James Leroy Wilson's blog

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Best Buy Sucks

Along with Blair Warren, I'm going to spread the word of Dave Lakhani's Best Buy horror story. Click the link, and stick around to read the comments on the post, which includes another horror story. And there's also a Best Buy Sux website for even more horror stories dating back seven years.

There's a lesson here about how big is bad, how the larger and more centralized the organization and its policies, the less able it is to deal with individuals and their problems. And there's also a warning about what you're getting and what you're not getting from the lower prices that a large retailer like Best Buy offers. What they mean by, for instance, "warranty."

But here's also a few warnings for every firm that is heavily involved with customer service:

1. Your customer may have a blog;
2. Your customer may be a marketing guru who cares about quality customer service;
3. Your customer may be a marketing guru who cares about quality customer service and has a blog, like Dave Lakhani;
4. Your customer's blog may have readers who will spread the word about bad customer service.

Bloggers who work for giant outfits may write about their frustrations with obnoxious and unreasonable customers. No doubt, often from their perspective, they are right in feeling that they aren't paid enough for the frustration and abuse they endure. But the customers are the ones with the power. They are almost always anonymous, while the names of companies, their locations, the names of store managers, the time of day, and the name tags of the individual reps and clerks, are not. You screw somebody, and who knows who will hear about it on a Google search two days later. The fact is, letter-writing campaigns and organized boycotts are no fun. But blogging is lots of fun. If somebody asked me to join a campaign against Best Buy, I would have refused; nobody's going to tell me what to do. But based on what I've read (and witnessed at Best Buy myself), I can't imagine that I will ever patronize Best Buy, and I'm spreading the word against Best Buy here not because I felt obligated to, but because I wanted to.

Seller, beware. If you treat customers like crap, you have a blogosphere to contend with. It ain't like the old days anymore. Power to the people!


  1. had this piece pegged too, ain't it something. Now go look at Kevin's blog for the world with no bosses concept.
    The world is fuzzy - it long ago became who you know, not what you know. People who knew something got harnessed by people who could make bucks by wheelin and dealin. But knowledge found in brains and not on paper is what really makes the system work (when it worked, if it ever did work).
    Boat Rockers and Root Strikers are slowly getting to the 100th monkey level. I hope to get howdt of dodge early and the signs are positive for the first time in a long time. Status quo would normal swing polytix to the D world - but they are just as discredited. Hammer the media and they lie, don't hammer the media and they lie. Don't recognize the media and whether they lie or not doesn't matter.

    too good to not crossblog more at the zone.

  2. Gary North did a good several months ago of ripping Walgreens [sic] a new one for their shitty customer service. I doubt it helped them any.

    As the Cluetrain people say, most big business is still living in a world of one-way broadcast communications, and they're not used to their customers being able to talk to each other.

    There are other cases where the customer and the employee are on the same side (or should be), and the management of the understaffed shithole are the enemy. Management would be horrified if they knew how many service workers were apologizing to customers in the frankest terms for not being staffed sufficiently to provide adequate service.

    At one hospital where I worked, we got a very stern email from management warning us NEVER to tell a patient they didn't get a bath or something because we were understaffed. See, they want US to take the fall, while they get to write the self-congratulatory mission statements about the importance of patient care. Needless to say, I saved the email for future reference, and some patients got a good laugh out of what the management told us not to tell them.

    In all the time I worked there, I saved every email I ever got that evidenced waste, mismanagement, or understaffing, and pasted it into my private hotmail account. On my next to last day there, I tried to print out the whole file on their printer, and it ran out of paper. So I went to a public library instead. My last day, when somebody replaced the paper the printer started running again, and the chief of nursing saw what was printing out. She went ballistic and demanded I give her what had already printed out the previous day. Fine, I said, since I had a copy from a public printer and the whole thing was on my hard drive at home. She went to the union local president in near-hysterics. He told her that since the emails were addressed to me, they were my property. And I was entitled by contract to "reasonable" personal use of printers. "Anyway," he said, "What do you think he's going to do?" "He could go to the newspapers," she almost shrieked. Since I had IWW stickers all over my truck and had been pegged as a troublemaker, she had reason to fear this. Anyway, I think their knowledge that I had all this shit on them, along with a long mailing list of patient advocacy groups, alternative press outlets, etc., to saturation bomb with it, is what kept them from unofficially blacklisting me when I applied for another hospital job.

  3. Yet another reason to avoid Best Buy is that the staff doesn't know anything about the products and is put out by having to help you.

    I stand in solidarity with my brethren and sistren consumers and vow not to go to Best Buy ever.

  4. okay - my comment is now up - ran into some spacial interference. I went quite a bit further.

    kevin - cool story - nice to see the value of pack-ratting things that have potential future value.