Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Best Buy -- Really?

By Mark W. Danielson

This week I’ll defer my murderous plots to make a public service announcement. Recently, my daughter has suffered a series of unfortunate events. Replacing her car’s catalytic converter was followed by a hit and run and a flash flood that ruined her engine. Then her computer broke, and since the Bank of Dad can’t cover everything, she agreed to buy a replacement while earning personal credit. If only it was that easy. Best Buy may have competitive prices, but obtaining credit is so astounding, it’s worth sharing the story.

My daughter lives in Florida and I’m in Colorado. Normally, it’s not a problem, but for obtaining Best Buy credit, it’s huge. They denied her personal application because she has never had a credit card, so I volunteered to co-sign. The Florida store rep told me to go to Best and fill out the joint application on line. The problem is, there is no on-line joint form; only one for individual applicants. Clicking on the help box linked me to a person who couldn’t help, but passed me on. Fifteen minutes later, I was speaking with a seemingly knowledgeable person who said I needed to go to a Best Buy while my daughter was at her Best Buy, she would fill out her portion of the joint form, they would fax it to my store, I would fill out my portion, and after a Best Buy rep verified my information, they would fax it back to the Florida store who would then fax it to the bank. We expected to be approved in five to fifteen minutes, but that was hardly the case.

It seems unlikely that a store that sells electronics would not have compatible fax machines, but that’s what happened. Following numerous failed attempts, we gave up, my daughter going to work; I home. Upon arrival, I immediately called the Florida store, the computer answered, but no one ever came on the line. A second try was the same, but the third time a live person came on. After they confirmed receipt of my practice fax, I sent my joint application. My daughter later returned to the store, filled out her portion, and we were once again denied because we were not in the store together, insisting their policy is we must be in the same store to verify the information. Never mind that our information had been verified by Best Buy reps in our respective stores. Talking to a supervisor didn’t change much, even though her caller ID matched everything on the application. Since I wasn’t calling from a Best Buy store, she couldn’t approve it. She finally told me that “as a courtesy” she would approve my application if I was to go back to the store and call her from there. I was too burned out at that point. She said she would make notations to keep the application open and I ended the call, then I called my daughter telling her to go home. So far, she had been in and out her store four times, and I have wasted a day and a half.

The next morning I returned to Best Buy, confident that this could be resolved. After spending 45 minutes on the phone with three different people, our application was again denied, reciting the policy that both people must be in the same store, so in spite of what the rep told me the night before, I wasted another morning, and over six hours on the phone. Ultimately, the Bank of Dad fronted another loan and she got her computer, but that one proved defective. They gave her another one, but she returned it after finding a more reliable store on campus. After all of our troubles, Best Buy had the nerve to charge her a $70.00 “restocking fee” on a computer that cost $579.00 I should add that my other daughter underwent similar problems with her new Best Buy computer.

So, will I be returning to Best Buy anytime soon? I think not. In fact, I doubt I’ll ever go back. Is the credit issue related to the economy? Perhaps, but my co-signing would certainly cover that. Are these computers breaking because they are made in China now instead of Malaysia? Perhaps. Is Best Buy really your best buy? You be the judge. The bottom line is all stores and computers are not created equal. Explore your options before making any major purchase, and if your kids live in a different state, good luck dealing with issues over the phone.


Chester Campbell said...

Mark, when something like that comes up, that's when I contact the president of the company. It usually gets results. Down at the bottom of the chain, everybody is afraid to do something that might get their butt in a bind later.

Pat Browning said...


You have more patience than I have. I'm surprised you didn't end up punching someone.

I imagine you kept your cool because your daughter was involved. I have 3 siblings with kids and they will endure anything if it helps their kids or grandkids.

Pat Browning

Ben Small said...

Why not just have her get a credit card and then buy it online or at the store. Or, if she can't get a credit card, you buy it and have her pay you back? Best Buy seems unprepared for such arrangements. Years ago, with my boys, I had them get credit cards with a fixed limit, and I co-signed with them. When I had to make a payment because one of them couldn't, I blocked the account from further purchases until they caught up. I think dealing with banks on such matters is much more efficient than trying to work it through a retailer.

Ben Small said...

And you have much more patience than I do... :)

Mark W. Danielson said...

If time weren't of the essense, I would have had her get a fixed limit credit card, but that wasn't the case. This issue isn't dead, though. I do intend to forward this to Best Buy's public relations department for action. And as if there weren't enough issues, the rebuilt engine in her car is giving her fits. Did I mention I just landed in a blinding snowstorm in Newark with strong crosswinds? All commercial flights have been canceled, but we still fly . . . Ah, the joys of it all.

Jean Henry Mead said...

Best of luck with Best Buy, Mark, and your daughter's credit problem. My husband ordered a top of the line Dell computer last September that didn't work. After numerous phone calls and emails, he recently got a replacement. Big business is slower than a snail in hibernation. I hope you're able to resolve the problem soon.

Btw, can't you refuse to fly in dangerous weather conditions?

Mark W. Danielson said...

Jean, I really think the problem in quality is due to products being made in China. These computers used to be made in Malaysia and they were fine. My experience in China is their best hotels have corrosion problems on their faucets within a very short period. We, the consumers, are responsible because we prefer low prices over quality products. We should expect this trend to continue, so long as price drives our purchases.

As for flying in poor weather conditions, as the captain, I will never put myself, my first officer, or any passengers on board in jeaopardy. That being said, I owe it to the company to make every reasonable attempt to deliver the freight.

My first officer and I spend most of the flight into Newark discussing our options, and were in constant communication with the company. Although passenger carriers canceled all of their flights, the airfield was open and we were legal to fly the approach. As it turned out, we had no problem making it in on the first approach. Had the conditions deteriorated, we would have aborted the approach and either done it over or diverted to another airport. Whether flying cargo or passengers, safety is always a pilot's primary concern.