Circuit City is closing 155 stores across the US, and I can tell you why.
Short version: Circuit City sucks.
I’ve only made two major purchases from CC, and both were mistakes. The first, back in ’94, was a Compaq 486 DX/50 PC. I know, know — it was a mistake to buy Compaq at all, much less from Circuit City. But I didn’t know then that Compaqs were (at the time) more expensive and more difficult to upgrade than any other PC clone. Hardly CC’s fault. But they had a deal if you bought one with a Sony Trinitron monitor, and I was sold on Sony screens. However, the salesman couldn’t even tell me what resolutions the monitor supported (640×480 only!), what video card the computer had, or what I’d have to pay to upgrade the 120MB hard drive to the top-of-the-line 240MB model.
I should have run screaming and never looked back, but I bought the thing anyway — and quickly swore off Circuit City once I got the box home and discovered just how weak a machine it really was.
Flash forward to 2004. Melissa and I were getting ready to leave on vacation with another couple, and I’d had it up to here (hold your hand at eye level for visual effect) with trying to make mix CDs to please four people with wildly different tastes. Apple had just announced the iPod Photo — color screen, 30GB! — so I figured I ought to pick one up. I made this decision about 36 hours before we were supposed to fly off to Mexico. And of course the only store in town with the new iPods turned out to be Circuit City.
The purchase was simple enough, and I even sprang for the service plan. I figured anything that small with a hard drive in it should probably get a little extra coverage. Silly me, I bought CC’s in-house coverage instead of AppleCare. Well, I was an Apple newbie at the time.
Flash forward slightly less than two years, when the heat on a camping trip finally fried my iPod’s hard drive. CC’s coverage was so complicated — I couldn’t find a single person in the store to tell me how to get my ‘pod replaced — that I almost gave up. Getting my refund took weeks. In the meantime I bought a replacement direct from Apple.
And that’s the last time I even set foot in a Circuit City.
Their salespeople were, every last one of them, so uninformed that they made Best Buy folks look like Apple Store Geniuses. Their replacement policies were unnecessarily complicated. And their prices were usually higher than anyone else’s.