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Best Buy’s Bait-and-Switch-Plus Plan Earns Lawsuit

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Best Buy has a lot of ‘splainin’ to do about the company’s in-store look-alike Websites with different prices than what the customers found online. The company will have the opportunity to defend itself in a lawsuit filed by Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal.

Best Buy's Bait-and-Switch-Plus Plan Earns Lawsuit
“Best Buy’s Bait-and-Switch-Plus Plan Earns Lawsuit”
Best Buy's Bait-and-Switch-Plus Plan Earns Lawsuit

We covered this story a while back, so let’s give a quick recap:

Customer finds deal on BestBuy.com, runs to the local store to pick it up and finds that the price is significantly higher. Best Buy rep brings up website and shows customer he was mistaken about the sale price, as the online price clearly matches the in-store price.

After some hounding, Best Buy admits it has an intranet from which its sales reps were pulling the prices, and they were, indeed, different than what was quoted online. They say there was no ill-intent, but there’s trouble now nonetheless.

Blumenthal is calling it "a bait-and-switch-plus scheme" to overcharge Best Buy customers. The lawsuit seeks refunds for consumers, civil penalties, court costs, and a ban on the practice altogether.

I can’t speak about Best Buys in other towns, but it’s clear around Lexington that their company name is only a name. As I shopped for a new HDTV recently, Best Buy was by-far the worst buy in town – the TVs were more than every other retailer in town (the usual crews at Circuit City, HH Gregg, Target, Wal-Mart, Radio Shack – you name it).

It would be interesting to know how many other electronics retailers have their own intranet. During my TV-shopping experience, I printed out a CircuitCity.com page quoting a price on a specific TV, only to find it a different price in the store.

The sales guy said something about prices and specials changing often on the site and brought it up on one of the store’s computers. Sure enough, the price was different. It wasn’t until my fiancée was waiting for the site to load on her BlackBerry that the sales manager spoke up and offered that TV and another one at the discounted rate.

So the next time you’re wrangling a deal somewhere, come equipped with your own wireless device, and be sure to mention the trouble Best Buy’s in now. 

Best Buy’s Bait-and-Switch-Plus Plan Earns Lawsuit
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  • http://bluemlein.blogspot.com/ agencelivre

    TODAY, JANUARY 28, 2008 my daughter and I went to our local BEST BUY store because she had seen a SONY VAIO laptop advertised for $599.00 (Canadian) which struck her as a) useful and b) reasonably priced and c) representing a savings; she is a college student and needs every spare penny. Last night she checked the company website and was informed that the local outlet had these computers in stock.

    Well, today there were:

    NONE IN STORE

    and

    NONE IN THE WAREHOUSE.

    This has happened four times to us:

    – last summer I was looking for a new system; they had one advertised, when I went there — ALL GONE!

    – several weeks later, having made the decision to adapt the old system, decided to buy a flat monitor and – again – found one “very reasonably” priced (read outright cheap compared to others)
    and was told, again – ALL GONE.

    – in the autumn my daughter was looking for a laptop; looked over the company’s ads and thought she had seen one she wanted. I didn’t really want to go this time but I did. I was not surprised that these advertised computers were ALL GONE.

    Whatever legal means have been used to reprimand this company, they are not enough. I might point out that the company also owns FUTURE SHOP. There’s a Future Shop in our city – of course. They have how many laptops currently on sale?

    NONE. Do you get the drift?

    This rapacious behaviour is what has given capitalism as practiced in the US (and now, sadly, Canada) its black and dirty name.

    It is now 2008. Isn’t it about time this company was made to behave or else run out of town on a rail???

  • Guest

    Yeah it’s a really common practice by Best Buy and it’s canadian bff Future Shop. They like advertising these awsome deals only to show you that they’re sold out. And then when you go there you find out that the sale for item, if it’s in stock because it usually isn’t, has passed and the price goes up. It’s just to get people into the store and purchase something. I’ve seen people come in with cash to buy a computer system only to be told that the $499.99 computer in the box is actually $999.99 up front and $499.99 after rebate which is pretty much Russian Roulette because it can get lost, misplaced, mis-processed, or you forget.

  • Guest

    Well Canadian laws are different than American laws, here in Canada consumer laws are designed to protect consumers from obvious things like scams, or theft. But when it comes to business practices then its business first then consumers, it’s similar to the UK model.

    Just look at airfare, taxes and fees after you book, all of the sudden that seat sale doesn’t look so good. Taxes for everything from PST, to Environmental Fees, and Music Levys. Buying in Canada is not very easy and people have to watch out because your tax dollars are used to fund agencies that don’t work for you, but instead help supress your complaints.

  • Guest

    Well Canadian laws are different than American laws, here in Canada consumer laws are designed to protect consumers from obvious things like scams, or theft. But when it comes to business practices then its business first then consumers, it’s similar to the UK model.

    Just look at airfare, taxes and fees after you book, all of the sudden that seat sale doesn’t look so good. Taxes for everything from PST, to Environmental Fees, and Music Levys. Buying in Canada is not very easy and people have to watch out because your tax dollars are used to fund agencies that don’t work for you, but instead help supress your complaints.

  • Guest

    We went into the Waco Texas Best Buy who advertised an HP computer for 499.99 I believe. But when we got to the store they had the same computer that was there but listed at over 100.00 more than listed. When we talked to the sales people they said that this was because it had been optimized by taking off all the free trial software and making it faster. After telling them that we were not paying that and that it was not what the computer was listed as (paper in hand) they said they can put the software back on and sell it at the advertised price.
    Make sure to talk to a manager, do you research and have printed douments. Now with smart phones you can go straight to the sight with the sales person and point their error. Stand your ground and push for the better deal. I was lucky and I had a 300.00 service plan pay off for me. They replaced 2 boards that had gone out on my Sony Vaio but when they went to replace it for a third time it was not possible. They had to ship it off and in shipping the screen must of gotten broken b/c they said it needed a new keyboard, new screen, new board at the cost of 1400.00. They handed me a print out and said go pick out a computer that was spec for spec. The catch to this is that you have to buy the Black Tie service plan again. You can just spring for the 1 year and you can get a relatively nice computer with up to date hardware and software.
    The mail in rebates are a tricky thing. They bet on the chance that you wont mail it in. Make sure you fill this out and get it submitted online if you can. FAX it into PDF and keep copies.

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