My Ordeal with Best Buy


September 18, 2010 – Converted My Ordeal with Best Buy editorial from the original JYCS. Unlike the American Cellular piece, this piece is still current. I still do not shop at Best Buy unless I absolutely have no choice (such as emergencies at work when I need a computer part). And, as I wrote in the article, Best Buy continues to make big bucks (see BBY).

For a family, the process of purchasing a new television is usually filled with excitement and joy. When my mother finally decided it was time to purchase a new set, I was naturally elated and quickly did the necessary research on buying a new television. Having narrowed the choice down to the Sony Wega, we proceeded to search for the retailer with the lowest price. On a trip to Best Buy #187, located in San Francisco, we discovered that the prices on their televisions were much lower than that of the competition. Thus, we decided to make our purchase from them. It was a decision that we would soon regret.

We made the purchase on April 17th, 2002. Our choice was a 32-inch FD Trinitron Wega TV, with 10% off the already low purchase price and a delivery date of April 19th. Finally, the day arrived and we were thoroughly impressed with the quality of the picture tube. Alas, one of the component video RCA jacks had a problem. Strangely enough, it was either too small or had something stuck inside; the component cable would not plug into it. We tried several different cables, to no avail. The other two component video jacks worked perfectly. So, we thought, it must have been a lemon, and we drove back to Best Buy to make an exchange on April 30th. The exchange went smoothly, with the exception of the expected delivery date of the replacement TV being May 23rd, meaning that we would be stuck with a defective TV for almost a month. Obviously, we did not like that idea, so we elected to cancel the sale. If they were going to make us wait a month, then we would rather buy from a different store for a higher price. Unfortunately, the return process did not go as smoothly as the exchange.

Initially, we thought that the return procedure went very well. We explained the situation to the customer service associate, and she promptly gave us the refund we were looking for. Having been spoiled by the ease of obtaining refunds these days, we failed to verify that the amount refunded was equal to the original price paid. Not until we had gotten back into the car did we realize that the refunded price was $75.92 less than the original purchase price. Curious, we went back to the store to inquire into the reason for the difference. The clerk informed us that the price difference was equivalent to two times the price for delivery, plus tax. The second delivery charge was for the pickup of the defective TV. How ridiculous! Best Buy was telling us that we bought a defective TV, we could not get a replacement in a timely manner, and as a penalty for being unsatisfied at that, a charge of $75.92 was levied towards us. We felt that we had paid $75.92 for nothing (which was true). We felt that after all we had been through, Best Buy could at least absorb the $75.92. The associate informed us that the only way to avoid being charged was to select another TV to replace the defective one so that in the end, only one delivery charge would have been made. Therefore, we reluctantly selected another Wega, this time a 36-inch version of the exact same model.

Interestingly enough, the delivery date of the new 36-inch would only be a few days away, on May 3rd. There was also a promotion going on at the time: a free leather recliner valued at $199.99 was included with our television set. The recliner was immediately available, so we took it home feeling a little bit better thinking that we would finally have a new TV. We were happy about the free recliner as well. Finally, we received our second TV from Best Buy. Not surprisingly, this TV was defective as well! Even on the brightest setting, the picture was extremely dark and dull. This was not a characteristic of that particular Sony Wega TV. Obviously, a viewer’s perception of brightness is highly subjective, but in this case, there was clearly something wrong with the TV. So, it was a trip to Best Buy again.

Now, the date is May 6th, 2002. We once again went back to Best Buy. At this point, we had logged over four hours in the store just over this one television purchase disgrace. We logged three additional hours there that day. At first, we were willing to make another exchange, but again, they told us that they would not have any stock until June. We found it extremely suspicious that stock was magically available for new purchases, but not for exchanges. Of course, we did not want to be stuck with a dark tube television for a month, so we demanded that we receive all our money back. That took a significant amount of time because as mentioned before, Best Buy’s policy is that delivery charges are non-refundable, even if the product turns out to be defective. We were finally able to convince one of the associates that it makes no sense for a customer to pay $75.92 for a whole lot of wasted time and nothing else. That is truly not a good way to do business. The associate told us that we would have to wait for the MOD (manager of the day) and then see if she could approve a full refund. We waited over an hour for a MOD to show up. The people waiting in line behind us could tell you, there was a severe shortage of workers at Best Buy that day. When the MOD finally showed up, we of course had to explain the whole situation again. At that point we had already lost our patience, and just wanted the whole thing to be over with. The MOD took our receipts, disappeared into her office, and then came out and said that we would not be getting a full refund. We would still be charged $75.92. Though we were infuriated, we decided we had wasted enough time and effort trying to get through to these people. We just wanted our money back for the TV. As a consolation, the customer service associate said that we could keep the recliner. So, we agreed to have their deliverymen pick up the TV on May 8th. Even though we got to keep the chair, we left Best Buy feeling that we had been wronged. We must have had a sense of what would be coming.

After the deliverymen picked up the television, we called Best Buy to confirm that they had received the set and refunded our account. They confirmed that they had received the TV, but they did not refund our account because we still had the chair. At this point, all we could say was “wow.” We did not even want to dispute it anymore. We arranged to have the chair picked up, although the representative did not say when it would be picked up. Two months later, today in fact, I brought the chair back to Best Buy and finally received a refund for the television set, but not the delivery charges. I spent another hour there. This ordeal began on April 17th, and finally ended on July 31st. And what we got out of it was a lesson that cost us $75.92.

In conclusion, I want to say that this is the worst experience my family or I have had with any retailer or business period. Nothing comes close to this. A word to describe this entire ordeal would be robbery. We gave a big company like Best Buy $75.92 for nothing but a whole lot of trouble and frustration. I believe that if Best Buy practiced smart business, it would have refunded such a small amount to us so that we would buy there again. As you may have noticed, I am a computer buff and computer buffs buy lots of new hardware and technology. As a result of this disgrace, I will not buy from them again. They may have cost themselves thousands of dollars, which will now go to other, better, retailers. I will spread around the word that Best Buy is a horrible store. DO NOT SHOP AT BEST BUY. Their prices may be low, but sometimes, you really do get what you pay for. Having said all this, they probably do not care about such a small customer as myself. They probably do not care about anyone other than themselves. Just take a look at this link (9-18-10 edit: link to “Hypothermia” is now dead) to see whom else Best Buy has exploited recently. But, I have a feeling that none of it matters, because they are still expanding and they will continue to make money. However, they will no longer make any of my money.