In the wake of an investigation launched by the Connecticut Attorney General’s office, Best Buy has finally admitted that the now-infamous “secret intranet” (used to mislead in-store customers about BestBuy’s online prices) exists. The website looks identical to BestBuy.com…except for the prices.
The secret website was first revealed by George Gombossy of the Hartford Courant (Way to go, George!). While investigating a tip from a reader, George was shown the internal website. It was identical to BestBuy.com, but showed a higher price for the item he was interested in. George was mislead by Best Buy employees to believe it was the “real” BestBuy.com. Eventually he found some Best Buy employees who admitted to the site’s existence and even showed him how it worked.
Now, after initially denying the site existed, Best Buy is cooperating with the investigation. From George’s column:
Company spokesman Justin Barber, who in early February denied the existence of the internal website that could be accessed only by employees, says his company is “cooperating fully” with the state attorney general’s investigation.
Barber insists that the company never intended to mislead customers.
State Attorney General Richard Blumenthal ordered the investigation into Best Buy’s practices on Feb. 9 after my column disclosed the website and showed how employees at two Connecticut stores used it to deny customers a $150 discount on a computer advertised on BestBuy.com.
Blumenthal said Wednesday that Best Buy has also confirmed to his office the existence of the intranet site, but has so far failed to give clear answers about its purpose and use.
“Their responses seem to raise as many questions as they answer,” Blumenthal said in a telephone interview. “Their answers are less than crystal clear.”
There was a lot of speculation as to whether this “secret intranet” was real or not. It’s real. Was it designed and built with the specific intention of misleading customers? We shall see.—MEGHANN MARCO
Best Buy Confirms It Has Secret Website [Hartford Courant]