Is Best Buy Heading Back to the Rat Hole? (appears lack of competition’s turning BB back to its former self)

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I have on many occasions in many places and in many ways complimented Best Buy for its ascendancy from a rat hole electronics seller of ill-repute into a very customer-centric, Outside-In enterprise. But an incident today (extending back over more than a week) has stopped me in my tracks.

My dear wife is a private practice psychologist. She’s responsible for keeping case records, billing, filing insurance stuff, etc. While I leave her to deal with practice software selection and maintenance, I do help with hardware and network issues. So when she bought a new, Windows 7 laptop at Best Buy, a place where we spend way too much money (or have in the past), I said I’d network it and add non-practice software. That’s what I said. But when I started trying to introduce a Windows 7 computer into a network of Windows XP devices, reality set in. What a mess. Since I was extremely busy with my practice and traveling, I punted and suggested she bring in the Best Buy Geek Squad to set up the network, install her practice software and transfer data and install Outlook and Word and bring her Outlook data across the network.

So the geeky guy shows up, and lickety split he’s all done. He hands her his card, tells her to call if she has the slightest problem, reminds her their work is guaranteed for 30 days, hops in his bug and geeks off. Fine. Until she goes to download e-mail on her new machine. Outlook wants to download all 20,000 messages in her in box. Oops, better bring him back. Calls him and leaves a message. Then she goes to do e-mail on her old computer, which now won’t boot. Ookay. Wait for callback. One day, call again. Two days, call again. Three days, call the store.

But, up until now, one rogue employee could have been the source of all this.

So she calls the Geek Squad office number (which I would have done days ago). She gets voice mail. Leaves a message. Wait for callback. You know the rest of this. So she finally calls the store, after more than a week. She gets transferred to home theatre. Well, anyone can hit the wrong key. But it turns out the woman in home theatre deals with computers, too. Multi-talented. Not really. She tells my wife she’ll have to pay for a service call. That’s Best Buy policy. Unless she bought the extra cost warranty offered at the register. But there’s my wife with the Geek Squad contract, including warranty, in her fist. Finally this very offputting woman acknowledges my wife does have a guarantee. So she says she’ll schedule something. First available appointment is in 10 days. Never mind they’re disrupted her practice in the worst way. Anyway, after two escalations, and numerous intonations of “Best Buy policy this” and “Best Buy policy that” – and my wife using language she never uses to describe anyone but me – she gets a next-day appointment with yo-yo geek who screwed up initially but wouldn’t call back. But still no assurance she won’t get charged again. Hey, have to see if she screwed up yo-yo’s work *%&@!!

You know, there was a time when Best Buy was trying to take care of customers. But after hearing about all these “it’s all about us” company policies they threw at my wife, it appears they’re no longer trying. Too bad. It was nice having them to write about while it lasted. At least write good things. Now they’re on my “A” list.

Oh, and guess who’s going to be there waiting for yo-yo between 8:00 and noon tomorrow? :-)

Postscript:

He arrived this morning right at 8:00 and manually deleted the 20M messages from the server, using blocck deletes on webmail. Apparently the original mistake is irreversable. Then he smiled and left., turning off the machine.

When my wife ducked out between sessions to check e-mail, she booted up, clicked on Outlook, and received a little error message saying “Operation failed.” No Outlook. She was so angry she couldn’t even pick up the phone. I did. I called Geek Squad Central, explained the situation, and was transferred. Stuck on hold for a long time (listening to some recorded message about “outstanding customer service”). Finally someone picked. Once again, the extended warranty department. Can’t even see into Geek Squad records. Another transfer. More interminable hold time.

Finally, a person! Explained everything again, but this time added, “I want it fixed today.” I’ll let you imagine the tone and volume. Anyway, back he came. Still smiling. Fixed whatever was wrong. We hope. And we still don’t know if they’re going to bill us for additional visits.

Froma company supposedly supporting customer-centric business policies, this sucks.

Post-mortem

Talked to my wife after this was all resolved (hopefully). Actually she talked to me. She believes the “mistaken” transfers to the “extended warranty” department were deliberate and really represented attempts to deny her rights under the Geek Squad warranty. She has lost all respect for Best Buy. And she is very slow to reeact to stuff like this, whereas I have a faster trigger. I support her view. Based on our mutual experience, believe transferring customers with Geek Squad complaints to extended warranty, where they have no rights, is policy. Best Buy not only needs a serious competitor, it deserves some serious viral communication so customers know what to expect. I’ll say it again, “This sucks.”

Republished with author's permission from original post.

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