β˜… Why I Hate Best Buy

So I left a brief comment at Lloyd's coffee blog pleading with him to never buy anything from Best Buy. He asked, of course, the obvious follow-up: "Why not?" Since "Because" just didn't seem to quite capture the nuances of my objections to that foul retailer, I thought I'd take a moment to explain my position.

Now, I'm well aware that one can Google the word "hate" AND [any store or service provider] and find blog posts, forum rants, and even whole websites full of venom. But Best Buy seems to work diligently at finding new and ever-stupider ways to lower the bar of customer service.

Take the guy who got arrested when he tried to pay an installation charge in $2 bills (see here, too). And did you know that the company is being sued by the Ohio State Attorney General's office for hundreds of reports of "unfair and deceptive acts," such as repackaging used goods as new, and failing to honor rebates and extended service contracts?

Mistakes happen, right? Well, actually, Best Buy has openly declared their desire to weed out unprofitable customers (whom they call "devils" -- how charming!) from profitable customers, or "angels." Best Buy seems to think that customers who take advantage of specials, rebates, and loss-leaders are stealing from the company. Moreover, to weed out the riff-raff, Best Buy secretly collects data on customer shopping habits and uses that data to discourage repeat visits. Best Buy wants to identify their best consumers and treat the rest of us as second-class citizens. Fine. Please yourselves. But don't expect your attitude to make me want to do business with you.

My frustration with Best Buy goes way back. They opened their first store in Orlando in the mid-90s, and from the beginning I had trouble just finding prices on the things I wanted to buy. There were no prices on the boxes, and the shelf labels were maintained haphazardly. The seemingly perpetual problem with maintaining appropriate staffing levels meant that I wasted gobs of time just trying to determine whether I was going to buy something from them or not. When I could get someone's attention, they were rude or abrupt. From the high-decibel noise assault to the disorganized shelves to the surly staff, the whole place exuded an air of cynicism and disdain for the customers that was beyond the pale, and I have seen the same pattern repeated consistently in each Best Buy I've entered. My reaction was no doubt due in part to working 50-60 hours a week in the hospitality industry at companies who set the standard for good customer service. I'm well aware that there's a better way to behave as a retailer and it isn't hard. It just takes determination and effort. Pissing off your consumers is simply not acceptable.

Look, nobody deserves to get ripped off -- Best Buy included. But most retailers take the approach that customers are basically honest. Those are the companies I want to deal with. I don't want to give my money to any company that doesn't even seem willing to pretend to make their customers -- not their profits -- the most important element of their business. My money and my time are valuable, and if Best Buy doesn't want to treat me with respect, they don't get to have me as a customer.

If you need more reasons to hate Best Buy, head over to BestBuySux.org. They've kept an archive of comments - both pro and con - about the retailer since 1999.

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