Best Buy's Ordering And Inventory Systems Still Defy Common Sense

Dorian had a really great online shopping deal: $50 worth of reward points if he spent $100 or more at Amazing! He writes that he placed an order, but his mistake was requesting in-store pickup. His local Best Buy store couldn’t get him the items through in-store pickup: even when he physically went to the shelf and found the items he had ordered. It just doesn’t work that way.

Yesterday morning, I “won” an “Overwhelming Offer” through Next Jump’s CorporatePerks program, where you need to meet a minimum threshold ($100 in this case) for on online order through a particular merchant that changes each day (, in this case), and you get $50 worth of points back in your account. If you don’t meet the $100 minimum for your purchase (before tax or shipping charges), the $50 worth of points gets removed from your CorporatePerks account, your account gets locked, and you get charged $10 to your credit card if you want to unlock your account. So, I placed an order for several classic movies on blu-ray (Charade, Treasure Of The Sierra Madre, The Maltese Falcon, The Illusionist [OK, not so much a classic] and Tremors [hey, it has Kevin Bacon!]) and a music CD — “Conditions” by Temper Trap. I was able to select in-store pickup for the majority of the items. The total came to $107.94, with the cheapest item – the music CD – costing $7.99. Basically, if any items on my order get cancelled, I’m screwed, but I made sure to only purchase items that were not on backorder (except for Charade, which was on backorder but was available for in-store pickup at my preferred store).

Yesterday was pretty crazy at work, so I didn’t get a chance to check my e-mail for order confirmations from my personal smartphone until I was physically walking into Best Buy. I’d never experienced problems with the dozen or so in-store pickup orders I’ve placed within the past few years, though, so I thought nothing of it until I saw an e-mail subject that stated “Item Not Found In Store”. The items listed as “Not Found” were “Conditions” by Temper Trap and Charade. Despite the store’s new layout since I was last there, I located both titles within seconds and walked up to the In-store pickup line over by Customer Service (OK, I made a small detour to the computer department to go online to Google Shopping to check prices of “The African Queen” on blu-ray with other local stores, where I discovered that Wal-Mart had it for $6 cheaper).

When I got to the in-store pickup line, I found that one of my friends was the cashier who would be helping me with my order. I discovered that he had been working there for a few weeks as a seasonal employee, but was hoping it would work out so that he could be brought on full-time and, you know, feed his family and stuff. I gave him my order number, and showed him the two items that ‘couldn’t be found’ anywhere in his store. He thought it was amusing, so brought over another associate who was more familiar with the systems to see if she could reverse it and add the items back to my order. She couldn’t figure it out, so she called the warehouse guy over who supposedly marked the items as “not found”, but he informed her that he hadn’t worked on any in-store pickup orders all day. He got on his walkie-talkie and was speaking to someone in the back warehouse about it and, after a few minutes, said that the only thing we could do would be to cancel the items and just purchase them in-store. I informed everyone about the “third party loyalty rewards programs” through which I placed the online order and, that, if the order total was lower than $100, I wouldn’t get my $50 rebate, so they plodded along through the systems again. Fortunately, it wasn’t terribly busy in the store, so I didn’t feel like I was monopolizing the customer service folks.

They did figure out a way to reverse the “Not Founds”, but they couldn’t figure out how to add the “Not Founds” back to my order. After standing up front for about 30 minutes, I finally walked out the store with 2 of the 5 movies from my order (and, of course, The African Queen that I pricematched to Wal-Mart at another cash register while the warehouse guy was trying to figure everything out), with a hopeful ‘promise’ from the employees that my items would either ship, or eventually get back into their system where they could generate another e-mail stating that those items are available for in-store pickup.

I know that most commenters (if this convoluted TL;DR story even makes it that far) would say that I get what I deserve for shopping with Best Buy. Thing is, though, that I used to work for Best Buy (the same store at which I was shopping, actually), so I know some of the people there, and I know how their systems and procedures work, for the most part. Any issues I’ve encountered within the last 10 years or so since I quit retail have always been corrected appropriately and swiftly. Normally, much earlier into this transaction, I would have helpfully suggested that maybe a manager who might know the systems a little better should come over to assist, but I didn’t want to do anything that might jeopardize my friend’s job, in this case.


Edit Your Comment

  1. Arcaeris says:

    This thing not only sounds like a scam, this article sounds like a ridiculous advertisement. Is it just me?

    Sorry dude, you went into a Best Buy where you know people and thus couldn’t get your problem solved because you felt bad for your friends. Is this is really a consumer issue – I’m sure the manager (who was never called) could have fixed it?

    • Merricat says:

      Corporate Perks is a group that company’s sign up with in order to provide ‘purchasing services’ to their employees. The company I work for also uses them.

      They are essentially a company approved “deal a day” site.

      Unfortunately, most people don’t realize that the discounts you receive via this ‘deal’ are actually considered by the IRS as additional taxable income and thus the heavy users tend to get bitten at the end of the tax season.

  2. PsychicPsycho says:

    I something similar happen to me. We ordered a TV online for in store pickup. When we go to the counter, we watched a gentleman bring the TV to the counter, but they couldn’t give it to us because their system showed that they had 0 in stock. It was right next to us. In the end, we just took the one in front of us and bought it in the checkout line and wasted an hour of our lives.

    • crabbyman6 says:

      The exact same thing happened to me with a TV stand. We ordered it online for in-store pickup, waited the prescribed amount of time and asked to get our item. After they were done texting their friend for 10 they told us “oooh, we don’t have that ready yet, give us a few minutes” minutes. A few minutes pass(30 is a few to them), its still not ready so we go look for it on the shelves. We get the fools to get one out of the back for us and my wife pays for it while I headed to the customer “service” counter to cancel our online order which was a process itself. I talked to the manager about it and he couldn’t have cared less. I haven’t bought anything at Best Buy since that day 2 years ago.

  3. the Persistent Sound of Sensationalism says:

    Cripes. For all the virtualization of these systems and “stream-lining”, they sure don’t seem to make things easier to correct.

  4. KyBash says:

    To err is human, to really foul things up takes a computer.

    • Bodger says:

      No, the computers virtually never make a mistake. However software designers working from bad analysis and specifications based on ignorance of the true goals and assisted by poor coding and insufficient testing and incompetent users are able to make up for the lack of true computer errors.

  5. blinky says:

    CorporatePerks sounds like a really bozo kind of deal.

  6. Angus99 says:

    I dunno, dude. If they’re advertising it, it’s to say that it doesn’t work. The bit about the “friend” I took as sarcastic – meaning that when the OP approached this guy, he got his unsolicited life story as a bonus.

  7. Dover says:

    “…convoluted TL;DR…”

    It wouldn’t be if you got the point instead of telling us all about your detour to look up and then purchase “The African Queen”.

    • outlulz says:

      And about his friend getting a seasonal job there to feed his family and try to get full-time status.

      • dorianh49 says:

        OP here. I’ve written into Consumerist half a dozen times with stories I thought for sure would get posted. I sent this one in after waking up at 6:30am this morning, on my day off, brain foggy, and wrote this rambling e-mail — definitely NOT expecting it to get posted.

  8. Macgyver says:

    TL;DR? Could people write in english, and not this stupid text speak.

    CorporatePerks doesn’t sound right. Charge $10 to unlock your account because you didn’t meet the threshold. Sound like a scam to me.

    • dorianh49 says:

      The reason is because there’s a limited number of reservations available to “win”. The $50 worth of points are awarded immediately, but keeping them is contingent on meeting the requirements of the offer, which is a minimum purchase of $100. I’ve run into several issues where part of my order ships separately from the rest, and it gets reported to Next Jump that my purchase didn’t meet the minimum threshold, but these issues would usually get cleared up after many back-and-forth e-mails. It’s frustrating at times, but worth it for the savings, I feel. For some of my co-workers, though, it’s too much hassle, and I totally understand.

    • coren says:

      It’s not “text speak” – it’s common internet lingo, like LOL. Using it on the internet is perfectly fine.

  9. snowtires says:

    You also can’t return an item you bought through in-store pickup to the Best Buy you picked it up from, you have to return it online. It’s fucking STUPID.

    • sakanagai says:

      Did they change something? It used to be that you still had to talk to support first, but they could authorize your local store as a return method. It’s an extra step, but I never had a problem doing a return that way.

    • coren says:

      Unless something has changed drastically of late – that isn’t true – you can return online orders (no matter how they got to you) in store regardless.

  10. endless says:

    How many of each item was there?

    Could be they only had a few so the ordering system doesn’t allow for pick up to prevent errors?

  11. scoosdad says:

    Sounds like Best Buy actually keeps two separate inventories– items that can be purchased in the store, and items that can only be purchased online and picked up at the store. And never the twain shall meet (or cross from one to the other, it would seem).

  12. b612markt says:

    there are as many reasons not to shop at Best Buy as there are stars in the sky.

  13. Gilcole says:

    You shopped at best buy… End of story!

  14. adamwade says:

    It’s pretty silly. Best Buy has been like this since they started this online order stuff. It’s useless. I can go find something on the shelf but they have to take it from their warehouse and can’t give me the one I can go pick up myself. Stupid stupid.

  15. Extractor says:

    After the grief I got from WB’s Reward Zone and the defective surround sound system, I have outlook put everything from that POS store into the deleted folder, never to be seen. Pure crap. I had to shove their guidelines down their throat in order to get a refund. They wanted to send out another refurb, which I rejected. I went to Walmart and got a nice Surround with speakers and subwoofer for under $150. Charged it on my VISA Signature which provided another year warranty automatically. The card’s warranty claim procedure is awesome. Claim filed on Monday, check arrived Friday. I guess my cards have been optimized.
    As far as optimization of anything by that POS company, I feel that it allows them to sell opened merchandise as new since you get the “optimized” crap in an open box. Returned PC is restored to original state and then decrapified. I shop, amazon,,, (4 HDMI’s for $8). Stay away from any of the Tigerdirect companies and all others that were listed in the kick backs from another article on this site.

    • bkdlays says:

      I have great luck with TigerDirect. Very Fast shipping of the items I ask for. Mertiline on the other hand I have never received my entire order.. I did get someone elses order.. and had to ship it back after weeks of waiting.