Radio Shack is jumping into the multibillion-dollar consumer electronics repair business with both feet beginning today.
The retailer is opening repair service desks at all 59 of its Tampa Bay stores as a prelude to the national rollout of its new expanded repair service in the next three months.
"Customers want and expect honesty, timely repairs, trustworthy service and a fair charge with a minimum 90-day warranty. That someone is Radio Shack," said Leonard Roberts, president of the Fort Worth, Texas-based Tandy Corp. unit.
Radio Shack's huge collection of 6,600 stores nationwide soon will become drop-off spots for any non-warranty work done on everything from personal computers to videocassette recorders, posing a major competitive battle with the small, mostly family-owned repair shops that now dominate the business.
"Who else in this business has as many stores as we do?" said Rick Garabedian, operations director of Tandy Service.
Until now, Radio Shack's Clearwater repair shop worked mostly on equipment sold by Radio Shack.
Now, with Tandy out of the manufacturing business as part of a broad 1993 restructuring, the chain is broadening its repair work to 49 major consumer electronics brands ranging from Apple to Sony to Zenith. And the company is committed to expanding the operation to meet expected increases in demand for repair work.
Each Radio Shack store is equipped to make a ballpark estimate of the repair bill when a customer drops off a broken tape deck or camcorder. Estimates also are available from a toll-free telephone line.
A final estimate is supposed to be telephoned to the customer within 48 hours. Work is supposed to be done within 15 days. Repairs are done on a flat hourly rate plus parts. Rates vary from product to product. Radio Shack has no current plans to become a local service center for warranty work.
Radio Shack decided to get in the business after studies showed widespread consumer distrust of electronics repair shops.
A study done for Radio Shack showed 20 percent more consumers said they would take damaged goods to a Radio Shack for repairs over the other major retail consumer electronics retail chains. It also suggested small, family-owned repair shops will virtually be out of business by the end of the decade as their owners get older and retire or fail to keep up with constantly changing technology.