Thursday, August 30, 2007

Forgive Me, For I Have Shopped at Best Buy

Those of you who have been with me for a long time may remember my tirade against and attempted boycott of Best Buy after they screwed up my Lost Season One DVD set order nearly two years ago (it's under the last heading on that page). Ever since, I have avoided Best Buy at all costs.

But desperate times call for desperate measures, and I had to begrudgingly return to Best Buy today to buy a new cordless phone set. (If you are wondering why I just don't use my cell phone - the answer is that The Man reclaimed my cell phone, and I really haven't needed to get another one - - e prefers email!)

As you may have heard, there were some crazy storms here in Chicago over the past few weeks... I was telling anyone who would listen that on one especially bad night, I was confident that the Wicked Witch was going to zoom past my window on her broomstick - it was tornado time! Trees were uprooted, traffic signs were flying around - utter mayhem. While my lower level amazingly did not flood (as it did a few months ago during a strong storm), something went haywire with our home phone line. After the storm, the already-poor connection got worse - snapping and crackling overpowered anyone's voice - and in the few seconds that the line would clear during any given call, I would then hear a weird musical tone and other people's voices. It got so bad that I could no longer even hear voicemails left for us - so I knew that I was either going to have to 1) call AT&T to have them come check our line or 2) see if getting a better phone would help. I didn't want to do either of these things - but I decided that the lesser of two evils was buying a new phone. If the storm had never occurred, I was planning on getting a new phone, so this gave me the push I needed to make it happen. (After the new phone is charged, I will let you know if I still have to deal with AT&T - pray that I don't!!!)

Alas, when you live in my area and you don't have a car, there are very few stores nearby at which you could buy a high-end phone. Best Buy it was. Since I wanted to spend as little time in the store as possible, I pulled up their site before heading out and researched my options. They had a new Panasonic model that came with 4 phones and guaranteed a clear signal because it operated at some frequency at which apparently nothing else in the world does - using "DECT 6.0 technology." I don't really understand any of that stuff, but what I did understand is that everyone across every site I visited while researching phones LOVED this model. They love, love, LOVED it. I put a lot of stock in customer testimonials, so I figured I would give this phone a try. It was $129.99 on, and they were running a promotion that bestowed a free hands-free headset upon anyone buying any phone over $60.

I checked the availability of both the phone and the headset at my nearby store, and they had both in stock. Then I called the store to ensure they would give me the free headset, and was told "we will match any online offer." Hmmmm.... do I walk several blocks on their word, or do I waste a few more days waiting for it to be shipped to me and just order it online? I decided that I could use the exercise.

I got to Best Buy and managed to find the phone, even though it was not on the shelf where the label for it was. Then I saw that it was marked $149.99. The ol' blood started boiling. I found the headset, which was $1 more than it was online (which shouldn't have mattered because it was supposed to be free, but still).

Within 5 minutes I was up at the register, itching to get out of there - but immensely worried that I was going to have to fight with someone. My brother once threw his body across the check-out counter at a Best Buy and just remained there out of protest because they didn't let him combine his Reward Zone coupons - so I knew I was going to have to top him, should it get ugly.

The check-out kid seemed nice enough. I explained to him that I had called in and was told that I could get the headset free because of the promotion they were running online. I also told him that the phone was $20 cheaper online. He replied, "Ummmm, I'm going to have to call someone about this - I don't know if I can do this here - you may have to go to Customer Service." The hairs on my arms started to prick and stand up straight, like what happens to the back-hair on my dog when he meets some yippy scrawny poodle that he doesn't like.

Then the check-out kid realizes that a manager is standing right next to him on the opposite side of a low wall, stocking videos. The check-out kid explained the situation, and the manager said, "Yeah, just do it."

So the check-out kid took my word for the price, and deleted out the $149.99 and put in $129.99. AMAZINGLY, a window then popped up saying that the headset should be free, and so it was. The kid said, "I'm so glad he was standing right here!"

I got my receipt and was back out into the fresh air in less than 10 minutes. I had survived.

But a critical lesson was learned, was it not? Through my pain of having to go back into Best Buy, we have now all learned that you absolutely MUST check their web site before buying anything there!!! Not only would I have been charged $20 more for the phone, but they would not have proactively told me that I could get a free headset with it - that box only popped up when he actually rang up the headset, not because he rang up the phone. I bet Best Buy isn't the only store that operates like this, as crazy as it may seem. What's even crazier is that I could've told him the phone was $60 online and he probably would've entered it in!

So put the power of "The Internets" to good use and research any major purchase before you buy it in a physical store, then demand the lowest price. And if you don't absolutely have to go in there, still try to avoid Best Buy! They can never make up for my lost Lost DVD snafu - NEVER!

- e

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