Best Buy Complaint - Bad Service over an exchange
GREENVILLE, SOUTH CAROLINA -- Dear Sir,
Please review the list of items purchased at your Greenville, South Carolina Store since I became your customer in 1996:
COMPAQ Presario PC and Monitor $2600
CD Recorder for above $ 300
36” SONY TV $1400
SONY Surround Dolby Theatre $ 900
SONY Cassette Recorder $ 250
SONY CD Carousel $ 300
SONY Turntable $ 200
Packard Bell PC $1500
Color Printer $ 300
Logitech Scanner $ 250
DVD Player $ 200
SONY Surround System #2 $ 800
DVD for Bedroom $ 200
DVD for Parents $ 200
DVD for In-Laws $ 200
MICRON PC $1100
Microtek Scanner $ 150
E-machine for Self $ 600
E-Machine for parents $ 600
E-Machine for Brother $ 600
Scanner for Mother $ 150
Updated Memory (1st) $ 300
Updated Memory (2nd) $ 200
Updated memory (3rd) $ 100
SONY 25” for bedroom $ 400
Cd-Burner (#2) $ 130
RADEON AGP card $ 300
Jornada PDA $ 300
Jornada Key board $ 100
Palm Keyboard (neice) $ 100
Karaoke machine $ 100
Scanner (nephew) $ 100
Archos MP3 $ 300
USB Card $ 50
Various Ink Jet refills $ 450
Photo Papers $ 600
Canon Photo Printer (S800) $ 300
Various Blank Media $ 400
SONY CamCorder $1200
Accessories through the years $ 600
Movies and DVD’s $1000
Vacuum Cleaner $ 200
Vacuum Cleaner Gift for in-laws) $ 200
Computer Software from 1996 until $ 875
Carpet Steam Cleaner $ 300
Computer Greeting Card Supplies $ 315
TOTAL since I became a customer $21,750.00
I track my purchases fastidiously with “QUICKEN FINANCIAL SUITE” and am able to accurately determine how much, when, where, and why I made any purchase. This is why I am able to confidently list the above purchases made in your store #272 since I first moved to Greenville, SC six years ago. I can provide the register receipts for all of the above as well if you need further documentation of my status as a customer.
Let me also state that as the Vice-President of Human Resources for a $4 billion retail chain (306 stores, 27,000 associates), I am very aware of your company, its economic recovery in the past 5 years, and the work you’ve done with EVA in particular. In fact the great results you achieved with EVA was in part one of the reasons we chose to implement EVA in 2000 for our chain.
I would now like to tell you the real reason for this letter: Today, Saturday, March 16, 2002, marks the end of our relationship as customer/retailer.
I received 2 copies of the same DVD collection (M*A*S*H: The First Season) for my birthday (March 10). We opened one of them and enjoyed a few episodes of one of my favorite shows. Yesterday, March 15, I took the other DVD set back to Store #272 exchange the duplicate M*A*S*H collection for something else. I had the original receipt for the purchase of this item in my possession. When your associate at the Service Center attempted to help me, she informed me that the item did not come from Best Buy and that they could not take it back. This was said in a rather accusatory way implying that I was trying to return stolen merchandise for money, or some other act of fraud. To be so mistrusted by your associate when I had a receipt (Val# 0404-7941-4114-5929) was a personal insult.
However, as a retail professional and reasonable person, I decided to dismiss the accusatory tone. I opted instead for leaving your store with my DVD. Besides, I knew that the OTHER copy of the DVD (the one that really had come from Best Buy) was at home and that I could go home, get it, and take it back to the store for my exchange. Given the further events of this story, I should have taken issue with her accusation that I had stolen the item and demanded to see the Manager then. However, so confident was I in your company’s integrity that I let the insult go and I departed.
Today, Saturday, March 16, 2002, at 11am I returned to store #272 to exchange the M*A*S*H DVD Collection. However, it did not go as I had planned and the events of this morning are what brought me to the conclusion that our relationship was to be severed. Here’s the next part of the story.
The young lady at the Service Center told me that since the DVD had been opened they could not accept it for an exchange or a refund! Even with the receipt! When I explained the situation of duplicate gifts and that the friends who had bought the other DVD lived out of town and that I had no way of knowing from what retailer they had purchased the still-sealed DVD, she politely explained that there was nothing she could do. When I explained that as a customer I should not have needed to stop my birthday festivities before opening one of the duplicate gifts and matching it with the correct Best Buy receipt, she said that company policy prevented her from giving me the exchange!
So, I asked for the Manager. The clerk took my DVD and went to the Managers Office. She returned and informed me that the Store Manager, Steve Mardis had made the decision to refuse my exchange. Instead of speaking to me in person, he asked her to page the Operations Manager to deal directly with me.
After having to be paged 3 times and my waiting for over 10 minutes, John Higgins, Operations Manager came to the Service Center. The clerk explained what was going on and he reiterated her stance of no exchange on open movies per policy. Once again I tried to explain the issues of duplicate gifts and that yesterday this store wouldn’t accept the sealed DVD. I even asked him if he thought I should be expected to stop in the middle of birthday party to match up receipts with gifts in order to protect my rights for an exchange. He refused to answer this question and he only re-stated the corporate policy of not accepting open DVD’s in order to prevent copyright violations and pirating videos! Imagine! With a receipt in hand, he actually had the gall to state that I might be involved in pirating videos!
Mr. Higgins said that the matter was closed and that there was nothing I could do. I asked him for the number of corporate headquarters and asked him to write his name and the name of the store manager on a piece of paper for me. He complied in a manner that can only be described as rude, and told me “You can call the company but they never make exceptions!”
I exited the store in which I had entered 20 minutes earlier planning to purchase a new freezer and a set of DVD’s to be given as a gift for my mother-in-law’s upcoming birthday (Freezer=$499, DVD set=$79.99, total loss of sales to Best Buy=$580.00).
I returned home and called your Customer Service line to explain the situation. My call was answered after a 5 minute wait by Paris at extension #3527. I told her the facts that I have described here and she too quoted company policy and then (get this) told me that Federal Copyright Law prohibited Best Buy from taking returns of open movies or software! Incredulously I asked her to repeat that statement and she once again stated that Copyright Laws forbid Best Buy from taking back open movies or software. This was followed up by Paris saying “It’s to keep people from pirating copies of movies.”
So, twice in less than 24 hours I have been accused of being a thief by Best Buy, Inc.
When I calmly asked her to help me reach some sort of satisfactory conclusion to this issue (please fell free to replay the tape of the conversation. I know that when I told Paris I would be writing, that she has tagged the incident to remain on your system for 30 days or so) she said that she could request that the store make a single, one-time exception and allow me to have a merchandise exchange at the store. Paris then put me on hold and called the store. When she returned she had Mr. Higgins on the phone with her and she said that he had agreed to allow me to bring the sealed DVD in (the one not bought at Best Buy and the very one that yesterday you would not take back!) and receive an in-store credit! Unbelievable! This was the very resolution I had sought in person yesterday and again this morning. But yesterday it was implied that I was a Media Pirate and that Best Buy would not sully the good name of the company in order to accommodate a thief. And now, 17 hours later, this was the solution that I was being offered. And this solution only if I were to drive the 20 minutes back to the store for my third trip there in those 17 hours. When I reminded Mr. Higgins that they would not accept the DVD yesterday he sarcastically replied that the SKU numbers would be the same no matter where the DVD had been bought. But they are not the same SKU numbers and there is no match for the unit in your system, even though the product sits on your shelf.
This was unacceptable to me. I told Paris and Mr. Higgins so and informed them that this was an issue of principle due to the way I was treated with a lack of dignity and respect. I then requested that I be mailed a complete refund for my $29.99 and that further work on my part to resolve this would not be forthcoming. I refuse to drive to YOU in order to be accommodated.
Paris then spoke to Mr. Higgins and said that she had all the information she needed and that she had noted in the file that the customer had refused the solution offered. Mr. Higgins then hung up the phone.
I asked Paris for the name and number of the District Manager of the area and she said that Best Buy refused to give such information out. Again, an unbelievable comment! In my company we give the name and direct number of all Managers and District Managers if a customer is seeking solutions to any problem encountered in one of our stores.
Paris told me I could write the Corporate Office if I wanted to take this matter further. She once again stated in a very condescending tone that since I had refused the solution she offered the matter was then closed and that she wished me a good day.
I find it amazing that Best Buy would allow $30 to sever the relationship with a $21,750.00 customer! In this difficult retailing economy that you would rigidly stand on a policy and not try to make a customer happy is unfathomable. Yesterday, and again this morning, I was happy to have an exchange for the duplicate gift. But after having been insulted and condescended to, I no longer will support your company. The loss of the $30 is immaterial to me. I am willing to lose the $30 in order to make a point and feel better about this situation.
No letter or response is needed. No gift certificate to woo me back into the fold will be accepted. There is now a CompUSA in Greenville as well as a Circuit City. They are now my electronics retailers of choice. I choose and vote with my money, and my choice is no longer Best Buy.
Furthermore, my executive duties give me access to many venues that may be of interest to you:
Customer Service Training 10,000 people per year
Adjunct University Professor 100 people per year
Customer Service Author 2,000,000 readers per year
Consultant +/- 20 corporations per year
Customer Service Speaker 50,000 people per year
Rest assured that this fully documented, witnessed, and factual situation will be repeated to all of the above audiences for the next several years. I will encourage them to boycott Best Buy citing your lack of integrity and lack of business sense. In fact, I’ll forward you a copy of my next article on Customer Service wherein I will tell this story in all its magnificent, deplorable business insanity. Additionally, I challenge you to monitor my account and see for certain that I will spend no more money with Best Buy. Enjoy your $30.