Best Buy Bad Customer Service

Jonathan Edward Goodman

by Jonathan Goodman on November 14, 2013

This is Jonathan Goodman. Welcome to another episode of The World of Internet Marketing. Today we have our first Goggle+ Hangouts podcast including someone else. I’ll introduce him in a second. We’re going to talk about a very interesting experience that we had. I met with this person. He had a terrible customer service experience at Best Buy. Let me introduce you to Drake Grey.

Drake: Hello.

Jonathan: Drake was at PubCon with a bunch of people who I met and spent a lot of time with. These people are great SEO professionals and Internet marketers. Drake is focused on social media and management of a lot of different aspects of SEOs. We met up at PubCon. Let’s talk about PubCon, What did you think about it?

Drake: It was really interesting because PubCon brings together a ton of people who specialize in one thing. It was interesting to just see the crazy ideas they come up with from brainstorming and how fast we’re moving into a field, even though we’re not all quite sure where it’s going at this point. So it was good to meet some people just like me to really get a feel for where we’re going.

Drake Grey

Jonathan: I agree. I think one of the interesting things that I’m experiencing is that we get to see the back scene of what’s really going on. Sitting in the presenter’s area, which is secluded away from everybody else going to these sessions, we really have one-on-one conversations with incredibly knowledgeable people. I come from the schema side and other people come from it from a variety of areas, including affiliate marketing, SEO, PPC, a little a bit of hacking and really incredible stuff. It’s one thing to go to the sessions and see the presenters and ask questions, but there’s a whole different level going on in that speaker’s lounge. I think you had a great time in there as well.

Drake: Absolutely. It was a lot of fun.

Jonathan. PubCon is known for its parties. I went to the poker tournament and lasted a little less than an hour. I was really happy with that. I re-upped for $40, which saved me for a little bit. Then the real poker players took over and just trounced on those who were inexperienced. But as a non-gambler, Las Vegas is always interesting for me to watch and see who is able to gamble and who’s really not and whose lives are in misery by the end of night. Fortunately, this tournament was for a good cause. So I was willing to put in more money than I would necessarily in the slots or something like that.

Drake: You were donating to charity.

Jonathan: That’s right. I have to get that receipt now. I haven’t thought about that just yet. So what was the take-away from PubCon? You sat in a couple of sessions. Would you say that you are more knowledgeable now than you were prior to coming to PubCon?

Drake: I think the biggest takeaway would be Goggle Hummingbird. The approach of Google Hummingbird and the implementation of it. That’s something that’s confusing and scaring a lot of people. Seeing Matt Cutts session and being able to talk to him and figuring out what’s going on with Google coming up I think was the most helpful.

Jonathan: Yea. I’m in semantics, so I read up about it. I think some people who are still in this “Let’s do SEO the way we’ve been doing SEO for the past five years” mindset, aren’t really ready for the change.

Drake: And they’re scared of it because they don’t know how to adapt. The people don’t realize that it’s all about good content.

Jonathan: Right. It is about content and it’s about how you mark-up that content for the search engines. And the search engines themselves. Goggle, the search engine and the results are going to completely change over the next couple of years.

Drake: Right.

Jonathan: Let’s talk about the fact that after PubCon, you’re now a free agent. You were with a company when you went in. You’re not with that company now. Tell us about your skills. Let’s promote Drake Grey for two minutes.

Drake: It’s mostly project management, assisting with content, micro targeting, focusing on what really matters in advertising and really pushing it forward to the right people instead of just everyone. About budgeting and marketing strategy. I have a bachelor’s degree in Marketing. So it’s about focusing on the right tools to really advertise to the right people.

Jonathan: Have you had experience working with small, medium and large size companies?

Drake: Yes. And at enterprise, as well. We work with a lot of large companies.

Jonathan: Excellent. So you come to the field with a lot of experience and now you’ll take that to a new place.

Drake: Absolutely.

Jonathan: Let’s talk about Vegas. Was this the first time you’d been to Las Vegas?

Drake: Yes. And the last one.

Jonathan: You think it’s the last one?

Drake: I think it’s the last time.

Jonathan: Really? You didn’t become addicted to it?

Drake: Well, I think the nose bleeds has finally stopped, Jonathan.

Jonathan: I will say it is dry out there. I stayed a couple days past you. It depends on your physiology. I think some people adapt to it and some people have a very hard time with it.

Drake: I definitely did not adapt.

Jonathan: Fortunately, I didn’t suffer from nosebleeds. I knew this time to bring a lot of lip balm. I knew that I had to keep hydrated more than I normally would. But it is dry out there. Even with the air conditioner on, there’s just no moisture in the air. I know people who arrived Thursday night to hang out for the weekend and immediately were hit by the dryness and had a very hard time.

Drake: Right.

Jonathan: For those who listened to me previously, they know that I was going to Michael Jackson ONE. That was possibly the greatest show that I’ve ever seen, and I’m a jaded New Yorker. I’ve been to all the Broadway shows. I attend all the events for Broadway, Off Broadway, musicals and everything, and I’d have to say that Michael Jackson ONE, which is a Cirque du Soleil performance, was the best thing that I have ever seen in my entire life.

Drake: I want to see it.

Jonathan: Yea. We knew we were in for a treat when we handed the woman our tickets and she said, “Oh, you’re in the front row. I’m very envious.” Normally I don’t like sitting in the front row. I had an experience years ago when I went to see an actor doing Amadeus, which I didn’t realize was a one-man show. We sat in the front row. There was a lot of anger and a lot of yelling and we got spat on the entire time. I told myself that was the last time I’d ever sit in the front row. But with Cirque du Soleil, you want to be as close to the action as possible. What was amazing was that they do “Smooth Criminal,” which is my favorite song from Michael Jackson. If you’ve even seen the video, that’s the video where they tilt themselves to a degree that you couldn’t possibly do without wires and strings. But these guys did it. I was right there. I was eyeball to eyeball. I was in line to be able to see their feet, their ankles and the way they were able to tilt. Obviously, it’s in the boot.

Drake: I can ruin that magic for you if you want.

Jonathan: Go ahead. Ruin it. You think you know how it’s done?

Drake: Michael Jackson actually had a patented shoe. And the shoe has a slot in the bottom of it and a little thing on the floor that raises up like a nail. So the slots in the boot connect. He’s able to tilt down and the boot sticks to the floor. Then when he backs up, the nail comes out of the shoe.

Jonathan: That’s amazing. But how do they hit that mark when they’re dancing around?

Drake: Well, I’m pretty sure there have been some live shows where some people have fallen.

Jonathan: Probably. But that show was really great. When you left, we’d already done two buffets. We went to Bellagio and we went to the Treasure Island buffet. So that was garbage, right?

Drake: That was garbage, right.

Jonathan: Then we went to the Bellagio. And that was very nice. When you left, we continued and the next day or the day after, we went to the Bacchanal, which was just incredible. It was beautiful décor. The food was absolutely delicious. It was $50 to get in on a Saturday night and we waited an hour and 15 minutes. But we had read reviews that this was just the greatest place to eat. Of course, we went to Hot N Juicy Crawfish. We always have to hit that destination when we’re in Las Vegas, and it was really fantastic this time.

Let’s talk about why we’re really doing this podcast. We had what could only be described as a horrible, horrible experience with customer service at Best Buy. Why don’t you start and I might interject a little bit. During this whole thing you found articles relating to the Best Buy service decline. I went back and read those articles and I found it interesting that at no time does it actually describe step-by-stop this awful experience that customers are having. Let’s go through this piece-by-piece.

Drake: I was surprised by the fact that Best Buy is in the service industry for customers. And when your customers aren’t happy, you’re losing money. What was really surprising is that when you’re building a business, one of the things you should be focusing on is customer service and making sure that your customer is happy. Even if you end up losing some money. I’d rather lose a few dollars honestly than have 10 bad reviews posted because I had a rampaging customer just go off on me. Those 10 bad reviews are going to cost me thousands and thousands of dollars. Or that one mad customer who is going to become a customer of Amazon, for instance, and the lifetime of money potentially spent by that customer has now gone to Amazon. It just surprising to me that people are losing the edge in customer service. Or they hire employees who just don’t care. So how did this all start? PubCon had a competition, and I won a tablet. They ordered the tablet off-line for me and I was able to pick it up. I had a 3-hour window to pick up this tablet. We’re about two miles away from the Best Buy, so we have to always take a cab after unsuccessfully trying to walk there. Remember that one?

Jonathan: Yes. That was awful. That was the beginning of a terrible three hours.

Drake: That was just the push before we fell off the cliff.

Jonathan: We had someone who actually showed us a map. He said, “You walk down this street, then you walk down that street, and you then you just make a turn.” Well, I’ve lived in Manhattan where 10 blocks is a mile, or if they’re long blocks, then four blocks is a mile. But one block in Las Vegas could be a mile and a half. So people who live in Las Vegas are obviously driving everywhere. They’re not walking anywhere. But to suggest to a tourist that he would be able to walk to this Best Buy when it clearly was four miles away. And four miles in dry air with no moisture whatsoever. Even now in October, what was the temperature out? It had to have been about 76 degrees, right?

Drake: Right.

Jonathan: It was not comfortable. So we clearly realized that we’d made a terrible mistake. We got ourselves down to the Hard Rock, but by then we were very hot and very sweaty and very tired. Then we got into a cab. We thought this was going to be a 2-second purchase. We thought they’re simply holding the product for you. So I waited in the cab while the meter kept ticking up. Now do you want to describe the two and a half hour ordeal?

Drake: Like you said, the process for Best Buy is simple. You purchase something on-line. You can either set the purchase for pick up or you can set an alternate pick up. In this case, I was the alternate pick up. So I had my ID. I was going to walk in there and show my ID and say, “I have a purchase I need to pick up” and walk out. What happened was that they couldn’t find my purchase at first. After about two or three minutes, I started to realize that it’s going to be a lot longer than I’d expected. I went outside to get you so that we weren’t running up a huge cab fare and you came inside. At this point, I’m thinking it’s just a minor miscommunication.

Jonathan: Let me stop you right there. Let’s talk about the confirmation number. Two times during this process you had a confirmation number that didn’t gel with anything that Best Buy sees as a confirmation number.

Drake: Right. And this is a Best Buy email that I have. If Best Buy sent me an email with a confirmation number, why are they not recognizing it? Then it came down to them finding the confirmation number and then telling me that the purchase was not “approved.” Not approved because the card was approved and the transaction had been made? The funds had been pulled, but their fraud protection alert hadn’t passed through. So I got on the phone with them. How long did I spend on the phone, Jonathan?

Jonathan: The whole process was an entire two and a half hours. Now during that, you were on the phone with the person who was helping you over the desk. They would have you get on the phone to speak to different people. You were transferred multiple, multiple times. And at some point, you started having a conversation on Twitter with Best Buy, right?

Drake: Right. Being a person who appreciates marketing and especially social media marketing, I thought that because I have a large following on Twitter that maybe if I went to Twitter and tweeted Best Buy, maybe they would see me and try and help me. They saw my messages the moment I posted them, of course, and they told me they’d help me. But the process of then replying back is so slow and, in fact, they still haven’t replied to my email.

Jonathan: Wow

Drake: And I sent them a follow-up email two days ago as well.

Jonathan: What’s interesting is that when you tweeted out those articles about consumers having issues with Best Buy, there was a Consumerist article that you pushed out. I went back and I read it. The title of the article is Some Best Buy Customer Service Reps not Thrilled with Having to Stick to Script. Let me just read you a little from the article.

A phone agent for Best Buy’s website says the company recently instituted a new script and those who don’t follow it verbatim are risking their jobs. The person goes on to say that customers aren’t angry about the script so much as they are mostly mystified about the rep’s insistence about sticking to what has been written for them. “It can make us come across like crazy people, especially when they just launch right into their issue, which is often,” the phone agent says. “They will generally just ignore questions they don’t want to answer so it’s not like it’s working anyway. And yes, some of them do get angry and want to know why we need those question answered.” The agent goes on to say that anyone caught deviating from the script is penalized by management, but normal human conversations don’t really happen that way.

Did you find when you got them on the phone that it was very scripted?

Drake: Yes. It did sound scripted. And that’s one of the things that’s so bad with Best Buy. I’m sitting there asking these different questions and they’re telling me the same stuff over and over again. They’re repeating the stuff that’s not answering my questions, the stuff that’s not making me happy as a customer, and the stuff that makes me want to go home and go to Amazon.com, click “Add to Cart” and click “Next Day Shipping” and just have it come to my house and not have to deal with anybody. I think that’s one of the beauties of Esurance. You need the technology, but you don’t need the people. A lot of people are at the point where they’re just so tired of dealing with people. It’s kind of scary really, but we’re stuck to our phones and stuck to our technology because a lot of people really want to choose when they talk to people. They don’t want to have to risk some sort of confrontation with someone. I think that’s one reason why Amazon has grown to be so popular. One, it’s pure laziness of people, but two, it’s to avoid confrontations like this.

Jonathan: Right.

Drake: Finally, when I got off the phone with these people after receiving absolutely no help at all and being transferred nonstop to all these different departments that couldn’t help me. It just seemed like no one could help me. And no one knew who to transfer me to or where to put me. So finally after being on the phone for probably an hour and 15 minutes, we were working with the manager and I think at this point, we wanted to cancel the purchase. Am I correct?

Jonathan: That’s right.

Drake: Oh wait. We’re missing a step here. What happened was that we had the problem explained to us. There was a verification process. The card was approved, but they needed to contact the original purchaser for some reason. They told me that they’d left him a voice mail. Of course, that person didn’t receive a voice mail. It was just so odd because I’d never even heard of that before. They made the purchase on a company card. A very large company. Things like this just don’t happen with the American Express Gold card.

Jonathan. Let me fill in the details there. This company’s credit card was not located in Las Vegas. The purchase was made on-line with the address outside of Las Vegas with the request to do the pick-up in Las Vegas with your name. So that’s what triggered the Best Buy holding. The way it should really work regardless is that I should be able to say “I live in New Jersey and I want my cousin in Florida to go to this specific Best Buy and pick this product up.” There shouldn’t have been any issue with that. The purchase had already been made, but the purchase was being held because essentially the credit card and the address being used by the individual who purchased it wasn’t in a state that was close to the location for the pick-up. So the entire process of pick-up for in-house doesn’t work.

Drake: I mean, I understand fraud protection. It’s not like you couldn’t call your bank and have the charge reversed anyway. I can understand fraud protection, but where is the process if this isn’t fraud? They said they left a voice mail on his phone, but there was no voice mail. So if there was no voice mail, what do I do? I just sit there and wait forever for my purchase that’s never going to come?

Jonathan: Which is essentially what you did. Because after the two and a half hours, you still didn’t have your product.

Drake: I even canceled the purchase. What we did was try to order an e-gift card. We tried to get something that we hoped would really be instant. This e-gift card was already approved and the gift card number should have been sent to my email. So there should have been no fraud protection or anything like that. Well, that email never came. In fact, we got so tired of waiting for it that we finally called a cab. We spent $18 getting there and we spent another $18 getting back, so we’d spent $30 already on top of the two and half hours. I care more about the two and half hours of my life that’s gone. So we get back to the hotel and I wait and wait. The gift card never comes. Then I get another email that’s not the gift card number, but the gift card cancellation. No one had called them to cancel it, so the card just decided to cancel itself. I called up the person they’d referred me to. I said, “I’m sorry. I’m having so many problems. It’s definitely not my fault. I’m doing the best I can. Is there anything else we can do?” Finally, they met up with me in Vegas and bought me a $250 Visa and I was able to make the tablet purchase with the Visa card. Knowing my luck, the Visa would be declined for some reason. (laughter) I probably would have flipped a table at that point.

Jonathan: Right. I’m looking at those other articles. The Motley Fool had an article titled Will Best Buy’s Horrible Customer Service Sink Samsung? Samsung is doing what Apple does. Samsung actually has a location in the Best Buy stores, and they have an individual who is the like the Apple representative there. But everybody is thinking that it will be a terrible waste of Samsung’s energy. Here’s an excerpt from the April 6, 2013 article by John Maxfield:

At the end of last week, the companies announced a new strategic partnership, under which Samsung will open stores-within-stores inside all Best Buy locations by the middle of this year. I can’t help seeing this partnership being anything but a short-term boost to Best Buy and a potential stain on Samsung’s increasingly sterling reputation. This is why I believe that the biggest beneficiary of the deal could ultimately turn out to be Apple.

What’s interesting about that is that the biggest issue for Best Buy right now, aside from customer service and the prices of electronics continuing to go down, is that the square footage that they have purchased on all of these buildings is now going to work against them. It seems that what they’re going to try to do is have deals with Samsung and with Apple to actually take up square footage within these stores to then reduce the liability.

Drake: I think that it’s actually a great idea. By doing this, they’re using Best Buy’s visibility, but cutting out their customer service. I like Best Buy. Don’t get me wrong. I like to try out my products. I like to see them before I buy them. That’s one of the reasons why I’m a big advocate for them. Amazon is great, but you don’t get that small convenience of being able to hold the product in your hand and try it out before purchasing it, as well as the somewhat easy return process. That’s what I like the most about Best Buy, and I think that by introducing stores-within-stores, you’re cutting out Best Buy customer service and introducing Samsung’s customer service, which is not notably bad. I’m not quite sure that it’s notable good. But I know I’ve had some pleasant experiences with Samsung in the past. I can tell you right now that I’ve never had a pleasant experience at all with Best Buy customer service. I’ve had plenty of opportunities to have a good customer service experience at Best Buy, and I didn’t.

Jonathan: I think it’s amazing that you’re still willing to say that Best Buy is a store that you actually frequent to do research and make purchases. I decided years ago that Best Buy was not a place where I wanted to buy anything. This whole shift from CDs to mp3s and from video games to going online has significantly hurt Best Buy. That’s where they’re losing a lot of market share. But when I would go to a Best Buy, at least in my neighborhood, it always seemed to be like the high school student and the college dropout were the sales person and manager and all they wanted to do was have fun with no real learning by the sales people. That’s probably because they don’t get a percentage of the sale of a big item, although I don’t know that for a fact. Do you know if that’s the case?

Drake: I would think so because you’d think they’d actually know the product better, which they don’t. If I’m going to Best Buy, I’m not going to ask about a product. I’m going to come with papers I got at home because I know not to trust Best Buy employees. The only reason I go to Best Buy is because I can make a purchase right there on the spot and drive home with my new product. And the fact that I can go back and return it that same day if I don’t like it. With Amazon, I have to wait for it to be shipped and then I have to ship it back if I want to return it. I have to find the shipping label and all that. So I don’t go to Best Buy to talk to the employees. If I’m talking to the employees, it’s because I’m having a bad experience with something, like my return is not going properly, they’re not finding my item in the system even though I purchased it yesterday and have a receipt.

Jonathan: In all fairness, you do live in a very rural location.

Drake: Right. The Best Buy I visit is in a very large town, though.

Jonathan: But you’ve had problems with Amazon more having to do with the location where you live.

Drake: Right. I had problems with my post office, not with Amazon.

Jonathan: Before we finish up, I’d like to go through the one additional article that you pushed to them. I think it’s amazing that they haven’t responded to you yet, although they probably will after this podcast. The article is from dailyfinance.com and titled Struggling Best Buy Deletes the Email Option from Customer Service.” The article essentially says that Best Buy has gone to chat only. You cannot email them anymore. Here’s an excerpt from the Dec. 20, 2012 article by Matt Brownell:

Best Buy confirms to the company that it had dropped email, apparently to refocus those resources on its live chat support. Email, it said was “unable to offer the same level of in-the-moment assistance,” and added that 20% of customers in an online survey said they preferred live chat.

The article went on to say that during Black Friday weekend, live chat was unavailable 95% of the time, and only 15% of emails sent that weekend were responded to within 24 hours. So that’s not a very good reason to give up on emails.

Drake: Based on my previous experience with Best Buy customer service, I don’t want to get on the phone with them and I don’t want to chat with them because I know it is going to be a process involving a couple hours. It’s nice to know that I can send them a long email clarifying the problem, get an email back and hopefully have it done with so I’m not sitting on the phone for two hours, getting transferred over and over again and talking to someone who doesn’t speak English. It’s like Circuit City. Does anyone remember Circuit City?

Jonathan: Exactly. The difference with Circuit City, though, is that I believe those employees who were on the floor did actually make a commission.

Drake: Is that right? So they actually had a reason to be good at their jobs.

Jonathan: Right. We have PC Richard here, and that’s how they operate as well. Again, all of my large and small purchases are made on Amazon. I’m basically doing 80% of my shopping online at this point. I just think Best Buy and other big box stores with huge square footage that they’re paying for on a monthly basis are going to be on a downward spiral because people don’t want to go in there and have the kinds of conversations that we had with the management. She wasn’t really prepared for an issue like yours, although she did tend to acknowledge that there are significant errors within customer service.

Drake: She definitely did. For the first time in my life, I was actually happy with how the manager handled it. What she did was she showed helplessness, although that’s a little scary. This general manager of a store was helpless as far as helping a customer after a purchase had already been made. I ended up getting a small gift card out it. That didn’t really make up for my loss of two and a half hours, but it showed that she was trying her best. I seemed like she was really frustrated with the position that she was in. She was frustrated that she couldn’t help me. I was so upset and she couldn’t do anything at all.

Jonathan: One of the problems with these large big box stores is that the manager’s ability to make decisions and push things through is limited. I mean, she saw us standing there. You had your ID. She had everything in front of her, but she couldn’t push it through.

Drake: There was nothing on her screen that said “yes” or “pending.” She literally had the product, but she could not hand it to me. It was definitely upsetting. Best Buy right now does not exist. Their stock is already dropping. They’re closing stores. They’re starting to focus more on the mobile side of things because they know that people are starting to go toward Amazon and Amazon is booming. Amazon is now the largest in the world for online retail and they’ll continue to grow. With the way that technology is going, I think this will be Best Buy’s downfall. They’re not introducing a fun place to go. Besides the convenience of being able to walk out of the store with your item, there is nothing about Best Buy that I like.

Jonathan: And I think this Christmas is going to be another threshold for all of these mom & pop and big box stores. I think Wal-Mart will do very well, but I think Amazon will come out the champion.

Drake: No doubt about it.

Jonathan: It’s really going to affect Best Buy. It’s really going to affect all of these other chains that have tried to survive against Amazon. A customer service relationship like this one at Best Buy is going to turn people away.

We’ve hit our 30-minute mark. We’ve gone a little beyond it. Drake, I really appreciate you coming on and being the first face-to-face interview on Goggle+ Hangouts. For those of you who listen every week, we tried to get Drake on last Friday, but he was finally able to do it today. We will have a podcast this Friday, November 8. We’re working on an expose of the NSA issue. There’s a lot of information coming to light with the Vatican, Angela Merkel and Germany. So we’re putting together all the facts that have occurred just from last week to this week because so much has come to light. So we’ll do a 30-minute podcast on that.

Again, this is Jonathan Goodman. Thank you all for listening to another episode of The World of Internet Marketing. You can follow me @HalyardConsult on Twitter. New episodes of the World of Internet Marketing can be heard every Friday. You can access the archives of my previous shows on Spreaker.com – user name Jonathan Goodman. The podcast is also available with transcription at halyardconsulting.com and geekcast.fm one week after the episode airs. Don’t forget to pick up my book The World of Internet Marketing on Amazon, and if you like this podcast please share it with your network of friends and family. Have a great week.

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