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No longer a Best Buy?
January 6, 2012 12:31 PM   Subscribe

Why Best Buy is Going out of Business...Gradually. Or not - opposing view. 'Consider a few key metrics. Despite the disappearance of competitors including Circuit City, the company is losing market share. Its last earnings announcement disappointed investors. In 2011, the company’s stock has lost 40% of its value. Forward P/E is a mere 6.23 (industry average is 10.20). Its market cap down to less than $9 billion. Its average analyst rating, according to The Street.com, is a B-.'

'But the numbers only scratch the surface. To discover the real reasons behind the company’s decline, just take this simple test. Walk into one of the company’s retail locations or shop online. And try, really try, not to lose your temper.'

Opposing view:

"Here is the real story and all Mr. Downes had to do was take two minutes to look at the numbers. Examining the balance sheet of BBY as of November 26, 2011, it is clear that BBY is not in any danger of bankruptcy any time soon. Personally, in analyzing retailers like BBY, I like to see inventories and receivables greater than accounts payable. When this is the case, as it is with BBY, I feel that the investor is able to disregard the large accounts payable balance as a non-concern. Looking at the long-term debt situation, BBY has a debt/equity ratio of approximately 35 and more cash on the balance sheet than long-term debt.

However, the best thing about BBY that investors should take note of is that it is a cash cow. Through the fiscal third quarter of 2012, BBY had free cash flow of $2 billion. This means that BBY, with a market capitalization of $8.36 billion as of January 4th, 2012 is selling for about 4x its free cash flow. Also, management has been putting that cash to good use, buying back shares and increasing the dividend (last increased on June 24, 2010. As of Jan 4th, 2012, yields 2.7%). It would not surprise me if management increases the dividend this year as well, as there is plenty of cash to do so."
posted by VikingSword (143 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite

 
Best Buy opened in the UK in 2009. The closing down sales have just ended.

Whether they are a technically separate company to the US version I don't know - Borders stayed open longer in the States than here - but s'not looking good.
posted by mippy at 12:36 PM on January 6, 2012


£140m in losses, apparently.
posted by mippy at 12:39 PM on January 6, 2012


I know I started thinking that someone was putting acid in the Best Buy corporate water when I saw little glassed-off sections of BB stores devoted to selling musical instruments. I know a lot of people who buy a lot of guitars, and I can't imagine any of them saying "hey, I think I'll swing down to Best Buy and pick up an SG."

Best Buy's corporate headquarters, by the way, is this bizarre thing in Richfield, MN, that looks vaguely like a Mike Mignola drawing converted to building form. It sits on the site formerly occupied by the car dealership in Fargo.
posted by COBRA! at 12:40 PM on January 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


Jesus Christ Forbes. I can't even read that article w/o using a pompous British accent:
we were “assisted” by a young, poorly groomed sales clerk from the TV department, who wandered over to interrogate us. What kind of TV do you have? Do you have a cable service, or a satellite service? Do you have a triple play service plan?...The used car style questions continued. “I have just one last question for you,” he finally said to my friend. “How much do you pay Comcast every month?”

My friend is too polite. “How is that any of your business?” I asked him. “All right then,” he said, the fake smile unaffected, “You folks have a nice day.” He slinked back to his pit... We left the store, my friend having made his purchase but both of us fuming.
"Fuming, I tell you. I say, that poorly groomed clerk should slink back to the pit from which his mother bore him, wot."
posted by nushustu at 12:41 PM on January 6, 2012 [17 favorites]


"How is that any of your business?" is too polite?
posted by box at 12:45 PM on January 6, 2012


Best Buy's corporate headquarters, by the way, is this bizarre thing in Richfield, MN, that looks vaguely like a Mike Mignola drawing converted to building form.

Being a Mignola fan I looked it up, and I can't say you're wrong.
posted by adamdschneider at 12:46 PM on January 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


BB is a dead man walking. Everything you read in the comments section of the article is dead-on. The upselling, the nose-picking, raggedy-ass salespeople that can't explain a damn thing, the lack of any actual products, etc. We tried to pick up a clock radio there over the holidays and it was thirty minutes of interrogation about possible cc fraud over a 20$ radio. They can't disappear fast enough, and Amazon will deliver their eulogy.
posted by docpops at 12:47 PM on January 6, 2012 [5 favorites]


"How is that any of your business?" is too polite?

His friend was too polite to say it, so the article author said it instead. He at least realizes that he was not being polite. Or, I guess, "too" polite.
posted by yoink at 12:48 PM on January 6, 2012


There are fates worse than mere death. BB could go the Radioshack route and lease smaller, weird shaped spaces in the unloved backwaters of strip malls and shopping centers and sell nothing but cables, batteries and other items people need now (and radiocontroller helicopters). Or they could make whatever Faustian bargain permits K-Mart to shuffle on. As near as I can tell that one works by encapsulating each store in a magical sphere where it is constantly the 90s. Saves a fortune on updating furnishings and fixtures I am told, but with the side effect of having nothing desirable for sale.
posted by 2bucksplus at 12:48 PM on January 6, 2012 [8 favorites]


. *crosses fingers*
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:49 PM on January 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


Thank you for posting this, simply because I was enraged by the original Forbes posting this week. It reads like something written by Andy Rooney for the sole purpose of getting a refund on a $5 USB key he realized he didn't need.

I've never had a problem with a clerk at Best Buy. Therefore, Best Buy will live forever.

They can't disappear fast enough, and Amazon will deliver their eulogy.

Sure. And I'm sure they'll be wonderful when they're a monopoly. Just ask authors & publishers. Better yet, ask the people sweating their asses off in Amazon warehouses.
posted by yerfatma at 12:49 PM on January 6, 2012 [5 favorites]


Or they could improve sales by letting me buy what I want and not making me stand around at the Geek Squad desk so they can try upselling me on extended warranties and installation services.
posted by Samizdata at 12:50 PM on January 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


Having worked at a BestBuy for a couple of years in college, which clearly qualifies me as an expert on the subject schmuck, I can state without a doubt that the money is in appliances.

Actually, when I worked there the markup on computers was razor thin, due to competition. Nowadays with things like tablet manufacturers having standardized pricing there is no reason to buy one online under normal circumstances.

I can only assume that the iWhatever devices also have a bit of markup due to the fact that they seem cheaply manufactured yet still have triple digit price tags affixed to them.
posted by Blue_Villain at 12:51 PM on January 6, 2012


"How is that any of your business?" is too polite?

Yeah, what was he supposed to do, go all Sam Jackson on some high school kid for trying to do his shitty job? I mean, wtf did he think was going to happen to him if he went shopping at a crappy big-box electronic store? "Reginald, dahling, I've had the most FRIGHTFUL day. I went down to the bazaar to peruse their assortment of penny-dreadfuls and practically had to beat the vendors hawking their wares with my parasol, they were so forceful!"
posted by nushustu at 12:51 PM on January 6, 2012 [17 favorites]


I think you need to spend time in one of their stores to believe it. I thought I was just a curmudgeon who was too addicted to Amazon Prime to even consider driving a mile to a Walgreens for vitamins, much less 8 miles in traffic to a Big Box retailer, but apparently not. The thing is, every day more people do the math on gas and time and overcome any lingering hesitation to buying online and move to making every purchase through the web.
posted by docpops at 12:51 PM on January 6, 2012 [5 favorites]


Theres a BB a mile and a half from me, but when I want to buy electronics, I get it from NewEgg.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 12:51 PM on January 6, 2012 [8 favorites]


Best Buy sucks on so many levels:

1. They are insanely expensive. They can bitch and moan all they want to; they have to compete with the Amazons and Neweggs of the world. Electronics are a commodity business in many ways.

2. They don't want to be bothered by anything approaching a "niche" market. They want to sell TVs and video game systems and fuck everything else.

3. They are playing the same bare-bone inventory game all the "smart" managers play. I speak as a purchaser who no longer purchases because management, for the most part, just doesn't get how to factor customer service into the equation.

4. They sell Monster products at Monster prices. That's really the only sign you need to know that they are evil.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 12:52 PM on January 6, 2012 [5 favorites]


2bucksplus: At a number of the local malls, BB has what is basically the equivalent of a mobile phone store.

It never ceases to amaze me that people actually have a need for the obnoxious number of bedazzled phone cases that are available in those places.
posted by Blue_Villain at 12:53 PM on January 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


They tried to sell me an HDMI cable for $28. We found one for $1.99 on Amazon. Do you know how many clueless, nice old people have probably purchased an HDTV in the last four years and been hopelessly fucked over by some slick sales guy in the TV department?

I have no sympathy for Best Buy - it's a company, not a person, and they treat people like shit.
posted by glaucon at 12:54 PM on January 6, 2012 [19 favorites]


As far as Appliances go, if their salespeople can't even help me understand the basics of plasma TV's, how in the hell are they going to be helpful looking at a washing machine? Those things are stuffed over in the dark margins of the store, and there are 3 better local retailers that do nothing but sell this stuff at better prices and by people that know the back-story on everything they sell. Best Buy has only gotten worse as their client base has shriveled. It's like watching RIM - you and everyone else knows their days are numbered but it's eerie how out of touch their management is.
posted by docpops at 12:55 PM on January 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


Brick-and-mortar Best Buys devote a ton of floor space to:

* CDs (gradually losing market share to online options, legal and otherwise)
* DVDs (likewise)
* Video and computer games (likewise)
* Cell phones (try to visit a shopping center without throwing a tennis ball and hitting three competitors)
* iDevices and other digital media players (likewise)

In these and similar areas they're fighting a losing battle, because brick-and-mortar access is becoming less convenient and less cost-effective than online purchase and/or to-the-door-or-mailbox delivery.

Along with these, they hawk a lot of:
* Desktops, laptops, monitors, other computer pieces
* Big-ass TVs
* Appliances

This is an area where they can stay afloat, because many people shy away from buying big-ticket items without seeing them firsthand or over the Internet in general, or shipping is high enough to be prohibitive. The keys to making money in those areas are:

* Do you have an in-stock selection that's varied and useful? (Maybe.)
* Are your prices competitive with other sellers? (Often.)
* Do your floor staff know enough about the product to answer questions intelligently?

That last one was one of the killers for Circuit City and it hurts Best Buy quite often as well. If I'm going to buy a $2000 piece of electronics and I appear to know more about it than the sales staff, or if said staff seems more interested in upselling a product replacement plan than in answering any questions I might have, the hell if I'm buying it from there.
posted by delfin at 12:56 PM on January 6, 2012 [6 favorites]


They recently lost my service. I used to enjoy going to Best Buy, even when people were complaining about them a lot, because I had always received good service from them, and I had good memories from my childhood of often going to look at all the electronics and games and stuff. Recently, though, a couple of things happened that pretty much will keep me from going back, and may also be indicative of their financial problems, as well. I wouldn't doubt if they are related on some level. It's said that when you have a relationship with someone, it isn't always remembered by what was said, but how you felt when you were with that someone. Best Buy hasn't really left me with good emotional credit that they can count on taking to the bank any more.

One of the reasons I always appreciated Best Buy was because they were always generous in their return policy, which I saw as a general extension of good will from the store to its customers, which likewise made me want to keep shopping there. They felt generous to me, which I saw as an extension of care, and it brought more business from me. If I lost a receipt, they would give store credit. If it was a bit beyond the 30 days, no refund, but store credit, which felt more than fair. I never abused this in terms of returning an item I hadn't actually bought there, and I appreciated what felt like generosity; although in the end, this generosity was likely to stay competitive and gain customers. It worked for me, anyway. Apparently they recently changed this policy without much fanfare. I had an item that didn't work quite right based on its design, and they wouldn't take back, one day after the 30 days. Said it was impossible based no the new computer system. No store credit at all for a cheap device that didn't work right. And honestly, this is their prerogative. It's probably saving them money. They can absolutely do this and not care what I think, as technically it was changed in the small print on the back of the receipt. But unfortunately for them, this is exactly how it came across, and their presentation felt -- not nice. And that was really enough for me to consider not going back, especially when I can get things more cheaply (no sales tax, free shipping) from Amazon.

Two times after this, as well, I called to find out about items in stock from two different stores. Both times I talked to someone who gave me the impression that I was absolutely wasting their time. Stereotypical "I don't care about my job and deserve better than this" mentality. I left feeling a bit crappy. And honestly, when you get down to it, people shop where they feel as if they are cared for. And it's amazing how much this can affect the bottom line of a company. You need superior service to capture business in a competitive market, especially if you are at something of a pricing disadvantage to online retailers and such. I've spent probably thousands of dollars at Best Buy over the course of my life. And I don't see myself spending any more. I'm not sure if the service I received was a cause or an effect of underlying money problems, but I'm pretty sure they are related.
posted by SpacemanStix at 12:56 PM on January 6, 2012 [6 favorites]


BB could go the Radioshack route and lease smaller, weird shaped spaces in the unloved backwaters of strip malls and shopping centers and sell nothing but cables, batteries and other items people need now (and radiocontroller helicopters).

Christ, talk about a consumer electronics retailer that has been dying gradually! It's like Radio Shack stumbled into the Sarlacc pit, and is now finding a new definition of pain and suffering as it is slowly digested over a thousand years.

Though not as well known as "Our Long National Nightmare of Peace and Prosperity Is Finally Over," The Onion's take on the company is equally spot on.

I think BB probably is more like Circuit City. It just crashes one quarter and suddenly all its stores are carpet or mattress outlets with a shared architecture you vaguely recall.
posted by Naberius at 12:58 PM on January 6, 2012 [7 favorites]


I mainly use Best Buy as a show room if there's something I want to take a look at before I buy, such as a TV. This stems from an incident a few years back where we found and purchased a TV and they were going to deliver it the next day. Which became the next week. Which became the next month(!) because they were out of stock in the warehouse and apparently had to order more from China or Korea or whatever and they were taking the slow boat. In the meantime, I found it in stock on Amazon, exact model and everything, for $100 less. Best Buy threw a hissyfit about canceling my order, but I finally got them to do it, and Amazon's couriers delivered it nicely about 2 days after I ordered it, which beat the 5 days I'd been waiting for Best Buy to even give me a delivery date.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 12:59 PM on January 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


A friend of mine went into Best Buy before Christmas, and observed that the lack of online shopping capability that makes people go to brick and mortar big box stores is the same divide that causes people to turn to payday loans and check cashing places: Either you're going into a retail store for specific expertise, or you're going there because you don't know better.

Especially for the sorts of devices that Best Buy sells.

I don't think that's a viable strategy long-term.
posted by straw at 1:01 PM on January 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


people who shit on radio shack: where the fuck do you get your weird fuses and electronics fol-de-rol?
posted by beefetish at 1:01 PM on January 6, 2012 [9 favorites]


I recently made the mistake of entering a Best Buy for the first time in nearly 6 years a few months ago, needing burnable CDs. Before I even entered it sucked, as they decided to take up the first 3 rows of parking for a car demo.

Once inside, I was struck at how much it reminded me of Circuit City before its demise. The selection was terrible, prices were sky high for everything, and there were blue shortage everywhere. I made the mistake of asking where the CD-Rs were. I was then told that CDs were old technology, and that I should get an external hard drive. I flipped shit. I asked the guy "did I stutter? Did I fucking stutter? Where are the CD-Rs?" Of course he didn't know.

Ignoring the financials of Best Buy, the place already has that smell of death lingering. I really expect them to close and will cheer their demise.
posted by Mister Fabulous at 1:01 PM on January 6, 2012 [18 favorites]


They pissed me off today regarding a restocking fee, so regarding their future, I'm all :/
posted by 4ster at 1:02 PM on January 6, 2012


Radio Shack has at least brought back hobby electronics -- they even sell Arduino kits now! But yes, I also have no idea how they stay in business.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 1:02 PM on January 6, 2012


people who shit on radio shack: where the fuck do you get your weird fuses and electronics fol-de-rol?

Frys. Just don't ever buy anything that's ever been returned.
posted by Talanvor at 1:06 PM on January 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


Is this what passes for business "analysis" online and in popular financial reporting rags? It's invariably short on real insight and long on wind and unsupported opinion. Someone ought to do an analysis of business analysts.

I read the Forbes article as a cautionary tale, along the lines of the now infamous "Apple is doomed" bunch of "analysis" circa the mid-1990s. It could eventually happen, many years from now, if management maintains its present course toward the shoals. But they may yet change course.

Then again, I have to say that when your retail-level employees, almost without exception, are unhelpful at best, you have a problem. Making the shopping experience annoying is not a recipe for success. And selling a branded HDMI cable for $28.99 with an actual value of $1.99 while falsely telling consumers it's better is outright fraud.
posted by Hylas at 1:06 PM on January 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


I notice no one has bothered to address the counterpoint regarding BBY being a cash cow and increasing dividends. Everyone simply wants to bitch about how much they hate Best Buy. I'd like to hear more about the situation from an investor's standpoint.
posted by spicynuts at 1:07 PM on January 6, 2012 [4 favorites]


Rest in p*ss Beast Buy
posted by porn in the woods at 1:08 PM on January 6, 2012


They tried to sell me an HDMI cable for $28. We found one for $1.99 on Amazon.

Last time i went in there i was in the mood to browse and get some things on impulse (something that online just doesn't satisfy, that two day wait for prime is nice, but not for quelling that urge) and i remembered i needed an hdmi cable, shortest one at that. I couldn't remember where they were and asked a guy. He took me to the ones that were about $50. I picked it up, and on my to another section set it down right next to the ones they had in a corner for less than $5. Different brand, same damn thing though. I get they probably push workers to do this shit, but it's what doesn't help staying in business.

Online is nice for a lot, but i will admit i just don't like browsing online. It just blurs into a list of stats and blurry pictures. Books and comics are the worst, as they are usually much cheaper online, but benefit being able to hold them, flip through them, etc.
posted by usagizero at 1:09 PM on January 6, 2012


I notice no one has bothered to address the counterpoint regarding BBY being a cash cow and increasing dividends. Everyone simply wants to bitch about how much they hate Best Buy. I'd like to hear more about the situation from an investor's standpoint.

I understand your position, but, regardless, I'd take the overwhelmingly negative impressions of (mostly) more-tech-savvy-than-average internet posters as a negative sign when thinking of investing in a tech store.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 1:11 PM on January 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


I can't wait to see how the hideous Best Buy storefronts are going to be repurposed, a la usedtobeatacobell.
posted by logicpunk at 1:11 PM on January 6, 2012 [4 favorites]


Frys.

My closest Frys is about 600 miles away. The closest radio shack is about a mile, and a bigger one eight miles. Just saying.
posted by usagizero at 1:12 PM on January 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


COBRA!: I know a lot of people who buy a lot of guitars, and I can't imagine any of them saying "hey, I think I'll swing down to Best Buy and pick up an SG."

I never thought those BB Instrument Departments were targeting the people who buy a lot of guitars. I figured they were going after the person who had never bought a guitar before and didn't know any better. Based on what I saw in those department, BB is more likely to carry a guitar that looks like an SG rather than an actual SG.
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 1:12 PM on January 6, 2012


I know that I'm way more comfortable shopping online for electronics than at a Best Buy. I don't trust that the salespeople actually know the products that well, but that's how I feel generally. I fear the hard sell.
posted by anniecat at 1:13 PM on January 6, 2012


The day the laws catchup with internet tax dodgers/Amazon primers, is the day I buy stock in Best Buy
posted by matimer at 1:13 PM on January 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


I had an item that didn't work quite right based on its design, and they wouldn't take back, one day after the 30 days.
Another 31-day victim here, for an $8 wrong-sized cellphone car charger. Yes, my mistake, and the policy is printed on the receipt, but, really? I mean, I still needed a charger, and was going to buy one from them; they'd still get to keep my money. Store credit? Nope.

After saying to the manager "Well, I guess I'm just shit out of luck," I walked over and put it back on the rack whence it had come a month earlier.
posted by MrMoonPie at 1:14 PM on January 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


I never thought those BB Instrument Departments were targeting the people who buy a lot of guitars. I figured they were going after the person who had never bought a guitar before and didn't know any better. Based on what I saw in those department, BB is more likely to carry a guitar that looks like an SG rather than an actual SG.
posted by Slack-a-gogo


I think you're right, but I can't imagine that's a big enough market for it to be worth it for them to chase.
posted by COBRA! at 1:15 PM on January 6, 2012


Heh, I remember getting into a debate about HDMI cables with the kid working the floor at Best Buy when I went to buy a TV last year. Fact was, I didn't really need one, but I really wanted him to understand the amount of disinformation he was spewing. Sad thing is, I don't think I persuaded him at all. Though I suppose it was possible that he knew we were being watched or something, and was simply maintaining the party line for his job.

Last month, I had a gig of memory go out on my computer, so I went to newegg to order more. I picked up a couple HDMI cables for $3.00 apiece while I was at it, because you never know when you'll need one.
posted by mysterpigg at 1:15 PM on January 6, 2012


Frys. Just don't ever buy anything that's ever been returned.

I've only been to the one in Renton, WA, but it looks like they are adopting the Best Buy model. Hopefully, the electronics section can survive just a bit longer.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:15 PM on January 6, 2012


They have shitty service now because their business model is hopelessly out of date and their executives will just get jobs somewhere else after they find a way to profit from the firm's collapse. Nobody cares about the future, from top to bottom, because BB in its current form has no future.
posted by clockzero at 1:18 PM on January 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


Best Buy does have an online presence, of course. But they share the same pitfall of its implementation with many other megacorps -- the online store is only tangentially related to the brick store.

Some months ago I was looking at their pricing on iPods, for instance. The online store had the model I wanted $20 cheaper than the brick store. Would the brick store honor the online store's price? No, or at least not directly. The options were:

* buy it online, saving $20 but paying shipping and sales tax on it
* buy it at a local store in a tax-free state (DE), saving shipping and sales tax but paying for gas to get there and time-and-energy for the trip
* use in-store pickup, saving $20 and shipping, but still paying sales tax and cost/time of the trip
* go to the store and mention the online price, at which point the Best Buy drone would march me over to a computer, have me sign up for a bestbuy.com account, order it online from THERE with in-store pickup, and only then pull one out of the kiosk and let me buy it at that price.

I did some mental calculus to work out which would be the most cost-effective and finally said "screw it, there's a Target right down the street if I want the damn thing that bad."

Frys. Just don't ever buy anything that's ever been returned.

This rule applies equally to many electronics shops. Around here we call it the Micro Center Rule.
posted by delfin at 1:18 PM on January 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


I was absolutely shocked last year when the clerk I worked with in their computer department was knowledgeable, helpful, and friendly. I ended up buying a laptop and was fully satisfied with the purchase.

This was a bizarre anomaly to my other BBY experiences.
posted by Thistledown at 1:21 PM on January 6, 2012


When I was growing up in NYC, we had Crazy Eddie's and, I dunno, PC Richards. I don't know whether BB was even around then, but, in any event, it would be many years before a BB landed in Manhattan. I used to live by the one on 23rd street, and I loved just roaming around looking at all the stuff.

Then one day I discovered that the when you looked at the BB web site from within a BB on one of their demo computers (which I recall could only get access the BB web site; it wasn't like going to the Apple Store), and the price on the in-store BB site was different from the online BB site. What a scam--they were essentially hustling people into making a purchase in store because, hey, it's even better than the online price! Of course all of BB's prices are, and were, at least 20-25% higher than on Amazon.

I'd pay sales tax if Amazon collected it (I currently pay the MA use tax on my annual returns). It's fine. But I'll be damned if I ever buy anything at BB again.

(Also, is it just my imagination, or do Best Buys smell bad? They always seem to smell like fake popcorn butter and failure to me. Possibly vomit.)
posted by Admiral Haddock at 1:21 PM on January 6, 2012 [1 favorite]




As a former BBY/GS employee I can't say any of this surprises me. I worked for Best Buy from 2006 until 2010. I started in PC Sales and moved to Geek Squad. I worked at their tech bench (or precinct) for 6 months before being promoted to field service. I drove the Bug and went to people's homes to fix their issues.

Initially that job was actually really fun. They paid a decent wage, they let you run your own schedule, and the focus was on quality work and retaining customers. It wasn't uncommon for me to comp certain smaller services to retain clients. That's good business. If you've already got someone on the line for 299 in services, a 10 dollar software installation fee is nothing and the customer is happy because they felt like they were being treated specially for using the service.

Then field service changed. We stopped focusing on quality of work, and started focusing on quantity of sales. Before I left, my district of field service had a "50% Upsell goal." What we took that to mean was, if a customer has scheduled a call worth $100 it is your REQUIREMENT to sell them an additional $50 in services or product, with an emphasis on services. That is how any sane person would do the math.

The actual "math" was, you take the initial cost of the service, add in what you have upsold, and then divide that by 50%. Which any sane person will realize is actually a 100% upsell goal. To meet that requirement, if you schedule a $100 service call with me, I have to sell you an additional $100 in services or product to meet "50%". That's when I left.

I couldn't take the fact that the company could shit on their customers so openly. It wasn't about good tech work anymore, it was about being an in house Best Buy. They told us all these things we were supposed to be doing in a client house. Survey their home theater, make sure that they're always using HDMI connections. Carry Blu-Ray players in your car and sell sell sell. I couldn't bring myself to do that. Not with the prices they already charge.

We were told employees who couldn't meet this goal would be terminated. I refused, and when given the option of a buy out during a corporate restructure, I took it.

BBY is hemorrhaging money and if you need proof of that personally, walk into a store in the Pittsburgh or Las Vegas area. They just went through a 1 Billion dollar renovation to make all of their stores this cookie cutter, identical layout. Sacrificing 1000s of square feet of retail space in some instances. The stores are terrible, they're cluttered, but not with anything useful. They have such a poor selection of products and outright insulting pricing. Every single person I have spoken with about this new store structure has hated in, and district level employees for my market have openly said the new design is a complete failure and the company won't be moving forward on rolling it out nationwide.

My father and I went there not long ago because his company regularly bought its computers and networking equipment from them. I also wanted a Slingbox which their website said they had in stock. We needed several PC monitors, some networking equipment & the Slingbox. After 35 minutes in the store, we left with nothing.

The monitor selection was so small it was terrifying. They had nothing about a 21" screen, and no more then 2 of each in stock. We needed 7. They had nothing about a 4 port router, and no switches period, and the Slingbox their website and internal inventory system said they had 2 in stock. None were on the shelves, asking an employee resulted in someone vanishing into the warehouse and never coming back. It was one of the worst shopping experiences I have ever had. I refuse to shop there at this point. When I left, I said within 5 years, the company will be bankrupt, or nothing more than a local Minneapolis electronics chain. Every time I see something that points to that being correct I smile. The way they treat their customers an employees is truly appalling, and they deserve to fail because they've lost site of what once made them a good place to shop. Giving a shit about who is buying their products.
posted by Hexidecimal at 1:22 PM on January 6, 2012 [29 favorites]




Frys. Just don't ever buy anything that's ever been returned.

N'thing this. I have to drive 25 miles and pass 3 Best Buys to get to Frys, and I'm completely OK with this. I won't step foot in a Rat Shack. Those fuckers are just glorified cell phone stores.

but it looks like they are adopting the Best Buy model. Hopefully, the electronics section can survive just a bit longer.

I don't know if I agree with this. Frys has a rather good selection for a B&M. I usually test out and throw ideas off of their employees, and for the most part, they know their area. I did this when I bought a new wireless router. An old coworker of mine from a previous job manages the networking area, and he actually was able to say "get this, this or this, and don't touch these." The guys working the computer components were knowledgeable about video card models, even knowing about the AMD Radeon numbering schemes and how they don't make sense (like how a 5870 is slower than a 6870). Sure, they are on commission and trying to get the sale, but it was still a pleasant experience.
posted by Mister Fabulous at 1:24 PM on January 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


Honestly, I'd be happy to see Best Buy go away just so I don't have to hear my mother call it "Best Buys." I'd also like to do away with MickieD's and Wally World.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 1:26 PM on January 6, 2012 [5 favorites]


Where they do have an opportunity to corner a niche market, they send you to the web themselves. I wanted to buy a Logitech Squeezebox radio for Christmas, and i'ts on teh BB website for $179, but I wanted to look at it, listen to it, check it out before buying, so I went to my local BB. After three clerks tried to show me ipod docks when I asked for help finding it on the shelves, a fourth looked it up and said "oh it's web-only! you can buy it off of the website!"

So I went home and bought one directly from Logitech on sale for $119 with battery/remote.
posted by headnsouth at 1:27 PM on January 6, 2012


Best Buy was once pretty good, this was before online shopping. When everyone bought stuff local. Good price, good selection. They had to compete with Circuit City, which I hated because the red guys worked commission, so I was happy to shop blue. I would even just go and wander. One could buy cases there. And cpu fans. That was pretty cool for a builder.

But now, with most savvy people doing research and shopping online, it's turned into the blue hell. The only people going in there are people who don't know shit who will buy a $50 HDMI cable or a $200 Monster Power Conditioner. And that's going to be their business model. Selling overpriced shit to people who don't know any better. It's going to turn into Sears. Almost but not quite going out of business, selling product to people who are just not willing to pick up a mouse and a brain cell.

But in 20 years when all of those people are dead, Best Buy, along with almost every other fungible commodity bricks and mortar retailler, will be dead along with them.
posted by seanmpuckett at 1:28 PM on January 6, 2012 [4 favorites]


I knew Best Buy was dying years ago. Had a friend who started there as a sales drone and worked his way up until he was a manager in the appliance department. Knew his stuff very well, could answer any appliance related question you had off the top of his head, kept his sales team happy, made good money for the company.

Then Best Buy, like Circuit City before them, decided that having skilled and knowledgeable people was just too expensive, the corporate yacht fund isn't going to fund itself you know. So they fired him and every other long term employee with any degree of knowledge or skill. He could have stayed, if he'd accepted a demotion to sales drone and a pay cut to minimum wage. He told them to get bent and went back to college.

When a company starts down that path there is really only one end, and that's corporate death.
posted by sotonohito at 1:33 PM on January 6, 2012


But in 20 years when all of those people are dead, Best Buy, along with almost every other fungible commodity bricks and mortar retailler, will be dead along with them.

Here's the thing, though. I really enjoy going to brick and mortar stores, and I think other people do, too. I even don't mind paying a little bit more for tax, whatever, if I enjoy my experiences there; or at the very least, don't leave feeling bad about myself. I'm of the opinion that BB could probably mitigate a lot of the damage by simply caring about its customers and training its people regarding what this genuinely looks like in a sales environment. And by having good products, of course. But it's probably hard to stock good products at a good price when people are leaving because they feel bad.
posted by SpacemanStix at 1:33 PM on January 6, 2012 [5 favorites]


Selling overpriced shit to people who don't know any better.
A friend who worked at Radio Shack said the same thing, but a bit differently.
posted by MrMoonPie at 1:34 PM on January 6, 2012


The day the laws catch up with internet tax dodgers/Amazon primers, is the day I buy stock in Best Buy.

I'm Prime and would pay taxes. It's still easier to shop in my bathrobe and have the product at my door in two days. And FWIW, the laws are there - at least in Virginia. Some of us (cough) just ignore 'em because it's a pain in the ass to keep track of what we buy online.

They had to compete with Circuit City, which I hated because the red guys worked commission

I'm all for workers working on commission. It rewards those with the balls to actually do something. (Been trying to get our local cinema to do commission for folks at the concessions stand. It'd teach them that serving lots of people quickly will put more $$ in their pockets.)

What I DON'T want to do is get heartburn when I'm dealing with morons. If you know your stuff you can sell me and I'll willingly pay a bit more. Be an ass and I'll go home, put on my bathrobe and slippers, and visit Amazon.
posted by Man with Lantern at 1:36 PM on January 6, 2012 [4 favorites]


people who shit on radio shack: where the fuck do you get your weird fuses and electronics fol-de-rol?

Jameco.
posted by quonsar II: smock fishpants and the temple of foon at 1:37 PM on January 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


Here's the thing, though. I really enjoy going to brick and mortar stores, and I think other people do, too.

I can say without hyperbole or irony that unless I am in search of a meal, this sentiment of which you speak has never been part of my shopping experience in the last five years.
posted by docpops at 1:39 PM on January 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


I've only shopped at Best Buy once in the last couple of years, and only because when Circuit City went our of business, Chase swapped our Circuit City card for a Best Buy card. We used it to buy a washer/dryer and a refrigerator, got 3-years-no-interest, and haven't been back since.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 1:39 PM on January 6, 2012


Why is Best Buy failing? Because they are losing people like me:- reasonably intellligent
- tech-savvy (though falling a bit behind the times now... socket what? Quad core what?)
- in possession of disposable income
- bored as hell when not working,

for reasons as follows:
- working a lot, so why not deliver stuff via Amazon Prime to work, where UPS/FedEx/etc. deliver without me having to track the package down to a damn distribution center
- a whole bunch of cheap shit I don't want
- a whole bunch of better shit that's very blatantly overpriced
- not enough really cool new shit; it's the same old shit.

I used to love going to stores like Best Buy. Bored, I loved walking around and futzing around with stuff. Then I started to be able to afford more expensive stuff. Stuff that I had questions about, or concerns regarding features or warranty or whatever. Questions no blue shirt could reliably answer at best, or blatantly lie an answer to at worst.

All their tech shit is mediocre. SSDs are small-capacity and overpriced. Their computer stuff like motherboards and processors or graphics cards are low-end or overpriced. By overpriced, I'm talkin about REALLY obviously overpriced-- I can deal with paying a little bit more for instant gratification, but when something is close to a hundred bucks more expensive than a reputable online retailer, I take my business elsewhere.


I'll give you a perfect example of how fucked up Best Buy has become to someone like me. I used to really enjoy going there. I'd be bored off my rocker, or post-call and waiting for friends with regular jobs to get off work, and just go retailing. I mean, it's next to fucking Target and PetSmart and Bed Bath Beyond and every other goddamn store you'd need to go to, so why not?

Well, recently I'd come into possession of a $500 Best Buy gift card, essentially for free. Ok, not really for free, but I signed up for some CME stuff for work (that's like, uh, coursework n stuff to maintain your credentials), and it came with a "free" iPad 2 or $500 gift card equivalent.

So I've got $500 worth of Best Buy bones to buy something with. ANYTHING with. I walked around Best Buy looking for any reason to buy anything. The only real thing I could think I'd want is a NEST Thermostat, but they were out of those. I walked around for thirty excruciating minutes.

Have you ever walked around a store a noticed that you're doing laps? I was doing laps. I was doing laps WITHIN laps. As in: oh, look, fucking computer shit. Oh, look, Magnolia overpriced bullshit speaker shit. Oh, hey, TVs and shit, and look: there's the car audio shit. Fuck this shit, I've already seen the vacuums, I'm taking a left turn NOW.

Fuck. Now I'm in the Wii games section. Again.

And just when I thought it couldn't get any worse, I find myself in that very strange section of Best Buy that has an aisle for musical instruments. You know, the Karaoke machines, keyboards, and guitars. What. The Fuck. Fucking THIS SECTION AGAIN?

Thirty minutes. Something over five laps. $500 waiting to be spent on something. ANYTHING. Sigh.

I wish I could say I walked out of Best Buy in indignation, completely empty-handed, and sold the gift card for charity. But that'd be a lie.

On the way out, I spied an $18 red crock pot. I've always wanted a crock pot. Set it and forget it. Meals ready when I come home. Easy stews and easier soups. Tender, tender beef. For years I'd joked about wanting a crock pot, hoping a friend or colleague would get one for me as a gift.

For some FUCKING reason Best Buy was selling crock pots.

Anyway, I paid for it with my AmEx. You know, so I could say "FUCK NO I DONT WANT A FUCKING EXTENDED WARRANTY ON THIS FUCKING CROCK POT AMEX OFFERS AN EXTENSION ANYWAY." I didn't really say that. But I didn't use the gift card. Ended up giving it to the residency program I graduated from, for their lounge. Dunno what they ended up using it for, but I don't see a crock pot in it.
posted by herrdoktor at 1:41 PM on January 6, 2012 [8 favorites]


Interestingly, in the last 4 hours, I have had the following delivered to my office care of Amazon Prime:

2 jars vitamins
small Bronners
used New Zealand tour guide
some GoPro mounts
six boxes saline
a 12 pack of tea.

Had I needed a TV, that would have been no harder to acquire. Best Buy can suck it.
posted by docpops at 1:41 PM on January 6, 2012


delfin it sounds like with in-store pickup they would honor the online price. So I don't understand your complaint.
posted by headnsouth at 1:42 PM on January 6, 2012


Ever since CEO decided that his customers were either "angels" or "devils" I've really enjoyed shopping there when they absolutely have to losing money on something.
posted by Talanvor at 1:44 PM on January 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


I had the unfortunate happenstance to have to go into a BB after almost 5 years without doing so. I was amazed that nothing had changed. It was the same crowded, noisy, disorganized piece of craptastic fail as it was back when I last stepped foot in the place.

A BB store really does come-across as something of a adventure into corporate cynicism. As if some executive staff is purposely trying to make the consumer experience as terrible as possible. As if they want to see just how miserable they can make things before shoppers stop coming.
posted by Thorzdad at 1:45 PM on January 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


I have no great love for Best Buy (my shopping experience there has tended to resemble many of the other anecdotal examples given in this thread), but I thought the first article was really weak, especially to appear in what I assumed was a respected source like Forbes. Yeah, there was a bit of data thrown in too, but the article basically read as, "My personal experience shopping at a particular Best Buy store was unpleasant, therefore the company is going out of business".
posted by The Gooch at 1:54 PM on January 6, 2012


delfin it sounds like with in-store pickup they would honor the online price. So I don't understand your complaint.

They would honor the online price with in-store pickup, but only after I drove to Delaware, created an account based on my PA address and bought it that way. So I'd save $20 on the base price, but pay $12+ in taxes plus whatever the trip cost in gas and time out of my day, so it was pretty much a wash.

If they'd said "Oh hey, it's $20 less online at our own site, we'll match that price here," that would've been some more substantial savings and I'd have bought it on the spot.

Or maybe I should just get a P.O. Box in Delaware.
posted by delfin at 1:59 PM on January 6, 2012


nothing more than a local Minneapolis electronics chain

Actually, myself and most people I know in the Twin Cities drive out to the one local MicroCenter location in St. Louis Park for in-person electronics purchases. That is, for the reasons one might not shop online: "I need it NOW", "I want to hold and/or touch it", or possibly "I'm bored and want shopping-tainment". In comparison, the very limited selections at Best Buy make it an option only rarely. MicroCenter here always seems pretty busy, but they only have one location in the state.

Many of my non-computer electronics over the last few years were bought at Ultimate Electronics before they finally circled the drain. Nice people, nice shops, possibly inflated prices at times, no computers, lots of holy-crap-expensive extreme audiophile equipment that was fun to gawk at but one would never consider actually buying. The anti-Best-Buy in many respects, but they ended up kicking the bucket anyway.

If you "just need a cable" and don't otherwise care, might as well pick one up at Target or Wal-Mart while you're stocking up on frozen dinners or shampoo, it's just another commodity item. My most recent monitor replacement was bought at Costco. (Standard punchline: "At least I didn't have to buy six of them shrinkwrapped together")
posted by gimonca at 2:07 PM on January 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


Ever since CEO decided that his customers were either "angels" or "devils" I've really enjoyed shopping there when they absolutely have to losing money on something.

I had never heard of this but was curious. Here's the relevant article:
Each day, about 1.5 million customers come into a Best Buy store. Best Buy wishes some of them wouldn't. CEO Brad Anderson says he wants to separate "angel" customers from the "devils" The angels are customers who boost profits by snapping up HDTVs, portable electronics and newly released DVDs without waiting for markdowns or rebates. The devils are its worst customers. They buy products, apply for rebates, return the purchases, then buy them back at returned-goods discounts.

The devils are its worst customers. They buy products, apply for rebates, return the purchases, then buy them back at returned-goods discounts. They load up on "loss leaders," severely discounted merchandise designed to boost store traffic, then flip the goods at a profit on eBay. They slap down rock-bottom price quotes from Web sites and demand that Best Buy make good on its lowest-price pledge.

Best Buy estimates that as many as a fifth of 500 million customer visits each year are undesirable. And the CEO wants to be rid of them. He says the strategy is based on a theory that advocates rating customers according to profitability, then dumping the up to 20% who are unprofitable. The new approach upends standard practice among mass merchants, who typically seek to maximize customer traffic.
WSJ
posted by 2bucksplus at 2:09 PM on January 6, 2012 [14 favorites]


peace be on you quonsar but im talking about like going to a store with my body and buying a thing here
posted by beefetish at 2:10 PM on January 6, 2012


This is terrible! If Best Buy fails, where will I go to aimlessly mill about when my girlfriend is doing her mall shopping? Where will I go to be disappointed with broken video game displays?? Where will I go to buy $35 USB cables?!?

First they took my Borders (which I never bought anything at but enjoyed flipping through books at to kill time), and I said nothing...
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 2:12 PM on January 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


Fry's is awesome. But, there aren't that many around. One fry's serves a wide area.

And honestly for just standard consumer electronics you can find most of the same stuff they have at best buy at Wal-Mart for less money.
Here's the thing, though. I really enjoy going to brick and mortar stores, and I think other people do, too.
Sure, it can be fun to walk around a best buy if there's nothing better around. But if I can even find what I'm interested in I would just look at it, be amazed at how much more expensive it is, then go home and buy it on Amazon or Newegg. And most of the time they don't have the coolest stuff anyway.
The day the laws catchup with internet tax dodgers/Amazon primers, is the day I buy stock in Best Buy
even knowing about the AMD Radeon numbering schemes and how they don't make sense (like how a 5870 is slower than a 6870)
Er, I think you have that backwards. A 5870 was the highest model 5k series card, while a 6870 was a high end card, but lower then the 6970 and 6990.

Huh? Are you saying Amazon Prime should be illegal?
posted by delmoi at 2:13 PM on January 6, 2012


A possible side story to all this: Best Buy and Target are both fairly high-profile retailers based in the Twin Cities, both have had knocks to their online reputations in the last few months. Advertising Age on Target's problems earlier this year.
posted by gimonca at 2:13 PM on January 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


Either you're going into a retail store for specific expertise, or you're going there because you don't know better.

Or, you know, you're going there to actually see the product.

I mean, I know people have lots of love for Amazon (though sometimes I get the feeling I'm the last person in America who doesn't shop there), but other than commodity items that don't vary (books, DVDs, that sort of thing), how do you buy a big ticket item?

I mean, a laptop you want to try the keyboard, a TV you want to try the remote and the menus, a clock radio you want to see the brightness. Things you interact with, surely you want to see them before buying?
posted by madajb at 2:14 PM on January 6, 2012 [4 favorites]


"Best Buy estimates that as many as a fifth of 500 million customer visits each year are undesirable. And the CEO wants to be rid of them."

Well there we go -- their poor service is no mistake or oversight, it's active strategy. They don't want us.
posted by Kraftmatic Adjustable Cheese at 2:14 PM on January 6, 2012


oops, I mixed up the quotes in this comment, second to last paragraph goes with the second to last quote, last paragraph goes with the last quote
posted by delmoi at 2:16 PM on January 6, 2012


Walk into one of the company’s retail locations or shop online. And try, really try, not to lose your temper.

That line is so great. Really summarizes the whole problem with the place. A store that's actively hostile to customers. There are other stores that incite this kind of rage: Ikea, any mattress store. But those places sell products you can't buy anywhere else. Best Buy sells products you can buy more cheapily and easily online. How can they possibly persist?
posted by Nelson at 2:17 PM on January 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


but I thought the first article was really weak, especially to appear in what I assumed was a respected source like Forbes.

Forbes online stuff could be considered "Slate for Business"
posted by Mister Fabulous at 2:18 PM on January 6, 2012


A 5870 was the highest model 5k series card, while a 6870 was a high end card, but lower then the 6970 and 6990.

DOH. I meant 6870 slower than the 5870. You're right.
posted by Mister Fabulous at 2:20 PM on January 6, 2012


For some reason the classical music section of my first local Best Buy was spectactular. I walked in the first time and stood stunned by racks and racks and racks of Deutsche Grammaphone and Bis and Harmonia Mundi and Hat, all subdivided by performer and even instrument. It was glorious. A year or two later the selection was brutally cut back, then practically disappeared, but before it was gone I bought a shit load of music. It's probably been 7 or 8 years since I was in one last, though.
posted by octobersurprise at 2:22 PM on January 6, 2012


how do you buy a big ticket item?

I've bought several "big ticket" items recently from Amazon which is something I didn't think I'd be willing to do. We bought my mother in law a 32" LCD Television on black Friday from Amazon and she loves it. It's exactly what she wanted and the price was unbeatable.

I also just purchased an Epiphone Les Paul LP-100 for myself from Amazon. Mainly because I have a large hunk of Christmas gift cards for the site. I normally wouldn't buy a guitar online, but knowing Epiphone's quality I wasn't worried about it.

For some things you can definitely say you need to see the item first, but in all honesty at this point I'd rather go to the store, try something out, decide what I like and then come home and order it online to get the pricing I want.
posted by Hexidecimal at 2:23 PM on January 6, 2012


The devils are its worst customers. They buy products, apply for rebates, return the purchases, then buy them back at returned-goods discounts. They load up on "loss leaders," severely discounted merchandise designed to boost store traffic, then flip the goods at a profit on eBay. They slap down rock-bottom price quotes from Web sites and demand that Best Buy make good on its lowest-price pledge.

I can't imagine anyone with the time or energy to plan and carry out that kind of long-term campaign of griefing Best Buy, as horrible as they are. I think their CEO just doesn't want to admit that BB pushes highly-profitable extended warranty plans that no one wants or needs, and that they try to overcharge for components and accessories with ridiculous markups. If I was running Best Buy and a halfway-informed customer walked through the door, I'd want him out, too, before he infects the others.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:24 PM on January 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


I mean, I know people have lots of love for Amazon (though sometimes I get the feeling I'm the last person in America who doesn't shop there), but other than commodity items that don't vary (books, DVDs, that sort of thing), how do you buy a big ticket item?
Well, you can go to Best Buy, look at it, then buy it on Amazon for 20% less money.

That said, if you shop online at somewhere like Amazon or NewEgg, you can basically trust the reviews. If something is reviewed well, it's probably pretty nice for the price.
posted by delmoi at 2:27 PM on January 6, 2012


We go to Best Buy a lot for work since we need to pay sales tax on all work purchases anyway and often need to pick up an extra desktop or laptop for project work.

Three things piss me off:

1) Each Best Buy has a Best Buy smell, it may be VOCs out gassing from the flat panel TVs but I kind of wonder if there is some sort of Best Buy signature scent they pump in.

2) I walk into the computer section ready to spend between $2000 and $5000 and typically have to wait 10+ minutes to talk to someone.

3) Very often the computers have had Best Buy crap installed on them, this worries me since I have no clue what this stuff is and what else may have been placed on the machine. If this keeps up we will likely have to stop buying computers there.
posted by bottlebrushtree at 2:29 PM on January 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


Well, Mr. jadepearl and I were in the process of buying a replacement TV. He researches to the nth degree. We stopped at Best Buy due to wanting to actually see the TVs in person. The clerk was knowledgeable enough and we ended up with three TVs. Everything was prompt and punctual, but it was all about the geekiness of the two clerks who helped with the selection (I rarely see that level of geeked out knowledge and he handled all questions raised). Of course, he could have been lying his teeth off, but the TVs seem fine.

But other experiences beyond that were...sub-optimal.
posted by jadepearl at 2:30 PM on January 6, 2012


I bought a laptop there a couple of years ago, and had a surprisingly good experience. There was a particular laptop that I would have had to wait 3 weeks for if I'd bought online, but the BestBuy 10 miles away had it in stock. I ordered it on their website, went into the store, walked straight to the will-call counter, and picked up my laptop. I didn't even get hit up to buy their craptacular extended warranty. It was a really low-bullshit experience compared to what I'd seen there in the past.
posted by deadmessenger at 2:32 PM on January 6, 2012


Read that WSJ article 2bucksplus linked.

It explains everything that's happened to anyone commenting in this thread.
posted by jamjam at 2:34 PM on January 6, 2012


2bucksplus: "BB could go the Radioshack route and lease smaller, weird shaped spaces in the unloved backwaters of strip malls and shopping centers and sell nothing but cables, batteries and other items people need now (and radiocontroller helicopters)."

Not only is Radio Shack in business, it pulls a $200 million annual profit from $4.47bn in annual revenue, and has a P/E ratio of 8.90, which vastly outperforms Best Buy.

That's not great, but it's a lot better than some chains are doing, and way better than anybody would expect the most depressing chain in the world to be doing.

And, seriously, whatever. When I need a 2.2kΩ resistor, a breadboard, and some thermal paste at 10PM on a Sunday, I'm glad that this inexplicable and depressing business continues to exist in almost every city in America.
posted by schmod at 2:36 PM on January 6, 2012 [9 favorites]


For some things you can definitely say you need to see the item first, but in all honesty at this point I'd rather go to the store, try something out, decide what I like and then come home and order it online to get the pricing I want.

Ok, sure, but what's the plan if the article is right and Best Buy is not long for the world?
posted by madajb at 2:36 PM on January 6, 2012


I mean, I know people have lots of love for Amazon (though sometimes I get the feeling I'm the last person in America who doesn't shop there), but other than commodity items that don't vary (books, DVDs, that sort of thing), how do you buy a big ticket item?

Probably somewhat like I do. Look up online reviews (usually twekers.net, but that's in Dutch), look at all the various options, browse online shops, try and find the perfect for my requirements, then spend the money on books and make do with my crappish seven year old computer or telly another year.

Saves a lot of money, but I do end up buying a lot of bookcases at IKEA too...
posted by MartinWisse at 2:36 PM on January 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


Ok, sure, but what's the plan if the article is right and Best Buy is not long for the world?


YouTube unboxing videos.
posted by SpacemanStix at 2:38 PM on January 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


That said, if you shop online at somewhere like Amazon or NewEgg, you can basically trust the reviews. If something is reviewed well, it's probably pretty nice for the price.

I look at reviews, certainly, though weeding out the shills and people complaining about their toaster in a review of a TV is becoming tiresome.
At the end of the day, though, I like to see something before I buy it, so hopefully Best Buy and friends will hang on for a few more years. heh.
posted by madajb at 2:39 PM on January 6, 2012


That said, if you shop online at somewhere like Amazon or NewEgg, you can basically trust the reviews.

I can't speak to NewEgg's reviews, but Amazon? Please. Any product with more than 10 reviews is an exercise in "love it!!!, Hate it!!! Love it!!! Hate it!!!" uselessness. It takes a truly awesome (or truly terrible) product to escape the bi-polar gridlock.
posted by Thorzdad at 2:43 PM on January 6, 2012


One other curious Best Buy phenomena of note: mispricings. I can't tell you how many times I've gotten something to the register and the ring-up price didn't match what the shelf tag said.

Now, I am not classifying this as attempted fraud mostly because the difference has been in my favor almost all of the time. If I can get magic discounts at random intervals there, that's sweet - next round's on me. But (a) I always check my receipt VERY carefully in case something rings up higher than advertised, as that happens too, and (b) it's goddamned SLOPPY that I see this happen very frequently.

And, seriously, whatever. When I need a 2.2kΩ resistor, a breadboard, and some thermal paste at 10PM on a Sunday, I'm glad that this inexplicable and depressing business [Radio Shack] continues to exist in almost every city in America.

Radio Shack is fine as long as you need something esoteric and electronic like that -- be sure to pricematch other places if you need something more common, much less a basic cable or adapter for something -- and if you hit a store whose manager isn't convinced that he has failed in his life's major goal if you leave without being talked into a new cell phone contract.
posted by delfin at 2:43 PM on January 6, 2012


And, seriously, whatever. When I need a 2.2kΩ resistor, a breadboard, and some thermal paste at 10PM on a Sunday

I wasn't aware that these Radio Shacks still existed. The last one I was in might as well have been a Verizon/Sprint/AT&T Wireless store with a RC helicopter and an overpriced TV.
posted by Mister Fabulous at 2:48 PM on January 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


I was in the local Best Buy a couple days ago. It smelled bad.
posted by and for no one at 2:56 PM on January 6, 2012


theyre still out there mister fabulous. i go to one on the regs.
posted by beefetish at 2:58 PM on January 6, 2012


Radio Shack now keeps their small selection of electronics parts tastefully hidden in low cabinets with wide, shallow drawers.
posted by Crabby Appleton at 3:01 PM on January 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm not certain if they are the same store anymore (our RSs became "The Source" a couple of years back), but I was pleasantly surprised to see a full couple of isles of heatshrink, components and solder tucked in the back of our local, behind the cell phones and RC copters. You can definitely still do those late night resistor runs.
posted by bonehead at 3:02 PM on January 6, 2012


Personally, there's only one reason I could have to consider shopping at Best Buy: immediately needing a cable or blank media or similar item. Sometimes you just need a HDMI cable or a DVI-HDMI adapter or another blasted 1/8" to RCA cable today and can't wait for Amazon Prime shipping. Best Buy is close, has parking, and should definitely have these items in stock, so I'm perfectly happy to pay a decent premium for the convenience of getting it immediately.

Except Best Buy doesn't actually sell HDMI cables for less than $40-$50 or non-Monster audio cables. If a cable costs $2.95 from Amazon or Monoprice (and First Class Mail from Monoprice is generally 2-day delivery for me), I can accept paying $9.95 or even $14.95 plus the inconvenience of going to the store in order to get the darn thing now. But it had better be an enormous flaming oh-my-god-the-flames-they-burn emergency for me to spend $50 on something today that I can have delivered to my home tomorrow for $2.95.

Of course, if those aren't good enough for you, they have a $1,095.99 3-foot HDMI cable online.
posted by zachlipton at 3:04 PM on January 6, 2012 [14 favorites]


I just came to say The Shack is back. I never thought it would happen but based purely in my own purchasing habits in the last 18 months when I've needed a non-Apple gadget I get it at Radio Shack. I used to be a regular Best Buy shopper.
posted by humanfont at 3:06 PM on January 6, 2012


Wow. One of the commenters claiming to be a former Best Buy employee said this about how they used customer satisfaction surveys:

A store that rated too high on categories like: “rapid customer response times” or “were eagerly serviced by multiple associates”, was assumed to be spending too much on labor and would have its budgets decreased.


That's like a parody of a Dilbert strip.
posted by straight at 3:21 PM on January 6, 2012 [7 favorites]


I feel like I am being ripped off just driving by one of their stores.
posted by spitbull at 3:30 PM on January 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


I just went to buy an hdmi cable from BB last week - and got one for $25. The funny thing is that after asking a sales associate for one, he told me "the question isn't how good the quality is but how much quality you are willing to lose since every cable degrades the signal by some amount." He then proceeded to try and sell me a $120 HDMI cable (called chocolate or something). I informed him that HDMI is a digital cable and there there isn't actually a problem with degradation, and then bought the cheapest cable they had which was still 10x the price of one online.

As far as radio shack goes, the funny thing is that when they opened all of the electronics guys were furious that they were putting the local electronics stores out of business (same argument as for walmart etc.) Since I grew up after that already happened, I have been grateful for RS's existence as a source of local electronics parts, and figure the markup is appropriate for the immediate service. I just discovered the source since I moved to montreal and was similarly grateful for the limited electronics parts they carry - had no idea they were once RS.
posted by ianhattwick at 3:31 PM on January 6, 2012


Oh my god, I am so scared of Best Buy. I feel myself getting anxious the moment I walk in the doors. I think it's mostly how loud it is in there? I feel like they are actively trying to chase me out of the store. The only place in the world that frightens me more is Abercrombie & Fitch, which is not only noisy but also smelly.

I am only 27 I swear.
posted by naoko at 4:03 PM on January 6, 2012 [11 favorites]


The last time I went into a Best Buy, I was -- after an interminable time of standing at the register waiting for the employees to finish their conversations with each other --- "waited on" by the dept manager, who was so irritated by my need for assistance that he led me silently to the shelf where the items I needed were stacked, pointed at them silently and then turned and walked away. I don't think I've ever encountered such an air of disdain from someone who was supposed to be there to, you know, sell me things.

I go to Fry's now, even though it's a lot farther away. Plus, it has awesome crashed UFO decor inside, and doesn't smell funny.
posted by OolooKitty at 4:04 PM on January 6, 2012


Best Buy had been an awesome place during the 90's to mid 2000's. I remember it being one of the first retail outlets that carried alternative Operating Systems. Rehdat Linux, OpenSuSE, Mandrake.. even FreeBSD. Hell, I still have my boxed copy of BeOS release 5.03 for x86 and PPC that included the famous BeOS Bible ( ... both of which you will have to PRY out of my cold, dead hands!)

Early morning on December 24th, I had an HDD that started dropping sectors like falling rain. I NEEDED and replacement disk. I head to the local best buy, about 2 miles away. It was jam packed with Christmas desperation, frenetic employees, wide-eyed consumption-addled last minute shoppers, and that weird Best Buy stench... of stale sweat, apathy, and Volatile Organic Chemicals.

I made a beeline to the computer accessories department to find the last 1TBhard disk in stock. Luckily, it was from my favored manufacturer. I weaved through all the "HOLIDAY MADNESSnessness" to arrive at a till manned by a stressed out, appliance clerk. "Tomorrow is my birthday" he proclaimed, "..and they wouldn't let me have today off". As he rang up my purchase, I wished him a Happy Birthday then took the time to shake his hand in thanks, and in solidarity. I had put far too many of my own years into the Breach that is "Retail Sales".

I do hope he was able to have a Merry Christmas and a Happy Birthday.

I wouldn't wish a job at Best Buy on anyone...

Brick and Mortar has it's place in this world... I just wished to Hell that it was a lot better then Wal-Mart and Best Buy.
posted by PROD_TPSL at 4:09 PM on January 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


Bricks & mortar big box stores are all dying off and yet the AppleStore is printing money and opening new (mega-expensive) stores all the time.

Shows that you can make money in retail still these days and not be assholes about it.
posted by schwa at 4:13 PM on January 6, 2012


I can't speak to NewEgg's reviews, but Amazon? Please. Any product with more than 10 reviews is an exercise in "love it!!!, Hate it!!! Love it!!! Hate it!!!" uselessness. It takes a truly awesome (or truly terrible) product to escape the bi-polar gridlock.
I'm thinking more the number of stars/eggs. If there are a lot of reviews, and the average is high, it's probably good.
posted by delmoi at 4:23 PM on January 6, 2012


This is terrible! If Best Buy fails, where will I go to aimlessly mill about when my girlfriend is doing her mall shopping?

That's what the old man benches are for. Bring a smart phone and search online electronic stores if you want to recreate the experience.
posted by Gary at 4:32 PM on January 6, 2012


Yeah, the only reason I go to Best Buy is for those immediate needs where I can't wait for Amazon Prime shipping.

Though admittedly, I did have a great experience there a couple of years ago. I tried to install some new RAM on my Macbook, thinking it'd be a simple plug it in, turn it on kind of deal. And hey, I replaced the whole hard drive by myself with no problems, surely I can install some new RAM. Ahahaha, no. I failed miserably, my Macbook wouldn't read the RAM, and when I tried to reinstall my old RAM, that wouldn't work either. I went to Best Buy because it was the only place within 50 miles that had a tech help desk type thing, and the Geek Squad guy replaced my RAM for free and only charged me for the new (hideously overpriced) RAM I bought there. I paid double what I should have for the RAM, but I figured it was worth it to avoid having to send my Macbook back to Apple.

While I was at the Geek Squad desk though, I did marvel at how horribly overpriced their services seemed, and how they seemed aimed at gouging the less technologically savvy. I definitely saw some elderly people in line who would have been better served taking their computers or laptops to their marginally tech literate grandchildren.
posted by yasaman at 4:37 PM on January 6, 2012


So my 18 month old son toddled his way into Best Buy this evening in an effort to avoid putting his jacket on. He lead me on a merry chase through the appliances, past the car audio section, and to the TVs.

When he turned the corner and encountered the Wall O' Flatscreens for the first time, he froze, mouth agape. He slowly pointed at the screens which were showing some excerpts from Warhorse.

"Doggie!" he yelled. He loves dogs (or any 4 legged animal, which count as dogs in his mind) and so he began to applaud. "Yaaaaayyy!"

Then he farted.

So that explains the Best Buy smell. It's Toddler Shock.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 4:45 PM on January 6, 2012 [21 favorites]


Rest in p*ss Beast Buy

I am no fan of Best Buy (my electronics needs are few, but it is a good place to buy DVD boxed sets for twice the price of anywhere else). However, if you are going to use possibly offensive word, please have the courage to use all the letters. You will be in good company: Byron suggested an epitaph for Robert Stewart, Viscount Castlereagh:

Posterity will never survey
A nobler grave than this:
Here lie the bones of Castlereagh:
Stop, traveler, and piss.


Now Castlereagh is better known for this than anything else. I can only hope the same for Best Buy.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 4:49 PM on January 6, 2012 [5 favorites]


I've hated Best Buy ever since that girl I dated, who was the first person I ever really actually pursued (and she said yes!), whom I met there and who was a manager there, dumped me unexpectedly after one really great month. Seriously, fuck Best Buy.
posted by mudpuppie at 4:58 PM on January 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


gimonca:
Actually, myself and most people I know in the Twin Cities drive out to the one local MicroCenter location in St. Louis Park for in-person electronics purchases. That is, for the reasons one might not shop online: "I need it NOW", "I want to hold and/or touch it", or possibly "I'm bored and want shopping-tainment". In comparison, the very limited selections at Best Buy make it an option only rarely. Micro Center here always seems pretty busy, but they only have one location in the state.
So totally true. I recently built myself a new desktop PC, and the parts that I couldn't find at the St. Louis Park Micro Center, I bought from Amazon. I drove past Best Buy headquarters and probably four of their stores to get to Micro Center. Micro Center's not perfect, but they're vastly better than Best Buy: their prices are usually almost equal to online (sometimes better, if you include shipping costs), they have a decent return policy and the salespeople are usually pretty knowledgeable.
posted by jiawen at 5:39 PM on January 6, 2012


OH GOD CATAPULT IT INTO THE FUCKING SUN DIE DIE DIE

stupidbestbuyUGH!hate.
posted by louche mustachio at 6:46 PM on January 6, 2012


Microcenter, on the other hand, is the best ever. I can always find what I need there, the staff know what they are talking about and are genuinely helpful, the prices are aces. I have never gotten the DERP face from a Microcenter employee when I asked for a specific cable, nor did they ask me "Do you mean an HDMI cable?" when I most certainly did not.
posted by louche mustachio at 6:50 PM on January 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


Best Buy is how I window-shop Amazon.com. I'm going to miss them.
posted by Renoroc at 6:54 PM on January 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


Minneapolis resident here, and I also drive to that same MicroCenter when I need something immediately. Good store good prices good selection. BestBuy by comparison is a flaming turd. I think BB are pretty good to their corporate employees, but as a retail store? They can go stuff themselves. And the cable markup business model is just repugnant.
posted by mcstayinskool at 6:55 PM on January 6, 2012


When I used to live in the Twin Cities I bought a Toshiba laptop from that Microcenter. I had some major problems with it booting up shortly after buying it. After the service guy couldn't get it to boot either he pulled my hard drive, grabbed a new chassis, slapped in the drive with my data, and handed it over. Geek Squad would have NEVER done that.
posted by Ber at 7:50 PM on January 6, 2012


Best Buy is one of those institutions of a class that includes Books-A-Million (Seriously, what the fucking fuck does that name even mean?) and Ross Dress For Less and which convince me that the election of Ronald Reagan in 1980 was such a monstrous chain reaction of stupid energy that it actually caused the fabric of spacetime to fragment, with artifacts of a much uglier world slipping in sideways as if they'd always been here. We always had little outposts of that world, a parallel universe where every reasonable decision had been made in the negative, like Zayre, a circle of shopping hell stuffed with dull-witted, dead-eyed sales drones so astonishingly incompetent that you felt like shopping there was a moral punishment. We had Bradlees and we had Kmart and we had Crown Books, because the idiot scion of one more new money empire needed a job to keep him out of Herbert Haft's sight, but these were manageable cancers.

Best Buy is the full-on invasion from the asshole universe, a monstrous glittery loudspace stomping across Tokyo, and every time I've ventured in there, I have roughly the same feeling a nervous race horse suddenly placed on the launch barge of a giant fireworks display—there's just this moment of abject panic where I get all foamy and wild-eyed and want nothing more than to start biting nearby shoppers and stomping the salesmen to death before my heart suddenly explodes. I step inside and there's this perfect instant of horrifying awareness that most Americans like this. Most of my countrymen like this shit, and like shopping, and like driving from store to store, and just like being uninformed herds of dimwits who just shrug and buy things because researching is hard.

I have my doubts about Amazon, but honestly, they're a reemergence of an old energy in our culture—Amazon is the Sears of this new world, a catalog merchant keeping the Postal System afloat with a dizzying selection of goods. One of my treasured childhood possessions is my late seventies reprint of the 1902 Sears Roebuck catalog, which was both a curious cultural artifact and a dreamy thing to just randomly page through, with something of everything available in 1902 there for any rural farmer or urban factory worker to order. The internet is just mail order for this now, short of the physical experience of flipping dogeared pages on a tattered catalog but still as broad, and as devoid of intrusive salespersons who do, indeed, know less than I do about the product they're being underpaid to shove up the asses of hapless shoppers.

Best Buy has uses, though. It's great at making me wonder if I've developed agoraphobia, because every time I step through those sliding doors, I resolve to avoid my fellow man at all costs. It's great at destroying desire, too. I've got a wild jones going for an iPad, but I just don't need one right now, so I go there with the resolve to buy an iPad I don't need. Every single display model is either broken, has a dead battery, or has been switched into inverse display mode for some little failed abortion of a suburban teenybopper. The prices are undiscounted, but it doesn't matter, because none of the obnoxious salespersons who want to cater to my every need when I'm looking at the TVs or stepping through the cellphone area will come anywhere near someone who's standing by that locked case, radiating I WANT TO BUY SOMETHING vibes like a critical mass assembly of shopping plutonium.

I've stood there, wanting to buy the iPad that I don't really want to buy, except I do, but I don't, but I do...dear God, why do I want this thing so fucking bad when I have a netbook already? I've stood there, looking like a bleeding dolphin in a churning mass of sharks, but no one's ever asked to help me even once. It's perfect, actually.

I don't need an iPad. The universe knows.

If anything, Best Buy is reaffirming my practice of taoism by absolutely failing to reward my monkey-mindedness and my raging, desperate desires. If I go in there, because some wonderful new thing is tugging at my balls with a grip that's both firm and sensual, I am guaranteed to leave angry, sad, and confused, reminded of the emptiness of such pursuits.

I did buy a TV there recently, because dealnews told me it was there, and because, by some random fluctuation in the interdimensional aether, they actually had the one I wanted in stock at the price I wanted. I rode over on my motorcycle, preemptively visualizing my path in and out of the store as a meditative preparation, found a nice parking spot, and went in with my helmet in hand like a little girl's Raggedy Ann doll. Followed the path envisioned, ignored every sales intrusion, picked out the box, and made a beeline for the counter, feeling the heft of my helmet like an anchor to the real world, where I live with my dogs in my cozy old apartment. Refused the idiot warranty, refused the idiot Best Buy card, paid up, and ran for it.

I strapped the TV onto my bike with a cargo net, swung a leg over, started up. The sound of one well-tuned cylinder, the simplicity of the machine, the tension of the clutch and the click as I kicked down into first, and the bump to get off the centerstand—all the mechanical lullabies of the old world, the one where everyone's not a fucking pod person, flocking to the slaughterhouse. This is my happy place, where I am in the world, this ugly, post-Reagan sea of stupid, but not of the world. I rolled back, revved up, and headed for home, wondering if middle age is when I finally slip into cranky, alienated insanity.

God, Best Buy is a fucking nightmare.

It's not just me, is it? I'm not just Kevin McCarthy at the end of Invasion of the Body Snatchers, running through traffic in a foamy state of desperation, am I?

Die, Best Buy, die.

If only Walmart would be next.
posted by sonascope at 4:30 AM on January 7, 2012 [35 favorites]


a catalog merchant keeping the Postal System afloat

Amazon ships almost everything via UPS, so it's not helping the Postal Service much at all.
posted by raysmj at 4:46 AM on January 7, 2012


Amazon ships almost everything via UPS, so it's not helping the Postal Service much at all.

Actually, Amazon (and its partners) ship a ton of stuff via a USPS/UPS partnership. I've had many Amazon shipments come through this system.
posted by Thorzdad at 5:29 AM on January 7, 2012


Man with Lantern writes "Been trying to get our local cinema to do commission for folks at the concessions stand. It'd teach them that serving lots of people quickly will put more $$ in their pockets.)"

That seems unlikely in the long term. The market is limited to people who are watching a movie so once everyone is selling as fast as humanly possible everyone is going to be making the same amount of money. It might even reduce sales by reducing the amount of time customers have to convince themselves to buy anything but a popcorn and drink. Besides a good deal of the delay IME is people who have been standing on line but don't decided what they want to buy until they get to the counter.
posted by Mitheral at 7:59 AM on January 7, 2012


Oh my god, I am so scared of Best Buy.

OH GOD CATAPULT IT INTO THE FUCKING SUN DIE DIE DIE

Best Buy is the full-on invasion from the asshole universe, a monstrous glittery loudspace stomping across Tokyo

Centuries from now scholars will point to this thread when discussing the use of hyperbole in the early 21st century.

I mean, I love you guys, but sheesh.. It's a store! I get the sense that going to best buy is a lot like poking a bruise for some of you. You know it's going to hurt, but you sort of like the sensation so you do it anyway.
posted by davey_darling at 9:03 AM on January 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


Renoroc: "Best Buy is how I window-shop Amazon.com. I'm going to miss them."

Pretty much. I don't want to buy a TV without looking at it but hell if I'm going to buy one from those morons. And really, it's faster to buy from Amazon than Best Buy since it takes me a few days to get the time to drive over to the mall zone and by that time UPS will have already delivered my widget. I ordered a 32GB uSD card for my phone on Tuesday afternoon from Amazon with free "2 Day" shipping and it showed up at my office at 10AM the next day. It felt like a magic trick.
posted by octothorpe at 9:04 AM on January 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


Centuries from now scholars will point to this thread when discussing the use of hyperbole in the early 21st century.

Centuries from now, there will be no record of the early 21st century at all, partly because there's no archival digital medium, but mostly because we will have let copyright laws to get written that place ownership solely in the hands of the Best Buy that is to come and put all our data in "the cloud," where it will be about as permanent as Stalin's dating history.

Seriously, though—something has changed. Back in the day, I could go to the horrorfest that was Circuit City, or I could go to Myer-Emco. There was a big chaotic mass-market, and there was a more expensive, but more informed, quieter, and more reasonable alternative. Now there's nothing like that left. There's online and there's the panic boxes.

When I bought my first actual serious stereo, a used Bang & Olufsen beocenter, the staff at Myer-Emco let me sit in a room alone with it and a few of my records and I listened to the entirety of both Future Days and Full Circle with my own beloved AKG headphones, then compared it with an NAD setup I sort of liked, and the salesmen knew about the products, the companies, and my interests and intentions.

It's not that the big boxes are here. It's that they're all there is.

That's what brings on the hyperbole. We're big boxed in.
posted by sonascope at 9:20 AM on January 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


Best Buy was awesome 10 years ago, when I was buying my first new XP desktop. I had a budget of $1,000 even, a graduation gift from my aunt, and I had to find the best specs for the money. I went to Best Buy and Office Depot, which had the best selection in my area, and looked at overpriced VAIOs and eMachines and whatnot. But Best Buy had something different: a store-brand PC! The vpr Matrix line had strong, sleek cases designed by Porsche and amazing specs for the price, plus generous upgrade slots and a DVD drive...this was a lot of computer for the money! Yeah, I couldn't afford the really nice one, so I only got XP Home, and the weird quirk of these computers was that they didn't come with normal recovery discs, but rather a special vpr Matrix set that had some limitations, and even then the customer service if I had any problems was going to be pretty bad. In fact, within the first 24 hours of bringing the computer home, I experimented with something that managed to totally hose the operating system a couple times over and got to talk to the guys in India by phone, and the faux-recovery discs were a little frustrating.

But I tell you what, 10 years later, I'm still running basically the same PC. In 2007, I think it was, the power supply or something on the first box finally went out, and I bought the next model up for $500 on eBay from a government contractor cleaning out a closet somewhere. So I got XP Pro, a bigger hard drive, more RAM, and a faster processor out of the deal, and cannibalized the first one for parts (learned how to replace a USB port module that way!).

That was my first PC beyond Windows 3.1, the one I learned how to break and repair the operating system on, the one I wrote all my college papers on (and have done work on for all my jobs since), the one I learned how to (and how not to) flash DVD-drive firmware on and make other hardware upgrades on. It's the one I took to LAN parties before I finally got a laptop in 2008.

Yeah, the default install had some crapware (albeit easily uninstalled compared to the crazy crap you get on HP laptops and most Android phones now), and the Porsche-designed plastic mouse and keyboard didn't last forever (I still have them, but only for use when I need wired stuff for OS installs, etc., 'cause the optical mouse is a bit jittery, the keyboard a bit worn), but man. Those vpr Matrix computers were exemplary products for their time, and they pretty much represented the peak of Best Buy's computer department. It's all been downhill from there... I wouldn't even go in there to buy blank CD-Rs, now that there's a Micro Center about 1,000 feet from my office... The last thing I think I bought there was a Griffin iPod-over-radio dealy, and I only went there because I needed it right away for a road trip and Micro Center didn't exist yet. Before that, I went in when the HD conversion took place and I had to use my government voucher card for a converter box...and man, is it a crappy box (randomly turns itself off, has weird issues with static electricity turning it off if you touch it, and we've long since lost the remote). I think that trip was when they tried to upsell me to some fancy antenna, rather than rabbit ears (which I bought and which have been fine).

Alas, I won't go in there anymore unless I'm really desperate.
posted by limeonaire at 12:03 PM on January 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


It's not that the big boxes are here. It's that they're all there is.

I think that depends on where you live. I bought a new surround sound system a little over a year ago in SF and went to an actual audio store. The kind owned by a guy who really knows his shit and has been in business for 30 years and will spend an hour letting you fuck around with all the stuff in the store.

In places like LA and SF, these stores still exist. But it's true you have to live in/near a major city to still have access to them.
posted by wildcrdj at 1:31 PM on January 7, 2012


They exist in areas a whole lot smaller than LA and SF. Check out the dealer locators for Paradigm or Magnepan or other not-in-BestBuy makes. Sure, you're not likely to find an actual audio or a/v store in a rural area where your town of 20K is the local big city. But they're out there, even in many small cities.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 2:24 PM on January 7, 2012


In my area, there's Gramophone, which started out as a sort high-endish audiophile place for people with more money than sense (or in my case, more credit than sense) and went all upscale home theater/magical vacuum tubes & Martin-Logan invisible speakers to the point that they're just not remotely an option. Now, for me, I'm fine—I've got a nice mish-mash system of parts I've accumulated over the years, but there's not much between the shitty glorified boombox crap at BB and vacuum tubes perched on polished chrome boxes to play audio from turntables milled out of twenty-three pounds of aircraft-grade aluminum. The age of the just above the middle-of-the-road schlub may just be over, which seems sad.

Of course, these days, you can spend thirty bucks on the Class T/Tripath amps that audiophiles are enjoying, feed it FLACs/Lossless music, and spend your money on a really nice set of speakers. so maybe it's all just fine.
posted by sonascope at 4:58 PM on January 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


zachlipton, I loved the comments on the cable:

Then the Velocirapotors began doing an Irish jig and were transported back on stage with the Beatles on the Ed Sullivan show. Then they ate Ringo.
posted by Halloween Jack at 6:20 PM on January 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


A few days after Christmas, my wife's (long out of warranty) Acer laptop died with a small wisp of acrid smoke. My quick postmortem showed that the motherboard was fried.

I checked my usual sites (Amazon and Newegg) as well as the Best Buy site. BB had a great deal on a supposedly in-stock low-end Asus that would suit her needs. I braved the crowd, put my name on the list of people waiting for help and waited for about 30 minutes until I was finally tended to by a salesperson. I was OK with this because they were swamped. While I waited, I watched the rubes ahead of me eagerly pay for bullshit like extended warranties and high-priced anti-virus installations. I just wanted a box with the right computer in it.

I told her the exact model number I wanted and told her that the web site said it was in stock. Without checking her inventory on a POS terminal, she told me that it was out of stock and started a hard sell on another laptop that was $300 more.

I asked to see her manager. I was told that the department manager was "very busy" and waited another 15 minutes to see her. The manager also claimed (also without checking stock) that the computer I wanted was out of stock and started an even harder sell on a different laptop that was $400+ more. A rain-check was never offered.

At that point, I asked the dept. manager if she was aware of Indiana's bait and switch laws. She said she would go look for my original computer in the "back room" and never came back.

On my way out, I looked in the cage (from which she had headed in the opposite direction) where they actually keep the laptops and saw that they had four of the model I wanted, none of which had "sold" tags on them.

I left and shall never return*. I went across the street to OfficeMax, was warmly welcomed and got a decent deal on an acceptable HP over the span of about 15 minutes (including booting xubuntu from a flash drive, with permission, to check specs with lspci.) The upsell was soft and he didn't push when I declined.

Fuck Best Buy sideways with a rusty shovel. I've gotten better service at 2 am at Walmart and that is a really low bar to meet.

* - I'll come back when their bankruptcy clearance sale gets down to >50% off.
posted by double block and bleed at 6:20 PM on January 7, 2012 [4 favorites]


Actually, it was Office Depot, come to think of it.
posted by double block and bleed at 6:27 PM on January 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


Been trying to get our local cinema to do commission for folks at the concessions stand. It'd teach them that serving lots of people quickly will put more $$ in their pockets.

I imagine encouraging them to try to upsell all your orders will not improve speed. Plus even movie theatre snacks aren't exactly the best place to make commission, given that the company would endeavour to make consession staff earn roughly the same wage, so it's not like it would seriously positively effect their quality of life, just make them hustle for your benefit, while creating an extra tier of book keeping. Thus they'd have to sell enough popcorn to justify paying extra to fast clerks AND extra hours of supervison.

If you're hell bent on rewarding fast service, try tipping? People who work those sort of jobs are usually making minimum wage anyway, and a couple of fives tossed their way will work a lot better than complaining the popcorn kid didn't bring your hot buttered extra large fast enough.
posted by Phalene at 7:30 PM on January 7, 2012


Mobile phone service has to be insanely profitable to support the amazing number of places that sell it on commission.

I want to go to a store that will sell me a good product at a fair price, and stand behind it. I don't want to be upsold. If you won't take a return of a defective product, I'll contact the Attorney General's Office, but I shouldn't have to. I want to buy a product that meets my needs, not the one BuyMart is getting an incentive from the manufacturer to push. I don't want extra crap pushed at me. At PapaMacBurger, no, I don't want extra fries, apple pie, or a super-sized soda, but I sure would like my order to be accurate. Perhaps if you paid workers a bit more, they'd treat their work as if it mattered. I go to Radio Shack, because they're owned by a local person with a franchise, but they show me the expensive version of a battery tester, instead of the small inexpensive one that is exactly what I want. Then they offer me a warranty on it. Could I please have quality goods that don't need an extended warranty?

A few places offer good value. I'll pay more for goods at L.L. Bean, because if the zipper on my parka is crap, they'll make it right. My local hardware store will spend the time to help me find the correct 50 cent bolt, so I shop there.

See, these fuckers are turning us all into Andy Rooney.
posted by theora55 at 8:43 AM on January 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


I just got a $10 BB gift certificate. I couldn't find anything I wanted on their web site, and I will probably have to drag my sorry butt into their store just to use it up on, I don't know, a thumb drive or something.

My SiL worked in their web department in the early days and I was born a Minnesotan, so I keep trying to give them One More Chance. But they are terrible every single time I go there. :7(
posted by wenestvedt at 6:24 PM on January 8, 2012


* - I'll come back when their bankruptcy clearance sale gets down to >50% off.

Well, good luck with that.
posted by Halloween Jack at 1:30 PM on January 9, 2012


Bulgaroktonos: "Honestly, I'd be happy to see Best Buy go away just so I don't have to hear my mother call it "Best Buys." I'd also like to do away with MickieD's and Wally World."

Ix-nay on the ast-lay.

Unless you want to give me a job...
posted by Samizdata at 10:54 PM on January 9, 2012


sonascope: "If only Walmart would be next."

WalMart does not hire purely losers. They do hire cool(ish, kinda) Blue enthusiasts too, allowing said Blue lovers to actually pay their internet bill, not to mention the little vices like living indoors or eating on a semi-regular basis.

So, should you get your wish, you are number 2 on the list of people said Blue-loving MeFi will show up to to get supported.
posted by Samizdata at 11:18 PM on January 9, 2012


Ummmm, to get supported BY, even.
posted by Samizdata at 11:24 PM on January 9, 2012


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