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.