Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Me vs Best Buy. The Rematch

My camera had another issue. I sent this email to Best Buy.

To: S**** P*****
Geek Squad Public Defender
Executive Resolution Specialist
23 March 2010

A year ago, a camera that I had purchased from Best Buy had an issue and had to be sent in for repairs. That issue was eventually dealt with. A few weeks ago it again started showing symptoms, and then stopped functioning correctly. No problem. I shelled out a lot of money to get your super-duper best warranty, and I still have almost two years left on it.

I took it into the store and turned it over to the Geek Squad. A week later, I received a phone call telling me that although the camera could not be repaired, I could just come in and they would give me a brand new one off the shelf. Great! That's much better than the solution from last year which took several months to get resolved.

So I went in this morning to pick up my new camera. I should be in and out in ten minutes. Key word: should. Two hours and six employees later I finally left the store. I left the store Very Unhappy.

It turns out that Best Buy no longer carries my particular model of camera. No problem they said. We'll just get you one with equivalent features. I spent the next hour helping your salesman try to find something that would work. Every time I / we found a camera with the right features (optical viewfinder, optical zoom, small size and sufficient resolution) or even close to them, he'd spend five or more minutes to go through the process to get it ordered in, because it would invariably not be in stock at the location where I was. Each time he found that he "could not get that one." While it's true that there are not many cameras on the market today with all of my required features, there are still some.

Finally they gave up on finding a camera with the key features of the camera that I bought originally. They said that the equivalent camera today (without all of the required features.) costs $229.99. Therefore I could have that particular model, or $229.99 in store credit to replace my camera. After some deliberation I took the so called "equivalent" model.

I spent $500 on my original camera. That's enough to buy a brand new SLR today. That's not some low end piece-of-junk Kodak. That's nice, high quality equipment. I walked out the door today with a partially plastic product that is clearly inferior to the camera that I bought originally.

After I got it home, it became very clear within minutes that the camera I had been given was truly inferior. The next morning I called the store and finally found someone helpful. He apologized repeatedly for the poor treatment that I received and when told of my situation instantly concurred that the camera I had been given was inferior to the one I bought. He stated that the employees I'd dealt with clearly did not know about my original camera or they would never have tried to give me the low end camera they had. He told me to just come on back in and that they would give me what I should have been given as soon as I walked in the door.

I live an hour away from the Best Buy location where this all took place. I was told that I would have to return to the same branch in order to fix this. I was not going to be in the area for a week and a half, so I asked my father to stop by on his way to work and swap them out. When he went in this morning it took him over 40 minutes of arguing with the customer "service" employee to get the camera.

And then, to add insult to injury, I was told that because Best Buy was replacing my camera with a brand new one (instead of repairing the old one) that the warranty had "been fulfilled" and that therefore Best Buy would henceforth no longer be bound by the original warranty--even though I still have almost two years left on it. However, if I would care to spend more money, I could buy a new warranty!

A warranty is essentially a guaranty that the item bought will last for so long. If it stops working, you repair or replace it. You don't give excuses about how you can't repair it, and now it's worth less, so here, have a low end piece of junk. And by the way, would you like to buy a NEW warranty?

I spent a great deal of money on a four year warranty. I was told that because of the manner in which you chose to fulfill your end of the agreement, that you were going to arbitrarily void almost half of my warranty. I not only find this to be a despicable business practice, but also deceptive, if not downright fraudulent.

C.W.Holeman III
**Sig removed**