Can Best Buy Be Saved?

Best Buy founder Richard Schulze shook things up the other day when he mentioned that he’d very much like to have his company back and out of the hands of shareholders. Since then, a few details of how Schulze plans to keep the ship afloat have surfaced, but will it be enough to remain competitive or is he just making matters worse for the company?

The Wall Street Journal reports that Schulze’s main plan is to cut retail prices. Thus, when those of us who go to Best Buy to check out a computer or TV before just going online to buy it for less, maybe we’ll have another look at the price tag and decide it’s not that much more expensive than buying on Amazon and you don’t have to wait for shipping.

Meanwhile, Schulze also wants to keep pushing — and improve upon — the current company line that Best Buy’s in-store experts are a selling point. The Journal says he envisions a Best Buy that is more like the current Apple store model.

He also says that the company’s ongoing efforts to scale back its number of retail stores — and the size of existing outlets — is only pushing Best Buy closer to the grave.

Aside from the fact that Schulze’s plans put him in direct conflict with the company’s current direction, the Journal points out the problem of trying to grow while the bricks-and-mortar retail world is shrinking:

Mr. Schultz’s approach—of lowering prices while avoiding major cost-cutting—would likely lead to substantial run up in costs in the first couple of years that would be difficult for a public company to justify, the people familiar with the matter added.

“As long as the top line is slowing you have to cut costs at a similar rate or your cash flow starts to suffer,” one retail analyst explains.

Even if Schulze’s attempt to buy back the company is not successful, the attempt on its own could impact Best Buy’s immediate future.

While interim CEO Mike Mikan has been pushing to keep the job, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune reports that he could lose it if the company’s board decides it wants a retail heavy-hitter as CEO to counter Schulze’s take-back bid.

And even then, that CEO’s tenure could be short-lived — and will require a huge golden parachute — in case Schulze succeeds and chooses to install his CEO.

So on on hand you’ve got the company founder who has a vision for Best Buy that may work, but which could drive the company into the ground if it doesn’t reap positive results rather quickly.

On the other hand, the current Best Buy leadership seems to be taking the stance that shrinking the company is the best way to keep it from sinking.

And though both sides seem worried about trying to have their retail outlets compete with online sellers, you don’t hear much about a strategy to bolster BestBuy.com to the point where it’s not just an adjunct to the in-store experience but can compete directly with Amazon as an e-tailer.

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  1. topgun says:

    Why would you want to?

    • jeffbone says:

      “Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should…”

      Now where did I hear that?

      • MeowMaximus says:

        In a word, no. In two words, HELL NO! WorstBuy has sucked for so long its need to die, and soon. So, stop buying stuff from WorstBuy!

  2. polishhillbilly says:

    ditto, turn them into Tire Team show rooms. Now that would be useful

    • Overheal says:

      Step 1: If it’s $10 online, it shouldn’t be $40 in store.

      Step 2: I feel you should pay your employees enough money to where they don’t choose to work at Chick Fil A over you. (That happened once – no, it was not recently) I’m not suggesting commission, but enough to where you are attracting and retaining skilled people who don’t just reach a breaking point about trying to explain to the customer “ALL the laptops work with WiFi” for the 500th time. $10/hr should be the base pay, then obviously more for experience or specialization.

      Services aren’t the problem, just keep improving on them like they’ve been doing year over year (sorry internet haters, but it’s happening whether you noticed or not). Services – absolutely – are profitable. Which is why there is such a high incentive to make those services enticing for customers. If it was done for charity it couldn’t work.

      It’s a big problem though if theres a huge gap in the customer experience one gets from Store A, and Store B that’s 20 minutes away. That’s a current problem in my own market, having to hear from customers about rude (and probably underpaid) associates, who didn’t put the effort in. It’s especially frustrating when those employees send such customers my way just because they can’t be bothered to do the job – in many cases, that would’ve meant taking 2 minutes out and placing a product order, instead of sending the customer on an extra 40 minute round trip drive just to find out we don’t have it in stock either. [FYI: that store is now getting new management soon] The attitude seems to be Why should I care if I get fired from here since I can make the same money flipping burgers somewhere else? That’s a big problem. I’m not saying paying someone enough to not piss all over your nachos isn’t it’s own problem, but when someone comes in looking to invest hundreds or thousands on new products and services, it’s not something that you want to trust to disinterested part timers.

      <>

      Quoted for the Truth. There hasn’t been much of any improvement on .com in at least 2 years aside from including Marketplace eTailers like Startech and others – so in that way it’s more like Amazon. But, it needs to start with a vastly improved search engine and work out from there. The customer/browser’s location should automatically be parsed too, to intelligently (and correctly) show what’s in stock nearby. Saying “Available in Store or Online” currently doesn’t mean much, until you go in and manually punch your ZIP in.

      • Overheal says:

        “And though both sides seem worried about trying to have their retail outlets compete with online sellers, you don’t hear much about a strategy to bolster BestBuy.com to the point where it’s not just an adjunct to the in-store experience but can compete directly with Amazon as an e-tailer”

        was trying to quote that. oops.

  3. Olivia Neutron-Bomb says:

    “The Journal says he envisions a Best Buy that is more like the current Apple store model.”

    Uh huh. And I envision owning a house overlooking Wailea Beach on Maui.

  4. BrownLeopard says:

    Die baby die. I really hope to see BB turn into the next CC.

    • Overheal says:

      why?

    • Jawaka says:

      Personally I like having a local electronic retail store. Walmart and Target doesn’t carry 1/10th the electronics that Best Buy does.

      • bsh0544 says:

        Every time I go to Best Buy I leave disappointed and slightly angry that I bothered even trying. I gave up eventually.

        • JEDIDIAH says:

          Well, that’s something that can be fixed. Instead of having lots of lame little Best Buys all over the place have fewer really good ones. I will drive cross town to a Frys or Microcenter. Best Buy needs to match that. If they can’t then they might as well liquidate right now.

      • GenXCub says:

        Not sure where you are, but Fry’s Electronics does just fine in the west. It’s a lot more about “you need to know exactly what you want before you go in” but it’s not like I was going to take a Best Buy employee’s word for anything either.

        While it does have its issues, it’s not on the BB scale of outright incompetence.

    • Demoliiton Man says:

      You really must want those unemployment numbers to go up even higher.

    • Kuri says:

      Yeah, screw all the people who would be out of a job then!

  5. Blueskylaw says:

    “Can Best Buy Be Saved?”

    No.

    Any other questions?

    • HSVhockey says:

      I went to my local Best Buy last night because I felt like buying an Xbox. There was quite a few people in there and it got even more crowded while I took 20 minutes trying to find a game I wanted. I know when I want to make a quick electronics purchase, I’m glad it is there. I don’t need Geniuses or even the absolute lowest prices (as long as we aren’t talking about 20%+ markups on 4 figure purchases).

  6. Bagels says:

    “maybe we’ll have another look at the price tag and decide it’s not that much more expensive than buying on Amazon and you don’t have to wait for shipping”

    yeah, that whole 1 or 2 days it takes for Amazon to get it to me….yes it’s not right now/immediate but it isn’t like things take 1-2 weeks to ship anymore

    • Overheal says:

      My insight from most customers is that in general it’s all about buying something you can see, and wanting it then and there. Seems primal, but it’s there and real. For instance, I can order things in, I can do overnight shipping, but I can’t tell you of one customer that actually has taken me up on that. “If I can’t put it in my hands, I don’t want to buy it”, thats what I hear more often.

      The other thing is the majority of what I sell in Computers is stuff that is either too bulky to ship or miscellaneous like ink and toner. And when you run out of ink and you want to print something do you want to wait till friday to do it? Or your router just bit the dust in a lightning strike (covered by Geek Squad, btw) or you need a new ethernet card to get back online ASAP. You also have PCs which again not everybody likes the shipping concept, or likes the though of UPS leaving their $600 laptop on the front porch. Or maybe the UPS guy chucked it around and now the screen is cracked (less likely, to be fair) or your hard drive is DOA thanks to ground shipping (happened to me once – thanks Newegg! That took 5 days to ship and I think I saw the replacement drive 2-3 weeks from my original order date. Ended up buying one off the shelf the same day I RMA’d the original. Now I just have 2 drives)

      It boils down simply to Trust, Security, and Patience.

      • Bagels says:

        I understand what you’re saying, but at the same time I have gone to BB in the past to buy basic things like cables and they simply don’t carry that stuff. They don’t have a basic HDMI cable that Amazon sells for 2-3$. They only carry a Monster branded one that’s 40$.

        • Overheal says:

          4ft Dynex is $9.99

        • TacoDave says:

          This exactly. A co-worker’s speakers in her flat-screen TV went out. I convinced her to buy a speaker bar for audio and we needed to cables: one to run from the cable box to the speaker, and one from the DVD player.

          It’s simple enough, but the cheapest cable I could find at a store was $10 each. Instead, I bought them from Amazon marketplace and got each cable for $5 – including shipping.

          Half the price is worth a couple-of-days wait.

          • Overheal says:

            Your call, really. $5 for a few days wait wouldn’t put me off. The 2-3 days without sound on my TV might though.

  7. Upthewazzu says:

    Here’s an idea…hire people who know what the heck they’re talking about. Hopefully, if he pulls off this miracle and is able to take the company private he can accomplish this goal by bumping pay to attract higher quality/skilled employees.

    • ARP3 says:

      That’s mentioned as one of his ideas. However, it would be temporarily more expensive to hire and retain those persons, even if they eventually improved sales and paid for themselves. You see, in the modern corporate world, all actions must have an immediate result or shareholders won’t be happy. Therefore, long term investment/planning is not allowed or else institutional shareholders will sell their shares and find a company that is willing to destroy themselves for short term gain.

      • luxosaucer13 says:

        BINGO! We have a winner. When it comes to publicly-traded companies, it’s all instant-gratification, baby. Your average shareholder can’t see past 3 weeks, let alone 3 months or a year.

        They want their return-on-investment and they want it NOW!

      • Auron says:

        But that’s exactly what Schulze won’t have to worry about if he buys back BB and takes it private. Then it can be restructured the way he wants it to be and not have ot worry about shareholders.

  8. PragmaticGuy says:

    Last I heard, Best Buy was still making $1,000,000 a day in profit. Yes, it’s not as much as it once was but still, nothing to sneeze about. I don’t know if lowering prices is going to help immediately as that didn’t work at Penney’s but it’s a step in the right direction. People are willing to pay a little more when the customer buying experience and customer service is really good. Best Buy needs to find a way to improve that part of the business because it’s sorely lacking. If they can do that, they’ll be on the road to better sales and profits.

    • LastError says:

      The problem is that BBY and most other retailers see it 180 degrees from that: providing a good buying experience and good customer service are costs, and costs must be eliminated, ergo, eliminate the things that cost money, like the workers.

      The problem is that customers still expect these things and are often dissuaded from buying when they don’t find them, or when they are instead pressured to buy junk like magazine subscriptions.

      The company sees that as a way to make money with all these expenses (workers) walking around. Customers see that as a reason to avoid the store, and they do, which means there is more focus on cutting costs, which means fewer customers, and more costs cut, and fewer customers.

      Eventually this mess implodes and becomes a mass so dense not even light can escape. Not even the light from the last “exit” sign can escape.

      • Overheal says:

        I get the perception that the people making such decisions are only really looking at the P&L reports, and looking with shocked expressions at the Expenses and Losses. The goal as you say is to minimize these as much as possible. But of course, that has unforeseen consequences.

    • Actionable Mango says:

      Yes I don’t know why we’ve been talking about saving Best Buy for so long now. The company made $1.7 million a day in profit last quarter.

      There are companies like RIM and Nokia burning cash like crazy. We should be talking about how nobody can save those instead.

      • Overheal says:

        Probably because we’ve all been shopping at Best Buy for the last 20 years to some degree or another, whether to buy or just browse. Like or hate what it is, it’s a shopping icon.

  9. Ashman says:

    So why doesn’t he just startup a new company with those goals and visions and compete with Best buy and put it to bed.

    I go there for some things occassionally, but as of late, I have been buying on Amazon. I will say I have used best buy to window shop the things I want, but have found some decent deals on things at best buy as well that were the right item at the right price and I needed it right then..

  10. Package Man says:

    I think the more important question is: Do consumers care if it can be saved? I would argue no.

    • Jawaka says:

      I would argue some.

    • aaronx says:

      I would argue ‘yes’. The marketplace needs competition.

      • Package Man says:

        The question isn’t about the market, it’s about consumers. I don’t know anybody who actually shops there or even cares if they exist.

        • aaronx says:

          The two aren’t mutually exclusive in this scenario. While I shop there very rarely, I do care because as the competition lessens, so does the need to compete. Any consumer that doesn’t care, doesn’t care either out of spite, indifference, or the inability to think two steps down the road.

          The only people to win in a world where competition doesn’t exist is the last man standing.

          Not to mention the fact that the absolute last thing we need right now is thousands more people out of work.

  11. Velvet Jones says:

    This is exactly what is needed. Public companies are too risk adverse these days. They would rather watch the business slowly die then bite the bullet and spend the money, too afraid to have a bad quarter and piss off the day traders. In the early 60s IBM mortgaged its future to build the 360 project, a decision that revolutionized the industry and made IBM the dominant leader in computers for decades that followed. No public company, and I mean no company, would dare such a move today. Investors would revolt and the board would fire the CEO.

    • Jawaka says:

      I agree. When you’re a public company your first priority are your shareholders, not the company. I’ve always found it funny that a company can increase profits 100% one year but the shareholder will then just expect them to do it again and again and again. Its like they aren’t based in reality. You can’t continue to grow infinitely.

    • Actionable Mango says:

      Apple Computer Company started selling music. And telephones.

      That’s pretty dramatically different from selling Macs.

      • Velvet Jones says:

        Apple was unique that respect, but they also had no choice. They didn’t spend a ton of money, and they were already in dire straits. At the time the iPod was released I think Apple stock was around $7 and still sliding. If the iPod had not taken off like it did then I think Apple’s board would have fired Jobs(again). Best Buy is still making money at this point.

    • ARP3 says:

      Exactly. Each quarter must have double digit growth over the previous quarter or else the traders with sell of your shares (driving down its price) and find another company willing to destroy itself to enrich fickle shareholders and CEO’s who is paid in shares.

  12. tlvx says:

    I highly doubt that, “profit,” is the word you’re looking for, otherwise there wouldn’t be anything to worry about. There overall operating costs are clearly cutting into their current revenues, along with reduced overall sales.

    That said, I think best buy needs to go back to the high-end retailer model. At least have, a good, better, best approach with products. Currently, if I want to buy a laptop with a 1080p screen, there are one or two options in the store, Asus and Samsung. The problem is that Best Buy doesn’t even carry the models with the top graphics card or top processor in them. So, it’s pointless to shop there- at least if you’re looking for quality products.

    However, as long as Best Buy has a, “no restocking fee,” policy on computers, I will continue to hold out hope. Frys has many more options, but their retail stores charge restocking fees, and their overpriced in the store to begin with.

    • tlvx says:

      Edit: I highly doubt that, “profit,” is the word you’re looking for, otherwise there wouldn’t be anything to worry about. Their overall operating costs are clearly cutting into their current revenues, along with reduced overall sales.
      That said, I think Best Buy needs to go back to the high-end retailer model. At least have, a good, better, best approach with products. Currently, if I want to buy a laptop with a 1080p screen, there are one or two options in the store: Asus and Samsung. The problem is that Best Buy doesn’t even carry the high-end models with the top graphics card or top processor in them. So, it’s pointless to shop there- at least if you’re looking for top performing products.
      However, as long as Best Buy has a, “no restocking fee,” policy on computers, I will continue to hold out hope. Frys has many more options, but their retail stores charge restocking fees, and they’re overpriced in the store to begin with.

      • Overheal says:

        I kinda agree there. I am not too enthralled with the current weekly rotating selection of sub-$400 laptops though I understand the reason behind it. On the other hand when they shipped me a standalone GTX 680 around Tax Time, I was so nervous as hell that someone would just steal it that I didn’t even want to put it on the shelf. Those are about $500.

  13. DeeJayQueue says:

    When I worked at Bed Bath and Beyond as a retail slave, they had training programs about the products for each department. And they were directed to be informative, not just “Here’s how you dupe someone into spending top dollar for knives.” They told you about the features, the construction, the quality of the different types of things that we sold… For instance, Cookware. The training would go over the different types of cookware, how each was constructed, how each method led to different results in heating, durability and ease of care, that sort of thing. That way we could educate our customers and help them find the right product for their needs, not just whatever’s the most expensive.

    I’ve since had the chance to work on some of the training videos for Best Buy. They don’t focus on educating the employees about the products, they focus on how to upsell, cross-sell, put the customer in the most expensive thing that they don’t need half of, and then get them to buy the EPP for it. It’s the wrong way.

    Best Buy needs to educate their employees, pay them a living wage to retain them, hire management and administrative staff that make the stores fun places to work, and for god’s sake Get Rid of Upselling, POP Sales Pitches, etc.

    Empower the employees to make decisions that will benefit the customer.

    Honor the policies on the board, in spirit and in letter. That means no trying to weasel out of pricematching because of a non-defined “local competition zone.”

    Entice customers to want to come to the store, have great displays that aren’t broken or slimy.

    Not an exhaustive list, but doing some of these, and some others, could really help repair the damage BB has done to themselves.

  14. 2nd party post dated counter check says:

    I remember walking into my first Best But. It was magical. It was not dinghy like CompUSA (nee Softwarehouse), nor was it it garish and oppressive like a Circuit City. I saw row after row of computers, and life was good. Unfortunately, this was back in about 1994 or so. Since that time I have grown to hate the chain. There are times I need an item quickly, and am willing to pay for it. Best Buy used to be a source for those times. Not anymore for me. If there was a way to return to a day with knowledgable staff, large selection, and low prices, Best Buy would be worth saving. Alas, I do not see that happening. In the mean time, kill it. Kill it with fire.

  15. nikalseyn says:

    I bought my very first Adam computer at Best Buy many, many years ago and continued to buy at least one new computer every two years or so after that—all from Best Buy. Then, about four or five years ago, I just got fed up with the lack of personnel to help answer questions; the seeming decline in the variety of desktops to look at and buy; the higher cost of items compared to online retailers; and the increasingly loud, blaring “music” they insist on torturing me with as I try to concentrate on shopping. All in all, no longer a pleasant experience. My last two computers have been purchased online—as will be future purchases. Best Buy had a good run of it. Now they will slowly wither like Circuit City and be gone, gone, gone. Anyone remember Montgomery Wards??

  16. wellfleet says:

    I don’t know if it can.

    Before I worked there, I was a Best Buy loyalist. All my CDs and toys came from there, and the atmosphere was fun and lively. Once I saw the insides of the organization as an employee, Geek Squad supervisor and sales manager, I lost faith.

    There are several problems with Best Buy that have nothing to do with pricing. On many major items, pricing is pretty volatile, so on any given day, Amazon might be cheaper or it might be more expensive.

    1. Management is mostly twentysomething young men. Want proof? They’re in Dallas right now for a sales meeting, pictures are a roomful of mostly men. This creates a testosterone-heavy, immature mindset where management is more worried about bonuses and golf games than they are about fanatical customer service.

    2. Fanatical customer service. Don’t make rules about it, don’t roll out CARE+, 360 customer evaluations and moronic phrases about customer service. Hire people who actually care about people and want to be helpful. You can’t teach over apathy.

    3. Expertise. When you hire a child and pay him or her $8 an hour and sit them in front of 1000 eLearnings, they will not learn about digital imaging. If you hire a photographer and pay him or her $15 an hour to do this on the side while also running a photography business, you’re onto something. People are ok with paying more if they’re getting tremendous service and expertise, but not for mediocre service and no knowledge beyond what’s on the tag.

    4. Enough with the gimmicks. Enough with magazine-type schemes at the register, enough with Snapfish, enough with pre-optimization, enough with Mac optimization. If you have to teach your employees TRICKS on how to sell things, these things are shitty.

    5. Err on the side of the customer. Always. Even when the customer is wrong. You will win way more often than you’ll fail. I read a customer post on Best Buy’s FB page that said he tried to return an unopened Belkin router, which was still for sale in the store, past the 30 day return policy and he wasn’t allowed to do so. Yes, the policy is there, but it costs Best Buy NOTHING to make this guy happy and costs them EVERYTHING to deny an exception. Wanna know why Zappos and Nordstrom’s have fanatical customers? Because they make people happy. MY husband ordered me a pair of boots that didn’t fit. Zappos let me pick out a new pair that they overnighted for free before I even sent the other pair back. That’s customer service.

    6. Mea culpa that shit. Admit that you have been a shitty place to shop and work for the better part of the last decade and be transparent about how you’ll fix it. Like Domino’s, but with Monster cables!

  17. The Upright Man mk2 says:

    I would actually prefer Best Buy stick around. If I have a sudden need for a computer part, I would rather hop in the car and drive over to Best Buy then get it online and have to wait a few days.

    Same thing with stuff like Cameras and Tablets. Target and Walmart simply don’t have the selection that Best Buy has and I’d like to test expensive stuff like that before I actually buy it.

  18. Woodside Park Bob says:

    I’d be a lot more willing to buy at Best Buy if I didn’t get an extremely intense and offensive hard sell for an extended warranty every time. Once I had to go find a manager because the sales clerk literally and at length refused to process the transaction unless I listened to his extended warranty pitch.

  19. Deffox says:

    Is he going to tone down the upsell pitches?

    Once I went with my sister to help her pick out a computer. Once she settled on one the salesman started with a hard push for add-ons. When she declined the extended warranty pitch he wouldn’t let it drop. He started saying that the computer would most certainly break and she really should take the warranty. My sister ended up cancelling the sale because she didn’t want to buy a ‘junk computer’.

    Now I can’t stand going into the place. It’s often noisy as hell, and salespeople keep nagging about departments I’m not interested in when I’m just walking down the main isle to the section I want to browse.

  20. rgf207 says:

    Step 1: Hire people who know what they are talking about and don’t try to sell me something that I don’t want because you may get a better commission on that item.

    Step 2: Stop following me around trying to push DirecTV on me every time I walk into the store

    Step 3: Offer items for somewhere near to the price I can buy online.

    Step 4: Stop trying to push a protection plan, credit card, geek squad crap service on me for everything I attempt to buy

  21. ThinkingBrian says:

    I don’t know why hw would want to, but if he really wants to save Best Buy, then lowering prices, having less stores, getting rid of The Geek Squad (not too many people trust them anyway) and replace the warranties with another company (like Walmart and BJ’s have for there warranties) and redo BestBuy.com with separate marketplace and better order online and pickup in the store.

    Who knows…

  22. damageddude says:

    BB is great when I know what I want and just want to get it. I can do my research on my own. If I really want help, I will go to the PC Richards in the next shopping center.

  23. RavenWarrior says:

    Another Consumerist article on Best Buy, another festival of complaining about it and cheering for its death… par for the course.

    Not all of us have accessible alternates for brick-and-mortar electronics stores, like a Fry’s or Micro Center or any of the multitude that get mentioned here. Yes, I admit, there are employees that lack knowledge in their departments, but that’s a variable that depends from store to store, not some sweeping generalization that everyone in a blue shirt is incompetent. I also do admit a better wage would encourage existing customers to become richer in knowledge and motivate those with prior knowledge to join and improve that team, but that’s out of many people hands that you see on the front lines of the store.

    Perhaps having this company go private again would allow the higher-ups to do a more sweeping overhaul of the employee and customer experiences, more so than what’s already in motion, and it gets my approval going forward. Anything that can halt people from spouting the same tired, jaded opinions about Best Buy every time the name comes up would be a relief.

    • raydeebug says:

      There are always going to be a few bilious folk who cheer when a large company is failing, but I’ve been getting more of a constructive tone from this article’s comments than a jeering one.

      The average person does not want Best Buy to bite the bullet, but rather, to take to heart what the customers have been crying for years now, and to make improvements. Consumerist exists as a platform for customers to call out anti-consumer practices of various companies; the writers and editors often act as a bridge between the average person and the megacorporations. This role makes the site well-suited for people to not just complain about a company, but to make suggestions, to compare the practices of one company to another, and to maybe, just maybe, find a way for “bad” companies to reform themselves.

      Yes, Best Buy is notorious on Consumerist, and yes, there is going to be plenty of hate from some of the commenters, but if you look again, there’s some love here too.

      We wouldn’t bother posting about Best Buy or any other company if we didn’t care.

  24. newfenoix says:

    I don’t believe that it can be saved. My wife and I went TV shopping recently and decided to go into Sears. Every one of the sales people in electronics were at least 35 and had a ton of knowledge about the products and DID NOT try to push a singe item on us. Now, I hate Sears but this was a wonderful experience. Now, all of BB’s people were, it appeared, to be under 25 and had the IQ of a box of rocks. When I got fed up with the idiots not knowing a thing about TV’s I went to the camera section and asked questions about the DSLR’s. The nut case that I was talking to said that Canon had gone out of business. Yep, makers of the most popular DSLR’s on the market. A company cannot survive this type of non-existent customer service forever.

  25. axiomatic says:

    “Can Best Buy Be Saved?”

    “SHOULD Best Buy Be Saved?” is a more accurate title.

  26. sonotamused says:

    *shrug* I have never had a problem at Best Buy. No hard upselling. No crappy customer service. People there have been pretty knowledgeable, and willing to look up answers to questions when they didnt know them (including one woman who spent a good half hour finding a sub camera battery for me).

    Their selection for some things are better then many stores, and their prices are certainly better then smaller retail chains such as, say , Radio Shack. They are not my first choice for everything, but I don’t write them off my list entirely, and it would be a problem in my area if we didn’t have them because well, shopping online for everything sucks.

  27. KnightCrusader says:

    The only thing I have going for Best Buy right now is our generous credit line and financing offers through their in-house credit card. Yeah, I know, if I can’t buy a TV outright I shouldn’t buy one blah blah blah, but I’d rather put it on the card and pay it in small chunks than drain my savings for that. I pay no interest either way, so it works for me.

    • Yeti Poacher says:

      Indeed. The people that miss a payment and accrue deferred interest also guarantee that these credit offers will be available for some time. It is quite profitable for the issuing banks. Best Buy also pays them a lot for these promos.

  28. Yeti Poacher says:

    Schulze cares about this company because it makes him money. It is a for-profit business. I take no issue with this. Most people don’t mind paying a little extra for some face to face interaction provided that it is informative, pleasant and useful. This is not something you will ever find at Best Buy. It is sad, but the people who are truly knowledgeable are scarce. They get tired of the low pay and corporate red tape that limits them from helping customers.

    The Best Buy corporate leadership is to slow to adapt to the changing retail structure. They’ve already been beat by Amazon. It is unfortunate that Brick and Mortar electronics stores are going away but who is willing to pay for the overhead in the form of higher prices? The generation that needs to go to a store and talk to someone is disappearing. People are learning to rely on the internet, friends and family for information about electronics. In this day and age of penny pinching and less consumer spending I just can’t see this company existing in five years.

    Even if Best Buy became an online only retailer with competitive prices who would prefer them to Amazon?

  29. Deeya says:

    I won’t ever be shopping at Best Buy again.

    Returned a 4th item so far this year, and was told I am not allowed to return anything to the store until Feb 2013.

    Mind you, each item had a receipt, and 2 of them were exchanges for similar items. Want to treat me like a criminal? I’ll use Amazon, the item is $150 cheaper anyway.

    • RavenWarrior says:

      That’s an independent returns monitoring system doing that, not simply Best Buy saying you can’t return this. Many other retailers use the same system. If it triggered a flag in the system like that, then there was probable cause to deny it.

      Also, I don’t know if it’s just my local BB, but they’ll price match Amazon as long as it isn’t a Marketplace seller.

      • Deeya says:

        Their need to use the system has ended any possibility of me shopping there in the future. Why do they even need to use this system in the first place, to catch criminals? They have my driver’s license number, home address, credit card information and purchase history all in their system, if I was trying to steal something, or return a box of bricks, it would be pretty easy to track me down. I’ll stick with Amazon, they don’t treat their customers like criminals.

  30. erinpac says:

    It sounds like some decent ideas to start with. Not sure if it will be enough… but my main problems are that their “services” are generally incompetent ripoffs and their prices are usually too high. I will still occasionally buy the more price-fixed sort of items there. Sometimes they will match or beat other cell phone deals, and it is nice to walk out with the phone all switched over and ready. If the prices were in the same realm, I’d also buy items I wanted right then. If the services were quality, a lot of people would have reason to go there. A lot of people could use help setting up their tech items – but right now it seems like you’d have better odds paying a random neighbor’s kid than using Geek Squad.
    If they’d do more in the areas where they can compete – service/assistance, impulse/urgent & low price-variance buys, and capitalize on unique reasons to go there… maybe. For example, brand new video game releases are often the same price everywhere. If I could go in there, sit on a decent chair with a good demo setup for the latest releases, maybe I’d look through a few games and buy one.

    Just slicing all the costs like they’re doing now isn’t going to fix anything. It just makes it even more obvious that Amazon and Newegg will beat the prices and kills anything else they can offer.

  31. Reno Raines says:

    They should just find a way to monetize all the pictures the Geek Squad employees steal from peoples’ computers and upload to amateur wife and girlfriend websites.

  32. dana scully says:

    I have not shopped at Best Buy in a long time. Not sure if any changes will make any difference. I’ve just never had a good shopping experience there.

  33. TotallyCrazy says:

    I think they really should not try to compete with Amazon but try to eliminate things that push consumers away such as Geek Squad and the ridiculous fees and mend things that made their company great.

  34. Kyle V says:

    They’re price matching Amazon as of recently.

  35. pachingko says:

    I have no problem with the geek squad. Whenever I had a problem with my laptop I took it there and they were very helpful. I had it fixed and was not charged. They took the time to explain everything that they did. They were knowledgeable.

    • springboks says:

      You’re BestBuy/Geek Squad’s key demographic, sadly your population is numbered.

      • lyontaymer30 says:

        Not really. If you were in the store, a lot of people come in everyday for the same things. They wouldn’t keep doing something if it didn’t make money. Now, I do think geek squad needs to be better, some services should definitely come down in price.

  36. pachingko says:

    I have no problem with the geek squad. Whenever I had a problem with my laptop I took it there and they were very helpful. I had it fixed and was not charged. They took the time to explain everything that they did. They were very well knowledgeable and friendly.

  37. babalu says:

    First, they need to get rid of the Geek Squad or revamp it. These guys lie-tell you your computer is shot, you need a NEW one! The sales clerks are sneaky, too. They must get paid a commission on those service contracts they furtively add to your contract, hoping you won’t notice when you sign on the dotted line. The whole outfit is rather sleazy.

    • Overheal says:

      I am a best buy employee and can tell you categorically we do not make commission.

      I can also tell you I’ve never heard an Agent tell someone they need a new computer. A customer always has the option to replace a motherboard. It’s out of our control if that repair is going to cost upwards of $350. It also is never a guarantee there aren’t additional faulty components.

      I can’t personally speak for 1000 stores though nor guarantee there aren’t bad people hired among 180,000.

      Even – assuming – you got some seedy “clerk” that added a protection plan to your transaction, it’s 100% refundable and reversible for the length of the return period (30 days, or 60 days for Premier customers). It is not contractual, and by law can be canceled at any time during the plan for a prorated refund (eg. halfway through a plan, you can get half your plan cost back). Customers never sign a contract. What you sign is a worksheet which is merely a record of what you bought, what you were offered, and what you declined. It’s useful when customers return 6 months later and complain they weren’t offered any such service; when they come in with a shattered iPad – they can be shown the sheet they signed, where they explicitly declined such protection.

      • Unbeknownst2U says:

        Excuse me. There are no commissions, but there are HUGE goals for your Columbian Neck Tie Deception plans which the managers are held accountable for and as such their jobs are on the line. Consequently, rarely is 100% factual information given by an associate or manager when asked about the plans. They are NOT experts, just retail sales clerks. If you check you own PUBLIC finanancial statements, there are still too many ignorant consumers falling for this nonsense. BBY continues to be viable only for its Bleek Squad services and the plans.

        Excuse me. Try getting a refund on any plan in an efficient manner. It doesn’t exist. Read the terms, one has to jump through hoops. The phone trunks for plan “refund” calls are hardly staffed.

        Excuse me. Putting a sheet in front of me at checkout or otherwise regarding a service contract and whether or not I take it is redundant, insulting, moronic and indicative of a poor shopping experience.

        Best Buy is officially an anachronism. With plenty of online, rapid delivery choices with better and friendlier return policies, there is no need to expend expensive gas money to stop at a BBY. They are already morphing into much smaller mobile only stores and that trend will continue.

        • Overheal says:

          As I said, I cannot speak for 180,00 employees. However I do realize when you begin your interaction expecting to be screwed, that will be your perception perhaps forever. That’s pretty much how I feel every time I talk to a Cable or Satellite company when in many cases it’s just unwarranted.

          Canceling plans is simple given most circumstances though. I recently had a tablet completely stolen on me. Our plans don’t cover this, so after a week or two of attempting to track it unsuccessfully I refunded the plan and got more than half what I paid into it. This happened at a store customer service counter and took 2 minutes once I had my receipt (Anyone can log into their RZ account from the website and printout old receipts). Also, I chose to cancel my debt cancellation on my card. The phone menu was a terrible mess and you do have to call during bankers hours, and the guy I talked to on the phone was difficult to hear, but he did cancel it without any objections. The whole call lasted 7 minutes, and I never identified myself as an employee either, or used any special number. Room for improvement, but not any less reasonable than any other system I’ve seen from other companies and services. Other service plans, such as Tech Support, I think there is a call process though. Accident protection is the big one though, and that can be done in the store.

          Handing a customer the whitesheet on the T&C seems a bit odd to me as a means of offering a service, and not something I have ever been suggested to do. I agree with you it can be rude if it’s just shoved into your hand or something. “Selling at the register” is the exact opposite of the experience I have been asked to provide, and yes I have seen the way customers feel about it and I personally don’t like it. I had the same thing happen to me at a Gamestop a few weeks ago when the guy wouldn’t accept a No about their membership plan.

          We do have much simpler information pamphlets available which are available to read on your own, or I may occasionally open one up and share it with the customer as it simply highlights the major benefits and coverages, if I’m already helping them out on something. The whitepaper is only used when someone purchases the plan, or just asks to see it. Like I said, I can’t speak for 180,000 employees. I can speak for 1. Having pamphlets is nothing new however. Of the 4 or 5 retailers I’ve stepped into lately 4 of them had some type of pamphlet present whether it was about Green Coffee Infusion or Share Everything Plans.

          It’s morphing into something and I’m less sure the model makes sense or is really good for the customer. My own store was downgraded to “Community” level, versus a “Core” big box store. We no longer have an inventory team that handles the majority of merchandising tasks and this is now covered by normal associate labor. This creates situations that either keep me from getting to you in a timely manner that you deserve, or prevent me from letting tasks go undone, like making sure my shelves are stocked, which is another disservice. This is still an ongoing transition though. We’re in the first month. Whether Schulze buys the company or not though and changes that I’m not sure but it sounds like he agreed to all this before stepping down. The really large trend that we’ve been promised is that we will focus on upgrading our website and shipment options and I strongly agree this needs to happen. But in my experience none of them can offer you a same day exchange when something goes wrong; and many still do restocking fees in addition to return shipping fees (newegg).

          I did have one customer curious on a router, a Linksys EA4500, if anywhere else was cheaper. I pulled out my iPhones RedLaser app and showed him – the only way it appeared cheaper was to buy one used on eBay. It wouldn’t figure to always assume Best Buy doesn’t have the best price on most items. If you want to focus on HDMI cables all day though – sure, crucify us.

  38. Shad0w says:

    Considering I’m about to go to the Attorney General concerning Best Buys fraudulent credit card charging practices for items never bought. I would say no. True Story. Smart Consumer, no mistakes, only Best Buy charging me for a recurring Anti virus THAT I NEVER BOUGHT IN THE FIRST PLACE. This is outright fraud and action will be taken.

  39. ncoclub says:

    My recent experience with Best Buy was very interesting. I went into the store only to find there were no longer any registers at the front of the store. I asked the security guy what was going on and was told that each department has its own register now and that whoever helps you will also check you out. I asked him what if i just want to pick up an item and don’t need any help. He then said i would need to go to customer service to check out. So now I have to wait in the same line that people with returns and other issues are in? No thanks

    • conspiracyae says:

      As a former BBY employee I can PROMISE you this is a tactic to get customers face to face with salesmen to help attach items and services to plans to your purchases. They were probably having too many dry sales through the front lanes, and routed all the customers to where there was more successful attach rates.

  40. bearymore says:

    “…would likely lead to substantial run up in costs in the first couple of years that would be difficult for a public company to justify”

    That’s just the problem with the so-called “shareholder value” model imposed on the country by the vulture capitalist crowd. If it hurts this quarter’s bottom line then let the company go down the toilet. God forbid current profits should be hurt even if it’s best for the long-term health of the company.