Thursday, April 02, 2009

Hooray for Best Buy?

This may sound a bit strange, but this post is for giving props to my local Best Buy (Lafayette, IN). While they didn't exactly bend over backwards to do the right thing, they didn't force me to press hard either, and in this day and age, that deserves a little recognition.

So, I went in today looking to buy a laptop. I'd done some shopping around and knew roughly what I needed, so I figured it would be no big deal. While there, a Service Associate, who we'll call Billy (I didn't catch his real name) asked me what I was looking for and actually pointed out another laptop that I hadn't seen located on an endcap, for $30 less than the ones I had been eyeing. In the end, I decided to purchase the model Billy had pointed out. (A helpful service associate? Wow!) I then picked up a laptop and took it to the front to pay, whereupon I learned that this particular laptop had been "optimized" for my convenience (removing all the crapware that comes on it and giving me some restore disks) for only a $50 fee. I told him that I didn't want it, but all the remaining ones were "optimized." He responded that essentially, that was just too bad, but that I should go talk to the Geek Squad. Needless to say, an additional $50 fee on a $500 laptop was a bit steep, so I declined purchasing it and went back to the endcap to check again for one that wasn't "optimized." They still had none. I then flagged down Billy and asked him to check and see if there were any in the back that hadn't been messed with. He checked, but no dice.

At this point I was getting a bit frustrated, and pointed out to him that advertising a product at one price and then refusing to sell it without an unnecessary $50 service seemed decidedly sketchy. He volunteered to go talk to his manager about the price (more props for Billy here). The word came back that they either had to find one for me that was un-"optimized" or sell me an "optimized" one without the $50 fee. So, I ended up getting an "optimized" laptop for the advertised price.

Best Buy passed up a chance to try to pull the scuzzy bait-and-switch and declined after I pressed a bit on finding an un-"optimized" laptop. Though I believe this is required by law, that seldom affects what actually happens, and I appreciate Best Buy's willingness to behave honestly and forthrightly without forcing me to debate with a manager for an hour or two and/or directly accuse them of deceitful business practices, and "Billy" the Service Associate was quite helpful. I'll probably shop there again.

Also, props to The Consumerist, without which I probably would have failed to recognize the bait-and-switch, and for helping me to remember that remaining calm and persistent is more likely to get me what I want than raging at the poor employees.


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