Skip to comments.Computer Purchase Reveals Website Confusion (Hi-tech bait and switch at Best Buy.)
Posted on 03/03/2007 12:26:54 PM PST by quidnunc
Like most smart shoppers, Eric Hammer had done his homework and was convinced he'd found the best deal he could get on the laptop computer he was buying for his father's 82nd birthday present.
That was before the East Hartford teacher made a couple trips to Best Buy stores in West Hartford and Newington, and found that a price on the company's Internet site is not always what it seems. At least not to Best Buy sales staff.
Hammer, 47, who lives in Torrington, and his wife had found a great deal on a Toshiba on the bestbuy.com website. The mega-national electronic store was giving $150 off the computer, which on bestbuy.com said was normally selling for $879.99.
But when Hammer went to the Best Buy store in West Hartford on January 11th 2007 the salesman told him that the Best Buy sale was over. The Best Buy salesman even showed him on his Best Buy store computer that the price was now $879.99.
"I said `God, you are right,'" Hammer recalled. Hammer then drove to Newington hoping to find a deal on the computer at Circuit City. No deals, but while playing on the computers he decided to check bestbuy.com and discovered that the sale at Best Buy was still on.
Now he was thoroughly confused. Hammer went to the nearby Best Buy and asked a salesman to give him a price on the computer $879.99, he was told.
Hammer said he started to argue with the Best Buy salesman, who attempted to prove his point by logging on to an internal Best Buy computer that had a giant monitor to show that there was no longer a sale.
"I am not saying that you are wrong," Hammer said the salesman told him. "I just don't see that price here at Best Buy."
By then Hammer had had enough and asked that he be permitted to navigate the Best Buy computer. Hammer went directly to bestbuy.com and lo and behold, it showed that a sale was still on. The manager, Hammer said, shrugged and told the salesman to give Hammer the sale Best Buy price.
The salesman had no explanation and unfortunately he didn't have that computer in stock at Best Buy. West Hartford, he said, had five.
Hammer got a printout of the sale and drove back to West Hartford where he showed the salesman the printout and got the computer at the discount. Hammer immediately sent me an e-mail about his experience, and theorized that there must be some kind of dual website at Best Buy stores because he said he had seen both salesmen log on. One Best Buy website that everyone could access and one Best Buy that only the salesmen could access.
Under pressure from state investigators, Best Buy is now confirming my reporting that its stores have a secret intranet site that has been used to block some consumers from getting cheaper prices advertised on BestBuy.com.
Company spokesman Justin Barber, who in early February denied the existence of the internal website that could be accessed only by employees, says his company is "cooperating fully" with the state attorney general's investigation.
Barber insists that the company never intended to mislead customers.
State Attorney General Richard Blumenthal ordered the investigation into Best Buy's practices on Feb. 9 after my column disclosed the website and showed how employees at two Connecticut stores used it to deny customers a $150 discount on a computer advertised on BestBuy.com.
Blumenthal said Wednesday that Best Buy has also confirmed to his office the existence of the intranet site, but has so far failed to give clear answers about its purpose and use.
"Their responses seem to raise as many questions as they answer," Blumenthal said in an interview. "Their answers are less than crystal clear."
Based on what his office has learned, Blumenthal said, it appears the consumer has the burden of informing Best Buy sales people of the cheaper price listed on its Internet site, which he said "is troubling."
What is more troubling to me, and to some Best Buy customers, is that even when one informs a salesperson of the Internet price, customers have been shown the intranet site, which looks identical to the Internet site, but does not always show the lowest price.
Blumenthal said that because of the fuzzy responses from Best Buy, he has yet to figure out the real motivation behind the intranet site and whether sales people are encouraged to use it to cheat customers.
Although Best Buy also refused to talk with me on specifics of the intranet site or its use, it insisted that its policy is to give customers the best price.
(George Gombossy in the Hartford Courant, March 2, 2007)
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There is are many reasons I do nat trade with them and call them Beast Buy.
I love it when scams like these are exposed.
Most of the time the majors like Best-Buy, Circuit City, and Sears will match the lowest price of the others.
Having a dated print out showing date and URL always helps.
Garde la Foi, mes amis! Nous nous sommes les sauveurs de la République! Maintenant et Toujours!
(Keep the Faith, my friends! We are the saviors of the Republic! Now and Forever!)
LonePalm, le Républicain du verre cassé (The Broken Glass Republican)
I fell for this one when I bought my last camera at Best Buy. I just figured I made a mistake. It was only $20, do I didn't make a big deal over it.
They also did a real high-pressure bait-and-switch when I went in to buy a vacuum cleaner. I wanted a particular Hoover and verified their price online. When I went to the store, however, they only wanted to sell me a Bissel. The Hoover model I wanted on display was disgusting, with cigarette butts shoved into the clear dirt tubes and cracked.
I went round-and-round with the sales guy, telling him over and over that I really did want the disgusting Hoover. Finally he told me they were out of stock. I don't think Best Buy bothers to stock them at all.
The next time I was at Best Buy, it was for an in-store pickup of an online purchase. That went off without a hitch. I think that's the way I will deal with them from now on.
Class Action Lawsuit anyone?
Brought to you by the store whos CEO threatened immediate firing for any employee who said, or wished, anyone a Merry Christmas while working.
Heard about this best Buy scam a few weeks back on the Diggnation podcast. At the time, I thought "there's another reason not to shop Best Buy". I've found their salesmen pushy and I know a friend of mine at work who had a hard time returning a defective DVD burner to their store.
A lot of companies understock the cheap stuff they advertise, Fry's Electronics does that all of the time and without fail I get there Wednesday circular see something I want for cheap and its never there, but hey for just a few bucks more I can get this other one.
I am conflicted about them. I mean, I hate them, but if you need something you can go and get it pretty easily. I find the shopping experience better than CompUSA, which I have walked out of multiple times after getting in line and realizing it would be 30 mins before they got to me. Unfortunetly, there are still things in this world that you need, or feel you need, same day, and you can't just buy on the internet.
True in Rome over 2000 years ago. Still true today.
Making money the old fashioned way
Same thing happened to me at Basspro, but they explained it as a "web only" special.
Come on Freeper friends, I though we accepted anything as long as it was good old American business at work.
Seriously, we need to be more skeptical about business practices just to keep business on its toes.
Remember that organized crime, big business and the federal government all in one. Nothing more clearly demonstrates that than the illegal aliens flooding into our nation.
This fact ALONE, is enough that I will NEVER consider Best Buy as a potential source..
That's not saying much....
I have NEVER found "Best Buy" to measure up to their name..
I'm retired and have the luxury of time to be frugal...
Once I decide to buy anything of significance -- I search for the best price and it has NEVER been "Best Buy"..
This little "trick" of theirs should get widespread attention and COST them a lot of business..
Naw, Why waste the time with a class action suit so as to enrich a bunch of lawyers for a $6.96 coupon on your next purchase.
I used their instore computer to purchase the remaining items on my daughter's wedding registry. Paid for the items and when I got home took a look at the Macy's website from home.
Big prices differences. I called, asked for the manager and they immediately credited my account for the difference, took off the tax and shipping as well.
Next time anyone is making a serious purchase it's probably best to print off the page on your home computer so you have 'proof'!
Bestbuysucks.com is now a porn index.
Of course they'll probably pay a fine and that will be that, but a lot of their employees across the country should be doing hard time IMO.
> A lot of companies understock the cheap stuff they advertise
The Tuesday Morning flyer in particular is a comprehensive
list of what they will NOT have in stock if you show up on
Even on web buys, double-check prices by using a different
browser that lacks cookies tagging who you are.
I had a different experience with cheating by Best Buy. I went into a store to buy memory on sale with a rebate. They said they were out, but they would give me a 'rain check' which did not include the rebate. The next week, the same ad appeared, and the same story: rain check for sale price, but not rebate. I asked them to sign a note acknowledging the rain check did not include the rebate. They refused. I asked for the manager. 20 minutes later a clerk appeared, WITH THE MEMORY CHIP.
I've got this beat. In mid-January, I saw where Office Depot had a Hewlett Packard 2800dtn network printer on sale for $46. Normally, that printer sells for $999, so I jumped on the deal. A week later, a printer arrives, except it wasn't the printer I ordered.
It was a classic 'bait-&-switch'. The printer they sent was not even offered on their website. When I called to complain, their sales reps informed me that the trash printer they sent was essentially the same printer. Needless to say, it wasn't even close.
They later agreed to pick up the printer they had sent. When asked about the printer I ordered, they said they were temporarily out of stock, but should be getting some more in soon. All the while, they still continued to offer the HP 2800dtn for $46 on their website.
A month went by, and still no printer. When I called the customer reps, they told me that they no longer stocked those printers and a refund would be issued. A full six weeks after ordering the printer (and countless emails and phone calls), they finally issued my refund. On that same day, they still offered the same printer online for $46.
A few days ago, they finally took it off their website. But it would have been nice for them to admit their mistake back in January instead of dragging it out this long.
That reads like a twisted paraphrase from someone with an ax to grind with Best Buy.
Circuit City is just as bad.
My most recent Best Buy experience was to pick up a cable a friend needed to complete a home theater installation. The only one I could find anywhere in the store was a Monster Cable branded cable, but it was too short, and the price was astronomical (Monster Cable is a major rip-off, but that's another story). I finally asked one of the salespeople about a longer cable, and he disappeared for a while and came back with a generic cable that was twice as long and half the price.
Other than a generally poor selection, especially in the computer section, my biggest gripe is the constant overwhelming throbbing of hip-hop music that permeates the store. Best Buy is a very unpleasant place to shop.
All intranet sites are "secret". That's why they're called "intra" net.
Hmmm, I took a hard drive to Best Buy, to have it diagnosed. Ended up getting a new PC....from Best Buy :(
I need to have this hard drive cleaned up, also the CD rom drive doesn't open (must have been the cats), and need to get that fixed. Don't think I'll go to Best Buy this time. When I get some money together, I'll try an independant contractor.
I really want one of those new Kodak printer/scanners, but I believe that BB is the only one that carries them. Maybe I should check out their website *cough*.
The exact same thing happened to me when purchasing a new Kitchenaid refigerator last year. The catalog was $100.00 cheaper. When I went to the store the salesman went to the "best buy site" and my price wasn't there. He said I would have to pay the higher price. Instead I went to Sears and asked them to match the Best Buy Price. The saleswoman went on line and, lo and behold, there was the lower price. Sears not only matched it but had a promo where the would beat any adverised price by $50.00. Needless to say Sears got the sale.
If you are going to buy is as fact, you ought to look for a direct quote. IMHO
I like Best Buy and will continue doing business there. But why wouldn't this...
..when one informs a salesperson of the Internet price, customers have been shown the intranet site, which looks identical to the Internet site, but does not always show the lowest price...
Don't buy on their credit plan. My mom has been fighting them for 6 months to take off magazine subscription charges that they automatically charge when you make a purchase. Even if you decline.
Sure, but when you are trying to turn poor inventory practice into a scandal, the word "secret" really helps.
I've never had trouble like that at Frys. Yes, they've been out of stuff I went for, but they also been in stock with it. Other stuff that they advertised (but I didn't need or want) was also in stock, and I've also found unadvertised deals there as well. So, I don't think they run a bait and switch operation.
Nobody's perfect and with the number of people they hire you WILL get misinformation, but I don't have a problem with Frys.
I guess the hospital I worked at with our super secret intranet site was trying to hide our diabolical billing practices from the public.
"Barber insists that the company never intended to mislead customers."
They wanted to mislead the tax man.
Maybe the intranet site is updated more frequently than the internet site?
to some extent this is natural selection at work
with the ready availability of the internet, it's not difficult to be an informed consumer
OTOH this kind of bad pub can really hurt a company and greatly overwhelm the extra money they might make on dubious deals
a bright young man I know went to work as a salesman at a large auto dealer (the saintly Toyota no less) and told me that even though he was making a lot of money, he felt so bad about how they were scalping the customer he had to quit
"Our intention is to provide the best price to our customers which is why we have a price-match policy in place," the company said in a written statement to me.
Whenever a business says that it intends "to provide the best price to our customers", it always means that it intends "to provide the best price FOR US to our customers". There are no exceptions.
Never had a problem getting rebates from them.
Also, have never had a problem getting something at the Internet price; just ordered via Internet, then either had it shipped, or took the printed receipt to the (not so) local store to pick it up.
OTOH, I HATE dealing with their store staff.
Caveat: A lot of stuff I have searched prices on BestBuy.com for is ONLY available online, and small print so-states. Also states that it is NOT available for in-store pick-up in many cases.
I learned long ago that many retailers have a SEPERATE Web business that is in addition to, not part of, their physical business.
Check out Amazon.
They sell computer stuff at good prices and they have always been reliable in my dealings with them.