Once upon a time, I used to like Best Buy. I remember walking into my first store sometime around 2000. It was big and brightly-lit. It was gorgeous. The selections were wide and all-encompassing. The smell of ozone and the technology all humming away; it was intoxicating. Do you remember the awe when you walked into a Best Buy? I know others felt the same way, as Best Buy was elevated in the minds of consumers while it ate up the foot traffic and market share from competitors like Circuit City.
In recent years, my love for Best Buy has diminished. While I won’t ever turn down a visit to the brick-and-mortar retail store, I won’t buy anything there anymore. Why? Uh, have you noticed that it is severely overpriced? From electronics to DVDs to accessories, everything can be purchased for less online. I suppose that whole rant is not entirely true. If you had an immediate need, needed purchasing advice, or wanted to touch and feel a product, you would go to the store. In the summer on our road trip, somewhere in Michigan on the way to the Detroit-area, we stopped and purchased a 2-in-1 mobile power inverter from a Best Buy. In that instance, yes, having an actual store was convenient. There was no way we could have waited two days to have something shipped.
For the most part, though, I think Best Buy is overpriced and not worth a trip. Best Buy also doesn’t negotiate, as I tried to get a lower price on an HDTV when I was shopping for one in early 2010. Also, I don’t think the sales reps give good advice either. Case in point, I went to the South Brunswick Best Buy on Tuesday night to purchase some alcohol-free screen cleaner for my Panasonic HDTV. I’ve noticed a growing number of screen smudges (the kids), but my eyeglass cloth has always removed them. On Tuesday, I found my daughter had drawn on the screen in white crayon while I was otherwise occupied. I went the cloth, but not much success. GASP! Anger! FRUSTRATION!
I drove to the Best Buy, and found that the price on the Monster TV screen cleaning kit (well-rated but previous customers) was $19.99 + tax. Meanwhile, I used my phone to check Amazon.com’s price, and it was $15. I’m a member of Amazon Prime, so if I waited two days, I’d still save myself at least $7-8. I decided I could wait two days, on principle. I ordered the screen cleaner from Amazon right there in the aisle. Meanwhile, a sales rep was “assisting” a woman next to me on HDMI cables, and convinced her to purchase an HDMI for about $80.
The conversation went something like this:
Sales Rep: “Here’s the cable that you want.”
Ill-Informed Customer: “But it’s $80.”
Sales Rep: “Yes, but you want to pay for quality. Now come this way, and we can ring you up” [or something like that.]
Joel: [Palm of hand slapping my own forehead.]
I wanted to stop her from paying an exorbitant amount for an HDMI cable. I purchased mine from Amazon for maybe $7-10. However, I didn’t want to cause an altercation with the sales rep right there with her holding her hand through the process of bamboozling her. Sigh.
Buyer beware, my friends. BTW, the screen cleaner worked like a charm.