The Consumerist is featuring a neat expose on Circuit City as told by a former employee.
Some of this stuff is scary familiar:
1. When buying any product, expect the salesmen to tell you that after around 13 months, a certain part or battery will need replacing. The common manufacturers warranty only covers 12 months parts and labor, so the customer is pushed to buy the extended warranty under the impression it will fail later…
20. If you don't get the accidental coverage on the item you just purchased that's coming from the warehouse, it may be "accidentally" dropped a few times. It's believed that when the customer comes back in with the messed up computer, that they will then opt for the coverage.
And this one is what literally happened in the store I worked in (and that was back in 2001):
25. Circuit City has laid off over 4 thousand employees recently to hire cheaper workers. They fired associates who were highly ranked in sales and service, and paid well for that reason.
Except that they didn't fire people specifically, they just brought in a new manager to make everyone so miserable they quit.
Most notable is the dirty tactics that salespeople will resort to even when they're "not on commission":
4. Every salesman is ranked by the number of protection plans (or extended warranties) that they sell. At my store all the time we would throw on scratch protection plans to CD's, since they're only a buck, most people don't notice. During the $9.99 CD special days, customers who weren't aware of the sale were easy prey.
13. When looking at computers, make sure that the tag you're looking at matches the floor model you're testing. We often would only put the faster computers on display that looked the same, so the customer would think that they're getting this fast computer when in reality, it's for the tag 3 feet away, and it's twice the price.
18. I've seen in the past of people hiding the less expensive speaker wires for car or home theater, or other such cables in the back warehouse. This makes customers buy the more expensive cables, assuming it's all there is.
26. Stores will keep great coupons such as "$10 off when you spend $100" up at customer service next to our ads that we give out. Sometimes they're only for the next week, encouraging that you come back Also almost everyday we were given a 10% off coupon to keep in our pocket in case we needed to give a discount to close a sale, making it look like we're making some special deal for them when really, it's just a plain old coupon that they could have brought.
The thing that Circuit City knows that most people might not is that you don't have to have a commissioned salesforce to make them into ruthless salespeople. Just threaten their job and keep applying more and more pressure to management to get the right "numbers" and it will trickle down.