Above And Beyond

bestbuycar.jpgAs I said last night, I was quite optimistic that the entire issue with the camera would be resolved today. I was right to be optimistic. For the first time since this entire fiasco began, we went the entire day without being frustrated at a member of the Best Buy staff and they even went so far as to make good on all of the promises made to us along the way.

In fact, they went above and beyond what was necessary, and my mother-in-law was completely satisfied by the outcome of today’s events.

The day started with an email from Jill at 10:30 this morning. She stated that Best Buy had a letter prepared that incorporated the apology to my mother-in-law which also addressed the concerns we had with the product they sold us (ie: a used item sold as new).

Jill also wanted to know what time we would be visiting the store so she could make sure were were taken care of in a prompt manner. She agreed with my statement that even though we could resolve the issue, Best Buy needed to focus on the process that failed and assured me that “several” of their department were reviewing the matter and were treating our concerns with the urgency and seriousness that it deserved.

I asked Jill for a copy of the text of the letter so I could present it to my mother-in-law for her review before we made a trip down to the store to find out it might be unacceptable.

It turns out the text of the letter was quite acceptable to my mother-in-law, and therefore, acceptable to me.

My concern through this whole process was to make sure someone was held accountable for their actions, but in the end my concerns do not, and did not, matter. My mother-in-law was the customer, and an agreement to any resolution was up to her.

As you know, my mother-in-law was only asking for a formal apology for the way she was treated, a statement attesting to the fact that someone had repackaged a used camera and sold it as new, and of course a straight exchange of the camera.

Jill sent me the text of the letter, which my mother-in-law found completely acceptable, and I informed Jill that we would be in the store this afternoon to bring the camera in for exchange. You can click the image to the right to view the letter drafted by Jill, the Senior Executive Resolution Specialist from Best Buy who helped get this matter resolved.

The fact that Best Buy needs “senior executive resolution specialists” really says something, doesn’t it?

When we arrived at the store, we worked our way to the customer service desk and asked to speak to the manager. At that moment, everything changed.

We were approached by Robert Ellerbee, the general manager of the store. We introduced ourselves and he immediately apologized to my mother-in-law and assured us that the way she was treated was completely unacceptable and assured us that he would not tolerate such actions from his employees. It was clear to see that Robert was genuinely disappointed in the way his staff had handled the entire matter. Throughout this experience, and other experiences I have had in the past, I have dealt with my share of managers trying to lay on the B.S., but Robert wasn’t like that. I could sense he was honestly upset and willing to make amends for what happened in his store.

For the first time since staff members accused my father-in-law of damaging the camera and called my mother-in-law a liar, we felt someone from Best Buy store #519 in Douglasville, Georgia was finally being honest and trying to resolve the situation.

Robert stressed the fact that he would hold those accountable for their actions (which was my main concern) and he was prepared to make things right with my mother-in-law. He asked her if the camera was for her or was supposed to be a gift for someone else. She reminded him that the camera was supposed to be a gift for my youngest son (who we just happened to take with us to the store).

He explained that he would refund the entire purchase in cash, even though my mother-in-law had paid by check. I pointed out the fact that my mother-in-law had already put a stop payment on the check because she wasn’t sure if she would get the proper resolution before it cleared, so there was no need to refund any cash. He then offered to cover the cost of the stop payment fee my mother-in-law had incurred in the process. Then his attention turned to my son.

Robert explained that they no longer had any of the Casio cameras in stock, so my son was to look through all of the other point and shoot cameras and pick one of his choosing to replace the Casio. He said that he wanted to make sure my mother-in-law still received a camera as compensation for the trouble she was put through.

My son looked at the Olympus cameras and the Canon cameras. He picked one, but it was an “internet order” item and he did not want to wait any more, he had already waited this entire week because of the fiasco. Then he chose the Canon PowerShot SX110 IS, which is much more camera than the Casio. Robert said it was no problem at all. In fact, he was also throwing in a camera bag, a memory card, and a set of rechargeable batteries as well. I was stunned.

Thirty minutes after we walked into the store, we were walking out with the letter of apology, the statement attesting to the fact that a used camera had been sold as new, as well as the new camera, a camera bag, an 8GB SDHC memory card, and the batteries. Oh yeah, and he issued my mother-in-law a $35 gift card so she could return to the store at her leisure to make a further purchase.

Robert went above and beyond in bringing resolution to this matter, and I cannot help but think if the staff at his store had just directed our calls to him in the first place, none of this would have happened and it wouldn’t have cost them so much money today.

As we walked to the truck we still couldn’t believe Robert went to the length he did to make sure we were taken care of, and we were thankful that we had found those pictures on the camera. If we hadn’t, who knows how this fiasco might have played out.

I want to thank Robert for being attentive to my mother-in-law and my son. He was genuine and focused his attention on them. I believe he was completely honest and upfront with us, which is a far cry different than the way we felt about some of his employees earlier in the week.

I also want to thank a couple of other people. Andrew Case and Ben Popken.

Andrew is a good kid and fellow blogger who tried to escalate this matter with Best Buy public relations earlier in the week. Thanks for your efforts, Andrew.

And what can I say about Ben Popken? He and the folks over at The Consumerist really make a difference in the world of consumer affairs. If it wasn’t for Ben posting our story, we wouldn’t have had hundreds of thousands of eyeballs reading about our experience and we wouldn’t have had such a good outcome in this matter. Thanks again Ben, I really appreciate everything you did in publishing this story and giving it the exposure we needed.

Now, I had better get off this computer and get some batteries charging, or one little boy is going to be really pissed off in the morning.

Have a great night!

28 thoughts on “Above And Beyond

  1. Wow, I didn’t realize until I finished reading that this posting was so recent. o.o

    At any rate, that’s EXTREMELY surprising how many hoops they jumped through in the end to fix the problem. I’m genuinely glad for you that your problems were fixed, and then some.

    Actually, I’ve never been to your site before; I only came here after stumbling across Consumerist while searching for Best Buy stories. Currently they are in possession of my laptop which doesn’t hold a charge (10 months old). I’m hoping that when my local Best Buy returns it to me next week, I leave their store as happy as you left yours.

  2. Glad to hear the outcome went well. I’m currently in a battling with Best Buy consumer relations about a computer issue and hope to have results that are as satisfying . . . I think I’ll have to ask to speak to a Senior Executive Resolution Specialist if I don’t get any further with the supervisors in consumer relations, thanks for the info!

  3. Glad to hear everything turned out alright. It’s just sad to hear these stories to begin with, as I’m sure a lot of us are also victims of the large corporations where treating their customers right, is in fact a lost art. I wish there is a Robert in every store we go to trying to make things right… 🙂

  4. I’m very happy about the resolution for you and family.

    Just a minor clarification:

    “I could sense he was honestly upset and willing to make amends for what happened in his store.”
    “I could sense he was honestly upset about the stories clearly documenting their illegal conduct that were spreading virally across many very popular websites and willing to make amends for what happened in his store such that I would publicly forgive the company and therefore staunch the PR bleeding and ensure he could keep his job and that they would not be sued or investigated.”

    • Hahaha. Great correction there. Well, except for the fact that I have not publicly forgiven the company, and the complaint with the Attorney General’s office was still filed because someone was responsible for selling a used camera as new.

      The fact they resolved the issue with us was great, but that doesn’t mean they didn’t do anything wrong.

  5. It is a shame that it took a call to corp office to get
    this corected. Being in retail, you can rest assured that
    Robert was “told” to take care of you at all costs. If
    Robert remembers you in two months, I will be shocked.

  6. Nice outcome. They couldn’t do a lot else though, could they?

    You had them by the short & curlies!

  7. Having worked both side of the equation, I deplorably have to agree with Michael T. on the motivation.

    For various reasons – not the least of which having been coached by rather extraordinary individuals on the subject – customer satisfaction is rather important to me, and I drill that leitmotiv in turn into the employees I manage. We do not have “clients”, as some anonymous aggregate: We have people that we do business with. Subtle difference but crucial.

    The sad fact is throughout my career, most obstacles to achieving this were imposed from above, or issued from a viral corporate culture that has an identical source. It doesn’t need to be spelled out in a playbook: Employees will adopt the values of the management. those who stay awhile, anyway – those who cannot, leave.

    As a consumer, the wall I hit in trying to resolve issues often comes from the numerous cases of false complaints and fraud attempts suffered by the business over time, which can but lead to a rather strong sense of dubiousness when facing even the most founded of recrimination. At they extreme, staff just does not give a damn anymore.

    If as a society, we can’t even come close to resolving this in some acceptable manner, I think loftier and more challenging ideals such as disarmament or sustainability will forever remain out of our reach…

  8. Wow that was a great ending, I was freaking out because now that Circuit city went by by, Best buy is my prime source for electronics.
    I do know know to make sure I check everything at the store before I walk out.
    Still the resolution for this was awesome.

  9. Congrats on a happy ending! I’m glad that you got everything and more that you deserve…I just wish (as you stated) that it didn’t require so much bad press form them to do what they had to do. But anyway…cheers!

  10. One question. Where the hell was Robert when you were dealing with Nathan? I’m sure he was genuine in his manner but why was he not in the mix prior to the resolution?

    • Robert was not informed of what was happening until much later in the process. Up until the night before the issue was resolved, we were unaware that there was even another manager.

  11. Now that that is over with you should NEVER shop at that Best Buy Again. I don’t think they went above and beyond I think they covered their tracks and their Buts.

  12. This is one of the things that most impressed me about your handling of the issue: “My concern through this whole process was to make sure someone was held accountable for their actions, but in the end my concerns do not, and did not, matter.” [as long as your Mother-in-Law was finally satisfied.]

    I think the fact that you didn’t make this case all about you is commendable and kept you focused on getting the best resolution for the two people who mattered most — her and your son.

    • Thanks DaddyD. It was all about the principle of the point. While it was nice they resolved this the way they did, I wanted someone to answer for what happened. Accountability was the main concern for me, my mother-in-law simply wanted an apology and an admission they had done something wrong. She got that in the letter they provided.

  13. It’s great that Robert went above and beyond and to assist you. I feel that we shouldn’t judge people by the problems they create, but rather, the solutions they provide.

    I hope that Robert is true to his word and those involved will be held accountable (in my opinion, termination is the only solution).

    I would say that I’m glad it worked out for you, your son and your mother-in-law, but the truth is you shouldn’t have to go through what you went through. Period. Best Buy should be ashamed of themselves. This isn’t the first time I have heard about someone buying a product advertised as “new” from Best Buy only to find it was used and shrink wrapped over.

  14. May I just point out, after reading Best Buy’s very carefully crafted letter, they do NOT admit that the camera was used. They simply say, “we would never knowingly sell a used item as new”. It’s an important difference as if this ever went to court, they would never have admitted to anything. I’m glad you got a decent outcome, but that letter wouldn’t have been enough to get me to back down.

    • Hi Dan,

      Don’t be mistaken. While we were happy with the outcome with the camera itself, we have still filed a complaint with the Georgia Attorney General’s Office of Consumer Affairs.

  15. Glad to hear they resolved the issue for you Mike. It should have been taken care of much sooner, however.

    I can say as a former services manager for BB that Nathaniel’s reaction was probably one of habit, albeit the wrong one. The astounding number of times someone’s ipod “just cracked” while playing, or a laptop screen just snapped of when they opened it carefully, makes for a callus attitude towards complaints of these nature sometimes. Nathaniel should have calmly investigated the matter initially, and looked for those signs that the camera had been mistakenly resold instead of being sent back to the manufacturer (and then he should have held those employees responsible for making such a serious mistake in the first place! It is certainly not their SOP to resell used product unknowingly!). They need to develop and stick to a standard for returns and exchanges of this nature, because its apparent that the first owner was able to return their camera without issue (which btw, its standard practice to test products before the return, which would have required the geeks to take a few photos, do you think those Geek photos you found were from when they tested the camera during your return? or where they there from the test of the original owner’s return?).

    I wish you the best of luck with the rest of your resolution, and I hope Nathaniel, and the rest of store #519 learn to correct their methodology behind resolving issues like yours.

  16. It was like I was reading a great suspense novel!! What I want to know is: What did they do to all of those people that called your mother-in-law a liar and said that there was nothing they could do and just gave you and your family a hard time. Most of all, I want to know what happened with Nathaniel who posed as “the store manager” and the Geek Squad guy who appeared in those two photos? Are these people still employed by Best Buy? This makes me very leery of making any serious purchases at Best Buy outside of videos and such. If this is an example of how their customer relations tactics are for the general public, I vote we start a boycott.

  17. As a current employee of Best Buy I can honestly say I will NEVER buy anything of major value from them. I myself honestly try to get people what they need, and nothing more, however as I’m check out I don’t really get to see people till they are leaving. Then I’m forced to offer them including their god aweful protection plans, which I would only ever recomend if you’re buying an Xbox (Don’t get me started on damned microsoft)

    It may be that I work in a smaller store, or maybe it’s all best buys, but the people I work with are uncaring, lazy, and most of the time just plain stupid. Being at checkout I have to deal with the salesfloors problems all day long. This includes saleskids telling the wrong price on items, getting the wrong item completly, and sometimes I believe plain lying. I’d say they were just incompetent fools who can’t read to save thier lives, but the amount of complaints I get about not getting what they were told just makes me want to kick down a shelf and walk out.

    A bit of background, I attented a two year tech school in high school, for networking. And I just earned my associates degree, again for networking. I’ve spent many years working with computers, and genearlly know what I’m talking about when it comes to them. Why best buy denies my requests to switch me departments is beyond me.

    Speaking of incompetence, the trainings they do are called “E-Learings” which is pretty much a bit of text and a test over it. This would be great if they ever updated the tests! The tests ask you about policies that have been gone for years, old technologies, and even old promotoins (why you would test someone over a temoporary promotion is beyond me).

    None of the PC department employees (in my store) know enough about computers to get them much past “on”. Sure, their job is to sell a product, but the ability to answer simple questions about a computer SHOULD be a part of that job.

    Geek Squad is filled with more salesmen. I’ve seen countless time someone bring in a simple problem, the geek squad agent looks at it and imediatly ships it off. A few times I offered my opinion on several easily fixed problems that I have fixed myself countless times. Apparntly helping geek squad to quickly fix a customers problem is enough to get a “write up”. (the manager on duty started to yell at me there. I calmly told him that disciplining an employee in front of customers is extremly unprofesional and that I don’t get paid nearly enough to have anyone raise their voice to me. He promptly shut his mouth and I went on my way.)

    The employees being rude and ignorant probably stems from the way management treats us. It’s blatently obvious that they care nothing of their employees other than performance. For example we had a young lady who’s mother was in a car accident and was killed. Of course she didn’t come to work the rest of the week (about four days of work she missed). She called let the managers know and even went as far as to get other people to cover her shift. Upon returning she was met with enough write-ups for not showing up to work to get her fired. Thankfully for her everyone in the store knew what happened and had taken her side on it and got corporate to remove them all from her file and apolagize to her.

    Not saying that everyone in my store is horrible. Theres about five (out of roughtly 80) of us that I believe genuinly care about the customer and try to HONESTLY answer questions, rather than saying anything to get rid of people.

    Want to have some fun with best buy? If you know your stuff about computers, or TV’s or anything that you can find in there go in and ask technical questions. Try asking someone the difference between a HDD (hard disk drive)and a SSD (solid state drive) and watch them stammer and usually make something up. Try asking the difference between a Plasma and an LCD. Most best buy employees are high school kids who have no clue what they are talking about.

    All in all I’m ashamed to have worked for a company as horrid as Best Buy. Thankfully, now that I’ve graduated I’ve gotten a job offer elsewhere and was able to put in my two week notice today. =)

  18. Really happy for you that this issue was resolved, I stumbled across this while I was looking on digg and as a Best Buy employee who has worked in every department over a 5 year span I can honestly say too many issues happen this way and although you shouldn’t be treated how you were it’s not always so black and white for retail with how much shady stuff that goes on outside of the store trying to get away with getting free items or, trying to return damaged goods. That being said sometimes employees can be very closed minded towards what the customer is saying.

    What I wanted to clear up was that actually Best Buy is quite a good company to work for and purchase from. I have been in stores that honestly have employees that do not care but where I am from those people performance managed out of the company for associates that do. The store I am currently working with is very knowledgable about many things and although most of them are young, they are incredible well trained in their respective areas.

    I hope you give them another chance and best of luck to you.
    Ad astra per aspera.

  19. Good Job Michael,
    Perseverance and the power of the pen. With a little help from the power of the internet.

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