Sunday, November 04, 2007

Monkey Prose Report Card on Best Buy – Grade: "C"

“Being on par in terms of price and quality only gets you into the game. Service wins the game.”
- Tony Alessandra

I won’t be going back to Best Buy any time soon. Why? Because they failed to meet a basic service requirement – resolve customer problems quickly and completely.

And so, dear readers, I'll tell you my tale of woe. I recently went to Best Buy Store No. 457, in Rockaway, NJ, and signed up for a Geek Squad home service call. My wife’s new laptop needed to have Windows Vista set up, and new software installed. But shortly after the Geek Squad representative left our house, Trudi’s computer crashed and I came face to face with the terrifying Blue Screen of Death. Aaaaaaaah!

Because my faith in the goodness of humanity was unassailed, I assumed that any store worth its salt would want to fix a service problem posthaste. I could not have been wronger! A phone call to The Geek Squad’s 800 number put me in touch with a woman who couldn’t have cared less unless she was in a coma. When a customer service rep’s tone of voice never changes, you know you’re in trouble. This girl raised the bar on passive aggressive behavior to new heights. If there was an Olympic Medal for “I Don’t Give a Damn”, this young lady would have been a slam dunk for the Gold. She informed me that a return service call might take up to two months because, well, “other people were already scheduled”. In other words, Best Buy’s policy on service was “If we don’t get it right the first time, we will fix the problem - but only when it’s convenient for us, not you ”. My response - as Ralph Cramden would say – was “Bang Zoom!”

OK, so the phone approach crashed and burned. Plan B was to visit the store and talk to someone in authority. Again my hopes were crushed - like a squirrel under the wheels of a Kenworth Truck. Shane, the Store Manager, displayed a compelling lack of desire to drive my problem to It’s All Better Street. No Christmas Card for him! After a healthy yawn to accent his disinterest, Shawn passed me off to Alan, the Geek Squad Manager. Alan “copped a tude” when I suggested that Geek Squad should send someone back to my house ASAP. He echoed the position of the Geek phone rep that “Hey, there are other people in line for service – so you’ll just have to wait.” When I informed Alan that I would not pay for an incomplete installation, he responded that I had to pay for it - whether the job was done correctly or not. And he refused to give me credit for returning the software. Grrrrrr! That’s two less Christmas Cards.

Plan C (a personal favorite) was to contact the CEO of the company. My letter to Bradbury H. Anderson was soon answered by Michael Arrighi, Geek Squad Public Defender, Executive Resolution Team. In my correspondence with Michael, he was polite, professional, and made a genuine effort to resolve my complaint. He even sent me a $50.00 gift certificate, to compensate me for my inconvenience. But Michael stopped short of promising that Best Buy would change their code of conduct. So - to this day – Best Buy’s policy remains: A customer is obligated to pay for a Geek Squad service or software installation, whether it is performed properly or not. If problems arise, Best Buy sets no time limit for when a job must be completed. And there is no mechanism for a dissatisfied customer to receive a refund (or any other compensation) for unacceptable service. Even monkeys could tell you this policy is flawed.

But in fairness to Best Buy, I also feel obligated to tell you what they do right:

Good Thing No. 1: The level of Geek Squad service is usually excellent. I’ve used them three times, and they’ve always finished the job properly (although not necessarily in one visit). Edward Donlin, the Geek Squad Rep who worked on our computer, came back three times (in the first week) until everything was functioning correctly. He made sure that I understood everything he did, and he adequately answered all my questions. But I suspect that the rapid response was because I complained to so many people in the organization. Otherwise I might still be waiting. This leads me to believe that other customers in my situation could endure long lead times to get service problems resolved.

Good Thing No. 2: Best Buy has excellent prices, which often can’t be beat - even by Internet retailers.

Good Thing No. 3: The store employees are well trained and professional. They are helpful when you need assistance, and are not too pushy about closing sales or hawking extended warranties.

The Internet has changed the dynamic of human interaction. In the past, if a customer had a negative experience with a store, they would tell (on average) 11 people. Now, because of the Web, that same person can tell 5,000 people in a short period of time. And bad news travels fast, so an e-complaint can snowball and reach even more people. It is therefore advisable for any company to establish customer service policies that keep pace with modern consumer expectations. And these expectations are rising steadily as people share more information and become better informed about the best available products and services.

Based on this information, the Monkey Prose Report Card awards a Grade of “C” to Best Buy. If you read my blog post about H&R Block, you will see another customer service scenario where a company did everything exceptionally well – and was awarded an A+.

Since the retailer being discussed here has “Best” in their name, they should be a leader in customer service for the electronics retailing market. Right now they are “Just OK” in this area, but with some enlightened changes, they could truly live up to their title and become the Best Buy in both products and services.

I welcome comments from Best Buy. I also invite readers to share their Best Buy experiences.


ZenDenizen said...

I've never had a positive experience with Best Buy, I always prefer Circuit City.

WaxingGrassHoppeR said...

still a big fan of your site...
grasshoppers and monkeys have much in common...
want to know more???

Monkey Bob said...

To zendenizen: Thank you for your comments. I love your mask! And thank you for teaching me to spell "denizen". I think that Best Buy "cops a 'tude" when it comes to interacting with their customers. Other retailers appear to be more enlightened. So guess where I WON'T be spending my money!

Monkey Bob said...

To Waxinggrasshopper:

Thank you for your comments. I checked out your site, A Blade of Grass. I very much enjoy your poetry! I am a new writer (about 1 year) who is still working in the corporate world, so I don't have a lot of time to talk with other writers. Your site has given me inspiration to continue with my writing. I will contact you be e-mail to see if you would give me permission to feature A Blade of Grass on my website. May all of your pencils be sharp!

Monkey Bob said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
WaxingGrassHoppeR said...

... if you would be so kind... and anything I can do to help...