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Best Buy: 20% Of Customers Are Wrong

timothy posted more than 9 years ago | from the wrong-wrong-wrong dept.

Businesses 1234

Mr Show writes "Ars Technica has an article up discussing Best Buy's strategies to drive off the deal hunters. It's a good follow up to the Slashdot story from back in July, and offers some details on what they're actually trying to do."

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Best Buy's Reward Zone now ignores rebates (4, Informative)

LostCluster (625375) | more than 9 years ago | (#10761575)

Best Buy recently changed the terms of their "Reward Zone" package to make it harder to earn certificates, and one specific tactic they are using is deducting the value of rebates from what they count towards earning a certificate. So, picking up a "Free after rebate" deal is now worthless according to their program.

Re:Best Buy's Reward Zone now ignores rebates (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10761593)

Fuck off and die you fucking worthless karma whore.
You've even resorted to desperately hitting refresh while masturbating furiously to get in the "first karma whore" title that you need so desperately to get through life.
Kill yourself, NOW.

Re:Best Buy's Reward Zone now ignores rebates (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10761677)

This coming from an AC Troll.

Cute.

Re:Best Buy's Reward Zone now ignores rebates (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10761709)

This coming from LostCluster posting as AC.

Cute.

Re:Best Buy's Reward Zone now ignores rebates (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10761756)

MOD PARENT UP!!! The 'write reply, copy to clipboard, and pound refresh' habit of karma-hungry subscribers is exceptionally lame.

I love the letter that announced that change (5, Insightful)

joeflies (529536) | more than 9 years ago | (#10761629)

I don't remember it word for word, but in essence, it said "Based on customer feedback, you'll now earn rewards for every $125 of purchases".

I wonder to myself ... what customer gave feedback that they wanted to the program to be more difficult to earn rewards?

Re:I love the letter that announced that change (3, Informative)

The boojum (70419) | more than 9 years ago | (#10761729)

The answer is simple. Those are weasel words. It probably means they looked at the data on their customers and decided to change the rules to squeeze them a little more.

Re:I love the letter that announced that change (1)

Atmchicago (555403) | more than 9 years ago | (#10761788)

The customer feedback was probably something along the lines of "50% of us customers take advantage of rebates." Best buy wants to make that number go down while maintaining the impression to the customer that he can still use his rebate.

Re:I love the letter that announced that change (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10761790)

rtfa... they say that they are trying to get rid of the 20% of customers who don't give best buy more profit.

1. drive off customers who only buy things priced under wholesale
2. profit more!

nothing wrong with that.

Re:I love the letter that announced that change (1)

TheHonestTruth (759975) | more than 9 years ago | (#10761826)

Actually it was $125. Now it's $150. SuX0rs

-truth

lol (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10761576)

dongs

Interesting (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10761617)

A Google Image search for "dongs" returns this [cmdrtaco.net] as the first result.

I'm feeling lucky (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10761779)

That's odd. When I googled for dongs, I got this [gummydongs.com] .

eka posti! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10761577)

ha!

Only 20%? (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10761578)

I would've expected it to be much higher. "What do you mean I can't play Playstation games on my Xbox?"

Wear a Name tag! (5, Funny)

rednip (186217) | more than 9 years ago | (#10761585)

I'd guess that I look like a Barry to them, but next time I walk into best buy, I'm wearing a name tag "Buzz", just so they don't get it wrong. When I was working in the service industry, I used to tell my trainees "The Customer isn't always right, but it's not my job to tell them that."

Re:Wear a Name tag! (5, Funny)

captnitro (160231) | more than 9 years ago | (#10761745)

We used to say, "The customer is always right, just not at this store."

20% of Slashdot Pages are Errors (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10761587)

404 File Not Found
The requested URL (yro/04/11/09/0017217.shtml?tid=187&tid=98&tid=153 &tid=123&tid=1) was not found.

If you feel like it, mail the url, and where ya came from to mailto:pater@slashdot.org [mailto] .

Imagine (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10761820)

A beowulf cluster of free ipods!!!

Slashdotted. (1, Redundant)

Fecal Troll Matter (445929) | more than 9 years ago | (#10761591)

As far as the old adage "the customer is always right" goes, Best Buy doesn't buy it. The massive retailer is being vocal about something that at first might sound a little uncouth: frankly, they'd rather not have 50% of their customers as customers. In an age where it seems like everyone casts their nets as wide as possible to bring in more eyes, feet, and wallets, Best Buy is doing the opposite. They believe that a small portion of their customers are bad for business, and they're looking to shut them out. Of course, Best Buy loves their "angel" customers who buy things regardless of price, and load up on high ticket items. The problem is that the details are about the devils.

The devils are its worst customers. They buy products, apply for rebates, return the purchases, then buy them back at returned-merchandise discounts. They load up on "loss leaders," severely discounted merchandise designed to boost store traffic, then flip the goods at a profit on eBay. They slap down rock-bottom price quotes from Web sites and demand that Best Buy make good on its lowest-price pledge. "They can wreak enormous economic havoc," says Mr. Anderson.

Some see this as Best Buy trying to "have its cake and eat it to", by wanting to keep rebates, loss leaders, and massive promotions going, but exclude those who make routine use of them. Why not just stop with the marketing games? For Best Buy, it's not quite that cut and dried. While most of the promotions people "abuse" are rendered ineffective when well educated customers have access to various bargain websites, the majority of Best Buy's customer base is still susceptible to them. Many people will go shopping for a printer (that Best Buy may be taking a loss on), and end up with extra print cartridges, printer paper and a service plan to go with it. Those customers aren't going anywhere for a while.

While the practice of labeling some customers as "devils" is by no means new, Best Buy's efforts represent the most concerted exorcism attempt we've seen from a major retailer to date. And it seems to be working. They've changed some of their policies to make them less vulnerable to exploitation, adding a 15% restocking fee and selling restocked goods over the internet instead of in-store. More notably, they're attempting to explicity identify desirable customers and appeal to them directly.

Store clerks receive hours of training in identifying desirable customers according to their shopping preferences and behavior. High-income men, referred to internally as Barrys, tend to be enthusiasts of action movies and cameras. Suburban moms, called Jills, are busy but usually willing to talk about helping their families. Male technology enthusiasts, nicknamed Buzzes, are early adopters, interested in buying and showing off the latest gadgets.

Staffers use quick interviews to pigeonhole shoppers. A customer who says his family has a regular "movie night," for example, is pegged a prime candidate for home-theater equipment. Shoppers with large families are steered toward larger appliances and time-saving products.

Best Buy's strategies could represent the beginnings of a shift in how retailers approach their customers. As consumers become more savvy, and online shopping continues to grow, you can bet other retailers will watch Best Buy closely. Early results indicate that Best Buy's test stores are outperforming their established stores by a significant margin, and it's safe to assume that the trend will continue as they shift to their new sales mode across the board. Of course, if you aren't Barry, Jill, or Buzz, then who are you and how will you be treated? Customer profiling has a nasty side to it, one which we can attest to. It's common, for instance, to be utterly ignored in some commission-based sales environments if you look too young, or too poor.

Meanwhile, Dell and others seem to be doing their best to attract those customers Best Buy doesn't really want. While Best Buy has pulled the plug on their relationships with some of the more well known bargain sites, Dell is using those same sites to run their promotions and clear out inventory with insane coupon deals. The biggest danger for Best Buy is the prospect of getting upside down. They run the risk of selling out for profit margins at the cost of sales volume.

Words to Best Buy: Suck it up (3, Interesting)

wobedraggled (549225) | more than 9 years ago | (#10761595)

I love these huge companies that cant take it when the average joe bites back a little. We all hate mosquitos but we have to deal with them. If they are gonna keep this "hate" up then they will lose my money plain and simple, maybe we would be nicer if they weren't trying to shove a warranty down our throats on every little item we buy.

Re:Words to Best Buy: Suck it up (3, Insightful)

fpga_guy (753888) | more than 9 years ago | (#10761737)

People scamming the rebate schemes is a valid response to what is, in essence, a totally anti-consumer practice. I'm amazed that it's even legal to offer these false discounts, and artificially inflated prices.

Re:Words to Best Buy: Suck it up (1)

wdd1040 (640641) | more than 9 years ago | (#10761801)

Agreed.

If we didn't have to deal with the hassles of the rebates, we wouldn't try to find ways to get more out of them.

Re:Words to Best Buy: Suck it up (1)

strict3 (827367) | more than 9 years ago | (#10761763)

I love these huge companies that cant take it when the average joe bites back a little. We all hate mosquitos but we have to deal with them.

Actually I, like Best Buy, try to kill them.

The thing is these customers do not make Bets Buy and money and in many cases cause them to lose money.

Re:Words to Best Buy: Suck it up (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10761781)

So why don't they make a big sign: If you don't buy what brings us profit you are not allowed in!!!

Re:Words to Best Buy: Suck it up (1)

strict3 (827367) | more than 9 years ago | (#10761783)

Bets Buy and money

man I suck

"Best Buy any money"

Re:Words to Best Buy: Suck it up (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10761808)

They already lost my money.

After spending almost $1000 at Best Buy last Christmas, they refused to take back an unopened PS2 on January 27. It was 2 days after the 30 day return policy. No discussion, no store credit. I called headquarters and got no statisfaction there either.

There are plenty of places that sell what Best Buy sells. Shop elsewhere. I do.

Not an upsatanding policy (5, Interesting)

ravenspear (756059) | more than 9 years ago | (#10761607)

What they are basically saying is that 20% of customers are wrong "for Best Buy." In essence, they are trying to rid themselves of intelligent shoppers who look around for the best deal and are usually more knowledgeable about what they buy and instead cater to the sheep and the unwashed masses that will buy anything regardless of features and price simply because a Best Buy salesman tells them too.

This is yet another attempt to dumb down consumers to make the more receptive to truly weak sales pitches. Best Buy won't be getting any more of my business if they value this philosophy.

Re:Not an upsatanding policy (5, Insightful)

rev0102 (701177) | more than 9 years ago | (#10761623)

Yeah, but I think they've made it clear they don't want your business anyway :)

Sigh (1)

ravenspear (756059) | more than 9 years ago | (#10761631)

Well, since I can't edit posts on /., I meant to put that as "upstanding policy," but given the topic of the article, I really can't argue with what it turned out as.

Re:Not an upsatanding policy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10761650)

Exactly, they don't want you.

Looks like their tactics are working.

Re:Not an upsatanding policy (1)

zx75 (304335) | more than 9 years ago | (#10761656)

Thank god I already don't buy at best buy because of their crazily inflated prices unless they have a big sale on. Then I go in for just the heavily discounted item. Oh wait, I guess that makes me a devil.

Eh, sucks to be them.

Re:Not an upsatanding policy (1, Flamebait)

nomadic (141991) | more than 9 years ago | (#10761773)

Best Buy is alright for video games and movies. Their house brand monitors are decent and cheap, too.

Everything else I get elsewhere.

Not upstanding? (5, Insightful)

Mike Hawk (687615) | more than 9 years ago | (#10761668)

They buy products, apply for rebates, return the purchases, then buy them back at returned-merchandise discounts.

I wouldn't even stretch to call people who would do this shoppers. Thats not looking for the best deal, thats borderline robbery. If you engage in that sort of activity, I'm sure you promising to never shop there again is exactly what they want. Win/win.

Re:Not upstanding? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10761721)

And 20% of the patrons at Best Buy do this? Do you dare even take your wallet in there?

Re:Not upstanding? (5, Insightful)

ravenspear (756059) | more than 9 years ago | (#10761757)

They buy products, apply for rebates, return the purchases, then buy them back at returned-merchandise discounts.

I wouldn't even stretch to call people who would do this shoppers. Thats not looking for the best deal, thats borderline robbery. If you engage in that sort of activity, I'm sure you promising to never shop there again is exactly what they want.

No I don't do that kind of stuff. I was referring more to the other parts.

They load up on "loss leaders," severely discounted merchandise designed to boost store traffic, then flip the goods at a profit on eBay.

That's not robbery. It's called commerce. Buy low, sell high. Nothing illegal or shady about it at all. Is Best Buy saying they don't want any of their customers to be able to sell any of the things they purchase?

And then this:
They slap down rock-bottom price quotes from Web sites and demand that Best Buy make good on its lowest-price pledge.

Why even have a lowest price pledge if you aren't going to honor it?

Sorry but Best Buy is not the injured party here. They are simply bitching because selling to consumers who exercise some initiative makes it slightly less easy for them to earn maximum profit.

Re:Not upstanding? (1)

notthe9 (800486) | more than 9 years ago | (#10761799)

Yes, for all those products Best Buy allows returnes of without the UPC...

I mean, really, I have a hard time believing that is a real problem. And reselling on eBay? I'm sorry Best Buy, you occasionally have okay deals, but you are flattering yourself if you think I could ever pull that.

Re:Not an upsatanding policy (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10761682)

you are not the only one.

I know of many people that will never ever shop at "worst buy" again. Mostly because of sheer rudeness and other insanely stupid tactics typical of undertrained and unskilled management.

Best buy had better realize that people have lots of other choices for shopping and they certianly will go elsewhere. Personally, I stopped shopping there because their prices are high compared to online merchants even after factoring in shipping. Considering I recently bought 2 512meg CF cards for $25.00 each online and the cheapest they have on the shelf is $58.00 it was a no-brainer. plus I don't get someone trying to shove an extended warrenty down my throat every 5 minutes.

The Best Buy near here 4 years ago was packed most of the time, now? their parking lot is no where near as populated while their competition has the full parking lots.

They can redeem themselves if they get management that has a brain, or at least wipes their face off after pulling the head out of their butt.

ABC warehouse has friendlier staff and management compared to Best Buy, and they are scumbags.

WSJ has more on this too... (4, Interesting)

cliveholloway (132299) | more than 9 years ago | (#10761608)

Currently, you can read it here [wsj.com] .

cLive ;-)

The Article (0, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10761655)

Since the last time i checked the Journal required a subscription to read any it...

iiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii ii iiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii

Minding the Store
Analyzing Customers, Best Buy
Decides Not All Are Welcome
Retailer Aims to Outsmart
Dogged Bargain-Hunters,
And Coddle Big Spenders
Looking for 'Barrys' and 'Jills'

By GARY MCWILLIAMS
Staff Reporter of THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
November 8, 2004; Page A1

Brad Anderson, chief executive officer of Best Buy Co., is embracing a heretical notion for a retailer. He wants to separate the "angels" among his 1.5 million daily customers from the "devils."

Best Buy's angels are customers who boost profits at the consumer-electronics giant by snapping up high-definition televisions, portable electronics, and newly released DVDs without waiting for markdowns or rebates.

The devils are its worst customers. They buy products, apply for rebates, return the purchases, then buy them back at returned-merchandise discounts. They load up on "loss leaders," severely discounted merchandise designed to boost store traffic, then flip the goods at a profit on eBay. They slap down rock-bottom price quotes from Web sites and demand that Best Buy make good on its lowest-price pledge. "They can wreak enormous economic havoc," says Mr. Anderson.

Best Buy estimates that as many as 100 million of its 500 million customer visits each year are undesirable. And the 54-year-old chief executive wants to be rid of these customers.
[Bradbury Anderson]

Mr. Anderson's new approach upends what has long been standard practice for mass merchants. Most chains use their marketing budgets chiefly to maximize customer traffic, in the belief that more visitors will lift revenue and profit. Shunning customers -- unprofitable or not -- is rare and risky.

Mr. Anderson says the new tack is based on a business-school theory that advocates rating customers according to profitability, then dumping the up to 20% that are unprofitable. The financial-services industry has used a variation of that approach for years, lavishing attention on its best customers and penalizing its unprofitable customers with fees for using ATMs or tellers or for obtaining bank records.

Best Buy seems an unlikely candidate for a radical makeover. With $24.5 billion in sales last year, the Richfield, Minn., company is the nation's top seller of consumer electronics. Its big, airy stores and wide inventory have helped it increase market share, even as rivals such as Circuit City Stores Inc. and Sears, Roebuck & Co., have struggled. In the 2004 fiscal year that ended in February, Best Buy reported net income of $570 million, up from $99 million during the year-earlier period marred by an unsuccessful acquisition, but still below the $705 million it earned in fiscal 2002.

But Mr. Anderson spies a hurricane on the horizon. Wal-Mart Stores Inc., the world's largest retailer, and Dell Inc., the largest personal-computer maker, have moved rapidly into high-definition televisions and portable electronics, two of Best Buy's most profitable areas. Today, they rank respectively as the nation's second- and fourth-largest consumer-electronics sellers.
[Best Buy]

Mr. Anderson worries that his two rivals "are larger than us, have a lower [overhead], and are more profitable." In five years, he fears, Best Buy could wind up like Toys 'R' Us Inc., trapped in what consultants call the "unprofitable middle," unable to match Wal-Mart's sheer buying power, while low-cost online sellers like Dell pick off its most affluent customers. Toys 'R' Us recently announced it was considering exiting the toy business.

This year, Best Buy has rolled out its new angel-devil strategy in about 100 of its 670 stores. It is examining sales records and demographic data and sleuthing through computer databases to identify good and bad customers. To lure the high-spenders, it is stocking more merchandise and providing more appealing service. To deter the undesirables, it is cutting back on promotions and sales tactics that tend to draw them, and culling them from marketing lists.

As he prepares to roll out the unconventional strategy throughout the chain, Mr. Anderson faces significant risks. The pilot stores have proven more costly to operate. Because different pilot stores target different types of customers, they threaten to scramble the chain's historic economies of scale. The trickiest challenge may be to deter bad customers without turning off good ones.

"Culturally I want to be very careful," says Mr. Anderson. "The most dangerous image I can think of is a retailer that wants to fire customers."

Mr. Anderson's campaign against devil customers pits Best Buy against an underground of bargain-hungry shoppers intent on wringing every nickel of savings out of big retailers. At dozens of Web sites like FatWallet.com, SlickDeals.net and TechBargains.com, they trade electronic coupons and tips from former clerks and insiders, hoping to gain extra advantages against the stores.

At SlickDeals.net, whose subscribers boast about techniques for gaining hefty discounts, a visitor recently bragged about his practice of shopping at Best Buy only when he thinks he can buy at below the retailer's cost. He claimed to purchase only steeply discounted loss leaders, except when forcing Best Buy to match rock-bottom prices advertised elsewhere. "I started only shopping there if I can [price match] to where they take a loss," he wrote, claiming he was motivated by an unspecified bad experience with the chain. In an e-mail exchange, he declined to identify himself or discuss his tactics, lest his targets be forewarned.

Mr. Anderson's makeover plan began taking shape two years ago when the company retained as a consultant Larry Selden, a professor at Columbia University's Graduate School of Business. Mr. Selden has produced research tying a company's stock-market value to its ability to identify and cater to profitable customers better than its rivals do. At many companies, Mr. Selden argues, losses produced by devil customers wipe out profits generated by angels.

Best Buy's troubled acquisitions of MusicLand Stores Corp. and two other retailers had caused its share price and price-to-earnings ratio to tumble. Mr. Selden recalls advising Mr. Anderson: "The best time to fix something is when you're still making great money but your [price-to-earnings ratio] is going down."

Mr. Selden had never applied his angel-devil theories to a retailer as large as Best Buy, whose executives were skeptical that 20% of customers could be unprofitable. In mid-2002, Mr. Selden outlined his theories during several weekend meetings in Mr. Anderson's Trump Tower apartment. Mr. Anderson was intrigued by Mr. Selden's insistence that a company should view itself as a portfolio of customers, not product lines.

Mr. Anderson put his chief operating officer in charge of a task force to analyze the purchasing histories of several groups of customers, with an eye toward identifying bad customers who purchase loss-leading merchandise and return purchases. The group discovered it could distinguish the angels from the devils, and that 20% of Best Buy's customers accounted for the bulk of profits.

In October 2002, Mr. Anderson instructed the president of Best Buy's U.S. stores, Michael P. Keskey, to develop a plan to realign stores to target distinct groups of customers rather than to push a uniform mix of merchandise. Already deep into a cost-cutting program involving hundreds of employees, Mr. Keskey balked, thinking his boss had fallen for a business-school fad. He recalls telling Mr. Anderson, "You've lost touch with what's happening in your business."

Mr. Anderson was furious, and Mr. Keskey says he wondered whether it was time to leave the company. But after meeting with the chief operating officer and with Mr. Selden, Mr. Keskey realized there was no turning back, he says.

Best Buy concluded that its most desirable customers fell into five distinct groups: upper-income men, suburban mothers, small-business owners, young family men, and technology enthusiasts. Mr. Anderson decided that each store should analyze the demographics of its local market, then focus on two of these groups and stock merchandise accordingly.

Best Buy began working on ways to deter the customers who drove profits down. It couldn't bar them from its stores. But this summer it began taking steps to put a stop to their most damaging practices. It began enforcing a restocking fee of 15% of the purchase price on returned merchandise. To discourage customers who return items with the intention of repurchasing them at an "open-box" discount, it is experimenting with reselling them over the Internet, so the goods don't reappear in the store where they were originally purchased.

"In some cases, we can solve the problem by tightening up procedures so people can't take advantage of the system," explains Mr. Anderson.

In July, Best Buy cut ties to FatWallet.com, an online "affiliate" that had collected referral fees for delivering customers to Best Buy's Web site. At FatWallet.com, shoppers swap details of loss-leading merchandise and rebate strategies. Last October, the site posted Best Buy's secret list of planned Thanksgiving weekend loss leaders, incurring the retailer's ire. Timothy C. Storm, president of Roscoe, Ill.-based FatWallet, said the information may have leaked from someone who had an early look at advertisements scheduled to run the day after Thanksgiving.

In a letter to Mr. Storm, Best Buy explained it was cutting the online link between FatWallet and BestBuy.com because the referrals were unprofitable. The letter said it was terminating all sites that "consistently and historically have put us in a negative business position."

Mr. Storm defends FatWallet.com's posters as savvy shoppers. "Consumers don't set the prices. The merchants have complete control over what their prices and policies are," he says.

Shunning customers can be a delicate business. Two years ago, retailer Filene's Basement was vilified on television and in newspaper columns for asking two Massachusetts customers not to shop at its stores because of what it said were frequent returns and complaints. Earlier this year, Mr. Anderson apologized in writing to students at a Washington, D.C., school after employees at one store barred a group of black students while admitting a group of white students.

Mr. Anderson says the incident in Washington was inappropriate and not a part of any customer culling. He maintains that Best Buy will first try to turn its bad customers into profitable ones by inducing them to buy warranties or more profitable services. "In most cases, customers wouldn't recognize the options we've tried so far," he says.

Store clerks receive hours of training in identifying desirable customers according to their shopping preferences and behavior. High-income men, referred to internally as Barrys, tend to be enthusiasts of action movies and cameras. Suburban moms, called Jills, are busy but usually willing to talk about helping their families. Male technology enthusiasts, nicknamed Buzzes, are early adopters, interested in buying and showing off the latest gadgets.

Staffers use quick interviews to pigeonhole shoppers. A customer who says his family has a regular "movie night," for example, is pegged a prime candidate for home-theater equipment. Shoppers with large families are steered toward larger appliances and time-saving products.

The company hopes to lure the Barrys and Jills by helping them save time with services like a "personal shopper" to help them hunt for unusual items, alert them to sales on preferred items, and coordinate service calls.

Best Buy's decade-old Westminster, Calif., store is one of 100 now using the new approach. It targets upper-income men with an array of pricey home-theater systems, and small-business owners with network servers, which connect office PCs, and technical help unavailable to other customers.

On Tuesdays, when new movie releases hit the shelves, blue-shirted sales clerks prowl the DVD aisles looking for promising candidates. The goal is to steer them into a back room that showcases $12,000 high-definition home-theater systems. Unlike the television sections at most Best Buy stores, the room has easy chairs, a leather couch, and a basket of popcorn to mimic the media rooms popular with home-theater fans.

At stores popular with young Buzzes, Best Buy is setting up videogame areas with leather chairs and game players hooked to mammoth, plasma-screen televisions. The games are conveniently stacked outside the playing area, the glitzy new TVs a short stroll away.

Mr. Anderson says early results indicate that the pilot stores "are clobbering" the conventional stores. Through the quarter ended Aug. 28, sales gains posted by pilot stores were double those of traditional stores. In October, the company began converting another 70 stores.

Best Buy intends to customize the remainder of its stores over the next three years. As it does, it will lose the economies and efficiencies of look-alike stores. With each variation, it could become more difficult to keep the right items in stock, a critical issue in a business where a shortage of a hot-selling big-screen TV can wreak havoc on sales and customer goodwill.

Overhead costs at the pilot stores have run one to two percentage points higher than traditional stores. Sales specialists cost more, as do periodic design changes. Mr. Anderson says the average cost per store should fall as stores share winning ideas for targeting customers.

Re:WSJ has more on this too... (2, Interesting)

gkuz (706134) | more than 9 years ago | (#10761833)

Currently, you can read it here.

And, in reading that article, you can ponder how similar the Ars Technica article is, yet with no attribution nor copyright notice. Can you "plagiarism", folks?

Best Buy is not that evil... (4, Insightful)

lothar97 (768215) | more than 9 years ago | (#10761618)

Don't get me wrong, I wouldn't buy anything from them, but hear me out. Best Buy is a for-profit company (pubicly traded), and legally a corporation's loyalty (at least in theory) is ultimately to the shareholders (Enron et al made a mockery of this). This duty means that the corporation has to increase the value to shareholders, either through dividends, profits, increase share price, etc. I'm not saying I agree with it, but that's the idea. So, Best Buy has some "devil" customers, and they're losing money off of these devils. From TFA:

The devils are its worst customers. They buy products, apply for rebates, return the purchases, then buy them back at returned-merchandise discounts.

Kudos to the people who figured this out, but clearly it is costing Best Buy money. These are customers that should be weeded out. It's Best Buy's fault for allowing this scenario to happen.

Once someone discovers something that is "too good to be true" like the returning scenario, many people start doing it, and the company catches on. Since they're losing money, they stop it.

The other things in TFA, like profiling customers and selling them what their profile dictates is just common sales practice. Sure they might be forcing people to get things they might not want/need, but then again, when was the last time a sales person tried to sell you something you don't need (car options, clothes, dinner specials, etc). It's the nature of capitalism to increase the profits.

Re:Best Buy is not that evil... (5, Insightful)

div_B (781086) | more than 9 years ago | (#10761774)

Kudos to the people who figured this out, but clearly it is costing Best Buy money. These are customers that should be weeded out. It's Best Buy's fault for allowing this scenario to happen.

Frankly, if they're not being evil, they're atleast being a bit cheeky. From TFA:

They ["devils"] slap down rock-bottom price quotes from Web sites and demand that Best Buy make good on its lowest-price pledge.

If they don't want to sell things at the lowest-price, then they shouldn't pledge to. Problem solved. But of course, that's no good, because what they really want is to give people the perception that they can get things for the lowest prices, without actually following through on it. My heart bleeds for them.

Re:Best Buy is not that evil... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10761827)

>> This duty means that the corporation has to increase the value to shareholders, either through dividends, profits, increase share price, etc.

I think what you meant to say was:

This duty means that the corporation has to increase the value to shareholders, either through dividends, profits, increase share price, etc for the next quarter.

It's sad, but for many of these companies, the people running them are in it for the short term. Increasing the value to the shareholders in the long term doesn't mean screwing the customers now, but they don't care, they won't be there any more.

If you can, support your local businesses. It may cost a little more, but in the end, you'll be better off. If for no other reason than that these superstore only seem to carry certain items. You won't get the variety of items that you get at the local shops.

business strategy... (1, Informative)

defy god (822637) | more than 9 years ago | (#10761619)

(i just made this at Ars.. but thought it would bring more light into the discussion here) i worked for best buy for just about a year and quit around the time they were doing this training. instead of just one generalized customer, they've created 5 categories that would best fit their target groups. not all stores have all these categories. some stores may be a Jill or Barry, while others may be more of a Buzz. let me explain. Barry - usual income is over $100,000 - wants a "my guy" type of environment (similar to having a specific mechanic you go to, they want to be the epicenter where "Barry"s go for high end products, installation, information, etc). - time = money, so having a specialized, well trained place (a Barry specific store) to go to grab everything from install to products will be worth the money. they could care less about spending time to bargain shop. - will pay extra to have product delivered, installed, set-up in house Jill - "soccer mom" - will want a "shopping friend" that will help her pick out all the products with her (a specific Best Buy employee will literally guide her through the store and shop with her) - a prime target for in-home installations Buzz - early adoptor - wants the latest and greatest and usually doesn't stop to think about the price - 18-30 age group, college students, disposable income Ray - wife, and 2 1/2 kids - must consult with wife before buying - tendency to look for bargains Best Buy for Business - small business owner - will have a specific employee assigned to him/her as a conduit for business transactions - target for Best Buy's Geek Squad (tech department; aside from regular computer problems general customers have, Geek Squad for business users will be more of an "on-call" IT department. small businesses don't need a full-time techie on their pay-roll. so Geek Squad can come in for a "small" fee per hour, or last i heard, Businesses can pre-pay for an alotted amount of time per month) working for Best Buy gives one a different perspective. as the management says, they must continue growing to avoid Circuit City scenarios, or Walmart/K-Mart power shifts. the main competition they see is Walmart, Dell, Amazon, Ebay, and a fifth that slips my mind. so in order to grow, they're trying ot learn more about their customers. they're catering to specific customer needs of the area. so your local store can be labeled one of the 5 possible categories or a mix of them. employees are trained to identify who best fits what mold so they can pass them off to someone who can better help with your needs. the cynic in me also thinks the best employee to grab every possible penny from the customer, but that's just, argueably, business. just to give everyone the heads up though about a simple fact. from last i heard from management, if you look at the top ten list of what makes Best Buy profit, #1 is home theatre (big screen TVs, etc). want to know #2-10 ? it's their PRP/PSP (product replacement plan and product service plans). that's the main reason they push customers so hard about them. also, people sometimes wonder how they measure performance. employees aren't measured by individual performence (and that means non-commision). the deparments must reach given daily monetary amounts and percentages for specific things and that's how management keeps track. they make sure each employee says they are no on comission. what they don't say though is, the sales managers that are hounding each employee about the performance of numbers is given a "bonus" for the sales/rank/etc every month. so in essence, *they* are getting the comission. that's enough rambling from an ex-employee. hope it gives people a clearer picture. and for those wondering, i was in the computer sales / tech departments.

sorry, should have previewed... (5, Informative)

defy god (822637) | more than 9 years ago | (#10761645)

[better formated for easier reading] (i just made this at Ars.. but thought it would bring more light into the discussion here)

i worked for best buy for just about a year and quit around the time they were doing this training. instead of just one generalized customer, they've created 5 categories that would best fit their target groups. not all stores have all these categories. some stores may be a Jill or Barry, while others may be more of a Buzz. let me explain.

Barry - usual income is over $100,000 - wants a "my guy" type of environment (similar to having a specific mechanic you go to, they want to be the epicenter where "Barry"s go for high end products, installation, information, etc). - time = money, so having a specialized, well trained place (a Barry specific store) to go to grab everything from install to products will be worth the money. they could care less about spending time to bargain shop. - will pay extra to have product delivered, installed, set-up in house

Jill - "soccer mom" - will want a "shopping friend" that will help her pick out all the products with her (a specific Best Buy employee will literally guide her through the store and shop with her) - a prime target for in-home installations

Buzz - early adoptor - wants the latest and greatest and usually doesn't stop to think about the price - 18-30 age group, college students, disposable income

Ray - wife, and 2 1/2 kids - must consult with wife before buying - tendency to look for bargains

Best Buy for Business - small business owner - will have a specific employee assigned to him/her as a conduit for business transactions - target for Best Buy's Geek Squad (tech department; aside from regular computer problems general customers have, Geek Squad for business users will be more of an "on-call" IT department. small businesses don't need a full-time techie on their pay-roll. so Geek Squad can come in for a "small" fee per hour, or last i heard, Businesses can pre-pay for an alotted amount of time per month)

working for Best Buy gives one a different perspective. as the management says, they must continue growing to avoid Circuit City scenarios, or Walmart/K-Mart power shifts. the main competition they see is Walmart, Dell, Amazon, Ebay, and a fifth that slips my mind. so in order to grow, they're trying ot learn more about their customers. they're catering to specific customer needs of the area. so your local store can be labeled one of the 5 possible categories or a mix of them. employees are trained to identify who best fits what mold so they can pass them off to someone who can better help with your needs. the cynic in me also thinks the best employee to grab every possible penny from the customer, but that's just, argueably, business.

just to give everyone the heads up though about a simple fact. from last i heard from management, if you look at the top ten list of what makes Best Buy profit, #1 is home theatre (big screen TVs, etc). want to know #2-10 ? it's their PRP/PSP (product replacement plan and product service plans). that's the main reason they push customers so hard about them.

also, people sometimes wonder how they measure performance. employees aren't measured by individual performence (and that means non-commision). the deparments must reach given daily monetary amounts and percentages for specific things and that's how management keeps track. they make sure each employee says they are no on comission. what they don't say though is, the sales managers that are hounding each employee about the performance of numbers is given a "bonus" for the sales/rank/etc every month. so in essence, *they* are getting the comission.

that's enough rambling from an ex-employee. hope it gives people a clearer picture. and for those wondering, i was in the computer sales / tech departments.

Glitch in the Matrix? (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10761624)

"They can wreak enormous economic havoc," says Mr. Anderson.

I think this explains alot...

The trendy customer is frequenty wrong (2, Insightful)

PerpetualMotion (550623) | more than 9 years ago | (#10761625)

Looking at sites like CheapAssGamer.com you will see how people turn 10$ into over 200$ buying and selling using price diffrences from stores like Walmart, the notorious GameRush, GameStop, even Electroics Boutique.

One of the quotes I remember the most is "Any experienced CAG can turn credit into cash." Half of all the deals are ABOUT turning credit into MORE credit, while the rest serve the less hardcore and simpily offer cheap games.

Cutting out the hardcore abusers would save these companies tons of money in all kinds of fees, and I am sure they do not represent anywhere near 40%, but likely make up a large portion of those losses.

Re:The trendy customer is frequenty wrong (1)

PerpetualMotion (550623) | more than 9 years ago | (#10761659)

My bad...its 20% of customers wrong.

I was just thinking about how much I could save on those latest Halo 2 deals.

Shady (4, Interesting)

MacFury (659201) | more than 9 years ago | (#10761626)

I understand the want to make money, the more the better...but their comes a time when you really can bilk your customers anymore than you already do, or they will go someplace else.

Best Buy's rebate scams are among the worst in the industry. I've been told that something would be free after rebate, only to find out the rebate expired a week before I purchased the item.

Bad Strategy (1, Insightful)

pmc255 (828453) | more than 9 years ago | (#10761627)

Sounds like a pretty bad marketing strategy to me. Any sentence with "customer" and "bad" within 10 words of each other will carry a very negative connotation. Best Buy needs to learn from these guys [amazon.com] and realize that, although the customer isn't always right, you want people to think you uphold that belief.

Re:Bad Strategy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10761680)

Nice affiliate link there, ass.

100% of customers don't need Best Buy (2, Insightful)

upsidedown_duck (788782) | more than 9 years ago | (#10761628)


There's tons of competition out there, and much of what's sold at Best Buy, especially electronics, is second-rate. Shop around, search the web, read what other people say about a product, and don't shop on impulse. Avoid regrettable purchases, save money without Best Buy's dubious rebates, and be happier with less under-used junk cluttering closets.

Those who know most issue recommendations (4, Insightful)

LostCluster (625375) | more than 9 years ago | (#10761630)

I'm sure everybody who reads Slashdot has been in the position of being asked by their non-geek friends and family about potential purchases... so the customers that Best Buy sees as losers may have a bunch of profitable customers behind them that they could very easily send to Circuit City instead. I wonder if Best Buy's models take that into account.

You don't quite get it do you (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10761687)

Kill yourself, NOW!

MOD PARENT DOWN (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10761765)

LostCluster is a known karma whoring troll, mod down!

Oh really? (2, Insightful)

DrEldarion (114072) | more than 9 years ago | (#10761633)

As anyone who has worked retail can tell you, far more than 20% of customers are wrong.

AND NO THE ITEM ISN'T FREE JUST BECAUSE IT DIDN'T SCAN. YOU ARE NOT WITTY OR CLEVER.

I don't remember, but... (5, Funny)

havaloc (50551) | more than 9 years ago | (#10761635)

...do we still hate Circuit City over the DIVX debacle, or can we forgive them now?

Re:I don't remember, but... (1)

sharpcny (720427) | more than 9 years ago | (#10761733)

Speaking of Circuit City, which store would people buy from if they had a choice... Best Buy Comp USA Circuit City I need a new laptop but I'm tempted to just get it from Amazon or direct from Sony or Toshiba.

Re:I don't remember, but... (2, Funny)

daveschroeder (516195) | more than 9 years ago | (#10761802)

...did we forgive DivX for its official name being DivX ;-)?

best way to deal with this (5, Informative)

macshune (628296) | more than 9 years ago | (#10761641)

Just pay in cash. Then they can't track you and put your info into demographic databases. Those rebates are another matter, but for purchases, cash 'll do it.

Oh, and when you carry that cash, be extra cool and put the money in an aluminum briefcase that's handcuffed to your wrist.

Re:best way to deal with this (1)

adam31 (817930) | more than 9 years ago | (#10761771)

Ha! They still try.

"Give me your phone number, starting with the area code first."

It's so much like an order that people don't even think to say 'No' or 'Why?'...
I'm surprised people don't ask, "and would you like my SSN, also?"

Extra, Extra! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10761651)

Read all about it!

Businesses are in it for a profit, eg: themselves. The customers *are* very important but are not the driving force behind why a business exists.

Just as customers do things to sweeten deals for themselves businesses will push back to limit customer bargains and increase profit.

Isn't this just common sense?

Extended Warranty and Accessories (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10761653)

That article was pretty good, but you might want to think about getting our extended warranty plan for it. Everybody who reads that article gets it.

Well, there was one guy here who didn't get it, I heard something happened with his ears after he read the article and he was left helpless and with some HUGE bills. The bills were bigger than just getting the warranty and even more than a new article would have cost.

We were trained to recognize the people who would refuse extended warranties. They're like Barry's, but we call them Dingle Barry's since they're really like unwanted poop that clings to us. If you tell me one more time you're refusing the warranty, I'm going to get on my radio and "start combing out the 'barry's" so to speak.

damn best buy (1)

SteveXE (641833) | more than 9 years ago | (#10761657)

I love best buy...but i really hate it just as much...the only thing i really like is their large selection of often overpriced dvd's

well of course they are (4, Insightful)

gnu-sucks (561404) | more than 9 years ago | (#10761658)

Any retailer with a brain, so to speak, has people working in loss prevention. And of course, they want to eliminate fraud. The first level of defence is, of course, with employees. Then, its with customer policy, and finally, with best buy, its with the actuall customer base.

This is probably a very intelligent scheme, and certainly the first of many from America's electonic retailers.

In other words... (2, Funny)

DigitalCrackPipe (626884) | more than 9 years ago | (#10761664)

Best Buy doesn't want you shopping there, unless you buy compulsively and get the extended warranty just beause the salesman suggests you do so.

"Pigeonholing Customers" (5, Insightful)

kjones692 (805101) | more than 9 years ago | (#10761665)

The thing that worries me the most about this policy is the concept of quickly "pigeonholing" customers and treating them a certain way depending on how you have categorized them.

As a young adult, I run into plenty of prejudice among employees and managers (though most of it is annoying rather than seriously detrimental). Would they look at me, and decide, "Here is a young person. He doesn't have a lot of money, so we're not going to waste time helping him find what he wants, since he probably couldn't afford it anyway."

What if they do the same thing based on ethnicity? or noticable disability? or a myriad of other potential factors that go into stereotyping?

All I can do is hope that the free market will sort things out, and prove to Best Buy that this policy is hurtful to customers.

Re:"Pigeonholing Customers" (1)

Cytlid (95255) | more than 9 years ago | (#10761726)

Man that would make a hell of a South Park episode.

(Watch, when they do it, I'll link back to this post!)

Re:"Pigeonholing Customers" (2, Interesting)

back_pages (600753) | more than 9 years ago | (#10761740)

Would they look at me, and decide, "Here is a young person. He doesn't have a lot of money, so we're not going to waste time helping him find what he wants, since he probably couldn't afford it anyway."

Yes. Put them in your shoes. Now that I'm 24 and make twice the average family income whatever this is worth [rationalrevolution.net] I find it almost impossible to shop unless I know exactly what I want. I guess there aren't too many single guys in their young 20s shopping for really nice vacuum cleaners or $1500 mattress sets. Who knew?

Re:"Pigeonholing Customers" (1)

Peyna (14792) | more than 9 years ago | (#10761803)

Sounds like I went through at the bank today. A bank employee told me when I opened my account that I could transfer funds from an account held with the same bank (but in Indiana) to my new account in Ohio for no fee. The only reason I went ahead with it, is because he told me it was free (I had plenty enough to open the account otherwise).

So, I get my first statement and there was a wire transfer fee on the account. I go into the branch and am told that because the employee that told me that doesn't work there anymore, they can't do anything for me. (read: We don't believe you, and we're willing to lose a customer over $17 instead of giving you the benefit of the doubt). I have no doubt that being 22 years old wasn't working in my favor in dealing with the manager.

The bank involved was National City, for those interested. I called them up and got a similar response, and am waiting on a supervisor to call me back. If things are resolved, I'll pack and leave. Of course, the crappy thing is it will cost me money (new checks), but I don't do business with people that don't respect me.

Anyway, you make a good point; the problem with this, even if a impartial computer is making the decisions, is that eventually a human is going to implement it and their prejudices will get through.

If they're losing money on rebates... (2, Interesting)

Chrontius (654879) | more than 9 years ago | (#10761671)

why not just adopt a Wal-Mart (shudder) strategy of flat pricing -- with reasonable prices? The sheer simplicity would drive business their way.

(Please note that this is IN NO WAY an endorsement of Wal-Mart; their evil is not the subject here)

Can't judge them too harshly (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10761672)

Come on now. Many of us are IT people. Would we say that 20% of our users idiots? No, the number is probably much higher. We'd gladly get rid of them and take care of only reasonable people.

This is probably an 80 - 20 thing: 20% of the customers are causing 80% of the restocking and return headaches. These guys aren't shopping for toys, they're shopping to make a few bucks at our expense. If this kind of policy sends them to Radio Shack where they belong, them more power to Best Buy.

Who needs the training? (5, Insightful)

thundergeek (808819) | more than 9 years ago | (#10761676)

They said they are putting their employees through hours of training on how to interview us customers.

Shouldn't they be training them on the stuff they sell?

Everytime I go in there to buy a camera, I'm usually faced with a deer-in-headlights sales man who only know how to say, "I'm sure it's in the manual." And I end up helping the poor helpless chap next to me who thinks a 9 mega pixel still camera will produce wide screen movies!!

Get real Best Buy!

Honking horns (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10761678)

All I know is when I go into a best buy a least 4 different bicycle horns (the old school ones with the bulb) go off. I can't tell if that's good or bad...

Extended Warranties (5, Insightful)

LiquidHAL (801263) | more than 9 years ago | (#10761700)

Another trick Best Buy has is the extended warranty. It sounds like a great idea, and it is. Extended two year warranty, no questions asked, for a few extra dollars. However, you need the warranty receipt. Most people lose it after a few months, usually sooner, or totally forget about it. Two years is a long time. Only a small percentage of those who get the warranty actually cash it in so to speak. That's where a lot of their profits are coming from.

Only 20%? (1)

Dynastar454 (174232) | more than 9 years ago | (#10761705)

Man, when I worked in customer service it seemed much higher....

Best Buy still sucks though. It's important to be able to say "the customer is always right" and look like you believe it, admiting you are trying to "fire" customers is bad form.

(Note to the humor impared: don't mod me down!)

And don't forget that warranty... (1)

red elk (597133) | more than 9 years ago | (#10761714)

Yeah, I think I'll get that 4 year warranty on my Halo 2 just incase... Best Buy is way too overpriced and they force their employees to harass customers with warranty schemes. Better off going to CompUSA, saving a few bucks and waiting 3 months for that mail-in rebate.

Are they going to chase you out of the store? (2, Interesting)

gelfling (6534) | more than 9 years ago | (#10761716)

Ok so they hate me. Big fucking deal what are they going to do - refuse to sell me something? Act rude? Be hard to track down a sales rep? Not take my money? Do I care how they feel about me, the person?

Re:Are they going to chase you out of the store? (4, Funny)

Capt_Troy (60831) | more than 9 years ago | (#10761805)

Damn dude, you are bad! I can see you in the store now, crowd of Best Buy employees (Besties as we call them) standing around you, shouting, insulting your wardrobe, ridiculing your taste in fine bargain house electronics. You stand, resolute, solid, refusing to give ground, waving your coupon and your rebate form with an air of intelligent superiority.

Buy on dude, buy on!

just best buy? (1)

phaetonic (621542) | more than 9 years ago | (#10761723)

Staples sends out online high-discount online coupons that they wouldn't know about unless they visit the bargain sites and have the sole purpose of blacklisting people. I think what it comes down to is if you know enough about a product, car, computer, whatever, you will be o.k. Shopping for a computer alone when you don't know anything about it is a bad idea like a teenage 16 year old going to the dealer to get something repaired.

The Net Effect (1)

RealProgrammer (723725) | more than 9 years ago | (#10761731)

While Best Buy has pulled the plug on their relationships with some of the more well known bargain sites, Dell is using those same sites to run their promotions and clear out inventory with insane coupon deals.

Michael Dell started out assembling and selling PC clones in his college dorm room. It shows in the way his business is run: he knows that what people want is a great price on a great product. Dell's job is to be more efficient than the competition, not try to squeeze every penny out of the customer.

Dell's beginnings have led it to embrace change, I think, and that includes a huge shift from the old call-center-centric order process to being Internet-based. Best Buy hasn't gotten away from the brick-and-mortar paradigm, and so they're caught between Wal-Mart and Dell.

Despite all of that, I'm not a big Dell fan ("This is Srijivhara. May I be taking your name now?"). But if Best Buy doesn't refocus on pleasing the customer, Dell will eat their lunch, and then go looking for Wal-Mart's, too.

Customers Don't Care about company Profit. (0)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 9 years ago | (#10761732)

While I think the issue of Buying Items signing up for rebates then returning the product then receive the rebate money is wrong because that is steeling from the company. But for buying products at the deal and using the will not be undersold policy. If people can buy a product at a better price they will. It is the nature of capitalist economy. The fix is simple don't agree to sell your products under or at cost. The lower price you make the product more people will buy it. It doesn't matter how much you payed for it. Saying your customers are wrong because they are buying your products under cost is just stupid it is your fault, If people buy your product on sale then sell it on ebay for more then that is not the fault of the customer it is the nature of supply and demand. When you are selling the product below what the population is willing to pay for it (Leaving Money on the table) people will purchase and then resell it at a higher price. When the company I work for has an overstock of supplies that we cannot sell to our customer base. We often put it on ebay below cost so we can recoup some of our losses, we know that most of the time our competitors buy the product and sell it at full price. We don't blame the person for buying the product and selling it for more. It just happens we know we will get a loss and most of the time the customer will never come back. But it was part of the calculated loss. If Best Buy is trying to get customers by using lower prices but 20% of the customers are taking more of an advantage and not returning until they get the deals again. Perhaps you should reexamine your value add.

You know, they're more evil than you think. (3, Interesting)

Weeb (69841) | more than 9 years ago | (#10761735)

I worked for Best Buy for two years. One of those years, Xbox and GameCube came out.

Unless customers were willing to buy the replacement plan and a bunch of accessories, I was to pretend that the store was out of stock of the game systems.

This during the Christmas season. A stockroom filled to the brim with game systems and we weren't to sell unless our customers could afford a significant amount of stuff to go with them.

The sad thing was, there were times when all we were stocking was the consoles themselves -- the extra controllers, cables and other stuff was backordered.

This during the Christmas season.

Best Buy is a contemptible company, where customer service is concerned. I was forced to pretend we were out of stock on many things over the course of employment, when customers didn't want to buy the extras, but the most deplorable example of this has to be the console story.

The Ohio AG shouldn't be the only one investigating this company. Scores of employees, former and present, can attest to the near criminal rate of deception with regard to policies and service plans.

Play Acting (3, Insightful)

Moby Cock (771358) | more than 9 years ago | (#10761741)

The next time I go into Best Buys (or Future Shop in Canada; they are the same company) I am going to try an act like a Barry or a Buzz and see what kind of interest I get.

It seems that the publishing of this info is going to hurt Best Buy the most. If they were to target their *devil* customers and kept it on the lo-down, maybe nobody would have noticed. Having it on /. has got to be a bad deal for them.

Thanks for the idea about getting a rebate (although I still hate them) and then returning the product. That's a great plan. I'll be sure to try it out this weekend.

BEST BUY ISNT FOR GEEKS! (1)

kelceylehrich (600264) | more than 9 years ago | (#10761752)

As an employee I hate reading articles like this. Geeks complain that BBY doesn't catter to them. It's not what BBY is here for. only 1 out of every 250 customers actually knows what they're looking for. BBY sales stratiges make us LOTS Of money. Thats what businesses do. But those same stratigies are also what has most customers leaving happy. If you are a geek and what geek talk, and geek prices, shop online where you belong. Retail is for soccer moms and bill paying husbands.

In my experience (2, Insightful)

RealAlaskan (576404) | more than 9 years ago | (#10761760)

In my experience, you can get rid of good customers with a quick glance, but the bad customers you can't drive away with an axe.

Good customers want good service and good merchandise, and good value for their money. They'll leave in a heartbeat, if they think they aren't getting all three.

Bad customers want all of the above, but they are incredibly price sensative, and they'll compromise service, quality, and perhaps value to get the lowest price. The one way to get rid of bad customers is to raise your prices. That won't drive off the good customers if you keep the value for money up where it belongs.

Why doesn't Best Buy try that? Probably because most of their customers are the bad kind.

Re:In my experience (1)

Moby Cock (771358) | more than 9 years ago | (#10761797)

They have no choice, really, when it comes to pricing. The whole business plan of those companies (the Big Box stores) is to maximise store traffic. They need thousands of people wandering around the place buying tonnes of mechandise. If they increase prices and drive out the bargain hunters, they are....ahem...fucked.

Best Buy Must Repent! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10761772)

The only way Best Buy could ever make up for what they have done to me is a human sacrifice, and I don't mean one of the lowly door bouncers, I want someone big, like the entertainment center guy.

Barf Buy sucks butt juice (1)

John Seminal (698722) | more than 9 years ago | (#10761777)

I hate Best Buy. I have said this thousands of times. They don't care about the customer.

I went there when windows 2000 was new. There was software I wanted to buy, but on the back it said "windows 98". Since windows 2000 was new, I asked a guy if it would work. "sure, windows 2000 and 98 are compatible, it will work" said the sales associate. Well, I didn't think it would because I knew 2000 was based on NT and not 98, but I made the purchase based on what the sales associate said. When I tried to install the software, it did not work. I went to return it, and Best Buy would not take it back, and went as far as making innuendos that I was some software pirate. Well, Fuck you Bad Buy.

Then there is my update. I tell everyone about how Barf Buy sucks, but sometimes people have to figure it out. A friend went to buy a camcorder, and was looking for one that could transfer movies to his computer, which only had USB. He told this to the sales associate, who sold him a camcorder with firewire. When my friend went to return it, they charged him a 15% restocking fee.

Bitch Buy is horrible. They just want your money. They don't want to provide you with a product. They are modern day crooks.

And oh, from the article:

Store clerks receive hours of training in identifying desirable customers

I guess that means if you are black, stay out of best buy.

And before anyone yells troll, they screwed me out of my money. They are the ones who started the whole mail in rebates, which sometimes don't pay out, and they treat people like crap.

No Sympathy (3, Informative)

futuresheep (531366) | more than 9 years ago | (#10761780)

As long as any retailer makes buying appliances and electronics a negotiation, this is what they get. As long as they use service plans as a negotiation tool, this is what they get. As long as rebates exist as a tool for bringing in the masses, then this is what they get. As long as these stores advertise loss leaders in the Sunday paper, then this is what they get. Best Buy and stores like Best Buy have become the car dealers of the electronics world. They're own practices have brought this upon them, I have no sympathy.

More interesting statistics (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10761789)

80% of Best Buy employees are "wrong".

When looking for video cards, I went to a Best Buy and looked at prices simply because it was close to some good computer stores. There was a 9600XT there for the same price as a 9800Pro. When I asked why it cost so much, the salesperson said that it was because the card was "specifically tuned for Half-Life 2"

Hmmmm.

Wow (5, Informative)

FiReaNGeL (312636) | more than 9 years ago | (#10761791)

So basically, they want people who :

- Don't buy their "loss leaders", but stock up on their overpriced stuff.

- People who don't check other companies price, but get attracted by the "Best price policy"

- People who don't return their mail-in rebates.

Why don't you just ask me to give you my money?

On the Canadian side, FutureShop is exactly like that : Best price policy, overpriced stuff... and they "labeled" me a devil, for sure (a seller once "recognized" me : "Yes, I remember you...", first time I meet the guy). When price matching Camera-Canada for a new Canon G5, a seller even told me :
-"I can't match that price, maybe remove 50$ off the total but that's it".
-"But your policy is to match the price, and remove 50% of the difference"
-"Yeah but I'll lose money that way!"
-"Well its not MY policy, isn't it?"

They promise you customer heaven, but slowly draggin you in hell. They're the devils, not us, the intelligent customers.

Best Buy may want to be careful (4, Insightful)

Todd Knarr (15451) | more than 9 years ago | (#10761793)

I fit the profile of a "bad" customer: I watch the rebates and advertised prices and make sure I'm not paying more than I have to. They probably want to be rid of me. But, when it comes to computer parts and systems, a lot of my friends who fit the "good" BB profile come to me for a recommendation. If BestBuy's been pushing me out, you can bet I'm not going to recommend going to them. End result: annoying me, the "bad" customer, causes "good" customers to end up somewhere else.

Best Buy sux (2, Interesting)

jlefeld (814985) | more than 9 years ago | (#10761806)

http://www.bestbuysux.org/ If best buy just lowered the prices they wouldn't have this problem. Best Buy forced me to quit, so I'm not a huge fan of them. They didn't like how I thought MSN was lame.

Heh, catagorize at your own risk. (1)

hurfy (735314) | more than 9 years ago | (#10761812)

I probably dont look like any of the above. Especially given the sloppy look, long hair, etc.
Hippy Geek is probably not a covered catagory ;p
Not gonna buy overpriced junk.
I dont have a family.
What i DO have is $1000.00 a month in disposable income ;)

Someone else will help me spend it i am sure.

On the other hand, now that i think about it, I usually dont have little helpers following me around drooling :) At least until i asked for the $2400.00 printer once, that seemd to wake em from the next town....

Perfect timing (5, Funny)

I(rispee_I(reme (310391) | more than 9 years ago | (#10761818)

I just went shopping for a computer at BestBuy with my dad last night. He selected one (going against my advice that he avoid intel and buy amd), and sent the clerk to get the box. The clerk returns with the shopping cart, containing the computer, a UPS, and a copy of Norton Antivirus. Here is the actual conversation that followed:

Clerk: I just added these for you.
Dad: Why?
Clerk: This is a UPS. It will protect you against power surges and lightning. And this will protect you against all those viruses.
Dad: I already have a surge protector.
Clerk: Surge protectors are useless against power surges.
[A moment of silence, no doubt induced by the store's mind-numbing window dressing]
Me: Just the computer will be fine.
Clerk: Okay, but if lightning hits it tonight and you bring it back to us tomorrow, we won't take it.
Dad: That's fine. I'll buy another one.

We proceed to checkout, where we are told that not purchasing a service plan puts our souls in danger of perdition, etc. My father has agreed to let me build his next computer.

Well... (1)

jav1231 (539129) | more than 9 years ago | (#10761821)

Since walking into our new Fry's, I'm finding Best Buy less appealing. And Fry's seems very geek-friendly!

Tough call (2, Interesting)

fakeplasticusername (701500) | more than 9 years ago | (#10761824)

Maybe I'm the only one who thinks this, but its hard to say that this is good or bad definatively.

You could say that these super-smart shoppers are the modern day robin-hood's if you look at it one way. They are taking advantage of deceptive and sneaky marketing gimics so that the issuing companies bite the bullet of their tactics that prey on the weak minded. It is easy to deify these intelligent buyers by saying they are out-sheistering the sheisters.

On the other hand, you could say they are doing damage to the community as a whole. Lost income from these negative profit sales does not often fall on the share-holder, at least not in the long run. The average customer ultimately makes up the lost profits by paying a higher margin, compensating for their intellectual brethren. You can say this is a modern economic darwinism, but i would say that is kind of cold.

Of course the true testament would be to start a electronics store with absolutely no deceptive techniques and let the market decide a fair price for everything. Of course don't be dissapointed if you find that massive profits really do depend on taking the money of fools, and attacking those intelligent enough to protest.
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