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 BestBuy.com. 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 (bestbuy.com, 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.