Dear Radio Shack and Best Buy – If Folks Like You They Will Come…

Well now.  I’ve managed to combine consumer electronics brick and mortar dinostores and a Field Of Dreams reference.  What could I possibly be up to…..  🙂

I’ve recently been following the woes of Best Buy in the news, but now Radio Shack apparently is in trouble too:

NASDAQ – Can Dinosaur Radioshack Evolve?

Radio Shack?  A dinosaur?  Since when?  If I recall one of Best Buy’s proposed early solutions to their woes that I heard about earlier was to try some smaller store formats to reduce overhead, a.k.a. try being like Radio Shack.  I’m guessing that didn’t work out?  😛

Quite frankly, what these two companies have in common as far as I’m concerned is bluh service.  I don’t know what this NASDAQ article’s talking about with Radio Shack supposedly having “impeccable customer service.”  If they’re really that good I have yet to see any of it around here.  Same with Best Buy.

For example, I’ve always been able to count on Best Buy over the years for miserable service, and things haven’t gotten any better over the years.  They were responsible for selling me the first and worst computer I’ve ever owned that drove me to get into PC hardware and build my first homebrew machine halfway through college when the PC they sold me kicked the bucket then they blew me off when I tried to invoke the service plan we bought for it.  Several years later, my Dad wound up in the same boat.  I haven’t been in one of their stores in years and am in no rush to ever return of course.

Radio Shack, on the other hand, has at least tried to provide decent service once in a blue moon, but for the most part I can usually count on Radio Shack to be quite consistent with things such as taking cheap parts and cranking up the price on them, being out of stock on something I’m looking for, or just plain not having very good stuff in stock to begin with.  During the “You’ve Got Questions – We’ve Got Answers” days I jokingly went around saying, “You’ve Got Projects – We’ve Got Stockouts” because that’s usually how it went with them.  I’d need something and oopsie-doopsie, the local Shack didn’t have it.  😛  Not a good thing when I was working as an in-house tech guy in some local warehouses at the time and was picking up some warehousing knowledge on the side, such as the idea of “stockout” being a swear word to logistics and supply chain folks.  😉

Radio Shack also has the dubious honor of having sold me the worst keyboard I’ve ever had.  Back in the mid-1990s I had picked up an interest in playing keyboards so my folks got me a Radio Shack Concertmate 575 with reduced-size keys in case that turned out to be a phase I went through.  It wasn’t, so they got me a Concertmate 1100 with normal-size keys for Christmas that year, and by the following Christmas, we had to replace the whole thing because keys kept snapping under normal use.  My folks got me a Casio WK-1250 for Christmas that year, and I still have it to this day.  🙂  Here’s a YouTube video I did about it.  🙂

Nowadays, it’s kind of hit and miss with them.  I usually go there as my “nerd convenience store” of course for geek supplies, but last time I tried going there for electronics stuff I walked in and the store clerk was being hassled by some rude customer who couldn’t get her smartphone working properly.  Yeah sure the customer was annoying and by the time I went to check out the clerk had to step away from her for a bit to ring everything up, but the clerk gave me a bad attitude even though I wasn’t the one being snotty.  =(  Not too good to take out their frustration on other customers.

All this is beside the point though.  What’s missing from these two companies is decent service and a desire to treat their customers like something other than mindless sheep.  I know a lot of B&Ms like to point at eTailers as a perennial scapegoat for not doing well, but is price really everything, or does service matter?  The worst service I’ve received over the past few years in almost all cases has had one thing in common – brick and mortar stores.  Sure there’s bad service online too, but for the most part it’s offline stores where I run into the most service shenanigans.  Gee.  You think that could possibly be influencing where I want to buy things from?  😉

These two companies shouldn’t disappear – especially Radio Shack, but what they need to do is focus on getting local customers to actually like them again.  Sure some people buy things exclusively based on sticker price, but service still counts for something these days.  That’s why I buy electronics from various eTailers.  I used to play the price games with lists like back in the day, but after barely keeping myself from getting swindled on a sound card purchase by an unethical eTailer in Ohio who now thankfully appears to have gone out of business, I started finding good eTailers and sticking to them.  I’d do that with good B&Ms too if there were any around here, but I find most of them around here to leave me feeling neutral/average/ho-hum in terms of service.  It’s the Neweggs, B&H Photo Videos, Monoprices, etc., whose service makes me enthusiastically want to go back even if they’re not the cheapest pricewise.

Hmmm….  Getting people to like you.  Where does that fit in amidst the various quantifiable business metrics out there these days….?  :-\


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