Best Buy Customer Suffers Long Hold Times, Severe Lack Of Netbook

Ed took advantage of a great Black Friday sale at Best Buy to order a netbook for his mother’s December birthday. Unfortunately, thanks to high demand for this particular deal, his order was first delayed, then backordered, and he is left without a netbook to present to his mother. What would you do?

I am contacting you because I too am dealing with a Best Buy nightmare right now trying to get a Compaq netbook I ordered on Friday, November 27th. Here is a brief rundown of the events so far.

1. I wanted to get my Mom a netbook for her December birthday. I passed up a number of great netbook deals on Black Friday to order a Compaq netbook at a good price because it was available for pickup at a store that is 40 minutes from me. I purchased the netbook and was charged. I received two emails: an order confirmation, and then one that tells me “Before going to the store, please wait to receive your store pickup notification e-mail. This e-mail arrives within 45 minutes on average, and confirms that your product is in stock and available for pickup.”

2. I wait patiently for the pickup notification, figuring there is high Black Friday volume. That’s fine. After three days, I try to call, but am put on hold for 40 minutes before I am disconnected. Finally, five days later on December 2nd, I receive an email telling me the item is not in stock at my Best Buy and that I can call them to have it shipped to me.

3. I start trying to get through to them on December 2nd. I tried calling six different times and each time was told the estimated wait time was “under 20 minutes.” So I wait, three times I waited 50 minutes or longer, which is fine because I know they are swamped. But each of those three times, I am just randomly disconnected on Best Buy’s end. They just hang up on my call, which was placed from a wired land-line. Eventually, this morning, after 30 minutes, I get through and ask to have my item sent to me. “No problem,” I am told. They will get the item sent right out.

4. Then, moments ago, I receive an email telling me the item is backordered. They might be able to send it to me in two weeks. Or, I can call them and see what my options are. Great, another few hours on the phone hoping to get through.

So what are my options here? I need to get my Mom a netbook before her Birthday on the 15th. I passed up all the good netbook deals on Black Friday because this one was available at good regular price and available to go pick up. Now, those Black Friday deals are long gone and I am faced with waiting to see if my item will ever come off backorder and be shipped to me on time. I know I could just cancel, but I don’t have any other options. I thought I had this one in the bag. I cannot afford what netbooks are going for post-Black Friday.

Unless he can get a guarantee from Best Buy that he will indeed receive his netbook by midmonth, perhaps searching for other deals is his best option. However, at this rate, he may not even be able to get through to customer service.

If Ed has a Target store nearby, he can pick up an Acer for under $200. Some lower prices are available if he is willing to purchase a refurbished netbook or have it shipped.

If Consumerist’s inbox is any indication, netbooks are an extremely popular gift this year, and situations like Ed’s may become even more common as the season merrily continues. If you’re aware of another netbook deal that could be useful to him and isn’t backordered, let us know in the comments.

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Best Buy Holds Discounted Netbook, Delights Customer


Edit Your Comment

  1. Mr. TheShack says:

    Compaqs are horrible. They are doing you a favor.

    • supercereal says:

      I’m a pretty computer-savvy person, but I had no idea that Compaq was still around or still relevant. On top of that, I don’t think I’ve ever seen or heard of a Compaq netbook. I would imagine that whatever this one was, it was a bottom-of-the-bin computer.

      • lotussix says:

        it’s probably an hp that was rebranded so hp doesn’t look bad.

        i had a compaq in 1997. pentium 1, 133mhz. my dad still uses it to play hearts.

        i bought another one in 2001ish and it was a piece. won’t ever buy another one.

    • Mr. TheShack says:

      Yeah seriously I had an old compaq back in 1999-2000 and the thing was awful. I believe they are owned by HP now. But yeah, bottom of the line probably about sums it up. (Not blaming the OP for anything, just saying he could probably do better than that =/)

    • tbax929 says:

      The point of this posting isn’t for you to criticize the brand that was selected. The point is the runaround he got when trying to buy this item. Whether or not Compaqs are “horrible” is completely irrelevant.

  2. custommadescare says:

    So, the jist is that he made a donation to Best Buy?

    If he’s already been charged for the netbook, how come it has taken over a week and he still doesn’t have any sort of resolution. I would seriously be crafting a finely worded EECB and notifying my bank/cc about the charges…

    Seriously, how can companies keep getting away with taking money and not providing adequate services…

    • doctor_cos wants you to remain calm says:

      Taking money and not providing adequate services?
      Two words… Com Cast.

    • coren says:

      I don’t think he would be denied a refund at this point – not that he should even have to ask, but to paint it as a “donation” isn’t really a fair picture.

    • CompyPaq says:

      IIRC, Best Buy doesn’t actually charge you until the item is shipped/picked up. They merely put an authorization on your credit card, which unless he is close to his limit, shouldn’t matter.

  3. hunter3742 says:

    All I have to say on the topic:

    If you’re looking at buying a netbook, if you’re not getting one of the ASUS models, you’re doing it wrong. I’ve used Acer, Compaq, HP, and Dell netbooks as well as the ASUS, and the full size (10″+) Eee models are by far the best. The keyboard layout and size, screen, and general sturdiness on them is just a mile ahead of the other manufacturers. They were the first people to offer a real netbook and they continue to be the best.

    I despise BB with a passion, but I’ve got to agree with MR. RS Man – BB is doing a favor in this instance.

  4. H3ion says:

    Dell has a 10″ mini for $279, advertised as a special. Don’t know what the real cost is when you start changing the configuration but maybe it’s worth a look.

    • hunter3742 says:

      @h3ion: By the time Dell gets around to shipping it, it’ll be sometime next April.

    • incident_man says:

      I used to work for DHell and in no way would I recommend anyone buy DHell, they’re worse than Compaq in terms of quality and level of support.

  5. downturnliving says:

    He should go for the deal at target. The only answer to bad service is take your business elsewhere.

  6. humphrmi says:

    Best Buy really needs to get better control of this order online / pick up in store thing. I generally would say that if you don’t get the product, just cancel the order or issue a chargeback if they won’t answer their phone, and move on with life. But we just see too many of these stories, and I know from reading Consumerist that I will *never* order online to pick up in-store at BB. If that puts them at a competitive disadvantage to other retailers, then they have a problem to solve.

  7. JediJohn82 says:

    The problem with Best Buy’s In-Store pickup option is that the item isn’t taken out of the stores inventory until an employee goes and gets it off the shelf. This means there may have been some in-stock according to the computer, but they could all have already been in the hands of customers who were at the store and still shopping around.

    I ordered a GPS once from for in-store pickup, I waited 2 hours, then called to check on the status and they hadn’t even bothered to go pull the item. This leads me to believe that lazy employees or lack of a person dedicated to in-store pickup is the flaw in the system.

  8. r081984 says:

    Newegg did worse than this.
    They sold a T4300 Acer with 4gb ram on black friday. It was sold out, but in the afternoon they listed it with and ETA of 12/4 and had a “back order” button.
    I and bunch of others backordered it.

    Thinking I had a good deal, I skipped all the deals on Sunday and Monday. Customer service on Friday did not say there were any problems when I had them fix my billing address.
    On sunday morning I could have ordered the Asus version for $450, but did not because of the deal I had.
    Then 5 days after i back ordered the item newegg voided my backorder.
    I chatted with them and they said they voided it because they do not know when they will get more in which I thought that was the point of the back order in the first place. Other retailers are still selling that laptop, so I think that someone in newegg did not want to honor the low price anymore so they just voided the orders and completely deleted the item of their page. You can’t even pull it up to read reviews on it or to post one if you bought it.

    Newegg just said I had to buy another laptop, but refused to pricematch any of the deals I misssed on sunday for laptops they still had in stock.
    I will never purchase anything from newegg ever again after this.
    I bought another comparable laptop with bing cash back for about $60 more from Walmart.
    They screwed over a lot of people for christmas.

    • coren says:

      The backorder availability was probably a mistake. Virtually no one offers a raincheck on Black Friday items. Evil is really overstating it – I’m sure they said “how can we ruin this person’s Christmas? Set their car on fire? Ooh, how about we cancel this order for a netbook”.

      Watch your car!

      • r081984 says:

        A mistake would have been fixed much more quickly than 5 days later.
        As I said I talked to customer service on Friday and they did not say my backorder was a mistake.

        I am sure they didn’t think about it as ruining someone christmas. I would imagine it was someone that makes a few hundred thousand a year was reviewing backorders for the 1st week in december and decided they would not make enough or would actually lose money so they not only voided the item, but completely pulled the items page from their website just to try and justify voiding it. They deleted the items page over a day after they voided everyones orders. This was completely about money which in the end they chose to lose customers instead of honoring their agreement.

        • JediJohn82 says:

          Actually, by ordering something you agreed to their policies which included giving them the right to refuse/cancel orders at their discretion. So technically they did honor the agreement.

        • DH405 says:

          What agreement? It was BACKORDERED. As in “We don’t have it, but you can call dibs on when we get it back in.” Backordered = NOT IN STOCK.

          You’re just complaining because you missed the deal. Just HOW is this worse than the OP? They didn’t charge your card. You have your money. You just didn’t get a good deal. I know, you want to throw a screaming hissy fit because you didn’t get your laptop for $50 less than normal, but it’s time to move on.

          • r081984 says:

            They voided the backorders because the item was backordered. That was their words. They could have left the backorder on and honored the deal when they got more in.
            They even said the ETA was 12/4 so obviously they had an order placed for more. You don’t backorder items if you have no way of getting more. Also you don’t wait 5 days to tell people you will not be honoring the deal.

            Actually it was $200 less than normal. Newegg should not back order when they have no intention of filing those orders. Newegg is evil for doing that and for waiting 5 days to tell people they will not fulfill their agreement.

            • Hogan1 says:

              You knowingly clicked backorder.

              The likely case is that Newegg didn’t know if it was getting anymore or not so the status was backorder. Once the distributor notified them later that there would be no more shipped, they cancelled the backorders. This is normal practice. You never placed an “order” and they never charged you. As stated before you essentially got in the queue for when/if it is available again. There should never be an expectation you will get an item if it is on backorder. If you assumed you would get it for sure you are in error.

              • r081984 says:

                You don’t offer a backorder unless you know more are coming.
                The ETA was 12/4. They canceled the orders right before 12/4.
                If you are unsure then you don’t let people do backorders.
                It was obvious they just did not want to honor the deal at that price.
                Allowing the backorders was not a mistake. A mistake would not have been validated by their reps and not have lasted for 5 days.

                Newegg screwed people over.

                • JediJohn82 says:

                  I guess you can’t get it through you head what a backorder is. It’s kinda like flying standby, if they have room they will let you on but if they don’t your going to have to book a different flight.

                  In this case newegg let you backorder the item to get in line if any become available; since there weren’t enough available and they didn’t forsee getting any more in a timely manner they chose to cancel the backorder which was fully within their rights. It didn’t cost you anything so quite whining.

    • JediJohn82 says:

      I am glad you will never shop at again…more good deals for the rest of us!

    • tbax929 says:

      You’ve made the mistake of complaining about Newegg. They have deity status around these parts. If your complaint had been regarding Walmart, Amazon, or Best Buy, folks would be more sympathetic to you.

  9. FDCPAGuy says:

    as far as I am concerned the only way to buy anything for in store pickup is to call the store and have the Service Operator hold one for me with my name on it along with their ‘sale over the phone’ slip/barcode. I’ve never been let down by that method.

  10. twophrasebark says:

    Not defending them, but BestBuy’s system sometimes sounds like it has disconnected you but you’re still on hold. You just hear silence for long periods sometimes.

    Just FYI…

  11. Bush2012 says:

    It’s been 8 days and this guy is flipping out? I ordered a washer on the 22nd and it hasn’t come in yet. Oh well, I got a good deal on it; I can wait.

  12. OneTrickPony says:

    Not to in any way excuse Best Buy’s inadequate customer service, but this is a gift for grown woman, correct? Surely she will be understanding and gracious if the gift is still on back-order when the special day rolls around.

  13. coren says:

    I’m amazed they let anyone do an in-store pickup for a Black Friday item…but the problem is easily explained (it sold out super quick and he ordered while all stock was unavailable/everyone bought one before his order came to their attention – it is Black Friday after all)

  14. rwalford79 says:

    Dispute the charge with your credit card company. Tell them, that the charge was made correctly, however Best Buy has never delivered product purchased, and that they are making no effort to assist you with a refund. This is important because your 30 day return period, or 14 days in cases of computers is coming up. Regardless, you paid for it, and if you dont have it, their return policy applies to the original purchase date.

    • oloranya says:

      He hasn’t even mentioned a refund to BestBuy yet, why would he dispute it with his credit card co.?

      • supercereal says:

        Because people on this site are impatient and self centered; anything that doesn’t completely and immediately go their way is grounds for freaking the hell out. People apparently do not understand the concept of backordering, either.

  15. vastrightwing says:

    Never depend on Black Friday or special sales. Buy online from (usually I’d suggest NewEgg, but obviously they’re not reliable either) Amazon perhaps. Don’t wait for the last minute. A nice card with a promise of a laptop would work until you score one. Then I’d do what Geek Squid is supposed to do and remove all the crapware, personalize the laptop and then give it to her.

  16. STrRedWolf says:

    First: Newegg. Seriously. They’ve been very reliable, and if it’s not in stock, they update their website to tell you when and where. Plus, if they got it at a nearby warehouse (they have many) it gets it to you overnight for the price of ground.

    Second: Never get a netbook less than 10″ but more than 11″. Yeah, I knock out the 12″ but those aren’t netbooks. Those are *LAPTOPS*. Ether way, the keyboard is too small on a 9″.

    Third: Don’t get a Dell. It’s not that they have problems, but their keyboard is not a full keyboard that Acer, Asus, etc have. Missing F11/F12 keys!

    Fourth: Just remember, if you want to play video, don’t get a netbook with Intel graphics. Newegg will tell you what GPU is in them.

  17. madanthony says:

    I bought my Dad this Lenovo for Christmas:

    Yes, it’s got a rebate. It’s a nice machine, though – I spent today installing all the windows updates. I like the design and trackpad a little better than my eePC, and it was $50 cheaper and the same specs.

  18. peteyg says:

    The same thing happened to me..Only on Cyber Monday. I purchased a laptop that was supposed to be available for pick up, got an email that said it wasn’t and to call. I called, was put on hold for about 35 minutes, probably longer finally got someone who said OK no problem we’ll ship it to you, I asked for confirmation and she said I would get a confirmation email in 45 minutes. After 2 hours I called back was put on hold for 40 minutes, was hung up on so I called back was put on hold again for 40 minutes to be told their entire system was down and they could not help me.. About an hour later I got an email from them about a different item I ordered at the same time saying it was on back order, so I figure their system must be up so I call back, wait on hold for another 45 to 50 minutes…to be told the system is still down, I let them know I got an email and was told it came up for a minute and now its back down. ~sigh~ So fast forward to 10 pm that same night and I call back. Again on hold for (and I timed this one) 47 minutes. Apparently whomever I talked to after the 1st email did NOT put my order in to be shipped, in fact she did nothing, no notes nothing. MAYBE because the “system went down” I don’t know. Anyway so this rep tells me yes your order will be shipped directly to you..gave me a confirm number and said I would be getting an email confirming as well.. I did with in seconds.. Then the next day got an email saying it was on back order. HA!

  19. krista says:

    If he really feels like Best Buy is eventually going to come through, just give the Mom a card with a picture of the netbook and a bouquet of flowers, and explain the backorder. I’m sure Mom will understand.

  20. working class Zer0 says:

    Many years ago when Best Buy came to this area I wanted to purchase a 13″ T.V. with built in VCR for my daughter for Christmas. They were on sale and it was the best price I could find in this area. This was about 1 month before Christmas (it was not Black Friday). They were out of stock and offered me a rain check telling me they would be in the next week. I didn’t have a problem with that as I had previously worked in the appliance department for K-Mart and J.C. Penney and knew that was not uncommon. When I called the next week they said it would be one more week then when I called that week they said another week and promised me I would have it before Christmas. Well now it’s Dec. 24th, I go to the store and the told me they did not have any and they would not have them in until Febuary!!! I tell them that this is a Christmas gift for a little girl and I need a TV today, I ask if the could sell me the next one up from it for the sale price (it was not on sale at the time). The salesman tries to make an ass out of me by telling me that that’s like having a raincheck for a VCR and wanting to use it on a video camara (??????). He says that they cant do that. What’s funny is that I could do that at K-Mart and J.C. Penny without even getting a manager!!! I walked out of there went to Wal Mart (and got better service from the sales person) got my TV and have never been back to Best Buy since! F*#@ YOU BEST BUY….YOU SUCK

  21. outlulz says:

    If you don’t get the confirmation e-mail to pick up the item within 2 hours, you aren’t going to get your item. After 2 hours you’re actually supposed to get something automatically saying they don’t have the item in stock, which actually means no one felt like pulling it for you.

  22. minilaptop guy says:

    Bummer. I’d agree with the other cats. Get a netbook elsewhere just in case and either cancel the Best Buy order or return the back-up one if Best Buy comes through. I’ve never had to deal with this at Best Buy before, but I was just getting some GPS’s and not around holidays, so I guess they weren’t disappearing as fast. As far as online stuff, I’ve found Amazon (Amazon itself, not the marketplace) to be super reliable, NewEgg is cool too and good about honoring their warranties. Haven’t had any issues with Tiger or OnSale, but my Amazon orders always come lightning fast, even with reg shipping. OnSale’s been having really nice netbook deals lately though.

  23. BridgetPentheus says:

    The best place I have found to deal with electronics wise is B & H photo in New York. If you don’t live in NY you don’t pay sales tax (except on your taxes…) they package things the best and are timely with their orders and are competitively priced. While I’ve had problems with New Egg, never with B&H.

  24. INsano says:

    I’m currently going through a similar process as this poor guy, only its a phone that is backordered for me. The online “order status” has changed, updated, reverted, and is now back to my “credit approved” status that it was a week ago when I ordered it. Good thing I got next day air. I tried “chatting” with best buy support about it, they have access to the info but don’t help much at all. It’s certainly better than sitting on hold for 20 minutes. The phone is a gift, don’t really know what to do.

  25. sakanagai says:

    I bought one from their phone-only sale the Monday before Thanksgiving. The UPS driver who delivered it decided that the welcome mat was as good a place as any to leave a computer and it had disappeared by the time I got home. Two weeks after ordering, claims filed with both Best Buy and UPS, I finally got a reship confirmation followed by a backorder notice (even the CSR didn’t think they’d get any more in). Escalations in customer care were able to place an in-store pickup order for their comparable alternative, an Asus Eee PC 1005HAB, for the sale price, though the refund for the previously ordered netbook is still pending. The replacement has essentially the same specs and lower list price (so less savings), but a multi-touch trackpad.

  26. deebrown921 says:

    I ordered the $229 Black Friday Compaq netbook by phone. Of course when I went to the store to pick up — it wasn’t there. Contacted the corporate offices and they got back to me with a resolution. Don’t be afraid to speak up!