Here’s what Ted wanted. He already has an XM Radio subscription, and he wanted to buy a replacement radio. His was broken, but Best Buy carries them, and Best Buy stores are everywhere. It couldn’t be that bad, could it? Just stop in, exchange money for radio, leave, walk out. Not so fast, there, Ted: Best Buy needs your name, address, and phone number before they can sell you a radio. And they have no idea why.
I have now tried twice to buy an XM Radio Onyx unit at Best Buy, and
they are unable to sell it to me without my giving a phone number,
name and address. I am an existing XM subscriber but my radio is
broken, so I just wanted to buy some new hardware. BB couldn’t handle
that simple proposition.
The first time I brought the hardware unit to the counter, the clerk
asked for a phone number, and I just said, I don’t want to give one.
The clerk tried to skip the screen asking for the info, and couldn’t.
He told me he couldn’t do it without a number. I asked why they need
it, and he said he thought to check if I was in a rewards program. I
said that I wasn’t, and that I didn’t want to give one. He shrugged
like there was nothing he could do and said the machine won’t check me
out without one, to which I said, “Fine, I’ll buy it somewhere else.”
A few weeks later, I was passing a different BB, and I thought I would
try again and this time just tell them to use all ones.The clerk did
so, which moved to the next screen that asked for my name and address.
I said I didn’t want to give Best Buy all that info, and the clerk
said Best Buy wouldn’t sell it without it. He said I could talk to a
manager, I said sure and went to customer service.
I explained that I just wanted to buy the hardware, and that I already
have an XM account. I didn’t want to sign up for anything through BB;
I just wanted to give them money and walk out with the box in my hand.
She said it was just the XM stuff that the registers demand info for.
I asked who was asking for it, Best Buy or XM? She asked her manager
via headset, and the manager said XM.
Based on what the manager said. I decided to give my phone number
(which XM should have), but when that didn’t
pull up my other info as an existing customer, I again said forget it,
I’ll buy directly through XM online, and walked again. It was obvious
that no one there actually knew who the info was for or why their
machine wouldn’t let me buy this product.
Seems like Best Buy is doing everything possible to make itself
irrelevant in the face of online shopping. One of the real advantages
to a retail store is being able to buy something and leave with
minimal form-filling-out. Not anymore, apparently.
You could always give a fake address, but 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue probably already gets too much junk mail from Best Buy.