In a perfect consumer world, perhaps brick-and-mortar stores would price-match their own websites. Perhaps front-line employees would be permitted to use their own judgment once in a while. In this perfect world, it definitely would not be cheaper and easier to purchase an item for in-store pickup on your smartphone while standing in the store.
Sears might be doing an okay job with adjusting to doing business in the 21st century if they weren’t stuck with a pesky brick-and-mortar store network. Maybe. When John returned a malfunctioning dehumidifier to his local store, he wanted to exchange it for a working one. He couldn’t, though, because the item was out of stock. Logical enough: dehumidifiers are popular in the summer. Yet he was able to go home, order the item online, and pick it up at the very store he had just been told was out of the item.
Reader B. is a Best Buy employee, and has a moral problem with a new policy. This policy may just be at B.’s store or in that district, but it’s still annoying. Employees have been told that they can no longer price-match BestBuy.com. They can, however, help the customer place an order online for in-store pickup from inside the store, then wait around for up to half an hour. This seems inefficient at best to B, but sounds familiar to us.
The bad news: Sears has started channeling the Geek Squad, pre-optimizing all merchandise in stock before customers have a choice in the matter. The worse news: they’re failing at it terribly. Ron tried to purchase a gas grill on sale at Sears. He placed his order online for instore pickup, only to discover that all of the grills in stock were already assembled. Fine, except an already-assembled grill won’t fit in his car. The only bright spot for consumers: unlike Geek Squad, Sears doesn’t even have the foresight to charge for the optimization service.
Michael normally likes Best Buy–which may reflect on the management of his local store, rather than making him an uninformed consumer. Yet he placed an in-store pickup order a few weeks ago at another nearby Best Buy, and the situation has become a case study in bad customer service. Or perhaps nonexistent customer service. See, nobody at this store will pick up the phone. At all. Michael even called the store from inside the store and watched employees work very, very hard at not picking up the phone.
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.
Daniel is the latest Consumerist reader to experience problems with ordering an item from Best Buy’s website. He writes that a retail sales associate who was either misinformed or dishonest led him to order GPS units as Christmas presents. Daniel’s debit card was charged before the items were delivered, which isn’t supposed to happen. Then Best Buy charged him the wrong price and lost his order, which really isn’t supposed to happen.
Jon spent $250 on a Western Digital VelociRaptor but what he received from Best Buy was a Quantum Fireball, a discontinued hard drive that hasn’t been sold for nine years. Best Buy, of course, took no responsibility for the odd swap, and said that Western Digital must have accidentally sold a competitor’s discontinued drive. Western Digital, of course, said that a Best Buy employee stole Jon’s hard drive. We’ve seen this happen before with Best Buy, and Jon has made it clear that he knows how to bite back…
Best Buy, Sears, and Circuit City all promise fast and easy in-store pickup for online orders and are willing to pay if they fail to deliver. Mouseprint scoured the fine print of each guarantee in search of loopholes.
Kevin purchased two DVD and CDR spindles using CompUSA’s “In-Store Pick-Up” option; when he got to the store, the price doubled. Kevin had already handed over his credit card information and had a printed receipt. Why did the price double?