EECB Convinces Best Buy To Pay For Damage To Car

Here’s a good example of how to write an effective Executive Email Carpet Bomb, or EECB, to break through the “please hold” purgatory of the company’s phone system. Alicia’s car’s bumper was scratched by a Best Buy employee, and calling consumer relations as directed proved fruitless. Now she’s got a check in her hands from Best Buy to pay for the repairs.

We have quite a few stories now about Best Buy responding favorably to EECBs, which goes to show that if you can find a way to reach the company’s executives—and you write a good EECB—your odds of having your problem favorably resolved improves considerably.

Here’s Alicia’s story:

I just wanted to thank you for running such a helpful website. A Best Buy employee recently damaged my car loading a TV into the back of it. My bumper suffered from several deep gouges due to the large staples holding the box together being scraped across it. Upon noticing the damage when I got home, I immediately called the store. The employee insisted that “no manager would ever be available to discuss the issue” with me, and insisted on transferring me to their “consumer relations” line only to be put on hold indefinitely. Rinse, repeat. Of course, this lead to a dead end.

I’ve been an avid reader of The Consumerist for some time, and immediately consulted the site for e-mail addresses to send an EECB out to (I’ve included the letter at the end of this e-mail). I used many of the tips listed on how to write a letter that will receive a response. Sure enough, the next day I received an e-mail from an executive office representative letting me know that their insurance company would be contacting me shortly. Within a few hours an insurance representative called me, took my information, and got the ball rolling. After submitting an estimate, I had a check for the full amount of the estimate in my hands less than a week later.

I can’t thank you enough for having information readily available to help consumers fight back against endless streams of unhelpful processes. Please feel free to publish my story if you believe it would be helpful to other readers.

Sincerely,
Alicia

Happy to help, Alicia! Here are some of those links for other readers:

“How To Launch An Executive Email Carpet Bomb”
“Email Addresses For Best Buy Execs”

Below is the EECB Alicia wrote. Here are some things that are great about it:

  • It’s to-the-point; although you shouldn’t feel the need to be too formal, an EECB is not the place for jokiness or overtly conversational writing styles.
  • The structure of the email is easy to follow. If you’re having trouble writing a clear EECB, try following her 4-paragraph structure:
    1. this is the shopping event I’m writing about;
    2. this is the accident that happened, and how it was not resolved;
    3. this is why I’m a customer worth keeping (a difficult concept to convey without sounding entitled, and Alicia nails the tone perfectly); and
    4. here is what I want you to do to rectify the situation.
  • Emotions, insults, and grand statements against corporations/the decline of American values/humanity in general are kept out of the email.

Hello,

My name is Alicia. On the evening of September 5, 2008, my boyfriend
and I decided to take advantage of your 3-year no interest offer on
new HDTVs at store #204 in Austin, Texas. We selected a 46″ Samsung,
which was sent to the front of the store to be loaded into my car.

A helpful employee loaded it into the back of my 2008 Honda Fit.
Unfortunately, in this process my car bumper was damaged. Paint was
scraped off, and several gouges were left. As soon as we noticed the
damage, we called the store we had just purchased the TV from, and
asked to speak to a supervisor. We were transferred to Consumer
Relations line instead. After speaking to a representative named
Renee about the issue, we were put on hold so that she could “process
some information.” We waited approximately 30 minutes on hold before
giving up and hanging up. We then called store #204 back, and asked
again to speak to a supervisor, and were again transferred to Consumer
Relations and placed on hold for an extended period of time and again
not helped. We were told by the staff member answering the phone at
the store that there were no other options on whom we could speak to,
thus I am e-mailing you in attempts to receive some kind of resolution
to this issue.

We have been loyal Best Buy customers for upwards of six years. We
have easily spent at least $20,000 between us in that time. Needless
to say, we are very disappointed in the lack of customer service we
have received in this matter.

We would like to remain Best Buy customers, and would like to give
your office the chance to provide the superior customer service we
have received in the past. I am asking that a representative assess
and arrange for repair of damages to my bumper. I have included
several pictures of the damage.

I look forward to hearing from you in regards to this matter.

Thank you for your time,
Alicia

One of the best ways you can approach a company to resolve a problem is as a partner in the business transaction—that is, you are not a victim or (worse still) an opponent, but rather someone who has done business with them and plans to do business again in the future, provided you two can iron out some kink that has recently gotten in the way.

Not everyone has the great hand Alicia had to play, because that “$20k customer” detail she throws out there at the end is pretty steep, but even so we think Alicia’s letter is a good example of how to approach a company on equal footing. Even if you’re not a big spender with a company, there are other ways you remain valuable to them, including word of mouth and long term repeat business.

RELATED
“How To Launch An Executive Email Carpet Bomb”
“Email Addresses For Best Buy Execs”

Comments

Edit Your Comment

  1. Verucalise (Est.February2008) says:

    Yeah, Best Buy… nice to see you man up. Don’t think you can afford to lose anymore customers.

    My question, (I’m not trying to blame the consumer here) but how did she just notice the damage when she got home? Usually I watch when someone’s loading a very big and expensive piece of equipment into my car.

    But I’m glad her letter was effective, and she got results.

    • Zeniq says:

      @verucalise: I would imagine that she was excited about her new TV and didn’t think to closely examine her bumper after the loading was finished, especially if it was dusk or later.

      • NightSteel says:

        @Zeniq: You’re probably right. Not so long ago, I bought a couch, and I watched the delivery guys like a hawk, making sure they didn’t damage my house or the couch. Yet it was three hours before anyone noticed that the couch had a little rip in it. Sometimes, you just don’t notice, even if you are looking.

    • ceilingFANBOY says:

      @verucalise: It’s also possible that the scratch happened somewhere that Alicia wouldn’t have been able to see due to the box or the associate standing in the way.

      • snowburnt says:

        @ceilingFANBOY:
        Also, I have a Honda fit…I was barely able to fit a 40″ Tv in there, so it’s possible that the hatchback was tied closed and the box was in the way

  2. BrianDaBrain says:

    Bravo, Alicia! Well done. That’s one of the better EECBs I’ve read on this site.

    And, welcome back again, Chris! So nice to have you again on what seems to be an extended basis!

  3. milrtime83 says:

    A note of caution, don’t say you are an X dollar amount customer unless you really are. They keep track of that information based on credit card and rewards card use and could look it up if they wanted to.

  4. juri squared says:

    I hope the executives rain the fury down on that Best Buy location, especially given their recent customer service focus. I mean, sheesh. It happened, it was probably an honest mistake – just own up to it!

    • ceilingFANBOY says:

      @jurijuri: I don’t know that raining fury down on the store is the proper way to deal with this issue. They probably should have let her talk to a manager before sending her off to customer relations, but it could have just been something as simple as the manager overly doing things by the book and not using his own discretion. It may be normal protocol for a situation such as this to be transferred immediately to corporate consumer relations. The reason as to why the representative put Alicia on hold for 30 minutes is the thing that they probably should investigate more. Even if it was legitimate that whatever the rep was doing took over 30 minutes, the rep should have occasionally checked back in on Alicia to make sure she was still on the line and to explain what was taking so long.

      • godlyfrog says:

        @ceilingFANBOY: Agreed. It is recommended to never leave a customer on hold for more than 1 minute at a time for good customer service. It is also recommended to put a customer on mute rather than hold so that you can hear them if they are getting frustrated or expect an answer.

    • Tsiroch says:

      @jurijuri: The problem with ‘just owning up to it’ is that in our sue-happy society, owning up amounts to admitting fault.

      I’m going to make a sci-fi reference: I remember an episode of Sliders where, on one of the worlds Quinn bumped into an old lady on the street and apologized. The surrounding people all stared at him in amazement and several of them approached him, said they were lawyers, and that he was going to need a good one because he just admitted causing the lady grievous bodily harm.

  5. Mless says:

    …46″ TV in a Fit? wow…

  6. frugalgirl says:

    Great letter, glad things worked out for her.

  7. Ein2015 says:

    Where are the pictures? :(

  8. Quilt says:

    Good for her. I see a day though, when e-mail carpet bombing won’t work anymore. The more people that do it, the less effective it may become. I suppose that’s kind of a “wait and see” sort of thing though.

  9. Anonymous says:

    I’m the boyfriend in the story, and I wanted to also thank the community here for their help in getting a resolution to our situation.

    I watched the guy load the TV, and probably due to my excitement over my shiny new toy, didn’t think to check the bumper until we got home and Alicia found it.

    We actually are pretty big spenders there. I’ve had a credit card with them since 2002 and buy all of my big electronics purchases through them because of their 0% interest plans. But yes, I agree – make sure the dollar amount that you’re claiming to have spent is a ballpark estimation because they certainly keep records

    I’m glad this was resolved because that would have been the last business they’d gotten from me.

    Again, thanks for this information! It’s a great resource, and it really helped us :-)

  10. Corporate_guy says:

    I am surprised best buy paid out. Is loading items into cars an official service? If you ask an employee to help you load something because you forgot to bring your own friend to load it, it’s extremely scammy to try to get Best Buy to pay for the damage because an employee helped you. Odds are if she and a friend loaded it, the exactly same damage would have occurred.

    • B says:

      @Corporate_guy: Ummm, yes, loading the TV into your car is an official service offered by Best Buy.

    • nkfro says:

      @Corporate_guy:

      Corporate-guy, the issue is not whether the store considers loading freshly purchased merchandise into a customers car to be an official service. All that matters is that it was a store employee that caused the damage. That employee could have called on another employee for assistance if the box was too awkward for one person to handle with care. For that matter, the employee could also have simply walked away once it was apparent that damage to the customers car was possible.

      While the employee was trying to provide a high level of customer service, there are times when that employee must think before acting. Actions carry consequences for their employer.

    • ceilingFANBOY says:

      @Corporate_guy: You can usually still get something for it. Despite the fact that cart corrals in parking lots usually say that the store is not responsible for damage caused by carts left in the parking lot, most stores will help repair any damage left by a stray cart to keep the customer happy.

  11. scootinger says:

    I had a very similar experience with a EECB with Best Buy. I was trying to return an external hard drive at the store in Fairfax, VA, and the employee said they could not take it because a number called the “EDA” on the drive did not match up with a number called the “P/N” on the box (they were in a similar format but they were not the same)…but the serial numbers matched. I pointed this out and she did not care…neither did her supervisor. The employee actually thought that the serial number was the same on every unit…by definition it’s not.

    I called BB’s customer relations line and I explained my case…then the guy called the store and he sided with them. He said I was out of luck and to go talk to Maxtor if I wanted to try to return it.

    I ended up returning the unit to another store (Manassas, VA) but I was still really upset…a call to BB corporate should be able to resolve a silly error such as this, and it certainly didn’t. Someone who is not as determined as me could have easily felt that they were SOL. I wrote an EECB explaining my experience to BB, and eventually got a $50 giftcard in response!

    • AustinTXProgrammer says:

      @scootinger:

      I can’t imagine what I would do in that scenario. I would probably have refused to leave the store and ended up arrested before the day was over.

      I can’t believe the stupidity.

  12. Corporate-Shill says:

    Where is the proof of BB damaging her bumper? Her bumper could have been damaged earlier in the day when she visited HD or Lowe’s. Gosh darn, her bumper could have been damaged days or weeks before OR she could have damaged the bumper when she off loaded the TV at her home.

    BB rolled over on this one. Now, the scam of the artists of the world are going to be standing in line to get their free paint job.

    • Skybolt says:

      @Corporate-Shill: Yes, it’s always better to assume that everyone is a liar than to deal fairly with people. That way, you can save money by not being scammed, and as a bonus, you can drive away all the honest customers.

      • Tsiroch says:

        @Skybolt: Because if Best Buy scratches the bloody paint on my bloody car I’m going to be UP IN ARMS! I’ll never shop there AGAIN!

        Come on now, a freaking paint scratch? I wouldn’t have paid her if I was Best Buy.

      • SudhamayiKabong says:

        @Skybolt: I’m kind of with the shill. Which isn’t to say that I think the lady is a scammer, but that rolling over like this without putting the burden of proof on her sets a precedent that opens up the floodgates for scammers to take ‘em to the cleaners.

  13. citybird says:

    Hello. I’m Alicia (the person that submitted this info in the first place.) I wanted to give you some more information to possibly clear up some confusion.

    We didn’t ask for help loading. In fact, we probably could/should have done it ourselves. But, when we bought the TV, we were told it would be sent to the front of the store and an employee would load it for us. Who am I to turn down free help? I was in the driver’s seat of my car when this happened, as I’d been asked to pull my car around to the front of the store for loading. My boyfriend stood to one side and hopped in as soon as they were done loading.

    I can say with absolute certainty that there was no damage to the car prior to their loading, as it was 3 months old at the time and still in overly-protective of my car mode. The gouge marks happened to line up exactly with the staples on the box. Neither of us thought to check to see if they’d damaged the car after loading, as we’ve both had Best Buy load large electronics into our cars previously. We noticed as soon as we pulled in at home. We didn’t even unload the TV, to make sure we didn’t damage it further. The TV just sat outside while all of this went on. The insurance company let me know that this was not unheard of, and I wasn’t the first person that had this exact same incident happen to them.

    There’s nothing I can truly say, even if I provide the pictures, that can convince anyone that wasn’t there of what happened. What I can say it that I know this site is not for scammers, it’s not a “here’s how to wring something you deserve out of an unwitting company” site. It’s a site about consumers fighting back. That’s exactly what I did, so I decided to share my story.

    As far as the dollar amount, $20k over 6 years between 2 tech geeks is not unreasonable. :-)

  14. mzs says:

    I don’t know about this one. A similar thing happened to me at a Frys with a new used volvo I had which was immaculate at that point. Some plastic in the back got a dime sized gouge from the corner of the TV when the employee was helping me load it and I said it was nothing. I really did not want the fellow to get in trouble and back when I worked at Monkey Wards I know my manger would have told me to pay-up or I was out of the job. Damage like that is just what can happen when you load something awkward and it wasn’t like he did it on purpose. After a few of my kids got to it, the back of that volvo did not look so hot anymore anyway, plus for this customer it happened to the bumper and they tend to get all scratched-up in short order anyway.

    It was not right for this employee to not let the customer speak with the manager, but honestly his job was at stake, and the customer pushing it so far got some person fired most likely for a random thing that was honestly an accident. That is the sort of thing that your deductible is for with your insurance. Was it worth $500 to the customer to have it fixed? If not, I would have felt very badly about having an employee who has all sorts of their own expenses get in trouble over a deductible.

    I know this is going to be an unpopular opinion here, but I worked retail when I was young, so I tend to had a lot of compassion now that I am older.

    • tevetorbes says:

      @mzs:

      I also worked in retail when I was young, if that matters to you.

      The fact is the Best Buy employee scratched the car, Best Buy should pay for the scratch.

      You clearly don’t care about your automobile, since your kids apparently screwed it up without your regard, but you are in the minority.

      Damn straight if somebody (Best Buy employee or not) scratched my 3-month-old car (as per the OP) I would be up in arms to have it fixed. No, it’s not my insurance company’s job to pay for damage caused by someone with the ability to pay.

      FWIW, I worked at Circuit City, and we had people who were trained to load things into cars. I’m surprised Best Buy does not have this. Also, those people told customers that they were NOT ALLOWED TO HELP load things, because if they were injured, the merchandise was damaged, or the car was mangled, CC had to come up with the money.

      I will only, at this point, /slightly/ hint that the OP got what she deserved by shopping at BB (haha), but I am glad that she got some compensation for the damage to her auto (she didn’t deserve that, actually).

  15. hardtoremember says:

    I have had 2 employees damage a cars at my current business. I found that paying for the damage was a far better option than the business I would potentially lose.
    We kept both of the customers and hopefully got more by actually taking care of business.
    Yes, those repairs came out of those months bonuses but losing a customer costs more in the end.

  16. dopplerd says:

    Future Best Buy Internal Memo:

    “Employees are no longer allowed to help customers load their vehicles. While this was not a service BB has ever offered, any employee helping a customer in this way regardless of the customer’s disability, age, injury, lack of strength, or small children will be fired immediately.”

    Thanks for making certain that BB employees will be even less helpful than they are now.

    It is a Honda Fit not a piece of fine art. If you are such an avid reader of Consumerist.com what are you doing buying a brand new car and shopping at Best Buy? So your bumper got some scratches on it. Cry me a freaking river. Maybe you didn’t notice them until you got home because YOU scratch the bumper removing the TV without the assistance of the BB employee.

    I bet that this person gets their repair check and decides that the scratches really aren’t that bad and would rather go shopping at the mall with the money. If the damage is so bad where are the photos?

    • Brunette Bookworm says:

      @dopplerd: So buying a new car isn’t allowed here? Sorry, but the gas and repair costs of my old car are much higher than what I pay for my Fit. Didn’t we have something on here before about the Fit having the lowest cost of ownership of new cars???

  17. reefer says:

    Wow, I almost feel bad for the employee. He went out of his way to help you because you couldn’t bring someone to help you load it, nor a proper vehicle to transport it. Now he’ll probably be canned due to your ignorance.

    Did you tip the young chap that helped you? Probably not.

    I worked retail for many years selling furniture, busting my butt to cram your new corner desk in your fiesta.

    Use some common sense next time.

    • tevetorbes says:

      @reefer: If the BB employee was so worried about not being able to fit the TV in the Fit, he should’ve said “Sorry, won’t go, get a bigger car” and been done with it. My wife also sold furniture for many years, and just laughed at customers who wanted a desk to fit in their fiesta, as you put it, so you apparently are just too daft to tell someone to f-themselves in regards to small cars and big stuff.

      Fact is, it was probably an honest mistake on his part, no malice intended, and the OP is entitled to be made whole by BB.

  18. Brunette Bookworm says:

    @Mless: Yep. If you fold the front seat down as well, you can fit a 6′ bookcase box in there. I love my Fit.

  19. blim8183 says:

    After reading this post, I was inspired to executive email carpet bomb Paypal regarding an incident I had with them recently. Sure enough, I got a call from a very nice lady in the office of executive escalation the next day and had the problem taken care of.

  20. Parting says:

    That was one professional letter. No rambling. Facts. Done politely.

    Five stars for your EECB.