Incompetent jackass employees is why you shouldn’t shop at Best Buy

I’ve never really been much of a brick and mortar type shopper. In my world, if it can be bought online and delivered in a reasonable amount of time, then it should be bought online. However, if the price is right, I do venture into stores occasionally. A few days ago Best Buy (an American electronics retailer) ran a Cyber Monday deal on ASUS Transformer Pad TF300T (16GB, black), selling it for $279.99 and offering customers a $25 coupon usable on their next purchase if they pick ship-to-store option. Seeing as I was in the market for a tablet, and the TF300T is an excellent tablet for $280, I took the bait.

I ordered the tablet on Monday and went to pick it up on Tuesday. I went to the in store pick up section, showed the necessary documents, and was out the door with my new tablet in roughly five minutes. Cool.

I get home and notice Best Buy gave me the 32GB blue version of the tablet instead of the 16GB black version. I really don’t have a preference between blue or black, so the change in color didn’t bother me. And I figured Best Buy gave me the 32GB version because they were sold out of the 16GB version; after all, the price difference between the two versions (when not on sale) is only $20, so I figured Best Buy just took the hit. Boy, I couldn’t have been more wrong.

I used the TF300T for roughly two days. It turned out to be as great as I expected — great screen, great performance, great overall everything. However, while I was Skyping with my wife, the front camera of the tablet seemingly broke; it would only display a green image instead of showing what it should have shown… me. I tried to diagnose the issue (software resets, searching online to see if it is common, etc.) but eventually couldn’t do anything. So I headed into Best Buy the next day to get a replacement.

This is when it all started go to down hill.

As it turns out, Best Buy did not give me the 32GB version of the tablet out of the kindness of their heart nor because they were sold out of the 16GB version. Rather, some incompetent idiot simply grabbed the wrong tablet off the warehouse or store shelf. (The boxes for the 32GB and 16GB versions are extremely similar, so that could be why.) Due to this incompetency, I had a hell of a time trying to exchange the tablet. Whenever the customer service associate would ring up the tablet to exchange, it would tell her the item is not part of the purchase because the item I was returning literally wasn’t part of the purchase I made online — Best Buy gave me the wrong version when I picked the tablet up in store. Eventually, the issue was sorted out and I was able to exchange the tablet for a new 16GB black version but not before I wasted roughly an hour for a simple exchange that should have taken five (maybe ten) minutes… due to some idiot not paying attention to what he or she was doing. (Note: I also hold some blame for not properly checking what I was being given the first time around prior to leaving Best Buy. I shouldn’t have trusted Best Buy to do its job properly.)

In any case, I took the tablet home and noticed this tablet’s screen had a slight yellowish tint. (Note: Slight yellowish or bluish tints are common issues with smartphones and tablets. Yes, even Apple products.) The average Joe probably wouldn’t even notice the tint, but I’ve used enough gadgets in my life and I just recently used a different unit of the same tablet (the one I returned) that didn’t have the tint; so I immediately noticed the yellowish coloring. While the tint was not too bad except on whites, it bothered me and I paid money for the tablet — I wasn’t going to settle for anything below par. As such, I planned on exchanging this tablet for another unit, hoping the other unit wouldn’t have the tint.

I take my tablet with me when I head to class on Friday, intending on exchanging it on my way back home. The plan was to go to a Best Buy that is on the way when I go from my university to my house, as opposed to going to the Best Buy I usually go to simply because, to get to my usual Best Buy, I would have to drive further.

I get to Best Buy, head to customer service, explain my situation, and proceed to do the exchange. As is the norm, customer service rep tells me to go grab the exchange unit from the floor and bring it up so she can process the exchange. So I head to the tablet section and look around for the tablet. Not being able to find the 16GB version (I could only find the 32GB version), I ask a sales rep for help. He, too, was unable to find it on the floor so he decided to open up one of their locked glass sections to see if one was there. As luck may have it, there was one 16GB tablet left; however, it was the red version. Not caring about the color (blue, black, or red — I don’t care), I take the tablet and walk up to customer service to do the exchange.

After I hand the tablet to a customer service rep, the rep tries to process the exchange but runs into an issue. The register is ringing up the tablet 16GB red tablet for $349.99 and the tablet I’m exchanging for $279.99, and is asking me to pay the difference. I explain to the rep the tablets are the exact same — just different in color — and he confirms it. He then walks over to one of his associates and she explains to him you can still process the return but you need manager approval, but not to worry since typically in these situations the managers give it.

After the sales manager walks over and is briefed on the issue, he tries to do the exchange and the same thing happens. So he takes a closer look and tells me, and the customer service rep, the issue is the two tablets (the 16GB black and 16GB red) are different SKUs, which is why this is happening. I told him yeah, they are the exact same tablet but different colors. I tell him I don’t care about the color and have no issue getting the 16GB black version but this red version is the only 16GB version of the tablet left. He double-checks his computer and confirms that specific Best Buy is sold out of the 16GB black version.

At this point I expect him to say “go ahead and process the exchange”. Instead, he proceeds to tell me either I should pay the price differential (roughly $70) or go to another Best Buy that has the 16GB black version in stock. I tell him, look it is the same tablet just different color, even flipping both boxes over to show him the model numbers and specifications; I ask him, you are going to make me pay more for the same tablet or drive to another Best Buy to do the exchange? He then tells me he doesn’t know if this red tablet was on sale for the $279.99 price on Cyber Monday (meaning he cannot do the exchange), to which I respond something along the lines of “but it is the same tablet, just different colors and it is all you have in stock”. To that he responds, and I quote, “this is why I’m telling you nicely” (as if he was doing me a favor by being “nice”) they are different SKUs, even holding up the box to assist my comprehension skills. Nicely my ass, you condescending jackass.

At that point, not wanting to create a scene, I tell him OK I’ll go do the exchange at another Best Buy. I really should have done something to see how he could have behaved when not being “nice”.

I drive over to the other Best Buy and do the exchange. The exchange at this other Best Buy (which is the Best Buy I usually go to; they had the 16GB black version in stock) was hassle free, aside from a long wait time due to preoccupied customer service and a cash register that froze and had to be reset. However, that doesn’t mean all things went well.

You see I needed to pick up some toner and a stapler, so I decided to kill two birds with one stone and buy them from Best Buy (mostly because I have the $25 coupon I received as part of the TF300T Cyber Monday deal). During checkout when I try to use the coupon, it comes up as invalid. In fucking valid. A coupon Best Buy e-mailed me themselves. Invalid. At that point I’m more than pissed and just want to get home, so I tell the sales person to forget it and I simply pay without the coupon.

Then I finally go home, after wasting 30-45 minutes due to the sales manager at the first Best Buy being a prick.

The kicker of this story? At regular price, Best Buy sells the 16GB red ASUS TF300T for $349.99 and the 16GB black ASUS TF300T for $379.99. (I believe the difference in price has to do with the fact that the 16GB black version is newer stock.) So, if that sales manager would have simply processed the exchange instead of being a jackass, Best Buy would have essentially given me a product they value lower than the product I ended up exchanging for.

(Oh, and yes, this third TF300T also has the light yellow tint. I’m debating what to do next — exchange it again, return it, or keep it.)

If you haven’t heard, Best Buy is going through financial troubles. I have no doubt one of the reasons for their trouble is people are simply shopping elsewhere. I also have no doubt stories like mine are one of the reasons why customers shop elsewhere. Well done Best Buy, I’m going to avoid you more now than I would have in the past.

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24 comments

  1. Neal

    I do not work for best buy, thank god.. lol. But what I can say is that color DOES make a difference when it comes to retail to the BUSINESS and not the customer. I mean this literally. Color is important, it may not be important to you but retailers – it is.

    Ive worked retail for years and when it comes to sales – it works by color for a lot of items (clothes, electronics, shoes, god damn toasters ffs) – the ones that sell the most, they won’t go on sale (the red tablet) but the ones that don’t sell as much (black, white, blue) will go on sale. Its just how things work for retail. Thats why you ran into the problem.

    Not being an enemy, just showing the reason you walked into that problem.

    Best buy sucks. xD

  2. Brian Williams

    I struggle with: is it better to have a place like Best Buy or _only_ have online retailers? To compete, they cannot pay for competent staff. Do we want to see a high street populated entirely by service sector shops? It isn’t a level playing field. Bricks and Mortar should get tax breaks for competing with online, or online should have to pay more tax….otherwise we will never be able to browse by looking, touching, trying out… ever again.

  3. FreeBird

    If you want a real treat, try to exchange the same thing at Amazon because “it has a yellowish tint”. Yeah, good luck with that.

    The advantage of brick and mortar is that, however much their jackass meter score, you are facing them 1 on 1 and it is a *lot* more difficult for them to say “no, we’re not taking this back”. At Amazon, apparently, it is real easy or at least that has been my experience.

    Having made the mistake of buying a monitor from Amazon, I am now forced to continually stare at a stuck green pixel on that monitor because Amazon says a stuck pixel isn’t a defect. Or, for a restocking fee, I could exchange it.

    Give me jackass employees at a brick and mortar any day to that green dot staring at me

  4. Peter

    Obviously there are so called “stores” located all over the world which are in fact an interim storage between producer/assembler and customers. And we got used to pay less for the same articles/services. I do not expect any motivation to be “nice” from an employee working eight hours for ~€40. The ‘store’ has got the duty to exchange defctive devices but being nice or at least cooperative is not part of the contract and that is not what the employees are (not) being paid for. Meanwhile I favour “value for money” over “cheap”. Maybe because I’m 49 years old and old-fashioned.

  5. horseonovich

    Best Buy is a horrible place to shop. It’s one of the most stress-inducing environments I’ve ever experienced. Like you, online is the only way to go. I sometimes venture in to Best Buy just to look at different plasma or LED tv’s, to compare. But then it’s Amazon or New Egg. If I must go to a local store, interestingly enough, Staples is really not so bad. Nothing great, and the selection is always more limited –and yet I’ve never had a bad experience with purchases there. Ah, my two cents anyway.

  6. JonE

    The large chain retailers, you know who they are, have driven all the mom and pop places, where you always received great service, out of business.

    And one used to be able to get great service at many of the large chain retailers, but all of them, that I grew up with as a young man are not the same places or stores they used to be when I was a young man. For instance, although they still promote his values to the employees they hire, Sam Walton’s empire, which is not what he originally envisioned, is certainly not run the way it was when he was alive and in control.

    And so, it does not surprise me that Best Buy is having financial trouble; it definitely is not the same store it was so many years ago when I was a younger man. And with multiple places on the Internet to purchase the things you need, at a usually much lower cost, and with a usually much larger selection, it is a no brainer. Yeah, yeah, Best Buy is online, but they are far from the best price one can find. I do remember when Best Buy was the place to go to buy technology items at the very lowest cost, and typically the largest selection available; no longer true.

    I tend to not like the chat functions on most sites; many are automated, and most, so called, customer service people on the other end of the chat are just answering questions the way they were told to – they usually have no authority to solve or resolve a problem. I suppose speaking to a real person on the phone isn’t any different, however . . . . . . .

    I’ve had much more success when speaking to a real human, on the phone. And when after making a call and I have not been able to resolve a problem I always ask for the name of their manager and how I can contact that individual.

    I do the same things in brick and mortar stores, if I have a problem. Most retail managers seem incapable or unwilling to resolve a problem. So, I ask for the name, phone number and contact information of the person they work for. When I contact that individual I find out who he answers to. It’s amazing how fast problems get resolved when you speak with a regional or corporate manager; especially when one of their managers has been less than helpful, and usually down right rude. Just a suggestion that works for me.

    And usually, if you have any future problems, if that manager is still occupying the same position he was when you had the prior problem their level of cooperation is much, much higher and problems get resolved much faster and more courteously too.

  7. Alec

    It’s almost impossible to find a customer service rep who’s really friendly and helpful, in person or on-the-phone.
    Online chat is better as you do not listen to the tone of their voice.
    Despite the “bad” economy, no one seems to exhibit any urgency to do a really good job of servicing customers.
    So it seems the economy is not that bad after all.

  8. Eric989

    @Ashraf: Yes, people do still go to RadioShack when on black Friday they are selling 32GB USB flash drives for $10, but of course they were sold out.
    @tinbender2: Actually my local Staples was the only store in town that had their doorbuster deals still in stock on black Friday. I couldn’t believe that they actually had boxes full of those items.
    What’s a shame is that when you can sometimes find good customer service, the prices are usually outrageous. The only store I can think of that I have gotten consistently good service at is Ace Hardware. They are much more helpful than the “I think they’re over there somewhere” people that work at Lowes and Home Depot. Probably my worst experience there was when an employee told me my item was on the left side of aisle 87 when it actually was on the left side of aisle 86. The catch is that their prices can sometimes be 5 times higher than those stores, though on average their prices are probably about 40% to 75% higher but still that is a huge difference.

  9. Ashraf
    Author/Mr. Boss

    @Eric989: It isn’t so much idiot employees that bother me than that jackass sales manager.
    @Frank: I did make the mistake of the first time not properly checking to see if I was getting the right tablet. However, if you are saying I should open the tablets and check them out, that isn’t very feasible. Not only do I not want to sit in Best Buy and inspect my product for an hour or so, these ASUS tablets need to be charged before they can be used… so I wouldn’t be able to turn them on anyway.
    @Mardel53: I’ll feel better when Best Buy credits my account for the $25 coupon they denied me. And am apology would be nice, too, but I don’t see that coming.
    @meldasue: They can’t legally deny me when they have a return policy (which, by the way, is an extended return policy due to holidays).
    @RealBull: I can understand mistakes while being busy, but not only was the store not busy but the manager didn’t make a mistake — he was a simple jerk.
    @Seamus McSeamus: I don’t know if I can make a generalization like that. I’ve run across intelligent, helpful sales people and managers while others not so much.
    @kelltic: If it was simply the economy, everyone would be shutting down. Sure it is the economy, but it isn’t just the economy.
    @Kerry: I suppose I could but I don’t want anyone to lose their job over me. I would, however, appreciate an apology from said manager.
    @BigWill: Said coupon was actually used at a store different than the condescending prick worked at (remember he made me to go a different store), so he isn’t the one that denied it. In fact, I can’t really blame the sales rep who denied the coupon — the computer showed it as invalid so she couldn’t know if I was pulling a fast one on her and not. The failed coupon is solely due to Best Buy incompetence. They probably invalidated the coupon when I made my first exchange… morons. Now I’m going to have spend another 30-45 mins (or more) on the phone to get them to credit my account for the amount.
    @David: Glad you enjoy my misery :-P I kid, I kid.
    @Mike: I agree about the different SKUs causing problems — that is why manager approval was required to make the exchange. If the manager wasn’t an asshole he would have simply given his approval.
    @Bull: I hate opening my electronics in store simply because it ruins the moment (yes, I’m a geek) and 5-10 min in store inspection isn’t enough for me. Plus, these ASUS tablets need to be charged before they turn on so I couldn’t do that even if I wanted to.
    @Incenseman: Do people really still go to Radioshack? I mean, really? I went to Radioshack for two things in the past…. 8 (?) years — battery changes.
    @Prema: I think I’m actually going to keep it. The tint on this tablet isn’t that noticeable and I really don’t want to go through the whole exchange process again. Plus, as I mentioned in the article above, tint issues is a common problem with smartphones and tablets so there is no guarantee the next one I get won’t be worse. I can live with this one. Thanks though!
    @tinbender2: I’m sorry to hear that. The coupon they gave me expires in Jan so there should be no reason it was invalid.

  10. tinbender2

    Made the mistake of getting involved in Best Buys bonus card plan. They email you coupons that expire so fast its worthless unless you were shopping there everyday. And as far as Staples, they never have what you want on the shelves and even encourage you to “buy it online and pick it up here”. I was in the store already! They were telling me to go home and order it online then wait and come back there to pick up it up. I found much better deals online, and finally went and bought one of better quality, and cheaper price (DVD burner) at Office Depot.Had they stocked them in Staples, I would have never saved the money. Because they sent me away, I found a better deal at a store that actually had them and for less money. Ask a Best Buy employee why one brand is better than the other and they will say that they are both the same inside, just sold by different companies. Never mind that I am going to use my computer for gaming, or just for email. Don’t suppose there is any reason to spend more for quad core. AMD and Intel processors are identical too I bet.

  11. Prema

    Go exchange it again, like you said, you paid for this, so you should be getting something that you are satisfied with. If they create a scene, call up the corporate office, explain your situation and more than likely, they’ll side with you and give the go ahead. I’ve personally never experienced something like this, but I’ve read many accounts of managers at other B&M stores being quite douchey.
    I like their loyalty or whatever it is to the company, but on some levels it does get frustrating as a consumer. I just acme home from staples after buying 3 500 GB portable HDs, i asked nicely if they can do three separate transaction because i had three separate coupons I wanted to use. The cashier called over the manager and she said the coupon is one per household, and I explained that I have three different coupons (same discount, different code), Manager refused, honestly I think she didn’t get what i was saying. Long story short, I did everything in one transaction (the discount would have been ~$8, so nothing to complain about, but still.
    Another lovely story was I was buying some Amazon Kindle Paperwhites from my local Staples stores because it was going to be gifts to relatives/friends/etc. I walk in, buy about 9 of them together, and I asked for a bag (manager was checking me out). He told me that a bag would be $0.10 each…. I can understand when I’m paying for something cheap like photo paper or something with a handle like a laptop box, but 9 Paperwhite boxes, which gave them about $1000 and they couldn’t fork over 10 pennies or so, so I can have a better “carrying” experience and not worry about dropping it.. I could have bought the bag, but when you spend that much money it feels odd to pay a little more, even when you are dealing with pennies.

  12. Incenseman

    I gave up on Best Buy years ago when the second rebate I tried to use was declined. Several people since have regaled me with stories of poor service and hassles at Best Buy.
    They will soon have to close ALL of their buggy whip stores and I say good riddens…Many brick and mortar stores seem to forget that the customer IS KING….One does not have to spend money with people that treat them like crap and anyone in business would do well remember that the customer you treat well (even if they are wrong) will probably be back and speak well of you.
    Radio Shack may be the next retailer to fall…when I can buy a simple cable on line for $4.98 (including shipping) and Radio Shack sells the same thing for $29.95 which would buy?

  13. Bull

    While your experience was bad and no one should have to have that sort of customer suervice, I agree with Frank about checking in-store for the items quality.

    The first initial purchase hardly anyone does the in-store inspection.

    After returning to do the exchange, your caution flags should have gone off and you should have done the in-store inspection of the item.

    This is especially important when it comes to electronics.

    I do this and have seen many others do this, and not just in Best Buy, but in many other stores that sell electronics.

  14. Mike

    In my experience, this is standard in most large stores nowadays, especially electronics stores–it is not unique to Best Buy. Large stores are controlled by SKUs and stats and find it harder to simply, get the deal done.

    Now, if you want to talk about lack of knowledge and a general high school mentality and environment at Best Buy, I would absolutely agree . . . .

  15. BigWill

    Take your coupon and go visit the condecending prick.
    Pick me up on the way, I love to create scenes for imcompetent associates and managers alike. Provided they are of the caliber you described.
    Incompetent people damn well need to be put in place when they believe themselves so superior to you and your intelligence that they feel rightful in treating and talking to you like a piece of shit.

    What great sport – putting a condecending dumb ass in his/her place before the masses of other shoppers. They ALL should be made aware of their impending transaction with a dumb ass manager on an ego based power trip.
    I once witnessed a walmart manager fight his way through fumbling the digits on his phone to call the police. I have mever gotten physical with it – yet. So when the police show ( and I most assuredly WAIT for their arrival), I am asked to leave.

    I was at a Wendy’s fast food joint in Montana. After they screwed up on my regular manu item wendys burger for the THIRD TIME, I announced to the entire staff and restaurant ” you make fu king hambergurs and fries for a living….its a damn good thing ypur lives dont depend
    on you doing it CORRECTLY with a regular menu item. If breathing wasn’t an involuntary action, every one of you fucktards would have been DEAD long ago.”

    Once that release is complete, I can then make a useful phone call to the highest possible regional or corporate manager, that usually does not bode well for the idiots in the store OR the regional ass/puppet.
    If I am a customer in your store you had best not get rude or talk to me lile Im a shit filled idiot. If you do, youd better pack your mutherfucking lunch, clear the store, lock the doors and pray to your imaginary friend cos I will introduce you to pure fucking nightmarish EVIL.
    two weeks ago at walmart, I beat the shit out of two
    sides of a womans minivan in her presence – she thought I should of had no problem seeing a big van backing up well enough to keep my 10 yr old son out from behind her. She would have ran over him had I of not PULLED him out of the way; whereas she hit me instead, and still managed to continue for anothe 30
    feet or so, with me yelling obscenities and beating and kicking the shit out of her minivan. she finally stopped when I kicked the mirror off her drivers door.

    Idiots…good example of why some species EAT THEIR YOUNG!

  16. kelltic

    It isn’t because of their stupidity that Best Buy is in trouble. Stores are closing because of the bad economy that we are being told is improving while more businesses shut down and more people lose jobs every day.

    Best Buy was always a horrible place to shop, yet people rush there for everything electronic. How about the Geek Squad. Joke. Joke.

    I shop at Office Depot. Here (in my town) are informed, helpful employees, and the company takes returns and makes exchanges without hassle or question.

    Enjoyed your story. Someday you will laugh, too.

  17. Seamus McSeamus

    No offense meant to anyone reading this who has worked retail/customer service, but in my experience 90% of them are full-blown idiots, 9% are idiots-in-training and 1% is actually helpful and can do their job in an acceptable manner.

    I think the biggest problem is that they are taught to go by the numbers when handling things like exchanges, so when a situation arises that isn’t covered by specific training they go into BSOD mode and don’t have a clue what to do. There is no encouragement to use common sense, only to follow the bullet points and, in the end, the best resolution is one which is beneficial to the company. The customer leaves pissed off? No problem… there will always be more.

  18. RealBull

    Wow, that sounded frustrating. I use to work in retail and hated it. Sometimes you have to look at the employees’ side. Sometimes a situation comes up that you cannot correct…even a manager. Nobody is perfect, understand busy conditions even employees make honest mistakes. But when stupid employees are in a situation that they cannot handle, they try to get rid of the employee somehow…Just like that fool manager said to you, “pay the difference or go to another Best Buy” you should have asked for gas money, too.
    This is why many stores are closing, not because of the Internet, but because of bad customer service.

  19. Mardel53

    Excellent article Ashraf! I know exactly how you feel! Also…Eric 989..I did shopping at Circuit City when they still had stores……….had troubles exactly what Ashraf had at Best Buy above, so I started shopping at Best Buy…then troubles again. I now mostly shop on line and so far (knock on wood) no returns to deal with in my items purchased.
    The comment above Ashraf took time to write, people should appreciate that and I hope you feel better for writing it.

  20. Frank

    poor Ashraf!
    What I do not understand: Why don’t you check in-store for the quality of the item?

    It’s like buying at McDonalds and not checking they added the fries and then complaining.

  21. Eric989

    And Circuit City was 10 times worse than that when they were in business. It has gotten to the point at some stores that if I can’t find something, I ask an employee just to confirm that they don’t have the item. That is, if the employee says they don’t have it, then I know that they probably do because the employees are almost always wrong.
    In my local area the worst store for idiot employees is AutoZone. Consistently through the years they have managed to maintain a staff of complete idiots and when an idiot quits, gets fired, or is medically declared brain dead, they promptly replace them with another idiot. This is a near exact quote from one of my visits there.
    Me:”That’s not what I am looking for. It is the wrong material and size and it just won’t work. There is no way I will ever get it to fit and it would melt anyway.”
    Idiot Employee:”So do you want it or not?”