Today, September 5, 2015 is the last day, according to the rules on the above card, that I am “guaranteed” to pick up my pre-ordered Steelbook copy of Mad Max: Fury Road. Right there on the back of the card it says:
“Mad Max: Fury Road Blu-Ray Steelbook will only be guaranteed through 9/5/15.”
So when I arrived on 9/2/2015 to pick up the copy of the movie that I paid for on 8/19/2015, I figured that it was only going to be a minor annoyance, given the fact that most other places, from Walmart to Amazon, will actually send you your copy in the mail when you pre-order it. I was mistaken in my assumption.
The annoyance had begun shortly after I purchased the movie, when I was told I needed to bring my receipt with me when I came BACK to the store to pick up the movie.
“Back to the store? You mean they don’t send them to you?”
“No,” the sales associate said, “We send your copy here.”
Then, later that night, I tried to redeem my electronic copy from Best Buy’s Cinema Now extension. That in and of itself was a more than 2 hour odyssey. I kept receiving an error when I tried to “confirm” the purchase. The reason for the error, to my extreme disappointment, was the “unwritten” rule that I now had to enter a credit card onto my account at Cinema Now to complete the purchase that had already been paid for back at the store. When I explained this to the first of two heavily accented reps trying to help me, as well as the fact that I had already redeemed over 5 other titles over the years, she said the policy must have changed since the last time.
“The error doesn’t say a thing about needing a credit card.”
This didn’t matter, she said. In her experience, this is what the error meant. I didn’t believe that this could be the case, so I called again later. The second woman told me the same thing, and then said she would help me to delete my financial information after I entered it and completed the transaction. After doing this, we encountered another error, but eventually got past this and after multiple attempts, she was finally able to delete my information. I hope.
Half a month later, after keeping the card and receipt on top of everything in the house, I almost went to pick the movie up the day it was released. It was late though, as I had to work late that day, and I decided I would pick it up on the way home from work the next day.
This Wednesday, I walked to the back of the store, to the Customer Service counter, where there were two people were standing and talking to one another. No one moved to help me, standing in the front of the line. Then another person walked out from the side room, saw me, went back in the room. When he came out on the other side of the counter, I finally asked the two people ignoring me if I could get some help as I waved my card towards them. They pointed to the other guy who was furthest away, and that guy saw me and finally waved me over, back around the counter to the other side, while he was stationary.
I no more than showed him my card and he cut me off before I could speak.
“We are out of the Steelbook.”
“So, do I have to come back?”
“No,” he said, “Because we only had a limited supply.”
“…Which I paid to reserve one.”
“Could you check stores up North?” I lived up that way.
He pretended to start typing and then said that it looked like they were out in the whole region. I could not believe he thought I would buy the effort.
“So when is the next shipment?”
“Like I said,” he patiently repeated, “There is only a limited supply.”
“But I actually bought a copy. I paid in advance for one so it would be guaranteed to me when I got here.”
This is where he really showed his customer service chops.
“It actually says it’s not guaranteed to be here.”
“Where?,” I said, showing him the back of the card. “Where does it say on this card or my receipt that I don’t have a guarantee to get something I bought?”
He glanced at the card for a half-second in my hand, and then gave me the best lazy answer I have ever heard.
“I know it’s printed somewhere, within our website or something. This is our policy when things like this happen.”
I looked at his vacant stare for half a beat. I had to absorb the absurdity of it all.
“So I should have guessed to look somewhere on a website for a reason I could not have something I physically bought in a store?”
If I had not been wearing brandwear from my company, I might have said something I ultimately regretted. I just left him standing there. Before I left the store, I was told to have a good evening by two employees chatting at the door. I told them I won’t. They said oh, and before they could resume their discussion I turned around and asked for the manager.
I don’t even know why I thought that would help.
It didn’t. I had pretty much the same conversation with him, although, John (his name) did ask me for my email address so he could do a “search” of all the stores in the corporation.
“Why not my phone number?”
“Email is just easier,” he said, “But you can have my card if you feel like you need to contact me.”
So I did contact him, the next day, on my way home from work. It was quite clearly an irritation for him when I had followed up in something that was not in writing. He said he had not heard back from anyone yet, but if he did, I would hear from him.
“And if you don’t hear back from anyone?”
“…then I will give you a call then, too.”
So the nationwide search completed the next day, shortly before he was to leave for the day. 46 hours from the time he made the pledge to do his “best” to get me a copy. After a few obligatory sentences about the futility of it all, he gave a sigh and said:
“The best I can do is a regular copy of the Blu-Ray and a $10 gift card.”
“That’s the best you can do?”
“I will have it waiting here for you.”
“The thing is, I want my Steelbook that I paid for and was guaranteed on the back of the card.”
“I’m sorry, there’s nothing anyone can do.”
So I thought about it for a bit and called back. He was gone, so I asked to speak to his boss. The lady who answered made me wait for a bit, and then she gave me an 888 general purpose number.
“How about a name of his manager?”
“All I can do is tell you to call the number and whoever picks up the phone might be able to help you.”
So I called on the way home. My commute is 60 minutes, but I was put on hold for 15 minutes twice, which somehow my phone was able to stay connected through. When I got to second level support they heard me out, and I told the woman on the phone I was going to be done with Best Buy unless they came up with my Steelbook. She apologized a bit, put me on hold for another 5 minutes after getting my receipt number. When she got back, she told me:
“The best I can do is a regular copy of the Blu-Ray and a $10 gift card.”
“Really?” I said, “Even if you know how much money I have spent in your store over the years and I will never come back because, really this was just fraud. Selling something you don’t have.”
Somehow, even though my car was stopped, the connection was lost. What a miracle. Now she no longer has to talk to me.
I called back, was placed on another 15 minute hold, which the phone stayed connected all the way through. And then I went through the process again. This time the person on the phone could not find my transaction, even though I gave her the same number that I gave the other lady. Ultimately, though, the best I got out of her was the same round of “I’m sorry you feel this ways” and “I won’t be able to get a Steelbook myself,” and that she did not want to lose me as a customer.
“I hear that a lot from Best Buy, just before they tell me I can’t have what they just sold me.”
I tried to make it clear I knew it wasn’t her I was mad at, but the company and it’s policies and the fact that I had just been hung up on. She asked for my phone number, which I gave her. Then I asked if our call was disconnected if she would call be back. She said unfortunately her phone had no way to dial out. Then we were disconnected.
By this point I was far away from the Best Buy that told me they had “the best they could do” waiting for me. I was near enough to the one near my house that I just went in there, asked to speak to the manager, explained the situation and told her that I just wanted a refund and the amount of the gift card in cash. I was never going to shop here again. I got only the amount of the refund. I went and bought the Mad Max Anthology at Walmart. It had more stuff on it anyway.
The last thing she told me after pointing me in the direction of the “Customer Service” counter was “I am sorry you feel you had a bad experience.”
“Yeah I have heard that a lot from you guys this month.”
Then I went to the counter, where there were two employees chatting, asked the first one if he was the one that issued refunds. He pointed towards the other guy, who was walking away.
So they win. I am gone, and I am not coming back. I hope this serves as a beacon for others to avoid the same fate. Let my wasted time be your lesson to go to Target, Walmart, Amazon or other places that will give you what you pay for. Let Best Buy be the showroom for last years electronics and equipment, then buy it at Costco or Amazon. Let this place wither on the vine. They are obviously doing well enough to have employees standing two to a group, yukking it up and avoiding helping someone. They have managers that try to avoid talking directly to you after saying they will help you. They have digital movie services that change their policies unannounced to make sure they get your credit card info when you already paid for their product.They have phone numbers that have an inability to help you, lose your connection and cannot dial out to call you back. They fail at every step, and they think they can get away with it because when Circuit City died, that left them room to continue the same failed business model. As if there are no other options.