Best Buy’s on line store ran out of stock on ‘hot items’ during the Christmas season and four days before Christmas, cancelled customer orders, leaving their customers with little recourse to buy elsewhere.  Some of those orders were taken after Thanksgiving, weeks earlier. Customers were furious. What is worse is the way this issue was handled.


According to the Minneapolis Star Tribune, in a article titled Best Buy can’t fill some online orders for Christmas, the following statement was released:

“Due to overwhelming demand of hot product offerings on BestBuy.com during the November and December time period, we have encountered a situation that has affected redemption of some of our customers’ online orders,” it said. “We are very sorry for the inconvenience this has caused, and we have notified the affected customers.”

Customer complaints on the Best Buy Community Forum and Twitter showed how dissatisfied they were.

“Never shop at Best Buy,” one Twitter entry said. “Ordered TV on Black Friday & they cancelled my order today, not in stock. Said not their problem. No present 4me!”

“Every other place I ordered from has already arrived or at least I have a tracking number,” a blogger said. “I expected a lot more from Best Buy.”

“As a Minnesotan I preferred to do my business with a Minnesota-based company. But I can say with honesty, that I won’t shop at Best Buy again.”

The products that were ‘out of stock’ ranged from TVs, iPads and other tablets, digital cameras, games and laptops.

In an article by Forbes, titled Why Best Buy is Going out of Business …Gradually, the author Larry Downes chastises Best Buy for the attitude displayed in their statement. Here are his comments:

“The company “encountered a situation”—that is, it was a passive victim of an external problem it couldn’t control, in this case, customers daring to order products it acknowledges were “hot” buys.  This happened, inconveniently for Best Buy, during “the November and December period,” that is, the only months that matter to a retailer. For obvious reasons, the statement ties itself in knots trying to avoid mentioning that the “situation” occurred during the holidays.

The situation that Best Buy “encountered” has “affected redemption” of some orders.  Best Buy doesn’t fill online orders, it seems.  Rather, customers “redeem” them.  So it’s the customers, not Best Buy, who have the problem.  And those customers haven’t been left hanging; they’ve only been “affected” in efforts to “redeem” their orders.  It’s not as if the company did anything wrong, or, indeed, anything at all.”

Best Buy use a passive voice rather than apologizing directly. They make no attempt to try to find a way to help out their customers or compensate them for their inconvenience. There is no discussion about trying to fix what caused the problem so that it won’t happen again in the future.

The Forbes article  also comments  about how Best Buy refused to discuss this issue with the press after making their statement.

Summary

Every company will have problems from time to time. But to keep their customers, they have to apologize,  ensure they appease customers affected and demonstrate what they are doing to avoid the problem in the future

Does Best Buy think it will attract customers to order from it on line store in the future? They have destroyed their credibility for their online shopping offering. They are also alienating themselves from the press.

What is your opinion of this practice? Do you think Best Buy is on its way to ‘going out of business’ as the Forbes article suggests? Leave your comments in the comment section below.

 

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Adele Berenstein

Adele Berenstein is an Experienced Customer Satisfaction Executive, recently retired from a Large Global IT Organization after a long productive management career including Sales, Marketing, Services, teaching and education center management and most recently, 19 years in customer satisfaction management. She turned around divisions with customer satisfaction problems, implemented measurable improvements and management systems, and implemented programs to prevent problems from ever affecting customers.

5 Responses to “Best Buy Christmas Debacle alienates Customers”

  1. Barry Clasper Says:

    We shop in the bricks&mortar BestBuy with some regularity and have generally been quite pleased with the products and service. Just a few days ago, for the first time we bought something online from them. It arrived yesterday, earlier than expected and in good order. But if I had heard this story before ordering, I probably wouldn’t have bought from BestBuy. There are lots of alternatives. Why take the risk?

  2. Adele Says:

    Barry, Thanks for your comments.

    I also buy at Best Buy (Brick and Mortar) and I have not experienced this kind of difficulty with them either. I have always found Best Buy to provide good service in their stores (I haven’t tried their on line store).

    I believe this is a problem in the US and you and I are located in Canada. I believe Best Buy in Canada is not suffering from the same problems as Best Buy in the US.The article I quoted above implied that Best Buy would be going out of business soon because even their in store service was suffering. If Best Buy in the US were to go out of business, I wonder what would happen to the Canadian organization.

    Thanks again for your comments. I hope Best Buy overcomes their problems.

    Adele

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  4. Mary Says:

    I can confirm that Best Buy has horrible customer service, so it won’t surprise me at all if they go under. A few years ago I went to a store in Peoria, AZ, after having difficulty installing software purchased there (the box said it would work with Vista, but it only installed straight out of the box with Vista 32 bit not 64), and was treated extremely rudely by customer service. The rep and then his team leader kept telling me how to “fix it”, and wouldn’t believe me when I said I had already tried that and it didn’t work. I even tried it again after I went home – still didn’t work. Eventually I did install it, but it was not following the procedure they described to me, or even close. On top of being rude, the team leader refused to let me speak to whomever was in charge of the store that day. He said he was the end of the line. Arrogant idiot. I guess he thought I lived in a bubble and would never tell anyone else about my experience or that I had a very short memory. Although this happened a few years ago, I still get annoyed just thinking about it. I will not be sorry to see them go.

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