If you’re reading this you’ve likely spent plenty of time in a Best Buy. They’re everywhere, they have most of what you want and you can take it home today. That said I’ve always hated going into one, but why?
Well simply put, service. Too much of it when you don’t need it and not enough when you do. I don’t walk into a Best Buy to ‘look around’ or ‘learn’ from their rather ill-informed salesmen. I go into a Best Buy to pick up something I literally HAVE to have that day for a client. There’s nothing that bothers me more than walking into a Best Buy in an attempt to quickly pick up a highly overpriced cable and having a 19-year-old follow me around attempting to explain to me the differences between HDMI cables and why I need one that’s gold plated with a warranty (gold plating makes no difference at all and if your product is so amazing why do I so badly need a warranty on it?)
It’s recently become so bad that if I have no other choice but to purchase something at a Best Buy I’ll order it online and select store pickup, so I have zero chance of dealing with the salesmen. I’ll inevitably still have to deal with the yellow-shirt-wearing-boss at the front door whom always needs to check your receipt as though you’re a criminal whether or not they’ve just watched you finish your transaction at the register.
With Best Buy offering price matching including Amazon it can be quite convenient to pick up the product I want without having to wait the seemingly painful 1-2 days it takes to arrive from Amazon (ok it’s not painful at all, but when you need something you need it). So, I’ve spent plenty of money over the last few years when it makes sense. At the end of the day I need what I need and if two stores offer the same product at the same price, I’ll take whichever I can get quicker in most scenarios.
Make it easy for me to pick up what I want, don’t bother me with upsells, warranties and attempts at explaining things you don’t understand. When I do have a problem, be there to help, and I’m not talking about explaining to me how to install an app on my iPhone. I’m talking about making it easy for me to return an item that has failed to meet my expectations as a consumer, as a professional, as a person or as a business.
The final straw.
Last week I was doing a TON of research on cameras, something I’m already relatively well versed in but wanted to make sure I would be spending my money the best way I could for a camera that would serve me for the next year or two. I’ve recently decided to do some vlogging and how-to videos, thus I wanted to make sure I got something that would work for all of my needs. At the end of many hours of research I was convinced that the Sony RV-100 V was the camera I would be purchasing, so I set off to Best Buy where it was being sold for the same price as Amazon (now cheaper at Amazon) but I could pick it up tonight. I decided to go to the store and check it out in person prior to making the big purchase. When I arrived I quickly found out their online inventory was “nowhere near accurate” and they didn’t have any in-stock. Let down, I figured I’d just have to order and wait, but then I noticed they had a few ‘open box’ specials (cameras that had been purchased, opened and returned or otherwise demo units). I couldn’t believe it when I saw the Sony RV-100 V I was looking for sitting right there, and marked down quite a bit! At the time, the normal price was $999, but it was on a holiday sale of $849. This unit was an additional $170 off for being an open box unit, but didn’t include a charger or computer cable, they took it out of the case and emptied the box out to show me what was included. After talking to an associate for a few minutes they indicated they would take off another $40 because it had been sitting in the case for 2+ months and should have been re-priced by now.
I was quite happy, my initial expected price of $849 just became $639 and all I have to do is buy a battery charger (which I found on Amazon with 2 spare batteries for $21). I even decided to pick up a Gorillapod tripod and was happy as a clam, or so I thought.
I got home and set it all up, ready for a weekend vacation for New Years. It quickly became apparent this wasn’t the camera for me, from the poor battery life to awful screen that doesn’t fully articulate (seriously Sony, get it together, all of your cameras need a fully articulating screen). I also expected a lot more out of the lens included but I digress. It simply wasn’t up to my expectations and some of this may have been due to the fact that it had already been returned once, maybe it was a lemon?
7 days after my initial purchase I was back home from our quick Santa Cruz vacation and promptly visited Best Buy to return the camera, this is when things went downhill fast. I walk in and head straight for customer service, wait in line and eventually I’m helped. I explain the situation and that I’d like to return it and will be purchasing another camera (didn’t know which one or where from at the time). The associate then asks why I don’t have a ‘sticker’ on the box, which I don’t understand. He then explains I was supposed to get a sticker at the front door before proceeding to customer service, otherwise he can’t tell if I actually brought the camera into the store. He’s now essentially acting as though I may be returning stolen or otherwise not paid for merchandise, just how I want to be treated right? I say to him, “Well sir, if someone had offered me a sticker at the door I’d have just that, unfortunately someone obviously wasn’t doing their job and here we are. I’m relatively convinced I’m probably the only guy returning a camera with a big, red, open box item sticker on it with a matching receipt for said pricing correct? If not I’d imagine your security cameras got a pretty good look at the ‘action’ right?”
He looked a bit lost, as though he had never considered any of that being possible. Regardless he agrees and happily goes back to processing the return. He then tells me I’ll be receiving $597 back as a refund to the card which catches me off-guard. It had been a week since my initial purchase and I didn’t remember exactly what I had paid, but I thought it was more. He then explains to me there is a 15% restocking fee for returning a camera that has been opened. I then reply with, “Sir maybe we aren’t understanding each other here, I bought a used camera from you, it was literally already open when I purchased it. As a matter of fact, your salesman opened the box up in the store and took everything out to see what it did/did not come with. Doesn’t make much sense to charge me a $96 restocking fee now does it?”
His response was that, “it was policy, regardless of a camera being new or open boxed”, and at that point I had no choice but to ask for the manager as he obviously wasn’t going to be helpful. A few minutes later a manager arrives and says, “she’ll take care of it this time but to remember in the future there is a restocking fee”. Acting as though I’m somehow getting ‘lucky’ and being ‘taken care of’ for not charging me almost $100 to return a previously purchased camera with a bad battery. Maybe I’m crazy.
And that Best Buy, is why you’ll never see my business again. I fully understand it can be costly to a business to accept returns for ‘no fault of your own’, but to attempt to charge customers 15% regardless of the return reason, as well as charging it on an ALREADY OPENED item?! It’s not as though I took a new item and made it impossible to sell as new again, I literally bought a camera you’ve already charged someone a 15% restocking fee (as well as $25 for the missing cable and $40 for the missing charger per the initial salesman). No packaging, parts, cables, booklets or anything missing. Same condition as I purchased it in. Well, same condition as I may have stolen it in (Sorry my customer training class didn’t inform me of my need to locate a sticker near the front door when coming back into the store. Apparently, my proof of purchase isn’t enough?).
Amazon, I’m sorry I strayed, it won’t happen again.