Earlier today I went to Best Buy (ETA: on the corner of 23rd and 6th Ave in NYC) with a friend of mine to buy a netbook. She wanted a new one and I offered her my expert advice.
We found a Samsung model I liked for $249 on the website, looked up where it might be in stock, and set out to see it in person before buying.
It should have been a quick, straightforward trip to the store. However, when I left, I did so vowing never to buy a computer at Best Buy again.
The netbook we were after is the Samsung N145. The price on the tag is the same price as on the website.
It’s the price one would expect to pay, yes? When we told the clerk, who had helpfully checked to make sure they did indeed have the computer in stock, he informed us that this netbook came with some Best Buy enhancements. They’d done things to make it better (something about software), installed an anti-virus program, and created a set of recovery discs. For this pre-purchase helpfulness they wanted to charge an extra $50.
The “Say What?” look on my face must have been fierce, because he did take a step back at that point. When we said that we did not want these helpful enhancements he said that they no longer had any models in the store that didn’t have this added value and thus we could not get the netbook for $249.
I asked why the tag still said $249 and he said they hadn’t gotten around to changing it yet. That’s when I asked to speak to a manager.
Having never bought a computer at Best Buy before I had no idea if this is a standard practice. If it is, someone needs to make them stop. It’s bad enough when stores offer unnecessary services such as this after the purchase, but to do so before the computer is even sold, rendering it more expensive by default? That’s a no.
After a few minutes a manager came over and compounded the fail already in play. Because as he approached the area, asking which netbook and such, he did not make eye contact with me or my friend. No acknowledgement at all that we were even there.
He then offered the original salesperson a solution to the problem in a low, mumbly voice. I forced him to speak to me directly and he informed me that he could give me a discount on the extra special extras so it “only” cost $30.
Obviously I did not find this acceptable. I told the gentleman that I did not want to pay for any extras, I just wanted to pay the price on the tag. Another salesperson said something about how a different person (presumably a manager) could work it out to give us the netbook for its stated price. How generous.
After this, the salespeople scattered to go find the manager or whoever to make this right with barely a word to us. We were left standing around waiting with no indication of how long it would take, if we should wait elsewhere, nothing. Essentially, the customer service was super crap on top of everything else.
Eventually one of the employees hailed to us from a register with the netbook and we did indeed get it for the correct price.
Of course, the seal on the box had been broken, there were no papers inside with warranty information, a quick set up guide, or anything one would expect in the box with a new computer. Great.
Readers, if you ever encounter anything like this in a Best Buy or any other store, turn around and walk out if they won’t sell you the computer for the price stated on the tag or online. You do not need a store to create these discs for you. Likely any computer you buy from a big box retailer will come with recovery discs or have a tool that will make them for you. You do not need some random anti-virus installed for you. You do not need anyone to open your computer’s box before you do.
Before you let any of this happen, go to a different location, go to a competitor, or go online. There’s no justification for this policy, nor the bad customer service.
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