In it’s hay day, Best Buy was arguably one of the better places to purchase electronics. The staff was nicer and less pushy than stores like Circuit City but as they became saturated, and started chasing that all mighty quarterly earnings, they started practices that led me to look else wear for my electronics needs.
This included Fry’s (when I lived in California), New Egg during the early 2000’s, Crutchfield the dark horse in home electronics, Costco, Sam’s Club and finally Amazon. In 2012 things came to head and its stock price collapsed. And with good reason. They had not kept up with their rivals that weren’t pushing extended warranties, had much better and liberal return policies, and didn’t play games with their pricing to essentially lie about being cheaper. So as I said above… I stopped going.
A few years later, I moved to Hawaii and had to deal with higher prices and longer lead times for delivery. That didn’t really bother me, I could still get everything I needed, even if it took a little longer. And in a moment of need, I gave Best Buy a chance again. I needed a hard drive and Office Depot was ridiculously expensive, so i stopped at Best Buy. Their Hard Drive prices were inline and I figured if something went wrong, it should be an easy return. I didn’t get pushed for a credit card or extended warranty, so I decided to give Best Buy a chance again.
In addition, I am supporting a local business… kinda. Sure the money goes back to Minneapolis (Best Buy is headquartered) but it still provides jobs to local folks, still provides tax revenue and I didn’t have to wait for a week to get something. So I started shopping at Best Buy thinking, they had mended their ways, why not give them a chance.
My Experience with Best Buy went South
That is until today. See, my girl loves to play Zelda on Nintendo. So I went to Best Buy and got her one of those old school Nintendo systems as a late Christmas gift. I paid full price. Well i chose wrong as she didn’t like that Zelda, so I packed it up, twist ties and all, with the intention of taking back.
Now a few things. First, I seldom return things. I have normally done enough research to know what I am getting is exactly what I need. Gift’s can be difficult though. Sometimes you don’t get it right and sometimes you don’t know till several days later. Second, yes the receipt does say 15 day return policy. I bear some responsibility.
So that being said, it being the new year, I got busy and didn’t get to return it till day 18. Most places provide 30 days return and if you go to Costco or Sam’s Club, I have never had an issue unless its their TV’s because that got abused to all hell and back. But still, I think both Costco and Sam’s will let you return it after 30, 60 or even 90 days. First they tell me they can’t accept a return, its more than 15 days.
I tell them, they can make an exception. Call over a manager and he tells me, he can only give me a gift card. Well no, I don’t want a gift card. I would just like my money back so I can determine where I want to spend it. I don’t like being tied to purchase things in a single store unless they are the only ones that carry something. Nope, only a gift card. So I politely say, so you won’t make an exception? Nope. So what you are saying is, I should shop at Amazon, Sam’s Club, Costco and Target because they hassle me less about returns. Yes.
Well Best Buy you got your wish. You hassled me about a return I seldom make, and because of it, i can’t buy anything from you anymore. New computer for my girl, sorry, I will order it direct from Dell. Replacing the two TV’s, Sam’s Club or Costco. Speaker bar, Crutchfield is your friend. New Nintendo system, I bet Target has it for the same price. Hard drives? Amazon, New Egg and just about anyone else. Appliances, hello Home Depot and Lowes and other local appliance dealers. Phillips Hue, yep, you guessed it, anywhere but Best Buy. Oh that new Sony A7iii I have been eyeing… B&H or Amazon.
So $10,000 (just this year) in revenue going to other companies because you wouldn’t budge on a “policy” and make me whole. I outright told them if they didn’t return the cash I would not shop there again so it’s not like I didn’t warn them. So I took my gift card and I will sell that online somewhere for a small loss so I don’t have to go into Best Buy again.
Am I being petty? Sure. But the thing is, there are lots of options, I can be petty. Second, it doesn’t cost Best Buy hardly anything. All they are going to do is send the boxes back to the manufacturer and take a credit on the wholesale cost. This is exactly what they did when I worked for a computer company. Three, in days where there are tons of companies, you have to decide if losing a customer over $35 in profit is worth it. Your acquisition cost has to be higher than that.
Its hard to get me back as a customer
in 1998 as a budding chef, I was in the market to purchase a new chef’s knife. I knew what I wanted. I wanted a Whustof Classic. Real chefs (in my mind back then) used Whustof. So I headed off to Williams Sonoma to get me a knife. They had a special going on after Christmas where the knife was on sale and came with a paring knife. I tested out the knife one last time and was ready to purchase it.
Come to find out, they were out of stock and they tried selling me the floor model. I was willing to do it if they gave me further discount for being a used product. The condescension that came out of the person was amazing. “It was already on sale, what the heck more did I want? Jeez…” Wow… I walked out.
I called the 800 number to tell them how rudely I was treated. No one ever got back to me. And 21 years later, I have never bought anything from WS. Not the cookware for my new Induction Range. Not the new Oxo Coffee Maker. Not the dishes or tongs. Nothing. I purchased at Macy’s, Nordstrom, Bed Bath and Beyond.
I am the customer you want
You may be reading this and thinking, god I would hate to have you as a customer. But really, i am a great customer. I am friendly and open. I hardly ever return things. I am willing to pay full price for something of quality. And I will evangelize the heck out of your store for treating me well. Heck, I even pay more just to shop at a place that appreciates me. But that relationship needs to go both ways.
Stores need you more than you need them
Except in times where only one store sells something, you don’t need any store that doesn’t treat you right. And really, even if they are the only one that sells something, 95% of the time there is something of substitute. So be willing to walk away. Be willing to recognize your purchasing power. And purchase from a company that will treat you well. For me, that has been Amazon, Crutchfield, Costco, Sam’s Club, Home Depot and countless others.