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.