Customer Makes 2-Hour Best Buy Trek For Vanishing Netbook

Valente’s plan was simple enough: Purchase a netbook from Best Buy during Cyber Monday sale. Order it from Best Buy’s web site for in-store pickup so he could be sure to have it in hand. Bring netbook home and hide it from his son until Christmas. Unfortunately, he tells Consumerist, the transaction didn’t work out according to his plan, he drove to another Best Buy two hours away that claimed to have a netbook on hold for him. A netbook that did not, as it turned out, exist.

I’ve been looking for an affordable netbook to give my son for Christmas, and, after a considerable amount of searching I decided on a Compaq mini netbook from Best Buy because their cyber Monday deals were too good to pass up. After checking availability, I found out that the particular netbook that I wanted was completely sold out in San Diego County, and that the nearest store that had it in stock was a two hour drive from where I live. I decided to purchase the netbook and chose the in store pick up option in order to guarantee that I’d get my computer. I made my purchase at 11:15 am, my card was charged, and I was sent a confirmation email shortly thereafter.

To be sure that I wasn’t about to make the two hour drive to Best Buy for nothing, I called the store at about 4:00 pm to be sure that my netbook was indeed reserved and waiting for me. I was told by a friendly sales rep that “yes, if your card was charged you bought the computer, it’s yours and its here waiting for you.” Reassured, I made the long trip through rush hour traffic thinking it would be worth the drive. When I arrived to pick up my netbook (with receipt and confirmation emails in hand) I was informed that my netbook was out of stock and there was nothing they could do for me. When I pointed out the fact that I had already purchased my computer and was only picking it up the sales rep told me that I was mistaken, I had not purchased a computer, I had only initiated an inventory search for the item. She then stated that Best Buy policy was to list an item as in stock when in reality it was not. Knowing full well that this was not the case I asked to speak to the store manager.

I proceeded to explain the situation to him (including my phone call to the store and the trip from San Diego). He went to the back to check inventory and I over heard him ask my sales rep “what about that one?” to which she responded, “we pulled that one and have it on hold for someone else.” The manager then told me to wait to the side and they spent over an hour in the back of the store. When he returned he informed me that although I had in fact purchased the computer in question, his store was out of stock and he would check inventory at other locations.

As I had already spent over an hour waiting, I agreed to the search and a sales rep returned about fifteen minutes later to tell me that the computer was completely sold out in California. She did, however, have an “open box” at a store in West Hollywood. She then explained that the computer had been purchased, used, and returned, but had had a full diagnostic panel run by the geek squad and was “good as new.” I seriously considered taking the opened box computer until she informed me that not only would I pay full price for the item, but I’d have to hand over an additional $69.99 for the diagnostic test on the used computer.

After another hour of discussing and reasoning I finally asked the manager if he could help us both out by making an executive decision and price match a comparable netbook. His reply was that he did not have the authority to do so because he was not the general manager. Understanding that he was limited in what he could do I asked to speak with the general manager and was told that he was out on a personal matter and was not to be disturbed.

Having spent over two hours in store and having been informed that they would do nothing further to help me I left the store empty handed. I was given a copy of the manager’s business card and was told he’d be available the following day.

I called the store the next morning and asked to speak with the general manager. The representative that answered took my name and asked me to hold. When he returned to the call he informed me that the general manager was not available. Assuming that he still dealing with his personal issue I asked when he would be available and was told that he was in fact at the store but would not be dealing with customers until at least Thursday because he was attending to matters of greater importance.

After contacting the customer care team I was informed that all they were obligated to do in this situation was refund my card. I could not believe his response. I have purchased many appliances and electronics well into the thousands with Best Buy in San Diego county. This experience has completely changed my views of Best Buy and I do not anticipate ever returning there for any future business. I will never recommend Best Buy to my friends or family.

Well, which is it? Does ordering something online from Best Buy and having your credit card charged start an inventory search, or is it a purchase?

It would be a good idea for Valente to file a report with California’s attorney general about that $70 fee for the Geek Squad-checked netbook, and perhaps also for this bait and switch situation.


Edit Your Comment

  1. outlulz says:

    I have had this problem multiple times with Best Buy’s in-store pick up. I order it, they charge my card, I get the confirmation, I show up to the store and it’s not on stock. And they keep the charge held on your card for 2 weeks before they cancel the order, saying you can have it instead shipped to you (if you pay for shipping).

  2. zerok00l420 says:

    y dts nd t qt shppng t WRST B. frkn mrns!!!!!!!

    • Tiaris says:

      You, sir, are a true gem to these forums, and to humanity.

    • coren says:

      Your comment had some typos. Let me fix them!

      y dts nd t qt shppng t WRST BY.
      frkn mrns!!!!!!!

      • pecan 3.14159265 says:

        Seriously, do we not do disemvoweling anymore? I kinda liked it when I saw crappy posts all without their vowels. Made it much more fun to decipher what the post was supposed to be about.

        • psm321 says:

          I know I’ve seen at least one disemvoweled post on the new site (though with no disemvoweling logo), pretty sure it wasn’t a joke.

    • Brain.wav says:

      Yeah, Worst Buy… really showing your savvy there. Want to toss in a “Micro$haft” bash while you’re at it?

    • jayde_drag0n says:

      please buy a new keyboard, yours seems obviously broken

  3. dorianh49 says:

    I’ve been shopping Best Buy for years and, although I occasionally have some issues, they are always resolved in my favor and then some. I have never hit a brick wall the way the OP has. This is shameful, and I hope this post helps get the attention of someone higher up who makes it up to the OP. And then some.

    Wouldn’t blame you for never shopping with Best Buy again after this, though.

  4. akhil1980 says:

    Just out of curiosity, why was the $69.99 refunded back to the original customer who bought the netbook ? Diagnostic Test seems like a service performed & generally should be non-refundable. It’s like asking for a refund because you did not like a masaage or a haircut.

    Because of that, this points very much to a bait-n-switch.

    • elangomatt says:

      I assumed that the diagnostic was run on the open box netbook after the customer got their refund. Geek Squad is trying to charge $70 for the convenience of purchasing an open box used netbook.

      • Tiaris says:

        This is what I read as well. You have to pay MORE to purchase a USED item because Best Buy had their……”technicians”…..(hopeful) verify that the computer wasn’t a virus-ridden ball of scrap metal.

        This, to me, seems like a scam and I agree with the editor that it should be reported to the AG.

    • fantomesq says:

      Actually this comment about $69 additional on an open box makes me very much doubt the OP’s entire story – Best Buy does not charge an additional diagnostic fee on top of open box systems – it automatically discounts open box items by 10%… the $69 may have been an optimization or other Geek Squad service but it could easily have been waived and the OP still would have received the open box price.

  5. Corporate_guy says:

    Don’t they send you two emails? The second one telling you the item is ready to be picked up, i.e. they found it and put it behind the customer service desk?

    Did she get the second email before driving over there?

    • elangomatt says:

      That is my experience too. Whenever I have done store pickup at my local best buy, they usually just have it sitting on the counter behind the customer service desk. The only exception was one time when I purchased an iPod a few years ago, they had to go to a nearby room that had a locked case where they put it to store it.

    • richtergasse says:

      I’ve showed up at Best Buy with printouts of the first and second email, but my order is no where to be found. It’s fun to watch people who don’t believe it’s possible for their store computer system to be wrong stare at a sheet of paper over and over again, watching for the location of the store or the number of the order or the confirmation bit of it to change.

  6. tigress says:

    I’ve been reading this website for no more than two weeks and this is the third best buy complaint. best buy seems like a load of dog feces. they lied to me to sell extended warranty. saying i could trade in ps2 for ps3. i don’t know why i was dumb enough to believe it.

  7. cctalum04 says:

    Cyber Monday was a bad day for Best Buy in-store pickup. I ordered a few things at about 5PM but didn’t get the second email until the next morning. If you didn’t get the second email saying your item was ready to pick up, driving to the store does you nothing.

    I’ve only gotten bitten once by in-store pickup saying they had something when they did not, and that resulted in Best Buy calling me asking me what I wanted to do- order it for delivery or cancel the order outright.

    I’ve never really had a problem, I do all my research online and if Best Buy has a good deal I order it for pickup, save on the shipping, and don’t have to deal with trying to find the item in the store.

  8. theSuperman says:

    Well wait, they did have one in stock, it was “on hold” for a customer. Still, it was marked as in stock. I bet that was supposed to be the OP’s netbook. They should have taken it off hold for the customer. Yeah, they did promise it to another customer, but the OP had already paid for it.

    • Tiaris says:


      That was my first thought when I read that line as well. That a) this is probably the OP’s netbook and b) if it isn’t….it should be now, since OP paid for it.

      I really have trouble handling the BS line that *paying* for an item through the website for in-store is only requesting an inventory check. Inventory checks now cost several hundred dollars?

    • zomgorly says:

      I have always wondered if two people order the last item on best buy in store pick up. Will the system catch it fast enough to know how gets it first. I assumed someone either ordered it online or in the store near the time he ordered it and it was waiting for them.

      • captainpicard says:

        if the programmers who wrote thier ordering system know anything at all this is taken care of. it is called a race condition and we have to deal with it all of the time in programming.

        • catastrophegirl chooses not to fly says:

          yeah, there’s got to be code written for that. when i worked in cirque du soleil ticketing, we heard all the time from people who came to the window wanting to change their tickets for the “original” ones where the online system said they were available but then when they finally decided and went to the purchase screen, they were sold and they had to take seats further away.

    • Brain.wav says:

      This is probably what happened. Chances are, a friend of an employee, or an employee themselves stuck one back for the sale. Wasn’t marked out, but they didn’t want to give it away.
      This is why Best Buy isn’t supposed to “hold” things.

  9. coren says:

    He says “confirmation email” in the story.

    Was this confirmation he was charged or confirmation the item was in stock? The two are very different, and it is because of inventory issues, screwups and whatnot that you’re supposed to wait for confirmation that your order is *waiting*.

    Not that I’m trying to blame him, BB screwed the pooch here. But there is a process in place, and it exists for a reason, and I just wonder if it was followed.

    • ShruggingGalt says:

      I agree. Sounds like he only got the first email, which is the order confirmation, not that the item is ready for pickup email.

      While the CSR at the store who answered the phone shouldn’t have said what she said, the instructions state “After you get through checkout, wait to receive
      2 e-mails from us shortly:”

      If he didn’t have the second email, then he shouldn’t have gone to the store. If he got the second email stating that his order was ready for pickup but it wasn’t, then he needs to have the district manager handle the situation as they obviously didn’t follow their own procedures correctly. (like telling their system that the order was held)

    • nofelix says:

      IMHO, it’s too much to expect consumers to differentiate between different types of confirmation. If I get an email confirming the order, in my mind that means it’s done. Companies really shouldn’t expect their customers to understand their ordering systems.

      Charging for an items which are displayed as ‘in stock’ but may or may not actually be in stock is very shady. Wouldn’t be surprised if it’s illegal.

  10. ExtraCelestial says:

    First of all…
    [quote]she informed me that not only would I pay full price for the item, but I’d have to hand over an additional $69.99 for the diagnostic test on the used computer.{/quote]
    ROFL!! No, seriously?

    A similar scenario happened to my friend with that $377 Samsung tv. They basically shrugged it off and acted like they were doing her a favor by even issuing a refund. Grrr Best Buy.

  11. morganlh85 says:

    I’m guessing that the one they had on hold for someone else was indeed the one that WAS in stock, but someone probably called and placed it on hold, and didn’t even pay for it…probably some employee’s buddy or something.

  12. macinjosh says:

    I’ve never had a problem with BB in-store pickup (got a PS3 and some small items, then video games at a later date). You submit your order, you get two emails, one is a conf they received it, and the 2nd that it’s in-stock and ready for pick up (or that the store is closed, and you’ll get a 3rd email when the item is ready for you).

    You are NOT charged until you actually come in and take the stuff. I think there’s an authorization that takes place when you order, but not an actual charge.

    Also, she should have said “Is that other person in the store right now? No? then give it to me, and tell them it’s been sold.”

  13. sgmax2 says:

    Several Amazon sellers still have some in stock – at roughly the same price. Ritz Camera seem to have several locations in or near San Diego county and they have the Compaq Mini 110 in stock (listed on Amazon as the HP Mini 110 – HP and Compaq are the same company). Otherwise, Beach Camera in New Jersey have these in stock as well. See the listing:

  14. SnDMommy says:

    Two things make me think there’s details missing.

    1) OP says “I made my purchase at 11:15 am, my card was charged, and I was sent a confirmation email shortly thereafter.” My experience with in-store pick-up is that you receive the first email within a few minutes, but the second email doesn’t arrive until a few hours later. Further, I have been denied picking up an item if I didn’t bring a copy of that second email – even if I can see my item right there on the shelf. With my name on it.

    2) Most stores I’ve shopped at have specific policies about “holding” items. They do it as a courtesy and will only hold the item for a short period of time. If it comes down to the last item in the store, and another person is there – money in hand, well, sorry but you lost out. Calling ahead doesn’t give you exclusive dibs on an item.

  15. Benny Gesserit says:

    Time for one of them there executive email carpet bombings – get yer pen and paper, I’ll get my helmet and warm up the email jet.

  16. MrAP says:

    If the card was charged, that’s a purchase, not an inventory search. I have a feeling that the computer sitting there “on hold” was the computer in question, and the customer service agent was just too lazy to check the name.

    I wish that there was more that could be done for bad customer service. It’s becoming such a rampant problem that the option of taking your business elsewhere is sometimes moot. Who the hell is hiring these people?

    • ShruggingGalt says:

      Credit card charges never settle in minutes. A preauth may go through (why make the hold if the charge isn’t going to go through); the problem with ANY computer inventory system is going to be (unless you have RFID on all stock) that during high-demand periods, the computer system is never going to have an accurate count. Because if you had 10 in stock at opening, and 6 have been sold, you have 4 in stock, right?

      What about the 4 that are in a customer’s hands that haven’t been paid for yet because they are wandering the store still?

      I can’t fault BB with this one. Now, in order for their system to be 100% honest after doing the preauth at the beginning, it needs to NOT settle if the order can’t be completed. So then there wouldn’t be a need for a refund…because it never settles. Use a debit card and you’ll have a hold for a few days, tops.

    • Joedragon says:

      They hiring people who can sell not people who know what they are doing and that is way you have to pay $70 on a open box systems so the geeks can hit there numbers.

    • mizike says:

      There is something you can do about bad customer service: support businesses that pay their employees a liveable wage. Places like walmart and bestbuy can’t undercut everybody by treating their employees well.

  17. pdxazn says:

    A round trip on a 2-hour drive to store would add about $25 in gas to the cost. Assuming your time is free, it still is a not good deal. Shopping at Best Buy is the Worst Buy decision you could ever made. Don’t blame anyone but yourself for the bad purchase decision.

  18. ophmarketing says:

    “[I] was told that [the GM] was in fact at the store but would not be dealing with customers until at least Thursday because he was attending to matters of greater importance.”

    Wow. Maybe it’s just me, but I’m thinking that, as the GM of a retail store, pretty much the matter of single greatest importance would be…um…what’s the word I want? Oh right. Customers.

    • Strausy says:

      Yeah, that sounds like someone not in a position to be a general manager, unless say his family got trampled over on Black Friday at said Best Buy store and was in fact busy with other such matters.

      If you don’t want to talk to customers, you shouldn’t have them.

    • ChunkyBarf says:

      I have seen things like this happen in other stores, i.e. the general manager is there to take care of a sensitive firing and cannot be ‘bothered’. In every case though, they delegate authority to the next-in-line. The 2nd in command manager should have made the executive decision to take care of the customer. Needlessly wasting the customer’s time and money is just terrible.

  19. bairdwallace says:

    Tim Ferris’ book 4 Hour Work Week gave me the impression that charging for something before shipping it was not legal, strictly speaking.

  20. SphinxRB says:

    Store managers have no authority anymore. No one can make a decision. Then the corporate office sits around and wonders why sales are declining. If major retailers spent more effort & money on keeping customers, they wouldn’t have to spend so much money getting new customers all the time. As I say, “corporate knuckleheads”.

  21. 2 replies says:

    If best buy is going to charge him FULL price for the used netbook based upon their own in-house check, then he shouldn’t be charged for that check.
    Any service done to the product BEFORE he purchases it is the responsibility of the store.

    Regardless, no one should have to pay full price for ANY opened item (regardless of re-certification by “geeks”), let-alone pay full price PLUS cost to re-stock (verify functionality of item returned by separate customer).

    That store needs to have it’s management fired by corporate.

  22. shalegac says:

    Best Buys can definitely be hit and miss. I recently purchased a new TV for my bedroom and got a Black Friday deal on it. When I got said TV home and got ready to mount it on the wall I noticed the screen and bezel were scratched. I took back the TV and since there were no others in stock, Best Buy upgraded my TV for no additional cost and no pressure in the least to sell a service plan. The sales people know me and my girlfriend (not by name) since we stop in there about once a week after hitting the grocery store or Target, and have always been nothing but good to us. They have never tried to insult my intelligence by selling Monster Cables or other things I did not want or need. Often times I throw out a “should I get this cable?) and they laugh and tell me to shop online. On the other hand, one of the managers there is a real beast and I refuse to shop there if she is in the store. I’m no Best Buy apologizer but I am lucky to have a good one near me (Waterford, MI).

    • Outrun1986 says:

      Yeah I bought an MP3 player at a mall best buy here against my better judgement but they had a better price than amazon with a coupon. I was going for a sealed box item so I was not too concerned, it would be the same exact item no matter where i bought it. They were not pushy at all and didn’t even try to sell me a plan, even after I presented the coupon and a visa-type gift card. I was really surprised. If I ever needed to buy something again at BB I would go back to that specific location.

  23. shockyou2002 says:

    I have had this problem as well except it was with Circuit City. My mother had purchased a Panasonic 37” HDTV using the instore pickup. The website said it was in stock, and it wasn’t when we arrived. We spent two hours in the store arguing with the managers and we finally got a straight answer out of them: There were no Panasonic 37” in the entire region (I live in Central FL) and they simply refused to give our money back. We proceeded to sit for another two hours before they finally told us they had located one 4 hours away, and that was the only one available in the entire peninsula of FL, and we had to retrieve it before the store closed, and find the Jade Monkey before the next full moon. Determined as ever, she drove the four hours to get the tv, which was there and the last one too.

    Moral of the story: Don’t use instore pickup. I refuse to use that useful, yet inherently terrible service that causes more frustration than ever.

  24. crichton007 says:

    My understanding is that when you order online for store pickup (I’ve been through this with them before) is that they verify they have the item, email a confirmation and charge you when you actually pick it up. If you don’t come in for to pickup then they reshelve it after a period of time. If they don’t have it then they email letting you know.

    But this is Best Buy and I’m learning that most people have far worse experiences with them.

    That being said, who actually buys a computer from them? I don’t think I ever would.

  25. riverstyxxx says:

    The day Best Buy finally caves in, I will buy everyone I know a beer and toast it in the hopes that these parasites grow up and get real jobs.

  26. Gravitational Eddy says:

    Apologies for the length of this, just goes to show you how tight fisted these clowns are:

    BestBuy has the worst in-store customer service I’ve ever seen.
    Case in point:
    In 2006, our family Maytag died. After tripping around to several different retailers, I spotted an advertising supplement from BB. Buried in the pages was an offer for a new Maytag at a very good price.
    So, off we went to BestBuy to grab a new washer. After we get the attention of a sales droid, we point out that we would like to purchase the washer shown in the ad. There is a matched pair of this washer/dryer on display and it’s the same model we want.
    As the droid comes back after checking the stock, he tells us there’s none out back and the display model is the only one in the store. OK, I’ll take it. The droid’s cool with this and writes up a sales ticket. I pay cash and while handing it over, I ask about delivery. The droid says that for large purchases, delivery is free within 15 miles of the store. OK, I’ll take delivery, I cannot pick up heavy objects like I could in my younger days. We schedule delivery for the day after tommorrow at noon, and we’re done. We leave the store.
    Fast forward to delivery day:
    No delivery truck at noon, no phone calls, nothing. At 5:30 pm, I call the store, and cannot get any info from the CSR about my delivery. We return to the store, and speak to the CSR at the main desk about our missed delivery and that we -can- reschedule if it’s a problem. The CSR disappears and minutes later the assistant manager comes up to the counter to inform us they don’t have the washer anymore. It was sold to another customer about an hour after we paid for it, and that customer loaded it out himself, right into his pickup truck.

    “Wait a minute, you sold our purchase to someone else?”
    “Yes, and we’re truly sorry.
    We can get you another one, they do have them in the warehouse but it’ll be another three days before it can get here.”
    “That’s not acceptable. I have need of a washer now. If you cannot deliver, I’d like a refund, so I can go purchase one elsewhere.”
    The manager makes his one error, and proves to me -why- he works there. He’s a loser.
    He tries to point out that he cannot refund my money ($478) now, and that it would only be refunded to me at the end of the month per corporate policy by check to my current mailing address.
    I asked to speak to the main store manager, who came out and basically told me the same thing: I’d have to wait up to three weeks to get my money back, even though I’ve never received the product I’d paid for. I either waited three days (five days from the day of purchase) to get the delivery, or three weeks for a refund.
    I asked the store manager how he liked jail food. He was stunned and asked “What??”
    I replied ” You have had my money for 5 days now, give it back -now- or face the consequences of theft. I have a receipt that says paid in full and you are not willing to cancel the sale and refund my money.”
    “Furthermore, corporate policy is not state law, and if I’m not mistaken, you are about to go to jail. Since it was more than $300, I think that makes it FELONY THEFT, and that carries automatic detention until the initial hearing and/or trial. Either way, you will be there in jail, until I get my money back.”
    I had my phone out and ready to dial the local PD’s main number, for effect.

    Store manager hmmm’d and hawww’d a bit, then went to the nearest cash register and removed $478 (plus the tax I paid) and handed it over to me. I thanked him for being a smart man, and told him to get a different job, in another town, far away. I also told him I wasn’t being nice just for him, I had family with me. I didn’t want them to see what I was capable of.
    I’ll never return to BestBuy under any circumstance, just because they wouldn’t return my money, after selling something I’d bought but not had a chance to have it delivered yet.

    • goodpete says:

      Unfortunately, I don’t have any actual laws to cite here, so I might really be talking out my butt. But I recently heard that the general law concerning delivery of a product is that they have 30 days to deliver the product or return your money. Which would be in line with this Best Buy’s policy.

      You might have been wrong, you might have been bluffing, but the important thing is that it worked. So good job. :-)

    • Difdi says:

      A customer pays cash for a floor display model, which means, the instant the store has cash in hand, that display model is no longer the store’s property. How long it takes them to deliver it is a separate issue, to the fact that you cannot sell what you do not own. At the least that’s felony fraud, and it’s probably (as the OP claimed) felony theft.

      What would happen to a customer that grabbed a hand truck, and start wheeling a washer out into the parking lot, promising to pay cash in a day or two? They’d find themselves in handcuffs posthaste, and end the day in jail with felony theft charges (possibly robbery, given the in-person nature of the theft). But what happens when a store does it to a customer? Why does the store think it’s a civil tort at worst?

      Apparently asymmetric norms are not just a problem in the lending industry these days…

      • fantomesq says:

        Its not fraud or theft – lack of intent – let alone a felony. It is a pure contract issue settled in money damages – civil, not criminal.

    • chocobo says:

      Wow, if only this could have been caught on video. I would have loved to see the look on his face when he realized there are forces in the world greater than Company Policy.

  27. RanChan03 says:

    And this is why people should go to Fry’s
    They have trained A+ certified technicians, not random kids, with no computer knowledge all, whom they pull off the street and train them on specific scripts and lies to follow.

    and Fry’s is just all around better than worst buy :). Prices are cheaper, and the employees have knowledge of what they are doing.

    • fantomesq says:

      LOL A+ training guarantees a knowledgeable tech? I can guarantee it does not! I used to hire them! Fry’s hires “kids off the street” as techs and then pay them near nothing until they get their A+ certification (at which point they pay similar to fast food restaurants)

    • Borax-Johnson says:

      I like the A+ comment.

      Wasn’t It Fry’s who had the buyer who was skimming millions off of vendors and driving a Ferrari to work (unnoticed by higher management), and only go caught when the casinos wen wage garnering for his 7 figure debt.

      My feeling is that Fry’s is no brain trust either

  28. TBGBoodler says:

    I have found that if you firmly, but nicely, use the expression “bait and switch” loud enough for other customers to hear (not yelling, mind you, but remaining calm and NICE), it brings about a lot more effort to help from the store management.

    • fantomesq says:

      This is particularly effective with most Fry’s store management because their corporate office has drummed into them how to properly avoid bait and switch… of course you have to be properly using the term to get results – many people misuse this term.

  29. mstnggt500kr says:

    As a former Best Buy/GeekSquad employee… all I can say is I am completely appalled by the behavior of the store in question.

    1) if says an item is in stock at a store, it’s in stock. The inventory systems usually update within 5-15 minutes company wide, so the site knows when something is or isn’t in stock at the store (unless the sore screwed up on their inventory).

    2) When an open item is returned, it is store policy to check the system to ensure it can be resold (and yes, this step can get missed quite often), then mark down the item. The customer DOES NOT get charged for diagnostic fee, as this is part of what the restocking fee is for. If that fee is waived, the store just eats it, and should not be charging a customer a fee for buying an open item.

    3) If they had one their that they were “Holding for another customer”, it most likely means they were hoping to attach accessories and a Service Plan to improve the ROIC on the transaction. There are a lot of stores that unfortunately value profit over customer satisfaction. If only they’d learn that Customer Satisfaction does lead to higher profitability.

    This store sounds shady as all h3ll. I would honestly start looking for corporate contacts about this issue if I were you. I believe I remember seeing some corporate type emails around here somewhere. Look for Region 8 contacts, and contacts at the Corporate HQ. Good luck getting this resolved one way or another.

  30. fantomesq says:

    It’s not bait and switch, Laura… What product did they try and switch him to?

    • TBGBoodler says:

      I would classify tacking on an extra $69.99 as bait and switch…

      “I seriously considered taking the opened box computer until she informed me that not only would I pay full price for the item, but I’d have to hand over an additional $69.99 for the diagnostic test on the used computer.”

      • fantomesq says:

        OK, so MAYBE the second store can be accused of bait and switch but the first store wasn’t making the sale… and we wouldn’t know until he actually got to the second store and they refused to sell him the system as advertised. Usually Best Buy will waive service charges if the customer balks.

  31. XISMZERO says:

    What a nightmarish story.

    Sadly in the Northeast here (specifically Connecticut), since Circuit City is gone, Best Buy is the premiere electronics retailer (unless you count Long Island-based PC Richard & Son, slowly moving into New England). Now I’ve been sour about Best Buy and their practices for years now thanks to the many uncoverings over here at Consumerist. Unfortunately, BB knows they’re #1, synonymous with electronics (at street level) and they have no real competition on the storefront level so the best buy is to just go online.

    It’s a shame the staffers here (including the battalion of management, who should’ve known better) handled this costumer’s situation so poorly. The minions at the store should’ve considered this man’s hardship — especially after throwing one’s entire day away while the fools at that store twidled their thumbs and resulted in next to nothing in terms of satisfaction. Heck, I was at a Papa Gino’s last week — an angry customer who had to wait 5 minutes in line was offered a free pie (valued at $13!) for just that! That’s how you do customer service!

    I know if I were this man, I would’ve been livid. Absolutely livid! I’d motion for this guy to write corporate (certified letter) — I have little doubt they’ll won’t right his wrong in some manner but I don’t blame him for withdrawing from BB forever.

  32. masterasia says:

    I stopped shopping at Best Buy years ago. Good thing for me, there’s a MicroCenter nearby.

  33. jimstoic says:

    I resolved a long time ago not to shop at Best Buy anymore, based on a bad experience with an extended warranty on a phone. But since Circuit City and CompUSA closed, there are no other bricks-and-mortar retailers for electronics in my part of the world. I’ve purchased several items from them lately, and my experiences have been mostly good.

    That said, I did have an unpleasant experience when I preordered a Droid phone. I spoke with a Verizon rep prior to placing the preorder, and was told that I qualified for a new phone. The person who took my order at the Best Buy store did not prequalify me or ask any questions. The process for the preorder included buying a $50 gift card that would be applied to the phone when it was picked up. I scheduled an appointment to pick up the phone the day it was made available (November 7). When I arrived at the store, I was told that I did not qualify for in-store purchase. I called Verizon and was told that I qualified for the phone, but that I had to order it online from Verizon. It took most of an hour to get a refund for the gift card. Eventually they just gave me $50 cash, because they couldn’t figure out how to credit my card for the amount. In my experience, their customer service people are nice, but inefficient. I made an unnecessary trip to the store and an hour or so of waiting time because I wasn’t prequalified. I also had to wait several more days to get the Droid.

  34. RipperHoss says:

    The way the in-store pick-up is SUPPOSED to work is that an order accepted for in-store pick-up is received by an inventory or merchandising worker who physically marches out to the floor or computer stock area, pulls the product, acknowledges the order, and places it in a secure holding area awaiting customer pick-up.

    The way it ACTUALLY works is that the inventory / merchandising individual who gets the order (if you’re lucky enough that an overzealous manager doesn’t try to handle the system) gets the order, looks in the store’s inventory (the same one that queried before OFFERING you the sale …which is incredibly inaccurate around the holidays, for a variety of reasons) and says that the order is available before even going to LOOK for the product.

    Why? Best Buy has a metric for everything. They time how long it takes these inventory and merchandising associates to respond to a “pick” order, and they rank the stores based on how long they take. If you’re at the bottom of any ranking, you have to create action plans explaining how you’re going to bring the department up to the top.

    Moreover … if you come in and they don’t have the product, odds are that they will try to sell you on a product that they DO have in stock. If you choose to buy that product, the store gets the revenue, instead of (which is considered its own store, even though it pulls inventory from other stores). This ultimately helps the individual store’s bottom line … and ultimately does little to nothing to it if you walk out in a huff.

  35. SG-Cleve says:

    If he didn’t need it until Christmas then why did he insist on in-store pickup?

    Why didn’t he just have it shipped to him from the Web site?

    • btrthnnothing says:

      I’m not sure about Best Buys shipping policy, but probably to avoid paying for shipping.

      Also (now I’m just extrapolating) but he might not want it shipped to his home in case his son sees it before he can hide it.

  36. Tiandli says:

    If the General Manger of the store was unavailable to customer and dealing with matters of “greater importance”, that customer should have asked for the number of the regional or district manager. Higher ups do not like having to deal with something the store manger should have dealt with.

    If Best Buy confirms and charges your credit card but fails to produce the item, that’s stealing. If I tried to do that with Best Buy, I would be in jail. But the most a customer could do is sue them for breech of contract.

  37. Crutnacker says:

    Sounds a bit like when I found a sale online on an item that said “available in store” and then I got to Best Buy and they wouldn’t honor the online price. It took an hour of complaining to get them to finally match the price. If I’d have bought it online and picked the same item up in the store, I’d have had no problem. But by going there without buying online they wanted me to pay 40 dollars more.

  38. StanTheManDean says:

    You go to the store, you buy what is on the shelf.

    Life is a whole lot easier when you skip the online ordering for instore pickup and especially skip the practice of calling the store to check inventory levels.

  39. elisa says:

    Huh, ironically enough, I just got back from a GREAT experience at Best Buy. I, too, bought a netbook using Black Friday sales (the Gateway for $230, I’m typing on it right now!) I tried to buy it online as soon as sale prices were up (day before Thanksgiving). I chose in-store pickup. BB sends TWO confirmation emails, and it’s not clear which one the OP got. The first one’s just the order, and they tell you very explicitly to wait for the second one which is ACTUAL CONFIRMATION it’s in stock and on hold. I then got an email a few hours later saying that netbook was sold out and could not be picked up. However, I could call and get it shipped for FREE (they waive shipping charges in such cases, so I saved $11 there). I did, no problems, and I got it this past Tuesday. Unfortunately, I was missing part of the charger, but I just went to BB today and they found the part for me. (Originally the lady was going to make me return it and they’d give me a new one w/ the charger at the same price, but I said HELL NO – very politely but very firmly – as I had already started customizing the netbook and installing programs I need). After some patience and firmness, the BB lady eventually got me the charger I needed. This was actually the first time I’d ordered online, and it was a great experience, besides the charger mix-up. And it was a good way to beat the Black Friday crowds! Next year I’m definitely going to be checking Black Friday prices before the actual day.

    as an aside, I also ordered a GPS at BF prices. I got totally the wrong GPS. but, I had no problem exchanging it for the right one (at the same time as the charger mishap). Maybe it’s just my Best Buy (which I’ve actually been in very rarely, I’m more of a Fry’s girl), but I was very pleased with their service.

  40. eviltwinskippie says:

    I fired “the store that shall not be named” almost three years ago and have not been back since. I do not purchase anything from them, and do not accept gift cards from there. I don’t even enter their parking lot. Their customer service levels (or lack thereof) are shameful.

  41. senior chick says:

    I am irritated at their sales staff. Last Sunday (we are both seniors) went to Best Buy for a two day sale on an expensive set. They only had two or three at the max sales people in that area, and they were busy with other customers. We finally left after no one was paying attention to us. One thing, my husband had an oxygen tank attached to him, and perhaps the salespeople discounted us customers because we didn’t look like we had much money.

    At the same time, I was glad we didn’t buy the set because we a car break down and expensive car repairs .

    However, we have run into this problem before. Not enough people, and you’d think they’d put more sales people around high priced items.

    When we exited the store, the 20 year old someone didn’t even question us whether we found what we needed. Best Buy MUST put customer sales people as their first priority, or they will go down the tank like Circuit City. Unfortunately, they are the only large electronics store in our area. They lost a $1600 sale.

    Now we will try on line at Amazon or somewhere else. I’m sure that we’re not the first customers that have run into this either. We tried to buy a computer on Black Friday last year and they were all out, and were reluctant to Hold a computer at another store nearby.

    This is bad customer service. And then the stores complain about online sales? They could learn a thing or two from