Best Buy called the cops on Alex because he told another shopper that the Jawbone headset he was considering was poor quality and marked up $30 from the manufacturer’s price. Alex went to Best Buy to purchase a new Bluetooth headset because the Jawbone he recently purchased from Verizon wasn’t cutting it. While browsing the headsets, he struck up a conversation with another customer who was checking out the Jawbone. Alex told his fellow customer that he had been disappointed in the quality of the Jawbone, and that Best Buy was charging $30 more than the manufacturer or Verizon. A sales associate overheard this and told the manager, who asked Alex to leave the store, then threatened to call the police, then did.
Alex called Best Buy’s corporate number, but was on hold so long that the police arrived before he could speak with anyone. After getting the manager’s information, he left the store, then called Best Buy corporate again, where he spoke with a supervisor who told her that no, actually it’s NOT Best Buy’s policy to call the cops whenever a customer shares her experiences with another customer, unless it’s “disruptive.” Alex’s email:
I absolutely love reading your blog and have learned a great deal about the horrors of Best Buy “customer service.” But never in a thousand years did I think I’d be sending in my very own Best Buy horror story.
I had recently purchased the Jawbone headset from my local Verizon store based on good reviews, but I quickly discovered my supreme dissatisfaction with it and was looking to replace it with a different brand. On March 5, 2008, at around 9 PM, I entered the Best Buy store in East Brunswick, NJ to see their selection of bluetooth headsets.
The selection of headsets at this Best Buy was dismal, and the merchandising was less than appealing, but that’s not why I’m writing. While I was browsing the selection, another customer picked up the Jawbone headset and was taking a look at it. I shared my disappointing experience with the headset and also alerted him to the fact that Best Buy was charging an additional $30 on top of both the manufacturer’s price online and Verizon’s price. All of this was said within earshot of a sales associate, and I walked away after sharing my experience.
Within 30 seconds, a manager named Tom approached me and asked me to leave the store. I thought he was joking, since I had done absolutely nothing wrong, and I asked Tom for the reason why I needed to leave. According to Tom, “it was policy.”
I was incredulous. I’ve worked far too many retail jobs to know the extent of “power” a manager has over customers, and my intuition told me he was pissed that I lost him a potential sale. I refused to leave the store, based on the fact that I had done nothing wrong and that this so-called policy was pulled out of his ass. Tom walked away and directed an associate to call the police.
I was shocked that Tom treated me like a thief–the cops were coming! I asked Tom for the Best Buy customer service number and immediately called to speak with someone that would knock some sense into trigger-happy Tom. Of course, I had to wait for what seemed like forever to speak with a representative, but before I could actually talk to a live person, the cops came.
Two cops and about four Best Buy associates in tough guy poses stood at the front of the store, obviously creating a dramatic scene. I was calmly waiting for a customer service rep to pick up the phone. I gave up on the customer service line, got the store’s phone number and Tom’s full name and title and left as per police request.
I have never been so humiliated and infuriated in my life. I felt like my First Amendment rights were violated–all I did was tell a fellow customer my experiences with a product! When I got home I FINALLY spoke to Daniel, a supervisor at Best Buy’s customer service line, and he was shocked and appalled at Tom’s actions. Daniel confirmed that Tom COULD have asked me to leave, had I been disruptive, then stated that Tom had no right to police a conversation between two customers, regardless of what was said. Daniel apologized profusely, took all of my contact information down, and noted that I had requested to receive a follow up email from a district manager that would deal with the investigation and formal complaint.
As far as I’m concerned, Tom can rot in hell. But I know how retail works, and he’ll most likely get some insignificant writeup and a slap on the wrist. What I really want is a massive gift card because of Tom’s flagrant abuse of “policy” and for embarrassing the hell out of me in front of the whole store. What steps can I take to get Best Buy to make a customer happy, formally apologize, and give me a free gift card?
Thanks so much. I love the blog and tell all of my friends about it! Keep up the amazing work!
We’re not big on demanding apologies; money is better. Alex should wait to hear back from the manager he spoke with. If he doesn’t hear back or is unsatisfied with Best Buy’s response, he should check out The Ultimate Consumerist Guide To Fighting Back to get help writing a formal complaint letter or launching an EECB.