Posted November 9, 2007 10:46 am by with 20 comments

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image What happens when you order a great deal from a major electronics company and the item becomes backordered? 99% of the time, the company will email you and tell you the item is no longer available and that you’re SOL. So, you can imagine my initial reaction when I received an email from Best Buy concerning a $99 HD-DVD player I had ordered. The subject read…

BBFB Discontinued Product – item# BB10818493

Seeing as it was a great deal–it normally retails for $300–I expected the email to tell me that the player was out of stock and that my order had been canceled. C’est la vie, right?

But, no. Best Buy did the unimaginable. It apologized for the item no longer being available and so would instead ship me the next model up.

Dear Valued Best Buy For Business Customer,

You are receiving this email because you recently ordered a Toshiba HD DVD Player (model: HD-A2) and your order was placed in a backorder status while we awaited additional inventory. Unfortunately, the manufacturer has discontinued this item and we are not anticipating receiving any more inventory.

Because we value your business, we will be fulfilling your order with the next generation Toshiba HD DVD Player (model: HD-A3) that is replacing the HD-A2 in Toshiba’s lineup of HD DVD Players. There is no need for you to do anything to receive this upgraded model. We will simply fulfill your order substituting the HD-A3 model. Your packing slip will be updated to show you received the HD-A3 model and this will serve as your order receipt.

…Please accept our apology for any inconvenience.

Wow. Most other companies would have just canceled and suffered at the hands of complaining customers on blogs and forums. Instead, Best Buy realized that it couldn’t fulfill on its deal and so took the hit in profit rather than upset its customers.

If more companies acted like this, there would be a lot more bloggers posting about the great customer service and online reputation monitoring would reveal many more positive conversations.

  • That is some great customer service. Maybe best buy is realizing the power of the internet?

  • Dean

    I have always felt that customers service has traditionally been viewed as the necessary evil in organizations…with social marketing now in control of brand messaging and company reputation hopefully that will begin to change.

    This Best Buy reposnse is amazing as I think most organizations still don’t get it – Yes I am talking to you Vonage 😉

  • MRL

    I’ve had some of the worst customer service from Best Buy ever — to the point that I’ll never shop there again.

    In short, the local store that I was at — all the way up the food chain — refused to accept as a return a product that simply DID NOT WORK and do what the Best Buy Sales rep said it would do.

    The reason? I didn’t return the NON-FUNCTIONING product within 30 days.

    My Reason? I bought it three weeks before a two-week trip to Japan TO USE on that trip to Japan and it didn’t work!

    I bought both of my 55″ DLP TV sets from companies NOT CALLED Best Buy.

  • I’m surprised by the response you received from Best Buy. I have to agree with MRL that I sometimes have bad in-store customer service. It’s sad when I know more than the service reps that most people depend on for their technology purchases.

    With that said, maybe this is a sign that they recognize the need and importance of customer service.

  • Previously BestBuy was criticized for bad customer support, and things like showing different prices for customer from different ips. And now they must be working on making things better.

  • Andy I once worked for a company that would never even tell you the product was discontinued. They’d just wait for you to call and when you did they’d say it was still on backorder.

    As amazing as it sounds there were people who a year later would still be waiting for a product that was no longer being made.

    By the way that company I worked for is no longer in business and you can probably guess one of the reasons why.

  • This is an interesting take on Best Buy customer service. I have never had a good experience in that store and the only reason I have returned is because I’ve already paid for a warranty and I expect them to repair it every time it breaks.

    I have even filed with the Attorney General over problems with my computer and their services and it’s still underway.

    I can’t ever recommend Best Buy to anyone and have steered about a dozen friends and family away from them.

    BTW this was my first ever experience with them and they lost me from the first purchase.

  • I must add that in my own experience, most of my visits to Best Buy were mediocre, some were real awful, and none were ever spectacular. On top of that, several people I know share this awful opinion base on their own experiences at shopping at Best Buy. It’s known that their nick name is now Worst Buy. Although some circumstances do dictate otherwise (such as your case), most of the time they do have awful customer service (and this is from shopping at various locations).

  • We’ll have to watch and see if this an isolated incident or an new effort by Best Buy to improve their customer service. This was Best Buy Business, so maybe they have a better customer service set-up.

  • I’m shocked… I swore to myself I would never buy anything from Best Buy after buying a $1000 oven and getting the cold shoulder for longer than a month. They might be doing somethings right now, but I still have a bad taste in my mouth.

  • Your experience with Best Buy is quite different than mine. I’ve now gone more than 10 years since I last spent a penny at Besy Buy, which I discussed about a month ago on my blog.

    That is a pretty sweet deal that worked out for you but it really does sound like an isolated incident.

  • BestBuy is best destination for picking up good sale deals, saving few hundred bucks on a laptop or camera is just great.

  • Best buy just got themselves some very good quality word of mouth publicity here; earned themselves a bunch of goodwill too! Seems to me thay have to do a lot more damage control though if all the other ruffled feathers here are to be soothed.;)

  • Toshiba already downs it prices to 200$.

  • Zen

    Did you still pay $99?

  • @Zen – sure did and it’s on the way to me! 🙂

  • mig

    BEST BUY Geek Squad has the worst service on the planet. Period. Try calling their infamous geek squad and they just let the phone ring over 50 times. Seriously, no joke. Finally reached someone to ask them how my computer is doing they said ” Bad drive”. I asked them what does that mean? The guy said “Bad Drive”. I aksed him, BAD meaning parts of the drive are corrupt, the whole thing is corrupt, or it’s bad drive because it isn’t cooperative? He said “I don’t know, i think youmight need to ship it out for data recovery.”

    Hands down! BEST BUY Geek Squad is the biggest joke!

  • Anastasia

    I agree about Best Buy’s Geek Squad being a huge joke. I went to one in Queens, NY, though I’m very tempted to expose the address and the manager’s name, I won’t. I bought a $300 camera and attempted to return it within 14 days. I really wanted a replacement because I wanted to see if the flash problem had to do with that particular camera, or if that’s the ‘feature’ of all cameras of that brand.

    So, they sent me over to the might Geek Squad…to examine the camera. Of course when they took shots with flash, the pictures came out perfectly. I insisted it was not so, and had to go through 4 agents! The last one left me hanging there for literally 30 minutes, he claimed he was going to get me a new camera. I have patience, but not that much! I was distracted by watching a movie, but after a while, I realized I was waiting too long. That’s when another agent approached me, and I was informed that the guy left!

    So I had to go through the whole ordeal with the manager, who called up the guy, and claimed he said that my camera was fine and didn’t need an exchange! So the guy lied to me, and he literally left me there, what kind of procedure is that? I addressed this to the manager, who rolled his eyes and said he’ll take care of that. I ended up crying at the store, feeling like I wasted my time, and had to beg these people to believe me that there was something wrong with the camera. If the camera was fine like they said, then what was the big deal about giving me another camera of the same kind?! Do they really have a right to treat customers like this, I was so drained, that I ended up leaving with my same camera in my hands.

    I vow never to give any more of my money to these people.

  • Sasha

    I ordered a computer from Best Buy online on December 15th… it is now January 21st and I have no computer. If I call Best Buy customer service as soon as the operator realizes I have a legit problem they put me on hold and hang up the phone about a minute later without returning… so back into the que I go for another 15 minutes just to get hung up on again. Best Buy blames Canada Post… Canada Post will only talk to Best Buy… this is becoming the most expensive computer I have ever purchased and I have never even seen the thing. CAUTION – DO NOT BUY ONLINE FROM BEST BUY.CA

  • IHateBestBuy

    I purchased a digital tv converter at the end of June. I specifically asked the salesperson about the return policy because I was considering getting cable, which would make the converter unnecessary. He told me that I could return it anytime before February 2009 when all tvs would be changing over to digital. I thought this was weird since normally Best Buy has a 30 day return policy, but since he worked there, I thought I could rely on this information.
    I went to return the sealed, unoped converter yesterday, 1 1/2 months after I purchased it and six months before the salesperson told me that I had to return it.
    Not only did the customer service person at the Emeryville, CA store refuse to honor what the other salesperson had told me, but they would not refund me the $3.50 that I was overcharged for tax on my original purchase. The manager, Ricky, told me he had no power to give me the $3.50 that I was overcharged and that I would have to go through corporate to get my $3.50 and explain the situation with the original salesperson who had lied to me.
    I think it’s completely ridiculous that I have to go through this channel, which involves hours on the phone with incompetent people, to get $3.50 and that the salespeople are so poorly trained that they don’t know the return policy or so disgruntled that they deliberately lie to customers to sabotage future sales.