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an open letter to BestBuy

Dear Best Buy,

I wanted to let you know about the regrettable experience with your stores I had this past weekend.

My husband and I were in the market for a converter cord that would connect my Macbook with a projector for a high school reunion slide show. The reunion was Sunday at 4:00. We have a BestBuy gift card burning a hole in our pockets, so we tried you first.

On Saturday afternoon, we logged onto BestBuy.com and were thrilled to find the option of locating in-stock items by store. We searched for the item we needed, confirmed which one store in the Eastern suburbs had it in stock, and immediately packed up the family for a quick trip to BestBuy. Easy peasy.

After a sob-filled ride to your store during which my son, who hates his car seat, cried the entire time, (I realize this is in no way your fault, just want to give you a detailed picture here), and a treacherous walk through an icy, busy parking lot, we finally entered the automatic sliding doors of the BestBuy in Woodbury…

only to find an empty shelf where our product should have been. We asked a sales person on the floor, because clearly there had been a mistake. No, no mistake, said the employee, rather unapologetically. They must have scanned in the merchandise recently delivered but not had a chance to put it out on the floor yet. Come back tomorrow, he said.

We looked at our baby. Looked at our watches. Looked out toward the parking lot. Looked back at the employee. Then we went and consoled ourselves over Caribou Coffee.

It is now Sunday. We have been to church. We have righted our bitter hearts and are ready to start anew with you, BestBuy. There is optimism in our outlook. Plus, we have to have the cord and be in downtown Minneapolis by 4:00 or we’re screwed. So there’s that.

This time, I get smart. I want to leave nothing up to the black hole of information that is the internet, so I pick up my phone and call.

[This is the conversation as verbatim as I can humanly remember it.]

“Thank you for calling BestBuy in Woodbury, how can I help you?”

“Hi. Yesterday I confirmed that something was in stock on the BestBuy website and when I came in to actually purchase it, it would seem that the site had lied. The employee told me to come back today to try again, but before I drive all the way over there, I would like you to confirm that the item is actually on the floor, not just in stock according to your system.”

“Uhm, ok, what’s the item?”

“A mini-display port to VGA adapter.”

“Ok, can you hold one moment?”

“Absolutely.”

[Cue hold music]

“Ma’am? Yes, we have that on the shelf. Would you like me to put one on hold for you?”

“That would be perfect.

“Ok, and you said the mini-display port to VGA, not DVI, correct?”

“Yes.”

“Alright, I confirmed that we have both out but I wanted to make sure to put the right one on hold. What’s your name?”

“Allison.”

“Ok, a mini-display port to VGA adapter will be behind the customer service counter when you come in.”

“Wonderful. Thank you for your help.”

Now, replay the scene with the crying and the driving and the parking lot crossing.

We once again enter the automatic sliding doors, but this time we make a bee line for the customer service area because, you know, we called ahead.

“O. The guy said that you hung up on him too quick to know what you needed. We don’t have that item.” Said the plain faced, accusatory customer service representative.

“I’m sorry? He said what? He confirmed with me twice what product I needed. TWICE. I would like to speak with him, is he still working?”

“Uhhh, let me go ask him something.”

[Walks away from the counter while my husband goes to check the shelf where there is, in fact, NO VGA ADAPTER.]

“Ok so the guy you talked to on the phone made a mistake and we don’t have that item on the shelf.”

“You’re kidding, right?” I thought, “I hung up the phone under the assumption that I would waltz in here and buy a product and you’re now telling me that not only did the internet lie to me yesterday, but a bona-fide human being lied to me today? REALLY?”

I was given nothing more than a half-hearted apology from the employee who still seemed to think that I did not give enough information when I called.

We turned on our heels, trekked back through the perilous parking lot, got in our car, and drove to the Apple store in Roseville, where we walked in and out with the adapter in hand in less than 5 minutes.

It would take persuasion of epic proportions for me to ever walk into your automatic sliding doors again, BestBuy.

Anybody want a gift card?

~~~~~~

This has been a part of the Writer’s Workshop hosted by Mama’s Losin’ It. Click here to see more.

40 Responses to “an open letter to BestBuy”

  1. Jen

    I have had several simialr things happen here in Iowa with Best Buy as well and haven’t been to the store in YEARS! And wouldn’t recommend it to anyone! Very discouraging!!!!

    Reply
    • AllisonO

      I think we’re to that point with BestBuy. I mean, we usually just buy our technology stuff for much MUCH cheaper online anyway, but in this case we needed it ASAP and we had the gift card. So maybe we’ll re-gift it? I wouldn’t really wish an experience like that on anyone, though…

      Reply
  2. Mandy

    Ouch, I can totally relate to ya on this story. Only mine involved Target, a 60 mile rode trip and a Chuck my Talking Truck. When I got to the store, screaming baby and all, I got an unapologetic “We can’t be held responsible for what the web site says we do or do not have in stock.” I wanted to cry. So I toted screaming baby back to the car, drove the 60 miles back home and ordered it off eBay. Fun times!

    Reply
    • AllisonO

      A SIXTY MILE ROAD TRIP?! O Mandy, I would have had someone’s head. OR been like “Excuse me Target employee, can you hold this screaming baby for a moment? I need to go to the bathroom for a quick sob fest. BRB.”

      I think if they can’t guarantee what they say will be in stock WILL BE IN STOCK, they ought not say it, eh?

      Reply
  3. Hannah

    I do hope you send that as a letter to them!
    Best Buy really is not all they’re cracked up to be…

    Reply
    • AllisonO

      I’ve thought about it, although it’s kinda a bloggy sassy tone and not a professionally written complaint tone. Maybe BestBuy reads my blog. That would solve everything. :)

      Reply
  4. Kristin

    I hear you – I’m not sure what it is with “Customer Service” in so many stores today – but it seems there is not much of it! At least it makes for an amusing blog post! (on your end, I’m sure that’s stretching to find the half-full glass!)

    Reply
    • AllisonO

      You know, I am often very intentional about being an enjoyable customer to serve. On crazy days, even when I’m in a hurry, I will slow down and sincerely ask the cashier how they are or make a comment to lighten the mood and let them know that I am not just another frustrated guest.

      But this? In this case I was very intentionally NOT enjoyable. ::mumbles under breath::

      Reply
    • AllisonO

      I probably could have made more of a scene, but you know, being a role model for OBaby and all… I held back. I did write them a snarky, nasty letter and publish it online later though. :)

      Reply
  5. Ali

    Okay, seeing as I am the one who directly benefited from your unfortunate experience, I want to offer my humblest apologies as well as a heart filled with gratitude and thankfulness for all that you helped me with after such a traumatic afternoon! Seriously! You and Dan were God’s answer to prayer for me, and thank you so much for still letting Him use you even when you had such a frustrating experience! Apparently Best Buy could not even put a damper on your God-filled heart ready to serve! That’s why I love being your friend! Such an inspiration! Have I told you lately, Dan, that you picked the cream of the crop!? Happy New Year!

    Reply
    • AllisonO

      Awe, Ali. DanO says “I agree”

      And I say it was no big deal, really. I mean, it wasn’t at all the inconvenience of it, it was the crummy service and information from BestBuy that was lame. I think our experience at the Mac store was so quick and easy that we were able to relax and just be there to help. NO APOLOGIES allowed from you, missy.

      Thanks for letting us help you! It was fun to be a part of it.

      Reply
  6. Jessy

    I am so sorry to hear this, we have never had that problem at our Best Buy in Iowa, the opposite in fact. They messed up on something for my husband and I and then went above and beyond what I would have thought they would do. Maybe you were just to nice. I’m glad, though, that you found what you needed by the time that you needed it. I’m sure there will be a movie or something you can find at Best Buy to use the gift card.

    Reply
    • AllisonO

      A movie. That’s a really good idea, Jessy. Speaking of that, can we just all agree to skip the Bluray thing? PLEASE? I cannot afford to restock our movies every.five.years.

      Reply
  7. Hillary

    Ugh! How frustrating! We’ve had some bad experinces at Best Buy too. In fact, I’m relatively sure we once went to the same one in Woodbury and had problems there too. I guess that’s why my aunt always refers to the store as “Worst Buy.”

    Reply
    • AllisonO

      Siiigh. In theory I love that they’re “local” and headquartered here, but after this I am just not sure they will ever make a buck off me again.

      Reply
  8. Tracy

    Hey-

    At http://www.giftcardrescue.com you can sell your gift card for just a little less than what the value is. I would sell it, too! We went in looking for a TV at Bestbuy, and waited a half an hour for someone who worked in the TV section to help us, who never came, and instead it was a customer who recommended a certain TV. We never even got the help from the store. Not cool!

    Reply
    • AllisonO

      Hi Tracy!

      I’m glad you got a customer’s opinion! I’m totally that annoying lady that will ask someone else in the store if they know anything about what I’m shopping for. Sometimes I get really good information, and sometimes I get really weird looks :). Can’t win ‘em all I guess.

      -AllisonO

      Reply
    • AllisonO

      I WAS livid, but livid in a “there are a lot of other people in here and I am not a scene-maker” kind of way. Livid in a passive-aggressive, “O, I am SO BLOGGING THE CRAP OUT OF THIS” way. I think it works, no?

      Reply
  9. Mama23Bears

    i used to work there and after that experience i will NEVER shop there! it’s waaaay over priced and the sales people are nothing more than unhelpful teenagers getting paid to breathe the air that circulates that black and yellow store. yuck!

    i also worked at headquarters for awhile and while the building was very impressive, the people are not!

    glad it all worked out in the end for you!

    Reply
    • AllisonO

      Good to know! So, do you think printing this sucker off and sending it over there would do me any good? More gift cards? Eh? Eh?

      Reply
  10. gretchen from lifenut

    I read this with great interest because my husband works part time at Best Buy. He has a “normal” 9-5 type job at a software company, too—but they slashed everyone’s salaries by 20% last February in a cost-cutting move. He has no choice but to work another job.

    I am sorry to read the employees were rude and plain wrong when you tried to pick up the cord for the second time. There is no excuse for that behavior.

    I take HUGE issue with Mama23Bears’ comment regarding the sales people being nothing but unhelpful teenagers. At my husband’s store, many of the employees are people who work there as their second jobs because times are tight. My husband has vast computer knowledge and a good heart. I can’t fathom him ever being unhelpful or rude to anyone.

    So, I suppose you could submit your letter to Best Buy and try to get some more gift cards, Just remember, not everyone who works there is a jerk, an idiot, or out to ruin your day. I am surprised by how visceral I feel right now about this. I guess it isn’t easy to watch one’s husband work TWO jobs to the point of exhaustion only to see one of the companies he works for be bashed. REAL people, GOOD people work there too.

    Reply
    • AllisonO

      Thank you, Gretchen. You are absolutely right, one customer or one employee’s story about a company doesn’t mean that our experiences are universally applicable to every employee or every store. I am so thankful that you joined the conversation, visceral or not :]
      -AllisonO

      Reply
    • Adventures In Babywearing

      I used to work part time at Bath & Body Works a few years ago and have to say- oh I remember making a mistake or two. I always was apologetic and would like to think that I’d never have made this type of error, but it’s definitely possible, especially this time of year. It’s madness in the backroom, behind the registers, and out on the floor. I’ve had my share of similar experiences where I was the shopper, too. I know how frustrating it is. I just try to remember that the people making those mistakes are HUMAN and worth way more than any product I want to buy or sell.

      Steph

      Reply
      • AllisonO

        “The people making those mistakes are HUMAN and worth way more than any product I want to buy or sell.” This is why you are so awesome, Steph. Amazing.

        When did retail environments become so hostile? I think it probably has something to do with our inherent sense of entitlement. Sigh.

        As I mentioned to Kristin, often on crazy shopping days, I will slow down and sincerely ask the cashier how they are or make a comment to lighten the mood and let them know that I am not just another frustrated guest. I think for the most part we are all – employees and customers – well intentioned and even just a purposeful smile can be a reminder that we are not out to get the other person.

        Looking back, I wouldn’t change a single action or word said. I really made it clear that I was more disappointed than anything and I think someone, ANYONE offering me a sincere apology would have gone very far to improve my experience. That just never happened.

        Reply
        • Adventures In Babywearing

          I’ve been there, where you are. I just about lost it on a Panera cashier the other night, I forgot to add earlier. SHE SAID THEY WERE OUT OF BREAD. (as I looked upon loaves behind her.)

          Just as the employees are stressed, overworked, underpaid, so are WE. The whole human race right now is on edge. I am praying for peace and a slow down and a pace we can all exist peacefully together in harmony.

          It can totally happen, right? :)

          Steph

    • AllisonO

      Yea, I think we’re done at this point, too. It’ll be a while, that’s for sure. Plus technology is SO cheap online and we’re the kind of people who know exactly what we’re looking for. We don’t need to ‘shop’, usually.

      Reply
  11. abby

    oh you poor thing! Stuff like that drives me crazy!! I hope you had fun at the reunion once you got the cord:)

    Reply
  12. rebecca d

    We had a similar experience with the “on-line in stock liar”, but not only were we sent home empty handed, but after the twirp who works there said “check back on Tuesday when we finish re-stocking” (it was Thursday…seriously, it takes 5 days to put something on a shelf.), but he then proceeded to flirt with our 14 year old daughter! We left the store with my husband muttering something about shotguns…thankfully starbucks in across the street and violence was averted by over-priced coffee.
    Happy New Year!

    Reply
    • AllisonO

      AH! I love that you guys went to Starbucks and we drowned our sorrows in Caribou. Expensive, high-calorie coffee drinks can cover a multitude of sins, no?

      Reply
  13. Tanya

    Well….. Firstly I must commend you on your strength to contain your temperance, that is very admirable. Now I must admit something so awful I don’t even want to admit it, but I was once an employee at best buy. I worked there for three years 2 of which I spent behind the customer service desk and the last of it was spent as a supervisor of the customer service desk. Luckily i had a beautiful baby girl and left my job to spend all of my time with her. I know many many bad stories of Best Buy, I experienced most of them first hand but I was on the other side. Best Buy is not very organized when it comes to stock check the phone rings all minutes of the day and there aren’t nearly enough employees working at one time to check stock for all the employees who call, so they use a computer that only updates every 24 hours. I would recommend writing to the corporate office, not in a mean or nasty way but all feedback is helpful in better serving their customers. If they know where there are flaws then they can fix the problem so hopefully no one else has to go through the same ordeal. Im sorry you were the one who had to deal with the bad service, but try and remember that the people working in customer service get yelled at by 5 out of 7 customers they really are trying to do the best they can on the little they have.
    God bless

    Reply
    • AllisonO

      Yeesh. That doesn’t sound like a fun work environment. I think I will send (a much more professional version of) this letter to them at some point, you’re right, if only because they need to have honest feedback about the online system.

      Reply
  14. Tanya

    Oh also… You will most likely receive some sort of incentive ( most likely a gift-card ) to return to the store if you decide to write them a letter, you may also help others who are going through same thing. Plus if you never want to return to the store you could always do contests or games of sort on your site and give the gift-cards away as prizes.

    Reply
  15. Cassie

    Friend! I’m so sorry about your Best Buy experience. One of the ways that large (Best Buy clearly qualifies) corporations are utilizing social media is to respond to tweets, Facebook posts, blogs, etc. regarding their organization. It is common to have a customer service team devoted to scouring the internet looking for opportunities to respond to consumers. This way the conversation has already been initiated by the consumer, opening the door for dialogue. What a prime opportunity for them! I’m curious to know if Best Buy responded to you in any way. And if not, they’ve totally missed out. One, because they’ve lost electronics-loving Dan O. And two, because anyone would be lucky to converse with you!

    Reply
    • AllisonO

      Haha, a la Dooce and Maytag (or whoever that was?). Would be nice, that’s for sure! I really should send them a letter of some sort. Kinda feels like gossiping about them if I don’t say it to their face, you know?

      (PS: I miss you and OMW when are you going to meet Micah. Use your freakin miles and come visit us already. Dang.)

      Reply
  16. shane

    Okay let’s get some clarification here best buy also has an instore pick up option. This allows you to purchase the in stock item online then go pick it up. That way the item is not sold before you get there. Believe it or not other people may be wanting to buy the same thing as you. Furthermore from time to time there is an issue with inventory numbers. This could come from a receiving problem or a theft issue. And finally yes the guy on the phone was wrong, but you are blaming an entire company cause of one bad employee. There are going to be a few bad apples where ever you do business. And yes most customer service people are the worst ones, but these people usually have the lowest paid positions and have to get yelled at all day for other peoples mistakes, whether its the company or shoppers fault. Put yourself in the shoes of the person trying to help you, no matter if its retail, food, or any other industry, before you decide to blast on them. Thank you.

    Reply
    • AllisonO

      Hi Shane,

      Thank you for the comment. I would have loved to use the in-store pickup option, but it was not available on this item.

      “And finally yes the guy on the phone was wrong, but you are blaming an entire company cause of one bad employee.”
      As the first sentence of the letter reads, I have simply recounted a play by play of my experience with one of their stores. I made no assertions of who was at fault nor did I blame the company itself. I simply said this was my experience and I will not be back. As a consumer in a capitalist society it is my prerogative where I spend my dollar. I will choose to spend it where I have positive experiences.

      As far as ‘blasting on people’, I’m not sure where you found this in the content of this letter. I said no harsh words to any of the employees (in the letter or in real life), just waited patiently for apologies that never came. Having myself worked in customer service in food, retail, and telecom, I know that an apology is the absolute first thing you offer to a customer receiving bad news, whether it’s your fault or not. That is your job. I must have apologized 50 times a day at my telecom position.

      This letter is quite literally nothing more than a recounting of an event. If you came away with the impression that I called BestBuy a bad company, it was only because of interpretation and not because I openly made that statement.

      Thanks again for your comment, I appreciate you letting me know your thoughts!

      -AllisonO

      Reply

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