How A Best Buy Mixup Ruined A Great Hanukkah Present

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No mere retail mixup can really “ruin” any holiday. Holidays aren’t about turkeys or iPods or even candles: they’re about bringing people who care about each other or who are at least related to each other together for warm memories and strained conversation. Reader L. is disappointed in Best Buy, though: their mixup means that he couldn’t give his family the great presents he had planned for Hanukkah.

It’s not like he didn’t plan ahead: he’s an Elite Plus member of their rewards program, and ordered the iPods on Monday, when Best Buy opened up its Black Friday sale to its best customers. A box arrived on Wednesday, and the holiday began on Wednesday night. Perfect! Except the box didn’t contain the six iPod Nanos that he had ordered. It had one wireless mouse and another customer’s packing slip.

That’s no big deal, though, right? Shipping mishaps happen all of the time. All he had to do was call up Best Buy, and their customer service would straighten it out. Calling during one of the busiest times of year for the retailer would just require a little more patience. It wasn’t that simple. “I ended up spending hours on the phone with numerous customer service agents,” L. writes. “They would either transfer me to someone else, had no idea how to help me, or just couldn’t seem to understand what happened.” Apparently this doesn’t exist in the Best Buy Customer Service Book of Scripts.

Finally, L. got transferred to a unit called Back End Services. That sounds like the department that would hold the answer to a problem with online ordering and shipping, doesn’t it? It did not. All it held were, apparently, parrots. “They would just repeat what I said and not actually get anything accomplished,” L. explains. “They would ask me a question, I would answer, then they would put me on hold for a about 15 minutes, and then continue to ask me same question again as if they had never asked it before.”

L. says that this department did have some suggestions for him, like calling up the person whose contact info was on the packing slip to find out whether they received his iPods, or queueing up outside of his local Best Buy when they opened up for Black Friday. Why should L. have to do these things when it was Best Buy’s error? Spending hours on the phone is bad enough.

It was time for a different tactic: maybe his local store could help and do the exchange. L. called them up and spoke to the very nice and very competent store manager, who couldn’t help him either. He could have someone at customer service contact L., and they did. Who was on the line? The trained parrots of the back end team.

He tried contacting corporate, even talking to escalated customer service representatives through the store’s forums. Nothing.

Finally, in desperation he laid out his whole sad tale and sent it to Consumerist. We passed his contact information and his story on to Best Buy’s media relations team…and waited. We’re still waiting. Best Buy says that they’re still working on what shouldn’t be a very complicated problem at all. A customer has to spend $3,500 at Best Buy to reach Elite Plus status: we’re really stunned that a customer who gives them that much business would get that kind of runaround.

If anyone out there received six iPods that you didn’t order, well, we can put you and L. in touch with each other if you’re interested. When we do hear something from Best Buy, we’ll let you know. Meanwhile, Hanukkah is over and L.’s relatives don’t have their iPods.

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