Tuesday, December 30, 2008

What the hell goes on at Fry's?

Bad: Ausaf Umar Siddiqui, their VP of merchandising "is accused of putting together a straightforward kickback scheme that demanded exorbitant commissions from a handful of companies in exchange for prominent placement at Fry's stores. Prosecutors say he used the money to pay off massive gambling debts at several Las Vegas casinos."

Worse: "Siddiqui's obsession with Las Vegas gambling was no secret on the second floor at Fry's headquarters....Whether Fry's knew of his multimillion-dollar debts is uncertain. Fry's loaned Siddiqui $5.1 million in November 2002 and $5.3 million more in February 2003, according to a lawsuit filed last week, but the company declined to say why it made the loans. A review of public documents shows Siddiqui has been sued by at least five casinos from New Jersey to Connecticut to Nevada, and owes the federal and state governments more than $21 million."

I think the story behind the story -- the winking at misconduct, the unseemly lavishness -- seems somehow in line with the Fry's shopping experience, which I can only describe as customer-hostile.

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