Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Circuit City and its Fraudulent "firedog" Service

So, I was looking for a reasonable laptop last month. I found the most reasonable laptop on Circuit City website. The website gave me the location of couple of stores where it was available for $479.99. I went to the store to buy it and they said they were out of it, but sent me to another store which had the laptops available. This other store was in Palo Alto, CA. That store had only two pieces of the laptop available that I was interested in, but both had the "firedog" service done on it. Circuit city charged me $39.99 for this firedog service. They supposedly had done following things on the laptop.

• Perform initial setup

• Run Microsoft updates

• Clean up icons & software

• Personalize desktop

• Set user-access controls

• 90-day guarantee

First of all they pretty much forced me into buying this service, as they never gave me an option to buy this laptop without the service. Now, in this service, they run through the intial setup of laptop and make a user named Owner. This is probably the easiest thing. Then they remove the only security feature of Vista i.e. User Access Control (UAC). Further they move all the desktop icons to a folder. They run Microsoft updates and then charge you $39.99 for it. They also supposedly 'optimize' the computer for faster boot up.

So I bought my laptop on Aug 22, and as soon as I switched it on in the store, it started downloading updates and the firedog people started giving me reasons that the computer was last updated on Aug 3, 2008 (I realized later that it was actually Mar 8). I said it doesn't matter, "if I am paying you $39.99, I need the service." They said you can sit here and we will do it for you, but will not refund the extra charge. I stopped arguing, bought the laptop and came home. Updated the computer with 23 updates. I was pissed and so I mailed Circuit City on their website as follows.



I bought a laptop on Aug 22, 2008 from Circuit city at E. Bayshore Road, Palo Alto, CA. The laptop model was ACER Aspire 5720-4126. The laptop was supposedly sold with firedog package that added $39.99 to the total cost of the laptop. I went to the store expecting a price of $479.99 as advertised on the web that day. There were only two laptops available on this model and, only on this store.

So, this firedog was forced onto me which I didn't want at first place itself. Further firedog service hadn't done things that it promised. It still had lots of freeware programs installed, the computer took about 2 minutes to boot, and the computer was not updated for more than 20 days.

In wake of these things, I think I was cheated for $39.99 by Circuit City, and I think it's done on a regular basis to all the customers. I would like to lodge a formal complaint in this regard and would appreciate a formal response from Circuit City. In next few days, I will post the picture of unwanted program from "uninstall program" and a video that shows the time taken by this laptop to boot on my blog, if my complaints are not taken seriously.


I got the following response:



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I did record a video that shows very normal time for Vista to shutdown and boot, and will upload it pretty soon. Well, couple of days later the computer told me that Vista Service Pack that was released in May was not installed either. Screenshot for update history is below.

Screenshot for Vista SP1 update is below.

I called the store, and the manager and the computer guy said either I can return my laptop, or take it to the store and they will update it for me. Frustrated, I called Circuit City at 1-800-THE-CITY, and nobody ever picked up the phone there. I finally called American Express to cancel the extra $39.99 that I paid to circuit city and now Amex will dispute that with Circuit City directly.

It is frustating to see how big stores like these dupe the customers for small things on regular basis. I am not sure if BBB (Better Business Bureau), does care about fraud of these small things.



  1. Congratulations on the new laptop! So how do you like Vista?

  2. Anuraag

    It is very difficult to find any company these days where they treat their customers well. Most of the time it is take the money and run.

    - Pankaj

  3. completely absurd how you justify a a reasonable laptop by the lowest price possible. It is a compilation of resource demanding software on the bare minimum specifications. Secondly, I investigated the $40 service that they provided. Being a capitalist I don't mind seeing a company making a profit on piece of equipment that has no profit margin. That have to pay their bills so you have an air conditioned store to browse in. Second Windows Updates are released often and it is your responsibility to maintain them after initial service, and if you are complaining about that then you shouldn't have a pc. The boot time of your computer was probably significantly reduced but since you decided to buy such a poorly built system you fail to realize you get what you pay for. In summation, Firedog tried to provide you a service that you ignorantly scoffed at and didn't pay for. The laptop you originally requested sold out very quickly and only the Pre-Optimized models were left. You also seemed unwilling to accept the fact that vista cannot run on 1GB of RAM. Next time do your research. FOOL.

  4. Hey Anonymous! Were you the manager at that store? No wonder Circuit city is bankrupt and closed.

    Next time do your research "How to deal with customers."

  5. No, I was no manager at a circuit city, nor was I affiliated with that company. I am an objective third party opinion who sees that you don't understand retail value. Just keep shopping at Walmart and brag to everyone how you got the lowest price... even if it is made in China and it breaks in a year. I say this of course with the pretense that you are an American Citizen working for USD.

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