Fry's War

I love to shop at Fry’s. I used to make sure I had an extra day in the Bay Area when I traveled there to shop at a few stores including Fry’s. Now we have one about a mile or two from my house. What a treat! Sort of.

I decided to buy a new CPU the other day — I had plans for the old one. Fry’s had their usual good deal, so I bought an AMD X2 5600+ and a fan. I popped it into the motherboard which has worked for some time and turned it on. All seemed well. But there was some disk problem booting XP. Must have wiggled a cable loose. After a few fidgets, it booted. Kind of. Several programs were unhappy. VirtualBox refused to run. Temperature monitoring showed the chip was at about 40C which is ok for a chip like this.

Next thing you know, the computer refused to POST. Ok, must be a defective CPU. I pulled the chip — the Arctic Silver was already getting pretty sticky — and took it back to Fry’s. The clerk insisted that the chip was damaged — bent pins and burn marks. I asked them to show them to me, but they couldn’t. But they refused to exchange the CPU. The manager (a very young woman) wasn’t helpful at all and was argumentative. So I left.

As many insurance companies and retailers will tell you, it isn’t nice to mess with me. I went back to the lab and put the chip under the microscope, taking pictures of all the pins and the surface area. Then I went back to the store with a 10X loupe in my pocket. There was a new crew at the service desk. It was only a few hours later, so I decided to just try again. This time, they looked at it, whipped out a motherboard, verified that it wouldn’t post, and gave me a new chip without the slightest trouble.

So beware. Customer service at Fry’s — as so many people have warned me about in the past — is luck of the draw.

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