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That whimpering sound you hear is Circuit
City’s Firedog running away with
its tail between its legs.

Late the week of Jan. 12, Circuit City
announced it had declared bankruptcy and was closing all of its stores,
liquidating its assets and riding off into the great unknown. Not only was it
taking down its retail operations, it also was pulling the plug on Firedog, its
computer and home theater installation and repair services.

That’s good news for solution providers that service the SOHO
(small office/home office) market and have seen their customers migrate to Circuit
City and Best Buy for their
computer repairs.

"Their demise probably will help us out," says Michael Vance,
computer technician at Naples Computers, in Naples,
Fla. Naples
Computers has a chart on its Web site that compares its prices with those of
Firedog and Geek Squad. "Usually the demise of any computer competition in
this area is good for us."

Circuit City
rolled out Firedog in 2006 to compete with Best Buy’s Geek Squad, which Best
Buy purchased in 2002 to provide in-house and on-site computer repair and
installation. Firedog, meanwhile, was a new name for Circuit City Services, its
in-house repair facility, which, according to numerous anecdotal accounts
(simply type in Firedog service in Google and witness for yourself), didn’t
have the computer chops necessary to compete.

"When I was living in Orlando,
I applied for a computer technician job at Firedog. During the interview I
asked the manager some basic networking questions that he didn’t know the
answer to. And these were basic questions," Vance says.

Vance notes that it hasn’t been all bad having both
Firedog and Geek Squad in Naples Computers’ back yard. "They have sent
customers over to us when they can’t fix their computer … We had heard some
things about Firedog, that they charged so much and never got anything
done," Vance says. "It doesn’t surprise me that they’re done."