FRY's/Radio Shack

Fred Cisin cisin at
Fri Feb 6 16:35:33 CST 2015

On Fri, 6 Feb 2015, Marc Verdiell wrote:
> picking up your capacitor. Let's not forget the best of it, being chased
> around by the totally incompetent sales person that will convince you that
> SATA and USB are one and the same thing. Trying to lose him by walking
> progressively faster. Man, they can walk fast too, these are trained
> professionals. And for the grand finale, being stripped searched going out
> the door. How is that for the ultimate nerd store experience!
> Love it all. The Fry brothers are geniuses.

But not their staff.

1) Somebody from the college bought a large quantity of memory chips
there.  When plugged into a dozen of the college's PC/5150s they
would not work.
BUT, they would work in some generic clones!
I drove an hour to the store, and told them that they would not work in
OEM IBM PCs.  They demanded a few hours to TEST them.  After returning
from Computer Literacy, I came back.  They insisted that they worked.
They had tried them (hardly a "TEST") in their generic clone.  I repeated
that they did not work in OEM IBM PCs.  The "technician" told me that he
wasn't familiar with a BRAND OF COMPUTER named "OEM".  They would not even
exchange them.
I wrote a letter to Mary Eisenhart (editor of MicroTimes), with a cc to
David Fry.  He came to the college with a bag of working replacements.
(successful resolution)

2) I needed a printer cable.   The clerk showed me the USB section.
"Thank you, but this is for an OLD PC"
"Oh, USB 2 will work on USB 1"
"No, really old.   IEEE-1284"
"OH!  Those are printer cables?? I wondered what those were for.  We
don't carry them."
(They had some shelved with the SCSI cables)

3) Back when it was a grocery store with a couple of aisles of hobbyist
stuff, it was GREAT!!  It was still really good when the groceries were
cut back to only what all night hackers would want (some nukable food,
toothbrushes, snacks, a superb selection of caffeinated sodas (including
But, when they removed the last of the non-snack foods (bread, peanut
butter, etc.) and opened multiple stores, they were headed towards Radio
We used to stop there on the way home from the Foothill swap.
But, eventually, it reached the point where computers and electronics were
secondary to TV and audio crap, with EVERY speaker cranked up to 11.
It became extraordinarily unpleasant to set foot into the store(s).

4) Many items are missing parts! and/or are returned defects.  Their
"returns" policy included taking EVERYTHING that was returned, taping the
box back shut and putting it back on the shelf.  If the box is damaged, it
gets a token "open box" discount.  It is true that many things get
returned due to customer inability to figure it out, rather than actual
malfunction.  But, they were not even doing a token "TEST" before
returning the stuff to stock. If you ever return something to Fry's and
are sure that it is actually non-functional, PLEASE write "NFG" all over
the item and all over the box!

5) They were AMAZINGLY late getting a WWW presence.  Eventually, they
acquired somebody else that had a website.
In the mid and late 1990s, when I was still teaching an "Introduction To
The Internet" class, I used to give a minor assignment of finding the
least expected web presence (in those days, on the rear fender of UC
Berkeley police cars, etc.), and also what outfit was the most
surprisingly NOT on the web - that one usually went to Fry's.

6)  I needed a cheap DVD player.  They had two Apex models with a $20
price difference.  I asked the clerk about the difference(s).  He
proceeded to read aloud the identical feature lists of the two shelf tags.

7) There are a few fake "Fry's Employment Application" forms on the web.
One of the classics is:

More information about the cctalk mailing list