Reader Brian is an ex-Best Buy customer. All he wanted was to buy a TV, but he couldn’t even get the staff to get the one he wanted to buy from the back until his girlfriend actually called the store… from inside the store.
Brian writes (to Best Buy):
My name is Brian [redacted], and on Friday evening (4/23/10) I decided that your store was where I wanted to purchase my new TV. I knew which one I wanted…
We arrived at the store at 6:15 PM, headed to the TV section, and found that there was only one person working in the TV section at the time [redacted]. After a few minutes he came over to see if we needed help, at which point I let him know which TV I was looking for (I’d looked it up on my Blackberry so I had the info handy). He mumbled something about not being sure if it was in stock- then walked away. Within a few moments, he was talking to someone else who had just walked in- and didn’t talk to us again, at all. OK… rude.
Fortunately, another gentleman [redacted] working at your store had shown up by now, and my girlfriend flagged him down. He said he’d check the back for the TV… then reappeared a few moments later to talk to another customer. He didn’t once let us know if he’d even looked.
By this point both of us were pretty frustrated, and my girlfriend actually called the store to see if someone could come help us, even as we stood there in the store! Finally a nice young lady came over to try to help us- she was the one person who actually seemed to care about us during this whole mess. I don’t have my receipt handy (I’m at work as I type this), but I’m grateful for her efforts on an evening in which no one else gave any.
After a long search, they found the one remaining TV in the back of the model I was trying to get, and it was wheeled up front. I paid, with the lady who helped us before ringing us up, and a man came up to load it into our car. I admit, the next step was partly my fault- we’d measured the trunk out, and by folding down the seats we were sure it would fit- to our dismay, however, the Honda Accord we drive has part of the frame blocking us from getting it in. The man helping us then suggested we go to Office Depot and get some string so we can TIE IT TO THE ROOF. I thought he was kidding at first, but he was quite serious. I just paid $700 dollars for a TV and he wanted me to tie it to the roof of our car. Unbelievable.
So, plan B- delivery. And at this point the night truly went to hell.
Julie, my girlfriend, offered to pay the delivery fee, so I stayed with the car while she ran in to get that set up. I don’t know what was said exactly since I wasn’t there (nor do I know which manager she spoke to), but apparently the decision was made that we couldn’t just pay for delivery- we had to first return the TV, then buy it again with a delivery fee attached. However, $50 of the fee would be waived since we’d had such a hellspawned experience so far, and they’d have it on the way at the earliest possible time, but that it would be either Saturday or Sunday.
Looking back, we should have just taken a full refund and run away. Sadly, we didn’t know then what we know now.
We were assisted at the customer service desk by the same gentleman who had ‘gone to check for the tv in the back’ earlier, which should have been a sign of trouble in the first place. When he got to the counter, he spoke to a woman at the desk [redacted] and explained the situation.
At which point they began arguing about whether the return and repurchase was even possible, the best way to do it, whether he was lying about the whole issue, and ACCUSED US OF TRYING TO SCAM YOUR STORE. Finally, after this gentleman made us promise that “we would back him up so he doesn’t get in trouble”, they returned the TV, applied the money to a gift card, then repurchased the TV… of course, not without continued arguing, miss-communication between the employees (resulting in at least one more return/repurchase), and a complete waste of our Friday evening.
It was at this point that we were told that the next delivery time would be Wednesday. Despite earlier promises. Surprise!
I work on weekdays, as does Julie. We’re not home to take delivery, and since we were told Saturday or Sunday we didn’t see any reason why we should take time off to do so. They said they could deliver up to 7 PM, but that it is a two hour window of delivery time (I don’t get home until 6:00-6:30, Julie after this). Refusing to budge, your employees decided that Saturday would be best, between 11 AM and 5 PM. Good, now I can not only waste a Friday night dealing with them, I can waste next Saturday waiting on them.
After all was said and done, I’d spent over $700, had no TV through the following week, a fistful of assorted receipts, and no idea if I’m even going to get this thing delivered or not. And of course by this point it was coming up on 9 PM.
I write this to you not to have your people punished, Mr. Smith. Rather, I feel the blame must fall somewhere on the shoulders of you and your management crew. It seems that you have a crew who have inadequate training for the jobs they do, to say nothing of extremely poor work ethic. I worked customer service style jobs for years when I was younger, and I have no doubt that I would have lost my job many times over had I performed as many of your employees did on Friday evening. They openly complained to customers- not just us, but other customers as well within earshot- of how understaffed the store was that night, how they had to stay late because they had to deal with people, and to be honest I was stunned to hear such a thing from them. Whatever issues they have with you and your store, customers shouldn’t be berated with them.
I don’t expect much to come of this letter, of course. I do wish for you to understand, however, that Best Buy has lost a customer, and likely a sale- I do plan to come back with my wad of receipts and get the refund I should have asked for on Friday evening, and take my business to a store that actually listens to what we say and acts competent when dealing with customers. The loss of a customer may not mean much to a large corporation such as Best Buy, and may not even mean much to you as an individual store manager- I’m sure many others will still come in to spend money. But the way we were treated isn’t likely to be a one-time issue for these employees, and if enough people decide to take their business elsewhere as we will, your store will begin to lose the one thing that does matter to your company- money.
Perhaps that is for the best.
Yikes! The first time someone just disappears after I ask them to help me buy a $700 item, I disappear as well!
Anyhow, we’re sorry you had this experience Brian, and hope Best Buy throws you a gift card or something, but we did happen to notice that you didn’t describe being pressured into buying hundreds of dollars of warranties and expensive cables, so that, at least, is a blessing.