Saturday, June 14, 2014

Scuttlebutt on Cellphone Shack (RadioShack) from Reddit Thread $RSH

A few stories about Radio Shack business model and employee experience from a Reddit thread (a year ago):

  • "I went in to a Radio Shack recently and asked for heat sink compound, and the 20 something guy behind the counter looked at me like I was speaking a foreign language. 'It's something you put on a heat sink to help it conduct heat... Like when you put a new processor in a computer...' His eyes got really big like he'd never heard of someone working on their own computer, and seemed shocked that I would even think that Radio Shack would have such things."
  • "They did it on the sly though, dangit. It's a game of Will This One Have It? when I go to a Radio Shack. The one closest to me used to carry all the assorted do-it-yourself parts, but turned into one of the cell-phone kiosks which also sells small televisions and radios. It's frustrating. It'd be like going into a Walmart only to find out that they were only going to sell furniture and hobby supplies, and force an oil change on you just for walking in."
  • "We aren't trained to know about anything in the store except cellphones. Upper management does not care about selling resistors or capacitors. They want us to be able to transition any sale into a wireless sale. 'Hey, while you're looking at the parts, do you mind if I check your cellphone upgrade? I can send you a $5 giftcard, even if you're not eligible.' That kind of shit. It's a terribly run business and being an employee there is terrible."
  • "As a former employee of Radio Shack, I can confirm this. Our DM would come in every other week and drill us on how to turn a battery sale into a phone sale; if we did happen to get a phone sale (my store was tiny, we were lucky to get one a week until the holiday season kicked in) we HAD to attach X amount of items and insurance for the phone and any of the attachment items that qualified for insurance. If we didn't harass our customers for this extra stuff that they usually didn't need or more often than not couldn't afford, we got reamed by our store manager or the DM would call and question us about what went 'wrong.' Nothing went wrong, the customer saw how useless our insurance was compared to their own phone company's insurance, used their brain, and told me no. Or, since the company decided to put a store in the poorest area in this town, they just can't afford anything else."
  • "They literally expect their employees to turn EVERY sale into a wireless sale. Literally there is no excuse for not turning every sale into a wireless sale. When the district managers would come into the store to 'show us how it's done' they would bug the hell out of every single customer about their cell phones. I can't tell you how many people walked out."
A correspondent writes:
"Kind of sounds like Best Buy circa 2012. You can understand the cell phone focus given the value of those sales when you throw in the spiff or the monthly vig from the carrier….far more valuable than the GM on anything else in the store, but when you piss off your customers in the process, you’ve lost your way. I don’t think anyone in management, for a very long time, has had a vision for the type of customer they can serve better than anyone else.  We’ll see if these guys are any better."
Also from the reddit thread:
  • "I worked at a RadioShack in a low income area. Often I would spend 30-45 minutes explaining how to fix someone's problem. With a promise of them saying they'll be back when they get paid. They would often just go to Wal-Mart and get it cheaper."
  • "We had code for rental returns. We would say 'oh it came back it was Rent-A-Shack' Super Bowl was the worst time with TV antennas. Sell them on the weekend leading up to the bowl, then have a million returned through the following week."
Our correspondent observes,
"Which is just weak management.  You put policies in place to protect against that kind of stuff.  Put on a restocking fee the week before the superbowl.  "
You can tell from the inventory turns and sales/employee that free cell phone tutoring is a problem with the business.


GlennC said...

I feel like it kind of makes sense for them to transition away from resistors and capacitors. Building radios as a hobby used to be a thing. It is now no longer a thing. Not a lot of people are interested in building or repairing electronics. The overall market for that stuff at the consumer level seems to have shrunk dramatically. The people who care about that stuff (like my dad) are buying most of their parts online from individuals on eBay.

CP said...

They transitioned away from electronic parts a long time ago, after integrated circuitry made them pointless.

They are now basically a cell phone store. If you read the previous post from disgruntled employees, all that management cares about is pushing cell phones.

Unfortunately for them, there is a glut of retailers selling cell phones. The carriers all have their own stores. Apple stores. Grocery stores. Bodegas and money remittance places. Best Buy. Wal Mart. Online. Soon Amazon will probably have a phone.

What niche does Radio Shack have in selling cell phones? It seems like they are best at giving unpaid cell phone tutorials to old people and fresh off the boat immigrants.