Info ~ travel musings for the masses

We all enjoy finding bargains or deals when shopping, especially on more expensive electronics gear. What I experienced last night at Fry’s may change your mind what’s really a bargain and what will cause more headache than money savings.

I bought a router from Fry’s about a month ago and finally had some time to play with it this past weekend. The router in question is a Netgear WNR3500L, a gigabit router with a USB port for an external harddrive. I specifically bought this router because it had the ability to network a USB drive.

After playing with the router, I found that it was not able to actually mount the drive and make it viewable on our home network. I troubleshot it and was still not able to get it to work. The internet worked great on it but the different harddrives I plugged-in just would not show up. I decided to take it back last night, so I packed it up and drove to Fry’s.

The girl who processed my return seemed nice at the beginning of our conversation, but I soon realized that it was too good to be true. She took everything out of the box to make sure it was all there, then compared serial numbers, that’s fine with me. Then it took a turn for the weird. I explained that the networking features worked fine on it but it was unable to mount a harddrive. She proceeded to pick up the router and look at each port on the back. What she was looking for, I’ll never know. Maybe she thought it was an NES and I had tried to blow in the back of it like a game cartridge.

Apparently my explanation for why I was returning it was acceptable and she printed a sticker, an open box/restocked sticker with a new price, $95.99, and stuck it on the box. This confused me, so I inquired as to whether or not Fry’s would flash the operating system of the router to reset it and then test it. The employee looked up at me and with a straight face said, “They will plug it in and make sure it lights up”. Wow. I replied, “But the USB port either doesn’t work or something is wrong with the firmware”. She continued doing her work and did not reply. My receipt was handed to me and I watched as she took the router, halfway in its box into a restocking room, where she dropped the router, then stuffed it back in the box.

The moral of the story is, do not buy restocked items at Fry’s unless there is a well documented return policy for the item. I should also mention that I purchased the router for $99, so the restocking “savings” is really only $3.01. Is it worth $3 to possibly get a non-functioning, dropped, piece of electronics?



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  1. March 31, 2010

    This is why I rarely buy from “big box” electronics stores. I might scope out some products, but I buy them from Amazon, B&H or Crutchfield. At least then I know two things:

    1. I’m getting a brand new product in pristine condition
    2. If I have *ANY* problems with it I can just box it up and return it for a full refund

    And as a bonus, the associates at Crutchfield and B&H are EXPERTS at what they are selling. You want to talk dSLR lenses at B&H, you get a photographer (probably part-time professional photographer) who knows his stuff. You want speakers for your home stereo system, call Crutchfield and you’ll be able to talk with someone who actually understands what all those confusing specs are and can translate them into human-speak. Oh, and they don’t work on commission.

    Much different experience than the cocky 16-year-olds at Best Buy and Fry’s that will tell you whatever you want to hear just to make a quick commission.

  2. Dave #
    January 27, 2015

    I just tried buying a soldering station online for in store pickup and when the confirmation email came in, it said “Your order for this OPEN BOX ITEM has been confirmed”. I thought, what the hell? There was no mention of me possibly getting an open box item during the ordering process. I called and the rep claimed that the only way they do that is if they run out of a new product of said items. I was offered no discounts or any attempt to rectify the situation and instead I was told “this item says in-store only, so it’s unlikely that we will be carrying it anymore”. I told them just to cancel my order because I wasn’t buying an open box item with potential problems.

    Be weary of OPEN BOX items, as they were likely returned due to malfunction. It baffles me how frys can resell broken items instead of sending them back to the manufacturer.

  3. Chandler #
    July 17, 2015

    I took a gamble at buying a used 120gb ssd for $20 off the normal price. So far so good the ssd has been my main boot drive for about a month now and no problem. I realize how much of a gamble this was but there was a 30 day money back guarantee so why not. (AMD Radeon R7 Series 120GB 2.5-Inch)

  4. Scott Krants #
    July 23, 2016

    I had the same issue with my netgear nighthawk for get which model. I had the hardest time getting it to recognize the external drive. Turned out it was a simple (yet kind of hidden) setting in the router settings itself.

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