Oooh, scary! Are Best Buy and Circuit City doomed? [Motley Fool]


Edit Your Comment

  1. JRuiz47 says:

    One can only dream, Meg.

  2. yg17 says:

    Good riddance to best buy. But I like Circuit City :(

  3. gibsonic says:

    maybe they will merge into “Circuit Buy” or “Best City”

    either way, they would still suck IMO.

  4. AlteredBeast (blaming the OP one article at a time.) says:

    I actually like Best Buy, I’ve had some good buys there (not my best buys though…).

    I can’t stand Circuit City, I often have problems there, and can only think of one purchase I was happy with.

  5. joopiter says:

    Okay, here’s a question for the consumerist commenters – where do you go other than Best Buy or Circuit City for big-ticket electronics? Specifically, my mother is finally taking the plunge to realize her dream of a home theater setup and is in the market for a 60″ plasma. The one she wants is at Best Buy, which of course set off warning bells for me. Should she get it there? Should she avoid it all costs. I don’t know what to tell her except for the oft-repeated refrain “No! Best Buy Bad!” which isn’t really helping. We’re in Fairfield County, CT, if anyone has any suggestions.

  6. AlteredBeast (blaming the OP one article at a time.) says:

    @joopiter: From what I have read, the “hot” place to buy big TVs is Costco. Good deals, and good return policy. Not sure if that has changed. You could also order onilne, as you may find a deal that will sill come in cheaper that best buy (even including the shipping) but it seems like an item that big would be a pain to return if there is any shipping damage.

  7. B says:

    I don’t think “Avoid at all costs” is the best strategy. If Best buy has the TV cheaper than any other store near you, I’d have her buy it there, under the strict orders to not get any service plans or accessories, other than the cheapest cable they sell.

  8. The Walking Eye says:

    @joopiter: As Alteredbeast said, Costco’s good and they’ve got pretty good selection. There’s online purchases, but I’m always wary of that myself, but might have something of interest or any other reputable online shop that other commenters may suggest. Also, ask your company or your mom’s (or anyone you know) company if they’ve got discounts with anyone. GE’s got discounts with a lot of brands and they ship directly to your house.

  9. Scuba Steve says:

    You’d think there would be trouble, as they have horrible customer service, horrible prices, and a corporate culture that doesn’t give a crap.

    But alas, they’ve built up “the brand” enough that people who don’t know better will flock to them and pay those prices and it won’t stop till something better comes along.

  10. joopiter says:

    @AlteredBeast: @The Walking Eye: Thanks for the suggestions. Convincing her to go the online route might be an unwinnable battle. (And I’m not entirely convinced that’s the best idea for such a huge item myselft). I’ll have to check out

    Costco’s selection.I know she’s nearly set on a specific Panasonic model because she’s been very happy with Panasonic tvs over the years, so she’s leaning heavily towards going with that brand again.

  11. Steel_Pelican says:

    @joopiter: And you’ve found out how BB/CC can survive. They need to succeed where Tweeter failed- big ticket items and a knowledgeable staff. The Motley Fool has it right, DVD’s are where these guys make their $$. In 10 years, though, digital distribution will have pulled the bottom out of the optical disc market.

    They’ll be able to pull a larger markup on bigass TV’s because most folks won’t trust buying a bigass TV online, and even if they did, shipping would be monstrous. Best Buy would be able to markup heavily and still beat the online purchase, and still be able to undercut the local retailer. However, the only way for this strategy to work is for Best Buy and Circuit City to stop competing on price (or one of them has to die). If BB and CC started competing on customer service, I think we’d all be much happier.

    If Wal-Mart and Target go high-end, though, you can forget it.

    My real advice, though, if you want to get your moms a HDTV and avoid Best Buy/Circuit City: Try a department store like Sears or Boscov’s. The selection won’t be the best, but it will probably be name brands and competitively priced.

  12. r0ck says:

    The concern about Best Buy or Circuit City is not just with their extended-warranty scams, their incessant pushing of “extras”, or their questionable computer/electronics support staff (geek squad plus that other one).

    Even if you were to get a great deal on a TV or appliance from a Best Buy or Circuit City, there is absolutely no guarantee that said item would be brand-new. There are documented cases of Best Buy and Circuit City using shrink-wrap machines in their back offices to “re-wrap” used merchandise and selling it as new.

    As a current or former employee at either store if they have a shrink-wrap machine in the back.

    That fact, that we could be paying new prices for something used, will always keep me from shopping at either store. Period.

    Other places to buy electronics: Costco, Amazon, or

  13. SaraAB87 says:

    If best buy is your last resort for the TV then you will have to buy it there. However DO NOT BUY ANY SERVICE PLAN OR WARRANTY!!!! It will be very difficult to get out of the door without one, but you can do it! Just do not give in to the sales people or even listen to them, most of them lie about what the warranty covers, just take my advice and don’t listen to the sales people and don’t give in to them. Buying a service plan (PSP or PRP) I believe is the terms that they use will be like shooting yourself in the foot. And know that if you do buy a service plan or a replacement plan (despite my advice) they will do everything in their power to resist honoring it.

    Consumer reports also advises that warranties and service plans are just another way for these retail stores to scam you out of more money and that they are not needed for the majority of items you buy at the store.

    If you have another store that you can buy this at like Costco then go with them if possible, but CC and BB are about equal in evilness so choose whatever store is the cheapest. Most of the problems people encounter with buying TV’s at best buy are with the replacement plans and warranties, if you are just buying a TV without a warranty you shouldn’t have a problem. Do not buy a display model.

    Do some research and figure out what accessories you will need before purchasing the TV and buy those ahead of time ONLINE so that you will be ready for the television arrival. There are many reliable online retailers for TV accessories such as cables and it will cost less than at a retail store.

  14. Anitra says:

    Think local. Look in the yellow pages for “appliance” or google it with your town/area name. There will be non-BB, non-CC stores where you can go to buy an appliance. The service will be better, and the selection might be, too. If they’re locally based, they’ll be more interested in getting repeat customers and word-of-mouth, unlike the big box stores.

    If you feel like driving 2 hours, you can go to Percy’s in Worcester, MA. We bought our 37″ LCD TV from them about 2 years ago, and a washer and dryer last weekend (tax free).

  15. bohemian says:

    I have been in Best Buy three times in the last year. Twice to buy gifts I could not find elsewhere and once when shopping for a TV. Every time I regretted stepping foot inside. Some stupid policy or smarmy lying sales person annoyed me. The guy who was in my personal space while I was trying to get the gameboy accessory packs in the 3ft tall clamshell, like I was going to shoplift this? The person who repeatedly tried to get my to by an extended warranty for a freaking audio CD. Bleh.

    When we were shopping for a TV, we looked at B-buy, Target, the local electronics place and Sams. We also looked online at TigerDirect’s refurbs.
    We are potentially in the market for new house appliances, mainly a fridge. So far Lowes is running first and Sears a close second for our business between fewer hassles and better brands.

  16. Lazlo Nibble says:

    Seconding (thirding?) the Costco recommendation for buying a new TV. They don’t have a “no questions asked forever” return policy anymore — too many people abusing it, apparently — but they do extend the manufacturer’s warranty to two years, and unlike Best Buy, I actually trust them to honor it.

  17. mopar_man says:


    I have to agree. You’ll probably pay more at a local place but chances are you’ll actually have people who know what they’re talking about and can actually help pick out what you’re looking for. Sadly, everything around me has closed up (everybody now buys their “quality” electronics at Wal-Mart) so I have to research what I want myself and buy online or wait until I go to a larger city.

  18. joopiter says:

    Thanks everyone. I just spoke to her a little while ago, and I think I might have talked her out of the Best Buy route, or at least convinced her to do a little more comparison shopping and think about customer service in the long-term. And I’ll definitely remind her about the extended warranty ripoff – she gets Consumer Reports, so hopefully she’s already read that issue.

  19. welsey says:

    I got my computer from Best Buy…they usually have ultra-cheap computers in the middle of the summer to lure college students and as long as you know what you want and don’t buy anything extra (service plans or whatever) it’s an alright place to shop. It also helps to have a massively hungover sales associate helping you cause they just don’t give a shit about pushing the Best Buy upsells.

  20. rublind says:

    @gibsonic: Best City FTW.

  21. Protector says:

    Lots of Best Buy hate here, and I’m sure most of your bad experiences were valid. I am an employee and I would like to give you guys another perspective, so you continue to be the well-rounded people that you are.

    First of all, if you don’t buy a service plan on a $2,000 TV, you’re stupid. $2,000 isn’t a throw away for most people. For a fraction of the cost of a service call you can usually have the thing covered for four years without paying a penny more. Sometimes we’ll even replace it if it’s unrepairable. I alone process at least three or four replacements a month. We love nothing more than a customer who comes back to us who is days or weeks out of his manufacturer’s warranty, expecting us to repair it for free when they didn’t have a service plan. Comedy gold.

    Also, while Costco might be cheaper on price, you don’t have to pay for the right to shop at our store. Also, have you ever *asked* a Costco employee to help you on a TV? Just try it and let the laughing commence.

    For the person who recommended Sears, are you nuts? If you think we’re bad in pushing service plans and accessories (most of the time which are necessary anyway), go to Sears where you’ll be greeted by a commissioned salesperson trying to squeeze as much money out of you as possible for that fatter paycheck.

    A word about accessories: I’ll be the first to admit they’re overpriced. If you’re dealing with an digital cable (ie, HDMI or optical), all the insulation in the world won’t help, so get the cheapest available. At our stores that would be either Acoustic Research or Rocketfish. For analog (ie, component, S-video), insulation actually helps because the copper wire inside those cables is susceptible to radio and/or electrical interference.

    I can’t tell you how many times people buy “just the TV” and are back the next day complaining that it “didn’t look half as good as it does in the store.” Maybe you should actually take the advice of the salesperson and get the necessary source and cables, no?

  22. karlmarx says:

    Best Buy marks their accessories up almost 70% atleast, I worked for Best Buy and it was amazing the mark up on most things.. I also know that Best Buy does everything they can not to return something once you buy it, and they don’t like having to replace merchandise with your replacement plan if the can get away with it. I only shop at Costco, I now that what I buy is not marked up, and I can purchase merchandise with confidence about being happy about it.

  23. SaraAB87 says:

    I’ve read enough about people’s mistakes when buying televisions (televisions seem to be the items most people have problems with returning) to know that best buy does not honor the protection plan that you buy from them. My family will also be in the market for a television sometime soon and I need to consider all the options since they are vastly different than 10-15 years ago when the last TV was purchased, heh. I will obviously have to guide my family through this purchase as its not as cut-and-dry as it used to be. I would imagine the choice for us would be to go local for the TV. Best Buy also contracts its PSP’s out to the lowest possible quality they can get because its cheaper for the store if they contract out to the lowest possible paid repair company, and yes of course this equals more $ into the pocket of best buy’s higher ups. Don’t say I didn’t warn you if you buy a PSP (product service plan) and a dodge caravan comes up to your house to transport that $2000 TV to the repair facility and when they load it screen down into the van because it will not fit any other way.

    I realize that a $2000 TV is nothing to mess with, but I honestly cannot recommend buying a service plan from any retail store, because these plans will be in the hundreds of dollars and I have read one too many horror stories. I have also read that you can look into getting an additional warranty from the manufacturer of the television, which is the way to go. I have heard that many manufacturers like Samsung are very helpful in this regard, and manufacturers actually honor their warranties unlike retail stores. I would have no problem paying a couple hundred for a replacement or service plan on a large purchase if I knew it was going to be honored in a just, quality and as hassle-free manner as possible. When the time comes to replace that old television in the living room I will be looking into purchasing from manufacturers that offer an extended warranty on their products.

  24. BlueModred says:

    Best Buy was on the right track for a long time. Their ‘customer centricity’ model was one of the few corporate ideas that ever actually concentrated on getting the customer what they NEED. Yes there will always be the high margin items being offered. I worked under customer centricity for the last 2 years, and I never went home and couldn’t sleep after a day of selling computers.
    -On a side note, if you buy a BestBuy laptop without a PSP, you made a huge mistake. They now cover the battery, unlimited amount of times. If you get 2 new batteries you will pay for almost any laptop PSP.

    However, a new policy has taken hold and will be spreading to a BBY near you. Called SOM (I have no idea) by the suites, and the ‘CA program’ by Blue shirts, it spells the end of Customer centricity as we know it.
    Instead of departments full of experts, BBY has cut the department-specific labor pool by nearly 1/4, and relocated another 1/4 to ‘floaters’ or Customer Assistants. These “jack of all trades, sellers of all” unfortunately fit the bill of what a lot of people fear about Best Buy. They know very little about most product, but know enough to sell high margin stuff people don’t need.

    What does this mean? Longer wait times, lower employee product knowledge, more sales pitches and cut costs (almost 1/3 the employees are used any more.

    The benefit? All S.O.M. stores now have phones staffed by a real person. Honestly a good move, but negated by every CA.

  25. iriseagainsti says:

    Herein lies the issues with the new CA model implemented by BB. BB tried to establish a method of training associates specifically for their dept…which would be a reason people would shop at our store instead of Costco or Sam’s Club or Walmart — because they were able to get the help they needed. The new CA model is a response to frequent customer complaints that “it took forever to get help when there were 3 other blue shirts in another dept. just standing around”. Unfortunately, training an 18 year old kid is hard enough in a single dept. let alone an entire store. We couldn’t just send someone over to the cell phone dept. and expect Joe Smith to know how to activate a Verizon phone or Jane Smith to know how to set up a wireless secured network in their house. Now BB thinks its wise to train these people to be able to help in multiple departments and kinda use them like a pinch hitter when you need them. Its a great idea, but unfortunately it is not being implemented the right way. Departments are losing 30% of their labor to support this new model and that, I think, will result in more customer upsets than fixes, but I just work there and don’t run the place.

    I am an employee of 5 years at BB. For the past 2, I have been a Magnolia associate and a supervisor for the past year. It is so terribly difficult to find good employees for the weak payrates that big box BB offers. Yes, places like Tweeter or those mom and pop shops will have older, more knowledgeable employees because A. It’s that person’s CAREER, B. Kids are just that — kids. Most of them have no sense of responsibility or willingness to help, and C. These “more personal stores” are able to receive to the training they need to succeed where BB’s turnover rate is so incredibly high. Unfortunately where you think that places like Sears are any better, you’re mistaken. Sears is a huge commission based company and you will be haglled a thousand times more there than at a BB store where little Johnny makes 8.50 an hour and no commission.

    Some people are very insulted by the idea of a service plan, where some people request it. BB’s true philosophy is to offer it, not force it. If the sales manager has treated it like the latter, I apologize, but that is not the intention. You do not have to buy any accessories from us, any service plans, or any installations from us. Unfortunately, sometimes the store has an overzealous manager who requires its employees to force it down their necks. Our job is simply to make sure you understand the services we offer and if you are still not satisfied with it, you have every right in the world to decline it. I really don’t understand where people think it is a “scam”, however. If you don’t want it, don’t buy it. Every service plan has the terms and conditions available for you to look at before you buy it. I don’t know about you, but before I spend $199 on a service plan on a tv, I am going to find out what it covers. In fact, you should probably blame US AS CONSUMERS for not staying educated on what exactly we need to hook up our products with or how to protect it. AIG Warranties backs BB’s service plans, and they are one of the world’s largest insurance companies. So its not like your money is being stolen.
    I would just suggest that before you all go throwing stones at your local big box retailer, remember that its our job to keep ourselves informed through multiple avenues of exposure. The internet is a wonderful place to stay informed and connected. But that doesn’t mean you need to come into a big box store and start yelling at Steve in Home Theater because he doesn’t know every little fact about a television that you might. Maybe treating them pleasantly and going up to them with a smile will go a long way in getting the help you feel your deserve. I typed way too much there…and we price match anyhow.

    PS — I just wanted to comment back at the guy who says BB employees repackage everything. We absolutely do not. We loathe the shrinkwrapper. It’s only used to wrap up returns and open items and they are CLEARLY marked as so, at least in our store. Anything with a harddrive is not allowed to be resold and is automatically returned to the manufacturer upon return. TVs can’t be shrinkwrapped. In fact, not many things aside from a dvd are shrinkwrapped and the shrink wrap used on a dvd is quite different than the thick plastic wrap we use on our machine. Some of you people are so defensive and so sick of “the man”, its actually quite comical.

  26. jamar0303 says:

    I go with Best Buy because I live in China. At least with their “enhanced warranty plan” (Don’t they call it something else in America?)I’m covered if something breaks when I return to America, as opposed to the numerous small local shops that are all over the Best Buy’s vicinity. Of course, the product in question is a phone, not a TV or something similar.

  27. getjustin says:

    @joopiter: There’s chain in Florida (perhaps elsewhere) called Sound Advice. They deal in TVs, home theater and car audio. The difference is, because they’re so much smaller they can carry much higher quality stuff (like those insane $25K speakers) and they can give the best service. The salesmen are working on comission, but we’ve never felt hassled shopping there. And while their regular prices might be a tad on the high side, their sales are on par with everyone else.

    As for Best Buy v. Circuit City, I’ll take BB for DVD sales and stuff like that but all in all, they’re not too bad. However, I can never seem to find anything but 154″ plasmas at CC. So shopping there is like a scavenger hunt amongst tools.

  28. Greasy Thumb Guzik says:

    Anyone near Chicago should go to Abt in Glenview.
    Just to see the home theater setups alone, but the prices are great. I’ve bought a whole bunch of stuff from them. Free delivery in the area.
    There’s also Grant’s & Plass, but I’ve never been there.

  29. djmattymac says:

    iriseagainsti..I’ll back you up on your statements 110%. I worked at Best Buy for 4 years and now at Circuit City for 2. All in Tv’s.. I had never even seen our shrink wrapper at best buy the whole time i worked there. i have seen it at circuit city, but only used to to bundle cable,power, and cleaning kit packages together for the holiday season this past year..
    sites like this are a place for people to come and vent/and also to get some information or recommendations from other people who have preceeded them in making a purchase as to the best route to go and such. dont judge your bad experience as ” the company wants to screw me over”. honestly, i make about 9.50 an hour whether i sell you $10,000 or nothing at all. I dont care if you buy from me, or if you buy from joe somebody over at walmart/costco/sams club/ or wherever. but when you buy, it is my job to offer what i feel is necessary for you to enjoy your experience with us the best. i personally do buy extended warranties, not on everything, but on most purchases that i make where if it broke i couldnt or wouldnt want to readily replace it out of pocket. as stated before, the terms and conditions are right there in black and white. READ THEM BEFORE YOU MAKE A DECISION. we cant refuse if you want to see it, so ask. I get calls daily about people wanting to know what im gonna do about a tv that is 9 months old and they had a surge and now are pissed they have to go through the manufacturer. not my problem. its like telemarketing. i ask once, you say no. i ask again to make sure and explain a few key benefits. if you say no, o well. we arnt twisting your arms people. i just dont want to hear about it if something goes wrong. thats probably alot of the pissed off people on here anyways. its really quite amusing.

  30. fradicalone says:

    Best Buy needs to be doomed. When other companies have improved their customer service because of the economy, Best Buy has chosen to thumbs their noses at loyal customers. They don’t honor sale prices in their flyers, rainchecks, or even customer service queries to their corporate office.

    They will not be getting any of my future $$$