Yesterday’s post recounted the recent problems that has had Best Buy in the sights of Storefront BackTalk, which include coverage of how Best Buy is Making the Same Data Mistakes Again, while being the latest example of a Black Friday Fiasco, and offering free Wi-Fi Porn to minors in its store. And the last story was the doozie — not only can it apparently not keep its own in-store networks secure enough to prevent porn from being displayed on HD TVs for half an hour, but when a customer asks for the manager, he’s told “You want to see the manager? You go get him. He’s over there.”.
As far as examples of bad customer service go, that’s a response that always take the cake. So, not only does their IT suck, as highlighted by their now not-so recent website update to BestBuy.ca which prevents those of us still on Mac OS X 10.6 from adding more than one item to our cart for a purchase (which we can only do if we log-in first), but their customer service, in-store and on-line leaves much to be experienced. So, not only can we buy only one product at a time (which is a great inconvenience if we want to buy five items, as this would require five separate session and purchase processes, but a cost-prohibitive inconvenience if the items are small as multiple purchases means multiple shipments which means multiple, unnecessary, shipping charges), but they don’t seem interested in doing a damn thing about it. I reported the issue back in the end of January when I first noticed it, received an e-mail saying someone would contact me within 2 days, but over a month later, still no response. I reported it again last week when I again tried to purchase more than one item (with no luck), got the same e-mail, and again no response.
But it’s their in-store customer service that takes the cake. I’ve been to the new Best Buy in Halifax exactly three times, and each time was a customer service nightmare. I’ll just describe the last visit, last week, as it was just a repeat of the problems I experienced in the first two visits, with a few extra aggravations thrown in.
This time, I went there to return an item I ordered in early February that was defective before my time ran out as I would otherwise have to deal directly with the manufacturer directly (which was not a pleasant thought given that they have been in financial and media trouble lately and were certain to be understaffed in their customer service department). Best Buy allows you to return / exchange items in-store that were ordered online and this sounded preferable than trying to deal with an agent over the phone to explain “it literally shorted out”, try to get a pre-paid shipping box, try to insure that someone actually processed the item when it was returned, etc.
So I go to the store. I explain the situation, show my on-line receipt, and ask to exchange in-store (because I know they had stock) as I only had a couple of days left before their return policy expired on the item. The rep said “sure, but you have to go back to computers and get the replacement — I can’t leave the desk”. Huh? You can’t leave or call back and get someone to get it? O.K., Fine. So I go back and ask an associate to get me the item, behind a glass door, right in front of me. First thing, “I don’t think we have any more of those”. They were right there and I was pointing at a row of three. “Oh, well, I have to go get a key.” Fine. I wait, and wait, and five-or-so minutes later notice him half way across the store talking to someone else, with obviously no interest in trying to track down someone with a key. So, I wait for another associate to become free, ask if he can help me, and note the item I want is in the case. He says sure, follows me to the product, and says “Oh, I don’t have a key for that. I’ll have to get someone behind the desk.” So I wait a few more minutes, and finally someone comes and says “What can I help you with.”. This associate should know, as I explained it to the associate that fetched him, and then again I get “Oh, I need a key. I’ll have to call the manager.” Well, I guess that’s progress as he actually called the manager, but it took three associates and over ten (10) minutes to get a product out of a case that the customer knew he wanted. Had I been trying to buy it for the first time, I would have given up and went to a different store.
But the fun didn’t stop there. The manager hands the item to the associate, who brings it to the desk, and on my return, the associate says “I can’t do this return, as the item was purchased on-line, and I haven’t been shown how to do that, I’ll have to get someone else”. Uhmm? I told the associate it was purchased online before the associate said she could do the return. Fine. Wait for another agent, who goes through most of the return process only to mumble something along the lines of “Oh, it’s above my limit, I need a manager’s authorization.” The price was clear on the receipt. So I wait again. Finally, after a few more minutes, a manager comes buy, punches in a code, and walks away. And after some stumbling (which, based upon prior experience, makes me want to swear that they didn’t train anyone on their own systems), finally completes the exchange.
And the fun didn’t stop there as I also wanted to pick up a game for my son. I should have tried the games store across the street first, but I happened to have checked the on-line system before I left and knew there were over 10 in stock when I checked the quantity reported on the website earlier that day. I go to the section where the games are, and where I believe it should be, only to find it’s not there. I ask an associate in the section as to where it is, only to hear him say “I don’t work in games. I think it should be here”. This was annoying, but not as annoying as him taking me to a section for games for a completely different console by a manufacturer. So I take him back to the section and say “It should be here, as this is where the other games are for this console, but it’s not. Where else could it be?” I’m told “if it’s not here, we don’t have any” and he walks away.
Since I couldn’t believe they’d sell 10 in a day as it was not a brand new release, and there was no sale on, I go to the back of the store, find a tablet with working Wi-Fi (which, I’m happy to report, appeared to be porn free), go to their mobile site, pull up that there are still nine (9) in the store, go back, find the associate, and tell him this. He stumbles around, fails to find it, so decides to ask the customer service desk if there are any in stock (and ignore the fact that I just checked their online system less than five minutes ago). They say yes, and when he asks where, they say they don’t know. He says I’ll have to ask someone who works in games, but that he doesn’t know if anyone’s working in games tonight. Great. So I decide to check ends of rows, displays, etc. and basically wander around until I eventually find one. Then I go to the cash, where the cashier, of all people, tells me (when she is struggling to get the security device off of a $40 game) that it would have been faster if I had just came to the cash and asked for one to be pulled out of the locked game cabinet next to the customer service desk. That’s right, the customer service agents apparently didn’t know about the game cabinet right beside them! (And this wasn’t even the most ridiculous customer service experience. On my first visit, where they didn’t know how to process an American Express card, which, as you know, has the security code on the front, and not the back, the associate also didn’t know how to listen to a customer who repeatedly tells him: “No, the security code for AMEX is on the front – you can type the numbers on the back as many times as you like, it’s not going to work”.)
So what is the lesson to be learned — it doesn’t matter how good your supply management organization does if the retail / merchandising side can’t get its act together. Because, at some point, customers will get fed up with the bad customer service and go elsewhere (as I have with most of the electronics I order on-line — I like the selection, price, and/or speed of delivery less, but it’s still less aggravating dealing with these sites). That’s why Supply Management has to make itself the go-to organization that other organizations in the company come to for advice. This is the only way that it will be able to insure that best practices are applied down the chain as well as up, as, otherwise, all of its effort to source quality product won’t mean squat when customers won’t be able to put up with the shoddy experience of trying to acquire the product and just give up entirely.