Dear Best Buy: This Is Why You Are Failing Online

The folks at Best Buy HQ may not be quite sure who should be running the company, but they all seem to agree that Amazon and other online retailers are the reason behind the company’s dwindling market share. Yes, that’s partly true, but there is no reason the nation’s largest electronics retailer shouldn’t also have a successful website. Unfortunately, Best Buy seems to be making even more mistakes — and providing worse service — to its online customers.

Consumerist reader Ally says she used to spend thousands of dollars a year at Best Buy, but had begun to lose faith in the store by this past May, when she was shopping online for a new lens for her Nikon DSLR camera. It came down to Best Buy or Amazon, and since she needed to get the lens ASAP Best Buy’s overnight shipping was less expensive, she picked the blue crew.

“Paying the extra for Amazon would have been a smarter decision on my part as I was about to find out,” she tells Consumerist.

The next day, a Thursday, the Best Buy box was delivered to her office. Ally opened it up and instead of the lens she’d paid $228.43 for, it contained a $70 Nikon CoolPix digital camera.

“I called Best Buy customer service and they agreed to send out the correct item overnight and refund me $14.45 for the expedited shipping for the inconvenience,” she writes. “Great. I’d have the lens on Friday and it wouldn’t be a big deal.”

Except Best Buy didn’t ship out the lens on Thursday — and Ally didn’t find this out until Friday when she received an e-mail letting her know the tracking info.

“I called Best Buy for the second time and they confirmed that the person the day before had not sent it out overnight as they had promised,” says Ally. “The nightmares I’d previously experienced with Best Buy customer service now start coming back.”

Given that she couldn’t sit around her office hoping the lens would get delivered on a Saturday morning in time for her to still make the wedding, and Best Buy’s insistence that it could not change the delivery address, she told the CSR to just have the package intercepted, issue her a refund, and she’d just go buy the lens elsewhere.

“I was told they couldn’t do this until the Nikon CoolPix digital camera had been received,” she recalls. “Basically they were holding over $200 hostage for a camera that retails at less than $70.”

It took more than a week, but in late May, Ally finally received a credit for $199.53.

Except… that wasn’t what she’d paid:

“For those of you keeping track, I initially paid $228.43 for the lens including the item, tax, and shipping. I was credited $14.45 on May 17th for the shipping but if you add $199.53 and $14.45, that’s $213.95. There was still $14.45 missing.”

So to recap, Best Buy sends her the wrong item; sends her the correct item but too late for her to receive it; refuses to credit her for her purchase until she returns and item she never ordered; short-changes her on the refund.

And that’s not the end.

Another call to Best Buy in early June. Ally spent more than an hour trying to explain basic math to the CSR, who seemed convinced that the earlier shipping refund of $14.45 explained the same amount being shorted from Ally’s refund.

“This person actually told me that the issue was the tax. I did the tax calculations and it did not add up to the amount missing… She insisted that when you return an order you are not refunded the tax. Um, what? I’m pretty sure my degree is in accounting and that’s not the case. You can’t charge sales tax on an item more than once. I also own a business and know that when you return an item, the entire amount including tax is refunded. Maybe a restocking fee is involved in some cases but tax is always refunded.”

The rep’s supervisor similarly tried to argue that Best Buy’s math made sense, but eventually agreed to file a dispute.

“She offered me a $25 gift card for my troubles,” writes Ally. “I politely declined and said I would no longer be giving my business to Best Buy so a gift card would do me no good.”

Another 10 days without news of a refund. Another call to Best Buy, where Ally spends 30 minutes re-explaining the situation. And even though she finally convinced this CSR of her reasoning, the rep gave her the bad news that no dispute had apparently ever been filed.

“By this point I’m getting irritated and start questioning whether or not $15 is really worth the headache,” Ally tells Consumerist. “It really wasn’t but my long growing hatred towards Best Buy kept me pushing for the money back out of principle (and spite).”

This rep promised Ally would hear back from Best Buy in 3-5 days about her dispute.

In the interim, that $25 gift card she didn’t want? It showed up anyway.

Days come and go without refund or word from Best Buy.

Yet another call to customer service, this time to find out that her refund request was denied because Best Buy determined that the correct amount was refunded.

Once again, she runs through the math with this latest CSR, who agrees to re-file the credit dispute.

Fast-forward to mid-July. Yet another call to Best Buy reveals that this dispute was never filed — again.

A supervisor tells Ally she’ll need to re-file once more.

Except she finds out on Aug. 8 that this re-re-re-filed dispute was… never filed.

“This time I tell them I’m not hanging up the phone until a credit is issued to my account or a check is sent out so I suggest they put someone on the phone that has the authority to do so. I also tell them I have a list of all the agents that gave me incorrect information and claimed to have filed things they didn’t as well as the times and dates of every time I called.

“Another ‘supervisor’ comes on the line and makes me retell the entire story once again. By this point I somewhat rudely responded ‘Can’t you just look at the notes?’

“She begrudgingly states that she can issue a check since I had been mildly inconvenienced. MILDLY? Do you know the definition of the word mildly lady? Mildly would have been if you sent the replacement lens overnight the first time you messed it up and we would have been done. No this is ridiculous and shows how loose of a handle Best Buy really does have on their staffing.”

Finally, this morning, Aug. 17 — more than three months after the initial error was made by Best Buy — Ally received her check in the mail for $14.45.

“Was it worth it? Probably not,” says Ally. “But what it did do was solidify the fact that I made a mistake in ordering something from Best Buy and giving them a second chance. I can honestly say I will never step foot in one of their stores ever again.”

Best Buy could have re-won Ally’s affection earned repeat business to its online business by simply delivering the product she’d ordered in the first place. It also could have repaired the situation by making good on the replacement shipment. Instead, it has driven a customer away from both its online and bricks-and-mortar stores.

So before the powers that be in Richfield go blaming Amazon for all their woes, they might want to have a look at a little website called

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