Why I Will Never Return To Best Buy09-01-2014
I feel sick. I just left Best Buy in West Hollywood and I'm shaking. But let's step back.
Man, I used to LOVE going to Best Buy. I remember popping over in high school to pick up Jack Johnson's Brushfire Fairytales for $18. Ahh the good ol days. Don't you miss $18 CDs?
I have usually turned to Best Buy first for my technology needs over the years. Having lived in Minneapolis for many years I even felt some hometown loyalty.
I visited this West Hollywood Best Buy 4 times in the past week and got on a first name basis with Veronica in Home Entertainment. She was incredibly helpful. I have never owned a TV and just watch shows and movies on my MacBook Pro. But my girlfriend and I just rearranged our living room for the first time in 4 years and we found a pretty rad entertainment system from Ikea that has been sitting against the wall for the past month with a massive 60" TV shaped rectangle hole. So we thought, what the hell. We're not going to get cable, just an Apple TV so we can continue to watch our normal shows from my MBP while syncing it over wifi to a big screen.
After deliberating over LEDs, 4Ks and Plasmas, I settled on a 51" Samsung Plasma. Sure, in 2014 Plasma seems very dated, but nothing beats the quality. Crisp picture. Deep blacks. Authentic colors. All the other LEDs, no matter how many herz they had, seemed too bright. Too fake. I liked the cinematic feel of the Plasma. Sure, it uses a bit more energy (600hz as opposed to 120 or 240hz), but it's worth the extra couple bucks a month on my energy bill.
So last night I confidently marched back into Best Buy and was once again greeted by Veronica. I was wearing my favorite t-shirt and she professed her unwavering love of The Purple One.
Even though the 50" 1080p, 120 hz Sharp TV's price was cut by $150 from the night before, I still paid a bit extra for the Plasma. I got Apple TV, an HDMI cable, a few RCA cables to hook it up to my epic stereo system already installed at home, and chatted it up with the guy who dollied it out to my car.
After a quick 10 minute ride home I carried the TV into my apartment, opened it up, read the manual, placed the TV face down (like it said to) screwed in the back brace and the stand and set it up on the entertainment system. I plugged in the Apple TV, sat down, put the batteries in the remote and clicked power.
Buzzing and crackling.
I got up and looked closely at the TV and noticed there were cracks all over the screen. A bunch of them. The corner was broken and the frame was loose. Shit.
So tonight I found myself back in Best Buy to exchange it. They took it out and the manager turned to me and said "What happened." I said "your guess is as good as mine."
Him: "It's cracked"
"When did you notice it was cracked"
"After I set it up and it wasn't turning on. My place isn't as bright as here so didn't actually see all the cracks in the screen until I got up close."
"Listen man, if you're truthful with me this will go a lot smoother."
"Wait what?! I am being truthful."
"You're telling me you didn't notice it was cracked as soon as you pulled it out of the box?"
"No. I set it face down (as the instructions told me to do) screwed in the base and set it on my entertainment system. I sat down and clicked the remote. When it didn't turn on and just made crackling noises, I got up to take a closer look."
The manager walked away with my receipt to a computer. I started shaking. I was so flustered. Was he seriously not going to take back a $600 TV that came out of the box cracked? Was he seriously accusing me of lying to him? This is Best Buy! What's $600 to them? Are they seriously willing to lose a loyal customer over $600?
I walked up to him and said "Listen, I really don't appreciate being accused of lying." And he said "I don't appreciate being made a fool."
"Dude, I don't think you're a fool. But I'm being totally honest."
"Put yourself in my shoes."
"I sympathize with you, I guess. I get it. It doesn't seem right, but I'm telling you the truth. I don't know what else to say."
"There's no damage to the box. So it didn't happen in store."
"Couldn't something have happened on the trucks? Being transferred from warehouses?"
"No. It left the store perfect."
"Well then something happened on the ride home."
"No that wouldn't have happened. This is my profession. I deal with this stuff all the time."
"I respect that. And I know nothing about TVs. But I'm telling you it came out of the box cracked. I didn't drop it."
"I can turn this whole thing around for you. So just know that."
"Uh, thank you?"
He exchanged my TV.
Fuming, shaking and with a giant pit in my stomach from the recent battle, I asked the Best Buy employee who dollied my new TV out to my car how we should load the TV. He said flat is fine. And I explained to him what happened and that I wanted to make sure it wouldn't crack on the ride home. And he told me, "it probably happened in the warehouse. This happens all the time. They have to transfer it to multiple trucks and warehouses."
So this guy seemed to think it was no big deal. But the manager all but accused me of stealing and destruction of property.
What happened to the customer is always right?
Want to lose a lifelong fan? Be a dick to them. Accuse them of stealing.
The dumbest thing the record companies did when file sharing was cannibalizing sales was "make examples" of music's biggest fans by suing them. The RIAA (the organization that represents the major record labels) sued over 35,000 people. We heard of 12 year olds being sued for hundreds of thousands of dollars. Grandmas whose grandsons downloaded music on their computers were taken to court and forced to go bankrupt. A grandfather actually died while in litigation and the RIAA told his family they had 60 days to grieve and then they better pay up!
You think these 35,000 defendants wanted to support music after this? You think they felt a closer connection to their favorite artists?
It should always be about the long game. Keep your fans and customers happy. Sometimes you're going to need to take short term hits to make sure you win the long game. It should never be about how to maximize profits today. Concentrate on how to win life long fans. Once you have built loyalty and trust, then you'll never have to worry about money again.
As for Best Buy, I won't be seeing you again anytime soon.
Photo is by Mike Mozart from Flickr and used with the Creative Commons Clause
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