Best Buy seems to be at it again. Of all things, they seem to have forgotten a big time rule in business; have a sense of humor and roll with the punches. Some folks never learn.
by Lynn Lin
All of this comes on the heels of a post I read by Adam Singer of The Future Buzz titled Best Buy Meets Streisand Effect. In it, Adam explains how Newegg, a technology products company, did a commercial where they poked fun at Best Buy. Best Buy decided to respond with a cease and desist letter, which was pretty ominous stuff. Newegg responded the way most of us would; they popped the letter up on their site. You can see a copy of at the link I provided above.
In many communities these days Best Buy is almost the only game in town. Here in central New York, unless you want to find a small store or an office supply company, you can only pretty much get everything you might possibly get at Best Buy. In my opinion it’s one of the reasons they’re one of the worst companies in the country when it comes to customer service. I don’t say this lightly. I know a little bit about customer service and often I have stood or sat at Best Buy waiting to buy something only to be ignored.
At least I’m not blaming them for being racist by ignoring me since I know they do the same to pretty much everyone. My friend Pat wrote about them, calling them WorstBuy, which is a pretty neat play on words, and of course I’ve had my own issues with Best Buy, once writing about it in a newsletter. I even briefly mentioned it when I was talking about my purchase of Windows 7; waiting around while being ignored seems to be a common complaint about them.
Anyway, what’s happened is there’s been an online backlash against Best Buy for the strong arm tactics. It’s showing up in many places including The Consumerist, Techno Buffalo, 404 Tech Support, WebProNews, Maximum PC and a host of others. I’m wondering if they’ll end up getting a threatening letter for posting it like I did with Finish Line.
Here’s the thing. It seems that the companies that are ready to quickly threaten or sue over stupid stuff like this are the ones that deserve to be outed the most. Best Buy could really care less about most of us, but if they ever do decide to try, customer service needs to be the first thing they work on. Sure, when you’re buying a $2,000 TV or a $2,800 set of LG washing machines they’ll genuflect quite nicely to try to get the sale. But when it comes to almost anything else, the employees don’t care, management doesn’t care, and obviously the administration doesn’t care.
By the way, I’m not giving any link love to Newegg either since they killed their affiliate program through Commission Junction, a company I didn’t talk about in my rant against some CJ affiliates because if an advertiser expires, they take out everyone and not just me. Nothing personal this time around, but hey, they took money out of my pocket as well. lol
Anyway, in the long run, social media will be Best Buy’s Pandora’s Box because once the masses start rising, there will be a competitor, one that learns from the bottom up how to treat customers. That’s what killed Comp USA, and what will eventually get Best Buy.
I’m big on customer service. When it’s good I’ll point it out; when it’s bad, I’m also going to talk about it. I’ve had a couple of negative things occur lately, so to speak, and I’m going to talk about the aftermath of both of them; neither has ended well.
Let’s start with the tale that I told on this blog about buying something used on eBay. The overview is that I bought something, a Palm T/X, it didn’t work right, sent it back, guy fixed that issue, something else immediately broke, I sent it back again, and then I hadn’t received anything, ever. Guy wouldn’t return either phone calls or email; very irritated. And the thing is I knew he wasn’t going to fix it, and he wouldn’t even think about just sending me a different one.
Here’s the aftermath, since I wrote that post on 10/5. I wrote the guy 2 more times and left a phone message once more; nothing. I kind of outed the guy on Facebook by mentioning his name, but I never pursued it, as I knew it wasn’t going anywhere, and my heart really wasn’t in it to go that route. Finally last week I talked to a lawyer about my options; it was a quick down and dirty thing. He said I really didn’t have any. Sure, I’d paid m money and I had a registered note saying he got it, but if I wanted to file a small claims suit against him I’d have to go to his state, which was Michigan, and for the $151 it cost me I’d lose more money than I’d get back.
Knowing that, I figured I’d write him one more time. In that letter, I threw in that I had spoken to a lawyer, which I had, and that it was recommended that I try to work it out with him, which was kind of true. That letter got a response, and the guy said he thought he’d sent it back months ago; yeah, right! He mentioned in the letter that it bothered him that I went to a lawyer. I wrote back that all I wanted was my Palm back and asked what he’d have done if he’d been in my shoes and hadn’t received his product in almost 4 months.
That didn’t get a response, but today, finally, I did get my Palm back in the mail. The alarm still doesn’t work, but everything else does, and man, I really have found that I need my database and my calendar with me, even without the alarm. That plus it can connect to the internet if need be, plus I can use it as a reader and for a host of other things; I’ll deal with it. So I have it back, but I really still can’t say it all ended well.
The next story is new to some of you, especially if you don’t read my business blog. It involves the negative process of trying to get a replacement phone from AT&T, then finding out that we had insurance where my wife could have gotten that replacement instead, and how the processes for everything were very long and convoluted. I complained that in this day and age it shouldn’t take an hour just to set up on a new plan, or, after I learned about the insurance, to put in a claim. If you want to see more of the setup, go to that link.
Here’s the follow up. My wife and I started thinking about all of this and we got irked. It cost us $50 to replace her phone after I’d been paying insurance on both her phone and my phone for more than 2 1/2 years. At $5 a pop, that’s around $300. The replacement phone they sent her looked nice, a Samsung Propel, but when I looked it up it was a 2-year old phone that they don’t make anymore; and it was refurbished! Come on, they couldn’t send her a new phone after all these years for what I’d been paying for insurance, even after spending another $50 for it? All for the privilege of not having to sign a new 2-year plan?
And that’s not all. My wife loved the look of the phone and loves the keyboard, but it’s a power hog. We thought that the phone was brand new, and it still might be, but the battery wasn’t holding a charge. So I spent another $20 to buy a new battery from a local battery company, only to see that the new battery also won’t hold the charge. That means it’s the phone; sheesh!
At this point there’s no recourse for that, so we’re stuck with it for at least a little while. I did call and cancel the insurance, and I told the guy why. I mean, if we’d just stuck with the new phone after the rebate it would have only cost $20 and it would be working great. Turns out phone insurance is a joke, and that’s irksome. Turns out you can just keep buying new phones, even if your plan isn’t completed, as long as you’re ready to sign a new one, but you can still keep whatever you had on your old plan; that’s what I have now. So, I feel like an idiot of sorts, but what can you do, right?
So, nothing else on eBay that I can see, and I’m going to have to think about my association with AT&T after 15 years when I’m ready for a new phone and a new plan, since I figure the next time around I’m probably going to have to get a new plan anyway. Kicking and dragging into the new technology; thy name is Mitch!
In deference to my online buddy Mike CJ, he wrote a post earlier in the week which he titled Why Businesses Shouldn’t Be On Twitter. His main point was that instead of businesses being on Twitter, they should have individuals representing the business on Twitter so that they can show some personality and communicate directly with people.
Whereas I agree with the last point, I disagree with the initial statement. In my opinion, businesses definitely need to be on Twitter, and for multiple reasons. Let’s take a look at some of these.
1. Branding. Businesses having a Twitter account get to make sure their logo is out there front and center whenever something is being written for the company. One should never overlook the importance of branding.
2. Customer Service. Last week I had an issue with one of my affiliates not paying me so I kind of called that company out by name on Twitter. Within 5 minutes I was being contacted by the company, or whomever was representing the company account on that day, and we got my issue resolved. I’ve talked in the past about other companies responding to the same type of thing, and last week my friend Josh Shear brought it home again.
3. Protection of name. If a company doesn’t sign up for their name, you can bet that at some point someone else will sign up and start using it, and unless they abuse it there will be nothing the company can do about it.
4. Marketing. Yeah, we all say we hate seeing marketing on Twitter, but what we really mean is we hate seeing someone pounding marketing message after message. If Sony had a Twitter account and suddenly announced that they were having a special one day sale where their 50″ HD TV’s were going on sale for $200, who wouldn’t want to know about that? Okay, I’ll admit that’s one of my special pipe dreams. 🙂
I agree with Mike that Twitter users should have personality. I’ve written about that often enough as well, how I’m looking for more “social” than “selling”. But I think any major business that doesn’t have a Twitter account is allowing their competition to get the leg up on them, and allowing those few people who might complain about them to get the message out without having the chance to offer any assistance and hopefully stem a bad situation.