Worst Company In America Round One: Target Vs. Best Buy

Go make some popcorn and gather the family by the glow of your data-receiving device of choice — It’s Worst Company In America time! And it looks like the first blood to be spilled in the WCIA 2012 Octagon of Shame will come from the veins of one of these two retail titans from Minnesota.

Best Buy is no stranger to these brackets, though it’s had trouble with being able to upsell its way out of the second round. Maybe its complete inability to fulfill Black Friday orders by Christmas, or the way CEO Brian “Dunn-dunn” Dunn tried to assure U.S. employees the company was doing fine by talking up all the new stores it’s opening in China, or those Geek Squadders who don’t know the difference between a laptop battery and a power cord, that will finally propel Best Buy into the later rounds.

Target may not have Best Buy’s years of tournament experience to call upon in the Octagon, but it’s certainly screwed up enough times in the last year to merit its spot in the bracket.

After years of riding Amazon’s e-coattails, Target finally took over the reins of Target.com last summer, a move that only served to show how unprepared they were for e-commerce and to fill up our inbox with complaints from customers, like the woman whose debit card was repeatedly charged for the same purchase over the course of several weeks. It got so bad that the President of Target.com departed less than two months after the site’s relaunch.

The company also got no love from retail workers around the country when it shrugged off a petition with 100,000 signatures, asking Target to open just slightly later on Thanksgiving night so staffers could actually enjoy their holiday.

We’ve asked readers to write us at WCIA@consumerist.com with their reasons for condemning or forgiving the companies in this year’s WCIA tournament.

Kimber actually wrote in to defend Best Buy:

My husband has worked for the company for 25 years. Many of our closest friends have also worked for the company for the same number of years or close to. It is a great company to work for or why would someone spend their careers working there?

Well, Wendy was one of many to voice a less loving opinion of the company:

Every item I’ve ever purchased from that store requires more money after the initial purchase. Whether it’s the $140 extra to get the “background ads” off the computer I just purchased or the necessary warranties for everything because it will break or not work at some point in time. And the Geek Squad, also known as “here’s what your warranty includes, but here’s all the other necessary things it doesn’t cover, but will cost $60/hour more because you need it to fix our defective merchandise.”

Their business model is clear: low pricing, hidden costs. In the end, I always spend way more money trying to fix an item than what it’s worth.

Meanwhile, Mike points out that “Target donates a certain percentage back into communities and to non-profits,” which we don’t think most people will have a problem with.

But as numerous e-mails nominating the retailer pointed out, it wasn’t that long ago that Target irked a lot of customers by giving $150,000 to help try to elect a Minnesota gubernatorial candidate who was pro-business but anti-gay.

Okay, okay… enough chit-chat. To quote the great Jeff Probst, “It’s time to vote.”

VOTING FOR THIS POLL IS NOW CLOSED. CONGRATS TO BEST BUY — WE’LL SEE YOU IN THE SWEET 16!

This is a post in our Worst Company In America 2012 series. The companies competing for this honor were chosen by you, the readers. See the entire WCIA 2012 bracket and schedule of match-ups HERE.

Comments

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  1. OSAM says:

    Landslide victory

    • SaltWater says:

      This is the stupidest topic I’ve ever seen here.
      Of all the online shopping choices in the world I cannot imagine why anyone would go to Target.com.
      Take it or leave it but for decades Target has always been one thing and one thing only- a bricks ‘n mortar store. Expecting anything is than that is a waste of your time. On the whole, Target stores a pretty good.

    • MeowMaximus says:

      Worst Buy is pure evil. Target is only slightly annoying. No contest.

  2. Marlin says:

    I voted Target as we all know how bad BB is, so do they. Target does it on the down low so no one knows. ;-)

    • qwickone says:

      I know! When I recently found out how insidious Target is (from Colbert), I was shocked and afraid!

  3. HowardRoarksTSquare says:

    Target never asked me to switch to Direct-TV or tried to sign me up for magazine subscriptions. Never have they tried to sell an extended service plan on a pack of batteries.

    Best Buy gets the vote

    • MutantMonkey says:

      Yeah, this is a free win for Target. They would have to have habitual curb stomping of non-shoplifters in order to make a dent in the Shit Bubble that Best Buy has blown.

    • Latentius says:

      Best Buy does not offer warranties on batteries. You’re either making a ridiculous exaggeration, or you’re an idiot.

      As for asking you to switch TV providers or buy magazines…is that really so awful? Does it harm you to simply have someone ask you if you want to do so? All you have to do is say “no” and most salespeople will just smile and say “okay.” Are you REALLY going to complain because a place that *sells things* tried to sell you something? Do you have any idea how ridiculous that complaint sounds?

      • nicless says:

        How long have you worked for Best Buy?

        • Platypi {Redacted} says:

          Latentius either A) Works for Best Buy (confirmed Geek Squad employee below) or B) Picked Target to go deep in the tourney and is sad his bracket will be dead before started.

          Most (not all) stories you see about Target are pricing errors or dopey floor workers. Best Buy as a company seems to have a policy to take as much money as possible from less tech savvy customers. Latentius may not be one that acts that way, but long time readers have seen enough stories or had enough bad experiences to make this one a landslide regardless of whether he chimes in on every thread in the post.

          • nicless says:

            I went to Best Buy to pick up a laptop hard drive my friend had ordered there and saw a coworker giving their computer to the Geek Squad. I asked what they were there for and they said to have RAM installed. I don’t remember the ridiculous amount of money he was charged, but I told him if he buys the ram and just takes his computer to his car, I’d install it for nothing.

            While I was in line to pick up the hard drive, I had to wait 20 minutes while the guy behind the counter sold this couple over $400 worth of “optimizations” for this laptop they just bought. I felt like telling them, “guys… if the computer needs $400 worth of improvements and you’ve just bought it maybe you should have gotten a different laptop.”

            • Latentius says:

              RAM installs are $39.99. It’s not particularly difficult, but then again, most people don’t know what they’re doing, so they can easily cause more damage. More importantly, though, if you crack open your own computer, you void the manufacturer’s warranty–that’d be the number one reason to have an authorized repair center handle it (even if it’s not Best Buy).

            • Dacker says:

              There is no such optimization service at Best Buy which would run anywhere near $400.

              There is the PC Setup with Restore CDs service at $99.99 which does some optimization such as disabling the bloatware installed by the PC manufacturers and tweaks to disable some unneeded Windows processes. You can also lay blame on the manufacturers for no longer including restore discs. Samsung is the one exception — bravo to them to put the customer ahead of saving $2 by omitting the discs.

              If your co-worker spent near $400, they would have bought the above, the Tech Support plan and the Black Tie hardware protection plan which also covers accidental damage including dropping the laptop or spilling coffee into the keyboard. Collectively, this is called “Pick Three”.

              In other words, your co-worker does not want to have to worry about how their laptop problems will be fixed and want a 1-stop solution. It’s their choice and it can be the right choice for some people.

              Also know that the margin on PCs are very thin. I was very surprised to learn just how thin. While I am not at liberty to say how thin, if you assume a $600 computer has $100-200 in profit, you are way, way off.

              Yes, I do work for Best Buy, in PCs, and it is my survival job. That said, we universally hate upselling services but its part of the job. Best Buy sales associates are not on commission so there is no incentive to ourselves to upsell. Personally, I’m more focused on educating customers and getting the right products into the hands of the customer. I take the time to do it right — perhaps too much time. For this reason, I have the lowest product return rate in my store, often receive complements from customers (two yesterday alone) and occasionally have customers seek out a manager to let them know.

          • Tacojelly says:

            You made a very good case comparing business practices and have changed my vote.

            I hate when car dealerships/autoshops take advantage of my lack of car smarts, I never thought about the less tech savvy people shopping at Best Buy since they wouldn’t think about something like newegg or tigerdirect.

          • Latentius says:

            Yes, I work there. I’ve never made any attempt to pretend otherwise. It’s precisely why I’m commenting on here (and elsewhere). Best Buy is far from perfect, but they don’t deserve at least 90% of the shit that people give them.

            To answer the poster above, I have worked there about six months now. I have seen a few instances where Best Buy has genuinely messed up, and they’ve always taken responsibility for it. On the other hand, I’d estimate that over 90% of the most disgruntled customers I’ve seen are completely unwarranted in their behavior and complaints. They frequently have an unrealistic sense of entitlement, expecting the store to go to absurd lengths to make up for the customers’ mistakes, or they are being intentionally obtuse about what our obligations are.

            Just as a general example, Best Buy has agreed to act as the middleman for most claims under the manufacturer’s warranty. It’s not *our* warranty, it’s *theirs*, and we’re obligated to function under our agreement with the manufacturers to provide service according their terms. This is mainly done as a courtesy to customers, giving them a physical location and person to interact with, rather than going in circles online or on the phone. However, you would not believe the number of people who come into the store with non-new products, expecting *us* to provide them with an instantaneous replacement. I’m sorry, but it doesn’t work that way and no one ever told them it would. We are happy to help get your product serviced, if it is in fact defective, but we are bound to service it under the manufacturer’s terms. If they say we have to send it in, then we have to send it in.

            Most people can understand this, but there are a small minority who get absolutely irate if you don’t bend over backwards to kiss their butts. These are the people you see shouting at Customer Service. These are the people that go running to blogs to send in hateful stories about their experience, conveniently leaving out most of the relevant facts.

            You may have had a bad experience with Best Buy (and no, I don’t count persistent salespeople as a truly “bad experience”), and you may know friends who have had one or two bad experiences. To that I would challenge this: try working in the store. For every bad experience story you have, I have at least a dozen of unjustifiably irate and abusive customers.

            However, if you go in and are kind towards the salespeople, you’d be amazed how nice and thankful they will be in return. If a salesperson is bugging you, try smiling and saying “I’m good, thanks” instead of giving them the evil eye and making some snarky comment. Really it makes a world of difference for all parties involved.

            • Keith is checking the Best Buy receipt of a breastfeeding mother (for tips!) says:

              I appreciate your loyalty to your employer, but I have to warn you that you’ll make yourself nuts trying to defend them online. I work for Dell, and I used to do the same thing. Now I have to explicitly avoid getting sucked into comments on Dell posts by not ever reading them, here or elsewhere. Try it, I guarantee your blood pressure will thank you. :)

        • Princess Beech loves a warm cup of treason every morning says:

          I think the retail side is bad, the corporate side isn’t too bad at all. I worked for corporate a couple years. They have an awesome campus and laid-back atmosphere. What I didn’t like was the way work drilled me down into the dust because they “can’t afford” a backup resource as my alternate.

          That, and some teams I worked with clearly didn’t have a clue what they’re doing. Like it’d be better if I just do the work I tell them to do.

      • MMD says:

        All of these things you list are reasons why I stopped shopping there years ago. If you enjoy inflated prices and constant upwelling, knock yourself out. But you’re in a clear minority.

      • InsertPithyNicknameHere says:

        I don’t mind being offered items related to my purchase. If I buy a television, it’s reasonable that I may need new cables, or may even want to switch to Direct TV. But many of the offers are completely unrelated and a waste of time. Personally, I prefer a steramlined shopping experience, which is why I don’t frequent Best Buy.

      • Bionic Data Drop says:

        I think he meant to say OR a pack of batteries not on. And yes, most reasonable people do find Best Buy’s sales tactics annoying at best. If you have a different opinion, that’s great, but you are definitely in the minority.

        • Latentius says:

          They might be MINORLY annoying, but it’s not like they’re causing any harm to you whatsoever. It’s not that much of burden to just smile and politely say “No, I’m good, thank you” one or two times.

          • Bionic Data Drop says:

            That’s the point. They shouldn’t be annoying at all. Wal-Mart and Target may offer a service plan, but one “no” and it’s conversation over. At Best Buy, they put the hard sell on you and will flat out lie to your face to get you to buy one of their worthless PSP’s or “optimization service”. They don’t respect their customers. They’re counting on the off chance that you’re a moron (if you’re in their store, there’s a good chance you are) so they can soak you with overpriced add-ons.

            This competition isn’t even close. Target has flaws, but Best Buy just plain sucks. From their crappy customer service, hard sells on useless add ons, return policy, the fact that keeping their online inventory strait is rocket science to them, and everything else they do to stick it to the consumer, Best Buy is just an awful store.

            • Latentius says:

              Wal-Mart doesn’t have salespeople. They have stockpeople and clerks, but if you’re actually trying to find someone who *knows* about the products (more than just what aisle they’re in), they don’t exist.

              I will not deny that Best Buy tries to upsell, but I would strongly argue against your accusations of flat-out lying. I’ve frequently dealt with customers who say “Well, the salesperson said otherwise…” And let me tell you: they’re wrong. The salespeople know their pitches, and will make them numerous times every day. There is next to zero reason why one would randomly misstate something on only a single occasion. Much more often, it’s simply a matter that the customer did not fully understand what was being discussed, and neglected to ask any questions for clarification.

              In some six months of employment with Best Buy, I can only recall a single instance where I *know* that a salesperson stated something that isn’t true, but even then, it wasn’t malicious–it was that the rules had changed slightly since he first learned them, and even then, the problem was so minor it was inconsequential to the end results.

              Best Buy does not suck. They’re not great, but the worst part of any transaction is the customer, let me assure you. If you don’t believe me, try working in customer service for a while (since they get to see the worst of the worst). They try to be nice, but they have to deal with irate, hateful, cussing, ignorant jerks all day, every day. Trust me when I say that watching interactions, it’s always the customers being crappy, not the customer service.

              The return policy is fairly standard for the industry; I don’t see why you’d single out Best Buy alone. Beyond that, it’s also posted EVERYWHERE, so there’s zero excuse not to be familiar with its terms.

              Online inventory…I’ll give you that one. That was a major screw-up on the company’s behalf. I’m not entirely sure what caused it, but it’s incredibly unfortunate, and there’s not much else anyone can do but apologize over the inconvenience. (And really, that’s the only problem. It’s not like we’re slaughtering kittens or anything; it’s just an inconvenience, but apparently even something as simple as waiting a few days is unbearable for some people.)

              • Bionic Data Drop says:

                My best friend worked at Best Buy. He told me he was told on multiple occasions to tell the customer if they bought the extended warranty:

                1. The item will be replaced with a brand new item off the shelf.
                2. The warranty will cover any type of damage whatsoever.

                Since you work for Best Buy, you know these things are not true. The complaints I’ve read about Best Buy on several sites are regarding the same lies. Just Google “Best Buy extended warranties” and read for yourself what people are complaining about. Most of them are because they were flat out LIED to. Any company that has to lie to people to make money has no moral fiber.

      • qualia says:

        Yes. A hard sell is one of the most annoying things on the planet, and I will choose a store which doesn’t try to hard sell me on everything over one that does, always.

    • Agent Hooter Enjoys Enhanced Patdowns says:

      God, that’s the truth. My Mum bought a laptop from them (I tried to talk her out of it!) and the salesrep stood next to her in line the whole time trying to upsell her on nonsense extra warranties and geek squad optimizations. She would NOT leave her side until she got to the front of the line and actually checked out.

  4. caradrake says:

    Target has always received very high marks from me. I’ve never had any issues. The few times I’ve had to make a return it was quick and easy (and I love that they’ll use your card to look up the purchase if you don’t have the receipt, so convenient). If I can’t find something, there always seems to be an employee nearby able to help.

    Plus they give out free cookies to my kids.

  5. MrGutts says:

    Can we get direct links published to the site for the polls?

  6. bigdirty says:

    At least Best Buy doesn’t attempt to scan my ID for buying non-governmental regulated items (video games), and then call me “an axe murderer” for not letting them scan it.

    • George4478 says:

      Were you upset about being called an axe murder because

      – you are not an axe murderer and don’t like being justly accused or
      – you are an axe murderer and don’t like the public notoriety

      I mean, even actual axe murderers have to shop somewhere. Target just seems right.

    • Coleoptera Girl says:

      Sounds like a bad employee… It takes an extra brain cell or two and GSTL approval, but the DoB can be keyed in. It definitely is not OK to call customers names.

  7. GJaunts says:

    I can’t say I’ve ever had a problem with Target. I guess they asked for my ID to buy some non-cough medicine medicine once (DayQuil?), but I can let that slide.

    • Misha says:

      If that was back when DayQuil still contained pseudoephedrine (it’s since been replaced in all their products in the US by phenylephrine), that’s not something you get to blame Target for – that was based in federal law.

      • Yomiko says:

        I bought the still-OTC version of Nyquil the other month and got carded for age (not at Target, but a chain pharmacy). Something about keeping teenagers from robotripping. I guess it’s been the law in NH for awhile and I just haven’t needed Nyquil.

    • Jawaka says:

      I agree. “OMG, Target mis-priced a few items. They’re the anti-Christ.”

  8. Cat says:

    When Target gets an incompetent, overpriced Geek Squad, they may get my vote.

    • Latentius says:

      When you can clean your own viruses off your own computer, you can stop slandering Geek Squad, thank you very much.

      Overpriced? Perhaps… Incompetent? Absolutely not.

      The prices are in line with any other type of specialty work. If the work is something you don’t know how to do, and don’t know anyone else who can do it for cheaper, where do you feel you have the right to complain about the price? If it’s so bad, go somewhere else.

      • Coleoptera Girl says:

        I clean my own viruses off my computer! Indeed, I even put together all the pieces of my computer, although I did call up a geek friend of mine to ensure everything was good to go… Paid him with delicious food.

        I agree with Cat, though. BB definitely is much worse than Target, in large part because of the Geek Squad. Have you read the Geek Squad horror stories here?

        • Latentius says:

          Yes, I’ve read the Geek Squad horror stories, and they definitely sounded really awful.

          …And then I actually got a job with Geek Squad, and I learned firsthand that the VAST majority of these horror stories are leaving out some of the most important details of the story, and if you knew all of the information, it would be blatantly obvious that the person’s frustrations are a result of their own ignorance. That is to say, they don’t pay any attention when the salesperson (oh, those evil salespeople!) explain the different types of coverage, and don’t pay attention to what’s covered by their manufacturer warranty, and never read the warranty information that came with their computer, etc.

          Or in another vague and extremely common example, people often become annoyed and even downright irate when they’re told they’re past the return/exchange period for their purchase. The thing is, usually a salesperson will tell them how long they have to return it, possible the sales clerk too, plus it’s plastered on giant billboards behind the checkout lanes, plus it’s plastered on giant billboards behind customer service, plus it’s printed on their receipts, plus it’s on the company website. You have all these numerous sources telling customers precisely what they need to know about returns, and yet they completely ignore all of them, and then get pissed off at the company when they tell the customers that the exchange period ended four months ago.

      • MMD says:

        You may well be competent. In my experience, you are in the minority. A competent tech person doesn’t return a computer that doesn’t boot up to a customer and claim that it’s repaired. True story from a Best Buy experience my mother had, and just one of a dozen other tech fails other friends and family members have told me.

        • Latentius says:

          I would argue that your experience is the exception, not the many I’ve had. Standard operating procedure for repairs is to turn on and demonstrate computers being returned to customers. This doesn’t *always* happen, but it usually does, unless the customer specifically says they don’t want it done.

          And yes, I will admit that there have been times where I have done precisely that at the counter while checking out a computer and find something that was missed. It’s unfortunate, but we do take responsibility in those instances. Sometimes, the culprit is simply an intermittent problem. There have been times will we will attempt to reproduce a problem quite literally dozens of times without success before deciding to return a device to its owner, and they may have the problem again after picking it up. But really, what would you suggest in those situations? If our diagnostics don’t show any software or hardware issues, and we’re completely unable to replicate the issue at all, how are we supposed to “fix” it?

      • InsertPithyNicknameHere says:

        You don’t believe Geek Squad is incompetent? I recommend going to the upper right corner of this site and typing “Geek Squad” in the search box. I assure you, it will return multiple pages of results, many of them outlining Geek Squad’s incompetence.

        As just one example: http://consumerist.com/2011/06/9-confessions-of-a-former-geek-squad-geek.html The former Geek Squad employee in this article clearly states that employees of Geek Squad are inadequately trained, and that many of them have no experience in computer repairs. I would say that definitely qualifies as incompetent.

        • Latentius says:

          Umm…I *WORK* at Geek Squad. I have spent FAR more hours working directly with other Agents and interacting with others (service center, etc.) than you will EVER do.

          And no, I don’t think they’re incompetent at all. Now, not every agent will know how to handle every situation, but there’s actually a pretty decent support networks to help out in those situations.

          As for your links, I’ve read those, and I don’t take ANY article here on Consumerist about Best Buy (or otherwise) completely at face value. This is because I have DIRECT experience and I’m familiar with the other side of the story that is pretty much always left out when people write in with complaints.

          There may be individual agents who aren’t properly trained, or individual stores that aren’t quite as thorough, but these are the exception, not the rule. On the whole, it’s a decent organization for trying to deal with tech problems on an international scale.

          • Jaynor says:

            I’ve worked with more than one – so far my data set says that the Geek squad is a ripoff full of incompetents.

            • Latentius says:

              Worked with more than one…what? Agent? It’d be hard to have *not* worked with more than one, so I don’t know what point you’re trying to make here. Heck, I work at a somewhat smaller Best Buy, and we still have about a dozen Geek Squad agents, and I wouldn’t call a single one of them incompetent.

      • qualia says:

        My 85 year old grandma can clean viruses off her computer because I taught her to when I was twelve. It’s not hard.

      • catastrophegirl chooses not to fly says:

        i can clean my own viruses off my own computer just fine, thanks. but i’ll keep having a low opinion of any computer services/tech support team whose main function is to upsell rather than provide actual service and that wants to coerce unsuspecting consumers into unneeded/unwanted services at ridiculous prices.

        • Latentius says:

          Dude…they’re not holding you hostage. If you think the prices are too high, go somewhere else.

          It might be easy enough for you or me to get rid of viruses, but a large number of the clients I see don’t know how to do so much as change their browser’s home page, let alone search Google for some instructions for various other trivial computer tasks.

          Prices may be a little high, but only a little. If it’s not something a person can do on their own, and their computer is useless until it’s serviced, then it seems a bit more reasonable. Better than buying a new computer every time you have a minor problem.

      • 8bithero says:

        They are absolutely incompetent.

        I took my wife’s laptop there for repairs because her mother bought it for her at Best Buy. It was a simply repair (processor) but it was under warranty so I decided to let them do it for free. They asked for the boot discs and I told them they wouldn’t need it as they could boot from the partition I set up. After a few days they called me to tell me the repair was complete but they needed the boot discs. I told them again about the partition and they said they would call me back when the boot was complete. After two days, I called and asked if it was ready, and again they insisted they needed the boot discs. Finally, I went to the store and the Geek Squad guy told me that it was impossible to boot from the partition. I turned the machine on, pushed F8 , and booted the partition.

        The guy said he didn’t know that was possible.

        This is a standard and very, very common procedure.

        They are absolutely incompetent.

        • Latentius says:

          Pardon me if I’m a bit incredulous at your story. I could see maybe a single agent not be aware of that function, especially my peers working the counter, but there’s no way that there wasn’t a single person in the store who didn’t know what to do. It sounds like, at worst, you had a single person who didn’t know a single thing, and didn’t ask the right colleague.

          Heck, even though I’m a lowly “Counter Ops Agent,” I still catch some things that the repair techs don’t know. That doesn’t make them incompetent, though. Some of them are absolute geniuses at tweaking the registry, etc. They just don’t happen to know that, hey, some Asus laptops have TWO power buttons, but the symbols are very slightly different, and one takes you to their instant-on OS.

          Also, everyone knows about F8. That’s for Windows boot options. I’m guessing you’re confusing it with one of the other Function keys used for the recovery console, which varies from computer to computer. In that case, it could be just about anything from F1-F12, Esc, Del, 0, or another special key (stupid Lenovos…).

          They are not incompetent. Calm down and act like an adult.

      • ILoveBacon says:

        Geek Squad is absolutely worthless. They can’t do anything that anybody’s 8 year old nephew can do faster, for free, and probably a lot better.

        Also, everything you’ve said here has done only one thing. Unless I’m mistaken, you’ve freely admitted that you’re an employee of Best Buy. I must say, your defensive, long winded, condescending rants which includes the belittlement of people telling their own customer disservice stories does nothing but solidify the decision so many have made to choose Best Buy over Target as the worse company. Thank you for that.

  9. sufreak says:

    This is a no brainer.

  10. RickinStHelen says:

    Target – The Walmart for people too cool to shop at Walmart
    Best Buy – Evil Incarnate of the Bix Box electronic chains

    Best Buy gets my vote

    • Latentius says:

      Care to qualify that “evil incarnate” comment?

      Are they evil because they’re a business that tries to sell items and, you know, stay in business?

      Are they evil because they honor manufacturers’ warranties according to the manufacturer’s terms, rather than fulfilling your unrealistic expectations of instant exchange for a product that’s twice as expensive?

      Are they evil because they want to charge you to do work that you don’t know how to do yourself and can’t find anyone else to do cheaper?

      Are they evil because they have to charge more than Amazon in order to pay their employees and keep their stores’ doors open?

      Really, let me know when I’m onto something here…

      • Coleoptera Girl says:

        They are evil because….

        Just go read the BB horror stories posted on this very site. There are many good examples.

        • Latentius says:

          I have read the horror stories here. Some of them seem genuinely horrible, but I’d say most are freak accident exceptions to the vast majority of interactions with the store. (After all, you don’t see people writing posts about how everything went completely as expected, perhaps with pleasant interaction, do you?) However, knowing both sides of most of the general cases of these scenarios, I know better than to take the customer’s description at face value, as they most frequently are lacking key details that would put the responsibility on their own shoulders.

          • Jaynor says:

            I have to say… I’ve had a couple of ok interactions with Best Buy… usually if I was buying a DVD or something pretty impossible to screw up. For any transaction more complicated than that it’s been pretty rotten. Gift cards that nobody knows how to ring up on the register, salespeople trying to tell me that speakers were y2k compliant, being upsold the moment I walked in the door….

            You know who convinced me to hate Best Buy (and yeah – calling it Worst Buy is pretty funny to me under the circumstances)? Best Buy. I’ll never contribute another dollar to them again and I’ll let everyone I can know about how lousy they’ve been. That’s exercising power as a consumer.

            Maybe you work at a rare island of competence in the sea of ignorance that is Best Buy, or maybe my experiences are isolated… maybe just the Best Buys in the greater Chicagoland Metropolitan area are sinking pits of suck. You’ll have a hard time convincing me though… or anyone else with a similar set of experiences (we aren’t uncommon… my circle of friends is pretty unanimous in our dislike for your company… you come in second on the boycott list after “anything delivered from Home Depot”).

            • Latentius says:

              I’d say you’re either exaggerating the problems, or wholly mis-remembering events. Gift cards, for example, are about as simple as possible. Hit “Total,” hit “Gift Card,” then swipe gift card. Now, if you had some random email promotion, and you took it to someone who generally does not act as a clerk, then I could see there being some issues.

              As for your “island of competence” comment, I don’t think that’s the case. From what I’ve heard, seen, and read, my store is better than some in the area, and not as good as others, depending on the situation. I make a point of occasionally checking the reviews/comments of my particular store, and I have to say, they are complete and utter BS. I can’t say with absolute certainty whether complaints against other stores are warranted, but directly observing my coworkers and reading some of the comments about them lead me to believe that customers–at least the vocal ones–tend to be insane, unreasonable, and have unrealistic expectations.

              And no, “Worst Buy,” while being a *slightly* cute play on the name, is nothing but a juvenile, idiotic remark from people who have no means of backing up their opinion, other than some vague comments about how they hear so many horror stories about the store (yet never seem to know any details).

      • daemonaquila says:

        If you have to ask that question, you either work for Worst Buy or you haven’t been paying attention. Among their other bad practices that are voluminously documented here and many other places, they are the proud recipients of more consumer-protection suits, investigations, and quiet settlements by state Attorneys General than just about any other chain. Bait & switch, outright fraud… that’s Worst Buy.

        • Latentius says:

          The fact that you call it “Worst Buy” is an immediate indicator that you’re too immature to ever objectively debate the pros and cons of Best Buy’s practices.

          And yes, I do work for them. I’ve never pretended otherwise.

          Most claims against them are completely ridiculous. For example, I helped a lady the other day who bought a computer from us nearly a year ago, and seemed to be having hardware issues. She only had a manufacturer’s warranty, and we have agreements with all the computer manufacturers to help service their products according to the manufacturer’s terms. However, this was not enough. She had the unrealistic expectation that Best Buy is obligated to immediately provide a replacement product for an indefinite length of time after purchase. After getting a manager to help reinforce what I told her in how manufacturer’s warranties works, she told me to let the manager know that she’d be contacting the Better Business Bureau. So yes, she filed a claim against us, but it has absolutely zero merit to it. In my experience, this is the case for the vast majority of complaints against Best Buy. We do make mistakes, but when we do, we take responsibility for them. Most of the time, it’s simply a matter of a customer wanting unrealistic and unwarranted treatment, then getting mad when someone brings them back to reality.

      • RickinStHelen says:

        >>Are they evil because they’re a business that tries to sell items and, you know, stay in business?
        Nope, I am all for the free enterprise system. But if you treat your customers like thieves by checking receipts as they leave, or offer poor customer service, or refuse to fix things the right way the first time, customers will consider your policies and practices eveil.

        >>Are they evil because they honor manufacturers’ warranties according to the manufacturer’s terms, rather than fulfilling your unrealistic expectations of instant exchange for a product that’s twice as expensive?
        Nope, but when they do not repair products correctly, or they ship them off to the factory to never be seen from again and then refuse to replace the product they shipped off, or when they refuse to acknowledge there is a problem, people might consider that less than reputable, or maybe even evil.

        >>>Are they evil because they want to charge you to do work that you don’t know how to do yourself and can’t find anyone else to do cheaper?

        Nope. But I don’t use them to fiz items because I can and do the work myself. But many can’t. When they try to sell you Monster cables that they will optimize on your TV, or when they pre-load software people don’t need or want and charge you for it, or to remove, that is unethical, which crosses into evil

        >>Are they evil because they have to charge more than Amazon in order to pay their employees and keep their stores’ doors open?

        Nope, I undestand they have to pay to keep the doors open, and to pay staff. Of course before Best Buy, there was a local business that sold appliances, and a local guy that sold TVs, and a local car stereo guy. Stores like Best Buy put them out of business. Don’t whine about Amazon and the advantages they have. Before Amazon, Best Buy was the bully on the block.

        • Latentius says:

          Checking receipts doesn’t harm you. At most, it takes a few seconds. Do you know why you’re “being treated like thieves”? It’s because many ARE thieves. Do you have any idea how many thousands of dollars mysteriously walk out of any given Best Buy in an average week? By asking something as simple and harmless as a receipt check on the way out, that number is cut down drastically. “So what?,” you may ask, “Why should I care if OTHER people steal from Best Buy? I don’t steal, so why check me?” The answer to that is quite simple–they don’t know who is or is not stealing beforehand, so it’s best to treat everyone as equals. More importantly, though, cutting down on theft keeps prices lower. If they didn’t check receipts, prices would have to be even higher to make up for the losses to theft.

          Your rant against shipping to service centers makes no sense whatsoever. Now, I can imagine that something happened once or twice, but in general, it’s a well-tracked system. Anything that gets shipped off has to have a service order attached to it, plus a shipping manifest, etc. etc. They don’t just disappear, never to be seen again. If it goes out, they have a record of it, and if they have a record of it going out and for whatever can’t find what happened to it, then it gets replaced at the company’s cost.

          I actually agree on things like Monster cables, but then again, I think people exaggerate the prevalence of that sort of “upselling.” Yes, it happens. However, you can ALWAYS say no, and you can always get second opinions from friends or other knowledgeable sources.

          As for pre-loading software, that’s largely BS. The service you’re talking about is actually more focused on *removing* software, not adding it, and that covers stuff that the *manufacturer* installs, not Best Buy. Previously, standard procedure was to “pre-set” 10-20% of any given model of computer in this way. The only way a person was “forced” to buy it is if it were the last one in stock, and even then, if you insist that you don’t want the setup, they can’t charge you for it. (Also, for the record, procedure has changed now to never pre-set more than a single computer for any given model. Hopefully, you’ll find that more acceptable.) However, a good percentage of people do actually want the intial setup done for them. (I’ll admit, I’d say it seems a little expensive to me, but only because I’m very knowledgeable about computers myself). Regardless, I’d say it’s not unethical to ask people if they want to let us do that procedure for a pre-defined cost, and it most definitely is not evil.

          I’m not really whining about Amazon, though I can see how it seems like that. Really, though, if Best Buy goes out of business, it’s the public that will suffer for it more than anyone else. You have no idea what a large percentage of the population have absolutely no knowledge about electronics, no friends to ask about it, and no idea how to research it themselves. These people appreciate having knowledgeable salespeople to ask questions of, even if they *can* be a little pushy with sales.

          However, it also would affect the more knowledgeable people out there. If Best Buy shuts down because all the savvy people shop online and just use BBY as a showroom, then they’ll lose their precious showroom. Don’t expect Ma & Pa stores to carry the latest gadgets to test drive, and don’t expect other stores (like Wal-Mart) to carry anything but the cheapest junk imaginable.

          Sure, put Best Buy out of business. You’ll only be shooting yourself in the foot.

      • MMD says:

        Can’t help but notice that this self-proclaimed Best Buy employee has ignored all posts that make detailed critiques of his employer and its practices. It’s much easier to lash out at critiques or try to discredit the source than it is to refute the claims with facts and logic.

        • Latentius says:

          Do you have any idea how ridiculously hypocritical that comment is? You are singlehandedly ignoring any and all evidence that Best Buy isn’t the devil because you’d rather continue with the delusion that they’re pure evil.

          These are NOT “detailed critiques.” That is absurd. They are vague rants that usually lack ANY sort of detail, especially anything that could possibly condemn the customer telling the story, who’d rather prefer to blindly hate a company than admit their own ignorance on the matter.

  11. TheSpatulaOfLove says:

    Target is bad in their online prices are not honored in the stores. That whole ‘they’re a different company’ excuse is bullshit. If I go to Target.com, in the eyes of the consumer, YOU’RE ALL ONE COMPANY.

    As far as this vote? Worstbuy takes the cake in my opinion.

    Must be something in the water up there in MN to make retail painful for the rest of us.

    • Coleoptera Girl says:

      Yeah, Target.com needs to either get back with Amazon or just shut down. Other than that, though, I have no problems with Target, as a consumer.

  12. AtlantaCPA says:

    Someone bought my son a Thomas the Train toy from Target recently and it was the wrong kind (they may two sizes and we have the bigger size tracks). This particular train is sold exclusively at Target. Even though we had no receipt whatsoever, they let us return it for store credit. I thought that was very reasonable of them and not required. Maybe we just have nice people at the Target we frequent.

  13. Mulysa says:

    I actually have had nothing but positive experiences with both companies. Of course, I have not bought big ticket items at Best Buy, nor have I used the new Target website. I think I like Target more, though

  14. Booboobunnygirl says:

    Target brand Mac and Cheese are so good. And they never try to sell me an “optimized item” stating they don’t have any of the product unopened and tampered with by the geek squad. Soooooo…

  15. DubbaEwwTeeEff says:

    Never had a problem with Target, *always* have problems with Best Buy. Neither company is very good on the whole, but at least Target doesn’t actively harass me when I’m purchasing something from them.

  16. vyper says:

    I have a BB reward zone card (non-credit card) and they got me mixed up with someone who has the same first and last name. I was getting gift certificates for purchases this poor sap was making on his visa card for over a year. I tried no less than 3 times to the right thing and correct the problem and it seems to be resolved…except that I moved and now they won’t let me update anything on my card at all now. This company does not respect user information at all.

  17. ClemsonEE says:

    I’m sorry, but people that have computer problems with Best Buy are just idiots.

    • Latentius says:

      Thank you!!!

      I work at Geek Squad, and I can’t tell you the number of people who come into the store already pissed off at us before even talking with us, all because they managed to get some virus on their computer, and they insist that we should stand behind our products. It’s total insanity!

    • MMD says:

      i’m sorry, but since you have nothing to back up that statement, and because you are willfully ignoring the legitimate complaints people have detailed here, I can’t take anything you say on this matter seriously. That goes for the Best Buy employee who keeps ranting but ignores anyone who counters his/her “argument”.

      • Latentius says:

        You keep saying that people are “willfully ignoring legitimate complaints,” but I’ve yet to see anything of the sort on here. All I’ve seen in this comment thread so far are unsubstantiated complaints or just blind hatred. Even going through Consumerist’s backlog of Best Buy stories (and the site does so love to post a good anti-Best Buy story), there are only a few incidents that seem like legitimate complains, and they are in an incredibly small minority in comparison to the hundreds of thousands of customer transactions Best Buy processes.

        There are no arguments here, though. Just “OMG, I hate Worst Buy! They’re evil! They FORCE you to buy things you don’t want at gunpoint, and then they take your firstborn child!”

    • Bionic Data Drop says:

      So the people who bought a new computer that was damaged out of the box or had hardware failures are idiots?

      I think there is definitely an idiot here.

      • Latentius says:

        If you open up the box and the computer doesn’t work, that’s the manufacturer’s fault, not Best Buy’s.

        However, if you open it and immediately realize it doesn’t work, just return the product. It’s completely acceptable by Best Buy’s policy. You just go to customer service, say “I just bought this, but it doesn’t work. I want to exchange it for a new one,” and they’ll give you an exchange. When it’s still within the return period, they don’t even bother with sending it off for service or anything. Now, if it happens 10 months later, that’s a completely different matter….

        So, is there something with immediately replacing defective products that you object to? Is that not fast enough? Should Best Buy rip open every item that enters the store before you ever get to it? Or perhaps they should employ psychics to help predict defective items before they ever even enter the store. Would that be more acceptable to you?

  18. FacebookAppMaker says:

    Right now, in CANADA (At least my part) we only have best buy. However, Target just bought out the Zellers stores in my region, and they are laying off everybody and telling them to reapply instead of deciding who to keep and not based off employment history.

    So, because my girlfriends mom is a Zellers employee, I’m voting Target.

  19. George4478 says:

    I have no vote. Target has never done me wrong and my local Best Buy has provided superior service to me over the years. (And no I have not been in the booze this morning. Yet.)

  20. ovalseven says:

    My local Best Buy store has outstanding service. They employees are helpful, and knowledgable. They don’t get pushy with the upselling. And, if you’re still in the store at closing time, they don’t announce it and ask you to leave. They just lock the doors to new customers, and stay until everyone is finished shopping.

    • Coleoptera Girl says:

      I completely support the closing announcements at Target. People these days don’t pay attention to what the time is and they can’t be bothered to pick up clothes they drop on the ground. They unfold entire stacks of shirts to get to the medium or XXL at the bottom and they can’t be bothered to bring everything out of the fitting room that they took in. Factor all that in and a guest could fart around after closing time for half an hour or more in a large store with many places to hide, on purpose or not. Factor in the fact that the cleaning crew and overnight crew arrives less than 15 minutes after the store closes and you do have a good justification for closing announcements.

      On the other hand, they ARE annoying.

  21. Jayrandom says:

    Target? There are at least 64 worse companies in America. Target has gotten dinged for some consumerist-raised issues, but actually shopping at Target is so much more pleasant than Wal-Mart it seems silly to even consider them as worst in America. I might even consider them in my top 64 companies

  22. Pete the Geek says:

    I voted for BestBuy simply because there was a time when they were good and their current leadership is either clueless or deluded. They could be good again and perhaps winning the WCIA trophy will motivate them to improve and stop giving real Geeks a bad name!

    • Latentius says:

      Just out of curiosity, what would you change about the way the store operates?

      I’ll agree that Best Buy seems to be behind the times, catering more to people who don’t know about technology than those who do, but at the same time, I can’t really think of a realistic system that would work better. It’d be nice if the store could compete with Amazon, but that’s simply not possible. BBY could consolidate their stores, having fewer, larger stores with better selection, but that will only help out so much. That might bring costs down a little, but not enough to compete with a company that only needs to pay for a few warehouses and a handful of employees.

      Perhaps there’s something more radical to help attract the real geeks and the new generation? I’d love to hear any thoughts on the matter.

  23. Dallas_shopper says:

    This contest is totally rigged….Target vs Best Buy? COME ON!

  24. blogger X says:

    Poor Target, they can never make it out the first round!

  25. lvdave says:

    Having read all of the horror stories about BB here, I planned to stay as far away from BB as I could, plus we have a Frys just a couple miles further than the nearest BB, so giving BB a wide berth would be easy.. Except for the fact the used car I bought last year had a Viper car alarm installed and it quit working just after the 90 day dealer warrantee on the car ran out. Come to find out, BB was listed as a Viper dealer on the Viper website, the only one in business here. There was another dealer but the recession killed it.. I swallowed deeply and went to BB to see if/what a fix for the alarm could be had.. I should have known… Once I FINALLY got someone in the car stereo/alarm area who would talk to me, they said they only installed new alarms, they did not troubleshoot/repair installed alarms, which of course, directly contradicts the Viper webpage which indicates authorized dealers both sell AND repair Viper alarm systems. I mentioned that to him and he just shrugged and said “talk to the manager”.. Which I did and got the same response.. Never Again…

    MY VOTE: BESTBUY BY A LANDSLIDE!!!

    • CurrentGeekSquadEmployee says:

      Just like the manufacturers will tell people to bring their computers to Geek Squad because we service them. That’s also not true.

      What you’re basically assuming is that the associate is wrong, without stopping to think he may know more about the work they perform than someone writing a web page. Gotcha….

  26. vorpalette says:

    I’ve never had serious problems with either company, although I do really love Target, and the store nearest me has always been fantastic. Best Buy…ugh, with the extra sales and the “can’t take no for an answer” bs, and what I’m pretty sure is a corporate policy to oversell people whom they don’t believe know what they’re looking for (esp young women and older people).

  27. homehome says:

    I’ve never had a problem with either company so I guess I’m skipping this one

  28. Bent Rooney says:

    I was cleaning out an old desk of mine and found a BestBuy gift card from about 9 years ago from a return that didn’t have a receipt. It was all scratched up and I could barely make out the numbers on the back. To my surprise, I went to BestBuy.com and it still had the original $10 on it, not a dime was removed from all those years of non-use. I used it to buy a $14 memory card.

    To be honest, I never expected to be able to say anything positive about BestBuy.

    They still got my vote, though. The are forever relegated as the showroom for Amazon.com.

  29. CaughtLooking says:

    Alkthought Target has a couple of notable screwups, it’s does conisently manage to piss off nearly every customer like Best Buy does.

    Target is also a significantly better corporate citizen, donating 5% of net income.

  30. mikesanerd says:
    • Coleoptera Girl says:

      I’d like to compare BB’s and Target’s policies on unions… Do you know BB’s policy? I certainly don’t.

      • dark_inchworm says:

        I don’t have any handy links to share, but as a current Worst Buy employee, I can tell you they definitely frown on unions.

  31. Latentius says:

    The quote from Wendy is extremely ignorant.

    You don’t have to pay $140 to get the “background ads” taken off the computer. For starters, the most expensive setup process is $99, but that’s not required to get any pre-installed programs off. You can always do that yourself. If you’re not smart enough to uninstall a program, THEN you can pay to have them do it for you.

    And Geek Squad’s reputation? It’s not THEIR fault you never paid attention to what the warranty includes and what other services are offerred to provide coverage beyond the basics. It’s standard for every computer salesperson to offer and explain these extras. If you ignorantly and hurriedly tell them to shut up and just let you buy the laptop, it’s your own fault.

    Also, “our defective merchandise”? You’ve got to be kidding me. What you’re describing in your little rant is some bit of work not covered by a warranty. Now, this would either mean that the computer is at least a year old (and most likely suffered some accidental damage at your hands), or it’s a software issue. Again, it’s not OUR fault if YOU get a virus. We can fix it for you, but don’t you dare go calling the merchandise defective if you drop it and it stops working or you go browsing shady websites and manage to catch something.

    There are plenty of legitimate complaints a person could have against Best Buy, but Wendy’s are nothing more than a bunch of ignorant, narrow-minded ranting, trying to pass off responsibility onto another party. As one of those “evil” Geek Squad employees, I have the unfortunate duty of dealing with people like this each and every day. People like Wendy here are what make shopping at Best Buy bad. She’s intent on irrationally hating the store, and is absolutely unwilling to even entertain the thought that any of the problems she had might have been her own fault.

    Best Buy isn’t perfect, but it’s a hell of a lot better than most people give it credit for.

    • ClemsonEE says:

      Well said.

      • Coleoptera Girl says:

        On the other hand, I would argue that it is definitely not better than Target. For one, I have never had a warranty or store card (credit or otherwise) aggressively pushed at a Target store. The only times I’ve been able to get help at a BB finding an item have been when the store was nearly empty. At Target, I’ve never had trouble tracking down an employee when I needed help and they’ve consistently been able to help me to my satisfaction.

        • Latentius says:

          So wait….people complain about salespeople coming up to them and trying to sell them products, but then they turn around and complain that salespeople don’t help them at all with anything? Which is it, do they do too much to sell or not enough? You guys can’t have it both ways.

          As for not finding someone to help, there’s a pretty simple explanation: most of the stores are hurting for revenue and can’t afford to have many workers. The less people buy from Best Buy, the less able the company is to afford to have a surplus of salespeople to help you out. Nowadays, they can be spread a bit thin. If you really need some help, just seek one out. You may have to wait a minute if they’re helping someone else, but remember: patience is a virtue.

    • OutPastPluto says:

      > The quote from Wendy is extremely ignorant.

      Yes. Yes she is and Best Buy is willing to take her for all she’s worth.

      That’s why they deserve to win this round.

      • Latentius says:

        That’s completely exaggerating the system. Yes, Best Buy wants to sell you products. Yes, they’d like it if you also bought accessories and service plans and whatnot. But they’re not evil like you’re making them out to be. They don’t “take you for all you’re worth.” They’ll tell you the reasons why you’d want the extras, encourage you to buy them, but they don’t walk around telling lies up and down to trick you into purchasing items, and they definitely don’t force you to buy anything against your will (one complaint I’ve heard more than a few times, even directly from customers, which I know to be a complete falsehood).

        Like I keep saying, the best way to deal with the situation is to just smile and say “No, I’m good, thanks.” So, you might have to say it a couple of times. It doesn’t hurt you to ask if you want accidental damage coverage. It’s all right to decline, just try to be nice about it, and you can be sure that the salesperson will be more gracious about letting the matter go.

        However, if you show any inclination towards accepting. “Oh, hmm…I don’t know, that *might* come in handy, I don’t know”……well, then of course they’re going to press you again. That’s just how sales work. That doesn’t give you the right to act like a jerk about it, though. Just politely say no, that’s all. It’s not that difficult.

    • MMD says:

      Please explain why my mother’s netbook (purchased at BB with extended warranty) was never repaired or replaced when the hard drive crashed a week after purchase. She brought it in no fewer than 5 times. Each time they claimed they fixed it, but they didn’t. I get that YMMV from store to store and staff to staff, but after this train wreck, no one in my family will ever set foot in a BB again.

      • Latentius says:

        Well, there might be more to the story than you’re letting on. In fact, I’m certain of it. If the hard drive crashed a week after purchase (assuming you mean a hardware failure and not that she downloaded some virus that wrecked Windows), she would have been well within the exchange period, and should have just had it changed out for a new one at Customer Service. They would be obligated to exchange it at that point int time.

        Moreover, if it’s been in more than 3 times for the same issue under her warranty, that would also qualify her for the “No Lemon” policy, again resulting in a replacement.

        So obviously, there’s something that either you’re not telling me, or your mother did not tell you. My best guess (based on personal interactions with customers) is that they offered to exchange the unit, but she refused because she didn’t want to lose any data, and didn’t want to pay for a data transfer (or back it up on her own).

        Unfortunately, I’m not on here in any official capacity, so I can’t offer support, but if you were in my store, I would definitely get to the bottom of this. Believe it or not, I (and most Geek Squad agents) actually do want to help you. It gives me personal pleasure to help out a client and make their day.

  32. Professor59 says:

    I have no problems with Target. I have had nothing but problems from Best Buy. This is clearly a #1 seed vs Little Sisters of the Poor in your Tournament Bracket.

  33. Netstar says:

    I haven’t been to a Target store in years. I never liked Target due to the stores merchandise is catered to women (very small electronics area and no automotive supplies). I also can’t stand the smell of popcorn when you enter their stores.

    I have to pick Best Buy (a.k.a. Worst Buy) for so many reasons that I care not to list. This store is following all the rules on how to alienate your customers and go out of business. I have to admit it does make a good showroom for internet shoppers.

    • Coleoptera Girl says:

      If you get a chance and feel like it, you might step into a Super Target and check out their electronics and automotive areas. Automotive is small, but better than nothing… In the big stores, too, the popcorn smell is only present on the grocery side and only when a batch has just been popped up.

      Probably my favorite thing about Target is the fact that they have higher quality goods (food, clothing) than Wal-Mart at prices a poor college student like myself can afford.

  34. daveSH says:

    What does The Consumerist have against Minneapolis/St. Paul? It seems odd that for the first round they would pick two companies headquartered there!

    • echovictorecho says:

      There are only four big-box retailers in the WCIA this year. Somehow seems fairer to pit Target against Best Buy than Kmart or Walmart.

  35. z4ce says:

    I think bestbuy has to win this one. Target has one of the suckiest return policies known to man, but so does best buy. And best buy has more attitude and worthless services. Although.. everytime I go to target they never have what I need and I still have to go to WalMart.. Overall.. still a bestbuy win.

  36. notthere56 says:

    bestbuy is worst

  37. MaryK says:

    I actually had to go to Best Buy just last weekend. My computer charger died on a Saturday and wouldn’t you know, it’s the only place around that’s open on a Sunday and carries Mac chargers. I went in, found one and left. I spent like 5 minutes in the store and wasn’t harassed or asked to buy an extended warranty, but the prospect of going to Target doesn’t stress me out.

  38. daemonaquila says:

    Target is low, but putting it up against Worst Buy is like a matchup between John Boehner and Wolverine, for crying out loud!

    • Coleoptera Girl says:

      Oh, great! Now I have coffee all over my computer screen. :/

      I LOVE that comparison… I’m going to steal it and use it when appropriate, if you don’t mind!

  39. Mamudoon says:

    I’ve had great customer service at both stores (Target even let me return makeup that wasn’t the correct shade), but Best Buy gets my vote because they seem to sell nothing but defective merchandise. I’ve bought three things there, and all three were broken right out of the box. I thought it was just bad luck (something I’m quite familiar with), but after the third time, I stopped shopping there.

    The only thing I hate about Target is that they never have more than two registers open, no matter how many people are in the store.

  40. ThinkingBrian says:

    Target has their faults no doubt, but Best Buy is one of the worst for sure.

  41. Skipdallas says:

    When I inquired about having the “Geek Squad” come out to work on something, I was told: “Sure, we can put you down for 3 weeks from now!” This told me something wasn’t quite right. Bad service, or bad products, take your pick. I found someone else to do the job.

    • Latentius says:

      Talk about a non sequitur…

      How does not having an available appointment in the immediate future say ANYTHING about the quality of their services?

      If you can find someone else to come do the service sooner, then good for you. Scheduling for Geek Squad is done on a first-come-first-served basis. It’s pretty typical that the nearest open time slot is at least a week away. That doesn’t mean that their services are in any way bad, just that a large number of people want help from the relatively small number of in-home agents available.

      Also, I’m sure the company would hate me for this, but it is vastly in your benefit to take the product into the store, if at all possible. In-home rates are typically $100 more for any of the same services performed in-store.

  42. Outrun1986 says:

    Target does not have nearly as many faults as Best Buy, in fact, I have very little issue with Target, if any. But everyone I know who has bought a computer from Best Buy has had it break just after the 1 year warranty has expired. The computers with BSOD’s proudly displayed in the computer area does not exactly encourage me to shop there either.

    • Latentius says:

      I’ll never understand comments like this. How is it Best Buy’s fault if a manufacturer has a defective product? Best Buy doesn’t make them itself, you know. They simply cause all the major brands that people ask for, that’s all.

      I mean, that makes about as much sense as hating Best Buy because you bought a movie produced by Universal Studios and didn’t like it.

      They’re not Best Buy’s products, and they’re not any different from the exact same models you could buy direct from the manufacturers or from any of the store’s competitors. Is there something about a product being from Best Buy that somehow makes the store responsible for the manufacturer’s quality, but the same doesn’t apply to Wal-Mart or Fry’s or whoever else?

  43. phaseunbalance says:

    Target is why I finally dropped Windows and switched to Mac.

    I bought a Windows-based digital music player from Target. It stopped working after the Target warranty had expired but before the manufacturer warranty had expired. The manufacturer agreed to replace the item if I could produce a bill from the retailer. I had already shredded the bill, so I returned to Target and requested a copy.

    The Target rep found my bill in the Target system but refused to print if for me, citing “security.” “Security” is Corporate America’s catch-all excuse to deny customer service.

    So, I threw away the player, threw away my Windows laptop, stopped shopping Target, dumped my Target stock, bought a Mac, bought an I-Pod, and never looked back.

  44. Elle86 says:

    I love my local Target. It’s better than Walmart thats for darn sure. But even calling in for information at BestBuy is just an invitation for rude behavior.

    • Latentius says:

      Yet again, I’m left wondering what you’re *not* including in your comment. Employees aren’t just randomly and spontaneously rude over the phone. The only times I’ve seen an employee be terse with a customer (on the phone or otherwise) is if that customer is acting out-of-line (shouting, cussing, etc.).

      Also, if you call into the store’s Geek Squad and try to get tech support over the phone, I guess it might seem like they’re trying to brush you off, but that’s simply because the agents in-store don’t handle tech support calls and usually have a lot of other work to attend to (not to mention customers physically present at the front counter). That’s about the only situation I can even possible think of. Mainly, though, it’s only if someone calls up and starts yelling at the people who answer.

  45. JLyles says:

    I’ve never had any problems with Target. the only thing that I can think of that would come close would be the time they were out of an item and would give a raincheck for that particular item. That’s about it for Target.

    Best Buy is Bad. They have made me feel uncomfortable; would not allow a return for an exchange only during the same day, and within the same hour; and they do not have enough of their so called technical knowledge about some items.

    Target does not brag about being some kind of tech store and so on that issue it does not count.

    • Latentius says:

      …And what’s the rest of the story? The only reason why they wouldn’t allow an exchange within the same hour of purchase is if you either bought software (which is licensed and unreturnable, but you should have known that going in), or you went outside and promptly dropped it on the concrete, breaking it (’cause you can’t return broken merchandise, for obvious reasons).

  46. bben says:

    There are both a Target and a BestBuy in the nearest retail strip mall to my home. I drive another half mile past them to do my shopping. BB has become the showroom for Amazon due to their wacky pricing and incompetent Geek Squad. A friend left his laptop with them to have a broken power jack replaced and got it back with the hard drive reformatted and an older version of Windows installed – plus the wrong power jack that didn’t fit his power adapter. After several weeks of run around, a letter from his lawyer got him a new replacement laptop and an apology.

    Target is one step up from Wall Mart but has a worse selection. Their pricing is actually competitive with Wally World. But they rarely have what I need.

    • Latentius says:

      By any chance, did your friend also sign a form that said that they could format the laptop without performing any sort of data backup? Because that’s kinda a standard thing… When he checked it in, he probably was asked if he backs up his own data, if he wanted Geek Squad to back it up before service just in case.

      Unless it was a rare screw up where they forgot to have him sign the form, that half sounds like he bears some responsibility. I personally tell everyone that leaves a computer with us that even if they don’t anticipate the need to restore the computer to the factory state, it’s always a possibility that it will happen, and if there’s anything they can’t risk losing, they should either back it up at home first or have us do it for them.

      (Just my random guess on the issue: the obvious problem was a broken DC jack, but when it got to the service center and they performed hardware diagnostics, they found that the hard drive was failing and replaced it under warranty.)

      It’s unfortunate that lawyers had to get involved. Best Buy really should have taken responsibility far before then (and who knows, maybe they did; I don’t know the whole story for why they were even involved). If it’s any consolation, even though you may read a lot of horror stories online, they still account for a statistically very small portion of all the cases that Geek Squad actually works on. It’s just that you never hear about the immensely more numerous instances where everything goes exactly according to plan without any issues.

  47. FLConsumer says:

    This isn’t even a contest. If it was Best Buy vs. TSA or vs. IRS, then we’d have a fair fight.

  48. framitz says:

    I’ve never had any grief from Target, but BB on the other hand . . .

    No contest here.

  49. wsteinhauer says:

    Wendy, I don’t think BB takes the time to deposit “background ads” on the PC you just bought. HP or Acer, maybe, but not BB.

    • Latentius says:

      Now, now….you should know better. You can’t go around using logic and rational thought when Best Buy’s involved. Only blind, mouth-frothing hatred is allowed, thank you very much. (See the rest of the comments here for instruction on how to properly hate the company irrationally.)

  50. Tacojelly says:

    I wished I could’ve voted for both.

    I personally went with Target since every employee I see when I go to a target looks dead inside and (with good reason) clearly doesn’t care about their job. Best buy is not there yet.

  51. Ed says:

    This is like the NY Giants vs a little league football team.

  52. SanDiegoReader says:

    Wow, looks like BB is – for once – beating the competition. :-)

  53. clydesplace says:

    Tough choice here. Target is the worse for bait and switch. They’ll advertise some item with a huge discount in their circular, but never have more than one or two in the store. And then often, even the ones they have in the store on display that would be a good buy are unavailable. I was there one day when a customer came in and wanted to buy one of the Flat Screens they had on display. It was one I had been considering as well. He was told they didn’t have it in stock but they might be getting one or two in later in the week and that he should call every morning and then rush to get it.

    Best Buy? I had one of the worse problems I ever had with a company last year, involving their cell phone policies. I almost sent it in here but then decided nobody would believe it. You can go in their store and be told six different things from different employees and managers, call the company from inside the store and be told two or three more different things. They can’t even stay on the same page. I haven’t been back since, and when my cell phone comes up for renewal this year I’ll be going elsewhere to upgrade.

  54. HogwartsProfessor says:

    Best Buy.

    Outrageous pricing, selling open-box items as new, selling bricks because they can’t be bothered to check returns, Geek Squad, lying to customers about product, upselling at the register without even asking permission, loud and annoying stores and receipt checking. I hate them and will never set foot in one again.

    I drove by our boarded-up Circuit City today. Ours was awesome. I miss them. :(

    • Latentius says:

      “Outrageous pricing”? You mean, marginally higher than you would find at Wal-Mart?

      Or are you only comparing to e-tailers, who don’t have to pay to have stores spread across the country or employees to staff those stores, thus allowing them to operate closer to margin than a store like Best Buy could ever attempt to while remaining solvent?

      Best Buy could always reduce prices. Then, they’ll end up just like your beloved Circuit City.

      Open Box items are sold as Open Box. The only possible way a purchased item would be sold as new is if it were never actually opened before being returned.

      Hate having your receipt checked? You DO realize that the whole point of that is to help curb theft and thereby reduce the cost of products in the store, right? (Of course you don’t.) It’s a simple, harmless measure that drastically reduces theft. Of course, they can always abandon that process and raise prices on everything, if you’d prefer.

  55. Chmee says:

    Eh, only voted for BB because they tried to charge my MIL an extra $100 to set her computer up and burn a back-up system disk (which should be included with the machine. Why did they stop giving you those anyway? What do they cost, and whole $1 maybe?). How hard is it to set up a laptop for crying out loud!

    • CurrentGeekSquadEmployee says:

      Something is worth what someone is willing to pay for it.

      Recovery disks haven’t been provided in retail laptops for almost 5 years now. Apple used to provide them and even they stopped. Those disks can range from $25-70 dollars from the manufacturer, not quite $1.

      And there are quite a few people out there who don’t know how to burn a disk, or download updates, etc.

    • Latentius says:

      I think the other Geek Squad employee there summed it all up pretty nicely.

      MANUFACTURERS haven’t been providing recovery discs for years, since they started including recovery partitions on their harddrives (which of course doesn’t help if you have to replace or upgrade the harddrive). Don’t blame Best Buy for the manufacturers’ choices.

      You can always burn your own discs at home, which will be cheaper. The problem with this is that many people aren’t even aware of the existence of “recovery discs,” they don’t think to check the packaging to see if their computer has any, and they definitely don’t read the initial setup instructions that come with the computer that tell them to burn such discs on their own.

      I can’t count the number of times people have come in because they need a new harddrive installed, but instead of having recovery discs already, they have to send another $50 and wait another week without a computer, all because they have to order them, as they never bothered making them in the first place.

      On a similar matter, Geek Squad charging $99 for a data backup (at the lowest levels) definitely seems like a lot, but it’s not Geek Squad’s fault that you never bothered to backup any of your data when Windows was still working, but instead waited until you had a complete crash and decided that there’s something you couldn’t live without. Also not Geek Squad’s fault if you don’t know about taking the harddrive out of your computer and attaching it to an adapter to try to retrieve files.

      It always comes back to the same thing: something is worth whatever someone is willing to pay for it. If you were negligent beforehand, and don’t have a clue what you’re doing now, the service’s value is what you make of it.

      …But then again, your argument is also the kind I’ve seen from people who also complain about Best Buy salespeople trying to upsell accessories. You know, things like backup harddrives, recovery discs, etc.

  56. JLyles says:

    Definitly Best Buy.

    Their prices are higher and the service for returns is bad when I went to return an item.

    • Latentius says:

      Could you please be a little more specific? I see lots of people throwing out these incredibly vague claims that “customer service is crappy,” but never a thorough explanation of what happened.

      Was it an issue with the return period? Was it a matter of coverage? Was the CS rep rude? Was there a long line?

      Seriously, I’d much prefer if people with complaints against Best Buy would bother to give some details. (And I mean *all* details. If you’re upset that they don’t accept a return on an item, it slightly changes the situation if you also admit that you bought it two years ago and accidentally ran over it with your car.)

      After all, how is a company ever supposed to improve itself if you don’t let it know what, precisely, they do that makes you unhappy. (But keep in mind, you have to be realistic. You could be upset that Best Buy doesn’t give you a $100 bill every time you walk in the store, but that’s hardly a legitimate grievance.)

  57. dollym100 says:

    To close to call

  58. Extended-Warranty says:

    I’ve bought things from both, and niether are as evil as everyone makes them out to be.

    Best Buy gets too much hate because everyone on the internet thinks they know how the electronics business should run. Clearly lots of other companies have gotten it right? I understand many of the complaints though.

    Target’s website sucks and their return policy is worse. I would give them the vote.

  59. notthere56 says:

    where is the vote button?

  60. ekdikeo says:

    “Every item I’ve ever purchased from that store requires more money after the initial purchase. Whether it’s the $140 extra to get the “background ads” off the computer I just purchased or the necessary warranties for everything because it will break or not work at some point in time. And the Geek Squad, also known as “here’s what your warranty includes, but here’s all the other necessary things it doesn’t cover, but will cost $60/hour more because you need it to fix our defective merchandise.””

    well, stop being an idiot that breaks all your stuff, and only buys the cheapest of everything. Also, if it has moving parts, for god’s sake get the extra coverage.

  61. RickinStHelen says:

    I believe Latentius deserves an award for the most loyal, dedicated Best Buy employee ever. The effort put forth here to defend Best Buy is amazing. I am not being snarky either. I am impressed by his dedication.

    I still would vote for Best Buy, but talk about loyalty.

    • Latentius says:

      Well…thank you…I think. (:-P)

      And just because I know someone must be thinking this…no, I’m not being paid to sit here and post comments. I wasn’t even asked to do so. In fact, I’d imagine my superiors probably wouldn’t be happy with someone being an unofficial representative of the company.

      Truth be told, I’m not actually that loyal. I’ll buy from my store if they happen to have precisely what I want, and I can get it cheaper (employee discounts can sometimes–but not always–work wonders).

      No, I’m just sick of reading all the baseless slander against a company. I think it’s only fair that someone represent the other side of the debate. It’s easy enough to come across tons of anti-Best Buy horror stories online, but how often do you get to hear from the other people? It’s easy to think of them all as faceless evil, greedy pigs, but that’s simply not the case. Most are kind people who do want to help out. I personally try to be extremely polite to everyone, but there are just some people who walk in the store and seem intent on hating the company and being as rude and obnoxious as humanly possible.

      I’m not a brainwashed employee (though some co-workers do seem unnervingly loyal), but I am somewhat of a convert. I am, of course, a complete computer nerd and have been all my life. I used to go into Best Buy to just browse around, but rarely would I buy anything. I used to find the salespeople somewhat annoying. I just wanted to be left alone. Also, while I’d never personally had any bad experience with the company, I definitely had a negative opinion of them, due to all the horror stories I’d read online.

      And then I started working there. Working in Geek Squad (and right alongside Customer Service), I’ve seen untold numbers of customers who expect the most ridiculous things, and then become irate when someone tries to bring them back to reality. I’ve come to realize that the worst problems customers have are themselves. They are the ones that make the process the ugliest. Yes, the company has messed up on occasion, but at least the situations I’ve witnessed first-hand, they’ve always taken responsibility and resolved the issue.

      As for the more generic complaints, I can see the other side to those, too. Yes, a pushy salesperson can be annoying…but that’s such a trivial complaint. All you have to do is politely say “no,” and they’ll leave you alone. They do try to upsell, but there’s a *reason* for it. Imagine you’re a techno-illiterate person, but you decide to get an HDTV because you’ve heard so much about them. Now, what if the salespeople did nothing but get you a TV? Well, chances are you’d take it home, hook it up to your VCR, say that everything looks like shit, and you’d return the TV because you perceive it as being poor quality. Or maybe you get a Blu-Ray player, then go and hook it up with composite cables because no one explained the benefits of HDMI. Again, you’d return the item, saying the quality was awful, and you’d blame the store for selling you a piece of crap. Having those salespeople push accessories on you may be a bit annoying, and they might push more expensive stuff than you really need, but it’s not malicious. They want you to go home and enjoy your purchase. As a business, Best Buy obviously doesn’t want people returning items en masse, especially when the reason for doing so is a lack of knowledge.

      As for prices, Best Buy simply cannot compete with Amazon or Newegg. There’s just too much overhead between physical locations and staff. As a computer nerd, I always found it curious why anyone would buy from BBY rather than going online. But now I realize: I’m not the clientele the stores are aimed at. The people who buy from BBY tend to be people who don’t know enough to go comparison shopping on their own. They’re people who need someone who knows the products, someone they can ask questions of, and if they have to end up paying a few more dollars for that help, that’s a worthwhile price.

      I’m not trying to be a corporate shill or anything. I just think that the majority of Best Buy’s bad reputation is undeserved, and again, I think it’s only fair that there’s at least *one* person to try and bring the other side’s arguments to the table.

      • PercussionQueen7 says:

        I don’t mean to be rude here, but in Best Buy’s eyes, this could be close enough to trying to speak for the company that you could get in trouble. I would delete your comments if I were you…

        I have been fired from a job for answering a question a customer asked me, acting as a representative of the company, when the answer I gave wasn’t in line with what management wanted. (I told her that yes, she could probably decrease her order by about $400 next time and she’d still have enough food for the event she was throwing. Obviously the business didn’t care for that answer, but when I’m looking at $400 worth of food that isn’t going to be eaten, what am I supposed to say?)

        Just be careful when you post, okay? Or the next post we’ll see is “Defender of Best Buy in WCIA 2012 canned for comments on Consumerist”.

  62. witwoman says:

    I recently went in to Best Buy thinking they had a lot of CD’s (boy have they whittled down to next to nothing.) I asked for help and I was told someone would come. After ten minutes, I stopped two salespeople and again they said they would send someone to the CD department. After another ten minutes with no help, I walked out. I will never go back.

  63. Keith is checking the Best Buy receipt of a breastfeeding mother (for tips!) says:

    Geez, this is no contest- hard for me to believe that anyone here thinks that Target is worse than Bust Buy. Glad the poll results are a well-deserved landslide.

  64. PercussionQueen7 says:

    I don’t mean to be rude here, but in Best Buy’s eyes, this could be close enough to trying to speak for the company that you could get in trouble. I would delete your comments if I were you…

    I have been fired from a job for answering a question a customer asked me, acting as a representative of the company, when the answer I gave wasn’t in line with what management wanted. (I told her that yes, she could probably decrease her order by about $400 next time and she’d still have enough food for the event she was throwing. Obviously the business didn’t care for that answer, but when I’m looking at $400 worth of food that isn’t going to be eaten, what am I supposed to say?)

    Just be careful when you post, okay? Or the next post we’ll see is “Defender of Best Buy in WCIA 2012 canned for comments on Consumerist”.

  65. Ihateyourhighhorse says:

    Glad I missed the voting….I can’t choose between 2 companies I love….