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Best Buy Bombshell!

March 21st, 2009 · 61 Comments · Blu-ray Players, DLP, DVR, LCD Flat Panel, News, Plasma

Bonuses Paid To Managers That Violate “Price Match” Policy, Former Employees Allege.

US District Court Rules Class Action Against Best Buy To Proceed

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(3/21/09)  The US District Court, Southern District granted a motion on 3/19/09 for Class Action Certification to allow Plaintiff Thomas Jermyn and any similarly situated NY State residents to sue Best Buy for violating its “Price Match” policy.

According to the ruling, the plaintiff alleges, “Best Buy uses false and deceptive trade practices in advertising and applying the company’s well-known “price match guarantee” policy.  Best Buy tells the consuming public it will match a competitor’s lower price on any item purchased in the store.”  Plaintiff alleges that Best Buy uses its “price match guarantee policy as a ploy, to lure unsuspecting consumers into its stores and to induce them to purchase its merchandise, while allegedly having an undisclosed “Anti-Price Matching Policy,” pursuant to which employees aggressively deny customers’ legitimate price match requests.”

Among the major revelations listed from evidence within the decision based on internal BB documents, depositions of current BB employees and declarations by two former BB employees are the following allegations:

·    Best Buy had an undisclosed Anti-Price Matching Policy

·    Corporate headquarters disseminated the anti-price matching policy to regional managers, store managers, assistant managers, and necessary store personnel

·    Best Buy taught its employees how to deny price match requests in its training facilities in New York

·    Best Buy provided financial bonuses based, in part, on denying proper price match requests

·    Best Buy denied more than 100 proper price match requests per store per week.

The court decision lists parts of an internal Best Buy document dated 10/19/2006, written by Phil Britton, a member of Best Buy’s Competitive Strategies Group. Its entitled “Competition Insider Templates”, here’s an excerpt:

“Price Matches

It looms on the wall, on a 9 foot sign.  Our Price Match policy.  There it is plain as day in English (Y en espanol para los de usted que puede leerio.)  However, just because it is our policy, do we abide by it?  Does it really help the customer?

What is the first thing we do when a customer comes in to our humble box brandishing a competitor’s ad asking for a price match?  We attempt to build a case against the price match.  (Trust me, I’ve done it too).  Let’s walk through the “Refused Price Match Greatest Hits:”

Not same model?  Not in stock at the competitor?  Do we have free widget with purchase?  Is it from a warehouse club (they have membership fees, you know)?  Limited Quantities?  That competitor is across town?  We’ve got financing!  Is it an internet price?  It’s below cost!…..”

Contrary to the above quoted document, Best Buy’s posted Price Match policy does not list any price match restrictions based on: competitor’s distance from store (it states “local retailer”), warehouse club-based prices, or whether the competitor’s price is above or below cost.

Best Buy continues to promote its Price Match policy.  Tomorrow’s (March 22, 2009) Best Buy weekly circular, page 3 states “We’ll meet or beat their lowest price.  If you see a lower advertised price, we’ll match it on the spot.”

Last week the HD Guru wrote about the Best Buy’s refusal to provide a policy compliant price match at three of its stores.  Best Buy’s corporate office responded via email with the following statement.

“We apologize for the confusion over this price matching incident, and appreciate that there’s room for mis-interpretation of what we’ll match and when.  The price match in question was over $700 difference from our pricing at the store; while our pricing may vary from our competition, such huge fluctuations in price are rare and
rightfully set off red flags to our employees.

Our full price match policy for in store can be found here (Link).

We encourage customers to become familiar with our price-matching policy and use it to their advantage, especially in these tough economic times.  The key elements of this policy are:

If a customer elects to make a purchase and discovers a lower advertised price offered by a local retail competitor on the same available brand and model, we will fulfill a price match request once proof of price is verified via the competitor’s ad.  The Price Guarantee does not apply to limited-quantity items.

If customers believe they’ve met the applicable criteria and are unable to price match at their local Best Buy store, we urge them to contact our Customer Care Center at 888-Best Buy (888-237-8289) for further assistance.”

The HD Guru contacted Michael Braunstein, the attorney representing the plaintiff in the class action lawsuit.  Mr. Braunstein invites readers who believe they have been “murfed” (refused the price match in compliance with BBs written policy) or have inquiries regarding the class action, to contact him by email or phone.  The class action lawsuit applies to NY State residents only.  However, Mr. Braunstein stated in the phone interview that he would like to hear from anyone who has been rejected for a price match by Best Buy, regardless of the state in which they reside.  His contact information is
Michael L. Braunstein, Kantowitz, Goldhamer and Graifman, P.C. (845) 356-2570; email mbraunstein@kgglaw.com

A copy of the US District Court ruling can be found here decision-and-order-granting-class-certification.pdf

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61 Comments so far ↓

  • Magnum

    It’s amazing how many folks that work at Best Buy filibuster here. Mr Bass, shame on you, you probably don’t “work” for Best Buy, but Subcontract. I have been denied price matches on Numerous occasions, I live in NW Florida. Admittedly, we only have one store “locally” but judging from the fact it WENT TO COURT, and the folks won!!! I find your counter-arguments specious. I do installation work, and I have been behind your guys A LOT. And dealt with your former customers A LOT, the model number modification is a scam. The only company I have legitimately seen get away with this is Walmart, but they also remove functionality from the device firmware, most consumers would not notice, but when you work with them all the time, small things like some audio settings being greyed out and stuff stands out.

    Yeah there is an adrenaline rush with posting, but let’s face it, that’s only because the vast majority of us have been wronged by Best Buy, and discontinuing shopping there is of limited service to our egos. Additionally, your enthuisiastic defense on an online forum lends credence to the argument. EVERY time I was denied a legitimate pricematch, it was Enthusiastically pursued by the manager and/or employee.

    By the way, when ya’ll posted, where you on the clock????????

  • Intheknow

    this spring/summer , NY Atty General Cuomo filed a lawsuit against hordes of “companies” offering products at prices too good to be true, most based out of Brooklyn. These “business people” have been doing this for years – baiting and switching customers and making false claims. While i never worked for Best Buy, retailers have to protect themselves against these deceptive practices. Yes, requiring same model numbers are fair as well as excluding promo freebies. it’s only fair. why does Best Buy sell Insignia, Sears sell Kenmore (exclusivity and no price protection). Good price protection policies should be very clear at point of sale, though. some do this better than others.

  • JD

    Best Buy has, over the past few years, developed the best policy of all – one that is guaranteed to fail any price match request. They have begun to specify to OEM’s of higher end products ($500 and up) that Best Buy demands all purchases be assigned Best Buy-specific Brand Model Numbers. In this manner, their retailer competitors’ products can no longer be matched to any Best Buy product. Game over.

  • CrUNcH

    I find it funny how people always complain about prices being so much higher than the cost of producing the item, and then they turn around and complain that their job isnt paying worth s$&#!!! Who in you perfect(ly dilusional) world is going to pay all the workers paychecks that put together the product, or the people that drive it halfway across the country so that you can enjoy the benefits of “civilized” life. Who is going to stock the items in the stores? Are you going to volunteer because your concerned about the consumer? Botomline no profit, no buisness. If you dont like the prices buy from somwhere else like walmart, where people get annoyed when you ask them a question that might require them to think or ask a superior. At least at best buy there will be someone who can answer a technical question without blowing a fuse, figurativly and litteraly. If people were so concerned about money they wouldnt be in the market for a fri#^in 52″ tv that can play pictures faster than the human eye can even see. Its not like they’ll starve without one. But i can tell you something, a lot more people than the current (estimated) 20% of americans if not more would go very hungry, for a very long time if there wasnt that “unneccesary” markup you’re all talking about. And chansok thach… if you dont like how the us does buisness, then leave!

  • chansok thach

    I SAID YOU ARE TOOK MY MONEY NOT TOSHIBA . the customer relation from best buy told me i have to call toshiba and ask for a replacement. so i do what they told me , i call toshiba they said look we only repair we will not replace the product . i been trying to explain over and over look like all come out is that NO the TOSHIBA CUSTOMER RELATION TOLD ME YOU HAVE TO DEAL WIHT BEST BUY. i ask her to email me so i can show it to best buy , i don’t see no email . i call to best buy customer relation . the lady as a manager said i have to wait . after she know how i fell she said let her call the local store , with all my phone and holding she said the store manager told her that will respone to me in 72hours. they will not replace a new one for me . so what can i do to all of you who have encounter the same problem like me. are you going to wait again and again? i think that their policy is to bad is a RIP OFF. THIS BES BUY IS LOCATION IN MANASSAS . SUDDLEY ROAD. I’M TIE OF THE LIEING PEOPLE WHO SOLVE ME A BAD PRODUCE . MY BELIEVE BEST BUY SHOULD JUST GAVE THE NEW ONE SO I DON’T CONTINOUS HEADDACHE A GAIN . WHY SHOULD EVERY ONE HAVE TO GO BEST BUY AND BUY THE BAD PRODUCT . WHEN YOU NOT HAVING A PROBLEM YOU WON’N KNOW HOW GOOD THE BEST BUY WILL RIP OFF YOU. I ASK TO THOSE WHO HAVE A BAD EXPERIENCING LIKE ME STAND UP FIGHT FOR YOUR RIGHT AS THE CONSUMER. ASK A BUYER. I KNOW WILL SHOULD NOT LET THEM RIP US OFF AND CONTINOUS TO RIP US OFF.THANKS FOR THOSE WHO READ AND STAND UP FOR THE CONSUMER.

  • chansok thach

    they told me best buy doesn’t made the product , but i told them that i bought this FROM BEST BUY NO FROM TOSHIBA.

  • chansok thach

    i ask for a replacement just give me the new laptop even know i have to paymore to get the better one.they keep said NO!. so today i on june 18 i call the store to find out why taking so long. guess what happen , now is the mother board. so i call to the best buy CUSTOMER RELATION FROM BEST BUY

  • chansok thach

    i would like to post my problem here because . best buy have rip me off . on feb-2009 . i went to best buy in manassas and bought the laptop. the salemen sovle me a bad lap top and charge me full priceas new. when i came home i open it was have a hand wrote on the recovery disc so i call the best buy and they told me to bring it back. a week later i went back and purchase a difference one made by TOSHIBA. i bought on 02-23-09. this produce is defecting it have problem i can not turn ON so i brought to best buy. the said they have to send it to the service center for a repair. in about 2.5 week my laptop came back to the store , the GEEKQUAD call me to pick up.and said nothings wrong with the hardware and told me that in order for it to work they will reinstall the software that will cost me $130.00, so i feel why they have to charge me . so i brought it home.. i keep trying to turn ON but is not working so i fell it need to be fixes so i can go online to pay bill or reading , watching movies online . so i brought it to best buy again , anh the manager there said: if the hard drive fail then best buy will not charge me at all. so i told him with a $130.00 to fix it go head because it need it . after a week i call and ask if it ready they told me that the hard drive is fail so they will replace and ask me for the RECOVERY DISC i told them that i don’t have . the person telling to call toshiba for the recovery disc. so i call to order recovery disc it a bout 3to 4 days. i got the disc brought it to best buy they said about todays. so 3later i call back and ask the geekquad said they have to send my laptop to service center again because the media bottom doesn’t work. so again i all for a replacement they said NO.I FEEL HELP LESS.I

  • LMAO

    LMAO,LMAO,LMAO,LMAO
    wow u people crack me up. its obvious that large retailers do whatever they can to maximize profits
    accept it move on go somewhere else
    thats why i only buy direct online products

  • gio

    like i said b/b ts a joke. and hope they will be out of business soon. pay back is a bitch?

  • Joe

    “Besides, I never understood why people use a price match anyway. If it is cheaper somewhere else then freaking buy it there. ”

    1. Ever hear about LOYALTY?
    2. Convenience?

    Pretty ignorant comment ….

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