Best Buy. Or Maybe Not


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Seth Godin’s iconic blog has an interesting story about Best Buy. Or not as the case may be.

Best Buy has admitted to having a secret internal Intranet site which looks just like the external Internet site, only it has higher prices on it. When customers come into the store claiming to have seen lower prices on the Best Buy Internet site and claim the difference in price, staff show them the almost identical Intranet site and deny them the difference. This has now become a legal issue and Best Buy is being investigated by the Attorney General of Connecticut for deceptive practices. Best Buy is apparently cooperating fully with the Attorney General’s office.

Why do a few big companies like Best Buy think they can get away with these types of deceptive practices? Do they think that staff are happy about cheating customers and won’t tell? Do they think that customers are happy about being cheated and will still buy? What were Best Buy thinking?

What do you think? Is Best Buy guilty of deceptive practices? Or is this all part of modern retailing?

Post a comment and get the conversation going.

Graham Hill

Graham Hill (Dr G)
Business Troubleshooter | Questioning | Thoughtful | Industrious | Opinions my own | Connect with me on LinkedIn


  1. Dick Lee – Anyone who reads these pages regularly knows that if I’m not an unrepentant cynic (in my writing, not my client relations), I’m not far away. However, knowing some senior folks at Best Buy and understanding some about the culture, I’m afraid that my friend Graham Hill’s comments about Best Buy might be a tad presumptive.

    I admit that future discoveries could prove me wrong, but I don’t believe the “in-store” website was created to deceive customers. Instead, I believe it was meant to guide salespeople by providing a convenient reference point. The problem, unfortunately, appears to be not thinking through how to synchronize data between the public website and the internal site – especially temporary price cut data. Best Buy does deserve its forty lashes for that failing, but it’s important for the entire customer-centricity movement not to assume bad intent based on bad execution-especially dealing with otherwise good guys.

    I’ve newver had a financial relationship with Best Buy – othe than forking over a fortune for CDs, computers, stereo and home theatre gear. But I have seen a gradual transformation of the company’s attitude towards customers – in the right direction. I’m also highly aware of Best Buy’s innovative, employee-friendly employee relations – which cutomarily foretells customer-friendly operations. And while I share some of Graham’s instinct to quickly pillory seemingly customer-unfriendly companies, I believe we have to exercise a bit of restraint and due diligence (is that me writing?).

    Besides, we have the Ford Motor companies of the world that let customers die by driving on under-inflated tires to abuse – so we might just focus more on the known villains while waiting for all the fact to emerge. And if it turns out I’m wrong, I owe Graham a bottle of American reisling.

  2. Dick

    My comments are based upon a variety of reports in the public domain: An admission that the deceptive practice described has been taking place, customers’ own stories about how Best Buy did respect the lower prices on the Internet (but only when they took a screenshot from the Internet into the store) and that three different State’s Attorney Generals are investigating Best Buy (and that Best Buy is fully cooperating in the investigations).

    It would be nice to believe that this is just an isolated incident caused by aberrant data, or by a rogue employee. But with the best will in the world, it appears not to be. Not in three States at least.

    As the old saying goes, there’s no smoke without fire.

    Graham Hill


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