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Best Buy Confirms 'Secret' Version of its Website

Zonk posted more than 7 years ago | from the probably-should-have-kept-that-under-wraps dept.

Businesses 356

Iberian writes "The Courant site confirms an oft-rumoured possibility: Best Buy does indeed maintain a second website for what one could assume is for the purpose of defrauding its customers. State Attorney General Richard Blumenthal ordered the investigation into Best Buy's practices on Feb. 9 after columnist George Gombossy disclosed the website and showed how employees at two Connecticut stores used it to deny customers a $150 discount on a computer advertised on BestBuy.com. Says Gombossy, 'What is more troubling to me, and to some Best Buy customers, is that even when one informs a salesperson of the Internet price, customers have been shown the intranet site, which looks identical to the Internet site, but does not always show the lowest price. [State Attorney General Richard Blumenthal] said that because of the fuzzy responses from Best Buy, he has yet to figure out the real motivation behind the intranet site and whether sales people are encouraged to use it to cheat customers.'"

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356 comments

GeekSquad (3, Funny)

AmigaHeretic (991368) | more than 7 years ago | (#18215218)

The GeekSquad charges a $29 Software Installation fee to let you use the "real" internet inside BestBuy so this lady would have only saved $121.00 anyway.

I've seen it. (5, Interesting)

pupstah (78267) | more than 7 years ago | (#18215222)

I checked a price online last week, went in, and they checked and it was different.

Wait for the flood of OMG CORPORATIONS posts to follow...

Re:I've seen it. (5, Insightful)

mrchaotica (681592) | more than 7 years ago | (#18215254)

Seems to me there are too good solutions for the customer:

  • Print out the online price and bring it in with you.
  • Don't shop at Best Buy.

Re:I've seen it. (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18215308)

Those are TWO suggestions that are TOO good TO overlook.

Re:I've seen it. (1)

mrchaotica (681592) | more than 7 years ago | (#18215348)

Yeah, I don't know what's wrong with me -- I've stopped making "normal" typos and started making use-the-wrong-homophone typos instead. : (

Re:I've seen it. (1)

urubos (562290) | more than 7 years ago | (#18215436)

Unfortunately in order to match the online prices Best Buy's customer service staff is required to log onto the website from the store cash registers to verify the price. A printed version of the website isn't enough to guarantee the price.

Re:I've seen it. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18215690)

Is this a joke? They don't have an in-store system managing all prices and have to look them up?

Re:I've seen it. (2, Insightful)

the100rabh (947158) | more than 7 years ago | (#18215646)

Better still...Carry ur Wi-fi enabled laptop and just simply beat them at their own game.

Re:I've seen it. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18215682)

Or better yet, photoshop a fake price....

Re:I've seen it. (2)

sumdumass (711423) | more than 7 years ago | (#18215698)

Well, Only one is praticle. Dont shop there.

I have had more problems going into bestbuy then any other store. I have had more run arounds then any other store. I can't even call ahead and have them place something on a shelf for me and send someone else after it without problems. Best buy sucks for all practicle purposes. The only real reason they stay in business is because people expect them to suck and don't get disapointed anymore and they are the only choice in a lot of smaller towns.

fuck yankdot (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18215224)

fuck you shitbags

Enron 2.0? (1, Interesting)

GrEp (89884) | more than 7 years ago | (#18215232)

Best Buy has a modest contract with Accenture (old Author Anderson) helping them re-design their IT. Coincidence?

Re:Enron 2.0? (2, Informative)

proxima (165692) | more than 7 years ago | (#18215282)

Best Buy has a modest contract with Accenture (old Author Anderson) helping them re-design their IT. Coincidence?

Accenture [wikipedia.org] was formerly Andersen Consulting, which split from Arthur Andersen [wikipedia.org] in 1989, and it apparently wasn't exactly a friendly split. To my knowledge, most of the accounting problems regarding Enron and Arthur Andersen happened in the 1990s.

CORRECTION Re:Enron 2.0? (2, Interesting)

JasonEngel (757582) | more than 7 years ago | (#18215322)

Accenture was formerly known as Andersen Consulting. Andersen Consulting was originally part of Arthur Andersen, then spun off as a sibling company in the 80's, in large part still tied to Arthur Andersen. In fact, there was a third company called Andersen Worldwide, which basically acted as a facilitator between the two main entities. Around '98 or early '99, AC managing partners got fed up with some of AA's business practices and partnership requirements, so they fully separated, severing all ties, and changed their name to Accenture.


So your comparison of Best Buy to Enron because of Enron's affiliation with Arthur Andersen (and BB's current affiliation with Accenture) is completely false.

Re:CORRECTION Re:Enron 2.0? (5, Interesting)

jcr (53032) | more than 7 years ago | (#18215356)

All of the spawn of AA shared a common corporate culture of sleaze. Andersen Consulting split off because the partners in the consulting side of the business didn't like paying their partners on the accounting side of the house what they were due under the terms of their operating agreements. The accountants were plently sleazy themselves (as the enron debacle demonstrates), but the consultants were willing to ignore the fact that the arthur andersen name is what got them in the door.

After seeing how AA fucked over McCaw Cellular in the mid-90's, I wouldn't let them within a hundred miles of any job I'm running.

-jcr

Re:Enron 2.0? (1)

iCharles (242580) | more than 7 years ago | (#18215362)

How would this be Accenture's fault? Even if they maintain, at an infrastructure level, both the internet and intranet site, Best Buy is still setting the prices, and likely entering the data, into both sites. Further, whether this is intentional fraud-as-corporate-practice or an error by a sales guy, it comes down to actions taken by Best Buy employees (corporate guys or man-in-the-field).

known as texas-style accounting. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18215414)

I guess this will be Texas style web sites.

Re:Enron 2.0? (5, Insightful)

MickDownUnder (627418) | more than 7 years ago | (#18215650)

I bet there's no dark plot here. You really think they could purposefully implement systems requiring dozens of staff with deliberate fraudulent intent and not have someone blow the whistle??

I bet this is nothing more than just your standard run of the mill incompetence.

I imagine they have an intranet site which has some information which is for internal use mixed with information that is meant to be the same as the online content. Due to the incompetence of those implementing these systems their intranet and extra-net sites are getting out of sync with each other.

Guess what the result is?

Every time the price difference is to the advantage of the customer there's not a peep to be heard.

As soon as the price difference is to the customer's disadvantage! All hell breaks loose, they go into the store go "WHAT ITS NOT THAT MUCH". Pissed off, they refuse to buy it, go home, check the price again... boom major shit and fan action.

Many tricks to price discriminate (5, Informative)

proxima (165692) | more than 7 years ago | (#18215246)

Companies will go to great lengths to price discriminate (i.e. sell to different customers at different prices). If intentional, this particularly dirty trick might have the following reasoning: A customer sees a price online, but wants the item more quickly. So the customer heads to the local Best Buy, where the prices are supposed to be the same as what's online (unless specifically marked as an online-only special). By this time, the customer has demonstrated his or her willingness to buy the product and invested the time and energy required to get to the store. At this point it's likely that they are willing to pay more than the online listed price, and buy the item anyway.

Another possibility is just that Best Buy doesn't want to market online prices as "online only" and that people who walk into the store and pay a higher price won't notice unless they look for the same item online (which most presumably don't).

This reminds me of the whole amazon.com pricing PR disaster from a few years back. IIRC, it involved people who were logged in seeing a different price than those who were just surfing casually. By knowing your previous purchasing history, amazon.com could reasonably mark up items it thought you might be willing to pay more for. I don't know what happened to the program, I thought it just went away because of the PR nightmare.

It'd be interesting to know just what's legal and what's not with some of these new tactics. Not all price discrimination is illegal; consider "student" or "senior" discounts, for example. Of course, avoiding a PR mess is probably enough to keep most companies from trying legal but dirty tactics.

Re:Many tricks to price discriminate (5, Informative)

WhiplashII (542766) | more than 7 years ago | (#18215292)

It sounds like an open and shut case of bait and switch [wikipedia.org] or false advertising [wikipedia.org] to me.

Those are illegal, and will get you in big trouble with the FTC.

That's the territory we're moving into (1, Flamebait)

PingXao (153057) | more than 7 years ago | (#18215332)

Where good old corporate ripoffs and deceptive trade practices are just chalked up to hard-nosed business practices. Perfectly legal and ethical. And if they're not legal they should be. That's where we're headed. Back to the 1880s.

Re:That's the territory we're moving into (1)

jcr (53032) | more than 7 years ago | (#18215366)

Fraud was already illegal in the 1880's.

-jcr

Re:Many tricks to price discriminate (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18215294)

By this time, the customer has demonstrated his or her willingness to buy the product and invested the time and energy required to get to the store. At this point it's likely that they are willing to pay more than the online listed price, and buy the item anyway.
I had EXACTLY this situation happen to me with a certain home-theater-in-a-box. On their web site they listed it for a certain price that I found very reasonable compared to online vendors so I headed down to Best Buy and found it was $50 more in the store. When I confronted the customer service people about it they proclaimed that that was an online only deal (it didn't say anything about being online only) and offered me a "comparable", lower-quality home theater system instead. It pissed me off enough that I actually walked out of the store, drove home, ordered it online and used the pick-up-in-store option. Then I drove back after receiving the e-mail about my order being ready and walked over to the customer service desk and talked to the same exact girl I did an hour earlier. That's just stupid to make customers jump through hoops like that to make a quick buck.

Re:Many tricks to price discriminate (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18215524)

It pissed me off enough that I actually walked out of the store, drove home, ordered it online and used the pick-up-in-store option.

It pissed you off enough that you purchased from bestbuy.com?

Man, that's sticking it to 'em.

Re:Many tricks to price discriminate (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18215574)

Yeah, you sure showed them.

I bet that'll teach them that their customers wont put up with that kind of BS.

Re:Many tricks to price discriminate (1)

snotclot (836055) | more than 7 years ago | (#18215340)

Holy smokes, I never knew that particular incident about Amazon.com.. did it ever make the big news? I'm thinking that something like this should've caused so much consumer anguish / mistrust / lost confidence in Amazon that they would have had lost a lot of business.

Where was the consumer uproar??

Re:Many tricks to price discriminate (5, Informative)

proxima (165692) | more than 7 years ago | (#18215400)

Holy smokes, I never knew that particular incident about Amazon.com.. did it ever make the big news? I'm thinking that something like this should've caused so much consumer anguish / mistrust / lost confidence in Amazon that they would have had lost a lot of business.

Where was the consumer uproar??

A quick Google search turned up this Slashdot article [slashdot.org] . I didn't realize it was almost 7 years old, though. I read about it here, and amongst people who heard about it, there was definitely some uproar.

Re:Many tricks to price discriminate (1)

feldkamp (146657) | more than 7 years ago | (#18215440)

In retail, this 2-website approach could have a non-sinister approach.

Often, the online and brick-and-mortar operations are seperate, and ran by different divisions (sometimes the online operation is outsourced to a different company). These divisions may set prices independently.

Thus, the second website is just one that reflects in-store pricing. At a large retailer that I worked at a couple years ago, our websites had different prices and this caused much confusion.

DISCLAIMER: I've worked in retail (IT); previously for Musicland, and now for Trans World Entertainment.

Re:Many tricks to price discriminate (2, Insightful)

the_womble (580291) | more than 7 years ago | (#18215552)

Thus, the second website is just one that reflects in-store pricing.

In that case they should not be using the second website to verify online prices!

Re:Many tricks to price discriminate (3, Informative)

penguin_dance (536599) | more than 7 years ago | (#18215484)

I thought about Amazon.com too. One thing I have noticed that hasn't changed is that they will change the prices on things left in your cart--sometimes down, but mostly the price goes up. But the price doesn't seem to change in the wish list. It may be just because they don't notify you that the price has changed, but I've got a pretty good memory for what things cost. So what I've been doing is putting items to hold in my wish list and then only moving them over to the cart when I buy them.

One thing that is different from Amazon is that BestBuy is also a bricks and sticks store. And just like any store, one store in California may have too many widgets and so puts the item on sale. Stores in Texas, may have other, different items they want to move. (The fact they ask you to put in your zip code to view the weekly sales list should give you a clue.) And, yes, the price on-line may be different from the one in the store. But if you mention it, they will honor the price in my experience. They should unless it's something you can buy online only--but then it wouldn't be available in the store.

Circuit City = very cool (4, Interesting)

gosand (234100) | more than 7 years ago | (#18215566)

A customer sees a price online, but wants the item more quickly. So the customer heads to the local Best Buy, where the prices are supposed to be the same as what's online (unless specifically marked as an online-only special). By this time, the customer has demonstrated his or her willingness to buy the product and invested the time and energy required to get to the store. At this point it's likely that they are willing to pay more than the online listed price, and buy the item anyway.


I recently bought a DVD recorder... I did exactly this, and checked prices online. I wanted a specific model (Pye PY90DG) and Circuit City had it. When I got to the store, it was about $9 more. I asked the guy at the returns counter (nobody there) if they matched their online price, and he said they didn't because they were different systems (or something like that). For $9... I was just going to buy it and pay the extra, but he could see it wasn't sitting well with me. It was only $9, but the price was around $90. That is a considerable percentage! He took me over to one of their net-connected PCs, and let me order it online for in-store pickup. Then I went and took one off the shelf, walked it over to his register, and picked it up. He said they do it all the time, because their online prices are lower than the store prices quite often, and they didn't think that was very fair. I was very happy with my purchase, and would go back there for that reason.

Interesting, but... (1)

Kagura (843695) | more than 7 years ago | (#18215248)

Is this illegal? I'd imagine not.

Re:Interesting, but... (3, Informative)

wile_e_wonka (934864) | more than 7 years ago | (#18215298)

I'm not positive, but this seems very similar to me to "bait and switch," which is illegal. In that scheme, the store would advertise an exceptionally low price on an object...but only had 3 in stock. Then, when you come to the store as the 100th person looking for that item, they say, "sorry we ran out... but since you came, we can offer you a "good deal" on this other similar item for only a slightly higher [and much more profitable] price!"

This is similar, except the low price draws customers to the store, and then...where's the low price? That's fraudulant. Also--it's especially bad because it involves deceiving the consumer: "You say you saw a lower price on the internet? Why don't we look at the site right now..." Outright deception is rarely legal.

Re:Interesting, but... (1)

networkBoy (774728) | more than 7 years ago | (#18215394)

While they don't go to the lengths of deceit as a 2nd website implies, Fry's won't match their on-line price if lower than the store price.
I got bit by that, but after you figure in the gas to drive elsewhere after driving home and shopping on-line it was close to a push.
I pretty much decided not to shop there if possible anymore.
-nB

Re:Interesting, but... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18215306)

So if you went to a grocery store because you decided to buy some apples for $3 for a 3 pound bag because that was the price in the ad, then went to check out and the casher rang them up at $5 for a 3 pound bag, then showed you their copy of the grocery ad and claimed that that was the price all along and that you read your flier wrong, that's not illegal?

If it's not illegal, then I guess I'd sue them in small claims court for the cost of gas to drive there to listen to them lie.

Re:Interesting, but... (1)

StarvingSE (875139) | more than 7 years ago | (#18215568)

Exactly. I see a brick and morter store's website as an extension of their paper ad. It bears the store name, logo, so they should charge the lowest price advertised on it. If an item has a different in-store price, paper ad price, and online price, the customer should be getting the lowest.

I don't know if stores legally have to do this, but every time I bring in an ad that the store claims is a "misprint", I always get the advertised price (sometimes with some argument with the manager). It's called being a responsible retailer. But then again, this is Best Buy we're talking about...

i remember that... (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18215268)

yea used to work in the Big Blue and I remember that... To put a little foot forward for at least my store and me, I figured out that the intranet site listed store prices after the second person complained to me. After that I used one of our laptops with wireless to get onto the internet site.

Honestly, I think it's not a management plan to rip people off, they just like to keep the internet best buy and store best buy separate so when a rep logs onto the computer you see your store's price... and reps' ignorance ends up screwing people over.

Anyway my $.02 to try and throw out some facts and before everyone replies I know it was/is still a bad idea just throwing the facts out as I heard them

Re:i remember that... (3, Insightful)

proxima (165692) | more than 7 years ago | (#18215312)

Honestly, I think it's not a management plan to rip people off, they just like to keep the internet best buy and store best buy separate so when a rep logs onto the computer you see your store's price... and reps' ignorance ends up screwing people over.

There has to be a better, faster interface for finding in-store prices than an exact mock-up of the bestbuy.com website. Not to mention that an intranet site could have more useful info like items in stock, when more are expected in that store, what section/aisle of the store it's located in (or whatever).

Re:i remember that... (1)

Frosty Piss (770223) | more than 7 years ago | (#18215398)

This is so true. And think of it from the sales person's standpoint: List three or four prices for the same item: What we advertised it at, what we would like to get, and what we will take as a last offer. All are honest prices.

Re:i remember that... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18215432)

Oh I agree whole-heartedly, and that system (with a manager logon) can tell you how many per week were sold and even what the lowest price the item was sold it in your region of the country but that system is totally separate and is really a glorified inventory system (my guess borroowed from Walmart or a copy of their system, and I wish it said what aisle something is supposed to be in that'd be really helpful).

Best Buy's problem is the website is run off a website-only warehouse not connected in any meaningful way to the store and when you do in-store pickup from the website the store gets revenue credit to the store's and department's budget but doesn't take a hit on margin dollars. Also, when I was working there the store closest to your house got some credit for all internet orders you placed on the website. My guess is this was all accounting methods for the books and like you said they MUST be better ways to run a company.

Re:i remember that... (2, Informative)

CodeBuster (516420) | more than 7 years ago | (#18215466)

It doesn't even have to be a mock-up of the "real" BestBuy website, especially when one considers that the prices are loaded from the database and displayed dynamically when the pages are served to the browsers. It would not be difficult for the BestBuy.com website to employ the same cloaking [wikipedia.org] techniques used by the search engine optimizers to display one set of content to visitors from the public Internet and a different set of content to visitors from the BestBuy intranet (i.e. in-store computers at any of their locations). There is no need to maintain a completely separate "secret" website.

Re:i remember that... (1)

StarvingSE (875139) | more than 7 years ago | (#18215596)

They do. There is some sort of inventory interface that they use to look up current in-store prices and stock. The next time you go into a best buy and ask someone if a certain item is in stock, watch them on the computer and you will see it. It can also be used to look up stock at other stores in the area (perhaps chain-wide, I have no clue never worked there).

There is no legitimate need for this second intranet site.

Re:i remember that... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18215608)

There has to be a better, faster interface for finding in-store prices than an exact mock-up of the bestbuy.com website.
But why bother? The website is apparently fast enough, and the implementation probably required, what, copying a bunch of files onto an intranet server?

Vote with your dollars! (1)

ZX3 Junglist (643835) | more than 7 years ago | (#18215270)

While I hope that a heavy and hefty lawsuit comes of this, I still believe that it wouldn't be enough for Best Buy to shake their poor business tactics. They certainly, and routinely pull scams on customers such as misquoting prices, bait and switch, and not producing products as advertised.

I entered in a lengthy battle with Best Buy some years ago, when not finding the advertised product in the package. The fight lasted for 3 weeks, after which I had invested countless hours, and spoke with a chain of people, ending with the Vice President of Customer Relations, who also didn't give a damn.

Just goes to show you that the poor practices can filter down from the top. I'm sure my complaint to the BBB just got lost among the thousands. All I can do is keep people I know from supporting them.

Re:Vote with your dollars! (1)

Short Circuit (52384) | more than 7 years ago | (#18215672)

Don't just vote with your own dollars, get others to vote with theirs. Tell people about your experiences. Losing one sale won't hurt a large business much, but the threat of losing many may have an impact.

For instance, Newegg fucked up in handling a $650 order of the GRCC Computer Club, and their customer service rep laughed at our secretary when she called. It's taken over a month to get the whole thing sorted out.

Yes, Newegg screwed up. They couldn't find a check which was included in the same envelope as an order, until over a week later. (Of course, they cancel the order if they "don't get the money" after seven days of receiving the order) Yes, their fuckup significantly wasted a half-semester, setting back the timeline for the club's major project. But it's not just that. It'll be a cold day in hell when I order from a company that treats my people like shit.

CC doesn't (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18215280)

This happened to me a year or two ago when I went to buy a digital camera at BB. The camera was cheaper online and when I told the salesman he tried to verify it and it wasn't there. I ended up going across the street to Circuit City which has full internet access...ordered the camera from bestbuy.com with in store pickup, went back to bestbuy and picked it up for that internet price.

Annoying though, and I hope they get a lot of heat for it (was also in CT btw)

Common practice (1)

patp (253317) | more than 7 years ago | (#18215310)

It is very common for retail outlets to keep 2 books. Normally it is the other way around with them showing the customer the more expensive "cost" price.

Re:Common practice (1)

insignificant_wrangl (1060444) | more than 7 years ago | (#18215342)

Yeah, more common because its more legal. Best Buys return policy sucks too (I know this has nothing to do with the thread, but I can't stand this store...)

Digital Camera (1)

Gerrioholic99 (309014) | more than 7 years ago | (#18215316)

A few months ago I looked up the price on a digital camera online. Walked in the store and got on one of their terminals to double check the price and it wasn't there. I asked an employee about the camera and the deal I saw. She said that the computers in the store don't show all of the internet deals. In order for her to check the price, she had to authenticate as an employee and then access the real site.

I was still able to get the deal, but only after she ringed it up as "Matching a Competitor's Price." I'm curious if they don't even have some of deals on the in-store computers, which is why they are not on the intranet site. But if this is so, they should advertise the price online as offered exclusively on the web.

It seems to me, they're trying very hard to keep the best deals away from those who don't put the research in or ask enough questions.

Salespeople wouldn't be involved (5, Insightful)

AusIV (950840) | more than 7 years ago | (#18215334)

I highly doubt sales people would be in on such a conspiracy. A company like Best Buy has sales people coming and going all the time. If someone got pissed because they were fired, the first thing they'd do would be blow the whistle on this. If these price differences are even deliberate, it's done strictly by the people managing the two websites. The sales reps would be told to sell at the intranet website's price, and are probably unaware of the fact that there's a different version of bestbuy.com at work than there is at home, let alone that the prices are different in order to screw the consumer. It may be a conspiracy, but it's not involving every sales rep at every Best Buy in the country.

Re:Salespeople wouldn't be involved (1)

Frosty Piss (770223) | more than 7 years ago | (#18215374)

It may be a conspiracy, but it's not involving every sales rep at every Best Buy in the country.

Well that's just grand. Not only are the Best Buy sales people stupid, they are ignorent too. Fabulous. I just want to shop there soooo bad.

Re:Salespeople wouldn't be involved (3, Informative)

hansamurai (907719) | more than 7 years ago | (#18215410)

I totally agree with you. BestBuySux.org [bestbuysux.org] is a pretty popular and well known website detailing bad customer experiences as well as the typical ex-employee willing to tell all about their three month "job of hell". I go there every couple months to read up on the latest posts if I'm in need of a laugh (or a cringe) and I don't remember reading about this secret website very much, if at all. Actually, I would bet the very existence of this website keeps Best Buy Corporate from revealing much of anything of what goes behind the scenes to the typical college student selling computers.

Re:Salespeople wouldn't be involved (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18215434)

100% correct. I worked as a sales rep at best buy for 9 months, and this is the first I've heard of their dual-site antics.

Re:Salespeople wouldn't be involved (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18215492)

Worked there a year, in computers specifically and I saw it after the second customer complained. Told my manager about it, he shrugged it off and pointed out that the website and retail store are actually 2 very separate entities within BBY. After that I just used a laptop with wireless to check the "real" website (have to have a friend who's willing to tell you the BBY prox IP) and used that for all customers who asked. Still sometimes my manager would force them to order it from the website for in-store pickup so we got the revenue but didn't eat the hit to our margin dollar goal.

Sometimes corporate sets things up for their own reasons and shady things end up happening... I really hope they didn't know how this was going to get used but who knows

Re:Salespeople wouldn't be involved (1)

Brain_Recall (868040) | more than 7 years ago | (#18215586)

I know of this kind of stuff first hand. I worked at a local hardware store several summers ago. It was a chain store that through its contract bought most of its supplies through the chain. The chain also had an online website selling most, but certainly not all, of the things we carried.

What we often found out was the website was COMPETING with US, the people running the stores. Sometimes the prices on the website were cheaper then what the we could of bought them from the distributor, let alone have any sort of markup to gain profit.

But, we were usually good with the website. Sometimes customers would point out the difference and all we did was shrug our shoulders.

Are people STUPID? (2, Interesting)

Creepy Crawler (680178) | more than 7 years ago | (#18215344)

Why do people continue to shop at a Retailer who is known for treating customers like E-Tards and continually abuses them and lies to them and most likely commits bait-n-switch?

Re:Are people STUPID? (1)

bladesjester (774793) | more than 7 years ago | (#18215612)

Some of us only buy loss leader items there. When they sell 100 count spindles of cds for $5, I usually swing by and pick up a couple for example.

Re:Are people STUPID? (1)

Chibi Merrow (226057) | more than 7 years ago | (#18215658)

Actually I've never had a problem there. It's definitely better than shopping at Circuit City. Trying to find a game I want there is a nightmare. I'm lucky if they're even separated by system, much less alphabetized or anything crazy like that.

But then again, I only shop bargains at BB (or the odd game). I don't bother with their internet site, and I only get service plans on things I should get them on (like the camera that I often drop, or a PC I don't feel like supporting for a family member), not silly things like controllers. I also do my research on products and prices before I go in to buy anything, and tell the salesperson what I want, not the other way around.

I've never been lied to, I've never been abused, and I've never been guilty of a bait and switch. They've tried to sell me things I don't want or need, but I just say "No." and that ends it. Honestly, what could they lie to me about?

YMMV.

Obviously (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18215370)

Having worked for these slimy bastards for a few months, I'm willing to bet that "not showing customers the lowest price" is the least of the shit that goes on.

I'd rather whore myself out to a thousand fat chicks for fifty bucks each than work there ever again. The whoring would pay a lot better, too.

It's Best Buy... WTF did you expect?? (1)

the_rajah (749499) | more than 7 years ago | (#18215388)

When I get pricing online and go to a store to get an item, I print out the webpage to take with me. Best Buy is the last place I go to get electronics/appliances/music, anyway.

Best Buy will Ho out Your Email (5, Interesting)

queenb**ch (446380) | more than 7 years ago | (#18215402)

I have a domain that I bought on ebay for a dollar. It's misspelled but it's also extremely handy. Each time I have to go register on a web site some where, I register as (nameofwebsite)@mydomain.com. Then if I start getting spam, I know who sold me out. I bought something on-line from Best Buy's web site and so of course I register as bestbuy@mydomain.com. Lo and behold, I start getting a ton of spam addressed to bestbuy@mydomain.com. My first missive was polite, asking why they're sending me these emails. When I contact them about it, I'm told that it can't possibly be coming from them.

When I write them the second time, I'm still polite and explain that they must be sending them because that's the only place I've used this particular email address. They write back and insist quite rudely that I must have used this email address to register somewhere else. Furthermore, they're quite rude in insisting that they're not spamming me and asked me why I was so stupid as to think that they were. "Surely you realize that a reputable company like Best Buy wouldn't spam you."

My third missive wasn't polite at all. I rather pointedly asked them if they were mentally deficient or inbred, since they seemed to be too slow to pick up on the fact that they were corresponding with me at the email address of bestbuy@mydomain.com. And as I pointed out to them, I am not likely to be using this anywhere else. It has be used in one place and one place only and that is their web site. I also tell them that they don't get my email address back from people that they have so rudely, and in violation of their own privacy policy, ho'd it out to, that I'll be doing some spamming of my own. Groups like the State Attorney General's office, FCC, UseNet, anyone and everyone else I can think of that might be remotely interested.

Finally I got a letter back from Best Buy claiming that a security breach had "liberated my email address". I called the person that sent me the letter. He was rather nicer than the nimrods I'd been dealing with. When I asked if they had filed the proper disclosure, which is required in several states in which Best Buy operates, I got a long awkward pause and he finally admitted that one of their employees had been busted selling email addresses harvested by the web site. When I asked if they were at least terminating the miscreant, I was told that they were not. That was the last time I ever purchased anything in a Best Buy.

2 cents,

QueenB.

Re:Best Buy will Ho out Your Email (4, Interesting)

tm2b (42473) | more than 7 years ago | (#18215516)

Careful, you can't be so certain.

Create some email addresses, and then don't use them, ever.

There's still a good chance you'll start getting spam, sooner or later. Having done this myself, I can only conclude that some spam list generators use dictionary attacks against MTAs, trying different usernames on known good domains until they find some userids where they don't get immediate bounces.

Even that aside, there's a difference from an employee selling your email address on the side (regrettably, very common), and corporate actions.

Re:Best Buy will Ho out Your Email (3, Informative)

queenb**ch (446380) | more than 7 years ago | (#18215598)

Perhaps you are unfamiliar with the doctrine of an agent. If you are paying someone, even if they're doing something they shouldn't be they are still representing your company, both from a customer service perspective and a legal perspective. I don't know how the law works where you are, but here....you are responsible for the actions of your employees while you're paying them. I really doubt that spammers go around testing my domain, which has nothing but an MX record for email addresses. There is no web page or anything else associated with it. If they did, it's an amazing coincidence that two days after I place my order with Best Buy that I start getting spam.

Had he sold out my SSN, Credit Card #, or some other bit of information, he would have likely committed a felony. As it is, he "just" sold out my email address. We're IT people. We handle and process data all the time. We are inherently in positions of trust. If you cannot be trusted, you should not be working. It's not a big leap to go from "just email address" to "just home addresses" to "just credit card #'s." I expect that a responsible and ethical company to have responsible and ethical employees. This person certainly didn't meet either of those criteria. The fact that they chose to keep him tells me that they lack a commitment to ethical behavior and enforcement of standards. You're comments here tell me the same about you.

2 cents,

QueenB.

On-the fly unique email addresses (5, Informative)

whoever57 (658626) | more than 7 years ago | (#18215620)

You can also use the "+" notation that many mail systems (including gmail) support. What you do is put "+<unique identifier>" between the user and @ parts of your email address, for example, if my email address is:

blah@gmail.com

I can also use:

blah+BestBuySucks@gmail.com

This works automatically. No setup is needed for gmail and many other email systems. Unfortunately, a lot of website developers think that "+" is invalid wherever it is used in an email address and will not allow such email addresses in registrations.

Re:Best Buy will Ho out Your Email (1)

pacalis (970205) | more than 7 years ago | (#18215656)

Different email registrations for different domains is an awesome idea. Thanks for the tip. And fuck best buy.

Sometimes BBY employees are BBY employees (2, Interesting)

Dankling (596769) | more than 7 years ago | (#18215408)

I remember when they first changed the intranet site to match in-store pricing only. It makes sense since the internet is going after a mostly different demographic and would have to make prices even lower to compete (which they STILL save money on because running a warehouse costs much less than shipping it to a store and have to pay salespersons wages).


Anyway, I was an employee at BBY when they started this switch, and, embarrasingly enough, I didn't notice the switch for over 2 months - and I was a customer service senior. They never even bothered to tell us!! (and i worked at Richfield, MN - just across the street from corporate HQ) - they were most probably thinking that we would deny the price match out of ignorance.


But, in my stores defense, once we found out of the switch we checked through the internet website and even went as far as printing it off if they had to go to another store to pick up the item.


Basically, with any corporation you will have great stores and horrible stores - it all depends on who the GM is. I've had good ones that make a great customer atmosphere and horrible GM's that make me deny price matches and basically be a bitch to the customer. But one thing I've found to be true no matter what GM I have is that the customer initiatives at the corporate level are in the right place - which is much more than I can say for most other Fortune 500 companies out there.

Re:Sometimes BBY employees are BBY employees (1)

Buran (150348) | more than 7 years ago | (#18215704)

"make me deny price matches and basically be a bitch to the customer"

Did they hold a gun to your head? I highly doubt that. No, YOU chose to basically be a bitch to your customers, and it's attitudes like that that keep me out of Best Buy. Crappy service that MUST be someone else's fault. It's willingness to rip the customer off, like yours, that is resulting in Best Buy's shitty reputation. Grow a pair and admit responsibility like a good little kid.

Best Buy isn't the only one making creative use (2)

symbolic (11752) | more than 7 years ago | (#18215418)


I found out the other day that my hosting company, DailyRazor.com, pulls a cute little trick - they have these offers that say you get x number of months of free hosting with y number of months pre-paid. So you buy the account thinking that as long as you've paid by the deadline, you're ok. It so happens that if you didn't enter a specific "coupon code" when you signed up, you forfeit the free hosting. At the bottom of their sign up form, it says, "Have a coupone? Enter it here..." - when I think of a "coupon" I think of a piece of paper that I might have received in the mail, or seen in a magazine. I didn't have either of these, so I didn't enter anything. I didn't give it a second thought until I saw that they issued my second invoice two months early. I have been going back and forth with them over this, and as of yet, they have refused to make any concessions. If you need servlet-based hosting, avoid the hassle and look for another company.

What the net is bringing back.. (4, Interesting)

jcr (53032) | more than 7 years ago | (#18215420)

This is another great example of the resurgence of reputation as a means of social pressure. Before we had the web, advertising could completely drown out the occasional TV report from your local consumer affairs reporter. Today though, anyone who cares about getting what they pay for can trivially check up on the vendor in question.

-jcr

Chapters / Indigo bookstore does the same thing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18215462)

Chapters / Indigo is a large (the largest?) bookstore chain in Canada. They have many brick and mortar locations, as well as a large online e-commerce website selling books, DVDs, etc. In their brick and mortar stores, they have computer terminals with a web browser, accessible by the public, providing access to a clone of their internet website. These computers are handy, because unlike the public internet version, they tell you which shelf or section of the store a given book appears on if it can be found in the store.

The big difference, however, is that this on-site version of the website features prices much higher than the EXACT SAME PRODUCTS if you were to search them from the company's e-commerce website on the public internet. All while looking visually identical to the website as if you had accessed it from home (or from your laptop in the in-store coffee shop's WiFi).

Having said this, I have never had a Chapters staff member try and convince me of an item's price because of how it appeared on their in-store computers. It just seems sleazy to have it look exactly the same (except for the stealthy higher prices), but maybe it can just be chalked up to laziness by some web programmer on their company IT staff.

Never chalk up to malice... (4, Informative)

fo0bar (261207) | more than 7 years ago | (#18215464)

First of all, I didn't know this was a "secret". I've seen it myself. It may have the same color scheme, but it looks noticeably different (no "top 10 tips to buy a new TV" or big flashy mini-ads or any of that crap). The purpose? If a customer wants to buy something that's out of stock or internet-only or something, the employee takes the customer's information and logs in using his employee ID. I've never used this part, but the customer supposedly pays in-store, then the employee puts the confirmation number into the site, and the item is either shipped to the customer or the store.

(CompUSA has a similar site, though in their case the customer (usually business account customers) can access it too -- http://compusabusiness.com/ [compusabusiness.com] )

Now, I'm interested in seeing what the result of the investigation is, but this doesn't seem to scream conspiracy. Maybe there was a discrepancy, and the employee pointed to that site because, well, that's the site he always uses. I make a best buy purchase every couple weeks, and always check the site first (mostly because best buy's stock sucks, and I have to figure out which of the 2 stores in town has what I need), and I have never seen a price discrepancy between bestbuy.com and in-store.

Plain and simple (1)

edwardpickman (965122) | more than 7 years ago | (#18215474)

Fraud. Highly illegal and despicable. They need a serious fine and to be forced to give refunds to buyers. Companies do it because they generally get away with it. If they knew they'd be hit hard for it they wouldn't do it. It's as simple as that. People need to be fired and I'm not talking the salespeople but the execs that are behind this scam. And it is a scam.

Having some first hand experience... (1)

rsmoody (791160) | more than 7 years ago | (#18215494)

Having worked at BB and CC, I can tell you that one thing odd (to me) about BB was that the right hand does not seem to know what the left is up to. I was never aware of a "secret" internal site that had different prices. I do know that each box has an intranet that usually sucked balls because it was so slow and always seemed to have "issues". Strange things like not being able to find products or just plain to able to get to anything including the time clock or the training site screwing up royally. But, as far as being trained to deceive customers by using the intranet site as opposed to the internet site, no. And BB will match their own prices without much trouble as will CC. (the post about the return policy is crap, did you bother to actually READ the big sign on the wall by any chance?, oh wait, this is /. Some products have a restocking fee, digital cameras are one, this is not unique to BB and if you are nice enough, they will wave it most times; if you are an ass, they will allow you to kiss theirs.) If there is some secret site to intentionally deceive customers, it will be a shock to me and to all of my friends that still work at BB. Flame away.

WE know they do this.... (1)

acedotcom (998378) | more than 7 years ago | (#18215500)

the geeks, that is, know it. I worked for Best Buy for three years. Over that time I saw, at least once a week, four different prices for one single item. The text based intranet for inventory and store to store communications would have one price, The Internal Bestbuy.com would have another price, The printed ad would again, be priced differently and finally, the external bestbuy.com would have another price.
This wasn't a big deal, but we were never authorized to change the price unless the customer was aware of the lower price, otherwise we weren't supposed to mention it. That was our store. Other were hopefully different.
We know to do our research and look out for stuff like this, but I know most of their customers do not....and they know that too.

but remember, they aren't on commission.

Intranet & Internet (1)

NXprime (573188) | more than 7 years ago | (#18215520)

I had to sit back and give this some thought. To me, it makes sense to have an intranet because if the online website goes down(i.e. HP monitor for $10 price mistake), how will the retail stores assist their customers during that time for product information? As for the price mis-matching, I've been told I think from a sales rep at Best Buy or some other store brand that the website is a separate business from the retail chain. I mean, I did ask this before and got denied. So for so long I've assumed things this way. There's plenty of cheaper prices online at their website but has anyone looked to see if Best Buy actually allows price matching with their website in the sales policy? If so, dang, I've missed out on a few good deals.

Did I miss something?! (1)

ZDRuX (1010435) | more than 7 years ago | (#18215528)

This story is extremely void of any actual details as to what this "other" site did. Was it Bestbyu.com - or was it some intranet site used in-store to fool consumers about higher prices? How did this work, who was involved, and HOW on earth did 2 stores cheat someone out of $150 by using this site?! I`m so confused...

so inevitably.... (4, Informative)

AnalogueDarkness (1070874) | more than 7 years ago | (#18215546)

there has to be a comment with an "i work for best buy" in here. well, i do. and it's ironic that this comes up at such a time as today. At work earlier today, I actually saved some customers several hundred dollars by ordering off of our "secret" internal intranet .com site rather than off of the regular internet. The customer in question wanted to order a laptop and have it shipped to a friend in California, and I noted that when i used our Clearwire internet terminal, the price came out to 1,049, but when i used the internal site, it matched our store savings down to 899.99. And the same with another laptop we are running on sale. I'm not sure how well the awareness of this internal site has been spread throughout the company ranks, but at my store at least, we are always up to honor a .com price, and we have non-intranet connected computers on our Verizon Wireless and Clearwire kiosks that allow us (and our customers) to verify a .com price against the internal website.

Re:so inevitably.... (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18215660)

actually, any kiosk can access the real website if you click "BBY" (the stock link) and then click the Yahoo BBY stock graph. It will bring you to a Yahoo page where you can do a regular Yahoo search. -kevinforgot

Couldn't be a BB employee. (4, Funny)

suso (153703) | more than 7 years ago | (#18215686)

You cannot possibly be a Best Buy employee because you know what the difference between an intranet and the Internet is.

subject (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18215550)

The traditional retail store's days are numbered. Soon, everything will be online only. No store-front rent to pay. Less employees to pay. Less overpriced managers to pay. Less bills to pay. Less chain of command to pass the blame onto. Less for THE CONSUMER to pay. I personally look forward to the day when there are NO more stores being built on the once beautiful farm land and woods around here. When we moved here, it was a one horse town in the middle of nowhere. Now, it's so damn full of stores and other junk, I'd rather be dead than live here another day.

Former Best Buy Employee (1)

Tuckerism (1033710) | more than 7 years ago | (#18215590)

From what we understood in our store, it was not meant to "bait and switch". We never used the intranet site because we knew it was not connected to up-to-date sale prices. Never were we told to use it to cheat customers, nor did that idea ever get mentioned.

Just giving the simple and straight-foward facts from a salesperson perspective.

I always call them out (1)

codepunk (167897) | more than 7 years ago | (#18215614)

Chalk one up for the good ole blackberry, I walk into these stores and see something I like. Fire up the blackberry and check the online price. If it is lower I go show it to them, hard to deny what the online price is then.

it's true (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18215622)

I just quit Best Buy exactly one week from today. This "rumor" is absolutely true. I'm not sure why they try to pull this BS, but there definitely is a REAL website (www.bestbuy.com) and an intranet version that does not display the sale prices. If you need to know any other reasons about why Best Buy sucks, feel free to check out the incredibly-named website. -kevinforgot

i don't get it... (1)

intthis (525681) | more than 7 years ago | (#18215638)

this happened to me a while back... i saw a good price online, but when i went to the store it was considerably higher, and when they checked on the store computers, it showed the higher price. when i asked the sales person if i could get the price i saw on the internet, they said that wasn't possible...

so, long story short, i took my laptop to the starbucks nextdoor and ordered the item from the website (for the lower price) and just selected the in-store pick up option... then i walked back in, and got it for the lower price... what a stupid system.

Happened to Me (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18215640)

Just recently, I had to purchase a new TV. I picked out a Toshiba model. It had to be this certain model because it was the only one that had the right measurements to fit in my TV cabinet. Best Buy was the only store to carry it (in Oklahoma, anyway).

Went to the store, and their in-store price was $40 more than what was shown on their website. I called BS on them, so they showed it to me on their computers. I called up the family at home, and they looked it up on BestBuy.com, and sure enough, it still showed the cheaper price. After being argued with and told I was wrong, their manager just walked away from me. I asked them if I brought in a print-out of the website if they would honor the price, and he said, "Sure, whatever."

So, I go home and print out the site and take it back to the store. Keep in mind that it was a 60-mile round trip to my house from the store, which I made twice in the end. I would have just gone somewhere else, but it was the principle of the thing, and I was going to win this one. Showed them the price and they tried to dicker with me, and said they would meet me at half the difference. I basically said something to the effect of "Hell no!" except using stronger language. They eventually honored the internet price. I kept trying to figure out what their problem was, but after reading this, now I know.

Not the first time I've had problems with Best Buy. I ordered a laptop online and selected in-store pickup. They held the laptop for me, but sold it to someone else. They took $1000 from me and it was 4 days before I finally got a refund.

Unless I have no choice, I will not buy anything from Best Buy that costs more than $50.

Two ideas. (1)

Raven42rac (448205) | more than 7 years ago | (#18215648)

A) The employees are oblivious that their intranet site is out of date/misleading B) They're trained by soulless managers to squeeze every penny out of the consumer as they can Not sure which is worse.

They can't be trying very hard (2, Informative)

sean_ex_machina (1026748) | more than 7 years ago | (#18215652)

I bought a plasma TV in October when they were doing a zero-interest deal. They rang it up for the store price of $1,739, so I told them that the website was showing $1,619 as the price. The clerk went over to talk to the manager and, sure enough, they gave me the $1,619 price without protest.

A week later the print ad showed the TV at $1,499 and they happily gave me a price adjustment when I asked for one. Fun times.

One possible idea... (1)

MBC1977 (978793) | more than 7 years ago | (#18215678)

I don't know if you can do this in BBY, but when I go to Circuit City, if I see an item (say 4 GB Sandisk Micro Sticks) and if the price is xx.99, I then go to one of their computers which has internet access and then go to their web store and see if its cheaper. I know it works because the store I went to (in Jacksonville, NC) had its price $45 dollars higher then the retail store. I bought it online and picked up in the store. Of course, the evil looks on the store salespeople's faces is always fun. But then they shouldn't try to rip off the customer with higher markups.

Granted, I know retail is a different animal then the internet, and profit margins are getting slimmer all the time, but I think the savy shopper is gonna look (or should look) online first and see if they can save money. Every little bit helps I think.

shiT! (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18215696)

the mundane ch0res from the OpenBSD

My Best Buy service polemic (4, Interesting)

xPsi (851544) | more than 7 years ago | (#18215706)

I used to enjoy shopping at Best Buy because at least they had stuff I generally wanted and needed. Also, the stores were pretty ubiquitous and the prices were basically competitive. The customer service was all over the place, sometimes right on, sometimes not, but usually nothing special. But then I tried interacting with the morons at Geek Squad. They make some pretty heavy promises (which Best Buy sponsors) on the web site like "Geek Squad® Agents fix any PC problem anytime, anywhere" and "Service guarantee -- If you're not completely satisfied with our service, the problem is remedied fast and free". So I bring a computer into the store and tell the agent "My computer won't boot and I think its a problem with the power chain, the hard drive isn't getting any power. It may need a new power supply -- but probably its just a broken connection." In other words, I told them the problem and what to fix -- or at least a good starting point. I didn't have the time to deal with it myself, so since they can "fix anything" (their agent on the hotline told me it would be "no problem" to debug the power chain) I figured I had nothing to loose (and if they couldn't fix it, I could bank on the service guarantee). So the guy at the store tells me, "great, we'll do a $70 diagnostic and get back to you." A week later they call me to say "we tried to do a diagnostic, but the computer won't boot, so you need to take it to the manufacturer." Fix any computer problem indeed. So when I went to pick up the computer I told the "agent" I wasn't satisfied with the service and wanted my 70 bucks back. Why should I be satisfied? I spent money and waited a week for them to tell me what was written right on the trouble ticket in my own words. Needless to say, this sparked a little "philosophical" discussion between me, the "agent", and his manager about what "service guarantee" means and why it's on their website if they won't honor it. In the end, they openly accused me of trying to get something for nothing. They kept telling me that since they had already done the work "someone had to pay." I pointed out that their "service guarantee" implies that, as a customer, I can, after service is performed, assess my own degree of satisfaction based on my own (presumably reasonable) standards. If I am not, then I get my money back. Case closed. This is called "customer service." My (fairly reasonable) basis for dissatisfaction was their claim to be able to "fix any computer problem" but yet charging me $70 just to tell me my computer wouldn't boot -- the very reason I brought it in to begin with. So I wrote a nice letter to Best Buy Corporate and ccd Geek Squad. Not an email, an actual formal, professional letter. I received a formal, professional response letter back from Best Buy "customer service" about two weeks later stating simply (in goofy corporate jargon) that, while they valued me as a customer, they were not in the business of reimbursing dissatisfied customers for work already performed on computers. Never mind the "service guarantee" paradox that "satisfaction", by definition, must be assessed after the work was performed.


Needless to say, I'm not a big fan of Best Buy, so am glad someone is calling them publicly on this intranet pricing thing (potential scam).

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