Best Buy Finally Settles Suit Over Deceptive In-Store Kiosks

It’s been almost four years since Consumerist first brought you the story of Best Buy’s in-store kiosks that sometimes displayed completely different information than the company’s actual internet site. And after a long and drawn-out battle with the attorney general of Connecticut, a settlement has finally been reached.

From InternetRetailer.com:

In the settlement announced yesterday, Best Buy, which in 2007 attributed the incident to a “small percentage” of store salespeople misunderstanding the difference between in-store kiosk prices and online pricing, will pay Connecticut $399,000 and reimburse any affected Connecticut customers with documentation of the difference between the online prices and the higher in-store kiosk prices they were originally charged. In its Connecticut locations, Best Buy also will post the settlement notice near the front of the store and keep a copy of the settlement along with a claim form consumers can use to seek restitution.

As we reported back in 2007, customers were seeing in-store sales listed on BestBuy.com but when they would get to the store, employees would tell them the sale was over or never existed. They would go to the in-store kiosk and pull up a different version of the Best Buy site that verified what they were telling the customer.

In a statement, Best Buy claims it has resolved disputes with all 16 customers it knows about:

Consumers were identified over the past seven years who raised an issue with Best Buy’s kiosks showing in-store, not online prices and Best Buy took action in 2007 to ensure those affected claims were resolved… Since then, Best Buy is not aware of any other Connecticut consumers affected by this issue. These allegations identified at most a situation in which Best Buy’s efforts to ensure that customers receive the best product information, selection and price had, on unfortunate occasion, not met those customers’ expectations.

While it’s all well and good that Best Buy made good with the handful of complaining customers, we’re curious how many more out there were affected by this practice. How many customers either just threw up their hands and left the store or caved and paid the higher price because they’d come out with the intent to buy?

Best Buy and Connecticut’s AG settle over alleged ‘Internet bait-and-switch’ [InterenetRetailer.com]

Comments

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  1. Hotscot says:

    “sometimes displayed completely information”

    Attention to detail please…

    • jefeloco says:

      You know that there is another avenue for making corrections, right?

      Email the bloke/gal who posted it, otherwise you sound like and internet-know-it-all-jerk AND the poster is unlikely to see their error in a timely fashion.

  2. Nighthawke says:

    Action was taken? More like INaction if they were taken to court over it.

    Stay classy, best buy.

  3. benbell says:

    “Best Buy’s in-store kiosks that sometimes displayed completely information than the company’s actual internet site. “

    Huh?

    Chris accidentally the whole thing.

  4. areaman says:

    It only took BBY three/four years to own up to the old bait and switch.

    At the end of this year the workers there will stop telling the ‘drink holder’ story in the computer section.

    • DanRydell says:

      This is not a bait and switch. They didn’t advertise their bestbuy.com prices as in-store prices.

    • areaman says:

      MedicallyNeedy
      December 16, 2010 12:22 PMFlag for review
      This is not “bait and switch”. It’s theft by deception!

      I stand corrected.

  5. Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

    “”small percentage” of store salespeople misunderstanding the difference between in-store kiosk prices and online pricing, “

    This statement does not jive with customer accounts. It sounds like salespeople understood quite fully the difference… and exploited it.

    • DanRydell says:

      What, specifically, brought you to that conclusion? I assume it’s something from a past article?

      • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

        “As we reported back in 2007, customers were seeing in-store sales listed on BestBuy.com but when they would get to the store, employees would tell them the sale was over or never existed. They would go to the in-store kiosk and pull up a different version of the Best Buy site that verified what they were telling the customer.”

        The sale was not over or never existed.

  6. dolemite says:

    How the heck is a customer going to provide documentation of the difference between a kiosk price and internet price from 4 years ago?

    • TalKeaton: Every Puzzle Has an Answer! says:

      Screenshots and photographs(or sales receipts). Which is why there are only 16 people they’ve settled with so far.

  7. MedicallyNeedy says:

    This is not “bait and switch”. It’s theft by deception!

  8. danmac says:

    The results of this lawsuit remind me of the results of the DirecTV lawsuit yesterday. In DirecTV’s case (which involved hidden fees and deceptive practices), the only customers who would receive compensation were individuals who specifically filed complaints, even though far more customers were likely affected. In this case, only people who saved very specific documentation for an extended period of time will be eligible. I don’t know…it just bugs me.

    • Happy Tinfoil Cat says:

      Yea but just think of all the money the lawyers will get for running their class action lawsuit. In the end, you’ll have to jump through hoops to get any money from their spoils.

  9. Erich says:

    It happened to me more than once.
    I just went elsewhere. Didn’t know I could join in a lawsuit or something.

  10. CappyCobra says:

    I caught wind of this pretty early on. Just ordered online and did instore pickup. No fuss no muss.

  11. j_benj says:

    This happened to me a few years back when I went to a local Best Buy with my father to pick up a new desktop computer for him. We verified the sale price online and in-store availability before leaving the house and when we got there 15 minutes later we found that the computer was in-stock, but was regular price. The kid there “looked it up on the computer” and it showed that there was no sale despite what we’d just seen at home. My father, being a very old-school guy, refused to buy the computer because he felt he was being “swindled”.. which, in retrospect, he was.

  12. AllanG54 says:

    I bought a plasma few weeks back at the local P.C. Richard (a pretty large regional chain in NY/NJ). The salesman gave me a price of $1199.00. Asked him if he could do better, he checked their website, the set was listed for $999.00 and that’s what I paid and it included free delivery and set up. I never would have gotten that from Best Buy which is why I didn’t go there to begin with.

  13. JohnJ says:

    Before I buy a “on sale” item at a Best Buy store, I (at home) go to the Best Buy web site, and print it out. At the cash register, I hand them the print out, and politely tell them “make sure you give me the sale price.” With that evidence, I always get the sale price, even if the sale is “mysteriously missing” at the bricks-and-mortar store. (And no, these items were not listed as “web-only” sales.)

  14. Random_Tangent says:

    BestBuy.com != Best Buy the store.

    The in store kiosks would show you the local store’s inventory (and even had small text banners proclaiming as much). It’s not really as shady as Consumerist keeps making it out to be. If you want the online price, buy online or pricematch seems to be the right solution.

  15. Bernardo says:

    Thanks to the horrible experiances I have had with best buy’s almost always worthless staff, your websites continued coverage of the ways best buy screws people and the internets for the most part better pricing, I have been able to avoid walking into a ebt buy for about two years now. I regret nothing.

  16. brinks says:

    I worked for Staples for a few years. Online prices were often different than in-store prices, but we had access to the real site and could price match it. It’s REALLY shady that the salespeople can’t access the legitimate public site to verify prices.