Monday, May 16, 2011

Best Buy Redeemed

One of the things I inherited from my husband was his laptop. I’d never owned one, never saw the need for one, but this one was sitting idle on his desk, so I thought, “what the heck?” and glommed on to it. And I liked it. A lot. But about a week ago, it started having some kind of seizure. Turns out to be a video card issue and in the scheme of things, it's not fixable. Thus began a search for a new laptop.

I did my homework and even went to look at them in person ...not a good experience but that’s another story... and finally asked a friend who knows about these things to go with me last Sunday for the final analysis. The decision was made and I went to Best Buy’s website to make the purchase since they were out of the HP special at the West Saint Paul store. Well, the web was out of stock, too, but the order was accepted with a note saying the laptop would arrive around the end of the month. Not a problem; I could wait.

On Thursday, I got the email saying the computer I ordered was no longer available and here’s their idea of an equitable substitution. It was not. There was less DRMM, less memory and a lesser processor.  

I called and spoke to a guy named Zach at the Missouri call center. He called it a substitution. I called it bait’n’switch. We looked at the specs, and he agreed: this was not even close to the one I ordered.  I pointed out the machine I wanted was still out there, but way more expensive than the sale price.

He agreed that I shouldn’t settle for the substitute and opened a customer service “ticket.” I was very specific in saying I wanted to be contacted via email, NOT by phone since I actually have a job.

Best Buy Customer service called my house on Friday. 1) It was not an email. 2) It was during normal business hours when I specifically said I would not be available. 3) The woman spoke to my father-in-law who explained I was at work but would be home after 4:30. She said she would call back before 5 p.m.

At 5:15 p.m. I called the number on the original email, explained the situation, and was passed to another help person...who then passed me to someone else. That person confirmed that the ticket said the two machines were not comparable, and that I’d asked to be contacted via email, not phone. She also put me on hold to call the customer service desk, and then delivered the message that I would definitely be called that evening. 


Lo and behold! Sunday's ad had a Dell computer almost identical to the one I ordered; in fact, it's a slightly faster machine AT THE SAME PRICE as the one I ordered. Can someone explain why this wasn't offered as an option?

Well, now it’s Monday.  At 10:00 a.m. central I got an email from Best Buy saying, "I am needing some more information regarding this situation, so that I can further assist you." I outlined the problem in a return email. The woman handling my “case” asked me to call her. She provided a toll-free number and her direct extension. 

Multiple calls and unpleasant attitudes (from people to whom I had no desire whatsoever to talk) later, I finally got through to the original customer service agent handling this morass. It’s amazing what happens when someone who is skilled, empathetic, and looking to solve a problem gets on the phone. Her opening salvo was an apology for the multiple calls to reach her. We explored some options, figured out which machine would make me happiest, and then she upgraded my software package. As pissed off as I was earlier, this was excellent service recovery. [Ashlee, you know who you are…again, thank you!]

Back in business!
I have walked many miles in shoes not dissimilar to Ashlee’s. I know what it’s like to deal with an irate customer. Probably the most important thing she said, right after the apology, was “Let’s see what we can do to get this fixed.” She did, it was, and I am coming to you from my new Dell laptop. 

Of course, I'm just one squeaky customer and a lot of people probably took that substitute computer. But I figure we are all getting smarter about technology or at least we should be. If enough of us consumer types catch them in the act, perhaps the buyers will be less inclined to perpetrate a bait'n'switch. Or not. Hard to say.

For now, I will go back to Best Buy. 

Wifely Person’s Tip o’the Week
Unhappy with the service you’re getting?
Vote with your feet.
PS: And Best Buy... while I'm on a roll, do something about the service in Eagan. It really does suck.


  1. Yippee! Glad you are back in business. Retailers be alert . . . don't mess with the Wifely Person!

  2. AMAZINGLY, as America becomes a service industry country, we become less service-compliant.

    Something is rotten in Eagan, ...and Woodbury... and India.


  3. Live in the country like I do and it's an hour drive to any box-like store. Yay!

  4. Mazal tov on the new machine.

    How do they do it? Volume.

    That's how they can offer the low prices. But it also means a massive service operation, with both the positive and negative consequences.

    Good for you for being persistent.


  5. Yesterday was Primary Day in my State and I caused quite a raucous when I followed your tip and attempted to vote with my feet. Please forward bail money. Thank you.

  6. Forgive me, but as the mother of a 13 year old boy, I can not help but smile at the word 'morass'.