How Many Tales of iPod Can We Tell? Best Buy Adds One More…

Gothamgal purchased an iPod from Best Buy, along with the product replacement plan. Times passes, product needs replacing. Best Buy says, “no problem, bring it on down.”

Gothamgal goes to Best Buy and gets hit with a not-very-gruntled employee who seems to seriously begrudge the fact that our iPod buyer needs to replace her mp3 player. Seriously.

Inanity ensues in a police procedural fashion, after the jump…

    “So I got some money in ’04 to commemorate my birth. How better to celebrate than with a bright, shiny new 20 gig Ipod?

    I’d been looking at them for a while, and kept deciding I really didn’t need it, but I finally decided to live a little and picked it up with my boyfriend waiting patiently. The person at Best Buy kept asking questions and the whole process took about 30 minutes, but he did convince me to pick up the product replacement plan. My boyfriend and I were off to dinner, where I believe I paid, in celebration of me turning 25 (hey, wait a second, shouldn’t I have been treated?).

    Cut to earlier this year. The Ipod is amazing, it is always near and I treat it like it is a child. A very small child whose metal back is freaking freezing in an Ohio winter. But I notice that when I slide the hold on and then off after a while, the click wheel is slow to respond. The volume is weird, going in and out at weird times, despite the original files and my headphones seem okay.

    I get worried. I wonder if something is going on with the ‘Pod and whether or not I was in trouble. I’d backed up all my music, but it’s not too organized on the external hard drive I use (I like putting my music on my computer so that I don’t have to mess with scratching the CDs). So I figure that whenever I do something it is going to take a while to go through everything.

    I called my local Best Buy Friday on my lunch break. I explained the problem and spoke with Amanda in music (the automatic phone system is hard to understand).

    Amanda: Best Buy Girl
    Gothamgal: Worried Ipod Owner

    G: I’ve downloaded all updates, tested the headphones and my Ipod is still changing volumes at weird times, without touching the clickwheel.
    A: Is anything else happening?
    G: If I press the hold button and then turn it back on, the clickwheel doesn’t respond.
    A: Does it happen all the time?
    G: No, just a couple of times today. It’ll do it four or five times a day and then be fine for a week.
    A: When did you buy it?
    G: On October 2, 2004. I got the protection plan.
    A: How did you pay?
    G: I have my receipt, I think I paid cash.
    A: You have your receipt from 2004?
    G: Yes. I got a 20 gig Ipod.
    A: That’s so sweet. Bring it in and we’ll switch it for a new one.
    G: Seriously? Do I need to bring anything else?
    A: Let me check.

    A: I just checked with customer service. Just bring it in with the receipt and they’ll give you $299.99 toward a new Ipod or cash or anything really.
    G: It’s that easy?
    A: Yeah, and you’ll actually get more if you get a new Ipod. The prices dropped and they discontinued yours, so you can get a 30 gig video for the same price.
    G: Thanks!

    It can’t be this easy, right?
    Well, you’re right. I went in and spoke with Holly at the desk. She took it and said “Go get your new Ipod.” I went to the bathroom and then went over to the Ipod counter.
    When I came back Kristen was there. She seemed less willing to trade the Ipod, and she was murmering things about how it wasn’t fair she had to do this. She kept asking me questions about why it wasn’t working. Then Holly would come up and assure her to just return it. Finally, Kristen had me fill out a form and then she had to call a number and get an authorization number. All the time she is saying things about how no one should be able to return an ‘MPG’ player (?!?). Everything was done and she says “Where is your power cord? Your disk?”
    I look at her blankly and told her about my previous conversation with Amanda. She looked at me and said “If you don’t have it, go home and get it or I’ll have to charge you $200.00. It’s ridiculous.”
    My boyfriend is in the car and he’s hungry so he isn’t in a good mood. I explain again that no one had said this to me at any point beforehand. I can come back in the morning with the cables and she’s like “No, can’t happen.”
    I walk outside, sans ANY ‘pod and tell my boyfriend. He says “Get in there and tell them to take it out of the box. Tell them to cut the S*&t.” (We live about 25 miles away from the nearest Best Buy, and gas is expensive, not to mention traffic is bad at this time).
    So I walk back in and say “Can you take the stuff out of the new box?”
    She rolls her eyes and says “I guess.”
    I reply, “That’s good because you’ve already taken way too long to process this and no one ever told me I needed to bring anything else. My boyfriend is in the car and he’s not happy.”
    Kristin apologizes and takes out a disc and a computer cable (the new ipods do not come with a power cable). She tosses my old Ipod cover to me (I got it free from Johnny Walker) and grabs a bag for the item. “You have 30 days to get a new product replacement.”
    I walk out of the store, happily with my new Ipod, but kinda mad about the whole runaround, especially with an associate that a) didn’t really know a lot about the product/process or b) someone unwilling to provide normal customer service.
    Luckily I did get something better to replace something that had taken a crap, that’s what the replacement plan is there for. But if an associate is angry about having to do it, I don’t think that’s too cool.”

One day we hope to receive two emails, one from a consumer complaining about “the worst customer service they’ve ever had” and one from an employee complaining about “the worst customer they’ve ever had” and lo and behold, they concern the same transaction. That would be pretty magical.



Edit Your Comment

  1. Clare says:

    Perhaps I’m missing something about big-box retailers, but why was this associate “angry” about having to give out an iPod for one that was covered under the protection plan? The customer held up her end of the bargain by bringing back the receipt and the replacement policy. It just doesn’t seem like it was personally costing the associate money.

  2. Bubba Barney says:

    Maybe she was management. Or PMS’ing.

  3. billhelm says:

    I have to point out that I’ve bought Best Buy’s replacement plan for numerous printers, digital cameras and other items, and exchanged at least half a dozen items, never with a problem.

    They seem to have one of the better ones around.

  4. greghard says:

    Maybe she was pissed off that she couldn’t afford an iPod herself. Hey, she’s the one working at Best Buy for $8/hr.

  5. mrscolex says:

    Here is the hypothetical other side of the story:

    Dear Consumerist,

    I’m a big fan of your website. I work in a Best-Buy in Ohio and I really think your site is great. I just have to tell you about this story about this customer who wanted to return an iPod. You’d think it would be pretty easy– its just a straight up replacement for a broken iPod, and the customer had everything right. Purchased the protection plan, had the receipt, and everything was in order except for our RMA policy.

    Let me start by saying that I’ve got an obnoxious co-worker named Holly. She’s self-obsessed with making herself look nice and sweet, and often makes promises over the phone that she can’t be held accountable for. Why is that? Becuase shit rolls down hill. When she says things like, “Sure bring in your iPod and we’ll replace it and even get you a 30 GB iPod video for free!” she’s forgetting that there are people like me who have to smooth out the wrinkles in her promises.

    So the girl who comes up to the counter with her iPod shows me the iPod and I say, “What’s the problem?”

    “Oh uh… the volume doesn’t work right… sometimes..” she meekly replies.

    Uh huh… I haven’t heard that one before.

    Guess who gets to wade through the shitty Best Buy RMA hotline. And to make matters worse, she didn’t even bring in the original material. I can understand her not having the box but the power cords? Come on this is a replacement, work with me halfway here. The Best Buy store return policy clearly states “A missing item or damaged product fee will be charged for any product missing the original box, packaging material, contents, accessories and/or manuals” and now that Holly has promised her a 30 GB iPod video I have to bear the weight of the bureaucracy.

  6. CTSLICK says:

    Confession: I did returns at Costco for about 18 months and I was a complete ass for the first month. After a couple of complaints my boss pulled me aside and hit me with some basic thing: (1) Don’t interrogate, request information, be polite at all cost (2) Its not your fault, you’re not obligated try to justify or explain(3) They’re not mad at you they’re mad about the situation, (4) Call a manager over if in doubt but dont do it in a punitive manner to try and “make a point” with the customer. (5) If all else fails have someone else help them. That talk helped and I got better. Where the hell am I going with this? Retail folks spend too much time teaching the “regulations” of returns and too little time teaching employees how to deal with the human side of the equation.

  7. Ben Popken says:

    Nikolai writes:

    “Apparently, the newer video-enabled ipods experience random and erratic volume changes when placed near cellphones. Details can be found here:

  8. DeeJayQueue says:

    what does best buy’s RMA policy have to do with a PRP? and what does any of it have to do with the customer? Yes, Holly might be a little ‘sparlky’ but she is still in a position to make promises for the company. There’s a thing that I was taught at one of the myriad retail jobs I’ve held called “one face, one company.” In a nutshell that means that if a representative makes a promise, then that promise gets upheld throughout the customer’s entire experience. If Holly is unaware of the rules or not doing her job correctly, then AFTER the customer has left, take her aside and let her know or get her manager involved and she won’t make promises you can’t keep anymore. The thing to NOT do is to take on an adverserial aire and get all pissy and moany about it. All it does is make the customer angry and then they get the manager and get what they want anyway. Then you’re left with no thunder and no sense of smug self-satisfaction, and the customer leaves sated but angry. Nobody wins there.

  9. metastable says:

    I’m not feeling the love for Gothamgal’s story… sounds more like whining than a real problem…. ‘oh no, the horrors, some blue-shirt jockey working minimum wage at bestbuy was snotty.’ welcome to everyone’s bestbuy experience. It took a bit of fanagaling, but in one trip to she managed to get an upgraded ipod, and some extra $ to spend at BB. Sounds decent enough to me.

  10. non-meat-stick says:

    In my opinion, she had a great expirence and should expect that level of competency