Circuit City Back (Online), but Buyer Beware

Dennis Faas's picture

Circuit City has reopened as an online-only business under new management. However, it's brought in a tough, new returns policy which many consumers will consider a gamble.

One of the first major victims of the economic downturn, Circuit City went into liquidation last November. Its woes were cause by a combination of poor sales and bad timing: the firm's struggling business prompted wary creditors to offer much less generous terms. This stretched its cash flow to the point where it could no longer operate. Circuit City had already received threats that if its stock price continued to hover below the one dollar mark, it might be removed from the main stock exchange.

Circuit City $14 Million Deal Details

Following the closure, Circuit City's assets were sold off separately. PC retailer Systemax bought the rights to the name and brand, the website, and details of customers who'd been signed up to the original Circuit City site. Systemax originally offered $6.5 million, but the final purchase price was reportedly $14 million. (Source:

Though Systemax recently reopened 16 CompUSA stores after buying out that chain, it doesn't appear interested in reopening Circuit City retail sites. Instead it has opted for an exclusively online business, in what appears to be a re-branded version of its existing online retailer, Tiger Direct.

User Information Marketing Opt Out

There are some important legal notes for both past and future Circuit City online customers. Those who are already registered on Circuit City's system have until June 9 to request that their personal data, including past purchases, are removed from Systemax's system, which can be done at:

Note that credit card details will not be passed on to Systemax.

Refunds Rarer Under New Management

Those who shop at the new site should be aware that it has much more stringent return policies than the original Circuit City. For non-defective items (such as unwanted gifts), the site now reserves the right to refuse a return. If it does accept a return, it will charge a 15% restocking fee and will decide itself whether to refund the consumer in cash or with store credit.

No Returns Under Any Circumstance

For products from a range of major manufacturers including Compaq, IBM, HP, Toshiba and Epson, the new Circuit City site does not accept returns under any circumstances, and products must be sent to the original manufacturer. Buyers should also make sure to keep the UPC sticker on their product as even defective products must be returned to the manufacturer rather than the site if they do not have the sticker. (Source:

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