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Best Buy Price Match: An Insider's View

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Beverly Hills, CA: Customers of Best Buy stores have been having difficulty with the chain's Price Match policy, which appears to promise a practically universal price match in Best Buy promotion and marketing, but contains so many exclusions in the fine print that the effective usefulness of the policy is gutted.

What's more, an employee of Best Buy writes in a blog that some employees will give price matches, while some others do not. It depends on what you buy, too. An employee or manager might be quite accommodating to offer a price match on an item with a $20, or $30 dollar difference, but might be more reluctant concerning a high-end item at a higher cost.

Digital CameraTo bolster that observation, another blogger identified as Kristy from Beverly Hills and billed as an ex-employee of Best Buy submitted the following on March 9th:

"First I think it's important to realize in these slow economic times for retail stores, managers do NOT want to price match anything if they can possible (sic) help it, and will look for any excuse not to..."

We'll get back to Kristy later. First, let's bring you the tale of woe from Tina, who writes from Beaverton, Oregon.

She writes that her father purchased a digital camera from Best Buy for $249.99. A few days later that same camera was offered at the Office Depot next door for $159.99. Naturally Tina was buoyed by the Best Buy price match guarantee, which, according to ex-Best Buy employee Kristy in California, reads as follows:

'Two more great reasons to buy with confidence at Best Buy.
If you are about to make a purchase and discover a lower advertised price offered by a local retail competitor on the same available brand and model, let us know and we'll match that price on the spot.

'Already bought? If an item you purchased at Best Buy is advertised at a lower price at another Best Buy store in your local area or on BestBuy.com, we'll refund you the price difference from our own sale price, or 110% of the difference from our competitor's sale price, up to 30 days after your purchase (14 days on select categories*, 60 days on HDTVs purchased from 3/2/08 through 5/10/08, 90 days on HDTVs purchased from 1/13/08 through 3/1/08).

'Either way, simply bring in proof of price while that lower price is in effect.'

Back to Tina in Beaverton, who took the camera along with the sales receipt into their Best Buy store a few days later, only to be told by a Best Buy service rep that the price could not be matched because the Office Depot next door was out of stock. Thus, according to Best Buy, in view of that situation the price at Office Depot was invalid and therefore Best Buy could not issue the price match.

A quick call to another Office Depot store 3.5 miles away confirmed that the location had stock there, at that price. However Best Buy again balked, stating that the store was not within their local market area, and there was also a Best Boy store there as well, and it would not compete with itself.

In the end, Tina returned the camera to Best Buy, but not before paying a $40 re-stocking fee. They then drove to the Office Depot 3.5 miles away and bought the camera for $159.99. However, their original $90 savings was diminished by $40 due to the need to pay Best Buy a re-stocking fee.

And so, Kristy from California and Best Buy ex-employee, what do you think of all that?

First of all, Tina could have taken the camera to the Best Buy store 3.5 miles away and attempted a price match there, suggests Kristy in her blog. However, even though Best Buy has a universal return policy, she expects that the manager would have balked at taking the camera back, as he would not have wanted to absorb the profit hit. Kristy said Tina then could have gotten the corporate office involved, "and they would have approve it."

However, most people would not go to such trouble for $90. And oddly enough, while price match guarantees are meant to make the shopping experience more enjoyable, it hardly appears to be the case. Kristy writes: "Price matching policies are a complete waste of time. Price Match policies exist...to put customers at ease...no need to shop around, just buy everything you need here...don't have any money? No problem, we have 0% interest for XX number of months...to be fair to Best Buy...YES they will price match if it's $5 or $20 cheaper but when you start going into $100 or $300 difference your (sic) going to fall into one of the exclusions..."

Ah, the exclusions. There are several, and it all falls within the fine print of the price-matching guarantee that appears so welcoming on the surface. From Kristy's post, Best Buy's price matching policy "does not apply to our, or our competitors' free offers, limited-quantity items, open-box items, clearance and Outlet Center items, mail-in incentives, financing or bundle offers."

Kristy says that in her view, the camera offered at Office Depot was priced below wholesale price, as a loss leader to get customers into the store. Given the Best Buy exclusions, one would assume that the Office Depot camera offer would align with one of those exclusions. However, a consumer would have no inside knowledge of what an offer is or isn't. All the consumer is aware of is the fact an item is priced extremely low. Were that consumer to purchase the same item at Best Buy, only to find the exact same item heavily discounted elsewhere, it would be understandable for the consumer to assume that the Best Buy price matching policy would apply.

Why have it otherwise?

Kristy sums it all up this way: "From my experience working at Best Buy, the attitude is basically 'what can we get away with?' and they bend the rules...it's not just a local store thing...it's a corporate attitude...then they get in trouble for it (sued, attorney general, or negative press), then they become a very ethical company in that one specific area... instead of just doing the right thing from the very beginning..."

Best Buy is the largest specialty retailer of consumer electronics in the United States and Canada. A class action lawsuit is currently being launched with regard to the chain's price match guarantee policy.

Best Buy Legal Help

If you or a loved one has suffered from Best Buy failing to honor its price matching guarantee, please contact a lawyer involved in a possible [Best Buy Lawsuit] to review your case at no cost or obligation.
Click here for a free evaluation

READER COMMENTS

Posted by
Keith G
on
I was shopping for a DVD player. After shopping online, Store A had the model I was interested in but when I went into the store they were out. So, I went over to Best Buy and they had in stock the model I was looking at. I asked if Best Buy would match the price (since I would be saving a considerable amount of money) and Best Buy refused because even though store A still had an actual sale price on their shelf, they would have still need to have actual product on the shelf. I wasn't going to pay twice the price, and I felt that since Best Buy wasn't really interested in a sale, I went back to store A and bout a different model.

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