Tuesday, May 31, 2005

The Worst Day For A Best Buy Employee


As reported by Engadget:

We’ve all been completely pissed off with Best Buy for one reason or another, but no matter how infuriatingly incompetent their people can be, it’s probably not a good idea to follow Marlene Anne Bagnall’s strategy for getting what you want out of them. She found out the hard way that while pulling a gun on the Best Buy television repairman and telling him that, “You’re not leaving until the TV is fixed,” actually isn’t a good way to get your TV fixed, it is an excellent way to get yourself charged with aggravated assault and false imprisonment. The repairman, who had already tried and failed to fix her TV several times, calmed her down by calling Best Buy and getting them to agree to give her a new TV, then left and called the cops.

Several attempts to get it fixed???

Best Buy is one of the worst when it comes to enforcing the law or abiding by it ... most states have a lemon law which says:

" [ If a customer has the same problem with a product under warranty ... more than 3 times or different problems with the same item more than 5 times under warranty - the seller must reclaim the unit and provide a complete refund. The store must investigate, with the manufacturer, if a recall or consumer alert is necessary. ] "

I actually learned all that from my own experience with Best Buy. My father purchased an Apple Performa 6116 package + printer from Best Buy in 1994 for almost $3000. ( Replacing an original 1984 Macintosh ) - in 1998 problems started to arise. My dad had purchased the 3 year extended warranty (for a coverage of 4 years from date of purchase).

He took the unit in for an issue with the serial port being nonfunctional.

Note: Before reading; note that Best Buy had stopped carrying Macs two years prior to this incident in 1996.

The details are below ( condensed ):

1) Took the unit in 45days before extended warranty expired on December 1998
2) Claimed repaired or no problem 4 days later
3) Problem persisted - taken in 2nd time
4) Claimed repaired in 7 days by replacing motherboard
5) I examined the issue this time - it looked to me as if they hadn't done anything, so I taped a piece of tape to the underside of the motherboard at the serial port that said, check here or call this number if you replace this part.
6) Taken in for repair 3rd time
7) Claimed repaired in 15 days by replacing motherboard for cost to Best Buy ($900) Cost to my father (under warranty) = $0
8) Same problem, so I took apart motherboard ... tape was still there and not checked - no motherboard had been replaced
9) My Father took the unit in and spoke with the manager; demanding satisfaction.
10) Manager asked for one more chance but for my father to bring everything in to make sure it was tested
11) My Father agreed
12) 18 days later, he was told to come pick up the unit (with no mention of what what we were about to hear)

[something similer to this said by the manager]

Mr. Smith, your unit is fully repaired ... that will be $1100!

Why $1100? The unit was now out of warranty. The claim was; the unit was out of warranty, so, the repair was now at a charge. Obviously, this was outrageous. Take in to account, that my father also is a fervent tax preparer and accountant who was not able to balance his books for almost 2 months. My dad left the store, filed suit (claiming lemon law rules applied), and Best Buy responded within just a few days. My father got a gift certificate for the full original purchase price. Best Buy had just picked up carrying just the iMac on a limted basis. With his gift certificate; he bought two iMacs, two printers, two scanners, and a 27" TV. ( He was also refunded the $399 he spent on the warranty + the $150 in taxes he paid )


Middle-agedman said...

As a former major vendor representative whose duty it was to visit major retail chains on at least a weekly basis, I think its fair to note that different locations may handle customer issues differently. This is sometimes due to an overly frugal store manager that may see a "payout" of any kind as negatively impacting his store profitability report. Sometimes it may be due to a regional store manager that puts undue pressure on local store management to take as few returns as possible and expend as little money as possible on customer service issues. Regardless of the reason, it is very important for the informed consumer to not stop trying to get their problem resolved if they cannot get anything done on the local level. A paticular retail chain's policies may be quite different in print than they are in practice and while issues SHOULD be resolved at the local level, sometimes this doesn't happen. In this case, go straight to the top and call the corporate office and relate your experience. Makes sure that you document everything that happened, who you spoke with, what the date was, etc. Write a letter, send an email, make sure that you communicate adequately and follow up. Throughout this entire process, be calm and professional, but insistent and persistent. It can be very embarrassing to make a scene and yell and scream and then find out that the issue is not covered by the warranty (such as a software issue) or the anomaly was your fault to begin with. At least save the fireworks for a last resort. Retail is hard enough on those that make their living at it.

In the case where a retail chain does not properly resolve an issue, the vendor may. I was often called upon to speak with a customer directly or over the phone to help them resolve an issue that the store could not help them with. Chances are good that the store does NOT have a local reprsentative but they can probably give you a name, number, and/or email address to contact.

Keep in mind as well that there are also fraudulent attempts to have a piece of equipment that is "broken" repaired. People sometimes will purposely break their equipment just before the store warranty is up in order to get their equipment replaced with new. I have even heard store employees "coach" customers as to how to do this in order to sell one of their warranties!!!

That said, there are many more horror stories regarding customer service than could be mentioned in this forum, so this is a very real issue and certainly worth mentioning. It is also important to be aware that the customer service you are getting at the local level may not be what you SHOULD be getting (as was certainly the case in JackWhispers' example!!!)

FYT said...

It's usually best to bypass customer service agents all together and speak to the manager in all issues that may involve depot repair or a possible refund unless you are 100% certain you will have no problems.

Before taking a business to court though ( as my father did ) I would make sure i have spoken to the highest person in management that I could.