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Best Buy XP Promotion

Date: 10/25/01
Location: Peoria
Reason: To start off, Best Buy has been my peferred electronics store. Their sales staff isn't commissioned like Circuit City and they generally have a pretty good selection of computer and other electronic products. On October 25th, 2001, Best Buy ran an advertisement indicating that if I bought XP there I would get a nice bundle of additional items for free after rebates. Other stores such as Office Max were also holding similar promotional offerings. Due to my confidence in BB, I decided to purchase my XP license from them. After work, I went to the Peoria store, hunted all over the store for the XP box (ended up being on a cardboard display in the middle of the aisle near the CD racks - should have known), and then went to the computer counter to get my free stuff. Well, it turns out they were out of all of the free stuff with the exception of the music CD which was simply my choice out of their cd racks. After about an hour, I finally got all of the rainchecks for the missing items and picked out my CD. I then paid for the XP software and went on my way.

For the next month, I called every week to see what items they had gotten in stock. Each time I was given the same response: "Nothing is in yet, we will call you when it is available". Turns out on the 6th week, a friend of mine was in and noticed that the memory was in. Quickly I went to the store and located the memory in a display behind the computer counter. On closer inspection, a pink slip was in the first memory package with my name on it. When the saleswoman came over, I asked her for my memory and showed her my raincheck. She responded with the same line: "Memory isn't in yet yada yada yada". I kindly responded with a question asking her to explain why my name was in the memory package right behind her. "Sputter Sputter .. oh, it must have just come in ... Blah Blah." Just give me my memory and I'll be gone. Since this was a raincheck item, I had to go to the service desk which took me over 45 minutes simply waiting in line. Confusion was rampant since they didn't know how to ring it up since the rebates had expired. Giving up, they simply rang it up as a penny and sent me on my way (an additional 45 minutes later). Two free items down, two to go.

I then decided to call at least one a week until all of my items were in. This went on until 12/10/02 when I got so fed up that I sent Best Buy an email indicating my displeasure with their company. This resulted in the following response. Two days later, I received a voice mail from someone named Chris that indicated my router was in and they were going substitute another mp3 player for the one I was suppose to get. Finally relieved that the problem was resolved, I again went to the store after work and went to the computer counter to get my items. Well, so I thought. Again the employee gives me the line that nothing is in and that they will call me when it does. In complete shock, I asked to borrow the phone. I then dialed up the voice mail I had received and let him listen to it. "Oh, Sputter, Sputter ..." They suddenly remembered they were substituting the Diamond Rio 600 (32 Meg) for the Rio One player. They gave me that and then proceeded to look for the router for over an hour. They finally gave up and told me "They would call me when it was in stock again. Apparently Chris forgot to hold one back for me." Keep in mind that this was no more than 6 hours after his original call. Somewhat confused, I proceeded to the service counter, waited in line, stood by as they ran around like chickens trying to figure out how to charge me since it wasn't the same Rio and the rebates had either expired or were not for that player. 1 hour and 15 minutes later, they decided to charge it as a penny (since they do not have a free concept) and send me on my way. Three free items down, one to go.

Now I am pissed and decided to call if not go there at least 2-3 times a week. You know the standard response by now. turns out, a friend of mine noticed that they had a number of the routers on their shelves. I went in after work to hopefully close out this journey. Sure enough they had it. Scooping it up with satisfaction in my eyes, I remembered I had forgotten to bring my raincheck. After the wave of tension went by, I remembered they had put it in the computer. Another trip to the computer counter to find out if they could bring it up for me. After some painful searching, they found the electronic version of my raincheck. Score!, I was close to ending this nightmare. I was just about to question the clerk on why I wasn't called when the clerk says "but it says here it was cancelled by the customer". What?! I rarely get vocal in a store (choosing to write them up and forever boycotting the store 8^), but this put me over the edge. After some initial confusion, the clerk took the issue to his manager to resolve. Their explanation was that the computer automatically cancels rainchecks if older than 45 days figuring they always get shipments in that period of time and obviously the customer has decided they didn't want it. "Not to fear though, they were still going to honor it". D*mn right. While standing in that all too familiar service line for 28 minutes, I finally get to the service clerk. Ahhhh, I'm minutes from resolving this issue now. Nope, clerk is completely confused since now the raincheck and rebate are expired. She actually tries to charge me 99 bucks for it. Not having the will to explain, I told her to go talk to her manager.
Clerk: "No, it is 99 bucks, it says right here on the peice of paper."
Me: "No, it is free because I bought it with the XP purchase back in October and the rebates have expired."
Clerk: "It says right here it is 99 bucks."
Me: "Yes,I am fully aware of what the peice of paper says, but go talk to your manager and he will explain it."
Clerk: "But .."
I finally looked her in the eye and said with my best anger controlled voice to go talk to the manager upon which I pointed to the individual that was sitting 10 feet from her. Grumbling she went back and asked him. I didn't here the answer, but she came back all P.O.'d, rang it up for the all to familar 1 cent and sent me on the way. No apology, explanation - nothing. Finally, middle of January and I have everything that was owed to me.

I should point out that I was not the only person going through this. A friend from work also purchased XP under the same special offering. His saga is even worse since they forced him to pay in full for the memory and router (when then finally came in) and then made him wait for new rebates to be sent from the Best Buy home office. Those of course never came forcing him to speak with the same manager I did. Eventually they returned his money for the memory and router, but he was given the run-around for the mp3 player. Even though the manager had told me he had resolved the last MP3 player raincheck earlier that day, my friend had yet to receive his. I mentioned this to him which prompted his return to the store. His story is way to painful to go into, but eventually he was given the the same substitute I was. Needless to say, I do not think he will be going back!

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