Price Match Fraud Lawsuit Filed Against Best Buy

A class action lawsuit has been filed in Illinois against Best Buy. The suit’s claims? That the company has an official policy against price-matching their own web site. You don’t say. That claim of a special Intranet site to prevent price-matching against the chain’s Web site sounds familiar. So do most of the suit’s allegations, for loyal readers of Consumerist.

Let us refresh your memory:

Connecticut State’s Attorney’s Office Launches Investigation Into Best Buy’s Secret Intranet Site
Best Buy Refuses To Stop Misleading Customers With Secret Website
Best Buy Not Honoring Price Match Guarantee
Best Buy Accused Of Paying Bonuses To Managers Who Don’t Price Match

The problem, of course, is that while this practice is misleading, it’s not illegal.

Lawsuit: Best Buy lies [Chicago Bar-Tender] (Thanks to everyone who sent this in!)

(Photo: Ian Muttoo)

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  1. Esquire99 says:

    While I understand the purpose of allowing these kinds of suits, I’m bothered by lawsuits filed by individuals (or classes thereof) that didn’t suffer any actual harm. Clearly these suits are needed to keep companies in line and to deter false advertising, etc., but private suits like this just bother me. It seems that this kind of this is better suited for a govt. action (civil suit brought by the AG, etc.) rather than a private one, since these plaintiffs, who suffered no real injury, now stand to (potentially) profit handsomely from this suit. I certainly wouldn’t say I think these kinds of suits need to be prohibited, but I still can’t quite come to terms with them.

    • P=mv says:

      @Esquire99: The problem is, government action will not happen until a suit like this attracts attention to the problem or some senator gets screwed by this policy.

      • Esquire99 says:

        @AshCatScram:
        Unfortunately there is a lot of truth to that. Really, more likely that someone at the AG’s office gets screwed before it gets proper attention, but your point is still valid.

    • H3ion says:

      @Esquire99: There was actual harm. There was fraud which has some economic penalty. More to the point, consumers were deprived of the benefit of their bargain. A consumer might not have shopped at Best Buy if he/she could have obtained the product elsewhere at a lower price. In fact, the entire price match guarantee is predicated on a lower price being available elsewhere but a consumer being willing to part dollars with Best Buy if the store will match the price.

      I have no problem with an AG bringing an action, but I would hope at that point that the action would be for criminal fraud and actually put some Best Buy executives in the pokey. That would end the practice pretty quickly.

      • Esquire99 says:

        @H3ion:
        Isn’t that just theoretical harm? The consumers weren’t actually out anything. They didn’t lose any money or property. I’ll give you the “benefit of the bargain” angle, but that isn’t really cognizable harm. Again, I totally understand and accept the fraud angle, but absent any cognizable harm, I’m still bothered by the suit.

        • H3ion says:

          @Esquire99: Well, sorry to disagree but I’ve been disagreeable for so long I wouldn’t know how to stop. In practice, there are two parts to a civil action. There is the issue of liability and the issue of damages. If there’s no liability found, everyone goes home. If there is liability found, then there is a finding on damages.

          It’s possible to have liability without any economic harm. The result is a damage award for $1. But the contrary isn’t true. There has to be a find of liability before there can be any finding of damages.

          In the Best Buy case, I don’t know how the damages would be computed. They may wind up nominal. But the fact remains that Best Buy is doing something that isn’t right. They’re advertising a policy to get people to shop at their stores when they have no intention of abiding by the policy. I think that is or at least should be actionable.

          Carrying out my policy of disagreeing, I disagree with Laura when she says that the practice is not illegal (last line of the post). The Target case she cites is not the same as Best Buy’s practice and consumer fraud or deceptive advertising, which is present in the Best Buy case if the facts are proved, is very much illegal.

          • Esquire99 says:

            @H3ion:
            I have no issue with disagreement.

            I completely understand the bifurcated nature of of trials, liability and damages. I guess what I have a problem with are the nominal damages. Someone brought a suit, took up a lot of the court’s time, caused the defendant to spend a ton of money on attorney’s fees, and for what? Nominal damages because they had no real, cognizable harm? I certainly understand and accept that such is fairly common practice and occurs in other scenarios, but it just bothers me. Again, I’m certainly not advocating that this kind of thing be prohibited, it just doesn’t set well with me.

            I’m also not saying that Best Buy shouldn’t be punished for this. I too think what they are doing (or did) is and should be actionable, though as I said I think it might be more appropriate for the state to bring the action.

            Really, I’m just bothered by people who haven’t truly been harmed bringing suits like this; it seems like nothing more than a money grab.

            • huadpe says:

              @Esquire99: Nominal damages are important because they often come with other legal strings. That is, say BBY loses the case and plaintiffs get awarded $1. The settlement or order will almost always include an agreement by BBY to refrain from whatever activity is accused.

              Often a lawsuit is used to make someone do/stop doing something, without any money needing to change hands.

              • RPHP says:

                @huadpe: I think you are mixing many concepts at once. To have standing to sue you need to have some sort of harm however the damage does not need to be economic. Further, if you win a lawsuit and want to try and get someone to start/stop doing something you get an injunction – you do not need to be awarded any economic damages to get an injunction.

                That being said, what qualifies for harm is specific. If one does not seem to have harm the defendant will bring it up on a motion to dismiss. As is discussed above though, it seems that there is a harm in this case.

        • Michael Belisle says:

          @Esquire99: So the Braunstein lawsuit linked above claims actual harm: the plaintiff had purchased a Nikon camera for $1999, and later found a it selling for $959 elsewhere. Best Buy refused the price match and he had to pay a restocking fee when he returned it, meaning his damages are at least $300. That’s the kind of specificity I’d expect and I think it’d qualify as more than theoretical harm.

          Most of this complaint seems like a rehash of the declarations in the Braunstein complaint, except that it describes the denied prices matches in vague terms.

          • dragonfire81 says:

            Don’t fool yourselves, the only ones who will see much financial windfall from this suit are the lawyers involved in it. Most class actions don’t result in much benefit to members of the class, save for a token refund or coupon or something.

            However I do believe these kind of actions are necessary to highlight bad business practices as is the case here.

            • silver-bolt says:

              @dragonfire81: Represented members of the class, in this case, the one/two people named on the suit, do get a part of the lawyer pay that comes out of the settlement amount. So while you, me, and joe smuck get a coupon for 10 off 100, Todd Laff will get a pretty penny for his time.

              • Esquire99 says:

                @silver-bolt:
                Sharing fees with clients is usually illegal and against the rules of professional conduct. Google “Milberg Weiss” for an interesting story of a highly successful class-action firm that was essentially dismantled because they were making payments to lead plaintiffs.

            • bohemian says:

              @dragonfire81: I would like to see a better sharing situation between the law firms and those who join the class action. I see too many where the law firm gets a huge cash settlement and the people who joined get a 20% off coupon.

              • Esquire99 says:

                @bohemian:
                The argument in favor of the law firms here is, at least in large class actions, they spend a LOT of money preparing for the case, hiring necessary experts, fronting deposition costs, fronting the costs of notifying all possible plaintiffs, etc. All of this money is out of the firms pocket. This puts a lot of risk on the firm if they lose. Further, larger class-actions can take up a LOT of an attorney’s time, time that could have been spent on other matters. Granted, the firms still do quite well in the end, but it’s not like they got something for nothing.

        • mythago says:

          @Esquire99: So as long as you steal a small enough amount from a large enough number of people, you should be immune from suit? In essence, that’s what you’re arguing. The whole point of class actions is to avoid the situation where if you steal just a little from a whole lot of people, you’re effectively lawsuit-proof because only a crazy man sues over $5.

          • Esquire99 says:

            @mythago:
            But here I don’t see any cognizable damages at all. It’s not like they had $10 and now only have $5. I realize that being out “time” is arguably damage, but it’s not easily quantifiable into money. They are saying “Best Buy told me they would do x, but then they didn’t do X,” not “I paid Best Buy $10 and they didn’t give me anything.”

            • RPHP says:

              @Esquire99: If you buy something and they promise to match a price and they do not you have a definite money damage don’t you?

              I buy something for $50 I see it somewhere else for $40 and they will not match it I am out $10. That seems like a damage to me is it not?

              It may not be a good claim for other reasons but to claim no standing because there is no possible damages seems empty.

              • Esquire99 says:

                @RPHP:
                Don’t get me wrong, I’m not claiming they don’t have standing. I think the law is pretty clear that, in many cases, nominal harm is sufficient to gain standing. In this case, I think it’s pretty clear they have standing to sue. I’m just saying that these suits bother me. I guess to an extent it just makes me look down upon those who bring these kinds of suits; it’s nothing but a money-grab.

                I think I would be more willing to recognize a cognizable damage if you bought a product from BB, relying ont he 30 day price match guarantee, found a local retailer offering the item for less within 30 days and BB refused to match. In the case where one goes to BB to buy the product and asks for a price match at the time of purchase and is denied, I just don’t see any harm. At that point, you make a choice to buy the product or to go elsewhere. If you choose to buy anyway, that’s your choice and your problem.

                In your example, I’m still not entirely sure I agree that there was actual harm. Granted, the “harm” can be quantified easier than “I lost the time it took to drive there,” but the mere fact that you didn’t get as good a deal as you possible could have seems like a stretch. When you bought the product for $50, that’s how much you (theoretically) considered it to be worth. The fact that a few days later you find out you could have gotten it for $40 doesn’t really seem like “harm” to me. Granted, I think it’s getting closer, but I’m still uncomfortable with it.

                I certainly see the merit in suits for theoretical or nominal damages; it’s all about the principle of the matter. Allowing theses kinds of suits furthers the goal of stopping bad behavior. However, I fell like private litigants bring these suits not with the primary goal of stopping the behavior, but to make money. I’m sure there are a few noble plaintiffs out there who don’t care about the money, but my suspicion is most wouldn’t do it if they knew they wouldn’t get any money in the end. That’s why I think that the best person to bring these suits is the AG, as his interest, again theoretically, is to do justice and stop the bad activity.

                • RPHP says:

                  @Esquire99: It seems like you are putting together a lot of ideas but I will try and point out what is going on. An AG can sue as parens patriae. Different states have different rules as to how or if that would work in a consumer rights case like this. In many states the AG will not have standing in a case like this to sue on behalf of its citizens. Further the AG usually is not obligated to act. Hence, the purpose of class actions to vindicate rights like this.

                  You talk about nominal damages but I think you are confusing the concept. Nominal damages are very small damages awarded to show that a right trampled was caused technical harm as opposed to actual harm. In this case whether the damages are $5 or $300 (Michael Belisle points out $300 seems to be the damages to the class rep here) there are actual damages. This is not a technical right and therefore the damages are not correctly characterized as nominal. One believes when they are buying something that the deal is they will have a price match and BB is agreeing to this deal. If BB refuses to price match the plaintiff is actually harmed and out of actual money – this is not technical or nominal but actual and quantifiable.

                  I am not sure why you keep reducing this to theoretical or nominal damages?

                  As for your response to @silver-bolt I think they meant is that in many cases a class representative will be given more money (often by rule) in the settlement than whatever the other class members get as an incentive to bring the suit. This is not the same as sharing fees with a plaintiff.

                  • Esquire99 says:

                    @RPHP:
                    I fully understand the concept of nominal damages, for example, in a trespass casse where there is no real harm, but your property rights have been trampled on, so you get nominal damages.

                    Here, I read the entire complaint at it seems to allege that the lead plaintiff was simple denied a price match on his initial purchase. He didn’t buy from BB and come back later for a price match. He intended to make the initial purchase at BB and they wouldn’t match a competitor. I just don’t see how he is out any quantifiable amount of money.

                    As far as Silver-bolt, I was merely responding to what he said, which was that they share in attorney’s fees. I agree with your assertion, but that’s not was Silver-Bolt stated.

                    • RPHP says:

                      @Esquire99: I understand now. In my laziness I did not read the complaint and was rather relying on other people’s description of what was going on.

                      I agree completely – If you never buy anything then you are upset when they do not want to give you a certain price that seems pretty weak. Not a very good class rep either. Much better to have someone who did buy something and the price match did not come through. If I was BB I would at least try to say on a MTD that this plaintiff has no standing – however that is a temporary win because there certainly is another plaintiff who has a better fact pattern.

                      As for Silver-Bolt I was not contradicting you I was trying to help explain where they got confused.

                    • Esquire99 says:

                      @RPHP:
                      Like I said above, my feeling is slightly different if plaintiff had bought camera at BB, in reliance on the price-match policy, found it for $100 less 10 days later at Circuit City (pretend they still exist), and was denied a match by BB.

                    • RPHP says:

                      @Esquire99: It seems like the class rep here is just trying to be the class rep so that they can get whatever statutory award they get for having that status.

                    • dragonfire81 says:

                      Here’s my issue with price matching: If you find something cheaper elsewhere, why not just buy it there? Price matching is usually a hassle wherever you go (though not quite on the level of BB).

                    • CheritaChen says:

                      @dragonfire81: I agree in general, but what about cases where you go to the cheaper place and find someone just bought the last widget in stock at that price? Or, what if there’s a store that you really can’t stand going to for one reason or another (Best Buy is one for me, but let’s say BrandsMart, where I am guaranteed to earn a migraine for my trouble thanks to the cacophony of all the electronic merch running at once), and you’d like to avoid it if possible? I agree in most cases that the store offering me the best service is the one I want to give my money to. Sometimes that’s the one with the lowest price, sometimes not.

                      My thoughts on this are probably not worth much, since I can’t remember ever asking any store to price match something.

                    • Esquire99 says:

                      @CheritaChen:
                      FYI, the other store being out-of-stock on the item is usually a justification for denial of a price match. They aren’t matching for the sake of doing so, but to make sure they buy it from them. If it’s impossible to get it from the other place, they aren’t going to match. That’s typically in most policies.

        • seishino says:

          @Esquire99: Having driven out to Best Buy twice to pricematch items, and having been denied pricematches on no grounds whatsoever, I’d say that false advertising and hours of time is harm to consumers.

          If price matching makes sense for your chain, then price match. If it doesn’t make sense to price match, then don’t do it. But to advertise price matching in order to lure people into your store, then deny it in the hopes that they’ll just buy the thing at full price… that’s deceptive, injurious, and deserving of scorn.

          Best Buy deserves to be sued massively for this practice.

          • RPHP says:

            @seishino: It is easier than hours of time wasted. If you make a guarantee that you price match and you do not price match my product I have lost a very definite amount of money. That is probably damage enough for standing.

            • ExtraCelestial says:

              I’m rather positive that this is the most informative and intellectually debated thread in Consumerist history.

              Bravo.

        • bohemian says:

          @Esquire99: I see this as more of a deceptive business practice or false advertising. Back when this was happening iPhones and other more web capable devices were very rare so the ability to call a store on this was harder.

          People are harmed by deceptive practices or advertising if they found out after the fact they were coaxed into buying something by deception. IE: you paid $20 for an item (that had $25 on the sticker) thinking you were getting a price match but the real website sold it for $15. In this situation people were harmed. Those that caught it and walked away had their time wasted.

    • Michael Belisle says:

      @Esquire99: If nothing else, it’s a waste of my time to drive to Best Buy, expecting them to price match, and then have them come up with an illegitimate reason. It’s a bait and switch because they have, in effect, advertised a lower price than they’ll actually going to fulfill.

      I’m more curious about the overly generic descriptions of the denied price-matches, e.g. “a local competitor, offering a lower price on an available product of the same brand and model, video games”? Does that local competitor have a name and location? What day did this occur? What was the reason Best Buy gave for denying the price match? What were the prices involved? There’s not enough information given to establish that Best Buy denied the request for an illegitimate reason.

    • RPHP says:

      @Esquire99: You are right – in fact you probably do not have standing if you do not have any damages (as far as I know the standing requirements apply to class actions as well). However, as Michael Belisle points out, at least in this case there does seem to be damages.

    • H3ion says:

      @Esquire99: Too many damn lawyers on this site. (LOL) We could probably start a pretty decent law firm. “Online Lawyers, LLLP”.

  2. frank64 says:

    Why have price matches if you aren’t going to honor them? It would seem it just builds ill will, not to mention lawsuits!

    I try not to use the, I would rather by directly from the place with the best advertised price, but I have when the other place was out of stock.

    • Akanbe says:

      @frank64:

      I honestly don’t understand this whole price matching debacle. I’ve NEVER had any trouble price matching anything. Managers never seemed disturbed (hell they don’t even have to confirm it at our store — other people do). We just try to make the customer happy. Maybe that’s why our store is one of the more successful ones out there…

      As far as the (previous) article goes, I’m not really sure why some people expect to price match an out of stock item. If store X has it for 200 dollars less but they don’t have it in stock, there’s no way to get that item for 200 dollars less unless they’re taking back orders. It makes sense to me.

      • mythago says:

        @Akanbe: “Out of stock” could mean that the item will be in the store tomorrow. The out-of-stock store may also be legally required to offer the item at the advertised price once it arrives.

    • mac-phisto says:

      @frank64: i’m the same way. i figure if company A has a better price, i’d rather give them the business over company B.

  3. RipperHoss says:

    Okay … this has been beaten to death, but for the sake of playing the Devil’s Advocate, I’ll give you the perspective of someone who worked at said business during the time that this broke.

    Best Buy views their online store as another store in the company. It is assigned its own store number, even though it has the ability to sell products out of other stores.

    The purpose of this “secret intranet” was not to defraud customers but to provide consistent pricing for THAT store. You wouldn’t expect to go into a store in Los Angeles and see what the pricing of a store in central Tennessee (whose prices, I assure you, differ significantly), and likewise the “secret intranet” simply showed you the inventory and pricing in the store you were currently shopping in.

    The problem that surfaced was the fact that they used the BestBuy.com layout so that the system that employees and customers accessed APPEARED to be the website, when, in fact, it was not. Uninformed employees (which account for a startling number) were unaware of the difference between the intranet and internet site, and told customers that they were one and the same.

    Whether or not this is worthy of a class-action lawsuit, I don’t know.

    • H3ion says:

      @RipperHoss: I’m not sure this is the sole basis for the suit although it is a piece of evidence. I think the practices which were alleged to originate with management, to make sure that the price guarantee was not met, even though it was advertised, is enough to let the suit go forward.

    • RandomHookup says:

      @RipperHoss: Uninformed employees are the responsibility of the company. If the two sites are easily confused, either change the layout or educated.

    • Overheal says:

      @RipperHoss: Employees rarely are at play at these kiosks, which are almost entirely left unattended for shoppers to access at whim. They are in central locations, far from any employee stations. They look exactly like the website and it has honestly always been my assumption that it was their website, which I used mostly for speccing hardware.

      At the very best, it was a gross negligence. But get real. It was likely deliberate fraud in my opinion.

      • RipperHoss says:

        @Overheal: Again, I’m not saying that there was not fault. I’m simply saying that the “idea” behind them was that they showed what was available in the store you were currently in at the current time. The use of the same design and interface as BestBuy.com was a big problem. I admit it.

        The ultimate problem is that Best Buy views the internet store as a separate store, and they had NO price match guarantee with their own stores. As such, every time a store needed to price match BestBuy.com they actually had to get a manager’s approval to do so.

        As for the comments about uninformed employees, I agree. Completely. They were the bane of my existence while I worked there. Unfortunately, when you don’t offer commission to people that generate thousands of dollars per hour, you tend to attract a certain calibre of person …

        • fluidexistence says:

          @RipperHoss: Unless there was an intentional omission, what’s the purpose of showing a potential buyer a website price that would effectively be exactly the same as what the customer sees as the physical sticker price? “We match our price with… our price!”

          While I concede that there’s a good reason that the store wouldn’t match the price of inventory that would be associated to their online entity, the fact remains that in-store pickup negates the savings that are supposedly passed on to the customer through supply chain and operational expenses; seems a little too underhanded to me.

        • madog says:

          @RipperHoss: I think that’s what the problem is. While your reasoning that the online store is it’s own store and the kiosk just portrays the stores inventory that you are at (but it resembles the site. I’ll equate that to one part laziness of BB and one part convenience for the customer) it doesn’t make much sense they wouldn’t price match one of their other stores. While it makes sense in a business perspective because the site is easier to maintain and essentially costs less to run than a physical store, that’s still stupid.

          Illegal? I don’t know. Definitly if they price matched other physical BB stores, then by your reasoning they should honor the same price from their website as well.

        • jenjen says:

          @RipperHoss: I might buy that initially this was an innocent thing. However, if the company had any integrity, it would have reexamined this issue and redesigned the store-only site after the many complaints about this problem started to surface. This started to get press when, 2007? Earlier? Even if they have no integrity, if they were at least smart they would realize that having something that the buying public *perceived* as fakey was a problem. It would be a tiny tiny job to use a different stylesheet for the store-only site so that people would know what they were seeing.

          • secret_curse says:

            @jenjen: I haven’t been in the store in a while, but I’m fairly certain the in store kiosks have some prominent verbiage stating that you’re seeing the local store’s inventory and prices, not BB.com inventory and prices.

    • TheSpatulaOfLove says:

      @RipperHoss:

      While it may have been ‘beaten to death’ on Consumerist, the general population is still being suckered by this tactic. Even after the sleazy tactic was originally exposed, Best Buy was still pitching the in-store intarwebz ordering to unknowing suspects.

      I actually tested this a few times, where I went in the store looking for something I researched online, found there was a huge price difference and when I queried, the employee hauled me over to the terminal and essentially tried calling me a liar. I whipped out my phone, pulled up the Best Buy site and proved HIM to be the liar. He didn’t have much to say other than ‘why didn’t you just order it online and pick it up?’. Well, I prefer to select my own, rather than get the smashed up box or previously opened one. Not to mention the whole ‘we don’t match BB.com prices’ stunt they used to pull.

      So I ask this: If Best Buy wants to treat their online store as a separate entity, why would they market through bestbuy.com? Why not use Bestbuyonline.com and market it as a wholly owned subsidiary of Bestbuy Inc. This way, they would have veiled themselves from having the price match messes or confusing their customers.

      As far as I’m concerned, bestbuy.com and the stores are ONE entity and should do business as such, not this whole deceitful split thing.

    • StanTheManDean says:

      @RipperHoss:

      Being reasonable and logical is not allowed on The Consumerist.

  4. IssaGoodDay says:

    “The problem, of course, is that while this practice is misleading, it’s not illegal.”

    Yes – but isn’t using the price matching guarantee as a cornerstone of your marketing, but then employing deceptive practices to avoid doing it along the same lines as the weight-loss ads showing atypical results?

    • humphrmi says:

      @davidschripsema: Yes, and once again we’re seeing a case where civil and criminal law are being confused. If what Best Buy did was illegal, then the police or various attorneys general would bring action against them. You sue in civil court, as a private citizen, not because someone necessarily did something illegal (although that often helps) but because their actions left you un-whole (i.e. out money). Which is going to be the tricky part to prove here. If someone is out money due to the deceptive advertising, then they probably have a case.

      • RandomHookup says:

        @humphrmi: Just because it goes civil vs. criminal, doesn’t also mean that it isn’t illegal. It may be that it’s tough to prove the criminal case, that it cuts across multiple jurisdictions, that it is low on the AG priority list, that it’s easier to get a civil suit going, etc.

        I don’t know if it’s illegal, but then again, IANAL.

  5. Razor512 says:

    Bestbuy and circuit city did this. And while I don’t shop at that store (considering that they charge 1.5-7 times more than many online stores)but when a company does deceptive things like this as well as going out of their way to screw you (their website list a price and says available in stores then when you get to the store the item is much more expensive.

    example of a bestbuy ripoff

    Bestbuy:[www.bestbuy.com]

    same item at newegg: [www.newegg.com]

    thats $65 cheaper at newegg

    example 2

    bestbuy: [www.bestbuy.com]

    newegg: [www.newegg.com]

    $70 cheaper at newegg

    when people shop at these stores, they know they are getting ripped off but it really hurts them to be double ripped off because of the stores dirty tricks

    • larrymac thinks testing should have occurred says:

      @Razor512: Sometimes I don’t have the time (or just plain don’t want) to wait for delivery.

      And while I love me some NewEgg, they have a few odd practices of their own. The shipping prices have no basis in reality — how can a 10 foot ethernet cable AND a large retail boxed 1TB disk drive both cost $4.99 for shipping? (made up example, but not unlike situations I’ve seen) Something advertised with “free shipping” can suddenly have a shipping charge if another item is added to your order. My solution to that was, of course, to place two orders. That had to have cost them more in overhead, but it’s their game, I was just a player.

  6. Extended-Warranty says:

    Best Buy wants to expand its business. They want to go toe-to-toe with all of their competitors. One of them is Amazon. To compete, BB wants to offer similar prices on the website. To expect them to drop all of their in store prices is insane. Instant bankruptcy.

    Best Buy does need a better method of executing this plan. Such as clearly stating which is the online price and which is the in store price. Although, this is risky for their business. What if customers stop buying in the stores?

    Either way, this is only “fraud” because some people feel that websites for brick and mortar locations are some sort of sales ad for every store. At no point does Best Buy make that representation.

    Everyone just loves to bash Best Buy. I for one, enjoy how much my BB stock has increased :)

    • Razor512 says:

      @Extended-Warranty:

      they can easily match amazon.com prices or even lower, there just too much of idiots to do it. they have this mindset

      “I only get this many customers and to stay in business, I have to sell items at these prices, if I loose any customers I may have to increase prices” (many businesses go by this especially small businesses, this practice always leads to going out of business.

      a smart business mindset

      “I don’t have enough customers, if I lower my prices, I will get 100 times as many customers and I will make more money”

      many of these companies want maximum profit per item sold, thus high prices. but as soon as another company comes in and sells for cheaper, everyone flocks to them and you go out of business

      remember people will go miles to save a few cents

      • bhr says:

        @Razor512: There is a point where you don’t make money cutting prices.

        If I have an item that cost me $50 to sell (product cost, employee cost, ect.) and I can sell 200 for $100 or 1000 for $60 which makes more sense? The 1000 for $60, based on the odds that those people will buy another couple items? The 200 for $100 because they will be likely to buy other high markup items? Which option takes up more floor space? Which cost me more to have employees to handle the transaction? Which creates more brand loyalty.

        Its far more complicated then lower prices/sell more/make more money.

        • Xerloq says:

          @bhr: Since you net $10K in both scenarios, the clear option is to sell 600 at $80 each netting 18K.

          Yeah, there’s a couple of assumptions there…

  7. kyle4 says:

    I have never had a hard time price matching something at Best Buy. One time they matched an unknown store that was selling Guitar Hero 2 (with guitar and game) for $59.99. The price at Best Buy? $89.99. I even got the 10% of the difference too. I always bring competing fliers and not once have I ever had a problem, so maybe this is just a location thing.

  8. TVGenius says:

    The problem I have with these complaints is that if you actually read the BB price match policy, it clearly says that they will match local competitor’s prices. Not online prices, which would include their own. If you buy online, the assumption is that they’re not including shipping in the price (with some exceptions of course). Sure, I’ve seen a few items that were a few bucks more in store than the website said, but that wasn’t anything I couldn’t fix with the web access on my cell phone by ordering online with instore pickup, and killing ten minutes.

    • Villnius says:

      @TVGenius:

      I’ve NEVER been able to get the local (Toronto) Best Buy or Future Shop (owned by BB) stores to honor their price match rule even with local stores. I don’t know if it’s the same in the USA, but in Canada, the offer is that if you can find a better price, they’ll beat it by 10%. They usually state some “rule” which disqualifies the store in some way. You see, ALL of the independent computer shops in Toronto beat BB and FS prices. That’s on retail boxed items, not OEM items.

      I once even went through the motions by calling their customer service line and checking on what I needed, and what to do if they refused (because they had in the past with little explanation).

      I got the competitor’s price list, their web address, and the competitor’s phone number so they could verify the details. I made sure the merchandise was retail boxed. Denied on the spot without even bothering to phone the competitor or anything else to check. The stated reason at first was that the price item was for an OEM item, and thus didn’t qualify. It wasn’t. I made sure of that, it was retail boxed, and the same model. They then claimed that the store was a wholesaler, not a retailer, and didn’t deal with the public. Nope. I’ve bought stuff from that particular store numerous times, and I don’t work for a computer shop. Didn’t care. Wouldn’t do it. I then asked for the refusal with reasons in writing — their customer service line suggested I do that. After bouncing around between several “managers” who weren’t, I finally got someone who tore off a photocopied copy of their lowest price “guarantee.” She randomly circled a bunch of stuff that had nothing to do with what I was told, and escorted out by security.

      Forget it. They don’t price match with ANYBODY, not even local brick and mortar stores, and they get very surly with anyone who asks.

      • duffman13 says:

        @Villnius: I for one don’t know why this is such a big deal. If you’re willing to go through that much for a price match, why not just drive to the other store to begin with and save yourself the hassle altogether.

        The best thing that we can do is vote with our wallets and buy from smaller local guys and online like newegg or amazon if we want anything to change.

        • mazzic1083 says:

          @duffman13: Although I don’t have many local computer stores to choose from I would agree with your thinking. I appreciate the price match but if they were to continue to deny it, over and over, why not just go to the place that printed that flyer and check out their stock?

        • Cyberxion101 says:

          @duffman13: Well it’s possible that the store he wanted to price match was further away from him than the Best Buy. And that’s just off the top of my head. I’m sure some of our more intilligent posters can come up with a bunch more reasons why he may not have bought the items from that store.

          That having been said, I totally second your suggestion to buy from Newegg and/or Amazon. They’ve been fantastic in my experiences with them. :)

        • mythago says:

          @duffman13: So it’s OK for a company to lie to and cheat its customers?

      • mrm514 says:

        @Villnius:
        They’ll price match, and refund 10% of the difference… not the price.

        • Villnius says:

          @mrm514:
          Erm. No. They SAY they will on store signs and in their policy, but at least in the two downtown stores (FS and BB are blocks away from each other), they use ANY excuse to weasel out of it. I’ve checked with a few other people, and I’m not the only one who had this experience.

          As to why I didn’t buy from the computer store, I’ll be doing that next time. Back then, I didn’t know that the two stores were owned by the same company. They’re a lot closer to where I lived at the time. I lived roughly 4 blocks away from there, and the FS and BB stores are not even 1 block away from each other. I had seen their huge signs about their “price match” guarantee on previous trips, so I figured why not.

          I’m actually not so sure if I’m more irked by them lying to people, or throwing people out for just ASKING to speak to a manager about the policy (after getting the run around in the store about who the manager actually is).

  9. Shine-runner says:

    I had a drive go bad, and needed one now. I try to keep a 500 gig or 1tb on the shelf. I went internet searching found the one I wanted, for the price of over night I could just go buy one local. To get an idea of the price I went internet shopping. The drive on BB site was $69. When I went to the store it was $79. I told the sales guy it was cheaper on the net. He looked it up and they priced matched it. I guess I got lucky on that one.

  10. Bush2008 says:

    Newegg has such a ridiculously small margin. And they don’t have over 1000 stores to pay rent on. To expect Best Buy to always meet their prices is insane.

    There are times, however, where Best Buy actually beats Newegg. Was looking at a headset/mic combo, and Best Buy had an everyday price that was about $40 cheaper than Newegg. I was rather surprised.

    Anyways, the people who complain about a store being more expensive are pretty close-minded. Do you go to the corner store and whine and moan about the milk being double the cost? You are paying more for a physical store, people you can actually talk to, and not having to wait for things in the mail. Get over it, or don’t shop there.

  11. chiieddy says:

    I had no problem getting BB to match their website for a recent appliance purchase. Saved us well over $200

  12. bohemian says:

    Since most price matches require them to be on an identical model at another store they are largely worthless. So many stores have unique model numbers while the product is only slightly or sometimes not even different other than the model number. IE: Bbuy and Sam’s Club carry the same HP laptop only the Sam’s one has a different model number.

  13. Thricebanned says:

    Hmm I wonder if I can get on this and get my 5 cents while the sharks get millions.

  14. IT-Chick says:

    I work at Best Buy…

    Just two weeks ago I made a sign for our door at a manager’s request that said “Ask us About Price Matching”.

    It is not Best Buy policy to not honor price matching, perhaps it’s uneducated managers or staff.

    We also will get people coming in wanting to price match based on the size of the TV with a crap brand from WalMart to a name brand at Best Buy. Obviously that will not go over well.

    I have learned so much about Best Buy in the past 3 months working there and much of the problems have to do with the staff, not the actual store.
    I can’t tell you how many free things I have personally arranged for customers.
    A lot of it – at any store – is all who you deal with.

    • Cyberxion101 says:

      @IT-Chick: They offer the option here, but the only problem is that unlike Best Buy, they don’t seem to keep accurate records of what they actually have available in the store.

      They’ll ship your item in to the location you choose if it’s not in stock when you order it, but it sort of defeats the purpose of in-store pickup if you have to wait for it to ship. :P

  15. johnfrombrooklyn says:

    This is a silly lawsuit cooked up by some slimy lawyers who will hope to get Best Buy to settle. This won’t change anything by Best Buy; it won’t change anything for consumers; the plaintiff Todd and all the other plaintiffs won’t see diddly.

    • mythago says:

      @johnfrombrooklyn: Of course they will hope to get Best Buy to settle. Any lawyer who gives a crap about their clients will try to get the best result possible, and that often means a fair settlement – rather than a trial, which may result in the client getting zero.

      Here, you seem tense. Have some McDonald’s coffee.

  16. takotchi says:

    On the rare occasion that BB’s in-store price didn’t match the on-line price, they’ve always price matched for me with no problem. What’s the point of arguing when I could just order the thing for in-store pickup?

    I (sort of) understand why Walmart does it, because they don’t have a real in-store pickup option.

    • IT-Chick says:

      @takotchi:

      Walmart has in store pickup… atleast in Chicago and some other major cities.

      • TheSpatulaOfLove says:

        @IT-Chick:

        That depends on the product. Walmart markets their web presence / store pick-up as ‘Site to Store’, in which if they don’t carry it at that store, they will ship it to that store for pickup. The only advantage to this is their distribution and lack of shipping charges if you choose this option for online ordering, otherwise it’s no different than just ordering on line.

      • takotchi says:

        @IT-Chick: Oh, right. I was thinking of “Site-to-Store”, but now that you mention it, I seem to remember a true in-store pickup option popped up recently for some cities. Ah, well…

  17. Kyin says:

    With the advent of smartphones I would think this kind of thing would be much harder to pull off. “What’s that you say, it really is that price on the website? Well let me just check that on my G-1, or iphone.” So what’s the next step then, lead walls?

  18. Cyberxion101 says:

    I’ve never bothered to try and get Best Buy to price-match competitors. It just seems like a huge waste of time and effort.

    See, they had a sale on videogames several months ago. A whole bunch of PS3 and 360 games were going for ten bucks each, and me being the nerd that I am, I grabbed several of them. I went to check out, only to have a couple of the games that were featured in the ad ring up at full price. The cashier refused to change the price on them when I informed her that they were supposed to be on sale, so I walked over to the front and grabbed a copy of the ad to show her that they were indeed on sale. She took a look at it and shrugged, and told me that she’d have to have the price change approved by her manager. Something didn’t add up, but I was alright waiting, since I assumed that it would all be cleared up once I explained the situation to the manager. Now if you’re inclined to think that he would have taken one look at the ad and told her to change the price without fuss, and then maybe take her aside afterwards and explain to her the importance of honoring the prices in their ad, you’d be wrong. I waited a good ten minutes or so for the manager to show up, only to have him deny the price change after I explained the situation to him and showed him the advertisement.

    I was dumbfounded. When I asked him why he was denying the price change, he didn’t really offer an explanation for it. He just told me that they couldn’t do it, and that was that. This, in spite of the fact that all but two of the games that I wanted had rung up at the advertized price. I wasn’t in the mood to argue, so I just ended up walking away empty-handed. Sure I missed out on a handful of decent games on the cheap, but it’s the principle of the thing.

    Now I was most likely dealing with uneducated employees, so I can’t blame my experience on Best Buy at large, but that they didn’t want to bother to honor their own ad didn’t speak well to their willingness to price-match their competitors, at least not at this location. So I haven’t bothered to try. Besides, I tend to just buy things directly from whoever has the cheapest prices. Sure that means that I end up waiting for things to be delivered from time to time, but I guess I’d rather reward the retailer instead of giving business to its competitors, unless of course I need the item right away.

    • RvLeshrac says:

      @Cyberxion101:

      If you simply buy the least-expensive items from a retailer, you’re *punishing* them, not “rewarding” them.

      The best examples of this are TVs and PCs. Most retailers sell these items at a *huge* loss, the goal being to make up the lost margin in attachments (cables, printers, monitors, stereo systems, etc.).

      “Rewarding” them would be going back later to purchase an item which is slightly more expensive because they gave you good customer service or simply because you got a great price the first time.

      In the majority of cases today, however, customers don’t seem to care about getting good service as much as they care about getting the most cut-throat deal. People will buy from Best Buy if they’re $2 cheaper, then moan about how bad the service is.

  19. mythago says:

    @Esquire99: I see cognizable wrongful benefit to Best Buy. They got something out of having a deceitful price-match policy. So, err on the side of letting them keep ill-gotten gains, or err on the side of perhaps some class members being compensated who can’t produce a receipt for their harm? I’m OK with the former. As well, there are probably people who chose Best Buy because of the policy, whether or not they ever tried to use it and were turned down.

    @Bohemian: While I don’t do class-action cases myself I do work with an attorney who does. They have to carefully keep track of their hours and allowable costs that may be recovered, and any attorney’s fees are reviewed and approved by a judge in the final settlement. The reason class members get a smaller award is that it’s a huge number of people who have individually very little to do with the lawsuit (you fill out a form, right?). I do agree that there have been some shady cases of “Here’s a coupon to spend MORE MONEY with BadCorp,” but generally speaking it’s not like that.

  20. Razor512 says:

    the point where lower prices causes you to stop making money is when you sell a item for a lower price then you paid for it (many stores are incredibly far from this price point)

    for example if a console cost you $70 to sell and every other store is selling the item at $150 and you decide to sell the item at $75 or even $71, you will have a line of people half way across the country trying to get into your store to buy the item

    also the more items you guy from the factory the cheaper it becomes. a company will charge you less per unit to get 100,000 items than they will charge you to get 100 items from them, order more and sell more will allow you to lower prices even more

    stores like walmart do this (but in their case they don’t pass all of the savings onto the customer, they only pass a few cents of the savings in some cases (but it works for them because just charging a few cents less is enough to drive the other businesses around you out of business (which is why many small stores hate when a company like walmart comes around, because they are too greedy to charge less and thus do not sell enough items to bulk order larger shipments because they will spoil or become obsolete before they can be sold. charge less now and when word gets out of the low prices, you will get pretty much an endless surge of customers and this new demand because of your lower prices will allow you to make even larger bulk orders from the factory which will qualify you for even more volume savings which will allow you to charge even less.)

    this method works much better than the greed based supply and demand where as demand goes up, you charge more thus increasing profits, this method is flawed in that if your price is not right you are likely to enter in a downward spiral if increasing prices on the customers who still shop at your store in order to support the cost of running your business, you eventually drive away the few customers that are left and then you are out of business. this is the most common reason for going out of business.

    when I was in high school, near the school where were a few corner stores and there was a new one in the same place almost each year because the old one kept going out of business and people buy the location up quickly because it is close to a school which is generally a good selling location. they start out with reasonable prices but then begin to increase them, people begin shopping there less and less and the store owner feels forced to increase the price ton the customers that are left in order to support the business and this drives them away also and they go out of business then a owner comes in and starts the process all over again.

  21. Saltillopunk says:

    Hmmmm… Oddly enough, I witnessed the opposite at a Best Buy a few years ago. My ex-girlfriend really liked a certain model of an LCD TV. The catch was, she liked it in white, which was more of a special order item and in limited quantities in stores. Dumb luck came into play. We found a unit at a BB who ordered it and the customer backed out. Some questions were asked about some promotion she saw online. The clerk jumped on a terminal and saw the White unit was listed at a sale price, which normally doesn’t happen. He went out of his way to honor that lower price. I don’t know if he inadvertently connected to the outside site versus the internal site as he seemed a little surprised by the sale price.