A Glutton For Retail Punishment

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Fool Me Once, Shame On You, Fool Me Twice, Shame On Me, Fool Me Thrice, You Must Work For Best Buy!

As long-time readers will no doubt recall, I’ve had my troubles with Best Buy (and customer service in general) in the past, but the events of the past couple of weeks have finally pushed me over the edge.

I know that I said that I wasn’t going to shop at Best Buy any more, but, alas, I’m a sucker for low prices. Plus, I have a BB credit card. Here, in short, is the story of my fall into hypocricy and my hasty redemption.

My wife and I have been looking at a Sony DSC-V1 digital camera for quite a while, yet we had been balking at the price. Fortunately for us, Sony recently discontinued the camera and, attendant to that, announced an immediate $100 street price drop. Near-synchronously with this, Best Buy sent me a 12% off “valued customer” coupon and announced 18 months no interest financing on purchases over $299. I had qualms about trusting BB again but decided that this confluence of events was just too good of an opportunity to pass up and so Aron and I set off for my local BB store.

Once we arrived, I headed immediately for the cameras, hoping to score a quick purchase. Alas, it took the camera section staffers around 45 minutes to determine that, in fact, they had zero V1’s in stock, even though their computer listed two. They did confirm that the King of Prussia location had 6(!) V1’s and so I thanked them for their efforts, grabbed Aron from the appliance section and took off for KoP.

We arrived at the KoP store and quickly got a clerk to grab a camera and ring it up, but unfortunately it was coming up as the old price (i.e., $100 more than I was looking to spend). Not wanting to leave empty-handed (and thus reduce the chances of me ever getting my hands on the camera) I decided to take the camera with me and then have my local BB location price match at a later date.

I called a few places in the area that night and finally met with success at the Camera Shop in Willow Grove who stated that they had V1’s in stock and were selling them for the reduced price. Contented, I went to bed and determined to hit the nearby BB the next day to execute the price match. I walked into that BB store the next day and strolled up to the customer “service” counter and, after waiting for a while, finally caught the notice of a customer “service” representative whom I then asked to process the pricematch for me. I told her that I had called the Camera Shop and that they were selling it for $100 cheaper than BB and she proceeded to call the Camera Shop and inquire as to their pricing.

She spoke on the phone for a couple of minutes and then came over to me and said “I’m sorry sir, but we can’t price match on that item. The Camera Shop says that all they have left are display models and our policy states that the item has to be in stock at our competitors in order to match their price”.

I then asked her, matter-of-factly, if she was honestly going to haggle with me over the fact that another store had the exact same item in their store and would be willing to sell it to me for $100 less than what BB would, yet they didn’t have it “in stock”. She nodded affirmatively.

By this time, I was getting both a little impatient and more than a little angry. I suppose I shouldn’t have reacted out of anger, but my past experiences with BB were definitely coloring my actions at that point. I said something to the effect of “You’re honestly going to tell me that you don’t want my money? You’re comfortable with me walking out that door without a camera and never coming back again? You’re going to sacrifice your relationship with a longterm customer who has spent thousands of dollars over the course of his life in your store because you refuse to match prices?” “Yes.” was all she said.

“Give me my money back,” I demanded. After ringing through the return (and refusing to look me in the eyes the whole time), she turned her back on me and I stormed out of the store.

So I went home, bought the camera off of ZipZoomFly for $150(!) less that very night and, with the money I saved, bought a carrying case, accessory kit and 256MB Memory Stick Pro from Newegg. Both camera and accessories arrived within a week of me placing my order (actually, one came via FedEx and one via UPS and, in a moment of grand cosmic coincidence, they arrived on the same day) and in fine condition.

That’s it, then. I’m done with Best Buy. I’ll never darken the doorway of another of their stores, nor will I ever hit their website again. If their inane “policies” are worth more to them than a long-term customer’s satisfaction, then so be it. If it’s worth it to them to risk me telling each and every friend, relative and acquaintance to avoid BB, then they’ve gotten their wish.

So long, Best Buy. I wish I could say it has been fun.

m4s0n501

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