As a Catholic I know I am not supposed to hate, but I hate radio shack. Hate it.

Bear with me. My Sirius Radio was on the fritz. I called the support line and the young man on the phone told me I needed to get a new antenna. I informed him that my radio had full bars but would get stuck with the message “acquiring signal.” After a full fifteen seconds of diagnosis the young man insisted it was the antenna. I told him I didn’t think so.

“Sir,” he said condescendingly “you need a new antenna. If you don’t get a new antenna I cannot help you!”

“Fine!”, says I. “Where can I pick one up?”

“Any Radio Shack should have them,” came the reply.


I hate Radio Shack. It seems I cannot go in to a Radio Shack with getting into an argument. I value independence and privacy. Radio Shack is determined to strip these from you. In many ways, Radio Shack is a microcosm of everything wrong with America these days. Let me tell you my tale(s) and then you may understand where I am coming from.

Let’s go back one year to the last time I went to Radio Shack. I was going on a trip and I lost my USB cable that I use to charge my Blackberry and I was leaving that night. I was near a Radio Shack and against my better judgment I went there to get it. I mean it was just a USB cable after all, should be simple enough.

I walked in the door and a pimply faced nineteen year old kid bounded up to me. “Welcome to Radio Shack, how can I help you?”

“Ok, where are your USB cables?”, I asked.

“What is it for sir, is it for a camera, a phone, or a printer?”, asks the kid.

“Its actually for a phone, but that doesn’t really matter. Can you just tell me where the USB cables are?”

“What kind of phone is it sir?”

“Listen son. Can you just tell me where the USB cables are?”

“Well sir, not all phones use the same kind of cable. Not all phones even use USB cables. If you don’t tell me what kind of phone you have I can’t help you!”

My voice rising I said, “You can help me by answering my question. Where are the USB cables?”

Now the manager, hearing my voice growing louder, comes over to smooth the situation. “Hello sir, can I help you?”

“I hope so. I asked your fella here four times but he refuses to answer what I think thinkis a rather simple question. Where are your USB cables?” I said rather tersely (which anyone who has known me for more than five minutes knows is an understatement.)

“What is the cable for?”, asked the manager.

At that point I nearly lost my mind. I eventually just walked away from them and found the cables myself. Since this was not my first such encounter at the Shack, I have avoided going back there. Sworn it off actually. However, since the Sirius support guy had told me that I could pick up the antenna at any RS and I had been without my radio for weeks, I figured I would brave those waters again. That was a mistake.

The Sirius guy told me that I could get the antenna at any Radio Shack. I went to five different stores and, of course, none of them had it. On Friday I went to my sixth store. I asked the young lady if they had it in stock and she informed that they did not.

“However sir, there is a basic Sirius Radio that comes with a car kit and it actually costs the same as just the antenna, so you are better off getting it just in case the antenna is not your problem,” she helpfully informed me.

“Well, that sounds great. I will take that,” I said, relieved I had finally made some progress.

“Oh, ummm, we don’t have that either, sorry”

“Are you kidding me?”

“Well sir, if you give me a moment I will check with some other stores in the area to see if they have it. While I tried to keep my cool she made a few calls. Ten minutes later she told that there was a store only ten minutes away that had them in stock. I thanked her and made my way over to the other store.

When I got to the other store a sales guy closing in on fifty, as energetically as the nineteen year old pimply faced kid, bounded up to me. “Welcome to Radio Shack, how may I help you?”

I started to explain the situation but all I got back was a deer in the headlights, so rather than do a question and answer session I said, “Can you show me where your Sirius radios are?” And to my great relief the response I wanted came “right over here sir.”

I found the model I was looking for and went to the counter to purchase it. I was so close to a clean getaway. But it was not to be. The guy went through what seemed to be a ten minute login procedure at the register before even scanning the item. Then he finally scanned it.

“May I have your address and telephone sir?”

“No thank you. I don’t give out my private information.” There are many reasons why I don’t wish to give out this type of information. In this age of identity theft and telemarketers, it is just my policy. Besides, its simply none of their business.

“Uh, sir. I need this information,” came the puzzled response.

“I don’t think you do and I am not giving it to you. I just want to make this purchase and be on my merry way. Ok?”

“Ok sir.” then some more typing, “Oh see here sir, the computer is asking for it.”

“But I am not giving it you.” said I. Truly trying to muster all the patience I could while sticking to my guns.

“But the computer says you have to!”

“Look, I don’t care what the computer says. I am trying to make a $39 purchase with cash. I am not giving you any personal information in order to do that. This seems pretty simple. Enter in whatever information you want but I am not giving you my address or my telephone number.”

“Ok sir. Why don’t you just give me your cell phone number then?”

“Are you kidding me? Look. I am not giving you any, ANY personal information. Why don’t you just put in the address and number for the store if you need to put something in?”

Flustered he began to type and then abruptly stopped. Unsure of the phone number of the store, he took out his wallet searching in vain for a business card that would have the number he so desperately sought. Now really getting agitated he yelled for a colleague to help him out.

“Jim, what is the store number?”

“51290” came Jim’s response.

“NO NO. Not the store number! The store TELEPHONE NUMBER!”

Completely unhelpfully Jim responded, “Why do you need it?”

The Radio Shack guy now was coming completely unglued and he yelled at Jim, “This guy won’t give me his phone number and the computer is making me put in a phone number!”

Unaffected by the outburst, Jim responded casually “Well just put in the store phone number then.”


Even more casually if that were possible, Jim responded with the number. The sales guy typed the number in and finally got passed the screen which had tormented him so. Then, his whole mood turning on a dime, he looked up from his terminal at me. His eyes locked on mine and then without the least bit of irony or self awareness said “Sir, would you like to purchase the extended warranty with that?”

With all the Dirty Harry I could muster, I very quietly responded, “No.”

I finally completed my purchase and returned to my car. I pulled the antenna from the kit and plugged it in to my radio, turned it on, and then sunk low in my chair as the radio displayed an unchanged “Acquiring signal.”

I called Sirius up again and chewed an innocent technicians ear off for ten minutes after which he told me, “Well sir, acquiring signal never means the antenna is bad. It means the radio is bad. You can pick up a replacement at Radio Shack.”

* * *

So what is the point of this ridiculous tale? I suspect that this is exactly what Government run health care and the ACORN run census will be like, on a good day. Caveat Emptor.