Best Buy Canada: Still A Bunch Of Bozos

Up in Canuckville, Best Buy is an amazing institution. No, we’re just kidding: crossing the border does not actually take you to another dimension. It’s still one of the worst companies in the world.

Gavin S. wrote us in illustrating the international truth of Best Buy incompetence quite eloquently. 43 days ago, Gavin’s laptop screen futzed out. He brought it into Best Buy to be repaired. They have it back to him, claiming it was fixed, but of course nothing had been done.

When he brought it back in, Gavin was told that his warranty had been canceled. Then he was told that smudges on his laptop screen and slight nicks to the casing invalidated his warranty.

To quote Art Spiegelman, this is merely where his troubles began. Gavin’s full email after the jump.

The screen on my laptop was slowly deteriorating, but I was holding back on taking it in for service (still under warranty for another 2.5 years) as I was working on a pretty important project at the time. What made me take it in was another problem that arose, when the backlight suddenly refused to turn on due to an issue with the trigger that is normally released when the lid of the laptop is opened.

On September 8th, 2006, I took it in for repairs at Best Buy Surrey, British Columbia, the King George location. They looked it over and I explained the problem. They readily accepted it and took it in. In the middle of the month I received a call from the service depot asking for permission to wipe the hard drives, which doesn’t make much sense for a problem with the screen, but whatever gets my laptop back to me faster.

On September 29th, 2006, I was phoned by the store telling me my laptop was fixed and ready for pickup. I went into the store and waited for 45 minutes while a “Geek Squad” member tried to find someone with the keys to the cage where they keep the repairs. I got my laptop, signed for it, and took it hope, jubilant. I plugged it in to find that the backlight was still not working, and when I looked closely the screen had fallen into even worse disarray. I called the store and spoke to a manager who promised to call me back within 30 minutes. 3 hours later, I called again and spoke to an employee, who said I would have to come into the store.

A 45-minute drive over the Patullo Bridge in rush hour traffic later I was back in the store. I waited for 30-40 minutes at the service counter while they scrambled to find someone capable of helping me with my problem. I was taken to the front where it was declared that my warranty had been canceled. The clerk informed me that I would have to go to the store where I bought the laptop, an hour and a half drive away, sort out the warranty issue, then come back to the store. No way, I said. I pointed out to her that the computer had already been taken in under warranty and pointed out the work order. She reluctantly and bitterly accepted this, and started a “damage assessment.” She noted scratches on the screen that were just smudges. When I asked her to get a cloth to wipe the screen so I could show her there were no scratches, she obstinantly refused. At this point I just wanted to get out of the store, as I had spent 5 hours of my day dealing with the problem thus far and had to study. She also noted a “dent on the casing” which I had never noticed before. At this point, she accused me of dropping the laptop (who drops a laptop?). I stated firmly that there was no way I had done this. She took the computer in for servicing.

On October 10th I received a call from the service depot informing me of a required payment of $530 for fixing my computer. I reminded the individual that the computer was under warranty for another two and a half years. He put me on hold and spoke to a “technician.” When he returned, he told me that my computer was damaged goods and was thus not covered under warranty. When asked about the damage, he said there was damage to the casing. I told him to get his manager in touch with me, and he agreed to contact her right away. I have still not received a reply from this manager, the second unreturned phonecall.

At this point I tried Best Buy customer service, and opened a complaint against them. They had had my laptop for over a month and had yet to do anything about it. A grueling hour and a half later, my complaint was in the system, whatever that meant.

I got a call the next day from a manager at the supply depot. She stated that she had no idea who the person I talked to the day before was, and that she had never been contacted about my computer. She promised to call me back as soon as she figured out what was going on. I have still not received a call from this manager a week later, the third unreturned phonecall.

Two days later, I got a call from Best Buy Surrey reminding me that I owed them $530 for the repairs. I told the employee about the situation and he said he would call me back after speaking with his manager. This would become the fourth unreturned phonecall. At this point I filed a complaint with the Better Business Bureau of Mainland British Columbia, who said they would get in touch with me within 48 hours at the latest. They never did. I swear, this is totally Kafkaesque, but it gets even worse.

On October 17th, I had still not received a response from anyone who promised they would call me. I called Best Buy’s main office again, and the kind operator reopened my case. I told her about the BBB complaint to speed things up, it seemed to work a little.

Yesterday, I got a call from the manager at Best Buy Surrey, informing me that the repair could not be completed because of the damage to the computer. I told her the following:
– The damage you describe could not have caused the problems with my computer
– I did not damage my computer
– I bought a floor model (yes, I’m an idiot – but I thought the warranty would cover me), and you did not perform a damage assessment when I bought it
– Dealing with your organization is like drowning in a sea of angry, angry vipers. Well, in not so many words.
She said she would call her office at 7:30 AM the next morning as soon as they opened and sort it out, calling me back right away.

Today (October 18th), I received no response from the manager – bringing the grand total of calls not returned to 5 so far. I called up the HQ again and made them update the file, they promised they would look into it…again. About half an hour ago I got a call from the store telling me that my laptop was ready for pickup. When I asked whether it had been fixed, the employee sarcastically responded that it had not been, as I did not pay for the repairs as requested. I told him that this was supposed to be handled by management, and he bitterly responded that he would speak to his manager – the same woman who did not return my call today.

It has been 42 days now. Consumer legislation in BC (Canada, maybe?) requires that if the store has not fixed the product within 60 days, I’m required to get a reimbursement or a replacement product of comparable quality. I do not believe Best Buy at this point will honour that committment, as they will likely stick by the fallacy that my computer was damaged by me. So, I’m sending this to you as a bit of a last resort, maybe to spread the word so people don’t make the same mistake I did of trying to save a few bucks by shopping at Best Buy. They’ve lost me as a customer for life, and I will never refer anyone to them ever again.

I do appreciate the complaint letter template on your website, and I will definitely use it as soon as I get a chance (midterms and projects have been getting in the way of me dealing with this as much as I could have thus far).