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Fool Me Once, Shame On You. Fool Me Twice...
By -

CONCORD, NEW HAMPSHIRE -- It seems that I never have anything but bad luck when purchasing any items over $100 with Best Buy. Don't get me wrong, generally, they have fair prices and a good selection of items in stock but unless you can walk in, grab whatever you want and walk out it just isn't worth doing business with them.

I attempted to purchase a Sony PS3, Blu-Ray movie and a couple of accessories from the Concord New Hampshire store last night. It was the last one they had in stock (lucky me, I thought!) and it was on the shelf. I grabbed my items and headed for the check-out line. The one register that was open had a person in line so the young lady over at the Customer Service counter called me over. Great! Now that's what you call service. Or not.

As the cashier was scanning my items I explained that I had three methods of payment that I would like to use and asked if that was OK. She said, "Yes, that would be fine." I had two gift cards, a Visa and an AMEX. I explained that the Visa had $50 balance remaining and that I would like $140 taken from the AMEX card. The rest of the balance would be paid using my credit card. The cashier takes the Visa and uses the $50 then she grabs the AMEX and proceeds to ring the remaining balance, roughly $380, onto the AMEX!

Now, I was looking her in the eye when I told her how I wanted to pay for everything and I know she acknowledged the words that came out of my mouth so I can only assume (dangerous word, assume) that it was a mistake. But here is the real problem; she proceeds to call the Operations Manager over to void the sale, in theory, to run the cards correctly, and then finds out that since they were gift cards it's going to take up to a week for the funds to be returned to my accounts!

This, of course, was after waiting 30 minutes while she tried to redo the transaction. So now my money is in limbo for a week and I have nothing to show for it except for an extreme dislike of Best Buy. Did I mention that these were meant to be gifts? For a party happening this week? No? I must have forgotten.

This is not the first bad experience I've had with them. Every time I attempt to purchase something other than a DVD or CD from Best Buy I end up getting scammed, lied to or short changed like last night. I've said it before, and I have only myself to blame for not sticking with it but I will not be purchasing anything else from Best Buy again. I strongly urge everyone else that reads this to do the same.

There are (or were) better stores out there that actually care about the lost art form called Customer Service. Tweeter and Circuit City as well as any number of smaller electronics stores. Tweeter is gone and Circuit City is going under. It's time Best Buy felt the consequences of their actions. I urge all of you to stop spending your hard-earned money there. It's the only way they will learn that treating customers with total disregard is a poor business plan.

Are You Serious?
By -

LONGMONT, COLORADO -- Best Buy for me has generally been a wonderful company to buy from. The deals that I've found there have been better than most places and sometimes I'll find a salesperson that even manages to impress me. On this glorious occasion, I regret to inform my3cents readers that I was treated with a great deal of respect at one store and disrespect at another.

My story begins at store 211 which is in Denver on Colorado Blvd and Mexico. My family and I were looking for a computer and my buddy lives near there so we looked around for roughly 2 1/2 hours. Mind you, the store is located 54 miles away from us, but it's close to my buddy so whenever we are in town to visit, we stop by that store and almost always buy something. After much looking and asking questions, we settled on purchasing an ASUS X83Vm.

The salesperson (James) was great. He did everything to inform me about who, what, when, where, why and how. He said he had 4 left and the cost was 794. We bought it, paid 699 plus tax (was it lower than the posted clearance sign?), went to dinner and drove back to Longmont. When we arrived home, I unpacked the laptop and noticed it was a different color than the one at the store. We looked at it, compared the model number on the box and noticed that in 24point, you could clearly see X83V and about 5 inches underneath that, you could see X83Vb-x1 in roughly 6 point font. It was obviously an easy to make mistake.

So, I packed it up and since it was 11 pm, waited until the next day to drive 3 miles to our local Best Buy. I explained to the salesperson what had happened and he only had 1 in stock and it was a display model but the price was 899 and not 794. So, since I need it by Monday and I'm not willing to drive another 54 miles to get the boxed version, this one will do.

When I went to pay for it, the associate informs me that the difference between 699 and 899 would be charged and I politely informed her that it was 794 at the original store and I offered to pay the difference. She gets an Asst. Manager who tells me that each store sets their own prices on clearance and I explain that all I want to do is exchange it and pay the price difference. They are getting a new in box item (not used - sticker broken) and I am getting a display model with no box and parts in an envelope.

What more could I ask for? He tells me that he cannot accept the boxed item without charging me the 15% restocking fee for an open box item and his store shouldn't have to "eat it". Furthermore, he would be willing to discount the display 10% but since the store has $899 "into the computer", he would need approval. I ask him to call the store manager and notice that "Jen" is a store manager but he doesn't call her, he calls "Mark" who is a store manager as well. I proceed to tell the same story to Mark, ** and the sales associate.

I explain that I am even willing to pay the difference AND I need a DVD player and just bought it a few seconds before I started this conversation with **. He tells me that unfortunately, this is one of those occasions when the Store Manager has to tell the customer to go back to the original store because ** is correct in stating that the store has $899 into the laptop as he trusts he looked into it. So... I restate what he told me. He wants me to drive 54 miles, in the snow, after work and exchange it at the store because this store paid $899 for the laptop and this store doesn't honor pricing set by other stores, correct?

Are you serious? He tells me that unfortunately, this is one of those times when he has to send a customer to the original store as they are the ones that created the error. OK, I get the box, my DVD player, go to work and at 7:45 pm, drive to store 211. I arrive at 9:15 pm and explain what happened to **, a store manager. He apologizes for everything, discounts the 794 by $25 for the drive down there and asks if I need anything else. Talk about GREAT service!

I got home, opened it up and have to tell you, it was worth every penny. I don't care about the horrible and atrocious service at this Best Buy - Store 211 made it all up. If I every have to buy anything (I always do) I'll drive the extra 20 miles to the nearest Best Buy. Kudos to Store 211 and Up yours to the Longmont store.

Online Purchase Hits Your Credit Card, But Does Not Guarantee Merchandise Will Be There
By -

CHEEKTOWAGA, NEW YORK -- I stopped at a Best Buy store in a snowstorm yesterday afternoon to buy two Flip videos for primary Christmas gifts. They didn't have the model, but assured me three other stores did. I followed the "no unnecessary travel ban" and went home. When I called the other store this morning, they said they had both models I needed but couldn't reserve it. I would have to order online and come pick up. I did just that. I waited for the first confirmation email and the second confirmation email as instructed.

I checked my bank website and saw my credit card had been charged for the full amount for both cameras. I was being extra careful because our street had not yet been plowed and I knew it was going to be a hassle to get out. It was. The mall parking lot was gridlock, so between my street and those problems the 15 minute trip took an hour. None of these things are the fault of Best Buy, but the rest of what happened is inexcusable.

The clerk brought out only one camera and casually told me they didn't have the other one. But I had a verbal confirmation, two email confirmations and my credit card was charged for both cameras. I asked to speak to the manager.. and things went quickly downhill.

No, they could not guarantee when "Best Buy Online" would credit my account with the $170+ for the item that never existed. They could ask another store to hold one... but couldn't guarantee they would have it when I got there. The "manager" had no name tag and was apparently born without a last name, for she refused to provide it or any explanation. I got plenty of "what do you want me to do, I can't sell you something that not there" and "I can't control what Best Buy Online does."

So here I sit, less than 48 hours from leaving on my Christmas trip with my account short $173 dollars, no promise of when I'll get it back (the money was taken from my account within a minute of my pressing SEND earlier). I came home to discover that sometime while I was circling the parking loot, the local store apparently sent an email saying the item was not available.

But it still gets better. There was also an email receipt saying I picked up both items and yet another email receipt saying I returned one. So they have created a paper trail in direct contradiction to my experience. They have my money for an indefinite period of time. I have no gift (and reduced funds with which to buy another)... and I wasted almost three valuable, frustrating hours.

My guess is that the local store sold my item out from under me, sent a quick email afterwards banking that I wasn't already on my way (although the local email had no mechanism for crediting my account)... and set a paper trail behind it to make it look like I had simply returned the item. This level of management and oversight draws the entire process into question. Don't take a chance with their extremely flawed process. Not only are there clear issues with the technology and inventory flow, but their "managers" are trained only in smirking.

Best Buy Doesn't Sell What It Puts On Sale
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DANBURY, CONNECTICUT -- My family and I went to the Best Buy in Danbury, CT to purchase a TV. I believe that Best Buy has unfair, anti-consumer practices which they exhibited that night, because they displayed and advertised a sale price on the TV we chose to buy, yet would not sell it to us, order it, nor give us a raincheck. Further they insisted on continuing to display the TV at the sale price despite the fact, that in reality, it was not for sale, and would not be for sale in the foreseeable future.

Here's what happened: We chose a Panasonic 42” plasma TV advertised for sale at $899.00. A salesman named Pete helped us make the decision by telling us that the TV was normally $1300, so it was a good deal. There was nothing in the advertising that said it was in limited quantity or on sale for a limited period of time.

Pete went in the back to get the TV, but came back to us and said there were none in stock, but he could order it. We said OK. He worked on the computer for a few minutes and then told us that he could not order it… He didn't know when or if they would be coming in. We told him we wouldn't mind ordering it and waiting, and he again told us that he could not, would not order it. We asked for a rain check. He said he could not issue one.

We asked why a TV would be displayed for sale with a sales price, when in fact, it wasn't really for sale? He insisted it was for sale, but when we asked him to sell it to us, he said he could not… It wasn't available. Then he told us that it was available online and we could order it that way. He allowed us to use the computer at the counter to do so. However, after I entered all the information into the online form and went to place the order, it was refused, saying that the TV was unavailable.

I explained what happened to Pete. His response was he couldn't do anything about it. I suggested that the sales price be removed from the TV on display and a sign posted on it saying “not available.” He said it was for sale, I asked him again to sell it to us and he said he could not. He told us to go to customer service if we wanted to complain.

We went to customer service and spoke to Tracey. I explained what happened and she said Pete was right, we could not buy the TV or order it as it was not available. Then she said she would make an exception and offered us a rain check because she said that three TVs were coming into the main warehouse and we would be alerted when one was available (but she didn't know what stores would be receiving them).

She said the rain check would guarantee the price but not the product. I said that made no sense, but we agreed to accept the rain check anyway. Then she changed her mind or couldn't do it (I don't know which), and suddenly rescinded her offer of giving us a rain check.

I asked her why Best Buy would display and advertise an item that was not really for sale. She said because it was an “active” item. I asked her how it could be an “active” item if they couldn't/wouldn't sell it, order it, or rain check it for their advertised price. She said that all their products were displayed, even if they weren't available, and further, she wasn't the manufacturer.

I told her that I understood that she wasn't the manufacturer but asked her it was an “active” item if I can't buy it, order it, get a rain check, or even be told that it will be available in the future. She just kept repeating that it was an active item, there was nothing she could do and if we continued to talk to her about this, she was going to walk away, so we left the store.

Her remark about walking away was surprising to me because although I was persistent in trying to make sense of their policy, I was at no time disrespectful or inappropriate. My remarks and questions were focused solely on not being able to buy the TV that was advertised. Best Buy is misleading its customers with low sales prices on items that they will not sell, order, rain check or even know if the item will ever be in stock again or; if so, at what price. Don't believe their ads... They can advertise at any price if they're not really going to sell what they advertise.

GPS Receiver Missing SD Card
By -

MARLBOROUGH, MASSACHUSETTS -- I would like to report my experience with the BestBuy store in Marlborough, MA, more specifically with the store manager. A few hours ago I purchased a car GPS (Magellan 1212) and after leaving the store I realized that the corner of the package was open. Since I liked the model, I decided to open the rest of the package in order to operate it. It turned out that this unit was missing the SD card. I could not find it anywhere within the package.

I decided to come back to the store in order to return this unit or get an exchange. The customer service told me that if I return it then I would have to pay a 15% restocking fee for that unit. I told her that the unit was sold to me with the SD card missing and if an exchange was not possible then I would like to return it. Since the unit was sold to me with missing contents I do not think I should pay any re-stocking fee.

She called the store manager to attempt to void the fee. The manager initially told me that this unit did not require any SD card (the missing part), but I pointed out in the package contents section that the SD card is listed there. Then the manager removed all the contents of the package. After not being able to find the SD card, he told me that since I opened the package I had to pay the 15% re-stocking fee unless I exchange that product. I told him that was the last unit and that I would like to return it and check in other stores to see if I could find the same model.

He repeatedly asked me if I read the back of the receipt that states about the 15% fee for this class of products. I replied stating that the store sold me a unit with missing contents and it was not my fault. The manager warned me that he was the store manager and he would not bend any rules to resolve my case. He repeatedly stated that there was nothing he could or would do about it. As a matter of fact his tone of voice was demonstrating annoyance while talking to me.

I replied stating that I was very frustrated as a customer. The manager made no legitimate attempt to resolve the situation. I finally asked him if he could look in the store (either in the stock room or on display) for the same model so that we could have this situation resolved. After a few minutes of searching in the store show room only, he said that there was no unit left. I also asked him to find me an SD card for that unit and he aggressively told me that he could not and he would not find nor give me an SD card from any unit in the store, not even the display one.

Since this manager made no attempt to further help me, I suggested for him to find me an equivalent model of another brand. He said that the model Tom Tom ONE 125 was the closest one, but it was cheaper than the one I bought, and he would not refund any difference. It turns out that the manager was wrong since I paid 79.99 for the original model and TomTom in question was 99.99. I told him that since my original purchase was a model with missing parts (which he logged in the system as defective), he should at least give me the closest model available for the same exact price.

Once again, this manager insisted that he would not bend any rules for me. He also insisted that if I don't buy that TomTom, he would charge me the 15% restocking fee and that I should read the back of my receipt. I replied asking: “So I come to your store, buy a piece of equipment with missing parts, try to return it, the store can't find any equivalent model and I have to pay a restocking fee?” He replied stating that he just follows rules and he does not make them. In addition to this, since he is the store manager, there was nobody else that could help me with my case.

As a customer, I am more than frustrated with the indifference from this store manager that offered no attempt to solve my problem or at least remedy the situation with reasonable options. I felt violated since my only option was to buy a more expensive model. I felt even more frustrated with the type of treatment received since at all times I seemed to be the one that did something wrong.

I bought the unit just a few hours ago and I had no chance to use it. I never acted in bad faith nor took advantage of the store policies, such as using the unit for days and then giving it back. Instead, I received a non-functional unit, which was sold as brand new. I understand that the store has policies to discourage customers from using equipment for leisure, such as camcorders and GPS, for a period of time and then return them as new.

That was absolutely not my case. I had no interest of abusing of any policy and I promptly returned it to the store as soon as I noticed the missing part in the package. This was done in just a matter of a few hours. I was extremely disappointed and aggravated with the store manager's professional treatment since he made no attempt to remedy the situation and he treated me as if I was acting in bad faith at all times.

I will certainly take this as my most relevant experience with BestBuy. I will take all the possible actions to file complaints on consumer protection agencies or even in the media, to the extent allowable by the law, since I felt that my customer trust and protection were clearly violated. I will make every attempt to make sure customers like me have more protection against stores like BestBuy.

I hope my words send the right message to consumers and that proper corrective actions will take place in a near future, otherwise this store will be destined to push customers away and consequently follow the course of so many others that eventually went out of business.

Best Buy, Never Again!!!
By -

MONROE, NORTH CAROLINA -- In my TV setup I have a converter box for premium cable feeding a VCR/DVD/DVR. I've also used a separate VCR fed with basic cable for a input to my picture-in-picture on the TV. This lets me either watch one channel while I record another, or record 2 different channels. The tuner in the old VCR died so I went shopping this afternoon for a replacement. Do you know that you just about can't buy them anymore?

The first 2 places I went didn't have any video recorders with built in tuners, none... I was on Hwy 74 heading toward Monroe so I thought maybe I'd give Best Buy a look, I wasn't really sure I wanted to mess with them at all since I've never been in a Best Buy but what I didn't leave pissed off.

But I figured, what the heck. I'm right here at it, let's look. I went to the video department where a sales person named Gary came over and asked if he could help. I explained to him what I was looking for and he started showing me the premium high end combo units, I told him all I wanted it to do is have a tuner and be able to record.

He said "I've got just the thing you need" and he lead me to another aisle where he pulled out a TV unit, I told him I wasn't interested in paying a subscription to TV just to record, he said "Oh no, you don't have to, that's what that most people don't understand, the TV unit will work as a video recorder without connecting to TiVo." I said "Are you sure?" He said "Absolutely positive."

I read the specs on the box and it really looked interesting, not only did it have a tuner, it had 2 tuners, so it could record 2 different channels at the same time and it was a DVR that would record 80 hours on its hard drive. WOW this looked great, I asked him again if he was sure I didn't need to subscribe to TiVo, "Absolutely not" was his reply. I thought that all that for $150 wasn't bad so I bought it.

After I got home it was a quick install and in just a few moments I was going through the setup. Then I got to a screen where it wanted me to connect it to the internet or a phone line so it could contact TV to download the setup data. Well, I didn't want to connect to TiVo, I just wanted to be able to record. After messing with it for about a hour and not getting anywhere I called the Best Buy store where I bought and asked for home video department. It seems Gary had gone home already, so I told the other young guy what my problem was, he said "Gary LIED to you, you have to pay a subscription fee to TV to use that unit." I couldn't believe it.

I told him I wanted to speak to the store manager, he said he was kind of busy but if I'd like to hold he'd page him... When he put me on hold I just hung up and hit redial, when they answered I asked for the manager, I got some young girl assistant manager, I asked her why they had sales people working there that would lie to a customer? She said they didn't and I replied "I beg your pardon but you do," I told her the story and what the other guy said about Gary having lied to me.

Of course theirs was nothing for me to do but take it all back apart, put it back in the box, drive the 20 mile round trip and return it. And I still don't have a new video recorder, the only other thing they have is almost $300, I'm just not ready to pay that much for one... Mark my words, I WILL NEVER, NEVER, NEVER SET FOOT IN BEST BUY again!!!

Best Buy At Their Worst
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MONTGOMERYVILLE, PENNSYLVANIA -- Granted, they are called “Best Buy”, not “Best Service”. And over the years they have been very true to their title, so much so that we have spent thousands upon thousands of dollars with them on everything electronic, including multiple computers, cameras, telephones, vacuum cleaners, kitchen appliances, CD's, DVDs, gaming equipment, GPS devices, televisions, and all of the supporting hardware and software.

Though we are not their biggest client, we certainly rank among the most loyal and will always bypass the super clubs and discount stores, paying a little extra and going a bit out of our way for the informed opinions and technical knowledge that is a part of every purchase. Like most folks, getting the right gadget is more important to us than getting the cheapest one. So, no complaints on the pre-sale side. Everything has always been sunshine and buttercups and would probably remain so. Sadly, we'll never know because we aren't going back.

Understand, I am humble enough to know that they won't know that we are missing. I get the fact that our “account” will be replaced by some other customer, probably a disgruntled Circuit City shopper and life and business will proceed as normal for the boys at Best Buy. Still, this service break down story is a good one that needs telling and certainly is one that we can all learn from.

The saga begins on August 13, 2008. In the middle of watching the first week of the summer Olympics, our 50” Samsung HDTV implodes. Not violently mind you but with enough commotion to let us know that something inside has gone terribly wrong. Our first thought, of course, was to blame the kids. Once this was ruled out and all apologies issued, we learned that our color wheel had shattered and taken out the lamp along with it.

“Thank God we have the extended warranty.” we said almost simultaneously. Yes, we are those buyers that inherently trust the recommendations of the sales staff. They always recommend buying the extended agreement and we always abide. Naively believing that Best Buy's pre-sale integrity was transferable to the service side of things, my wife called immediately to report the catastrophe. Let the phone gymnastics begin. After holding for 20 minutes or so (annoying but not unacceptable) a service appointment was set up for August 19. No Olympics we thought, but at least we'd catch the closing ceremonies.

Upon arrival, the service tech pronounced the injury to our Samsung a near fatal one; however, a replacement part would bring it back to life and that the part would be ordered immediately and be in within seven days. This news put an end to our Olympic aspirations; however, we still held hope for the political conventions. Then... nothing.

After waiting for the week and after far too many nights of playing solitaire, another call was placed, another holding episode encountered, lots of transfers, more holding, and then, finally, an answer. “The part would be delivered and installed no later than September 2.” said with indifference and complete disregard for the fact that we were now 10 days without a tube, we were to miss the political conventions and baseball's run for the playoffs and were coming close to missing opening day of the NFL.

Then things got way out of hand. September 2nd came and we heard nothing. My wife, having calendared this date as most important, called and spent two-hours, yes, two-hours, including hold times and transfers, trying to find out what was going on.

Finally, a supervisor was found and we were informed that the part was back ordered until September 14th. Not to worry, it was Best Buy's Policy that no customer should be without an appliance or a television for more than 14 days. Ignoring the fact that we were already beyond the 14 day benchmark, the supervisor instructed us to call back (ugh) in “a couple of days”, to get a special number to bring to the store to get a replacement TV.

On September 4th, this call was placed and another two-hour phone adventure began. This time we were informed (curtly and with the type of heavy sighing that let's you know that you are an annoyance) that, “Senior Management had not yet approved the replacement and were holding off their decision until September 6th”. No appeal, no mercy.

What about the two-week rule? Turns out, the clock starts ticking when the part is ordered and the part wasn't ordered immediately as promised but instead on August 23. After pointing out that the delay was theirs and not ours, we were informed (with ever increasing distaste) that records are records. Goodbye, good luck, back to lunch.

On September 6th, the required call was placed and, no surprise, another two-hour cat- and-mouse game ensued. This time, we were told that the special number that we needed for the new TV could not be issued until September 12 because it required time to “process”. By this point, my beloved wife was at the end of her rope and requested a higher ranking supervisor. Magic! Processing time was suddenly advanced and on Monday, September 8th somebody would call with the special number.

As you might have already guessed, no call came and after waiting until 4PM we finally made the call. Good news! This call only took 30 minutes (far shorter than the new normal) and the special number was delivered. We were instructed to bring the TV, the power cord and the remote to the store where we would receive our new TV. Though we had missed all of the aforementioned events, at least we would be able to monitor the progress of Hurricane Ike. With a daughter and granddaughter living in Florida, this was critical.

Want to see something funny? Watch two grandparents hoisting, lugging, and loading a 50" DLP into a Honda Pilot. I think that our sheer determination made it fit. Anyway, off to the store we went, knowing that we'd be coming home with a new TV as promised. Unbelievably, things went from bad to worse. Upon arrival at our store – really, the one that we always go to – smiles turned into furrowed brows as we entered.

Though we had been informed that we would receive a TV of equal value to what we paid for the original, we were now told that “what they meant” was equal specifications. The problem was, new technology had replaced the old and the old was no longer in stock. Not just in our store but in all others. It would have to be ordered and delivered, perhaps taking another week or so.

After narrating the battle we had fought to get Best Buy to honor the warranty that we purchased for just such an event, after pointing out the list of commitments that had been broken, and after featuring the promise that we would not leave the store this night without a new television, a bright young sales person suggested the next model up - a little larger and better yet the price was not more than what we had originally paid. This lad either had some customer service training or was a member of the common sense club. All he needed, he said, was his manager's approval.

Enter the manager – Jeff. His is the only name I will use because he is the most noteworthy among all of those that we dealt with. Jeff heard us out and said no, we would have to wait... again. Though he acknowledged that his decision was discretionary, it was his decision to make and he had decided. “But Jeff, we hauled the old TV all the way here from home (1/2 hour trip) with the promise of going home with a working television! You have it within your power to fulfill that expectation! Look at our account and look at all of the money we spend here! We are very good customers!”

Answer... still “no”. Without apology, without sensitivity, and with complete indifference. My wife indicated that she would, unbelievably, pull out her cell phone and call customer service again to get this sorted out. Jeff replied, “Call whoever you wish but it won't do you any good”, and then just walked away.

Well, he was right. After another hour spent on the phone with customer service, we were told that the store manager could decide any way that he wished and that they could not override his decision. Hearing this was like being shot in the chest, only less damaging and not as bloody. We had been in the store two-hours, had driven ½ hour to get there, missed dinner, and we were now about to drive ½ hour back home empty-handed.

I asked to have Jeff paged so that I could speak to him one more time. Not to appeal (I had given up) but to let him know that he had seriously mishandled the situation. The points that I made to Jeff are the lessons that I want to remind us all of, for they are basic tenants of baseline service.

• Honor your company's commitments, even if you didn't make them. Jeff informed us that the people on the phone were wrong to tell us what they told us. He pointed out the descriptive language buried in the warranty agreement that said “45 Days” without a TV. He argued his point without considering the fact that the “they” that he spoke of, in our eyes, worked for the same company and were his colleagues. Not some disenfranchised group from another world. Regardless of who made the promises and commitments, they were well documented and clearly communicated. Jeff had an obligation to fulfill them and deal with the disagreement internally.

• Look to make a bad situation better, not worse. This should have been a moment of magic, a chance for Jeff to salvage a relationship gone bad and to reestablish the good will that had been lost. It could have been and should have been a win/win opportunity. We would have been ecstatic leaving the store with an upgraded TV (faith in Best Buy renewed), the cost was the same, and Jeff wouldn't have had to pay a third-party to deliver the one on back order. Instead we left disgruntled with a commitment never to return.

• Be empathetic, even if you're not. Jeff must deal with service issues all day long and has probably grown indifferent to everybody, so I don't take his stoic responses and need to get back to his administrative priorities personally. However, Jeff missed the fact that what was happening to us was meaningful and damaging. Rather than being dismissive, busy and bothered, Jeff could have recaptured some lost ground by actively listening, by not pre-judging, by thinking through his responses, and displaying some empathy. Even if he had to fake it.

• Be loyal to those that are loyal to you. As mentioned, we spend a lot of money at Best Buy. We are easy and loyal customers that follow recommendations and, until now, never complain. I was very clear with Jeff that we had some big purchases coming up – our computers are old, we have the old Iphone and want the new one, our Xbox was shot and out of warranty, etc. I went on to say that we were going to take the money that we would otherwise spend in his store, his money, and spend it elsewhere. His only response was a wry smile that said without saying it, “sure you are, I hear that one all day”. The money lost may not be significant to Best Buy, however, me times a few hundred others may become noticeable. Jeff should have come out of the negative ether just long enough to check my account history. Then he might have realized that saying “no” to our request just because he could was not the best decision he would make that day. Again, there was no economic loss to saying “yes”, only damaging consequences to saying “no”. The ego trip cost Jeff a customer for life.

• Look for saints, not serpents. From the outset it was clear that Jeff did not believe us. His language and his demeanor were unmistakably accusatory. Rather than listen to the service saga that we had experienced and trust that at least we believed what we were telling him, he immediately determined that we were trying to take advantage of him and the situation; trying to get something for nothing. All we wanted was a television – any television! We had done nothing wrong and had correctly done everything that we were instructed to do over these past many weeks. Even at my best, I couldn't make this story up.

• The customer may not always be right, but the customer is always the customer. Okay, I didn't fully understand the nuances of the warranty agreement. So what. I was working with the information that we had been given, abiding by what we had been told to do and trusting in the people and promises of Best Buy. Clearly, those on the phone didn't get the finer points of the warranty agreement either. Rather than focus on what the warranty said, Jeff should have turned his attention to what had otherwise been said and confirmed by his service team over the phone.

• Never, ever, let a customer leave unhappy. I was completely amazed by Jeff's indifference as I walked out the door. I had spent the time to make these points with him while my poor wife labored through the ordering process for the “specification compatible” TV. As I write, we are still TV-less and bitter. Had Jeff exercised his discretion and common sense appropriately, we would have departed the store feeling redeemed, respected, valued, and whole. In spite of the agony required to get there, the story would have a happy ending.

As it is, I can count 15 hours invested in this project, a couple of hundred dollars on a weak warranty, some gas, and a lot of grief and we are left with nothing to show for it. As a result, we are never going back. Not to penalize them (they won't even notice and it's clear that at least Jeff doesn't care), but because they will never be able to reestablish the value, trust, and integrity that brought us there to begin with.

Of course this is one service story out of a million that could be told about many companies in many industries. Personalized, professional, and thoughtful service strategies are hurriedly being replaced by automated responses, indifferent providers and call centers in India. In the wake of this experience, I'll ask you, my dear readers, to take a hard look at your service models, people, and platforms. Ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Is distance making us indifferent? Most service calls are being handled over the phone or through your website rather than in-person. Does this electronic divide insulate your organization too much from the problems and pain felt by your customers? Indifference is a service killer while active listening and taking the time to empathize matter most – even if the problem can't be resolved. Remind everyone to focus on the client or customer in front of them (literally or figuratively) rather than looking for ways to end the discussion because of concern for the call cue.

  2. Does our pre-sale culture of service extend to the post-sale? If not, you are culturally incompatible and heading for trouble. We all know that it is much easier to keep an existing client or customer than it is to find a new one. And it is a lot less expensive. Regardless of your advertising and marketing programs, your best customers and clients will always come to you from a referral and recommendation from your existing customers and clients. Most of these recommendations hail from satisfying service experiences and not a sale or a bargain. The reverse is also true – bad service experiences travel like a virus and can destroy even the strongest of reputations. And every now and again a guy like me gets upset. Then, Jeff, everybody hears about it.

  3. Are service teams empowered and inspired to do the right thing? In Jeff's case, he had the power but lacked the inspiration. If Jeff's staff had been allowed to deal with our situation, no-doubt we would have had a different outcome. One that may not have involved an upgrade. A little investigation by anybody would have revealed that the problem was simple, we needed a TV. We could have used a floor model for a loaner, we would have been willing to pay a little more for an upgrade, we would have probably settled for a smaller TV or a different brand. None of these alternatives were explored and a customer was lost as a result. Encourage your folks to spend the time and explore the possibilities. Let's not live in a “yes” and “no” service world.

  4. Are we investing in service? Service investments include training, client and customer surveys, and constantly evolving service strategies. The best source for service improvement ideas that keep customers coming back is your front line, not your board room. In challenging economic times, with an obsessive focus on the bottom-line, service is too often viewed as an expense and a place to cut back. The real economics of service tell us that investments made in this area increase revenue by a much greater margin than almost any sales and marketing initiative. Think smart and act smarter. Take the time to listen to your most junior staff and they will tell you what to do.

Finally, don't be a Jeff and don't tolerate Jeff-like behavior. Jeff's indifference to one customer spoiled the reputation of an entire firm in the heart and mind of this customer and, perhaps, in yours as well. Jeffs are caustic and small thinkers; the downfall of too many organizations. Train them, coach them, support them, but do not settle for them.

Side note: This service story is from the Best Buy Service Department and their store in Montgomeryville, Pennsylvania. When ordering the replacement TV, the sales person actually had the audacity to offer my wife the extended warranty agreement! Be well my friends.

Delivery Didn't Come
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Rating: 1/51

ELLICOTT CITY -- I bought a washer from Best Buy website. It was scheduled to be delivered on 1/6. 1/5 I got a call from Best Buy and confirmed the delivery. On 1/6, I took day off and waiting at home for the washer, but no one showed up and no one contacted me. I called Best Buy and got to know it won't be available until 1/20. What a surprise!! And I could not cancel it on that day since it's in transit. Will not order from Best Buy again.

"No Exceptions" Refund / Exchange Policy Bad Business!
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Rating: 1/51

LYNNWOOD, WASHINGTON -- My mother fell and broke her hip and was unable to return within 30 days the Kindle Fire case that didn't fit her Kindle properly. She wasn't worried about a refund because there was another, costlier item that she wanted, so she would have been happy with a store credit. But when I tried to return it this morning for her, I was shocked when told that she couldn't even get a store credit (By the way, the item is in original packaging and is still stocked on shelves, so the store would not be losing anything by accepting it back.).

I just got off the phone with the corporate office. The person I spoke with said, "Your mother should have asked someone to return it for her within the 30 day time period." At first I was speechless, then incredulous. An 87 year old woman breaks her hip, lies on the floor for 5 hours, is finally taken by ambulance to the hospital, has surgery, is released to a nursing home where she will be spending the next 2-3 months, and she should be thinking, "Oh, I need to find someone who can return that Kindle case for me." What kind of human being is so lacking in empathy to think that this should even be a top priority for a very scared 87-year old woman who just had a life changing accident?

What kind of nutty, morally bankrupt business would operate like this? I can understand that some people lie, so I offered to bring in medical records to prove that she was unable to return it due to a traumatic, debilitating accident, but the man just kept repeating, "I am sorry. We value your business, but we have a 'no exceptions' return policy." Value my business? What a joke. I have never posted a complaint online before, not have I so vehemently wished a company out of business before. But I find Best Buy's "No Exceptions" policy inhumane and unethical. Legal, apparently, but unethical.

Best Buy Reward Zone Personal Information Given to Thieves
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Rating: 1/51

I have never had problems with purchases at Best Buy, I have made a lot of large purchase and HAD a shared card with my husband a Silver Premier Reward Zone card in his name but the emails come to me. In January I started to receive receipts from a store in SC and NC. I live in New England. I called the store and said I am getting receipts for purchases I did not make, what is going on.

They give me to someone else and I was told this person is writing bad checks and returning items and getting cash back. Someone will call me back. Of course not one calls back. I call customer service explain what is happening, and told someone will call you back 7-10 days. NO one calls back. I call the corporate number to be told that this card is not in your name and you are not authorized to cancel the card.

I went around and around with this issue, calling multiple number trying to figure out why our information is on another person's purchases. I told them "We do not want our credit compromised and do not want this to somehow come back on us." NO ONE CARES at this BEST Buy corporation!

I think it was Mar 4, someone from SC store calls me asking for my husband about some purchase, and I said "don't you have this in your system that our information is on someone else's purchases?" She apologized and said she would look into it. That started me calling again starting at 11:00 am being transferred 7 times, the 7th time explaining everything again to talk to the most nastiest representative. She told me everyone information is can be compromised here. Even hers, she kept talking about herself and talking over me and so nasty and rude.

I hung up and called the Reward Zone dept. This woman was nice and understanding and understood where my concerns are, gave me a case number and guess what, I was never called back again. All the points accumulated in my Silver Reward Zone account are gone. I was going to buy appliances.

Too bad they do not want my business. I have given my business to a local business, discovered that in the end its the small business that will take care of you. I will file a complaint with the FTC since Best Buy does not take consumer personal information seriously.

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