CompuSmart Sucks!

I just attempted to give CompuSmart some money. I arranged my afternoon so that Evan and I could take the bus from our house to the Giant Congregation of Strip Malls known as Crowfoot Crossing, so we could trek to the local CompuSmart store to pick up a USB headset, and possibly an Apple keyboard.

I did my research. I went to their website to see what they carried, and to see what the price was, and to verify that it was in stock at that location. Check on all counts. I searched the store for the USB headset – and came up empty.

I then made a dash for the service counter, since the bus that was scheduled to take us home was going to be there in a few minutes, and if we missed it, we’d be stuck there for another hour.

The guy behind the counter couldn’t find the headset either. So, he went to the inventory computer. “Oh. We’ve got 4 on order. Looks like nobody has them. Montreal is backlogged.” Great. So, why does the website say it’s in stock? “Uh. It looks like the database didn’t get updated, or someone put in the wrong number of sales or something.” Great. I ask if it’s possible to give him the money now, and have them deliver it to my office, since I didn’t plan on making another afternoon trek on the slim chance that they may actually have one in stock later when they say so. “Well, that would be difficult. And it would cost you.” Great. I’m standing here, trying to give the company my money, and they couldn’t care less. The guy didn’t even offer to put me on the waiting list. He just stared at me, slackjawed, until I walked away. Then he scurried back behind the “service” counter.

I give up on the USB headset. The other thing I came for was an Apple keyboard, to replace my old Macally POS that feels like I’m typing on stale oatmeal. The website says it’s in stock. Both the USB and the Bluetooth wireless version. I scan the Apple section (that has a nice grey Apple logo banner flying above it). They have 2 bluetooth keyboards. And no USB ones. Crap.

And they still don’t have any iTrip for regular iPods – they have a couple for iPod Mini, but nothing for the 3G/4G series. They assured me right after christmas that they’d be getting a bunch in, and would keep some in stock.

Frustrated at wasting an afternoon, and pissed off at giving these losers one more chance, we head out of the store, hoping to catch the bus home. We did. Evan napped on the bus on the way home. He’s so cute. 🙂

As it stands, I will never, ever, ever give CompuSmart another chance. They have lost my business, permanently.

ps. this was the first time I used the <a rel=”nofollow” > attribute… No positive whuffie for these clowns…

UPDATE: 5 minutes after getting home, the order was placed successfully with Memory Express – these guys absolutely rock. Best prices, good people. Why on earth didn’t I go there first? Their initial price was $10 lower than CompuSmart’s, so even with the addition of the delivery fee, the price works out the same. That’s how you make happy customers! 🙂

UPDATE: I got the headset today, delivered right to my house. It works great! As an added bonus, it came with a coupon for 120 minutes of Skype Out calling! Sounds impressive until you realize that’s like $2… I just tried it (calling myself – lame), and it seemed to work quite well. On the phone, I sounded clear, with only a slight lag. I guess that’s understandable, since the call was routed over the internets to god-knows-where, then back over POTS to my home phone. Not sure how much I’d use Skype Out, but it’s a pretty decent option for conference calls where the long distance charges add up really quickly.

Note: The CompuSmart described in this post is the now-defunct Canadian retailer.

I just attempted to give CompuSmart some money. I arranged my afternoon so that Evan and I could take the bus from our house to the Giant Congregation of Strip Malls known as Crowfoot Crossing, so we could trek to the local CompuSmart store to pick up a USB headset, and possibly an Apple keyboard.

I did my research. I went to their website to see what they carried, and to see what the price was, and to verify that it was in stock at that location. Check on all counts. I searched the store for the USB headset – and came up empty.

I then made a dash for the service counter, since the bus that was scheduled to take us home was going to be there in a few minutes, and if we missed it, we’d be stuck there for another hour.

The guy behind the counter couldn’t find the headset either. So, he went to the inventory computer. “Oh. We’ve got 4 on order. Looks like nobody has them. Montreal is backlogged.” Great. So, why does the website say it’s in stock? “Uh. It looks like the database didn’t get updated, or someone put in the wrong number of sales or something.” Great. I ask if it’s possible to give him the money now, and have them deliver it to my office, since I didn’t plan on making another afternoon trek on the slim chance that they may actually have one in stock later when they say so. “Well, that would be difficult. And it would cost you.” Great. I’m standing here, trying to give the company my money, and they couldn’t care less. The guy didn’t even offer to put me on the waiting list. He just stared at me, slackjawed, until I walked away. Then he scurried back behind the “service” counter.

I give up on the USB headset. The other thing I came for was an Apple keyboard, to replace my old Macally POS that feels like I’m typing on stale oatmeal. The website says it’s in stock. Both the USB and the Bluetooth wireless version. I scan the Apple section (that has a nice grey Apple logo banner flying above it). They have 2 bluetooth keyboards. And no USB ones. Crap.

And they still don’t have any iTrip for regular iPods – they have a couple for iPod Mini, but nothing for the 3G/4G series. They assured me right after christmas that they’d be getting a bunch in, and would keep some in stock.

Frustrated at wasting an afternoon, and pissed off at giving these losers one more chance, we head out of the store, hoping to catch the bus home. We did. Evan napped on the bus on the way home. He’s so cute. 🙂

As it stands, I will never, ever, ever give CompuSmart another chance. They have lost my business, permanently.

ps. this was the first time I used the <a rel=”nofollow” > attribute… No positive whuffie for these clowns…

UPDATE: 5 minutes after getting home, the order was placed successfully with Memory Express – these guys absolutely rock. Best prices, good people. Why on earth didn’t I go there first? Their initial price was $10 lower than CompuSmart’s, so even with the addition of the delivery fee, the price works out the same. That’s how you make happy customers! 🙂

UPDATE: I got the headset today, delivered right to my house. It works great! As an added bonus, it came with a coupon for 120 minutes of Skype Out calling! Sounds impressive until you realize that’s like $2… I just tried it (calling myself – lame), and it seemed to work quite well. On the phone, I sounded clear, with only a slight lag. I guess that’s understandable, since the call was routed over the internets to god-knows-where, then back over POTS to my home phone. Not sure how much I’d use Skype Out, but it’s a pretty decent option for conference calls where the long distance charges add up really quickly.

85 thoughts on “CompuSmart Sucks!”

  1. The other place I’d recommend for Canadians is I’ve bought a bunch of things from them online and their prices have been consistenly lower than their storefront competitors. My only complaint with them is that the only shipping option is UPS, which on my last purchase added about $5 dollars and another 2 days than it would hjave if I could simply get things sent via Canada Post.

  2. For anything dealing with MAC I would try LONDON DRUGS,

    COMPUTER RACK will have to order the items in though.

    All stores are located in Calgary

  3. The thing you have to realize about CompuSmart is that they are a national franchise. In Stock on their website just means that they have it in their warehouse in Anjou Quebec. You have to go to buy local on the product and it gives you that option and tells whether or not it is in stock at that particular store. Unfortunatly even that can be misleading as it updates at the end of each day only and there is only so much they can do when it comes to store inventory as they have 39 stores throughout Canada. The best thing to do is to call your local compusmart. There are over 50000 products in stock on the website. You would have to be naive to actually think they can keep all of those things in each store many of which are very small.

  4. Um, no. The website (as of January 2005, when this post was first published) specifically indicated “in-stock” in the particular store I was going to. It said the items were in stock at the CompuSmart Calgary – Crowfoot Crossing store. If that’s inaccurate, they shouldn’t have displayed it on the website. I couldn’t give two shits for a simple “well, we have it in a warehouse, somewhere” indicator. That’s meaningless. If they aren’t actually tracking stock in each store (which they likely are, since all stores are hooked up to a central inventory system), then the “in-stock” status for a particular store should be removed from the website.

    Pretty sure I’m not being naive here. The online store specifically said the items I was looking for were in stock, in the particular branch I was asking about. And it was wrong. That’s not naive, that’s a misleading website.

    I just took another look at the CompuSmart website, and it appears as though they’ve removed the store-specific stock status indicator. Not sure when they did that, but I’d guess they realized it was seriously fucked up and dropped it due to complaints.

  5. Mousless, I’m sure a note to someone at CompuSmart Global Headquarters, suggesting that if service doesn’t stop sucking that a certain Large Employer will be taking business elsewhere, might grease some wheels.

    I’m pretty sure someone at CompuSmart has seen this post – it shows up in the first page of Google results for the company name, and shortly after I posted it I received a fair amount of traffic from the domain.

    But, a more directed “your corporate incompetence is about to cost you a lot of money” message might be more effective…

  6. I have a back up story for you.
    Tried to order in a specific mouse from CompuSmart as they are a registered dealer of the only Manufacturer of this particular mouse. Original phone call and locating of this product involved me calling them, them calling me, me getting the part number for them and me calling them. Product ordered (I thought.) 1 week passes I call them, no record of item or order so I ordered again this time I had to go to the store to provide a deposit (funny that wasnt mentioned last time) get to store had to provide part number again and deposit for a $70 part (I work for the largest employer in a major Canadian City whom I am ordering this part for).
    Week 2, called but no one knows about this order, I placed the order with the manager, who when I call is never in, (The issues is the mouse was to arrive in 5 to 8 days that was three weeks ago, and they were going to call me when it arrived) yet to see, yet to hear anything, yet to talk to manager.

  7. I tried to exchange Call of Duty 2 to the Downtown Edmonton Compusmart and spent 40 minutes arguing. Until finally I was directed to the southside store. I went down there and the tech just asked me if it worked, I said no then he said he would do a one for one swap, but they had none. So he put a note in for me and said I could pick it up at the down town store when they arrive. Well I went to the downtown store again expecting to do a one for one swap since I had already been there and the note from the south side store. Well I got the 3rd degree from someone else and another half hour went by and they finally exchanged it and the female manager was a right SOB if you know how i mean, and that is being polite. I felt like I was doing something wrong. I installed the game when I went home and it installed first time.

    End result. I will never buy from them again. I have spent thousands of dollars on their software over the years and only went to other stores when Compusmart did not have the title. I will not risk the same pain if I need to exchange a piece of software in the future. I am telling everyone I can to avoid them like the plague. I am going to Futureshop this weekend to buy a couple of more pieces of software. At least with them I never had a problem if I got a bad disk.

    So I agree, Compusmart sucks. And since they are getting out of software anyway, Its best that I start moving my business to another company.


  8. i like to swap it swap it
    i like to swap it swap it

    i like to swap it swap it

    i like to ………..swap it

    CompuSmart Rulez!

  9. CompuSmart rules …

    I hate Future Shop and Best Buy, I went to CompuSmart and dealt with Jason D. He was a great help and even offered a Smart Swap for my sons 3 1/4 floppy. I was impressed and will refer all my sons young friends to him.

    I would also like to thank another employee for his great help in finding a way to make my media center connect to lavalife apon boot-up. Now I can pick up chick and do my work all at the same time …

    Thank you D man and thank you CompuSmart for hiring a great staff.

    See you guys on Lavalife : )

  10. Rick, you forgot to mention that you’re apparently affiliated with CompuSmart – your comment was posted by an IP address within the domain. Wondering if Jason D. is using an alias to post comments on blogs…

  11. Sorry to hear about your experience at Crowfoot. I’m a long time employee, and I’ve seen my share of incompetence from staff members from time to time. I’d recommend
    leaving some feedback directly regarding the incident at

    Someone will definitely get back to you regarding this issue.

    I apologize for the apathy of whichever service advisor you ended up dealing with that day. I can assure you from personal experience, that if you leave some feedback, detailing exactly what happened, it will be dealt with. (When stuff like this happens, I definitely hear about it)

    – Tim

  12. Oh, and on a side note, I’ve never heard of anyone named Rick Grimes who works for any of our stores in Calgary. Not to mention being happy about a 13 dollar warranty on a 20 dollar floppy drive reeks of stupidity.

  13. Tim – thanks for the feedback. I will likely give CompuSmart another shot (starting small 😉 )

    Rick Grimes was more than likely a pseudonym – perhaps a Simpsons reference? The IP and mailserver were from Ontario, so I’d assume it wasn’t a Calgary employee.

  14. Well, I have yet to make a final decision. I have been fairly neutral with Compusmart in the past. They have had some great deals and always been average in customer service. That being said they have been great in the past. Tonight I am livid. I ducked out of work for an hour during a 12 hour day to pick up an iMac Intel for my wife as a gift. I walked in asked for the 20″ model and 2GB of RAM. We had spoken with someone 5 days ago who said they could do this for $10 less than Apple. While I am getting ready to pay and they are sorting out the RAM in the back the store clerk comes to the front and says that there is only one slot and the other half of the RAM is factory installed. Considering I am going over a work matter I am dealing with I nod and ask them to go ahead because I have to get back to work. $300 later and only 1.5 GB of RAM I am on my way back to the office with the computer. Once at home and unpacking the computer the MANUAL clearly states that there are TWO RAM slots and the computer can handle 2GB of RAM. So I am going back down to Compusmart tomorrow 9am to get a second stick of RAM to make sure my wife gets the 2GB i promised. Compusmart can either honour the $350 price we were quoted the first time by someone that new it could be done or the computer goes back for a full refund and I will go buy it at the Toronto Apple Store. I made the mistake of shopping in a rush and Compusmart made the mistake of not training their staff. There is only information on the G5 model of this computer which matches there story. Frankly, the cynic in me feels like they did not want to honour the price when they are selling the 1GB sticks for $300 each.

  15. Boy the stories I could tell you about this company! I was a manager in Ontario and they are not a very good company. If you think Best Buy is bad, they are worse…

  16. Well here is the update to my situation. I called Compusmart the next morning and got a person I had dealt with before in the past. I explained the problem and was put through to the resident “mac guy”. He agreed that he had told me the $350 price for the 2GB of ram and he had set it up with the manager. Strangely, the manager had been there the night before and knew I dealt with the mac guy but it still went wrong. Anyhow, he asked me to bring in my receipt on Saturday and he had the SO-DIMM waiting. $50 later I was on my way home to install the RAM in my wife’s new Intel iMac. Funny thing though… when I installed the RAM you pull two levers that free the RAM from the slots. It was pretty obvious that the RAM could be removed. Anyhow, I have respect for the “mac guy” Micheal at the downtown Toronto store but I am certainly not going to let them service my computer. In the end it is great to see my wife enjoy the computer but as the saying goes “buyer beware”.

  17. I recently bought a macbook pro from compusmart mississauga and was having some problems with it. Having only had it for less than 2 weeks, I took it back to the store for an exchange…and it was one of the most unpleasant experience I’ve had in a retail store! One of the empmloyees….a technician named Malak/Malek gave me such a hard time that I walked out without an exchange. He refused to give me a new box and kept on insisting than nothing was wrong with my macbook even though it was not true. He seemed to have no previous knowlegdge dealing with macs. I felt that I was treated unfairly as a customer which I find utterly ridiculous!!! I’ve never had this much trouble with exchanging a defective product before. They have definitely lost a customer with this incident. I will make sure that I spread the word to my family and friends never to purchase anything from compusmart again!


  18. I bought a Fujitsu Lifebook from Compusmart in Downtown Montreal (Phillips Square) 2.5 years ago. It has had two small faults, both covered by Fujitsu’s warranty.

    First problem: faulty power supply connector. Phoned Fujiitsu, who told me to take it to Compusmart Montreal for warranty repair. Took it back to Compusmart, was told that it would take a few days for the part to come in. Phoned or dropped by the store every week for 6 or 7 weeks, becoming more annoyed each time, to be told each time that the part was still on order. I finally managed to get the ‘confirmation number’ for the order, and phoned Fujitsu myself. The lady that I spoke to was very concerned about the issue, and after much digging in their system she finally worked out that the guy from Compusmart had entered an invalid serial number when he first ordered the part. Fujitsu had sent him an email saying ‘your order failed’, but they ignored it. She corrected the problem and shipped them the appropriate part.

    Second problem: a few keys intermittently stopped working. Phoned Fujitsu, who said it was a warranty repair again. Took it in to Compusmart Montreal. The guy on the ‘services’ desk said it wouldn’t be covered by the warranty, and that it was the result of a drink being spilled in the keyboard (despite the fact that there was no evidence of this, and the keys work fine mechanically). He then told me that they’d need to keep the notebook for 2 weeks, before they could look at it to determine what the problem was, and whether or not it was covered by warranty, and before even ordering the parts. Having had the previous problems with leaving a laptop with them, I phoned Fujitsu back, who arranged to have the notebook shipped to them for repair, expected turnaround time 3-5 days.


    Fujitsu customer service was great both times, without them neither issue would have been resolved.

    The staff at Compusmart Montreal were rude, slow, and didn’t seem to care about fixing either problem. I’ll buy my next laptop direct, as the support from the store was pitiful.

    Compusmart Sucks.

    While I was at the service desk the last time, I saw a guy trying to return a Thinkpad that was ‘locking up’. He was asked “have you connected to the Internet?”. He replied “of course”, and was told that it was therefore a software problem caused by a virus, and he woulc be charged $80 and couldn’t return the machine. Hmm…

  19. Oh, yes, Compusmart sucks. Because Compusmart is Apple authorized, the good folks at Apple will RECOMMEND these toads for Mac warranty repairs. But if your hardware problem is temporary or intermittent — meaning something like a USB slot didn’t work at home but worked at Compusmarm — they will charge you at least $45 for “diagnostics”. Nice way to build a solid and loyal customer base, guys. Plug in a mouse and collect the cash. Although reading Alan’s tale of woe, I realize that I got off lucky. Apple needs to de-authorize these scamming losers ASAP.

  20. You're welcome, It always disturbs me to see a mostly good company go downhill.


    Which is why I work for Memory Express now!

    Tongue out

  21. The user manuals for most desktops claim that the desktop is upgradeble to 2 GB of RAM. This is usualy false. On top of the untruth in manuals, there is also the issue with the number of RAM slots and the way the RAM is loaded. It is common to find two sticks in a computer with two slots, this way the manufacturer can move their left over stock. At CompuSmart Montreal (my location at least) we don't charge for most RAM installations. You are getting the RAM at a good price and installed for free. It is the MANUFACTURER'S decision to fill the slots not ours. On top of all that sir, selling two smaller sized sticks of RAM would have made the company more money, why would we try and up-sell you? So if your upset about a situation that is quite uncontrolable on our end, take it up with the manufacturer and not with the person who is trying to offer his help to you.

    -CompuSmart Employee

  22. Let's face it. The reason Tim went to memory express is because they pay better, Not because he had any issues with the way Compusmart was being run. The store Tim worked at was making changes and Tim no longer felt he fit in and persued other avenues. CompuSmart has been around for years and will continue to be the favorite store for computer enthusiests to shop and work.


  23. nice. my blog has devolved into a forum for compusmart staff and expats to vent/rave about their company. I’m switching comments off for this post (again).

  24. finnaly looks like we cant purchase any thing from anyone need to purchase everything from the manufactures

  25. In January of 2007 Hartco, the company the owns the CompuSmart name, announced that it is exploring the option of selling all or part of CompuSmart. Later in January the Vancouver store shut down. There was a time in CompuSmart’s past, when it was a chain of independently owned and operated franshises, when the mood in the stores was happy, the staff was helpful and the product plentiful. When Hartco decided to take over and began buying out the owners, there was an immediate shift in the overall mentality of the company. Hartco is a distrobution company; they don’t know how to run retail and they certainly don’t have a good grasp of how to manage the most valuable resource any company has: their people. In the last year or more, the turn-over from the top down has been staggering. CompuSmart lost their new president when he quit over the CEO’s relentless and egotistical meddling. Since then they’ve lost numerous people from their head office, from key product purchasers to marketing and merchandising people. Through the channel, local and regional managers have been leaving out of frustration over a lack of vision and no clear direction. The lack of direction from above has created an epidemic of poor morale among the staff in the stores, resulting in huge turnover. That results in short-staffed stores, while the ardent need for more staff results many managers hiring anyone they can; with little training (costs time and money), the results are predictable when it comes to the consumer experience.

    If it’s not obvious by now, I’ve been there, thus the hopefully-not-too-jaded insight. I cannot honestly say that I’m all that optimistic about CompuSmart’s future; I’d like to think that a bright and dynamic retailer would purchase the company, but I can’t think of who would want it. The next 12 to 16 months could be interesting.

    To comment on the ADF story, I will say that the store should not have had an issue with you trying things out the way you did. You’d be hard pressed to find any retailer willing to unpack a scanner with ADF for people to test it; they’re not that popular at the retail level and the cost to open and then try to resell is just too high. So, it made sense for you to try what they had on hand. To allow you to ‘demo’ like that costs them nothing really, but the obstinance of the individual you dealt with is not something you or any other customer should have to deal with, much less reward with your business. It’s too bad to hear your story too, because in spite of what I’ve talked about, the Victoria store is in my opinion one of the bright spots in the CompuSmart channel. At least it was…

  26. Well, here goes another vent. I figure I’m quitting anyways.

    One of the first questions I asked during the interview was about the training. I think that should’ve hinted something, but I needed the job anyway. So here I am, six months later, looking at something that I can actually get some good training in.

    My training consisted of two hours of lecture in their warrenty. In that whole six months. Any product knowledge I have I picked up on the job or researched on my own time. Oh, and there was the half-shift of the where’s what.

    And oddly, even our own website didn’t tell us what was in the other stores. Ironically, it’s even missing rather essential product information.

    As well (and I might regret saying this later), a shopping mall just isn’t the place for a computer store unless you have a heck of a lot of space. No, my dear customer, we don’t have the toshiba such-and-such. Have you seen the back room ?

    Ah, but if I continue, I’l start complaining about some of the stupid customers I get. Yes, some people are just frustrated, but some people are just plain lazy.

    So what was the point of all that… need to centralize operations more, need way more product training… eh, that’s about all for now.

  27. Mar.2/07- Victoria
    As a customer I was in the process of researching scanners with the intent of spending upwards $1200 to $1900 taxes not included on a Automatic Document Feed Flatbed scanner. Of all the features it had to have one was the capacity to handle mutiple documents. Up to here that is pretty standard. The scanner had to handle one document at a time one after another automatically without jamming. It becomes little more challenging now. Before any documents are loaded into the tray to be fed into the scanner each document I would physically have to insert into the sleeve of the two layers of laminate material. the same type of laminate material one finds at office supply stores for making heat sealed laminates. The laminate was required because each document would have the equivalent 1-4 “post-it” notes attached to the original letter size document, hence the laminate is needed to avoid having exposed edges, dog eared corners or slightly curled or creased attached notes causing the paper document to jam in the roller/feeder mechanism of the scanner.
    There I was in the Compusmart store on Yates Street in Victoria with laminate in hand. Adrienne gave me few sheets of blank letter size paper. I asked his advice on scanners with ADF and explained what I wanted to do. He was pretty good about helping me out.

    I asked if once I had the paper with the mini attachments inserted into about a dozen laminates could we do a test run on floor model.
    He explained they had no scanners with ADF to display or demonstrate.
    I responded by saying a former employee/technician that regularly frequented the store said they had an office unit at the back of the store and perhaps it could be used to test the princple of feeding such a laminated document set up.
    His response was he could not take a chance of the document jamming and voiding the warranty on their office machine. I explained that I understood their highly respected printer technician would be in Monday and I could come back then.

    I also learned from another employee that the ADF scanner was old and was about to be replaced, so much for the warranty arguement.
    I askedif I could finish doing the inserts so I would be prepared and not cause them any delay in testing the feeder on their old office scanner. Adrienne’s response was. “Sure, use this counter”. So there i was at the end of the counter in a store with few customers and certainly no customers needing to be served at the counter I was at.

    As I was inserting blank letter size paper sheets into the clear plastic laminate material sleeves, Michael, Adrienne’s manager or supervisor comes over to me and asks me what I am doing. Now he had already had a long conversation with Adreienne about my request, so he was certainly with knowledge of my request for a quality scanner.
    I explained to him and listed some models that they may stock in their store system but do not necessarily in their store but could be availble to them locally.

    Well, Michael says “We don’t demo ADF scanners we do not open boxes up to demo or test and show how products work, and would I not use this counter and perhaps use the counter at the back of the store. His tone of voice and body language was less than cordial.
    Sure, I said, I gathered up my paper and my few laminate sheets, returned the Scotch tape to the young woman behind the counter, thanked her for the use of it and left the store.

    My thought was this Michael needs to be retrained because it is very unlikely I will consider shopping at Compusmart.

    In the end I did a test on both of my printers, laser and inkjet, at home. No jamming worked great. If the feed mechanism on the printers could do mutlple feeds repeatedly then the feed mechanism on a scanner with the feature of ADF could also handle the laminate.

  28. You’re a loser. A serious serious loser. Sure compusmart has their problems, I know they do. People screw up, and there’s a lot more going on than you know. The guys that have been working there have been working there about 2 weeks. I had to deal with fucks like you, Lowly, Nerdy, Sadass geeks. It was an exercise in self control everyday not punching out an idiot or two. I shop at memex too, but I also know that it’s a smaller chain, not factory direct, and is of a broader range of items. Because of these things it is very difficult for everyone to know exactly everything about all our products. A Headset and a Keyboard, you came all the way across the city for. You’re an idiot.

    One more thing, buy a car. Douche.

  29. Very mature response, Doug. I'll just assume that you're a CompuSmart staffer. And you just made a great case about their general attitude toward customer service. If you're not a staffer, then get a life yourself. I'm not going to respond to the rest of the drivel you spewed here.

  30. Compusmart here in Victoria used to be my computer store of choice. I got good service, good advice and was mostly advised by knowledgeable people. Then they had all the big re-configuration within the company, staff . . . especially management staff . . . changed, and what a difference. I was not particularly happy with the way things were going and was considering going elsewhere, but had not yet firmly made that decision. Then they made the decision for me. I had bought a DVD writer from them, the one that was recommended. Three months in to a one year warranty, it just quit. I took to whole computer in to the service desk so they could test it and find out if it needed to be replaced or what, and was told that “they no longer sold this brand of DVD player (a brand-name component), so the warranty wasn’t their problem.” I argued for a good 15 minutes trying to point out that the reason I deal with a local store such as theirs is so I can come back to them when I need service. They weren’t interested in listening. The best they could come up with was to charge me a $45 service fee to check the DVD and see if it really did need replacing, and if it did I could then send it back to the manufacturer. Needless to say, I did NOT take them up on their generous offer. I also have never since done any business with them, nor will I . . . and through my business I spend a fair chunk of change on computers, peripherals and supplies. I have also told this story to anybody who will listen (Victoria’s a pretty small town) and know they have lost other accounts because of this, including one large government account. I can never understand how a company gets to the point where they feel they no longer have to look after their customers, especially in the computer business. I mean, really, one doesn’t have to look very far to find about a dozen other places to do business with.


    This link leads to a press release that talks about Hartco’s future plans for CompuSmart. In a nutshell, they’re getting rid of it, one way or another. To the best of my knowledge, the Calgary Crowfoot store is off the map already; Vancouver is gone as are Brandon and Winnipeg. It’s my understanding that the Victoria store has been sold (to whom is not yet clear). As to what 5 stores will be closed right away, that remains to be seen. What is clear is that CompuSmart as we know it will cease to exist in a couple of months, with stores simply disappearing or being aquired and rebadged.

  32. Just so People here know, i’m a manager in one of the compusmarts, but no I wont give my name or location because at the time I still have a job here and I need to feed my family….if you catch my meaning.

    As of the end of today, yeah 5 compusmarts will be shut down. 1 in calgary, 1 in edmonton, 1 in toronto, 1 in Laval, and one in Mississuaga. The Vancouver store was bought out by the existing management team, so good luck to them, hope they do better with Hartco out of the picture. Winnipeg was privatly run and not part of the Compusmart chain anymore so today doesnt affect them technaclly, they had trouble paying thier bills to hartco so they were cut out a few months ago. My store is still one of the lucky few that survived the chopping block today, but within 60 days we’ll either be sold or shut down.

    I wont get into the specifics as to whats really going on, Compusmart failed because of bad decisions from all over in the network. Lower management fighting for the scraps from higher management, poor pay to all employees not above the General Manger level, and then there is the nepotism within compusmart….dont get me started with that.

    There is sooooo much more to tell, and most likely I will once I have my new job lined up. I feel bad for all of you that had bad experiences with Compusmart, not all of us were a-holes and I can honestly say I did everything I could within my power to help the customers.

    Am I glad to see Compusmart leave? Yes. I can say from the standpoint of someone that climbed the ranks from sales to management, this was a horrible place to work. Overall morale of most compusmart employees was low, and Hartco did nothing to help us.

    I do hope the stores get bought out by a good company(I dont want to see a lot of people loose thier jobs), but if they dont, I wont be sad to see Compumsart fade away.

    yup…Compusmart sucks!

    ps. Nice to see this site up, wish I’d seen it sooner.

  33. @soon-to-be-gone-Manager: I feel your pain. It must have been tough and uncomfortable to be stuck in such a dysfunctional organization. I know that not all employees were holes, and that what I was seeing was likely a side effect of larger problems rather than anything personal.

    I hope you find something better and healthier. Maybe a new Apple Store? I heard they’re opening up one in Vancouver, and possibly Calgary… 🙂

  34. Soon to be gone:

    If you’re from one of the western stores, I’m pretty certain we’ve met; I visited Vancouver, Victoria and the Calgary stores in my travels and met the manager from Saskatoon during a western managers team get-together in Edmonton. I was like you, rising from sales to management, enjoying the experience with local ownership showing real leadership and humanity in how they trained and treated the sales staff and promoted a considerate, respectful attitude towards customers. As I’ve said a couple of posts ago, Hartco can be held almost solely responsible for the current situation, although I’m certain that the CEO and his son would never ever accept that. As managers we all might have been able to change things if we could have gotten together and shown solidarity against Hartco, but it’s likely we all would have been turfed to the street for doing so.

    To say that the organization is/was dysfunctional is an understatement.

    I do know that the employees of one of the stores that closed all got severance while the manager is staying on long enough to help clean things up. When I read the press release, I can’t help but interperet the phrase “while consolidating remaining CompuSmart locations over the next sixty days.” to mean that they’ll be shut down. The most promising suitor for the Edmonton stores was turned down because their offer did not meet Hartco’s expectation. With that being the case, I find it doubtful that any of the stores will be sold and remain operational.

    All that can be said now is to echo the sentiments of dnorman, and I wish you all the best as you leave a soul-damaging place and find something better and more fulfilling.

    So, Mr. Norman, will this page stay in place for long? As a place to rant about CompuSmart, it seemed to become a place where ex-employee rants equalled or surpassed posts from disgruntled customers. Now it could very well become a place for ex-employees to share their thoughts on the demise of the company. THAT could get ugly…

  35. Richard, I hadn’t intended to create a resource for CompuSmart refugees to gather, but if it’s helpful I have no plans on killing the page. Has anyone registered ?

  36. LOL…now there’s a thought. I only ask because it could get very interesting if you keep the comments enabled on this page. It may be cathartic for some but I suspect that it won’t take long for the anger, sadness and bitterness to fade away after CompuSmart finally sinks into the deep. As a former employee (manager) myself, I made some good friends there and remain interested in the company only as it relates to the fortunes of those I know who are still there. Who knows what kind of support they may need when the final day comes, but I think that for many they’ll be happy to walk away from a poisonous company with a severance cheque in hand.

    Your site I think has been a boon to many and a good place to vent; you’ve been very generous in allowing the commenting to go on this long but I truly believe you’ll be able to turn it off and leave the page up as a testament to the demise of a once good company.


  37. Does anyone know how to get Compusmart to exchange a new notebook just bought within the past month, that doesn’t work, for one that does? Thank you for any advice.

  38. fred, I mentioned (and linked) MemoryExpress in the post. They’re really good, as long as you know EXACTLY what you want, and can ideally order online (their store isn’t exactly shopping-friendly).

  39. Pat B…it depends frankly on where you are. Several of the stores have already shut down and the rest will be shuttered within the month as far as I know. In Edmonton there is only the South Edmonton Common store open as the West End, West Edmonton Mall and Downtown stores have all closed their doors for good. If the purchase is within the month and the store you bought it at is still open, you should be able to get it replaced provided they still have stock on that unit. If the purchase is more than 30 days old and/or the store you bought at is shut down, contacting the manufacturer for warranty support is your best bet. That is, after all, what a manufacturer’s warranty if for. Also note that if you bought the extended warranty, it should still be good after the demise of CompuSmart; calling the 1-800 number in the warranty documents will get you in touch with someone who can direct you to another warranty approved depot.

  40. In most cases I would say Compusmart was always on the brink of distinction (if you can understand)
    For the past 7 years they have been fighting with upper head office management to figure things out. And in the slew of things, have managed to forget about the employees and customers. I, myself, have been underpayed for the amount of customer relations I have to deal with on a daily basis. Not to mention, 90% of them have something rude or very “insightful” to say about the company I work for.

    But as I sit and stare at this frustrated customers face burning red with anger, I can’t stop and help to think that I just might be working for a bad employee. Ha! Thats it!…. oh, but wait !! we’re shutting down.

    hmm, I think i’ll stand around and not give two shits about this customer in from of me.

    And so the conversation with the customer ends something like this

    Me: Well I’m sorry this situation happened like this. I will have to contact so and so in order to find out the status of your work order and I’ll get back to you as soon as i hear back from anyone

    Customer: 5 Other people told me they would get back to me right away and never did. How do I know you will?

    Me: Well, I guess your going to have to trust me.

    Customer: Trust you? I’ve been waiting over 2 months for this service order to be done, and at the point of sale the salesman told me it would be done at the latest, 1 week.

    Me: I’m sorry he didn’t inform you properly, unfortunately I can’t correct that misunderstanding the salesman had in regards to our warranty. But, like I said we will have to wait to get a response back from so and so before we can go any further.

    Customer: So there’s nothing you can do right now for me?

    Me: unfortunately not until we receive a response from so and so and then contact you for confirmation and then contact so and so again for the confirmation from you, and then it gets shipped out on the 2nd month…. and then wait another month to get the unit back because we didn’t pay our bills with HP. And they hold our Service orders ransom for the money hartco owes them.

    See! it seems to be an endless cycle.

    Oh! and not to mention !! I have a sales guy who makes 11 bucks an hour and sells nothing, oh and not to mention, he refuses to do any work his supervisors ask him to. and a cashier who has worked there approx. 16 months making 10 bucks an hour doing 3 times the work of this idiot! and only makes 10 an hour bucks and hour.

    O and not to mention the younger you are, the cheaper they will pay you!! what kind of system is that!!

    As far as I’m concerned compusmart should close it’s doors!! If not the Better Business Beraue should!!

    I’m apologetic to the people who had to deal with the run around in service or in dealing with the management. Because when the company you work for puts limitations on you that don’t allow you to help the customers then the company is not going to be successful.

    Oh and for those of you working with Hartco !! I hope you shred every single document regarding the scams you guys run. Money Fraud !!! I hope you dont get caught !!again!!

    What a shame it has been to work for this company!! and what a shame it is to have to wait around for my payout and severance ! I hope they pay my vacation, severance, and closing bonus, and the 2000 dollar bonus for my 12 month bonus !! Just because you guys are closing does not mean I am not entitled to the 12 month bonus that was the only means to me working for another 6 months !!!

  41. Well, as of Monday last week, Compusmart in Saskatoon had it’s doors shut and it’s inventory shipped to Toronto because aparently Toronto has been having a better clearing out sale. I used to be the underpaid and WAY over worked Ass. Manager in Saskatoon(yes it was me that posted a couple weeks ago), right until I lost my job last week. I am glad it’s gone, in fact I already have a new job not in management that pays a whole lot more than I used to make. As Ass. Manager I was making $11.50 an hour, our OSS person was making $9.50 an hour and the salesguys $8.00 an hour(plus commision). As far as I know we were one of the lowest paid stores in the chain, our profits didnt match the the wages we should have been paid out. In the last 2 years our store was completely nudered when we lost 99% of our invoicing capabilities, and that itself killed our annual sales.
    One part that really bothers me is that as far as I know, there are still stores out there that dont even know they are about to be closed….Hartco is the one thats behind compusmart sucking so bad.

    Good ridance to a curse of a place, I feel better allready being out of there for only a week. Compusmart sucks, Hartco Incom Fund sucks, but mostly Jeff Hart sucks scrotums for his inability to act like a human being.

    To all of you past/current employees reading this, make sure you give Jeff Hart all your love and send him a bag full of shit for all the shit he past on to you all.

    D’norman, your a small blessing for keeping this up, thanks.

  42. Well just another sad story about Compusmart. I purchased an I-pod Nano for my 12 year daughter Dec.05/05. with the smart swap warranty. Well on May 21 the I-pod failed to work so I returned it to the west end store with a promise date of June 2. I went to the store to pick up the I-pod just to find out there was “an error”. As I looked around the store I noticed the inventory levels were very low. The manager told me nothing to worry about that they were still in business (Mark F) and the problem would be fixed on Monday June 4. To my surprise the store is now closed, I have no I-pod,What can I do???

  43. Hey Lyle, you will want to get in touch with WCC, thats the warranty company, unfortunatley I dont have thier number available. However you can go to the main office of Hartco, as they are the parent company of Compusmart and are resposible for your property.

    Dont ask for for the contact name Louis Lafontaine as he bailed out of Hartco a few months back, smart fellow.

    Another thing is to perhaps find out if it was transfered to another store that is owned by Hartco like MicroAge.

    Hope this helps,
    good luck

  44. Heh, didn’t realize this blog was still going!

    As of right now, since compusmart crowfoot is obviously out of business, Memory Express is currently trying to secure that location for another store. Cross your fingers!

  45. As an ironic twist, after I went to memory express, basically every other competent Compusmart sales person came here as well.

    So when you go into the south memx store, you’ll probably recognize half of us if you used to shop at Compusmart.

  46. Hey Soon to be (now is) gone mgr… Yeah, was kind of strange to see the store shuttered when I drove past the other day. Hope they paid you guys out some sort of package or something instead of just 2wks and holiday pay.. Though I wasn’t sure at the time, I’m pretty happy they paid me out a package last fall when the corporate side got trimmed, seeing how things ended up.. got to relax for a couple months, and get a better paying job. I really do hope you guys got as lucky and got something decent at the end — and hopefully didn’t get stiffed or anything there at the end, though I wouldn’t put it past ’em..

    Heh… how was morale in the final days? 🙂

  47. Compusmart store in Moncton New Brunswich is closed. Sign on door says they will re-open on June 25 as Office Pro.

  48. To those wondering about severance packages and what CSM employees are getting on their way out the door, I can tell you that staff are getting payouts reflective of the time spent with the company. Non-management staff should be getting in the neighbourhood of 2 weeks for every year served, while managers should be getting something similar if not a bit better.

    Hats off to the person who posted the number for WCC; anyone requiring warranty service (either SmartPlan or SmartSwap) should be able to get assistance via that number, and be directed to the appropriate warranty depot.

    The bitterness evident in some of the posts is palpable to say the least (please bear in mind that poor spelling and grammar and the use of profanity tends to undermine the effectiveness of your statements). I am past that now and can only feel a sense of smug bemusement at the present situation. I am grateful that my friends are out of there and have been given enough that they can spend a couple of months decompressing before deciding what to do.

    As to the question of morale, what I know of the stores I’m familiar with is likely true for the otthers; with the mystery gone and the knowledge of the finality of things, most people became less stressed than they were before. This was especially true of anyone who had been there for several years or more; they finally knew what the future held and were prepared for a severance cheque and the reality of unemployment. In Alberta anyone with a modicum of sales or supervisory skill can’t stay unemployed for long, and many are finding much greener grass on the other side, with (previous) competitors paying more and treating their staff more fairly. In Edmonton, Dell has captured a good number of CompuSmart technical staff and they are uniformly happy working there.

    I’ve said it here before and I’ll say it again…the Harts are largely if not entirely responsible for the demise of CompuSmart. Hartco’s directors will never public acknowledge this fact, although I’m sure that a few of them privately would admit that the failures are the result of poor decisions at the very top of the chain. Few people were willing to risk their jobs to challenge the CEO; anyone that did was fired. The man at the top is a megalomaniac and control-freak; he will go to his grave blaming everyone but himself for CompuSmart’s failure. Those blaming Jeff Hart should realize that he is/was merely a puppet for the CEO (his father). The last “independent” president CompuSmart had quit and was then kicked out by the elder Hart for trying to exert CompuSmart’s independence from Hartco. That guy could not get anything done without the CEO meddling and changing things as he saw fit. CompuSmart’s ship began to sink at least 5 years ago, but the fatal blow in my mind came when the aforementioned president exited and Jeff took his place.

    So here we are now, discussing and discecting CompuSmart’s demise. To any customers left out in the cold by the store closings, I sympathize with you and urge you to contact the warranty company for assistance with any issues you have. Further, I might also suggest you contact Hartco directly should you encouter problems that can’t be solve easily since the stores have closed. Former staff can complain all they wish about the state of affairs, but it really is CompuSmart customers who are the losers in this whole mess.

  49. Its about time CSM closed down. I’m just disappointed that pricks like Harry Hart and his gay son Jeff aren’t the ones that are going to suffer from the closure. Some good people are losing their jobs over this.

  50. Yep, Compusmart sucked dick! Here in Victoria their customer service was horrible and their technical knowledge virtually non-existent. However, having been in retail, if the employees get no training, what are they supposed to do? And the pay mentioned is absolutely atrocious to say the very, very least. How anyone could live on $10 an hour in Victoria is beyond me. So no wonder Compusmart sucked. I can’t blame anyone for not having good customer service skills or technical knowledge for that pay! In fact the employers should be shot on site for even venturing to pay someone such a measly amount of money! How you managers were even able to get people to work at the stores blows me away. People must have looked at you guys and laughed when you stated how much the pay was. I know I would have and walked out the door, quick! What a joke this whole fiasco is!!!!

    Too bad we can’t repay the Harts with what they so richly deserve from both the employees and the customers! I’m sure it would get very ugly very quickly and the only ones smiling would be the employees and customers! Maybe Michael Vick can take them and electrocute them for us?

  51. Firstly, I know you guys are there: Giving a shout out to the Downtown Edmonton clan from back in the hayday – Richard, Kevin, Gord, Tom, Mitchell, Bart, Ron! These guys will remember the “Old” CompuSmart. Fondly.

    I remember my first experience with the West-Edmonton CompuSmart store back in the EARLY 90’s when I was just a pup in highschool. Back when the Internet was still a University research tool and the BBS community in Edmonton was huge. I was giving a lecture on how to set up and run a FrontDoor Mail System for some FidoNet SysOps. Back then it was amazing to see such a huge store, complete with a full-fledged cafeteria and network gaming kiosks. This was the first and probably most ambitious computer superstore anywhere at the time.

    Of the past decade that I spent in retail, I was actually one of the lucky ones to work at Compusmart in Edmonton at the end of the 1990’s when those stores were in their glory, and were pretty much completely run by Gary Ford (the independant franchise owner in Edmonton). It’s notable that his son actually has a name for himself as a very accomplished olympic kayaker. Gary’s background was in psychology rather than sales or retail. The advantage here – he knew what made people happy.


    Back when Gary was running the place, the Customer was King, and (save for some very few and obvious policies that were customer-adverse, but necessarry) Compusmart was considered the premium place for computers. Upon my employment, training was a two-week, full-time event and concentrated on consultation and needs-assessment rather than selling and warranties (though the importance of closing and SmartPlan was peppered throughout the training as well). We were given ample avenues for product support and knowledge, we had plenty to offer customers (quotes were ALWAYS given in a folder, complete with all the product brochures available, all the support options that WE gave customers complementary with the computers, etc).

    We were continually voted the best place to buy a computer in Edmonton (though this was SEE Magazine where voters also listed International Stereo as the best place for home electronics – shudder) and widely considered highly above the Future Shops and London Drugs of the city. We offered phone support along with the computers. The sales staff were experienced and knowledgeable – we had to be. We even had a good system of “sharing the wealth” so that a bit more of a team environment could be fostered in case a salesperson was away and a regular customer needed help – they wouldn’t be left with an apathetic salesperson.

    Then the first round of layoffs happened…

    At about my six month employment mark – 75% of our service department, let go with no reason and no notice. This included 100% of our phone support staff. Phone support was gone. Done. Finis. Apparently support staff aren’t valued as highly as sales staff, as they were still hiring when that happened, and many of those staffers were offered sales positions. In any case, we sensed that the culture was going to change as one of our biggest selling points had vanished overnight – customers were not allowed to call for support any longer – they were to be referred to the manufacturers. Apparently Gary was “convinced” that the support was too costly. That may be true, but probably moreso from the way it was managed, rather than actualy “costs of supporting customers”.

    After this event, though, things were still pretty decent. We still had knowledgeable staff, and we were still having training upgrades here and there (run by Gary himself) to keep us helping the customers. We were also going to product demonstrations by the bigger companies (Sony, Adobe, Microsoft) to help our knowledge. After the first year, though, it was funny. I don’t recall ever receiving any more training on consultative selling after the last major session that Gary put on before Y2K.

    Things started going downhill around late 1999 and early 2000. During the big Y2k upgrade, people started getting greedy with commissions. Salespeople were (for some reason) no longer being encouraged to take ownership of their customers. In fact, we were pretty much not allowed to – it doesn’t matter that George Buysalotofshit dealt with you for six years and it just happened to be your day off when he came in for his latest $15,000 purchase; the sale was going to the rookie that greets him at the cash register with his business card. It’s a big wonder that George left with all his stuff and a bad aftertaste in his mouth, and you and rookie get to enjoy some newly found animosity that makes taking care of each other’s customers a bit, well, strained. For us downtowners, it also became a bit harder to keep up with the scavenger’s at the West End when they were tearing out the Rathole (a tunnel in the middle of the only major thoroughfare to our store – the tumbleweeds were rolling that summer).

    The end of the century also saw an abundance of cheque and credit card fraud hit our store. This also led to a great team building experience as, on one of our Saturday morning meetings, we had to come in early just to get sworn at and put down by Derrick Asshole (yes, that was really, almsot, his last name) the head security thug because, apparently, salespeople are supposed to have crystal balls that can predict when a cashier is not going to do her job and verify ID. (or the cashier IS doing her job and the fraud artist is just so darn good that there’s nothing we could do at the time to detect it, so we’re screwed anyway). Believe me, for the next month, every customer purchasing with anything except cold, hard cash got a REALLY warm welcome at the till. Complete with the whole suspicious eye and “thirty pieces of ID to pay for that printer cable or go home” demand. Well, this and the fact that the commission structure at the time was such that the salesperson was paying for a good percentage of the transaction costs for all non-cash purchases. Which, at a time when the average computer system was selling for around $3000, most big purchases didn’t involve cash.

    Then there’s more.. The commission structure changed (well, in their words “became effective” apparently, as they were giving the argument that it was always this way, they just never enforced it) in 2000…

    This is where all but the most loyal (or just foolish) salespeople started jumping ship. CompuSmart saw profit margins sliding. I can understand this. We were all paid based on gross margins, and we were finding it harder throughout the later months to hit the magical “$1000 per day” in gross margin that gave us notoriety. So we already felt the same pinch that the company was feeling. Then payday comes one day and our cheques were a little lighter. Apparently, they decided that it was time to actively enforce the clause in our commission structure that allowed them to deduct up to 3% from the 15% average gross profit we were being paid if our lease and smartplan percentages didn’t hit an arbitrary number (which they almost never did – anywhere). 3% off 15% is a 20% pay cut! This paycheque was actually presented as a warning, as the day after our deposits were in and we were handed our stubs, we were given handwritten cheques to cover the difference, and given the explanation that “we are now following this policy – this is what your pay will look like if you don’t smarten up your sales numbers”.

    This is where I left, with a strongly worded letter, and no notice. I was actually one of the better sellers of SmartPlan and Leasing in Edmonton, I always had customers asking for me specifically (as I was not a typical pushy salesperson – who knew you could be honest AND a good salesperson?) and they had the audacity to tell me I was not good enough to get the entire pay I was entitled to.

    At that time, I already knew that they were going down the service nightmare path that helped Future Shop succeed in the States (being sarcastic here. I’m referring to the Future Shop before Best Buy bought them out – their US division went bankrupt within two years of opening in the US with their high-pressure commissioned sales model. We actually once used them as an example of what NOT to do to stay in business once upon a time). I made sure I let them know that this was happening.

    Deep down myself, and many of my cohorts (many of whom also jumped ship shortly afterward, notable exception being Richard who I saw as recently as two years ago at an Adobe training session still sporting the green shirt) all knew that this was simply inevitable. Especially when Compusmart simultaniously got into the consumer electronics/TV business and cut two thirds of their square footage from the once-pestigeous West-Edmonton Superstore, the staffers at my new home just up the street knew that their days were numbered.

    CompuSmart simply didn’t know who they wanted to be anymore. Being the low-service, high-price leader isn’t exactly a great way to win business. That cost them the company, and I’m pretty sure Hartco is going to see a good number of their companies disappear (CompuCentres already disappeared, sortof, by turning into CompuSmart Express locations). Maybe we’ll see the same thing happen to the Telephone Booth. I see those guys sitting in an empty store quite often when I’m walking the mall.

  52. Looking again at the Hartco website (thanks for the link, Soon to be gone Manager) it looks like we might have the last laugh, at least at the expense of the shareholders if things keep up. Their operating income BEFORE INTEREST, etc is half of what their amortization expense alone is.

    They are in deep shit.


  53. What a great read! Being an embittered ex-CompuSmart employee, it sends shivers up my spine to see that some of the things that I’d seen happening from the inside are known by at least some small part of the general public.

    Where I must protest though, is in associating Telephone Booth with anything Hartco, with the exception of its past. Telephone Booth was sold lock, stock & barrel in 2005 to a new parent company. The new parent has changed the focus, (ie: given one) and while there may be Telephone Booth employees still standing around at times, that chain is once again thriving and expanding. (10 new stores in 2007)

  54. Hey! Can anyone help me…I drop off a newer Sony Laptop at CompuSmart for service work as well as I huge hard drive. I was overseas and couldn’t get a hold of their service centre. I’m back in Edmonton now and all ther stores are closed. How do i get my laptop back?

  55. Ken The Mac Guy – very well said and good history of CompuSmart in Edmonton.

    ex-Hartco-er – there are several people posting here that were on the ‘inside’; the gravity of the dysfunctionality of CompuSmart under Hartco was brutal. It’s a lesson on how not to run a company, how not to treat people, etc. People embittered from working there, especially if they started when Gary ran the Edmonton stores and stayed on after Hartco fully took control, need to talk about what they experienced. It’s cathartic in a way. While I don’t expect you to reveal yourself, I’d be curious to know what department you worked in for Hartco.

    karine. I will ask around and post here asap if I come up with an avenue for you to get your equipment back.

  56. e-Hartco-er: I apologize – I didn’t know that the Telephone Booth was sold. It might survive, then. For a good long while it appeared to be run similar to CompuCentres (before Compusmart Express, though there wasn’t much difference there, either).

    Even with Compucentre I remember the good old days (long time ago – when they were selling Amigas at the Kingsway location – again, BBS days) when they would be a decent place to look around at the computers, the demos all worked and the people legitimately wanted to help.

    It looks like there has been a couple Facebook communities set up for us ex’s to get our hate out and to talk about the good old days as well. I joined the one for the Edmonton ex’s as I’m originally from there (and the original Edmonton Downtown location, across from Norquest was where I worked). Might be good to get on there as well and just keep up with the old crew.

  57. Richard: I was primarily in marketing developing informational content & store handouts. Unfortunately the green shirt/gold tie was my doing, but NOT my idea. (personally, I thought that combination sucked, and looked uncomfortable, but I was a puppet doing what I was told to do. I’ll now take this opportunity to apologise to all. 🙂 )

    I worked in a couple of other departments & locations within the company after the marketing position was closed, which gave me a pretty unique vantage point on where things were going. In a manner of speaking, I am still in one of those positions, which is why if you’re looking for anything more detailed than this, I do not want to put my name here, so we’ll have to figure out a different way to communicate.

    Ken: I remember the good ol’days of Compucentre as well – it was the place to go to look at new gadgets as I took the bus home from school. It was also my first “real” job. For sentimental reasons, I was sad to see that store close earlier this year…but not too sad as it was Hartco-owned at that point.

  58. “Puppet”… a most suitable word to describe working for CompuSmart/Hartco. It was only after I left and decompressed that I came to the realization that I didn’t manage squat, regardless of what my title was. I was merely a puppet for the managers above me to manipulate as they saw fit. I was also a spin doctor, taking crap policy and trying to make it smell good to the employees who would have to live with it. I remember the green shirts and gold ties. They were indeed wretched; the shirts were OK but the ties were horrible and looked out of place. Apology accepted 🙂

    If you have a chance and are involved with Facebook, there is a group for ex-CompuSmart Edmonton people there. I made a lot of good friends working there and it’s nice to be able to remain in touch with everyone. That may be a way to communicate without dropping the veil here.

  59. @Steven: sounds like a good idea. Except doesn’t that defeat the purpose of a website-based inventory tracking system? oh, yeah, and the fact that they’ve gone belly-up because of craptastic customer service?

  60. WOW I had no idea the entire chain had gone belly up. I went to the Eaton Centre the other day to see if I could buy get some iPod accessories and lo and behold, the place was boarded up. I can’t remember now what store is coming next but I was surprised to see it closed.

    Same thing upstairs, down the street from Queen at the Richmond St location. All papered up. That location was nice though, it seemed like an upscale store that had all kinds of Apple stuff before the Apple store opened in the Eaton Centre. I used to have a credit card there at CompuSmart and I remember that last thing I ever bought there was Windows XP Professional the Upgrade version which cost me $299 + $199 I think when I purchased Office XP + an extra $99 i think or more for Frontpage LOL

    Actually, the last experience there was ordering a logitech controller (gaming) it wasn’t in stock so some girl asked me if I wanted to be put on the waiting list. I did and the week after they called me to let me know that the controller was in stock. Pretty good service that time, but the again I didn’t shop at CompuSmart often enough, if at all.

  61. Hey all,

    Thanks for the informative thread. I was an ex-Compucentre staffer (the old Place Alexis Nihon location) that made the jump up to work at Hartco head office in the advertising dept. I designed flyers for all the Hartco/Multimicro chains including the redesign of the CompuSmart flyers towards the end of the 90s — hope you liked ’em, ex-staffers. I also did work on tons of Compucentre, MicroAge and Telephone Booth stuff, including a monthly MicroAge magazine. (I’m now a freelance web and graphic designer, specializing in presentations).

    I too found myself looking for warranty service — got a MacBook Pro from my office and then CompuSmart vanished. As mentioned earlier, Metafore referred me to the Warranty Company of Canada. They were extremely friendly on the phone and referred me to Mac 911, an excellent little repair store in Old Montreal — basically they’ll reimburse any repair expenses. I’m not sure if they’ll handle a direct reimbursement to the repair shop but they implied it might be possible. So if you have a SmartPlan or SmartSwap extended warranty, get in touch with WCC!

  62. It should also be noted that if you require proof of purchase to gain warranty service on an item you bought at Compusmart, but you can’t find it, you can still get a copy of it by contacting CompuSmart Customer Service at

    Though the stores are gone, the customer/purchase databases have been retained. Provide them with your name, the name of the product you bought, the date you bought the product (roughly) and the store you made the purchase at. With this information, they can find your POP and email you a .pdf copy of your sales receipt.

  63. I am sad to hear they closing their stores. Lots of opinions there but I have got only good experience
    To Tim: my fisrt Macintosh good c.s., They got me an Eye Tv 200 unit 60$ !!! cheaper then anyone else
    in Calgary, They helped me out in technical troubble when I most needed with a smile and N/C,
    I have first seen running in public stores Linux Ubuntu on PC, since then nowhere else…too bad,
    They had my 2.5″ Maxtor HDD one of the most reliable small drives around, nobody else had it.
    Yes, +++++++ deerfoot meadows+ex chinook

  64. I’ve been using MemX as my main computer store since the time it was a small department store with low stock. It’s grown HUGE ever since and still has the cheapest prices I’ve seen anywhere. Just recently, my video card broke and I returned it for a brand new one in less than 2 weeks. I also built my own custom PC which came out to be very cheap though quite powerful.

  65. Geez, more negative comments than anything… From what I’ve seen, it seems to be more about the Western locations than in the east. I know it’s nearly a year later, but what the hell. I was employed there for 6 months, laid off after the x-mas rush and store closed 5 months later, and I quite enjoyed my work. It was a franchise (CompuSmart Express) operating in the Rideau Centre here in Ottawa and so far, we had a pretty client satisfaction rating (to my understanding anyway).

    I was paid minimum wage ($8.00/hr) like the rest of the sales staff, even our veteran (5+ yrs) sales guy was too. Managers were paid about $9.00/hr, Techs: $12.00(+extra from apple).

    Anyway, we didn’t have too many problems with clients, we took back most products even if it was a week past the 30 day deadline and didn’t charge the restocking fee if it wasn’t opened (apparently we were supposed to even if it wasn’t), etc. All our guys knew what they were doing and the products as well, most them had IT certs anyway, and we had no problem recommending products from other competitors as a viable alternative, etc.

    Long story short, before you go and condemn the whole chain, the problem may lie with the store itself. Flame if you like, but I speak the truth. Also, Hartco was a pain indeed, that’s why we also ordered from 3rd party suppliers to get the stock we needed. Finally, as a shopper who has been to our Corporate store in Ottawa, they were the problematic ones, I was treated like an idiot…

  66. @FOCSE: Point taken. It’s entirely possible that other CompuSmart stores didn’t suck, and I was a bit rash in condemning the entire chain. Also, I know that there were good employees in other locations (heck, there might even have been good employees at the locations I had the fortune to venture into – I just never met them).

    I think the problem is with the minimum wage, bare bones, high volume business model. Compare with something like the Apple Stores, which are run more like boutiques, and are a pleasure to shop in.

  67. I suppose every store had it’s own ways of running. As far as I knew, the corporate stores pushed their employees to sell things whereas we were taught not to push the client, and assess their needs before recommending products to them and explaining the pros and cons. The funny thing is that even though I may not have made a sale, the customer came back at a later date to purchase something.

    The funny thing is, a few months after I was laid off, I was hired by the government (Service Canada) to be part of their IT Support for summer seeing as I was a student.

  68. I bought an acer laptop at the Victoria store and in January the hard drive, disk drive and mother board crapped out. I brought the laptop in as it was still under warranty (and I must say, I had brought it in for service before for something else and it turned out great). The service tech guy said that it would take awhile to get the warranty processed because they wouldn’t be repairing it (obviously) and I would be receiving a new laptop or credit or something. So, I kept calling to check on it…no answer…left a message…no callback. Finally, I go down to talk to them about it as it has been months…and the store has closed down!

    You guys seem to have the inside info so,

    Does anybody know how I could go about getting my warranty honoured??

    I am a student and I kinda need my laptop…hopefully not my broken one either.

  69. I hear Acer has problems with customer support. Generally if you still have your bill you can contact acer directly since usually the one 1yr warranty comes from the manufacturer. So go a head and contact Acer. Or if they have another location just go there and ask them to honour the warranty.

  70. As an ex 8 year employee of CS Saskatoon, all I can say, is what goes around, comes around. 8 years in the service department, and the owner wouldn’t give us heat in the winter….he said it made us work faster. Thank God for those multi-colored clown shirts we had to wear, those at least offered a bit of warmth. Aside from the thousands of dollars in service commission that the GM stole from me, I must say, CS Saskatoon was the worst employment experience I have ever endured.

    Good luck MJ, you lying, thieving sack of crap. I hope the only job you qualified for after the Circle Drive doors closed was a shoe salesman.

    1. lol… I know the thieving sack of crap Miles J… you hit the nail on the head… but you forgot about the coke-head Brendon…

      1. Hahahahahaha….you mean Brendan the coke head, who lucked into extreme success in marketing? Nobody could forget about Brendan, or Rhonda’s fake cans….Brendan fired me so many times, I lost count. Ahh, the good old days.

  71. re:

    If you go to the US site, the products are 20 – 25% cheaper. They will not sell to Canadians through their US site. If they detect you are Canadian, they force you to the Canadian site where they rip you the extra money. I think they suck. They should offer the same deals whereever, not just to US citizens and rip of Canadians.


  72. I made the mistake of purchasing a computer from CS Saskatoon once. Of course, when they put the prebuild together, they used a PSU that was not only not recommended for the CPU/Mobo, it caused both to repeatedly fail to the point that it burned them both out, the Mobo twice. I should have been careful about it, but this was before I realized the PSU could be such an issue. So each time it would stop working I’d take it down to the service desk (on warranty, why not go back?) only to wait weeks and weeks for them to even look at it, to which they’d say “oh, we reseated the ram, it works fine now”. So for 20 minutes it would work fine, and then the same thing would happen. Over and over again, they’d make zero to no attempt to fix the problem and then claim it worked, only to have the same problem happen within a week of getting it home. At one point the LAN stopped working, so they blamed me for it… despite it being in their shop the entire time. Weeks and weeks would go by on each “fix”, months occasionally. I finally took it to PC Place on 8th where they PROPERLY diagnosed and fixed the problem in 2 days. It never came back, and I never went back to Compusmart. I’d even go to Techtronics (home of obviously stolen parts) rather than go to that dump.

    Plus getting a glimpse of the incredibly disrespectful comments directed at me in the store system… for expecting it shouldn’t take two weeks to not even fix a problem, and realizing that there was no point in dealing with that place anymore. I sure hope it was because of a rebellion against poor management, because I’ve seen 12-year-old kids who could do that job better, and if that was the best that store could do, it’s pitiful. Good to hear that place finally closed down.

    This was, of course, before the days of OTV, only about ten thousand times more helpful, professional, and knowledgeable than compusmart.

  73. Re: Brice,
    As a person that has worked at both Compusmart and PC Place, I\’d say your a little out of touch with how things were done. I knew who the service techs in both places were and I\’d have to say they were pretty much equal in terms of computer knowledge. As for the \”disrespectful comments\” that came out of there, It was only a couple people and not the entire staff that would have been rude (the old service manager spoke her mind a lot), and guess what, PC Place has had it\’s fair share of people that could be considered \”rude\”….oh, and I\’m sure OTV fits in there to, along with every other computer store in the world.
    Looking at your comments I\’d say there is more to your story that your not saying, and with that I\’d have to say you obviously were not a loss to C-smart when you switched stores. If you had taken the time to read the previous statements you would know why compusmart was shut down instead of putting a comment about poor management and 12 year olds doing better jobs. That right there was the comment that summed up your entire rant. You are obviously someone that is one sided and is to lazy to take the time to find out the truth about anything.
    It was customers like you that I would have loved to switch places with and let you experience what we went through.
    Good riddance to reject customers like you, once I became a manager I enjoyed \”firing\” customers that were problematic and abusive to the staff.
    Ya C-smart wasnt the best place around, but we did try the best we could with what we had.

  74. CompuSmart Edmonton – Downtown – WestEnd – South Common

    My favourite place to work – even through today . . .

    I’m very appreciative of the Best Sales Training a person could ever hope to receive through the Educated mind of Gary Ford. Gary helped us understand what our Clients wanted & needed, and those of us still in a field of Sales are no doubt, still applying his sage in our successes. My time as a Sales Consultant was simply FUN. I had a job I loved to hurry to EVERY day. The people I work with were all phenomenal. Every Company has it’s Village Idiot, but even they were tolerable, and in most cases, allowed us to vent about the ONLY thing wrong with the store. When I became Senior Sales (Assistant Store Manager without the bigger payday) I met different challenges, however I never expected to be faced with the cruel punishment Hartco put us all through. I feel most sorry for Gary Ford, who sold his Soul to the Devil, to ensure our prices were competitive. Gary knew what he was doing prior to the Hartco sell out. Hartco never ever had a clue. I believe CompuSmart would still be thriving if Hartco never existed & I would be one of their 14 year employees. Instead, Gary, the empty shell of a man and & I, needed to part ways after 7 years. He was willing to play the puppet, I wasn’t.
    Gary Ford should be very proud of his pre-Hartco years.
    Instead, he must live with the shame of allowing his baby to be dismantled & destroyed.

    How Hartco remains above water, I’ll never understand. Once upon a time, Edmonton had a collection of amazingly trained Tech staff under 3 roofs. Truly amazing people. Lots of FUN. Simply put, I miss you all very much, and for the rest of my life I’ll look for that magic again. I wish you all well.

    Hartco can go straight to Hell, never pass go again, never collect another 200 dollars.

  75. Unfortunately for me, My DBA business name is CompUSmart. I am in no way related to the Canadian CompuSmart or any other compusmart.

    I would be nice to have some mention of this Title of the article as my potential customers that look me up on Google see “CompuSmart Sucks” just above my business listing.

    Can someone make an adjustment … please?

    1. I just updated the post to indicate the CompuSmart described here is the now-defunct Canadian retailer. But, given the level of dissatisfaction by anyone who’s ever used the store, you’re likely to find LOTS of other rants online about how CompuSmart sucks (well, sucked, anyway…)

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