>[Content warning – profanity alert!]

There are a lot of us out there. Circuit City fans. I am. Have been since the eighties. Although the chain has been in business for over 60 years. Living in Dallas, Texas… their stores were cool. I don’t even remember there being a Best Buy there.

I’m from that old school of purchasers… price isn’t all I’m looking for. Show me you’re listening. Show me you came to work to help others. If you’re on commission, that’s cool… earn it.

I’ve spent thousands of dollars at Circuit City over the years. Washers, dryers, VCRs, stereos, turntables, movies, DVDs, televisions, microwave ovens, tape recorders, cables… you get the idea. It was Circuit City and Montgomery Ward for this guy. Occasionally Radio Shack for the really hard to find, niche electronics. Gadgets.

I’ve got many stories about the great service I have always received at Circuit City, but this last one is probably the coolest. When I told a manager at Office Max this story… just sharing great customer service stories… his response, “that’s probably one of many reasons they’re going out of business.” Point missed.

I am sorry I can’t remember the Killeen store manager’s last name… but his name is John. John did the right thing for this long time customer and I pray he lands on his feet in a much better paying job with a growing company.

I won an HD flat screen TV in a sales contest. 46 inches, state of the art. Sony Bravia. You can’t have an HD TV without a high def DVD player, so I headed over to Circuit City and dropped about $700 for the new HD DVD player from Toshiba. AD20 model I think it was. An HDMI cable… $90. And a handful of HD-DVD movies. Wow—ENTER THE DRAGON in High Def… that’ll be awesome. And BATMAN BEGINS, BLAZING SADDLES… must haves.

Over the months, I bought a few more HD-DVD films from Circuit City. No sales people told me not to. Why would they? I ordered a few online, mostly SMALLVILLE series in HD-DVD. PLANET EARTH series online. I continued to see HD-DVD player commercials on TV with that actor from THE SOPRANOS…. “the look and sound of perfect”.

One day while picking through some DVDs at Blockbuster (nope, still not using NetFlix, ya’ll)…. again.. show me live people please…. I took my selections to the counter and asked the teen behind the register, “why don’t you carry HD-DVD selections? I see Blu-Ray ones here.”

She stared at me.

“Did you hear me?” She said, “Yep, I thought you were kidding.”

I stared at her.

“Sir, they’re out of business. Have been for a couple of months now.”

I said, “Now you’re kidding. The format is owned by Toshiba. I just bought some movies on HD-DVD. The format is also being used on XBox. It’s not Sony Betamax.”

She said, “Sorry, you can check online later. The HD-DVD format is no longer!”

I knew that kid was out of her mind. But I rushed home and got started in my research. OH MY GOD! It’s really dead! The evil retail store giant empire actually threw in the last shovel of dirt! But I just saw a commercial for the DVD release of I AM LEGEND, “also available on HD-DVD”!

Unbelievable! I have a $700 DVD player that I can’t use. “Oh yes you can, it still plays regular DVDs.” Oh no! I paid $700 for a DVD player that plays movies that a $30 DVD player can play as well! It took me a few days of online searching before it all sank in. Press Reports, the official website shut down (this was in May that I found this all out).

Well, I naturally had my receipt with the manuals (ALWAYS KEEP YOUR RECEIPT WITH THE MANUALS). So I wrapped up the HD-DVD player nice and neat, manuals, cables, back in the original box (I save boxes for moving and storage). I’m going to see what Circuit City can do for me.

Sunday night… 10 minutes til close. I asked for the manager. A guy comes to the Customer Service counter and asks “What can we do for you?” I said, “I just learned that HD-DVD is out of business and I’m trying to see what you can do for me. I bought this player here a few months ago and it’s useless. Can I get a credit? Anything?”

The guy said, “Sir, Toshiba sent out press releases to all their registered customers about the news back in January. Circuit City offered discounts on Blu-Ray players for anyone that bought an HD-DVD player here, we sent out notices to our customers about that also back in January or February.” I replied, “I know this sounds like BS, but I just found out about it from Blockbuster…” (and explained the entire scenario until 15 minutes after Circuit City closing time).

The guy listened. Nodded. And said, “I can’t do anything for you, you’ll have to discuss it with John, the manager. He won’t be back in until tomorrow after 9am.” Tell John I’ll be here. Here’s my card. Can I leave this player behind? It’s useless to me now.” “No, sir, please take it with you and bring it with you when you return.”

I called Circuit City to ask for John. John wasn’t available. Gave it a day or two. Tried back again. He wasn’t available, but was in the store. I packed up the player, receipt, and headed to the store.

John was there and showed up at the counter to help me. I explained it all over to him again. I even tried, “I’ve been a Circuit City shopper since the 80’s… you can no doubt look up my credit card number, extended warranty purchase histories, and know I have spent lots of money at your stores all over America (my radio job travels). John said the same thing the other manager said about the notices and discount cards that went out. I assured him that if I would have known about it in January, I sure wouldn’t be here today wondering what to do next. John even showed me on his computer that all Circuit City should do (store policy) is “buy it back” for $50 (in store credit). All I could say was, “Well, it’s not your fault I didn’t know about it. I know you didn’t cause Toshiba to drop the format. If you were able to somehow take it back and give me a store credit for the amount on the receipt, I would just turn around and spend it on a Blu-Ray player, but I know that you still lose that money… because it’s just a trade. I was just hoping that somehow my loyalty and purchase history might pull a few strings.”

John said, “It does. I just wanted to show you what the store policy is so you would appreciate what I’m about to do. ” He takes the receipt and accepts the return. The he hands me a gift card for $650. He adds, “I’m sorry, I can’t buy back the movies.” To my delight, “No problem. John, this is just another story to add to the others. Circuit City does the right thing for me, now let me got pick out my Blu-Ray player.”

And I ended up spending about $90 over that gift card amount on a new DVD recorder, movies, and blank DVDs. I was so excited that I told everyone that would listen my good fortune at Circuit City. And still do.

Did John do the right thing by his company? Nope. He even showed me the company policy. Did he do the right thing by me? I’ll never forget John for what he did for me and my family. I do business the same way (to the anger of my wife and co-workers).

I believe that most mature Americans instinctively know and do the right thing. What John did for me is the GOLDEN RULE, “do unto others as you would have them do to you”. The Killeen store I shopped at closed down soon after that to move to a new, bigger location in Harker Heights (about 10 minutes east of Killeen). It is a beautiful store and I will miss the service of the golden days of Circuit City.

While writing this, I got thirsty for a Coke. Took the family out around 7pm for ice cream and to pick up some stuff at ‘the largest superstore chain on the planet’, including our badly needed Coca Colas. I hate ‘the largest superstore chain on the planet’ and so does anyone else who is sane… I won’t mention its name but it rhymes with Bal-Fart.

Later, now, I discover NO Cokes in the fridge. Oh sh!t, I left the damn things in the bottom of the cart. Found the receipt. Called the store. “What’s your policy for left behind items in shopping carts? We were there about six hours ago. Anyone happen to turn in a 12 pack of cokes?” The young lady said, “hold on”. A few minutes later, “if you would have left them at the register, all we would ask for is the receipt to claim them. Unfortunately, items left in shopping carts, unless found and returned to us, we can’t replace or credit.”

It’s only $2.56. My mistake. Someone no doubt thought they won the lottery and took them home. But since I’m a liar, then I can see why the young lady didn’t offer to replace the Cokes with proof of purchase a few hours ago. I obviously drank them all and wanted another 12 for free. The mega store chain couldn’t help a proven buyer (a receipt in hand) to replace the forgotten Cokes. No need. It was MY fault for putting them in bottom of the cart. Actually, it’s my fault for getting thirsty 6 hours later. No, it’s my fault for shopping at the store I hate. No, it’s my fault for expecting any superstore, monopoly retailer to do the right thing. And don’t call me a freakin’ liberal. I will cover your mouth with my left over McCain/Palin bumperstickers. 😉

And the ones that did are going out of business (the golden rule). I can truly understand why these new CEOs are cutting costs by hiring kids that don’t care. It’s good business, the less you care about good service, knowledgeable staff (that requires pro-active training on and off hours), the more money that stays in the store. These monopoly SUPERSTORES know… if you’re going to shop in this town, you’re going to shop HERE, eventually. Where else can you go? We’re shutting down the little ones. The ones that HAD TO CARE to keep customers coming back.

If the terrorists really want to hurt us where it counts, don’t destroy a bank tower or military installation, just wipe out any superstore computer network. We’d kill OURSELVES in the chaos (after the looting).

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