mad anthony

Rants, politics, and thoughts on politics, technology, life,
and stuff from a generally politically conservative Baltimoron.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Best Buy hates me...

Slashdot linked a couple days to this article from Ars Technica (originally from the Wall Street Journal, free this week), about Best Buy changing it's strategy to go after high margin customers, and making a point of avoiding low margin customers.

Now some of the stuff that Best Buy is trying to avoid isn't just frugality, it's fraud (buying stuff, sending in the rebate, returning it). But some of the stuff, like taking advantage of rebates/coupons/sales items/rewards cards, is fine. They also don't like people who resell stuff on eBay, which I also do.

I haven't set foot in a Best Buy in about a year, so I guess their strategy is working. A few years ago, they used to have some pretty good deals, but lately it's dried up. Their reward zone program is a joke - I joined because they gave me a 1 year membership, but I never bought enough to get a single reward, and I never renewed it. I do have - and have used recently - free rewards cards from Officemax, staples, office depot, and other stores that sell at least some of the stuff that Best Buy does.

I think many people are becoming more cost concious, and this could wind up hurting Best Buy in the long run. The other thing is that cheap people do occasionally make big purchases, and they probably won't even consider buying from Best Buy if they never get good deals on smaller ones - which is why my $500 19" LCD monitor is from CompUSA, my RePlay is from Amazon.com, my reciever and dvd player are from eCost, and my surround sound speakers are from Circuit City.

I can understand why Best Buy wouldn't want me as a customer - by buying stuff retail and reselling it, I'm competing with them, at their expense. I also actually remember to send rebates in ($7,581.82 since I started counting in December 2002). But as comparision shopping online becomes easier and people become smarter about money, I wonder if more people will become cheap and avoid Best Buy.

3 Comments:

At 12:05 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

How to Resolve Best Buy Reward Zone Issues

This is a long post, but it is worth reading. Trust me.

I used to run the legal department for a fraudulent corporation. I have perfected a technique that is virtually guaranteed to solve any problem with any corporation. I use this technique all the time, and I used it today to resolve my Reward Zone issue with Best Buy.

FIRST, understand that almost all corporate “Customer Care” inbound call centers are not run by the actual corporation. They are third-party service providers that contract with the corporation to basically answer their incoming telephone calls. Best Buy is no exception to this rule. Often, a company’s 800-number will even re-route your incoming call to a call center located overseas (Dell has call centers in Argentina. Intellisync has then in India. This alone is grounds not to do business with these companies.) Whether located overseas or in the United States, the people you will talk to are typically poor minorities who sit at a desk and answer telephones all day for poverty-level wages. Because they are rated on how quickly they handle calls and not on how efficiently they resolve problems, THEY DO NOT CARE ABOUT YOUR PROBLEM. Their goal is to get you off the line as quickly as possible (for this reason, whenever you are placed on “perpetual hold,” never hang-up. Computer monitoring programs will disclose that this particular customer service agent had a call on hold for a long time which the agent may have to explain to their superiors).

LESSON #1: Do not waste your time with inbound call centers. They will almost always prove futile (unless, of course, you simply want to yell at someone about your problem which sometimes has cathartic value and a therapeutic effect). :-)


SECOND, the only people who REALLY care about a company’s problems are those in the legal department. Why? Because if a problem that escalates to the point of litigation, especially a class action lawsuit, it increases the legal department’s work load and can create substantial expense for the company. Being the lazy, greedy people that they are, those employed in the legal profession go to great lengths to avoid unnecessary work and to avoid unnecessary expenses.

LESSON #2: The people who you should be interested in talking to about your problem are those employed in the company’s legal department. Sometimes a legal department may refer you to a corporate level employee to resolve your problem. This is okay because anytime a corporate level employee is told to do something by the legal department, they listen.


THIRD, with that said, here is my secret. Go online and find where the company’s corporate headquarters is located. There are several methods of doing this. First, simply read the company’s product packaging or visit their website. Product packaging often provides at least the city and state where the corporate headquarters is located. Websites usually have a “Contact Us” page. For example, the Best Buy Contact Us page at http://www.bestbuy.com/site/olspage.jsp?j=1&id=cat12104&type=page
Indicates that the company is headquartered at 7601 Penn Avenue South, Richfield, MN 55423. It further indicates that the corporate headquarter’s telephone number is (612) 291-1000. Bingo! You’re halfway there.

NOTE: If the previous method did not work, it is usually an indication that the company engages in questionable business practices (why else would it avoid contact with its own customers?). In those cases, you may have to resort to Hoover’s Online at http://www.hoovers.com/free/, or a Google search at http://www.google.com (you may need to familiarize yourself with Google’s advanced search tips at http://www.google.com/help/refinesearch.html). If the company has engaged in fraudulent-like activity, you may find information if you search the Better Business Bureau at http://www.bbb.org/ or the Federal Trade Commission website at http://www.ftc.gov/ (be sure to also search any other relevant regulatory web site such as the FDA, State Attorney General, etc. You might also want to lodge a complaint while you’re there). If the company is traded on a public stock exchange, you can also search the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commissions EDGAR database system at http://www.sec.gov/edgar/searchedgar/webusers.htm (you may wish to read the EDGAR tutorial at http://www.sec.gov/edgar/quickedgar.htm and you should at least familiarize yourself with the different types of filings in the EDGAR database at http://www.sec.gov/info/edgar/forms/edgform.htm). If it is a nonprofit corporation, search Guidestar’s National Database of nonprofit corporations at http://www.guidestar.org/ (be sure to sign up – it is free and provides much more detailed information that the free search).

LESSON #3: You can find anything you want on web if you look hard enough.


FOURTH, find out the name of the company’s General Counsel. You can often do this by searching the company’s web site or doing as Google Search on “Company Name” “General Counsel.” For example, by Googling “Best Buy” “General Counsel” we learn that Best Buy’s General Counsel is Joseph M. Joyce, is 48-years-old, and is also Senior Vice President. See, http://www.google.com/search?as_q=%E2%80%9CBest+Buy%E2%80%9D+%E2%80%9CGeneral+Counsel%E2%80%9D+++&num=10&hl=en&btnG=Google+Search&as_epq=&as_oq=&as_eq=&lr=&as_ft=i&as_filetype=&as_qdr=all&as_nlo=&as_nhi=&as_occt=any&as_dt=i&as_sitesearch=&safe=images. In our case, the Best Buy website generously provides that as “[a] native of Minneapolis, Minn., Joyce graduated from University of Minnesota and attained a law degree from William Mitchell College of Law.” Googling “Joseph M. Joyce” would almost invariably reveal the same information.

LESSON #4: You can find anything you want on web if you look hard enough.


FIFTH, try to find the direct telephone number for the General Counsel or the legal department. This is easier than you might think. First, try the Martindale-Hubble nationwide attorney directory at http://www.martindale.com/xp/Martindale/home.xml. In our case, the Martindale-Hubble directory lists Mr. Joyce but does not provide his direct dial telephone number. See, http://www.martindale.com/xp/Martindale/Lawyer_Locator/Search_Lawyer_Locator/search_detail.xml?pos=2&CP=1&FNAME=Joseph&LNAME=joyce&LSCH=&FN=&CN=&CTY=&ft=1&lid=92C9FD306598CD&attid=92C9FD306599C9&STS=&CRY=1&hp=1&RR=3&PRV=LL2&STYPE=N&MTY=&ratind=N&searchid=200412022341207095759. Knowing that Mr. Joyce lives, went to law school, and now works in Minnesota, you can pretty much rest assured that he is a member of the Minnesota Bar. Thus, next stop is the Minnesota Bar member directory. Unfortunately, this directory does not list Mr. Joyce. See, http://mail.statebar.gen.mn.us/search/search.asp. So, we’ll just stick with the main corporate headquarters telephone number.

LESSON #5: Although you can find anything you want on web if you look hard enough, always adhere to the rule of following the path of least resistance. It is easier to simply ask the corporate switchboard for the legal department or get General Counsel’s direct dial number from a spell-by-name directory (if available) rather than spend an inordinate amount of time researching for the number (unless of course you have no life).


SIXTH, whether you get General Counsel’s direct dial telephone number or only the company’s general headquarters telephone number, call them. (If your state law permits you to tape the phone call, by al means do so.) Ask for Joseph Joyce’s assistant (both Nancy Krolick (I do no know if this last name is spelled correctly) and Tony Mason work in the Best Buy legal department). When they answer, adhere to proper business protocol by identifying yourself by first and last name. Immediately thereafter, always ask “With whom am I speaking?” ALWAYS ASK THE PERSON HIS OR HER NAME (PREFERRABLY FIRST AND LAST) AT THE OUTSET OF THE CONVERSATION BECAUSE THEY MOST LIKELY WILL NOT GIVE IT TO YOU IF THE CONVERSATION TURNS SOUR. Tell them your problem. Speak courteously but with authority. DO NOT ACT IRATELY. These people are not call center material, and they will resolve the problem. Treat them with respect. If they express reluctance, NICELY explain that you would rather resolve the matter amiably than have to litigate it. If this does not work, reiterate that litigation would be expensive for both parties and therefore it would be a shame if you and Best Buy were forced to spend thousands of dollars in legal fees simply because you could not get a relatively trivial problem resolved. If all else fails, explain that if Best Buy is going to inconvenience you by compelling you to file a lawsuit in order to resolve a relatively simple matter then you will have to inconvenience Best Buy by making your lawsuit a class action. Mention key phrases (e.g., Misrepresentation, Fraud, Unjust Enrichment, Consumer Protection Act, etc) in the course of your conversation. IF YOU HAVE MADE NO PROGRESS AT THIS POINT, GET IRATE. As a last ditch effort, repeat the employee’s name and let them know that when Best Buy has to pay millions of dollars to settle an otherwise avoidable class action, you are going to make sure that they know that it was because he or she would not help you (e.g., “If we have to litigate this matter, rest assured that I will let everyone involved know that Best But had to spend millions to settle a class action because John Doe refused to do his job and help me resolve an otherwise trivial problem”). If the employee is adamant on not helping you, try calling back and getting another employee in the legal department and trying this approach again (this rarely works because people in offices usually talk amongst themselves so they might recognize when “the jerk” calls again).

If this does not work, then go online and consult with a class action attorney. After all, once 20 or so of you reading this try this approach, Best Buy will catch on, and the threat of litigation, even class action litigation, will have no currency (they will probably start screening their telephone calls to the legal department too). I do not care what you think about class actions and the attorneys who profit from them, CLASS ACTIONS HIT THE CORPROATE POCKETBOOK HARD AND THEREFORE ARE THE ONLY DETERRENT TO CORPORATE SCAMS. USE THE CLASS ACTION DEVICE LIBERALLY! IT IS YOUR FRIEND AND ONLY DEFENDER AGAINST CORPORATE THUGS GETTING FAT OFF YOUR HARD-EARNED DOLARS.

Remember, I speak from experience. I have used this approach countless times and it only failed once. What happened to my former fraudulent corporate employer, you ask. It has since been sued in bankruptcy, which is the closest thing to a victory for the many victims of its rampant fraud that costs consumers millions of dollars.

Good luck.

 
At 2:15 PM, Blogger BOB said...

you are the problem with this countrey....you are a weasel, liberal, finger pointing jerk!

 
At 1:31 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great advice and yes, this method will work. I've done pretty much the same with Best Buy and other retailers/companies. The flunkies at the lower levels have no authority to make decisions, hence, you get the run around. Better is to just go to the top and have your legal docs ready to FAX over to the Legal Dept. - as a show of determination and intent. They do have a duty to mitigate your claim, and if not, then proceed to sue.

 

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