CEO, Best Buy
I am writing to make you aware of an astonishingly horrendous experience I recently had with Best Buy. I believe every chain of service that comprises the, what I previously always hailed to friends and family as the ‘well-oiled-machine-known-as-Best-Buy,’ broke down; and I can only hope I can find the words necessary to effectively communicate the level of frustration, disgust, anguish and disappointment this terrible experience has caused.
I’d like to begin my email by stating that I am an extremely loyal Best Buy consumer. Beyond going to Best Buy for all personal electronic purchases, I also shop Best Buy for corporate purposes. My occupation, Marketing, finds me buying many of the newest gadgets, regardless of the employing organization. In addition, I rave about each and every transaction to family, friends and colleagues. I talk about the excellent service you can expect from your sales associates in-store, their product knowledge – and the extensive training I know they receive prior to hitting the floor. I talk about your new, growing Mobile capabilities and, given the excellent deals you offer on Mobile phones throughout the year and your relationship with all major carriers, (you’d) be crazy to go elsewhere. I also share via my many social networking sites many of your marketing messages, sales, promotions, etc., making me more than just a loyal consumer but a brand advocate as well. This, ALL IN SPITE OF, the fact that your parent organization donates to anti-gay political causes in the mid-west -- though I am not gay I am a firm, firm believer in equal rights for our LGBT neighbors.
This particular incident began on Tuesday, November 22, 2011 when I wanted to purchase a laptop for my Father. Having just spec’d out all of your laptops for myself, when I heard my Dad’s laptop crashed and he needed to replace it immediately for a business trip, I was confident I could make the choice quickly and easily since I had just gone through your entire online inventory. I found the product I wanted, the Toshiba-Satellite Laptop, SKU: 3624333. Whenever I have personally purchased PC’s and laptops from you it has been in-store. I have ALWAYS opted to purchase your optional Geek Squad set-up service to remove all the bulk-ware Windows loves to pile in there. I HAVE NEVER PURCHASED A PC OR LAPTOP ONLINE SO I DID NOT KNOW HOW TO PURCHASE THIS GEEK SQUAD SERVICE THROUGH BESTBUY.COM. I called 888 BEST BUY to get help with this question: “How can I purchase the Geek Squad service through the Internet and/or through you by completing the transaction over the phone? Plus, since the laptop was for my Father, who is in a different state and in urgent need of a machine, I would need the pick-up option at his local store, Would it be possible to get the computer “ushered” over to Geek Squad to have the service performed and then call the store and/or be notified via phone once the work is complete and the laptop ready for pick-up?”
Priscilla who helped me on this day (about 10:30 AM), told me that I could purchase the laptop through her ALONG with the Geek Squad set-up service (which she told me would cost $125.99). In addition I wanted to purchase the 2-year protection at $109.99 and the Norton anti-virus which you were offering for $19.99 with the Laptop Purchase. Though the transaction took a very, very long time because the computers were slow to process on your end, the transaction was complete; Order Number: BBY01-429074009409. Priscilla tells me that the Laptop should be ready for pick-up from the Saratoga Springs, NY store (as I requested) from the Geek Squad on the morning of 11/23/11.
I call my Dad feeling pride that I’ve “done good.” Did I mention he’s just been diagnosed with Cancer and that, though a very smart Man, just simply not of the generation who knows how much RAM he needs and what size processor he should buy and why he doesn’t need to pay for a machine that’s good for gamers. I give him the BBY # and instruct him to call Best Buy, Saratoga in the morning to confirm the machine is ready before he goes to pick it up.
He calls ME the next morning to inform me that not only is the Toshiba-Satellite Laptop, SKU: 3624333 NOT READY but it is on back-order and will be shipping to MY HOUSE in approximately 2 weeks. What??? I have so many questions at this point. How did this happen? I placed the order with a live human being? How is it shipping to MY HOUSE? How is it shipping to ANY house given the importance I placed on needing the Geek Squad Service.
I call 888 BEST BUY immediately. Now I am rushing as it is the Wednesday morning before Thanksgiving, 11/23/11, and I have to catch a flight to Albany to see my family. On this day I speak to Marci, I give her my BBY # and explain the situation. I am obviously very upset but am more concerned with quick resolution than finding out how this happened. The first thing Marci tells me is that IT IS NOT POSSIBLE TO PURCHASE THE GEEK SQUAD SET-UP SERVICE THROUGH BESTBUY.COM OR 888 BEST BUY. WHAT???
Well, being that was my VERY FIRST question the day prior to Priscilla this whole thing would have likely been avoided as I would have gone to my local Best Buy store and would have tried to figure out my options there.
So now, I’m a little more upset… but still… working toward a resolution. Marci confirms that the laptop I ordered is on backorder and should not have been sold to me. That it is indeed scheduled to ship to my house with the Norton anti-virus and that I was not charged for the Geek Squad set-up. So, now we have to cancel that order before we do anything. This creates great complication for me, because although the order is now cancelled, I need to use my Best Buy Store Card to take advantage of your 18-month interest free financing offer – and now – purchasing two machines will put me over the limit and cost me over-limit fees. Still… exhale… working toward resolution. I am in front of my computer asking about various SKU numbers. As I go I am learning so many of these machines are back-ordered. BestBuy.com has a way to filter search results by computer specs, so I ask Marci, isn’t there a way to filter HER search results by specs and get only inventory result that ARE available?
Well, Marci knows nothing about computers, she doesn’t know the difference between types of processors, and she doesn’t understand what to look at when I ask about the size of the hard drive. This is the complete OPPOSITE experience of what I usually get in-store (where have your priorities gone?). So I remain patient, I simply don’t have time to educate your order processing team on what the difference is between a dual core and an i3. FINALLY, FINALLY, we find a machine - HP - Pavilion Laptop / Intel® Core™ i3 Processor, SKU: 3441137. It is more expensive with a smaller screen but Marci is willing to meet me half-way on the difference in price. I have to EXPLAIN to her that the Norton should only cost $19.99 as that is a promotion you offer with the laptop purchase (as it says on your website product page) – to which she replies she doesn’t see what I’m seeing (does that really matter – hello, customer service, are you there?). We set the order up for pick-up at the local Saratoga Springs store and Marci explains to me that I should call the Saratoga Springs store to set up the Geek Squad service which, by the way, only costs $99.99, not the $124.99 as Priscilla had quoted the day before.
This takes a VERY long time to resolve, particularly given the amount of out-of-stock/back-ordered inventory. I miss my flight to Albany. But, given the importance that this is for my sick Father who doesn’t have the kind of experience I do purchasing these machines and is in need of a new laptop first thing Friday morning for a business trip, this is how I chose to prioritize my day. I now have a 6 hour drive ahead of me. But the order has been placed, BBY-4292 4100 2043.
I call Saratoga Springs Best Buy and ask to speak to a Manager. Why is it that whenever you start a phone call like that the first thing the person on the other end of the line attempts to do is help you personally? I get it, filter the calls, but I’ve been in customer service, just give the customer what they want. So, I explain to the person on the phone, Sarah, who calls herself a Customer Service Manager (and who I later learn is a Senior Customer Service Representative) all about the order. As I’m explaining it she sees it on her screen – I ask her to confirm the product – she does, the HP - Pavilion Laptop / Intel® Core™ i3 Processor. I explain I’d like to pay for the Geek Squad service and have the computer personally escorted over to Geek Squad for the work to begin so it can be ready TONIGHT. I also request it be ready TONIGHT because (a) you (Best Buy) will be closed tomorrow for Thanksgiving, (b) my Dad is leaving Friday and needs the computer that morning for business and (c) we do NOT want to find ourselves on the line behind Black Friday shoppers – especially since, technically the work should have been done already. All of this is no problem ensures Sarah. I request that she personally escort it over to the Geek Squad and ask if this is a problem, she says no. I double, triple, 4X confirm this will not be a problem. She says not a problem. She then transfers me to a nice young lady, Nikki, who takes my payment method for the GeeK Squad Service.
Is this it? Have my prayers been answered?
Could this nightmare be over?
Not by a long-shot.
I call throughout the day, on my 6-hour drive to upstate New York, to make sure the computer is being worked on. It is. I am feeling more confident that we are there. Still worried that there will be another hitch but chalking that up to paranoia. I was told I’d be contacted when the computer was ready. The store closes at 10PM.
At around 9PM I call the store, the laptop is ready for pick-up. I was never called. I am now is Saratoga with my family. I send my Dad… alone. BIG MISTAKE. He gets there. IT IS THE WRONG MACHINE! What kind of unbelievable breakdown took place now!?!?
They performed the work on a $300 machine. Sarah is no longer in the building – you know, the same Sarah who promised to personally escort the machine to Geek Squad. The same Sarah who either did not do this or who failed to match the order to the product. Who at Geek Squad is responsible for checking to see that the paperwork matches the machine they are working on? Who in the warehouse is responsible for the original mistake?
A young woman is trying to help me – a different “Nikki.” I really don’t want to hear anything, I just want a manager. She tells me there are no managers available - THAT THEY ARE ALL PREPPING FOR BLACK FRIDAY. I'm sorry, but after all of this, you are more concerned about customers who have yet to spend money with you than you are about a consumer who has been working to resolve a, now, 3X botched order already paid for? Completely unacceptable.
This is also difficult to manage as I am on the phone and my Father is in the store. I instruct my Dad to let me handle it – I do not want him stressed in any way because of his health – after all this was the entire reason I took this on. I suppose no good deed goes unpunished.
I finally end up on the phone with Chris Preston who is trying to help me sort this out. He is very concerned with deciphering what went wrong. I don’t care what went wrong. You close in less than 30 minutes, how are we going to make it right in this time? Finally the CORRECT machine is located – only I am told that the Norton is shipping to my house. WHAT??? I am constantly being placed on hold which is just infuriating me more and more. Chris tells me they will just install the Norton there so never mind about the shipment to the house. Geek Squad takes it and starts to install the Norton. I am still on the phone with Chris who offers me 20% off the Geek Squad service for the inconvenience… gee, so generous… I’ve spent at least 8 hours trying to work all of this out AND I’ve missed a flight… and you’re offering me $20. The Geek Squad is unable to perform their regular work vis-a-vie restore discs. Chris tells me not to worry, they will grab a different machine of the same type, create the restore discs and mail them to my Dad. OK, good idea – I am fine with this. Then I am on hold for an unimaginable amount of time. Chris comes back and tells me sorry, the Geek Squad started the first restore Disc… ON MY DAD’S MACHINE!!! My Dad is now sitting there for the entire length of the first disc run.
Chris was also unable to provide any supporting paperwork for the 2-year protection plan. I insisted to Chris that given all the breakdowns with this order I didn’t want my Dad walking out of there with no supporting paperwork – there’s a great quote from Godfather that I’d love to reference here but it’d be too inappropriate for use in a letter that I’m trying to maintain as high-road as possible. Unfortunately, the Best Buy computers do not allow users to print anything? They do not allow managers to provide any paperwork, no matter how “unofficial” just to help my Dad – should he need assistance with support – and I am not present? Insult to injury.
My call with Chris ends with his guarantee that he will handle the mailing of my Father’s restore discs first thing Saturday morning. I told him I will follow-up with my parent’s on Wednesday, November 30, 2011 – as that should be plenty of time for the discs to arrive down the road from his store – and if they have not yet arrived he’d be hearing from me again. I also requested the names of various managers, the GM, DM, Warehouse Manager and Customer Service Manager.
Finally, my Father returns home... after 11PM - the correct machine in hand. More money spent, a total of 8 hours wasted on the ordering and fulfillment process, 6 hours wasted on driving when I should have taken a flight, and about 2 hours wasted by both my Father and myself in-store/on phone after having Geek Squad services performed on the wrong machine. A total of 16 hours of frustration all on the day/night before a holiday.
If I make $80 net per hour my estimation is that beyond the cost of the computer this entire experience cost me $1,200 in time. Add the cost of a round-trip ticket from Newark to Albany… $436. This horror adds up to over $1,600, before pain and suffering… just to put things in perspective.
And then I am invited to private shopping events to get 4X reward points because I of my "VIP" status? If I were that "important," why wasn't my order treated as such. No calls or emails with apologies about the experience after the fact. No follow-up at all. After I took all of those names from Mr. Preston you would think one of those individuals could have called me with an apology or some kind - "are you satisfied with your purchase" kind of question. Could have gone a long way. Afterall, I fully get that the breakdown truly began with the very first question I asked of Priscilla: “Can I purchase Geek Squad service through you on the phone?” But I suppose it is naive of me to think that there would be any escalation of this issue to anyone who could have called to make a loyal consumer feel just a bit better considering how badly so many balls were dropped.
So you could have any number of reactions to this letter. You could choose to ignore this letter entirely. You could have any number of possible solutions. You could have none. But you should know that through posting on my blogs and social media outlets the same friends and fans that follow my posts advocating products and services will be reading this open letter – I trust they will likely be just as offended as I.
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