There are some folk who don't see the gem inside my rough exterior who might consider me a hot head. To which I say a hearty "bite me". But let this opinion be a caution that within this blog may lurk items of a venting nature or perhaps those which might be considered a rant. So be it. Proceed with caution. You have been warned.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Moderating Best Buy Suckage

Over the years I've picked up some techniques to deal with Best Buy. Of course their effectiveness depends on how badly you want the item at the Best Buy price, how dimwitted the help on duty at the time of your visit is, and how quickly you can think on your feet.

Some examples:

1). Go when the store is busy. This may seem contrary to common sense, because if you have to deal with customer service, you will have to stand in line for 30 minutes and if you DO make a purchase, you will have to stand at the single open checkout for at least that long. However, if the store is full, the effectiveness of making a scene escalates. Best Buy will screw you long and hard if they can do it in relative privacy, but if there are 20-30 witnesses to the screwing, they tend to want to settle things quickly.

2). When things go bad, be loud. Don't shout or use profanity (no matter how appropriate it may seem), just pretend that you are on stage and the people up in the balcony need to hear you. If you have followed rule 1, there will be many people around who will be interested in what you are saying. For instance, when you want to buy the loss-leader item with the attractive low price and find they actually have none in the store (this happens CONSTANTLY). Phrases such as "You are advertising this item but you aren't actually selling them?" or "Have you ever heard of 'bait and switch'?" or "The State's Attorney is going to hear about this." make employees squirm. Then demand to see a manager and repeat the conversation at an even higher sound level. When asked not to shout by an employee, inform them that you are not shouting, that you are hard of hearing and how dare they ridicule a handicapped person. This tactic alone has gotten me sale prices on comparable items when being baited and switched and gotten me refunds on merchandise said to be "non-refundable" (i.e. damaged software CDs)

3). When asked to buy a PSP, politely say no. If pushed reply (again in your stage voice). "There are hundreds of stories on the internet about how PSPs are a scam." Again, if there are many people about, you will hear no more about PSP.

4). Ask employees to sign statements. "Will you sign a statement to the effect that you won't give me the price displayed on the shelf?" This is effective for those sales that "ended yesterday". Of course the floor guy will refuse, but at the manager level, saying "If this is your policy, you shouldn't be ashamed to put it in writing." often works wonders. Again, the presence of bystanders is very helpful.

5). Be willing to leave your purchase at the check out and walk out the door. People at the local Best Buy know me. They also know that if left alone and treated fairly I can be a good customer. They also know that if there is a hint of scam, things will get uncomfortable. When my wife and I walk into the store, there is soon a manager watching me. This is good. I never do anything unlawful and I am happy to have a manager near when the odious substance comes into close proximity to the fan.

6). Be polite, yet persistent. Don't back off on the volume and keep insisting that they live up to what they promise. The goal is to make them want to get what is turning into a small spectacle settled.

These tactics have obviously been built up over years of experience of shoddy and shameful business practices by Best Buy. I could refuse to shop there, but I feel that it is effective when you really need something quickly to put their feet to the fire and make them actually live up to their advertising, provide refunds when appropriate, etc. It helps that my wife and I are middle aged and look respectable. They can try to tell kids that they can't come back to the store, but with folks that have been around long enough to know their legal rights, they don't try strong arm tactics. Yes, they suck intensely, but with me they do so at the cost of extreme discomfort and embarassment.