Best Buy is about as popular among Slashdotters as ptomaine or e.coli. But I have to say, I've had better luck with them recently than with Sears.
Today I strolled into the Sears store in Bowie, MD, looking for new sheets and pillows (how very domestic!). Over by the wall-o-pillows, a large red hanging sign: "Buy One Get One Free Entire Stock Of Bed Pillows". It's a good day to be shopping at Sears for pillows, I say to myself.
Pillows to the left of me, pillows to the right. I stand beneath the large red sign (LRS), pondering. Which pillows shall I buy? Look! There! Directly in front of me, beneath the LRS, a 2-pack of pillows for $12.98. So if I B1G1, then I should logically B2G2. I seize my prey and waltz to the checkout stand, humming merrily.
The cashier rings me up and I stop before swiping my card. Something is wrong here...the 2-pack of pillows is not 2-for-1! The cashier assures me that the computer is never wrong, but I point out the LRS says "Entire Stock". She calls the manager on the phone, who without speaking to me declares that the 2-pack is, in fact, NOT 2-for-1, and the phone call ends.
Another floor worker hears my complaint, and says, "Can you show me what you mean?" We walk together to the wall-o-pillows, where the LRS partially covers the stack of 2-packs. (Photos are at http://sfsp.croftonmews.org/images/Sears1.jpg and http://sfsp.croftonmews.org/images/Sears2.jpg) He says, "I see what you mean. But I've only been working here a week."
What this means is, "I haven't been indoctrinated to the point where all independent, rational thought has been driven out of me." Because next, someone with apparently more authority arrives...was this the mysterious manager on the phone? I may never know. She says, "Exceptional values are never included in B1G1 offers. The 2-pack of pillows are already an exceptional value. That was clearly indicated in the newspaper ad."
"Newspaper ad? What newspaper ad? I just walked in off the street, and I was misled by the in-store advertising. NOTHING in-store says that these aren't included. In fact, the LRS says 'ENTIRE STOCK OF BED PILLOWS'. These are bed pillows, and they are in stock. You should probably take down the LRS so your customers aren't confused," I said.
Now it began to get surreal. "We can't take it down. Corporate wants it there," said the authority figure.
"But it's misleading advertising. It implies that the 2-packs are also B1G1," said I.
"The newspaper ads exclude them," she said.
"But I haven't seen any ads! That's my point! If you're going to stick to that position, then I'll buy something else, but please forward a complaint for me to Corporate about the misleading in-store advertising," I said.
I went and got the 2-pack pillows and brought them back to the shelf. As I approached, I heard the new employee saying, "He has a point. It looks like these are on sale the same way as the rest of the pillows." Things got very quiet as I came to a stop. We reshelved the 2-packs, I picked 4 more pillows, the NEW employee asked, "Is there anything else we can do for you?", and I paid and walked out.
At Best Buy, in comparison, I bought a computer power supply, and it rang up differently from the price I remembered from the shelf. The cashier dropped everything, went to the location, checked my story, GAVE ME THE PRICE ON THE SHELF, and arranged to have the shelf rearranged. Sears apparently CAN'T do that, because that's not how CORPORATE wants it.
So, I'd like to point out two things: First, Best Buy, the whipping boy of all things service-oriented, admitted their mistake, thanked the customer for pointing it out with the LOWER PRICE, and arranged to fix it. Sears had 3 employees standing around for 20 minutes arguing with the CUSTOMER that they were right and I was wrong, and 1 employee who tried to find a middle ground but didn't have the authority to do anything. I sort of doubt he'll last long at Sears. And second, Sears lost more than $7.00 of goodwill with me, which is more than they made in the transaction. The fact that I'm sitting here journalling on Slashdot when it's a beautiful, sunny Memorial-weekend Saturday shows it: I'm PISSED.
UPDATE: Sears response, 5/28/2007:
"Thank you for your recent correspondence. We are always interested in
hearing from our customers, but regret it was this type of situation that
prompted you to contact us. Please accept our apology for any
inconvenience you may have encountered.
Please be assured that we value your comments and suggestions. By sharing
your feedback with us, you have made it possible for us to address the
issues and/or rectify the situation. Further, your forthright comments
will enable Sears to achieve excellence in everything we do.
Thank you for taking the time to contact us. We appreciate your business
and value you as a Sears Holdings customer. We certainly hope you will
continue to make Sears Holdings your choice for quality and value."
A carefully-worded promise of...nothing.