We thought the scam mentioned in the racketeering lawsuit sounded familiar—it was. A Best Buy employee emailed us on April 4, 2007 to confess to the type of behavior mentioned in the lawsuit. He claims that techniques for tricking customer into signing up for subscriptions (such as MSN) were taught to him by a manager and encouraged by Best Buy. M. writes:
I’m almost ashamed to admit this, but it did happen for the longest time. Ever get signed for something at Best Buy, but you swear that you never signed up for anything. Here is the trick that is used, and that I was taught from a Best Buy manager. When a customer would refuse either AOL, MSN, NetZero, magazine offers, or whatever other D-SUB we had, we’d sign you up anyway.
Read M.’s confession inside.
Being as I worked at Best Buy for over 3 years, and worked my way up for your normal part time employee to a manager, I thought I’d provide your readers with a little insight to protect themselves in the future.
To understand why Best Buy scams people into digital subscriptions, here is a little breakdown. Each retail store has thousands of numbers that they are measured by. The majority of them mean nothing, in terms of “which store is the best in the company” ranking. The big two are revenue and margin numbers. Each store has a daily budget assigned by corporate Best Buy. You might be asking, “What the hell does this have to do with being bugged to sign up for something every time I buy something at Best Buy.” Ok, I’ll tell you.
Best Buy makes a killing if you sign up for a digital subscription (or in Best Buy lingo, they are called D-SUBS) because these these are all margin. Managers obviously knew this and expected us (as employees, or as a manager, the general manager excepted) to exploit the hell out of customers to get these attached to the sale. When you buy something at Best Buy, lets say a computer, all the accessories that you’re talked into are called a basket. On a laptop, employees are expected to attach $300 worth of accessories on top of the laptop to hit the basket goal, and $150 on a desktop. This can be very challenging to do, especially with a customer who refuses to get anything additional, but when you are trained and expected to lie to customers, it becomes a little easier.
It was really easy when a customer would buy that cheap eMachine that was in the ad for the week. eMachine computers always had the “Included Inside: AOL Dialup Service” stickers on the side of the boxes. So, when you came in to buy the cheap eMachine that we were losing money even selling you, we’d lie and say we have to sign you up for AOL’s dialup service because it comes with the computer, and then point to the sticker on the box. So we’d go through the motions of scanning the welcome CD, selecting your address, convincing you to swipe through a credit card, and signing your name. Of course, if you didn’t go through the huge hassle of calling up AOL and canceling, you’d be charged. But who cares, we just made over $60 on your regardless if you went home that day and canceled. Margin went up, and the basket went up.
I’m almost ashamed to admit this, but it did happen for the longest time. Ever get signed for something at Best Buy, but you swear that you never signed up for anything. Here is the trick that is used, and that I was taught from a Best Buy manager. When a customer would refuse either AOL, MSN, NetZero, magazine offers, or whatever other D-SUB we had, we’d sign you up anyway. You know those Best Buy gift cards that are all over the store? Well those are just American Express cards, with a Best Buy face. So, we’d go through the motions of selecting your address but when it asked for your credit card, we’d swipe through a gift card. Since it was an American Express card in reality, the system took it and you were signed up. The customer had to deal with the late fees because they couldn’t charge the credit card the provided. Not our problem.
Along with the goal based on if it was a laptop or desktop, we had a 3 D-SUB goal. We had in-store contests, and Best Buy even had company wide contests where the store who brought in the most revenue for selling digital subscriptions would get free prizes (leather coat, luggage, Coach purses, golf clubs, etc). One of the saddest points was when scammed a family and said AOL came with the Linksys wireless router they purchased. Signed them up for AOL when they already had broadband at home.
Every single department in Best Buy has some sort of digital subscription, so be careful. The computer department has the most, and that is where most people are scammed. Good luck at Best Buy.
Yikes. —MEGHANN MARCO