asked if he would consider a specific model as an upgrade replacement due to the time I had invested as well as the driving as a courtesy. I noted that all of that model was on clearance. I also said I had the exact same one I could use for replacement parts, so it made good sense for me and I was familiar with the construction.

He gave me that replacement, which was about 3 times the cost of the original heli.

I flew it today and am happy with the performance. How well it will hold up remains to be seen, but that will not be an issue that is Fry's fault.

I do have one small issue at the moment with my visit today: ALL the heli's of this model on the shelf had beat up boxes and/or looked like returns. One had a piece broken off in the box. Another was missing the antenna according to a sticker on the box. One was just thrown in the box loose with attendant parts. I dearly hope that someone with an inkling did some testing before putting these back on the shelf. I know, it's a $70 R/C heli, but I would at least mark them down more than the approximately $5 difference between and Fry's brick and mortar. Presumably they are new at

To be fair, for all I know they all worked 100% correctly, save the one with the missing antenna.

I tested mine briefly before leaving the store to make sure it functioned as expected.

So to sum: Thank you Mr. Ashcraft for going above and beyond! I'm a happy Fry's customer again.

Disclaimer: I told the store manager I would be writing an article either way, but upgrading me to the nicer model was above and beyond. I also told him I did freelance PC work and I tell people if they need PC parts, go to Fry's. I make many purchases for this and for myself. (FWIW, I never tell anyone to go to Best Buy.)

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