Vying For Best Buy Doorbuster Tickets, A “Madhouse”

NORTHEASTERN ILLINOIS – Reader Humphrmi reports on how his Best Buy handled demand for the doorbuster deals.

Verdict: It sucked. Unwilling or unable to throw some elbows, Humphrmi missed out on the tickets. His story, inside… — BEN POPKEN

Humphrmi writes:

    “I don’t see much mention of it anywhere else on Consumerist, but here in Northeastern Illinois Best Buy did this new thing today whereby one had to acquire tickets to purchase the top Black Friday items (HDTVs, DVD players, notebooks, desktops) and their fliers touted handing out these tickets at 4:00 AM, 1 hour before the store opening.

    Thinking that the ticket scheme would add some semblance of sanity to an otherwise chaotic shopping day, I ambled over to my neighborhood Best Buy (actually went to two nearby stores in the span of about 10 minutes) about 3:30 AM only to find that all of the tickets for the big savings items I wanted were already gone.

    What’s worse is, your place in line really had no bearing on whether you got what you wanted or not, it had more to do with pushing your way into little interspersed crowds trying to get the tickets from the Best Buy hacks spread out from the front of the line to the back of the line. Wanted the HP laptop for $379? Hope you didn’t go to the back of the line, that guy was handing out tickets up front 10 minutes ago. Sorry.

    I never bothered with Best Buy before because of the madhouse atmosphere and I could usually find just as good of a deal at an office supply store or on line. I gave it a shot today because, well, the prices were actually lower on some things I wanted and I thought the tickets would help. Nope, in fact I think they just make things worse.”


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  1. Itch says:

    Something similar happend a few years ago in Asheville. The Best Buy started at the front of the line w/ the same number “tickets” that they had for each item. If you were in the front of the line and were there for 5 things, you got the 5 tickets. Luckly enough line wrapped btwn 2 buildings so people couldnt see what was happening up in front. Then once you got in, you went to each spot, exchanged the ticket for the item from a blue shirt, and went on to the next location.

    Mind you, I know for a fact that they had more items than tickets, specifically because I did an impulse buy later. I think they were using the tickets to just get a general idea where they needed the most staff, and what was gonna sell out the fastest.

  2. humphrmi says:

    Yeah, it would have been OK if the tickets represented a small(-ish) fraction of the stock available inside. I hoped for that, up until 4:30 AM when a blueshirt walked through the crowd announcing “All computers, notebooks, and HDTV’s are sold out.” Didn’t make much sense for me to stick around at that point, since that’s all I came there for. Oh well.

    BTW I’ll let the “Hoosier” thing slide, Ben :)

  3. wenhaver says:

    I went to the Madison East Best Buy around 2am, thinking to get in line because my husband could really use a laptop. When I got there, the parking lot was 3/4 full, and the line was begining to go around the back of the building.

    Circuit City, across the street, had a similar problem.

    Well, I was woefully unprepared for that sort of scene so I just gave it up and went home. He doesn’t have a laptop, but I do still have all my toes. That, and my hopes were dashed before I stood in line for a couple of hours. I believe that I would have been going home without a laptop either way.

  4. The worst part is I bet a good percentage of that super cheap laptops are on sale on ebay as we speak.

  5. hcrawford says:

    I showed up at the Gwinnett (Georgia) store around 3:30 – got the last legitimate parking space and stood behind, oh, about 600 other people who minded the 41 degree weather less than I did. I was there for the 32″ LCD TV. By 4:45 I realized that my situation was hopeless, and then left, and got most of the other things I needed that day at BrandsMart, which opened at 6AM. Still shopping for a decent 32″ TV, though.

  6. phrygian says:

    I saw something on the local news (Dallas, TX) about this Best Buy ticket sceme. People were complaining that the first 15 people in line got all the available tickets, only to turn around and try to sell them to the other people in line. According to some of the customers, one of the people doing the selling was dressed as a Best Buy employee.

    I see most of the Black Friday line-waiting to be insanity. Waiting in line is never going to gaurantee that you’ll come home with the items you set out for. My sleep is much more important than a sub-$400 laptop. Somehow, I don’t feel like I missed out on anything by staying home.

  7. kdo711 says:

    My son wat at the Best Buy at the Mall of Georgia. He lined up at 6:00 pm on Thursday night. He was one of those guys that got many of the doorbuster tickets. They handed them out from the front of the line to the back. He had a TV ticket but decided at the last minute to pass.

    He was one of those people selling tickets. While standing in line he heard that people were offering money for some of the tickets. He wandered back and sold one for $50.00 He was just about to sell another (for the Sony Notepook) when one woman got all upset saying “It wasn’t right”. My son politely said explained that he had been waiting in line, had earned his tickets and had a right to do with it what he wanted. There is nothing that says they can’t sell the ticket and if someone wants the item bad enough to pay him for it then why should this lady care. It wasn’t going to help her cause, she was too far back in the line to get the item anyways.

    I think the fairest way is to hand the tickets to the people first in line. They earned it. You can’t expected to arrive an hour before opening and have equal access as those who waited for 10 hours.

  8. kdo711 says:

    It is fun to do the Black Friday shopping. If you don’t want to do it — don’t but if you do — good luck, enjoy and have fun with it. You have to have the attitude that if you get some great deals that’s wonderful but it isn’t the end of the world if you don’t.

    Enjoy shoppers!