Why Best Buy Deserves To Die a Horrible Death

Disclaimer: I'm pissed off right now. Really pissed off. So this is going to be a rant and it's warranted but you might need to grab a beer and settle in 'cause it's gonna be a long one.

My love affair with Best Buy started long long ago when I was a starry-eyed, music-loving teenager. This was back in the day before we had fancy shmancy awesomeness like high-speed Internet and uTorrent, so I bought my CDs like everyone else did back then. Best Buy scored plenty of FRNs from young, hard-working JDA, who might have been making something like $4.50 an hour at some crappy retail job after school. I liked Best Buy then, they had lots of shiny things I would stroll around and admire and think "Man, when I'm a grown up, I'm gonna have all that in my house."

Fast forward to the early 2000s, when I'm now in my early 20s. I needed a laptop (Windows XP had just come out and was awesome) so I shlepped my butt down there, picked up a $1400 Compaq on Best Buy credit (remember when laptops were a true luxury?) and went about my business. Or didn't.

After a month, the laptop completely crapped out on me. I fell for the "extended plan" so brought it down to the "friendly" Best Buy in San Francisco to say it was fried and wouldn't turn on. They took it away, leaving me without a laptop for a month and a half (yes, a month and a half) while they replaced the motherboard. OK, all better, right?

No. A few months later, I'm back at the now less than friendly Best Buy in San Francisco with my laptop explaining how the motherboard appears to be fried again because it isn't working just like last time. Fine, they took it away and a month later (hey, at least they did it faster this time), I had my laptop back. Well yay, I was able to get back to playing Counter Strike and, uh, whatever other business I had.

Too bad it died again not a handful of months after that. Smart girl that I am, I read through the extended warranty plan, which specifically laid out a lemon clause that allowed me a full replacement of the item in question should I have to send the item out for service on the same issue three times. It was written right there with my pretty little signature below it, so I grabbed my fried laptop for the third time, headed down to the totally hostile by now Best Buy in San Francisco and demanded a new computer per the terms of this $300 contract we both signed. Except Best Buy in San Francisco did not want to get me a new laptop. In fact, they didn't even want to fix the motherboard this time, and tried to convince me I somehow reached into the device and ruined it myself just to be difficult. O rly?

Conveniently enough for me, I was scheduled for a vacation to the Minneapolis suburbs to see my mother around the time my laptop failed (for the third time, mind you). Having lived there once upon a time, I knew that the global Best Buy headquarters sat right there in said Minneapolis suburbs, so I packed up my $1400 paperweight, grabbed the contract and got on a plane.

When I arrived at the Best Buy in Richfield, MN with the brick of a laptop, they did not hesitate to offer me a replacement (I may have been yelling by this point) that was actually better than the now year-old piece of shit they initially sold me since technology moves fast. That computer lasted me 5 years before it finally died, and you can thank it for bringing you much of the content you enjoyed on JDA for my first year or so of doing this.

Now. Let's get to this week.

I have this iPod classic that holds 30,000 songs that may or may not have gotten a little rain on it so the skip forward button doesn't work. Since it's a $250 device that was a gift from the always generous Lazy Paperboy and out of warranty, I suffer through it but decided I wanted a remote to skip songs in the car. I wouldn't have ordered anything from Best Buy except I had a $75 gift card to burn so I went online, picked one out and selected to pick it up from the Best Buy near my work way out in the Maryland suburbs. The order went through and I awaited the email to say "your item is ready for pickup."

That email never came. Instead, I got an email that said "sorry, your item is not available at the store you selected." Great. So I called their 800 number as I was instructed to do to set up an alternate store and instead was told "due to heavy call volume, we ask that you call back." OK, now this is getting annoying but I'm a pretty reasonable person. I finally got them on the line hours later and picked the worst store possible - Columbia Heights in DC - which is closer to my house but impossible to park at without paying $6.50 in garage fees.

When I arrived and handed the guy my ID, they could not find the item I was told they'd put away for me. Fine. They called someone to check in the back for the item. I waited. I tweeted nonsense, answered emails I've been neglecting and waited. Made jokes with the guy working behind the counter and waited (I'm pretty patient when it means I'm getting stuff). Finally, someone found the product where it was supposed to be (in the bin that starts with the same letter as my last name, go figure) and now my ID was missing. "You have my ID," I told the guy. "No, I gave it back to you," he said. "NO, you have my ID because I don't and I just gave it to you." Turns out he gave it to some other woman who thankfully hadn't left the store yet and was kind enough to check her pockets and say "Oh, I'm sorry, this is yours." Luckily she was black, old and short so probably wouldn't have been able to do much with an ID belonging to a young, tall white chick.

Coincidentally, my modem died two days ago and I still had $50 to spend on the Best Buy gift card so I ordered a new modem online to pick up in the store out in the Maryland burbs near work despite my horrible experience not two days before. What were the odds they'd screw this up too? Thankfully, they had the item in stock this time. Thank God, I thought, my luck is changing. So I picked it up after work, drove the entire 40 miles back to DC, opened the box excited to be back on the Internet after two days of dark loneliness and to my shock and surprise, discovered that there was not a power cord in the box. Yes, no cord. So no way to use the product I just spent $50 on. It was an obvious return as the packaging around the modem had been torn open, which I wouldn't have cared about had the box contained everything I paid for and needed to use the item.

I called Best Buy (again) and told them the story. First off, there was not a single "Oh I'm so sorry!" or "how horrible!" or "Oh God we suck ass so bad!" I told the woman on the line it was not possible for me to return the item to the store way out in the Maryland burbs tonight as that's a 40 mile drive from my house but I needed Internet TODAY so she said I could go to a store closer to me and exchange it. I specifically asked "are you sure I can do that?" and she reluctantly snipped back "what's your order number?" as she looked me up. She found me a store closer to me in Alexandria, VA and assured me I could exchange it there. I grabbed my receipt and the useless modem without a power source and headed out.

So you can imagine my surprise when I arrived there, modem in tow and ready to cut a bitch, only to be told that they could not exchange the item. "You'll have to return it to the store you bought it from," she said. "I bought it online," I said. "And they told me I could bring it back here." Nope. Well fuck! "Do you sell the fucking cord your company didn't include in the box at least?" I asked, ready to punch anyone in a blue shirt in the face. "We don't sell the cords," she told me, with a completely straight face, apparently completely unaware that she was about to get her ass beat by an otherwise reasonable person. See, the problem here is not that I just wanted to go look at Internet porn and download music, I WORK ON THE INTERNET. The Internet pays my rent. I'm useless without it. I'd already lost a day of Going Concern and had too much to do to lose another.

As tempted as I was to buy a replacement just to have a functional modem, I decided then and there that Best Buy would never see another penny of my money. I drove just up the way to Target, sunk $90 on a modem, brought it home, pulled it out, logged on and posted this. I look forward to returning the power-cord-less modem to the Best Buy in the Maryland burbs tomorrow and never putting another foot down in a Best Buy store ever again in my life.

Want to know why the economy sucks? Because companies like this exist. Anyone remember when customer service people were actually polite and helpful and hungry for your business? Not these days. I'll stick to the Internet for any future electronics purchases, Amazon never dares to treat me like a bitch who has nothing better to do but run around town for items that don't even work.

For supplemental reading, check out Why Best Buy is Going out of Business...Gradually [Forbes] h/t my fellow DCer @Klejdys for sending me that to make me feel better. Need more evidence? Google has plenty.

Die already, Best Buy. You deserve it.

Jr Deputy Accountant

Some say he’s half man half fish, others say he’s more of a seventy/thirty split. Either way he’s a fishy bastard.


RegCPA5963 said...

what a rant? lol sweetheart leave best buy alone and start buying the items you need right away, from MicroCenter. It's a little out of your way but its in Vienna,VA up the street from the train on Nutley Street. No, I don't work there. I'm a CPA for a Publisher. However, I've noticed over the years their prices can't be beat and they're pickup is ready in 18 minutes.

Sweet, thank you, I will check them out next time I absolutely need electronics ASAP. Vienna isn't too bad of a drive from DC if it's worth it :)

pinkyswear said...

I was in the waiting room at Merchants Tire a month ago, waiting for them to fix my brakes, and overheard the manager on the telephone. He was telling some guy that they had tires that would fit his sports car, but he would be smarter buy a better brand of tire from a different retailer. He told me he'd been in the business 40 years, and he was trained that putting the customers' interests ahead of your own pays off in the long run. He said there's hardly anybody left in his line of work with that outlook.

Wow, PS, I wish I'd had a similar experience with the Merchants Tire I went to... they were OK for oil changes but when it came time for my 130,000 mile checkup, they charged me over $350, ignored my 20% off coupon and then charged me $99 to run the computer on my car not a week later when my check engine light came on... THEN after all that, they couldn't even tell me why the light was on, only told me "well it could be this or it could be this or it could be this..." with all of the "could be" items adding up to several thousand dollars. As if I look like the type of girl who has no idea how her car works or that I'm made of money (I am obviously neither). I ended up buying a new car and have a much better small-time car guy who doesn't rip his loyal customers off.

Pretty awesome to know that there are still customer service-oriented customer service people out there somewhere. Just wish I would find them more often.

pinkyswear said...

Like the guy said, there's hardly anybody left. For the young guys, he says, it's customers are suckers, so grab the money and run and let tomorrow take care of itself.

voltaic said...

A horrible experience, yet an entertaining rant! It reminded me of some of my experiences with Circuit Shitty before they wisely closed their doors!

No Spam said...

I boycotted best buy last month. I go in one day to pick up Fight Club on BluRay. I get to the check out and the girl at the register asks for my ID. I ask why. She says to make sure that I'm 18 years old. Now keep in mind that I'm 42 years old. I ask her if she really thinks there is a chance in hell that I'm 17 years old? Really...what was her first clue...the gray hair, the 3 days growth, the crows feet? No, it's company policy.

Sent them a nasty gram and got an email back saying they had proudly partnered with some dumbass soccer mom group that will harass even their most geriatric customers who dare to spend money on an R rated movie in their stores. So I went across the street to walmart, where they treat their middle aged customers like adults.

And while I'm on this rant, if these lazy ass soccer moms spent the time they devoted to getting a corporation to card it's customers for a movie on actually doing some real hands on parenting, they wouldn't need to worry about said kids watching Brad Pitt cut frames with big cocks randomly into movie reels.

*starts the slow clap for No Spam*

Well said!! I mean WTF. Same goes for video games... I only shop at GameStop for mine because I am 31 years old, I can blow the heads off animated monsters if I want to, I don't need some community college dropout carding me like I'm buying booze.

I think the "30 or under" rule makes sense at liquor stores just to be safe (and in fact, am a bit butthurt that my old ass doesn't get carded more often) but for movies, you'd think a little common sense could come in to play.

Maybe we're asking too much of the world at large.

Rage on, my friend, rage on.

Anonymous said...

I feel your pain! ) I have a BestBuy story too: went in to buy a wireless network card, find one nicely shrink-wrapped, pay for it, and find out once I get home that the box contains a regular ethernet card. I laugh at the error and like a fool stroll back into BestBuy and tell them what happened, and could I please have a box with the correct item in it. They treated me like some sort of scammer trying to get an extra network card out of it! Never mind my shopping history with them, never mind that I'm about 40 years old wearing a dress shirt and slacks and explaining the issue to them without a single nervous expression - they just wouldn't budge. That was when I decided to quit going there, no matter how good the prices, because the way they keep the prices so competitive for the majority is by screwing the minority and squeezing every dollar they can in the process. Customer service? They ain't heard of it.

Anonymous said...

These days, you have to be damned careful to check that item packaging hasn't been previously opened. Plenty of jackasses are exploiting the ignorance of retail employees by returning incorrect and/or defective items. Just the other day I bought some watch batteries from Walmart but not without noting that about 4 of the 10 packages had been opened and returned - doubtless containing the old dead batteries.

The bigger problem with Best Buy is that they only carry the "higher end" of any given product these days. I don't see that as sustainable as stores like Walmart expand their electronic device/parts offerings.

Anonymous said...

Its just a matter of time, and situations like yours were all too common when I worked for that bastard of a company.

Let me add my voice to those recommending Micro Center, if there is one near you. They've got a great selection and the sales people have a vocabulary that includes words other than "extended warranty."

Anonymous said...

I got a hard drive from them in 2001 or so. It came with a $50 rebate I waited & waited on it I finally contacted them they denied it, called me a liar.I sent it in following all the 20 rules of the rebate. I'm with you on that shit hole of a business! Never ever have I got anything from them.