Fry’s: Don’t buy your computer here

I feel like Sheldon Cooper, given the level of tenacity and fervor with which I pursue a violent and public resolution to my problems by displaying my dissatisfaction with the peons of the electronics store known as Fry’s.  (That has to be a run-on sentence.)

As a consumer I have had some pretty bad experiences, but few compare to the mess that Fry’s Electronics put me in.  This isn’t slight annoyance, or bordering on irritation, this is full on rage and hatred for Fry’s Electronics.

My story starts as most stories shopping for a new computer do- with some research online and a trip to the local electronics store.  In the Pacific Northwest we were thrilled when Fry’s Electronics opened, a place where you could easily obtain all of your electronics under one roof with killer deals.  It seemed to make sense to go to Fry’s, where lining the shelves are amazing deals that no one else dare match lest they go out of business.  My wife and I walked in and started looking around a the various HP Laptops on display.  My first mistake was walking into Fry’s to buy a new computer, the second was looking at HP.  I feel I must divulge a bit of a family history regarding HP and my decision to purchase this brand lest you think I decided based purely on biased internet reviews.  When I was a child my parents didn’t have a lot of money and we never had video game systems or computers in our home.  Thank goodness for my grandparents who felt the need to fulfill our lack of technology with a NES and a Packard-Bell x386 Personal Computer!  When the computer was first unpacked I already knew that I would learn every single thing I could about it and how it worked.  Within the first week I had mastered DOS and worked my way around the computer like a pro- installing software and running Sierra games which required 10 floppy discs traded in and out just to transverse a single screen.  I was in heaven.  That computer never had a problem- hardware or software related (who ever had software problems with DOS anyway?)  My next computer was a desktop PC built by a local company called Hard Drives Northwest.  All I experienced were problems with this computer although many of those issues probably stemmed with the PC being preloaded with Windows 95!  🙁  Windows 95… blue screen of…  After my poor experience with that pre-made computer I bought a Hewlett-Packard (note: no longer “Packard-Bell”) and was satisfied with this computer!  My next 2 or 3 desktops would be HP computers all of which served me well through the years.  I still have an old P4 alive and kicking at home that was made by HP and I love it.

So, back to the story- I was looking at HP computers because of the good track record I had with their products.  It turns out (had I done my research in advance) that all HP computer parts are now made by cheap manufacturers in China.  The only part of a HP computer these days is the logo they stamp on after the product is assembled.  This disgusts me and is the reason (as you will see soon) I had SO MANY problems with my HP laptop.  On top of this I have 2 family members who bought new HP computers and had the motherboards burn out within mere months of purchasing them.  Companies fail to understand that consumers now rule the market.  We are in a downed economy, people shop and review products online, trade stories over blogs, twitter, and Facebook and buy accordingly.  How many of you will buy a HP computer or shop at Fry’s after you finish this article?  Not many I hope.

Now that you are thoroughly irritated at me for blathering on about my cute little history with HP computers and how I used to snuggle with my x386 nicknamed “Roger Wilco” let us return to the story at hand.

So, continuing where I left off listing mistakes.

Mistake #1: Entering Fry’s

Mistake #2: Looking at HP computers

Mistake #3: Grabbing a copy of Oblivion, shoving it in the face of a Fry’s salesperson and saying “I want a laptop that will run this with everything turned up to MAX!”

I put my head in my hands remember that stupid quote that came directly out of my mouth.  I should have just said “Hi!  I’ll buy any shit you shovel in front of me and eat it too!”  After going through the wonderful sales dance and getting excited about a new PC my wife and I smiled and signed a THREE YEAR WARRANTY with Fry’s Electronics, knowing not what the future held in store for us.

Fast forward 2 years down the road where the computer encountered numerous issues including (but not limited to) overheating issues, video card problems, motherboard failure, charging connector failure, battery failure, and a slew of other wonderful issues all Made in China and stamped with HP goodness!  I took the dying laptop to Fry’s and turned it on to show them that the screen was barely visible, flickered when the laptop was opened and closed, displayed strange artifacts or black boxes randomly, and overheated quite quickly.  They assured me they would take a look, run some tests, and get it fixed.

Three whole months later I get a phone call “Hello, Mr. ******?  Your computer has been ready for pickup for 2 weeks, are you coming to get it?”  me: “Ready for 2 weeks?  I never received a single phone call to tell me it was ready!  I’ll be down to pick it up after work today!”  I drove 45 minutes to Fry’s, walked in, went through the whole check in procedure, and waited for a depressed service technician to retrieve my computer.  Finally they put the computer in my hands- I fired it up to make sure everything was working correctly.  I loaded into Windows 7 and adjusted the screen manually, it flickered and went black, came back and showed artifacts.  I handed it back- “It’s STILL broken!  Look!”  The technician agreed that the computer was still broken and that they would have another look at and attempt to repair the problem.  I spent another 20-30 minutes filling out paperwork and driving back home another 45 minutes.  Note that at this point I have taken the computer down to Fry’s, driven home, come back again, and driven home again wasting 180 minutes drive time and another 40 in the store for a total of 3.66 hours of my life wasted along with the gas at $5 a gallon.

Fast forward 2.5 additional months where again I get a call asking if I’m ever going to pick up my laptop which has been ready for 1 week.  I tear into the lady on the phone who claims to know nothing about computers and just “works there” and makes phone calls.  OK, you’re an idiot lady… actually it’s Fry’s fault for hiring someone who knows NOTHING about computers to make calls from the service department out to customers.  I’m thouroughly pissed at this point and speed down to Fry’s where I test out the laptop.  Everything looks good, I take it home.  My wife uses it for 20 minutes and gets the blue screen of death in Windows 7!  A hardware failure!  Display driver adapter failure, motherboard failure, a whole slew of issues including artifacts AGAIN.

I drive down to Fry’s for the third time with this laptop and request a replacement for the piece of shit HP doorstop as per the service agreement.  If they are not able to fix the problem they must replace the faulty product.  I explain that the computer has been in to Fry’s twice and this will be the third time.  They argue that since the first time I found the problem in store and didn’t actually check the computer out and take it home it didn’t count.  I argued with the employee for awhile before asking for his manager who came out and told me the same thing.  I told them I was tired of driving back and forth so they said they would run the tests on the computer while I wait for 2 hours.  I found some things to do in the area, went to a bookstore, grabbed a coffee, paced around Fry’s wondering why I spent money there and waited.  After 4 hours of waiting the laptop tests still were not complete and the service manager said that they had found NOTHING wrong with the computer.  That was the final straw, I marched directly into the main store manager’s office and demanded that he give me a replacement of my laptop.  After a lengthy story and the service manager (who seemed to be friends with the store manager) joining us, he finally agreed to run more tests given that I would provide my Windows activation code so they could do a fresh install of Windows 7.  I had all my data backed up so I agreed on one condition- that if after a rigorous 48 hour test was run that if the problem could not be resolved that they look into getting me a replacement laptop.  Everyone agreed, I shook hands and went home.  I called in the Windows activation number to the service department manager at Fry’s in Renton, WA and waited.

No one ever followed up and called me back.  It has been over 3 weeks now and I have no idea what happened with the laptop that they assured me was working just fine.  I called a couple days ago and asked to speak with the service manager and was told he was not in.  I asked for the store manager and was told he was also out.  Perhaps the two went on a vacation to Disneyland together?  My imagination runs wild.  I asked what was happening with my laptop and the technician said it looked like something was wrong with the motherboard (this is the 4th motherboard!) and they were working on it.  I asked for the manager to call me as soon as they returned the following day and that it was an urgent matter.  It’s been days now and still no phone call.  I have lost complete faith in Fry’s and as I threatened in the meeting with the store manager and service manager in that office that smelled of Indian cuisine and ironically- leather; I will go public with my horror story.

There you have it.  Congratulations to both Fry’s Electronics and Hewlett-Packard computers for losing a customer for life.  I will NEVER EVER return to your store or buy your computers as long as I live.  I will also encourage my family, friends, co-workers, employees, blog readers, and subscribers to stay away from your store (Fry’s) and never buy your computers (HP).

As with all things in life we need an alternative.  Well, build your own PC and buy parts at Newegg or go to and buy a powerful gaming PC for a lot cheaper than Fry’s charges!  🙂  Good luck!


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About Jonathan G. Nelson

Jonathan G. Nelson is the editor-in-chief and owner of NERD TREK. He is also owner/publisher at AAW Games /, a tabletop gaming company based in Snoqualmie, WA. Connect with Jonathan via Facebook.