Thursday, September 22, 2011

Good Bye, Best Buy - Why I hate the Best Buy website

I wasn't exactly surprised to read an article in Yahoo Finance recently about Best Buy being in financial trouble. The last decade hasn't been the best for electronic retailers; I think the best financial news they've had in the last three years was when competitor Circuit City went out of business.

Let's face it, with Amazon, B & H, and all the other online sources for electronics, why would you bother shopping at Best Buy?

Well for me, I still shop there because I like to actually see things in person and play with them. If you're careful, you can usually do okay price wise, and if you need that hard drive today, driving to Best Buy is still the quickest way to get it.

So I'd be sad to see them go, even though there's a lot I don't like about them; the pushing of third party warranties, their inability to know when things will arrive, and the disconnect between the website and the stores are three of my biggest gripes.

My "issues" with their website are what gave me pause when reading the short article:
Best Buy has had a string of earnings failures, due primarily to its failure to do well online. Best Buy recently said its website would carry items from third-party stores to expand its attraction to shoppers.
Ah, the Best Buy website, oh how I hate you. Let me count the ways:

It's broken
Just this past weekend, the weekly online circular listed the Sony NEX-5N on sale (not at a discount, just on sale.)

But if you clicked on the link to see MORE DETAILS, you got a missing page warning! A search for the NEX-5N on the Best Buy website didn't produce any results either! Does Best Buy currently stock the NEX-5N? Who knows; certainly their website doesn't! [NOTE: Five days later, the website now does list the NEX-5N]

Is It Available Online Or In Store?
If you spend much time on the Best But website, you eventually deduce that while the website lists most items available at Best Buy stores, there are some items that are only available through their website. There are also some items that are only available at specific Best Buy stores.

you also quickly realize that the website does an appalling job of explaining the availability of these items:

This Nikon lens appears to be available online (Add To Cart is enabled) but is "Not Available for Shipping" and yet the link "Check Shipping & Availability" is enabled - Huh?

This Canon lens is "Sold Out Online", but is "Available online or order in store" If you click on the Check Shipping & Availability you get a pop-up saying it's Available online or order in store, but: Shipping is Not available.

Confused yet?

You Can't Order All Online Items In-Store
I discovered when I tried to order a lens at a store, that you can't order something in-store if it's not usually available at that store, i.e. it's only available through their website. Unfortunately, not even all the Best Buy staff have figured that out.

And the stocking of the stores, and the web site, are handled separately too, even for the same item.

Buying Online With Delivery To Store
Last year I ordered a keyboard through the website because it wasn't currently in-stock at the local Best Buy. The website offered the choice of having it delivered to my home, or arrange pick-up at the store. Because it was large, and I didn't want it left on the front doorstep, I decided to pick it up at the store. The website said that delivery should be in 7 to 10 days.

Three weeks later the statues on the order was still "in process", yet the website continued to quote a delivery date of 7 - 10 days for new orders. I was more than a bit puzzled.

After a long call with a very helpful customer service person, it became clear that had I selected home delivery, it would have arrived in 7-10 days from the center that handles those shipments. But because I'd chosen "pick-up at store" it was waiting on the local store to receive the item through the regular stocking process. And they didn't know when that would happen.

We switched the order to home delivery, and the keyboard arrived six days later.

The Stores Don't Know When They Will Get Things
Which reminds me of another thing that has irritated me about Best Buy stores. They don't seem to know what they are going to get, or when they are going to get it. A couple of years ago I was looking to get an Apple AirPort Extreme Base Station, and I stopped by the Best Buy store. They didn't have one in stock - this was on a Monday afternoon - but they said they *might* get them in on Tuesday, as that was the day "the truck arrives." But no one knew what was on the truck, This was puzzling, as surely someone - or an inventory system - must know what was coming in on a truck the next day. After all, the truck was probably already loaded; maybe even on the way!

Am I being picky?
Probably. But when you have places like Amazon that know what they have and where things are - mostly - and are very good about letting you know about problems that happen, Best Buy's online service seems to fail miserably.

Despite all this, I still use Best Buy. If they have something in-stock, and the price is right, I often buy there. But I don't depend on them, and I don't really have warm fuzzy feelings towards them.

Yet I'll still miss them if they're gone.

Yahoo Finance: Companies Where Employees Are Losing Hope

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