- Internet book seller

Amazon claims to be the worlds largest bookstore. I needed a book, and I decided to try them out. I ordered the book at around 8pm at night, and selected standard shipping. Two days later, the book was at my door. Less than 48 hours from ordering to delivery. That sure was fast!

More recently, I ordered a hard drive from them, as mine had failed. Less than a month later, the price dropped by $25. I called them up and they credited my account for $25. They really are the gold standard for e-commerce.

Barnes and Noble - Internet book seller

I ordered two HP TouchPads from Barnes and Noble. The order went through, and I thought I got a great deal. About a day later I got an email from them saying

We are writing to you regarding your recent Barnes & Noble order for "HP TouchPad Tablet with 16GB Memory".

Due to unexpected customer demand for this item, our inventory was depleted prior to your order being processed so we are unable to fulfill this item as requested. Consequently, we have canceled your order and you will not be billed for this amount.

You may see an authorization on your credit or debit card for the order, but please be assured you will not be charged. The authorization will be released in accordance with your bank's policies.

We sincerely regret any inconvenience that this may have caused.

Perhaps they don't know to count. The problem is the TouchPad was selling out quickly, and I assumed that since the order was accepted, that I would really be getting a TouchPad. If the order had not gone through, I would have tried to get it elsewhere. I have a hard time understanding how they could tell people their order was accepted, when they were not keeping track of their inventory. Have you ever seen an 'out of stock' for an item? Do they not have a real-time inventory system? Is this a professional sales company, or is this amateur hour? I guess the answer is now clear. I cannot imagine Amazon selling something that they didn't have in stock. Time for Barnes and Nobel to learn how to play with the big boys. They didn't even offer me some kind of compensation for their cluelessness. - Internet book seller

Borders started out as a conventional bookstore. I guess after seeing Amazon's success, they wanted a piece of the market. For some reason that escapes me, they sent me a $5 off coupon. I needed another book, and Amazon and Borders had similar prices, so I thought, "duh, they must all be alike, I will save five big ones", and I ordered from Borders.

So I got some email from them, the next day saying the following:
Thank you for ordering from
Due to temporary system problems, we've been unable to ship your order in a timely manner. Your order information and titles affected are listed below:
Your order will be shipped just as soon as we have resolved these issues. We're sorry that we failed to meet the usual high standards for customer service for which we're known. As a token of our regret, we will be sending you a Gift Certificate for $5.00, which you can redeem online at only. (We're unable to accept it for Borders store purchases at the present time).

Well, I wasn't in a big rush for the book, so I thought no big deal.

Well, the book finally arrived, and so did another $5 off coupon. Well, don't you know, I needed another book, and there was that $5 coupon... So I placed another order with them. I ordered a book on neurology that cost $70. It was close to the same price at Amazon, and I had that $5 coupon. The book was listed in stock, and I specified the standard shipping. I ordered the book Saturday morning, may-29-1999. Now there is a US holiday on Monday, but I thought that I the book would be shipped before Monday.

Now Borders claims to have a stated on "many pages on their site" that:

...all orders placed on Friday the 28th with US standard shipping would be sent out on Saturday, but due to the Holiday weekend any orders placed between Saturday and Monday would not be shipped until Tuesday.

I don't doubt that they had this on many pages on their site, but I sure didn't notice it. So I am not blameless. Well, on Wednesday, I got some more email from them, saying they had shipped the book. I was a bit miffed. Wednesday isn't Tuesday. And I needed the book. I was a fool, and I should have ordered from Amazon. I called up Borders. They said that perhaps the book was in stock when I ordered it, but perhaps between the time that I saw it was in stock, and the time I placed the order, someone else had bought it. Seemed unlikely to be, for a book on neurology, and a time span of 3 minutes or so.

They never explained why they shipped the book on Wednesday, but they were kind enough to refund my the shipping cost. So, from the time I ordered the book, to the time they shipped the book was 5 days. A carrier pigeon would have been faster. So I thought it would show up in a day or two... On Saturday Jun-05-1999, I sent them email asking where my book was, and when it would show up. They said that it takes 3 - 7 business days for shipping. On Monday Jun-07-1999 they said the book should arrive tomorrow, Jun-08-1999, and gave me an UPS tracking number. Well, guess what? No book. I called them, and told them that if the book didn't arrive by Wednesday, Jun-09-1999, that I didn't want it.

Well, sure enough on Wednesday, 12 days after I ordered the book, it arrived. It was 6 business days after they shipped the book. They sat on the book for 5 days, due to the holiday and their corporate policy not to ship until Tuesday after the holiday.

Now I live in a suburb of a major city, which is not exactly the middle-of-nowhere. If Amazon can get me a book in 2 days, I find it hard to understand how Borders takes 6 days for a similar package. I have ordered lots of stuff from all over the country, and typical delivery times are 2 - 3 days via UPS. It is quite rare for it to take more than 4 days.

I am not impressed. The advantage to buying something over the Internet, is that you don't have to wait until a store opens. Now I don't expect every mom-and-pop shop that has a web page to order stuff on to really be staffed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. However, if you want to play with the big boys, need as good service as they have. So Borders has lost one small customer, and I will stick with the serious player, Better selection, similar prices, and no sissy excuses for taking two weeks to get a book.

Fry's and Thanksgiving Meltdown 2017

You would think Frys would learn from all of their past mistakes. You would be wrong. I decided to order some stuff today. I put some items in my shopping cart, or tried to. The site melted down and would not reload. I restarted my browser a few times and cursed nameless gods. Finally I got the two items in my shopping cart. I then applied the discount code. Only the discount code wouldn't work. Sometimes it said there were no items that the code supplied to, sometimes it would say nothing. So I decided to log into my Frys account. That deleted all the items from my cart. I put them back in again. The advertised free shipping did not show up. I tried a third time, and I was able to get the free shipping. Nothing I could do would allow me to get the discount codes to work. I called their phone support, but they were off for Thanksgiving. I ordered anyway, and I will have to call them and try to get the discount codes applied. I am not sure that will work, but I do know Amex will back me if Frys won't honor their own ads. This is not the first time their discount codes have not worked. All of this is very complicated, if we were in 1980 - but we are not. None of this is the least bit complicated in 2017. I gave a reseller rating to Frys after the order. It did not go well for them.

Where are the rebates associated with the two items I purchased? They are not on the web page for the items, where they belong. One of them has a link in the order email. Where is the other one? It is not like this is a big surprise, as the sale was advertised a week ahead of time. Any competent web site should have the rebate form available.

Like a fool, I tried again. The good news is the promo codes work. The bad news is the items are out of stock. I was hoping to place a new order with the correct price and cancel my previous order with the incorrect price. No joy. At least I have a order for the items, though the price is wrong. What an unprofessional experience.

So I called on Friday. I spent 1.5 hours on hold before speaking to a person. The person tried to be helpful but was a bit clueless. It took about 10 minutes to locate the items that were on sale on Thursday. They were eventually located, and he said he had to speak to a supervisor and would call me back. After about an hour, he actually called back and said that I would get credited for the promo code amounts. It took 4 days to get an email from Fry's saying they had posted a credit to my credit card.

It is now a week later, and I have not gotten my items. I checked on the website, looking for tracking info. There is tracking info, but it is invalid. No idea where my items are. I am on hold again with Fry's to see if my order ever got shipped. I have been on hold for well over an hour, and I am still listening to their silly hold music. The estimated hold time was 11 minutes.. Well I finally spoke to a person. They knew nothing. They did not know the shipping company, the correct tracking number, or when the package would arrive. It is entertaining that the first phone menu allows you to select issues with promo codes, so clearly their promo code system is seriously broken.

Fry's and July 4th Meltdown 2016

You would think I would learn. Or you would think that Fry's would fix their web site. You would be wrong. I tried to place an order on their web site today. Well, you can't with Firefox. There are a variety of errors. Using Firefox, I added an item to my cart. When I viewed the cart, I got the message "The shopping cart is empty." Using Chrome, you can add a item to the cart. When you try to view the cart you get the message "In order to Complete Your Request, Cookies Must be Enabled". It seems that you can only buy stuff if you use Internet Explorer. That is a clever strategy, especially if you have something like a smart phone or a mac.

Using Internet Explorer, I tried to place an order. It crashed multiple times (with a fully patched IE 11). It let me place an order, and then crashed without placing the order, after I finished placing the order. It told me the items were out of stock. It finally did place the order, but the arrival date mysterously changed from around Jul-10 to Jul20. I eventually did get a confirmation email for the last time I placed the order. So I decided to cal customer service. Ecentaully I was able to speak to someone who admitted that the web site was having issues. They did say that both items I ordered were out of stock (though the web site said they were both in stock). The estimated arrival of the parts at Fry's was Jul-11, and they would ship them after they arrived. I asked them to upgrade my shipping because the arrival date was not what I had agreed to. They said that onee an order was placed there was no way to change the shipping. You would think that sites that did e-commerce online would have a site that worked on multiple browsers, didn't crash, and had an accuratre idea of what was in stock. You would think that customer support would be able to address any issues that came up. In the case of, you would be wrong.

Fry's and Black Friday Meltdown 2014

It is Black Friday 2014. is starting their online sale at 5am. The website is working fine. I am able to add items to my shopping cart and log in. Frys sent out secret promotion code for each email address that subscribed to their mailing list. You need the promotion codes to get the discounts on the sales items. Using several email addresses, I had several promotion codes. Sometimes during the process of ordering the codes worked and sometimes they did not. It was very frustrating and time consuming. There is no way I mistyped the codes, as I was cutting and pasting them from the email. When I try to enter my credit card CVV, I get an error message. Sometimes everything in my cart goes away, sometimes I get logged out. I try several times with several browsers. I am able to capture some screenshots showing the items in my cart. I call the support line. It has melted also. After a few hours, I am able to speak to someone. They say their site is down. I ask when it will come back up, and they have no idea. I ask if they will honor the items in my cart from my screenshots (as Tiger Direct did in 2012 after a bunch of emails and phone calls) and says they won't. Eventually the site comes back up, and the items I wanted are 'unavailable' for shipping as well as store pickup. Their site shouldn't melt for black friday. Amazon, Target, and others worked well. Given their problems they should have honored the screenshot I had, but they didn't.

I decided to go to the store, Thursday at 5pm when they opened. I got a few items, and I presented my discount codes. They didn't work. It wasn't just me. Everyone seemed to be having the same problem. Even the Frys employees that were generating new codes sometimes had them work, and sometimes they didn't work. Clearly there were serious problems with the codes. I got to wait in line about 20 minutes to get a Kindle reader (at a good price). It then took me another 20 minutes or so to get a discount code from the Frys employees that worked in order to get the discount price. If you are going to do special stuff that requires computer interaction for Black Friday, the biggest shopping day of the year, you need to test the special stuff to be sure it will work when you need it. Someone near me walked away after complaining loudly about waiting 5 hours and being unable to get what they want. I am sure they were not the only dissatisfied customer.

I noticed an electric charging station with a parking space really close to the entrance. I parked my plug in Prius there, hoping to get a charge. upon closer examination, one of the cords has a broken connector on it, and could not be used. The other cord had an inductive charging paddle, which was used for the GM EV-1, which stopped production around 1999. It is also used for the Rav 4 EV which was sold during 2002. According to Wikipedia, there are almost 500 in use. So if you have one of them, you could use one of the charging stations. I asked the manager what was going on with the charging stations. He said they would be fixed, but not any time soon. He also said Frys would charge $3 an hour to use them. $3 will buy roughly 15-30 KWH at market rates. I have used several charging stations, but they have always been free. That might be an ok deal for a Tesla, if the station can put out 30 kilowatts per hour and the car stays there for an hour. Otherwise, is a bad deal. Of course having a charging station for the Rav 4 2002 is nice, but the other parking spot is useless.

Fry's sells used stuff marked as new

I have heard for many years from multiple reliable sources that Fry's sells used or returned stuff marked as new. I have seen some stuff with returned labels on the box, so you know that stuff was returned. I have not had direct evidence of it until now. I bought a Panasonic microwave from Fry's. It looked new. The box showed no evidence of having been opened. However, there was quite a lot of noise when I moved the box, as if the contents were shifting. When I opened the box, I found the glass rotating plate inside the microwave, was in fact inside the microwave and bounding around. It turns out that when you buy a new Panasonic microwave, the glass plate is mounted in the Styrofoam that holds the microwave, and is not inside the microwave unit. Unless gremlins moved if from the Styrofoam to inside the microwave, it was a returned unit. Shame on you, Fry's.

Harbor Freight

I have bought a bunch of stuff over the years from Harbor Freight. Most of their products are of reasonable quality. When I have had issues, I returned the items. For example, their car strut compressor seems like a very dangerous design, because some 5/8 inch bolts bend and look ready to snap. On May-27-2013, I bought some tire pressure gauges. One of them broke in half. I switched to a different one, that works fine. On Dec-06-2013 I decided to return the broken one, so I drove to the store where I bought it, hoping to exchange it. I had the packaging, which included a sheet of paper stapled to it showing a 1 year warranty. The salesperson said they didn't accept returns or exchanges after 90 days. I asked to speak to the manager. He said the same thing. I pointed to the 1 year warranty paper, and he said that really meant 90 days. I said it was pretty simple, and it said 1 year. He said I could contact the manufacturer (thought the warranty said "Harbor Freight Tools Co. makes every effort to ensure that its products meet high quality and Durability standards, and warrants to the original purchaser that this product is free from defects in materials and workmanship for the period of one year from the date of purchase." He suggested I could call I was really quite unimpressed with the salesperson and the managers professionalism. I had merchandise which was clearly a harbor freight product. I showed them that it had broken in half. I had the paper with the warranty on it. I didn't have the receipt, but I asked them to look it up from their system. They said they couldn't look up any purchase over 90 days old.

So, after returning home, on Dec-06-2013 I called They said they would open a complaint against the store manager, and that the field supervisor would contact me within 24-48 hours. I said I didn't care about a complaint, I just wanted them to honor their warranty. I was never contacted. On Dec-10-2013, I called again. I was told there was no record of me contacting them about the issue. I was also told that the warranty on the item 92142 (the tire pressure gauge) was only 90 days (which is what their website showed). I said that when I bought it, it had a 1 year warranty stapled to the packaging. They seemed to not really believe me, and suggested that I contact '' and include a copy of the warranty. So there are two problems. One is that the record of my phone call from Dec-09 'got lost'. This is not how you handle customer interactions. I was told I would be contacted, but I never was. The other issue is they didn't really believe me that the warranty was 1 year.

So I sent an email to on Dec-10. I got an automated reply stating A Customer Service Representative is reviewing your email and will respond as soon as possible. Please do not reply to this email directly. It has been over 7 business days, and I have heard nothing back. I was hoping for a timely response. I wonder if I will ever hear from them? Right now, I cannot recommend purchasing anything from Harbor Freight. It is clear that they do not honor their warranties, and that they 'lose' customer complaints. Also their sales staff are quite unhelpful at best. Of course, the field supervisor has not contacted me.

So I called them Dec-20-2013. After a while, they said they would give me a new one for free, but there would be a shipping charge of over $6. This is not a real good deal for me, as the tire pressure gauge cost 2.99, but is now on sale for 0.99. I asked when I would get a reply to the email, and they wouldn't tell me.

I finally got a reply to the email I sent Dec-10-2013. It said We have forwarded your request to the appropriate District Manager. Please allow 24-72 hours for a response. And I had given up on them completely...

On Dec-23-3013, I got another email, this time from the Store Manager. It said My name is <redacted>; I am the store manager of Harbor Freight Tools in <redacted>. I am truly sorry to hear of the trouble you had while attempting to exchange a defective tire pressure gauge. I am aware of the warranty stapled to the package and you are absolutely correct that the warranty is for one year from the date of purchase. I would be happy to exchange this gauge for you. Please feel free to give me a call at your earliest convenience so that I can discuss this matter with you. If I am not available, please ask to speak to either <redacted>. I have explained this situation to them and they aware of what needs to be done to get you taken care of. Once again I apologize for the inconvenience.

I called to verify they knew who I was, and they said they did. I drove down there, and exchanged the defective tire pressure gauge. The new one had the same '1 year warranty' form stapled to the back of the packaging. It is unfortunate that I had to go to such great lengths to get Harbor Freight to honor their warranty. At least they did. It would have been nice if they mailed me one, after the hassle I went through. Of course, it would have been ideal if they honored the warranty when I first went to the store with the defective tire pressure gauge. I didn't have my receipt, but I had assumed they could look it up. It seems they only keep records for 90 days. I had a car battery that failed, that I bought at Costco. Just giving them my membership number, they looked up the purchase even though it was 8 years ago. So it wasn't crazy for me to assume that Harbor Freight could keep records for seven months. So keep your receipts from Harbor Freight.

I was using my Harbor Freight tire pressure gauge, and it broke into two pieces. I use the gauge a few times a year. The gauge is made out of plastic. I used a different gauge which is made out of aluminum which I probably bought in 1997. I cannot recommend Harbor Freight tire pressure gauges, as they clearly are junk.

Tiger Direct

It is Black Friday 2012. Tiger Direct started their sale at midnight. I put 3 items in my shopping cart, including an OCZ Vertex 3 hard drive. I proceeded to checkout. It ended up talking 100 minutes. After I paid with my credit card, when I got the confirmation message, the hard drive was not in my cart, but 2 webcams were. I did add one webcam to my order in the 100 minutes it took to checkout, in order to get the total to $100, which would give me free shipping. Somehow two of them got in my 'shopping cart'. What is worse, is the hard drive disappeared after I paid for it. Amazon didn't have a meltdown with its web site during Black Friday. Neither did Newegg. Any serious e-commerce site needs to deal with peak loads, and not cause delays and not screw up orders. Tiger Direct failed on two counts. Clearly they are not a serious e-commerce company. I sent them email explaining the problem. I did get an automated response. I called them in the morning, and after about 20 minutes on hold, I was told that the item was no longer in stock, and there was nothing they could do about it. During my 100 minute wait, I even got a screen shot of my shopping cart. The customer service person didn't care. By the way, some of the error messages I got indicated they were running Microsoft IIS, which is rarely a good sign...

They replied to my email saying things like "Upon checking it shows that the OCZ Vertex 3 120gb drive was not included. There is also request for stop shipment and order was not release." I am not sure what "not release" means. Then they said "We are sorry for the inconvenience and annoyance this incident caused. Thank you again for your comments. We hope that you will give us another chance to serve you." That means I wasn't getting my order. Then I got another email saying "We understand that you are looking to purchase the OCZ drive and wants to purchase 3. Please be advised that you have the option to place the order over the phone. You just have to call 1-800-800-8300. We can check if that is still in stock if you can provide the item number." I found it very amusing that my order of an OCZ Vertex 3 120gb hard drive somehow transformed into 3 OCZ drives. Perhaps they have a hard time reading? In any event I called, and they said sure the drive is in stock. It is only $109.99 (with free shipping). I said that was nice, but when I ordered it it was $50, and that is the price I had agreed to pay. After sending them a screen shot of my order in the shopping cart, and being on hold for a few minutes, they finally agreed to sell it to me for $50. I was actually pleasantly surprised. Perhaps replying to their emails helped.

So Black Friday 2013 rolls around. There is nothing really worthwhile at Tiger Direct except some 32gb usb thumb drives which are $4.99 each. Now, this is a pretty good price. In 2012, I bought some sandisk 32 gb thumb drives for $10 each, so $4.99 was a better deal. I ordered six of them, and paid with a credit card. One and a half days latter, I get an email Unfortunately, the item you ordered H19-2049 - HP 32GB v125w USB Flash Drive was listed with an incorrect price. We are therefore declining acceptance of this order and it is in the process of being cancelled. ... Please accept our most sincere apologies for the error and any inconvenience it may cause. I am glad they are sincerely apologizing. I called them, and said I wanted them to honor my order. They said too bad, I could get some other 32gb thumb drives for a lot more money. I said I wanted the $5 flash drives. They told me there were some 2gb flash drives I could buy for $5 each. I know price mistakes happen. A good company like Amazon, Newegg, or Walmart will honor their price mistakes as the cost of doing business, and no doubt will do something to minimize such mistakes in the future. A bad company, such as Tiger Direct will wait over a day, and than say tough luck, sucker. One would think that they would check their prices carefully at all times, and especially during Black Friday. In the case of Tiger Direct, not so much.

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