UPDATE: Best Buy Still Using Its Secret Website

As you know, Best Buy has confirmed the existence of a second “secret” website that looks identical to BestBuy.com, but has different prices and is only available inside Best Buy stores. This misleading website has been shown to customers who come into Best Buy stores looking to price match a product seen on the website. Best Buy is currently under investigation in Connecticut, but it seems as if at least one store is still showing customers the “secret” website instead of the real one. Reader Christopher writes:

I have read on your website about deceptive practices involving Best Buy where they advertise one thing on their website for a price, and then it is different when you go in the store.

Today I wanted to purchase a simple CD for Son Volt’s new album, The Search. On bestbuy.com it is advertised at 9.99, available for in store purchase, or online. I drove to a local Best Buy store to find it listed for 13.99. I took it to the customer service counter, and the person at the desk showed me a website listing it for 13.99. He stated, “maybe thats a special on-line pricing for the CD.” I shook my head in disgust and walked out. Misleading advertising will doom this company. Hopefully people will catch on at some point.

You’d think they’d cut it out during an investigation. —MEGHANN MARCO

(Photo: cmorran123)

PREVIOUSLY: Best Buy Confirms The Existence Of Its Secret Website
Connecticut State’s Attorney’s Office Launches Investigation Into Best Buy’s Secret Intranet Site
Best Buy’s Secret “Employee Only” In-Store Website Shows Different Prices Than Public Website

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  1. RagingTowers says:

    I Don’t think you can call this a secret any more…I mean it was on CNN. I think it should just be called “Best Buy’s internal site to screw you over.”

  2. i4ni says:

    I just have to keep reminding myself… It’s a shame that corporations are allowed to *continue* to harass consumers with false advertisements.

    Sigh…

  3. FLConsumer says:

    Can someone put the original poster’s comments in the hands of the various gov’t agencies who are supposedly investigating this crap? If they’re seriously looking into BB’s practices, this will be icing on the cake.

  4. lindyman77 says:
  5. evanking says:

    Can’t someone go in there with a wifi laptop and prove the price fixing right there in front of an employee.A best buy proving a CD’s price via the intranet site and you checking the price via your web connected phone could lead to some interesting backtracking………

  6. The Big O says:

    Just as a side note…back in Jan or so I was looking for Rainbow Six Vegas for my 360. The Best Buy by me was out, continuously, for like the whole month.

    Finally I asked for help. The girl showed me a website, don’t know if it was the secret one or not, that listed the game as available and for 12 dollars less than MSRP in the store.

    She took my order right there and it arrive at my front door three days later.

  7. bluegus32 says:

    here’s what I don’t get

    I have read on your website about deceptive practices involving Best Buy where they advertise one thing on their website for a price, and then it is different when you go in the store.

    Today I wanted to purchase a simple CD for Son Volt’s new album, The Search.If you’ve already read on the Consumerist that Best Buy is cheating its customers, then why go in there at all? This person indicates that he knew of the fraud first but then went to go shopping at Best Buy anyway. It wasn’t until the fraud actually happened to him that he decided to stop buying at Best Buy.

    Hopefully people will catch on at some point.

    Criminy! Let’s hope they catch on faster than you do!

  8. Jae says:

    my fiancee brought up a good point. if you’re surfing the intertubes on bestbuy.com to verify stock, why not do in-store pick up? order the product, and arrive leisurely. why waste your time going to the store, getting the royal screw job AND having to wait in line? sure they use their secret website to lie to customers, but the website has everything (ymmv) the store does, at intertube prices, available for in store pick up.

  9. bluegus32 says:

    @Jae: I don’t get it. You said

    my fiancee brought up a good point. if you’re surfing the intertubes on bestbuy.com to verify stock, why not do in-store pick up? order the product, and arrive leisurely. why waste your time going to the store, getting the royal screw job AND having to wait in line? sure they use their secret website to lie to customers, but the website has everything (ymmv) the store does, at intertube prices, available for in store pick up.

    Why shop there at all? If you know that they are committing a fraud upon their customers, why give them any of your money? The notion of ordering online and then doing in store pick up is not responsible consumerism in this context — it is rewarding evil, and probably illegal, behavior.

    Why aren’t people being more indignant about this? I will never shop Best Buy again because of this disgusting practice. Why don’t more people feel that way?

    • Anonymous says:

      @bluegus32:

      I agree with bluegus32. Anyone who patronizes a dishonest, sleazy, unethical business like Best Buy makes the world a worse place for all of us! These people KNOW Best Buy is little more than a con-artist, yet they give them money anyway. They reward bad behavior. Such people are a part of the problem and have no right to complain.

      So what about it? bluegus32 called you out. Where’s your reply? How do you defend your dumb behavior?

  10. TPK says:

    Can they see external sites from inside the store? Wouldn’t it be fun to load up consumerist.com together so the CSR can read about how the whole world knows they are lying to their customers?

  11. Twitch says:

    Hey, here’s a novel concept. Don’t shop there.

    Take your money to your local, independent record store and spend it there. The service will be better, the employees will quite possibly tell you about similar artists that you may not have ever heard of and you’ll be contributing to the local economy instead of a multi-national corporation that is known for shitting all over their customer base.

  12. rthefley says:

    Follow up: I forgot to mention that while Best Buy may have some serious issues with their illegal? secret web site and bait and switch pricing that sometimes, good things happen dealing with Best Buy.

    I purchased a laptop there, an HP that was on sale and they offered to do a customer check out of the laptop, for free. This is where they open the product, inspect it and power it on to make sure there are no problems ahead of time. Not sure if they do this on anything other than laptops but, regardless, I was standing there at PC Geeks area and this kid that was, I’m hoping was at least 18, but looked like he was 12 removed the HP from it’s small brown box and then, DROPPED IT. They ordered me a new one and gave me the laptop at $750. Well below it’s $1,099 onsale price.

  13. Blame this on a dumb employee, not on Best Buy. Ever since the scandal with the website there are now TWO websites available off of the toolbar. One is “Bestbuy.com – Local” and “Bestbuy.com – National”. When you go to the “Local” Site, in a LARGE YELLOW BANNER across the top the message “This website displays in-store pricing only” (Or something to that effect, I don’t remember it exactly) is visible across the top.

    So the dumb employee was using that “Local” site and should’ve known better. You can only blame this on Bestbuy insofar as to sugest that they hired a dumbass.

  14. Roo says:

    Is there anything worth buying at Best Buy? I went there recently to buy a SD card and some rechargable batteries. Well they wanted $60 for a 2GB memory card that sells for $30 online, and a pack of 4 NiMH batteries was marked $14.99. The same batteries sell for $9.99 at CompUSA or Target. Needless to say I won’t be wasting any more time shoppng at Best Buy.

  15. bobpaul says:

    Yup. Best Buy sucks. I stopped shopping there 5 years ago on price alone. The only thing I /might/ do is show up at 4am on Black Friday for some free after rebate stuff.

    The recent fraud and employee treatment should ward off anyone still stupid enough to accept their prices…

  16. dewrock says:

    I’m not sure I understand what exactly is wrong with a company offering discounted prices on their website. No where on Bestbuy’s website does it say that these prices apply to in store purchases. What am I missing?

  17. bluegus32 says:

    @dewrock: Best Buy purportedly has a price matching gaurantee. If they themselves offer the same price at two different prices then they are being inherently dishonest. They don’t offer the lowest price. Instead, their price is dependent on where you buy from them.

    Further, it is accepted common knowledge that any store that has a physical location as well as an on-line presence, offers its products at the same price at both locations.

  18. ddfall says:

    Guys, I work at Best Buy (on the Geek Squad). Go into a store. Pull up the ‘online site.’ It now says in a large yellow box on top that “LOCAL PRICES ARE LISTED” on the site. It SAYS that they’re local now and not online prices. Quit complaining. If you don’t like Best Buy, go to newegg.com or something. Hell, I work there and I GO to newegg.com all the time to get stuff. They’ve got more stuff for less anyway. You just have to wait a little while for it. What happened was never intentional but it only displayed LOCAL pricing (I.E. regional pricing which many retailers do vs. the internet prices which are National). I’ve been online at Frys.com and found a product only to go into the store and have it be 50 bucks less which they will not match at all. They’ll just tell you to go to the website and buy it. At least Best Buy will MATCH their own site provided you bring a print out with you just like you were matching a local competitor…

  19. I actually used the internal BestBuy website this weekend when I went to the BestBuy in Marlborough, MA (store #820). I was holding a CD in my hand that was advertised in store for $9.99; it was advertised on THE WEBSITE for $7.99. I should’ve taken a picture with my cellphone, shouldn’t I? Oh, well. Hindsight is always 20/20 (or $7.99!)

  20. Jason-Ryan-Isaksen says:

    Ok Ddfall it doesn’t matter what it says, if their local web site isn’t updated in realtime with the online pricing then that’s ridiculous. A tech company with that many stores and that many techs can’t design their store rep computers to grab the current online price? I don’t buy it. Just the fact that whoever set it up knew that sooner or later it was going to leak out, there’s just no excuse.
    Even a closed internal system like that could call to RSS feeds to always get whatever current price is displayed on their site. This isn’t even thinking that all reps could just make the Best Buy web site their home page and do searches by that like the customers do, so the same price would always be current.

    With retail stores, the price is almost always going to be higher than ordering online, there’s much more overhead and less volume than a warehouse with order pullers who ship things out all day. With retail you pay for that, and for being able to go buy and take it home that day. Also there’s the fact that if you buy something and it breaks, you’re down a long road to return it to a shipping company when you can exchange that printer for a new one in trip to the local store.

    Like anything you have to balance convenience, risk it’s going to break and you’ll be without it for weeks mailing it back, and price along with shipping charges and taxes. I only buy in retail stores if the price isn’t much more, and it’s something I can do without for a while if it does break. Many times shipping and local sales tax cancel each other out so it’s a toss up.

    In any case, Best Buy is probably going to be in hot water for this local. internal pricehiker site they use. I predict a settlement with no admission of wrongdoing, which is pretty par for the course.

  21. ddfall says:

    @Jason-Isaksen:
    Respectfully, did you read all of what I wrote? It’s an issue of Regional (that store / internal site / local adds) pricing vs. National (Website / National Flyer’s) pricing. That’s why that site exists. Costs are higher in some markets than in others. Companies including Best Buy re-coupe their costs by adjusting prices by a few dollars here and there depending on the market they’re in. Not all National / International companies have the exact same prices in every store. We’re able to pull up BOTH ‘sites’ in the store. They’ve even sent out internal memo’s on how to do it and how to tell the difference.

    I understand that this can be frustrating to an average consumer but it’s a standard business practice. Go order a Big Mac meal in California and expect to pay more (or less) in other places including over seas such as Europe. No company is perfect, believe me, I like most have worked for a few.

    Like you, I like an interesting debate and it’s always good to have another perspective. I think that the company’s doing a good job of handling this confusion. You can call it a mistake if you wish, but I believe it to truly be unintentional.

  22. ZonzoMaster says:

    @ddfall: Hey did you know that McDonald’s in Mexico serves breakfast until 12 pm?

    Anyway, i dont even like their food, i got a free breakfast coupon… it smells like kid poop and its very freaking slow (at least here).

  23. Matt Stuhff says:

    someone needs to go in with a laptop and some type of wifi and call them on their transgression.

  24. dewrock says:

    @Matt Stuhff: Again what exactly is their transgression? So they offer discounted prices for ordering online. What’s the big deal with that? Lots of companies discount their services online.

  25. Matt says:

    This is somewhat unrelated, but which Better Business Bureau do we complain to if it is a BestBuy.com pick-up order? Twice in a one month, I have bought something for pick-up, received my email notice that it is available to be picked up only to arrive at the store and there is no item. Very, very frustrating, especially when you live in NYC and you go far out of your way to get to one of these stores. The first time I happened, I complained via their 800 number and pleaded for them to ship the item to me for free since it was their mistake but they “had no way to put that into the system”. Argh.

  26. sickwithit says:

    As a Best Buy employee, its very easy to confirm the matched price. We simply go through an internet search on our computers to bestbuy.com, and find the product there. If an BB employee refuses to match price, then they don’t know company policy.

  27. bestbuysucks14 says:

    There was an audio receiver on their website that I wanted, and it showed I could do local pickup and pay no shipping or sales tax. However, the receiver is very new, so I wanted to verify that the store had it before having my card charged. When I found one in a store, their price was higher, but the guy said no problem cause they could price match their website. When he verified the web price on their computer, it showed the higher price, not the sale price I had seen from home.

    Now I had heard of this web scam they do, but figured surely they weren’t still doing that with an investigation underway. I thought I must just be unlucky enough that it was no longer on sale since the last time I checked. I bought the receiver and went home.

    At home however, I check the web once more. Sure enough, the sale price is still in effect! I had been screwed. What bothers me most is that he kindly offered to price match, and then showed me their hoax website. Needless to say, I will return my purchase this weekend when I get time. Is there anything else I should do about this?

  28. jftitan says:

    While I don’t quite understand why you people don’t educate yourselves better before shopping. The problem that I see with the hoax/scamming of its(Best Buy) customers, is that its customers are uneducated customers. Seriously, some of you come to this site knowing that what you read here is about fraud, and deception by bad/corrupt business practices. Yet, still go unprepared to shop at these places.

    Heres my tip. Next time, when you go out to buy that car stereo, or computer accessory, look it up…. compare prices with the ‘other corrupt businesses’, and then goto the place WITH A PRINTOUT. Considering most of these places have internet at the stores, why would you trust the employee to look up the price of the item for you. Even at RadioShack the small size of the store allows the employees that work at them to keep hidden knowledge of what is on sale, or the ‘deals’.

    Right now RadioShack has a Managers Special going on, that also has an additional sale percentage added manually to select items. Some items have up to 50% additional off the Manager’s Special price.

    The employee is told to sell as much as they can… Make more in sales, make more in a paycheck. However, discounting an item of lets say $49.97 that shows an additional 20-50% off, drops that price dramatically. However sales at the store are slow for the day. The employee decides not to give you at additional discount because your not paying close attention at the ring up total.

    Nuff said… shop smart, by educating yourself before you leave the house. If you have a Printer, then print the damn page showing the “awesome deal” you are leaving the house for. You know your local tax rates, so add the additional tax amount to the total beforehand. Shop, buy, and before leaving the register, compare the ring up totals of what you did, and the actual. (My math can be bad at times, so my ring up total could be a few cents off… pennys count, but if its that close to your ring up and the actual, then its your call. But don’t fuss over a few cents).

    If you catch yourself hoaxed or scammed, you have two options. Price Guarantee, and Return. Bitching and/or making a matter of the issue, tends to get a manager involved to the point that getting rid of you means discounts beyond. Otherwise, return it.

    Bitching about it, while knowing the scams, or hoax is happening makes you just as ignorant of the issue.

  29. iriseagainsti says:

    From a best buy employee, the .com site represents national prices. The internal website is basically a visual representation of our internal stock count system. It tells us our in-store pricing and gives the customer the INFORMATION and VISUAL AID of pictures that they would get at home. It uses the website’s layout so we can find things easier than on our internal search engine — which is a pain. Sure, it’s easy to be a griping consumer, but both sites have always been readily available for employees to use — unfortunately bb never actually trained its employees to realize the difference between the two.

  30. mobilene says:

    Paul McCartney’s new album, Memory Almost Full, came out today. I normally buy all my music used through Amazon.com, but — did you hear me? — this is the New. Paul. McCartney!!! I planned to dash out at lunch and buy the disc today — the deluxe edition, with three bonus tracks, no less! So I considered my options near where I work and it came down to a Best Buy and a Barnes and Noble. I remembered that Best Buy always had better prices on music.

    So I went to BestBuy.com and found that they had the deluxe edition for $14.99, about $10 below list! So off to Best Buy I scooted. But I found the disc in the rack for $22.99. Wha? So I went to the in-store kiosk, clicked the link for BestBuy.com, and searched for the disc…where it was also listed for $22.99.

    Disgusted, I left. Back at work, I checked BestBuy.com again — and there was that $14.99 price. Arrrrrgh! On the one hand, I don’t want to support Best Buy anymore because of this at-best frustrating practice. But dang, that’s *ten dollars* off the list price…

    So I ordered the disc for store pickup. I’ll go get it on my way home from work today. The shame and humiliation I’ll endure for $10.

  31. reddfoot says:

    I just had this experience at Circuit City. Not sure if they do the same thing.

    saw a tv online for sale, went to CC, saw on their store computer that the web price had gone up $400.

    the guy at cc says that the website prices get updated 3 times a day, and prices can fluctuate that much. I wonder if this is true, or is cc another bb?

  32. Anonymous says:

    i work at best buy and i will tell you something atl east where i work and i wont say were because i am going to be upfront, and as I like to say blunt, but i am a stoner and i work there big whoop some people who work there are assholes and you know what we have to work with them too. if you have a job that pays better most of the kids who work there would love it. what happen to a world where we helped instead of banished. i talk to every customer i dont say know but the attitude you people share sickens me. people we are talking about. just think about it and if a kids an bleep than he is what can we say, it is somebody’s kid. lets fix the world. where are those jobs for the same people who every once in a while you come across that really cares comes around. peace

  33. ConsumerPitt says:

    Best Buy tried to steal my TV.

    I purchased a Sony Bravia TV at Best Buy and asked if they could hold the TV until I had moved into my new home. The sales rep said it would not be a problem and to simply present a computer generated slip he provided me after I paid for the unit. A week of so later their customer service people called the house and asked my wife how was everything with the TV. Given that it was a gift, she knew nothing about it and suggested they call and speak to me, which they never did. When I went to pick up the TV the kid on the floor had to get a store manager who began to question me in a not so friendly manner. He then came back and suggested I was lying to him and he could prove it because a customer service rep. had confirmed that we had the TV per my wife. I told them this was outrageous, he said there was nothging more they could do and suggested I call the 800 number. I called the 800 number, who called the store, who maintained that I had the TV. I told them this had gone way to far and they were comitting a crime and I was going to call the police and file a police report that they were perpetrating a fraud. About two hours later I received a call from the store manager who said there had been a mistake. He offered nothing in the way of an apology or accomodation (i.e. free delivery). I picked up the TV the next day, they remained somewhat hostile. So I then sent a letter to Best Buy Senior Management which resulted in an email from an executive clean up guy and a call from my buddy the store manager who offered a $100 dollar gift card. I remain convinced that there was something more sinister going on at the store and that I probably should have involved the authoriites. I can only imagine how many consumers may have been taken advantage of by these guys.