pcns - blog - eric braun, owner.

Perspective: Why did CompUSA Fail?

One of my pet peeves was the fact nothing was merchandised with price tags, and items on the shelf with barcode tags were often priced differently (usually higher) at checkout than the item indicated.  Cashiers (well before any store closings) often were confrontational, stating the higher price was the price, no arguing, no discussion, period.  Tags for items on sale were misdisplayed with the wrong item.

CompUSA was the store in the middle, trying to figure out if it wanted to be a Computer Store or a Best Buy.  Owing to the Mexican heritage ownership of entrepreneur Carlos Slim, CompUSA felt more like a Fiesta of Computer Stores.  When you walk into a Fiesta Mart "Super" Store (many are located in the Houston and San Antonio area), it's like visiting a Flea Market, with people selling stuff that have nothing to do with groceries.

How many times did you walk into a CompUSA, only to be blasted by loud music?  Kind of tough trying to make a serious purchasing decision on a new computer!   This was almost a circus atmosphere.  Think about it, when walking into a CompUSA, what's the first thing you saw (say the store at Park Lane in Dallas)?  Flat screen TV's, CD and DVD and AV Components, sound equipped Lazy Boys, Cell Phones, prepaid phone cards, and cheap impulse stuff, like those $4 computer games.  So, where are the computers?  It's a shame, I sent several customers to CompUSA in search of a computer system.  On several occasions customers reported the computer they settled on, while on display, was not even stocked.  Maybe if they had fewer flat screens and Lazy Boy's sitting in the backroom, they could have made room for computers to sell?

When you walk into a Microcenter, the first thing you see is computer related stuff, their special promotional items you can actually examine (not locked in a display cabinet). You can pick up a sales flyer, and check it out, while you wander through the store.

Speaking of lockdown, why did CompUSA lock down (behind glass cabinets) inexpensive components - such as hard drives, video cards, and motherboards? (CPU's I understand).  You had to find someone to unlock the cabinet, and while you made your mind up you get the dissertation and questioning from a CompUSA guy who either tried to upsell you to something else or treated you like you really didn't know what you were talking about.

Goodbye CompUSA, I won't miss you!  Hasta la vista CompUSA!  Viva la Best Buy! and Microcenter! Isn't it nice to know some of Carlos Slim's daily salary of $27 million will be coming back from Mexico to pay off creditors in the US to pay for the business he sunk.  Wow, if that happened, that would be a switch!

SystemMax and/or TigerDirect should retire the CompUSA namesake and re-badge the Plano store as TigerDirect.   I'm not sure I'd trust the new CompUSA.

Factoid:  Carlos Slim announced (March 2007) a US $450 Million foundation for health research and care - a minor slice of his $49 billion fortune.   The William Gates Foundation has assets of $10 billion.  Microsoft's Bill Gates donated US $3.3 billion in 1998, and a record setting US $5 billion in 1999.

About 150 complaints with CompUSA at Ripoffreports.com

may 2007 - some compusa's closing

CompUSA Store in Plano Texas
Feb 25, 2008 News Flash:  They're at it again.  Though not as frenzied, CompUSA in Plano, off Central Expressway is closing, and is marking stuff down.  Some great buys, some not.  Some items were marked up, only to be marked down.  They sticker priced the base Linksys WRT54G at a regular price of $69.99, which is commonly available at Frys and Microcenter for $49.99, and they have a 50% discount, for a final price of $35.  But that's not 50% off.  Even searching CompUSA.com, today, Feb 25, their everyday price was $44.99 (this document was PDF'd so you won't miss the copy) meant the routers should have sold for $22.50.  Perhaps this was a special - $5 off their normal price, the router still should have been $25.  Here's the actual item description at CompUSA.com.

CompUSA was selling McAfee Internet Security 2007, after discounts at $35, regularly sticker priced $79.99.   The original sticker price was $10 above McAfee's suggested retail price of $69.99.  What's up with that?

Feb 12, 2008 News Flash:  According to Dallas Morning News, CompUSA in Plano will re-open.

Jan 19, 2008 News Flash:  According to the CompUSA home page, SystemMax, Inc. has acquired CompUSA.  They state a Store Liquidation is in progress, but don't specifically state the future of CompUSA retail stores.   Engadget.com states up to 16 stores may be hanging around.

Dec 7, 2007 News Flash:  According to the Wall Street Journal On Line, all remaining CompUSA's surviving the earlier round of store closures from Spring of 2007 will shut down.

May 2007:  In case you hadn't heard, CompUSA is closing dozens of stores nationwide.  The DFW area is included.  I walked into CompUSA Park Lane about six times in late April and early May.  I saw comments on the Net that their clearance markdowns weren't the great - and they were right.  A lot of markdown new items were marked down from retail price, and were no less of a bargain than if you were to buy the same item from an Internet retailer, such as NewEgg.com.  Also, I saw price differences between the Park Lane Store, and Compusa.com.  Sticker prices for some items were higher in the store than on the web.  30%, 40%, and 50% markdowns were taken from the higher sticker price.  

The better bargains were the store fixtures - shelves - utility and retail, office chairs, desks, computer workstations, and computer peripherals used internally in the business and their training facilities.  At the store on Park Lane, I found several extra laptop power adapter for my Dell - what a price for $5, out of the dozens and dozens of lose power bricks.  They had used SystemMax Desktop PC's - 2.8 Ghz P4, with 40 Gig hard drive, 1 gig ram, DVD-Reader, keyboard mouse, and a Norcent 17" Flat Screen, BUT NO OPERATING SYSTEM for $400 - which isn't that great, but on Friday April 25, they had all Fixtures 50% off so that made it $200, plus a 10% buyer's premium.  That's a better deal, though you do have to purchase an Operating System - the lowest price Windows XP Professional can be found on the Net between $119 to $140.  That makes it a good - but not a great deal.  However, after a few days observation, the tags were corrected - the PC's had only 512 megs ram.  Sometimes, you can peruse Craigslist and find people in DFW selling PC's with Flat Screens WITH Windows XP for less than this.  Microcenter sells an Hp/Compaq refurbished desktop system, with P4/2.8 Ghz Processor, with 512 megs ram, with a Licensed version of Windows XP Pro for $319.99.

CompUSA had a few Mitsubishi LCD projectors.  They seemed like a good deal at first - the Mitsubishi xl5u was initially $1,000, and it was 50% off, plus a 10% buyers premium, rounding out the LCD to $595 with taxes.  What's the wild card - the Projector Lamp - specifically the remaining runtime life.  At a discount, a projector lamp for this model sells for nearly $400, which would bring the projector up to nearly $1,000.  If you're going to spend that much, why not get an HD 1080p/720p capable Optima EP770, for $1299 suggested retail, 3000 Lumens versus Mitsubishi's 1700, DLP versus LCD technology, and a factory warranty.  In a training environment (I've been to Mac training classes at CompUSA), Projectors get a lot of use and they generally aren't run in the energy saving mode.  A PC World blogger had similar findings.  This author underscored something else I found - that when you had a question about pricing for an item, nobody really knew what was going on.