Best Buy Ignores Internal Memo, Doesn't Honor $100 Gift Card Promo On Metal Gear Solid Bundle

According to this conversation over at the SlickDeals forum, Wal-Mart was offering a $100 gift card with any Blu-ray player purchase, including the PS3—and Best Buy Corporate issued a memo saying they would match Wal-Mart’s deal and offer $100 gift cards as well. Cliff tried to take advantage of this unadvertised special when he purchased a Metal Gear Solid PS3 bundle a couple of days ago, but the manager of the store refused, saying the bundle was off-limits: “You can buy any other Playstation and you can get the gift card, but not on that one.” Oddly, though, other members of SlickDeals were reporting success with the very same bundle around the country.

Update: Best Buy’s VP of Executive Customer Care has emailed Cliff saying someone will follow up with him on Monday. What will happen? We hope Cliff lets us know…

Update 2: Best Buy has contacted Cliff! Find out what they said.

When he called customer service to complain, he was told that the bundle was pulled from the offer because Wal-Mart was out of stock, and they only match stocked merchandise. However, Cliff was 7th in line to buy the bundle the day it went on sale, and he was given the out-of-stock reason the next day by a distant CSR, not the store manager. The store manager never mentioned it as a reason to refuse the sale in the first place.

Here’s Cliff’s story. It’s a long one, but we figured you’d want all the details unedited:

This is in regards to my recent experience at the Best Buy store in Pasadena, CA (Store 125).

On Thursday, June 12th, I went to the Best Buy in Pasadena, CA with the intent to purchase the Metal Gear Solid Playstation 3 Bundle and a 40″ Samsung LCD TV. I arrived about an hour and 45 minutes before store opening and found myself 7th in line to purchase the Metal Gear Solid Playstation 3 Bundle.

At 10:00 am, a gentleman in a white button shirt, black slack, and walkie talkie came out and proceeded to give everyone in line instruction on how they would be handling the distribution of the Metal Gear Solid Playstation 3 Bundle. I was pleased to see that they were handing out numbered tickets and letting people in groups of 5 to enter, as not to create a rush for the systems.

Upon checkout I presented the Sales Associate with an ad I had found online from Wal-Mart. This ad (see attached) states that, “You’ll get a $100 Wal-Mart Gift Card when you buy any Blu-ray player.” From what I understand from websites such as slickdeals.net, Best Buy corporate had sent out a memo stating that they would honor the price match.

The Sales Associate reviewed the ad and stated that they could not price match the Playstation 3. I made mention of the corporate memo and asked for a supervisor. One was called over who also reviewed the ad, again she stated that they were not honoring the ad because it had expired. I explained to her that it was a new ad again made mention of the memo. She proceeded to radio her manager to find out details on it. It was at this point that I saw the gentleman who was handing out the numbered tickets responding to her questions. I now assumed him to be the store manager.

The store manager stated to me that they were not honoring the Wal-Mart ad. Once again I mentioned the memo, and he said to me, “You can buy any other Playstation and you can get the gift card, but not on that one.” I pointed out that it was for any Blu-ray player and he just repeated himself. In frustration I gave up but went ahead and purchased it since I had already waited so long.

I decided to try Wal-Mart but unfortunately by the time I had gotten there they were already out of them. Despite all of this I returned to the Pasadena store and purchased a 40″ Samsung LCD TV.

Imagine my frustration when I returned home to later find that people were successful in getting Best Buy to honor the price match, one that had already been authorized by corporate. I had just spent a total of $1,904.35 at a Best Buy store that denied me a price match that was authorized by corporate.

Today I called customer service to resolve the issue, but found that they were equally unhelpful. I first spoke to Cicero and was suddenly disconnected after explaining my situation. As a side note, I don’t really understand what the purpose of asking for my phone number is if the CSR doesn’t call back when you’re cut off.

I called again and waited on hold to speak with Vanessa, who confirmed to me that corporate had issued a memo, but a possible reason I was denied was because Wal-Mart was sold out of the system. I later spoke to her supervisor, Daniel, who explained the same. His only reasoning was that Wal-Mart had sold out, however this was not the explaination I received from the Pasadena store manager.

I am extremely frustrated and disappointed with this whole situation. I chose to go to Best Buy over Wal-Mart and Circuit City because it my first choice when buying electronics. I expected Best Buy to honor the Wal-Mart ad as instructed by corporate, however I was first told that the Metal Gear Solid Playstation 3 was excluded from the offer. I was later told that it was because Wal-Mart had sold out, and it was against policy to price match unless it is in stock. This is the most frustrating part of it all because had the store manager explained that to me from the beginning I might have accepted it. They never offered to check the other stores stock, and when they did it was already a day later.

I find it unacceptable that Best Buy would send out a memo and allow a store and customer service to ignore it. The success people have had in price matching further adds to my frustration. While I do not have “Reward Zone Program Premier Silver” status, I wonder how you would feel had a “Premier Silver” member been treated this way.

It sounds like the Best Buy manager was protecting his numbers on the bundle, and that Best Buy is trying to close off the conversation by using the out-of-stock argument after the fact.

Comments

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  1. Nihon no Purin says:

    same thing happened to me, except i’m not bitching about it. best buy has no obligation to fulfill this offer to this guy, especially since it was never their deal to begin with. they can’t be accused of “bait and switching” since they never advertised the deal. it really was very likely that this person’s local wal mart had sold out very quickly, and that best-buy employees were informed “we’re not price-matching that bundle anymore,” but without given any reason.

    really though, i’m wondering why this is on consumerist seeing as how best buy never advertised this.

  2. darksunfox says:

    Not to be negative, but why would anyone automatically assume that an already discounted bundle that includes one of the hottest new games of the year – the week the game was released – would be eligible for the same discount as the regular hardware?

  3. watduck says:

    This sort of thing happened with me for the Mario Galaxy + $25 GC bundle back in November. Toys R Us had a promo for the game and gift card, and Best Buy had an unadvertised, matching promo for it.

    Long story short, the BB I went to refused to honor it. I had to call corporate (while in the store) to get the bitchy manager to approve it.

  4. christoj879 says:

    Return everything. If they can’t get something simple right on a large purchase such as this, they don’t deserve the profit (not that they did in the first place).

  5. Chris Walters says:

    @Nihon no Purin: It wss an internal memo. We haven’t seen the internal memo, but anecdotal evidence on SlickDeals suggests it existed–especially since other shoppers were able to get the deal without problems.

    If the local Wal-Mart had sold out, it would have been very easy for the store manager to explain that to the customer. Explaining that would have solved any further problems, so the fact that he didn’t suggests the in-stock issue wasn’t relevant to his decision at the time. In fact, since the CSR on the phone was the first person to bring it up, it sounds highly suspect as a primary excuse.

    Finally, this is on consumerist because some shoppers were able to take advantage of this supposed internal memo telling stores to honor Wal-Mart’s advertised special, and this shopper wasn’t.

  6. HalOfBorg says:

    “Every Blue-Ray player” should MEAN EVERY PLAYER.

    Now, if it said “Offer does not apply to bundled players” that would be OK with me.

  7. Belgain_Roffles says:

    @HalOfBorg:

    That would be true if it was Best Buy’s advertised promotion in the first place.

    These events are HIGHLY YMMV, and I decided (correctly) to just buy the thing at Wal-Mart and avoid the chance of not getting in on the deal.

    No sympathy from me.

  8. Nihon no Purin says:

    @Chris Walters: yeah i already know all of that. to me, this situation is analogous to me going to the costco cause everyone told me they had free samples, then throwing a fit because by the time i got there, they had ran out already.

  9. endless says:

    Funny, he plays the “i just spent XXX” amount of dollars card.

    Didn’t consumerist just rip Best Buy for this?

  10. jaya9581 says:

    The issue at hand here isn’t whether or not it was Best Buy’s promotion, and I’m surprised to see so many “savvy consumers” not touching on the elephant in the room.

    Best Buy’s own policy states that they will match, and beat by 10%, any advertised price. I’m not going to go in the restrictions here. But when you arrive at a store at opening, there is no way the store has already contacted (in this case) Wal-Mart without you observing and confirmed that they are sold out.

    I have never had Best Buy call to check stock at any other store when doing a price match – I’ve even had items, such as Weezer’s new Red Album, price matched to Circuit City, when I later found out that Circuit City had printed a retraction for their ad and weren’t offering it at that price. Best Buy, although it needed a manager override, never questioned the ad.

    There are too many store managers out there that freak out at the thought of giving anything away for free. Especially in Best Buy, that $100 gift card isn’t going any far, and it’s been shown that people with gift cards more often than not spend above and beyond what they normally would without the gift card, with the reasoning that it’s not “their” or “real” money. So now all this manager has done is anger a very good customer when what she should have done is offer the card and then enjoy his subsequent shopping spree on games for his new PS3 and accessories for his new television.

  11. Concerned_Citizen says:

    Why would any store give you a hundred dollar gift card on a ps3? They said blu-ray players, and although the ps3 plays blu-ray, it is a game system.

  12. jaya9581 says:

    @Concerned_Citizen: Wal-Mart is heavily promoting the PS3 in relation to this promotion, and it is featured in most of the ads regarding it.

  13. rellog says:

    No sympathy for any loser that frequents Worst Buy. The store is crap and anyone that hasn’t figured that out yet deserves any headaches they get from them…

  14. Pro-Pain says:

    Once again, Best Buy fails.

  15. mrsultana can't get a password to work says:

    Once again, the consumer doesn’t read. The ad he attached shows the 40Gb version. Yeah, it is shitty of BBY to do this, but it is like that Memorial Day Sears ad. Did the Wal-Mart ad mean “any blu-ray on this page” or “any that we have in stock”?
    Definitely a screw up, but I blame Cliff and Wal-Mart’s ad company.
    But it does remind me of that Mitch Hedberg line about matching coupons. “I want to open my own pizza place, Mitch’s Pizza. I would give out coupons: ‘Unlimited free pizza… not valid at any Mitch’s Pizza locations.”

  16. Belgain_Roffles says:

    @jaya9581:

    Price match doesn’t include free stuff. Best Buy could price match the $500 Wal-Mart was selling it for, but that would result in a grand total of $0 saved. Additional offers and/or free stuff are not covered in price matching.

    Maybe I just dislike newbie SDers with a sense of entitlement. SD works on the premise of finding the opportunities to take advantage of every possible opportunity to save money. We are shameless in the pursuit of savings, and therefore lose the right to whine if something does not work out in our favor. Many will take advantage of price mistakes, constantly creating new GCO accounts for $10 off, and anything else that can be thought of to fit the situation and save a couple of bucks.

    The fact is that Best Buy has zero obligation to give anyone this offer, and whining about not getting it is pathetic. Expecting compliance based on some unseen internal memo is like believing some company when they are taking a given situation very seriously.

    On a personal note though, I don’t see why a $100 GC from BB would be any different from WM in a deal like this, as you’re going to buy more stuff for the system anyway. I turned around and picked up Uncharted and GTA 4, which are the other “must haves” for the system.

  17. outinthedark says:

    @jaya9581: They didn’t have to check the Wal-Mart stores as the offer was online only [though in store they would honor it as well].

    Why anyone would buy anything from Best Buy astounds me. I never set foot in any of their stores as their “price match guarantee” really only applies to other big box retail stores [excluding J&R].

    You should immediately return the PS3 and TV. Though you probably are just eating the cost and dissatisfaction now and playing MGS already.

  18. dualityshift says:

    No sympathy for Consumer Cliff.

    Consumer Cliff’s first mistake was not caling corporate in the store to get them to override the Store Manager’s decision. Yes, it would have taken an extra 25 minutes, at the least, but he would have had his GC.

    Consumer Cliff’s second mistake was concluding the purchase when he was denied. Why would you give a company more of your business after they denied you this? It’s like dating a girl who sleeps with your best friend. A sane, half-way intelligent person would kick her to the curb. Consumer Cliffy just bought her flowers instead.

    Shame on you Consumer Cliffy for not speaking out with your dollars, and shame on you for posting this crap here. Definitely not real Consumerist material.

  19. Zclyh3 says:

    @jaya9581:

    I think the problem is lies in the fact that there simply is NO uniform process for pricematching. We both know that when it comes to pricematching, each store is completely different depending on the store manager or whomever is in charge.

    You can read all the pricematching rules on the wall all you want, but what Best Buy should do is have all the rules, plain and simple, THEN on the bottom with an asterisk put, “In the end, the store manager makes the final call and can void the pricematching policy at anytime.”

    What the FTC should do is mandate that ALL retailers need to abide by their own pricematching policies and none of this “I am the store manager, and I’m saying no or I make the final call” bullshit. If you can’t abide by your own pricematching policies, then simply don’t have one so that I will know NOT to pricematch at that particular retailer.

  20. darksunfox says:

    Re-reading the Walmart Ad, it clearly states which PS3 system is advertised – the $399 system. “Includes hardware, controller, and 40 GB drive.” Where’s the gripe? The Walmart ad specifies which system is eligible for the $100 gift card and it wasn’t the bundle. The Best Buy manager even SAID he’d honor it on that system. Buy the $399 system, then use $60 of the $100 gift card on the game.

  21. thesabre says:

    So, OP, you were denied the price match and proceeded to buy the PS3 bundle anyway? And then later RETURNED to buy the TV? I suppose you found that this store simply did offer you the “best buy”. Most people will cast aside their own values if someone offers a good price.

    Best Buy 1, Consumer 0.

    In the future, when a company does something you don’t like, the best punishment is to take your business elsewhere. Not buy the item anyway and then return and spend even more there. You just thanked them for kicking you in the nuts.

  22. TorrentFreak says:

    LOL you shopped @ Worst Buy and you are complaining that you got the shaft? Lesson leraned, DON’T GO THERE ANYMORE! How many stories do I have to read about Best Buy screwing over the customers.

    BTW they have price matching plus 10%. You should have got the $100 gift card plus some extra off the top for that bundle deal. It’s their own policy but I doubt Best Buy would ever actually honor what they say.

  23. NinjaMarion says:

    @TorrentFreak: Yeah, but their policy is also no pricematching on special offers like rebates and free shit thrown in. So I’m sure if you wanna push the issue, they’ll pricematch the price of their bundle to the price of the Walmart bundle and give you 10% of the difference… which would be zero dollars instead of the gift card, since that’s their actual policy.

  24. tehronin says:

    Best Buy doesn’t HAVE to pricematch anything. You guys are rediculous.

  25. TorrentFreak says:

    @ NinjaMarion: So if they don’t have price matching on special offers than what good is the pricematching then? That’s the only time you’d ever need it. Walmart had PS3’s with a $100 giftcard. Best Buy should have offered a GC of $110. That’s 10% of the difference added in. If they refuse tell them to screw off and shop somewhere else.

  26. Ein2015 says:

    Why do people still shop at Best Buy?

  27. eelmonger says:

    @TorrentFreak: Look at it this way: What if Wal-Mart was offering a free poster with purchase of the bundle instead of a gift card? Should Best Buy try and track down these Wal-Mart exclusive posters for a “price match?”

  28. PinkBox says:

    The ad itself specifies the 40gb PS3. Not the 80gb that comes with the Metal Gear Solid bundle.

  29. TorrentFreak says:

    @eelmonger:

    Best buy doesn’t have to do anything. They can choose to enfore their own policies however and whenever they want. The point I’m trying to make is that if they aren’t good for their own word, for something they have as a selling point policy to attract custmers, then maybe you should take your buisness somewhere else.

    I still think a $110 dollar gift card would be a fair compromise for not getting the bundle. It’s their own policy, if it doesn’t work for them, a policy mind you that they created, then maybe they should get rid of it.

    Ever notice how hot big items like TVs, computers, PS3s are all priced the same everywhere you go? The price match means jack shit if they aren’t willing to do it on special offers.

  30. bubbledumpster says:

    Oh well. Go outside and play instead. It’s free.

  31. Shadowfire says:

    @darksunfox: It was done to match Wal-Mart’s deal. And Wal-Mart was including the MGS4 bundle (got mine that night).

  32. darksunfox says:

    @shadowfire
    Really? The ad is not terribly ambiguous about which PS3 is covered. Maybe that was Walmart’s intention, but it’s not what it says in their ad.

  33. yoyobro says:

    manager at the san diego (mira mesa) best buy gave me the same “out of stock” excuse when i asked why they weren’t honoring walmart’s 100gc.

    i asked him how could that be. i called all the walmarts in the area (24hr and regular store hours) and none were selling the bundles until 6am at the earliest, so technically, isn’t that considered in stock? i was pretty peeved at that point, since the only reason i came to best buy was because i had called that day and they said they are honoring walmarts gc.

  34. evslin says:

    @yoyobro: When I worked retail and someone asked me to match something, in stock meant I could walk into the store and go buy one right now. If Best Buy isn’t willing to honor the match and Wal-Mart has the item in stock, I’d just take my money to Wal-Mart and blow it there instead. Don’t have time for places who like to jerk their customers around like that.

  35. RetailGuy83 says:

    @yoyobro: @TorrentFreak: Out of stock include “isn’t for sale yet” If you can go over there RIGHT NOW and buy it cheaper, they have no obligation to price match.

    The point of the price match is if you buy somthing and then it gets cheaper (ie, manufactuer discount, clearance marckdown, etc.) then you get the difference. If a competitor offers the lower price then you get the diff plus 10%

    That being said, BB will usually match ad prices for most of their B&M competition. BUT, this was an extremly sought after, limited quantity item. The PM does not apply to items of this sort. Just because Slickdeals leaked a memo (which was probably mark “confidential” and thusly voided once it hit the intertubes) does not mean you should expect it to be true. Let alone expect a store manager to jump at the mentioning of it. If it works for you, great. If not, too bad.

  36. RetailGuy83 says:

    can = can’t

  37. quentin says:

    First off, the image you are using is quite inappropiate. It’s the box for the LIMITED EDITION grey-metal bundle that you will only get directly from Konami.

    I have been following threads about this on SD and CAG. I wanted to try and do the price match, but the memos that everyone was talking about didn’t seem to specifically state that they would price match that version of the console. Also, the Wal-Mart only listed the 40GB PS3 version, along with price. Maybe if it actually stated that version in the WM ad and not go by some questionable internal memo and maybe these discount hunters wouldn’t be so disgruntled.

    Any rational human being would know this would be a tough one to price match for a product that is very much in demand (this bundle is sold out pretty much everywhere). I got my MGS PS3 from BB fully knowing well that these folks don’t have to give you squat. I don’t get the Best Buy hate. As long as you stay away from buying service plans and trying to haggle for price matches, it’s pretty okay to me. Maybe I’m not so demanding in my purchases.

  38. Shadowfire says:

    @darksunfox: Yea, I know the ad is worded weird. I think Wal-Mart did it because the ad said “any Blu-Ray player,” to avoid ugly customers.

  39. planet2334 says:

    No reason to go in to a store with one of the worst customer service records and expect them to go above and beyond to honor something they didn’t even advertise. If he really wanted the card so much he would have gone to WalMart. Benjamin Franklin defined insanity as doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. I simply stop going to “Best” Buy. I feel saner already.

  40. jaya9581 says:

    @Belgain_Roffles:

    Price match can and often does include free stuff: It does NOT include, obviously, “store exclusives”.

    Source: Husband was a Best Buy employee for 4 years + personal experience.

  41. jaya9581 says:

    @NinjaMarion: Not sure if someone’s said this yet, but the extra 10% only applies if you’ve already purchased the item and then later bring your receipt and an ad showing the item for less either at Best Buy or elsewhere. This can be used to your advantage by purchasing an item you know is on sale and then returning afterwards with the ad from a different store, however is not very practical these days with the current price of gas.

  42. Belgain_Roffles says:

    @Shadowfire:

    Yeah, and it also came up automatically when scanned.

    @jaya9581:

    That’s a matter of employee/management discretion though, and that’s the key part of this. Something that can or often does happen is not the same as any and every time.

  43. tripR6 says:

    Just to clear up any misunderstandings, walmart corporate confirmed ALL ps3’s were included, and specifically mentioned the MGS4 bundle.

    Best Buy corporate also confirmed they were matching the GC offer on all ps3’s and sent out an internal memo. I’ve seen this memo because I had it printed out in store for me.

  44. BluDiE says:

    What part of “ANY Blue-Ray player” is hard to understand? It didn’t say “ANY Blu Ray Player (in this ad).” It said ANY BLU RAY PLAYER. That includes ALL ps3’s. It didn’t exclude bundles, and didn’t say the MGS4 bundle was excluded. Did Best Buy have to honor it, no, but when your company says they will match and or beat competitors coupons, their customers expect them to honor it.

  45. NinjaMarion says:

    @TorrentFreak: It is? Good thing I didn’t have you around to let me know how pointless their pricematching policy is when I went back up to Best Buy and had them pricematch to Circuit City since they had Rock Band $20 cheaper than I’d paid less than two weeks ago. Sure was pointless to get that $20 plus tax back (Plus the extra 10%, even though it didn’t amount to much).

    They don’t match special offers. They don’t have to and they shouldn’t. They don’t even have to match anything, but they do because it’s something customers like and helps them sell more shit if the customer’s more at ease that he’s not getting price-raped. Special offers are stuff that complicates things and thus no stores include them in their normal price match policy. Sure, you occasionally have a store that follows suit with a similar offer (Such as the Super Mario Galaxy $25 GC deal that I recall one or two stores jumping on board with, or in the case of this deal), but their normal pricematch policy forbids that kinda thing.

    “Ever notice how hot big items like TVs, computers, PS3s are all priced the same everywhere you go? The price match means jack shit if they aren’t willing to do it on special offers.”
    Uhh…no. There’s a thing called a sale. Where they can lower prices on things. Sometimes those TVs are put on sale, at which point you could use the pricematch. But if it’s a TV, installation, and a free chair all for a special bundle price, you can forget that real fuckin’ quick. You think Walmart’s gonna find you a chair of comparable price and then send some dudes out to bring and setup your tv just because they have a pricematch policy (which clearly states they don’t match special offers)?

    It’s one thing to honor a simple price difference between in-stock merchandise both stores sell. It’s another thing entirely to expect them to track down stock / personnel / whatever other resources necessary just to be able to match some hyper-specific condition the competitor has for the item.

  46. octajohnny says:

    The most confusing thing about this is that:

    1) The writer is a Slickdeals member AND still went to Best Buy to buy a Samsung 40″ LCD?!?!

    and

    2)After being denied his rightful gift card, he STILL went back and purchased the TV!

    AND

    3) Paying $1904 for said LCD!!!

    This leaves me doubting him actually being a member of Slickdeals. :-)

    Shame! Double shame!!! Triple shame!!!

  47. The_Daleness says:

    I am a current employee at BestBuy. First off, let’s talk about the 10% thing. BestBuy will match any price of a local and B&M competitor (the only exception being BestBuy.com as it sometimes has lower prices) and 10% of the difference if they have it in stock. Special offers or throw-ins are not included.

    If WalMart had done a “Get a PS3 and free DualShock 3 controller” BestBuy has no obligation to match this, as this is a special offer.

    Similarly, BestBuy, to begin with, has no obligation to match the $100 gift card with the PS3 but did any way. Also, WalMart has not indicated or shown the Metal Gear Solid Bundle as one of their qualifiers for the $100 gift card and most WalMarts were indeed sold out of the PS3’s. I am happy to hear that BestBuy is still going out of their way regardless to help Cliff, these are one of the reasons why I like working at a place that (in my experience) works with customers even if that means bending backwards.

    So, to answer TorrentFreak, BestBuy has no obligation to give Cliff the $100 gift card let alone a $110 gift card as this is an obvious misinterpretation of BestBuy’s Price Matching Policy.

  48. riverstyxxx says:

    Stop shopping at Best Buy and they will leave, that’s all you need to do. Spend your money online instead.