Consumerist Goes to Best Buy

After looking at a variety of laptops on-line, we went to Best Buy to see some IRL, so we’d know what to order from whomever we decided to order from. This is a tactic we use often, because a picture of a laptop is not enough information for us. After wandering down to the crowded laptop section, we noticed that the small Toshiba laptop that we’d wanted to check out was not working. It appeared to be locked down by some sort of BestBuyWare. So, we broke our cardinal rule of shopping and asked for “help.”

“Excuse me? Is this locked down by Best Buy, or is there something wrong with it?”

Laptop Sales Guy:”We locked it down.”
Consumerist:”Can you unlock it so I can see the screen?”
LSG: “No, we don’t actually know how.”
Consumerist: “Ok, thanks, that’s all I needed to know.”
LSG:”Wait, why are you looking for a laptop?”
Consumerist: “Because I want to buy a laptop?”
LSG: “What will you be doing with the laptop?”
Consumerist: “Work.”

More inside.

At this point, we should have left, but we did not, because we are not rude. And it seemed rude to walk away mid-conversation, even if the conversation was with a Laptop Sales Guy. This was our mistake.

LSG: “What kind?”

We did not want to tell them the whole story of our life, so we picked something that we liked to do.

Consumerist: “Video editing.”
LSG:”You should buy a mac.”
Consumerist:”No, thank you. I already know what I need, and I already have a mac.”

LSG:(patronizing tone)”*I* use mac for video editing. I can’t believe you’d use anything else.”
Consumerist: “I don’t really want to debate mac/pc with you, I just want to see the quality of this screen on this laptop.”
LSG: “Macs have great screens.”

At this point we panicked and may have ran. We do not remember. We did find ourselves at another Best Buy a few minutes later, looking at a fully functioning version of the laptop we wanted to see. Fortunately, all Laptop Sales Guys and Geek Squad Guys were busy hitting on one of their coworkers, and let us alone to click in peace.—MEGHANN MARCO


Edit Your Comment

  1. crackblind says:

    First off, enough with the royal “We” especially on posts before noon. It’s just confusing.

    Second, if the guys were too busy hitting on a coworker to hit on you, they must’ve been blind.

  2. kwd says:

    That is kind of similar to the time I went to Best Buy to get a “cheap” S-video cable. The employees in the cable section could not understand that I had a crappy projector that only had an S-video connection on it. There was no need to get a monster cable because the projector sucked, but they insisted that I should get one and they were willing to argue with me about it. It was actually quite funny to watch them try to understand why anyone would want to buy something that was not top of the line. I eventually had to leave the go to Radio Shack.

  3. Smoking Pope says:

    Best Buy doesn’t sell Macs, do they? They don’t out here (AZ).

    Anyway, I believe the type of person that gets their kicks out of loading hardcore porn pages on Best Buy laptops and then walking away owes everyone an apology for Best Buy’s policy of locking down laptops.


  4. To get out of the best buy “lockdown” screen you have to do ctrl + m then the password. At the store I go to its the store number… If you want to get into a laptop, hit control m, then wait for the password box, THEN get the BBY rep over and ask him/her to unlock it.. Once they see the password box up, they’ll probably get what you want.

  5. synergy says:

    To truly know where to avoid the idiots, you should mention which Best Buy this was.

  6. Almsot reminds me of a time I went into a Radioshack in Northern Michigan and had this exchange from the moment I walked in the door:

    Radioshack Lady: Hi! What can I help you with today?
    Me: I just want one of those tape adapters to play an ipod through a car stereo. The cheapest one you have.
    RL: Sure, those are right over here (hands me one, its $15)
    Me: Thanks (motions toward cash register)
    RL: We also have this FM tuner thingee that is way better. It’s only $80.
    Me: That’s WAY more than I wanted to spend. This will be fine
    RL: are you sure? These have really good sound quality!
    Me:I used to have one of those and I was never pleased with it. I actually found the sound quality worse than these tape things. ( a lie, told only to get her to move on so I can leave)
    RL: Well you should think about it.
    Me: Like I said, I don’t want to spend that kind of money today.
    RL: we also have lots of good headph…
    Me: This is all I need today. THANKS.
    RL: (in bitchy tone) Fine then, I can ring you up over here.

    Way to upsell there. Couldn’t she put together that when I said CHEAPEST I wasn’t really interested in spending 4 times as much?

  7. Smoking Pope says:

    Looking for an idiot at best Buy is like looking for a needle in a needle-stack.

  8. Joe says:

    “Looking for an idiot at best Buy is like looking for a needle in a needle-stack.”

    hah! I using that one in my next presentation!

  9. Buga says:

    This is a great example of why Apple fanbois deserve to be punched in the face.

  10. You know what works really well?

    “My husband told me to get this one.”

    Repeat as much as necessary, such as:

    Clerk: “I’m sure he’d prefer this one.”
    “No, he’s pretty particular. He told me to get this one. I wrote it down so I’d remember.”
    Clerk: “Why does he want it?”
    “I don’t know. He just said to ask if this one can do X, and then to get this one.”
    Clerk: “He’d probably prefer this much more expensive one.”
    (Dubious) “I suppose … (take out cellphone) … oh, he’s in court today, I can’t call him. I guess I’ll have to go home and ask him later.”
    Clerk, seeing sale walk out the door: “No, no, why don’t you buy this original one? And let me give you some literature for him on the upgraded one.”

    I do this ALL THE TIME when someone starts trying to upsell me or gets really aggressive. Whether I’m shopping for electronics or jewelry or furniture, I just play dumb and say, “I guess I’ll have to check with my husband before I buy” or “Well, my husband said this one and I’m just picking it up as a favor to him.”

    It’s totally unanswerable (and stops inappropriate advances). It DOES mean you don’t get the “cute girl I’m trying to impress” discount, but if they’re that annoying it’s usually worth it.

    Incidentally, the one place I NEVER have to resort to this is the hardware store where they are actually helpful, answer my questions, treat me like a competent human being, and don’t try to upsell me to a higher grade of wood screw. :P

  11. Magister says:

    Eyebrows, you should really go with these Grade 8 bolts instead of those Grade 5’s.

  12. DeeJayQueue says:

    Best Buy is rolling out Macs (again) in their stores. Almost all the stores in the Philly metro have them now.

    Usually if someone is trying to hard sell me something I just look them square in the eye, smile a little and say “No, thank you. I know what I want.” Repeat this after everything they say and it shouldn’t take more than 2 repeats to get them away.

  13. Magister, I know the Grade 8s probably better, but my husband wanted the Grade 5s. ;)

    (sometimes I then go with exasperation, particularly with a married sales clerk, and say, “I don’t know WHY he wants to do it that way, but you know how husbands are!”)

  14. FLConsumer says:

    Dr. Paul Proteus: I would have walked out of the store, NO SALE. I do find myself walking out of stores quite often. My dollars will go towards stores and companies which treat me as a customer rather than a fool.

    I’m very up-front about telling salesholes that I’m ONLY interested in one thing and attempting to upsell to me will cause me to leave without making any purchases. I’ve walked out of numerous stores and car dealerships empty-handed, BUT, I now shop a group of stores where I don’t have to deal with salesholes, receipt-checkers, and pimple-faced teens who are too busy text messaging their friends than making a sale.

  15. Smoking Pope says:

    By the way, the magical phrase for me is, “I work in the industry.” Not only lets them know that you know what you’re talking about, but it also lets them know that you know more than them. For fear of being caught in an outright lie, they usually leave you alone after that.

    Another way to go is, “I’m heavily armed. Leave me alone.”

  16. georget99 says:

    Dumbest salesman of the month (OK, there’s probably someone way dumber)

    I walk into Radio Shack looking for a cheap hard drive for a 4 year old eMachines with a flaky 30 Gb that has 50% free.

    me: Hi, do you have any hard drives.
    ds: Sorry, we have none right now.
    me: Ok. Wait, there’s a couple over there on the shelf.
    ds: They’re 60 Gb, that’s not a real hard drive. Now 200 Gb, THAT’s a hard drive.
    me: Well considering I only need 30, those will do fine.
    ds: You’d be wasting your money. I can’t sell them, they’re too small.
    me: Ok, I’ll see you at the store closing sale, bye.

  17. Mr. Gunn says:

    This post is missing the “Apple” and “Fanboy” tags.

  18. PsychicPsycho3 says:

    Why the feck do we need tricks just to get what we want? They’ve already got us spending our money there, why jeopardize it? Why can’t they all just be apathetic high school students who could give two shits?

  19. Docmarvy says:

    As a chill mac fan/user I’d like to apologize on behalf of the turd at BB trying to upsell (sidesell?) you. Please keep in mind that when not engaging in flame wars re: platforms, mac users are for the most part cool people like me (at least I hope). There are glaring exceptions of horrible mac users like Rush Limbaugh and the video editor at Best Buy.

    If it’s any consolation I had to stand waiting at the Best Buy in my town for a long long time to buy a gift while the two people who work in the department I needed access to were hitting on one another. It does happen. I was finally approached when they heard me dialing 411 on my cell to find the number for the Best Buy I was in. I think they could see pretty plainly that I was about to get nasty. Fortunately for me, they were out of stock on the next better item than I was buying, so no upsell. They did try to engage me in some type of upsell banter when I blurted “It’s a gift!” End of story.

  20. DutchFlat says:

    Well, at least we are documented that there is one Best Buy employee who will share candid, honest opinions about what HE (and not Best Buy) thinks a customer should buy. Why is everyone assailing a salesman for honesty? It ain’t that tough, folks.

  21. spanky says:

    Well, I reckon he’s being assailed for not minding his own business.

    If he’d asked her first if she needed help or advice making a decision, that’d be one thing, but he didn’t. He just jumped in and started asking her annoying personal questions.

  22. Shadist says:

    I had something similar happen at RadioHovel too.

    Walked in just after my seperation from my wife and wanted X model of VCR.

    Picked it up and the sales girl asked me if I needed cables. I told her I didn’t. I continued to shop and she kept asking me if I wanted the cables.

    Finally, just prior to checkout she asked a final time and I told her “Look, I just got divorced. She got the TV, VCR and DVD player, I got the cables. I don’t need any more cables”.

    She was very polite after that.

  23. Cucumber says:

    From a counselor’s point of view (a real counselor, not a sales counselor), there are two sides to conversations like this: the reasonable side and the unreasonable side. This is how a two-year-old keeps adults talking with a simple, repetitive, “Why?” and teenagers keep their parents engaged with, “But why?” The person taking the unreasonable side doesn’t have to work very hard, just restate the question whenever there is a pause. On the other hand, the person taking the reasonable side must remember all that was said before and move his or her argument forward.
    The trick is to switch sides. This is done by being unreasonable. With a child or a teen, say, in all seriousness (keep sarcasm in check), “Because the sky is blue,” or “Because my shoe hurts.” You may change the phrasing up a bit, but don’t change the topic. For example, you might say, “No, it really is blue,” or “Actually it does hurt–right here” and point to your foot.
    However, for an intelligent sales clerk, you might need to bump this up a notch and say something like, “Because the sky is blue,” or “Because my shoe hurts.”
    Since you are no longer having to think much, you can relax and enjoy watching your conversational partner come up with elaborate machinations to coherence back to the conversation.
    Have fun and enjoy.

  24. kenposan says:

    I have never had a bad experience at my local Best Buy. I have found the staff to be fairly helpful and not pushy. Maybe it’s because I’m male, maybe it’s because I know what I need, I dunno. Now, my dealing with Geek Squad was different. :/

  25. Disgruntled CC Employee says:

    In response to Flconsumer…. As a salesman in one of those stores, I find that customers like you tend to buy garbage. I bet you do the one of walking in saying “just looking”, finding the worst possible item, and buying it from the girl with the big boobs.

    Sometimes you do need advice. While a huge number of people who work in the stores are underpaid clerks with no clue, some of us at least have an idea of what the good stuff is.

    Watching one of you walk out to buy lousy quality at a higher final price is always entertainment.

  26. Hangemhi says:

    I work for Best Buy. I love my job.

    The thing everyone needs to understand is that all day long we help customers who have no idea what they need. We don’t work on commision and (at least at my store) we don’t “upsale” people on pointless things. If you have a good salesperson, you might want just want to listen up. After all, we spend all day with these products and we usually know what we’re talking about. For instance, If you come in looking at “Brand X” tv and I start telling you about “Brand Y” tv that cost more, maybe it’s because that extra $100 is actually worth it, or because it’s more suited to your application.

    Being pushy is always rude. I’m not sticking up for the guy’s smarminess. But cost and quality don’t always go together. Besides, at least Best Buy employees can answer questions and help people, ever need to ask a question at Wal-Mart?

  27. Ran Kailie says:

    You know, I took my first retail job a week ago, and its amazing how much better I do with sales then most of the other people I work with because I’m not trying to upsell to anyone. Its not about selling the biggest and best its about giving people what they want and making sure they aren’t forgetting anything.

    “I need a USB hub.”
    Okay what do you plan to use it for?
    “Just a few extra devices I have.”
    Okay we have this one on sale for 12.99 with 4 ports. Did you need any extra USB cables or anything else?

    Usually the customer is happy and I get a sale because I’m not trying to get them to buy something they don’t need.

    Most people in retail are morons, they seem to forget to treat others how they would want to be treated.

  28. Sheik says:

    Disgruntled CC Employee: I find that rather condescending. I don’t think that I have ever asked for help will at a Best Buy type store. I actually research my purchases before I ever enter any store. I always say “Just looking” because its the fastest thing to get the know-it-all employees off my back. While Im sure that there is a number of employees in these stores that know what they are talking about, these employees tend to assume that they know better than you, I find this very disrespectful. Now I just do in-store pick up so I don’t have to feel the need to defend my purchasing choices.

  29. spanky says:

    I wouldn’t have a problem with sales reps asking if I need help. It’s the intrusive “What are you planning to do with it?” type questions that bug me.

    I don’t ever go into Best Buy or Radio Shack without knowing what I’m doing. If you ask me if I need help, and I say I’m looking for [x], I just want to know where you keep them, not how to pick the right one.

    Maybe it’s because I’m female, or maybe I just look stupid or something, but it rankles me to have some salesperson asking me rude personal questions about what I intend to do with my purchases.

    Next time, I’m going to try something like, “I don’t need advice right now–just directions.”

  30. dsb says:

    Best Buy employees usually leave me alone, probably because I know what I’m after and say “just looking” when they ask if I want help. I’ll rarely ask where something is, but when I know what I want, it’s usually faster to just find it myself rather than find an employee to help and then fend off any marketing ploys.

    What bothers me, though, is that I’ve overheard a lot of Best Buy employees misinforming customers.

    When I was looking at car stereos and was fairly sure of the one I wanted, I asked at two separate Best Buys if I could turn off the annoying beeps when you push any buttons. Both assured me I could, but they claimed they didn’t have the manual on hand to prove it. I eventually bought the stereo, found nothing in the manual, and finally emailed Pioneer, who told me directly that the beeps couldn’t be turned off. (These days, I think most car stereos probably do have that option.)

    At least twice, at different Best Buys, when DVD burners were first becoming affordable, I heard employees telling customers that you could do video on DVD+R (plus R, specifically). At the time, virtually no set-top players would read +R; you definitely need -R. (Even today, for maximum compatibility, especially with older players, you should still use -R for set-top video. I’ve done fairly extensive testing.) Technically, you could store .mov/.wmv/.mpg files on a +R data disc, but they were definitely either wrong or misleading.

    The best trick is to have friends who work at the store. I went in once, looking for a Sandisk CF card reader, and happened to see a friend working. (I knew she worked there but didn’t expect to run into her.) She asked what I was looking for, I told her, and she took me directly back to the right place with no hesitation, and happened to point to exactly the one I wanted. Didn’t try to upsell me on a 14-in-1 version.

    I’m sure there are plenty of good Best Buy employees out there — I know a couple personally — but, as usual, the bad and annoying ones will stick out and give the rest a bad name. Maybe Best Buy should give employees some basic training in tact — things like someone suggested above, about first asking a customer if they needed advice or just help finding something specific.

  31. 9000cc says:

    This is absurd. I think “we” need to grow up a smidge.. I’ve only been on the planet 26 years but I have a good grasp of the facts. There are TONS of jerks and morons out there and I don’t pretzel my panties each and every time I run into one of them. If someone is offending you with questions I don’t think it is rude to walk away. But it doesn’t need a post on here either.

    You may be pretty as all sex and this guy a real jerk.. but all the same you know he was giving you good advice, right? Macbooks are pretty nice and you can run your windows and mac os on one machine.. thus finally ending the mac/pc debate (as you put it) because it is BOTH.

  32. mj20b says:

    @spanky: Just so you know we ask what you’re intending to use it for to HELP you. Believe it or not all day long we have customers come in that want to edit photos or play world of warcraft and think they can accomplish all of this on a $399 laptop. Don’t get offended so easily, if someone asks what you plan on doing they don’t want all the torrid details, give them an overview and a chance to actually try to help you.