My Latest Best Buy Experience

*Begin Rant Now…*

Saturday afternoon, my 6-year old daughter was playing a PS3 game on our 3.5-year old Samsung flat screen (Model: LN-T5271F if you’re interested). All the sudden the TV went off and would not come back on. I unplugged it and it plugged it back in. Still no power. This concerned me.

Later that day, I stopped by Best Buy to talk with one of their electronics people. I found some guy and explained my issue to him. When I told him the model of the TV I had, he said, “That’s an awesome TV.”

After I explained the issue, he shrugged his shoulders and told me I’d be better off buying a new TV.

Well, this ticked me off. I said something like, “You don’t understand. I bought one of the best TVs on the market when I bought this one. I spent $3,700. I bought it over a plasma because one of your sales guys told me that it would last a lot longer than a plasma. Now you’re telling me that I have to buy a new TV?”

His response: “Sir, we don’t make the TVs. We just sell them. Did you buy the warranty?”

Me: “No. What good would the warranty have done me anyway?”

Rep: “We have four-year warranties. For $200 you could have purchased the warranty and now we would be giving you a brand new TV. You should have bought the warranty.”

The Best Buy guy was about as smug as they come. He had no empathy for me and my situation. I left the store frustrated.

When I got home, I did a little research and found a phone number for Samsung. I got a Samsung person on the phone, explained my situation, and she arranged a company to come to my house and change out the capacitors free of charge. I asked her if this was a common problem with my TV and she said something like, “Yes sir. That’s why Samsung has agreed to make this particular repair free of charge.”

Why didn’t the Best Buy guy know about this? What would have been wrong with him saying, “Sir, I’m sorry for your issue. Since it’s not under warranty, you might call Samsung. I have heard that some of these TVs have had issues with capacitors and Samsung might to the repair for free. Here’s their number.”

THAT would have earned my respect AND would have brought me back the next time I needed a new TV or other high-dollar electronic device. From now on, my local Best Buy will be Amazon’s show room for me.

*End Rant*

36 thoughts on “My Latest Best Buy Experience”

  1. The store or their employees isn’t going to tell you about a possible fix because they would lose potential sales. They have to count on people walking in and believing that replacing their set is the best option. Telling you about the fix is counter-intuitive to their goal, which is to sell as many TVs as possible. That’s why, as you pointed out, it’s every consumers personal responsibility to do research and make sure that they’re exploring all their options. Good work on making sure you got all the facts.

  2. Good job on making that call, JLP. I’m with you on Best Buy; it seems like they’re doing everything in their power to ensure that they go the way of Circuit City. The Consumerist blog seems to make a living alone from all the outraged Best Buy customers.

  3. I actually just had my Samsung LN40A…something like that, repaired courtesy of Samsung because of this known power issue. Something about a capacitor? A co worker; the same thing. Mine was no charge because it was their issue however my co worker paid $85 a year or so ago. However, I bought the TV in 2008 from Circuit City because I would NEVER buy from Best Buy. I abhor all of the advertising and enticing they do to get you in but care nothing about you as the customer once your in the door. I go out of my way to purchase my electronics from anyone else: Target, Sams, Sears, Tiger Direct, etc…. Your story is so typical of them. And fyi, after all of my research about this issue, the gist I got was: it’s about a $40 fix with piece from Radio Shack that may take some doing to get to it but can be done. Good Luck.

  4. Best Buy truly is evil, and I refuse to shop there for several different bad experiences there. FWIW, I would expect nothing less than what you got from the salesperson, they really don’t have much of a clue on repairs. I’m not sure when these big ticket items became throw away products but unfortunately that’s our new world we live in.

  5. “From now on, my local Best Buy will be Amazon’s show room for me.”


    BTW: it is a good idea to call the manufacturer, like in your case. I’ve gotten a new crock-pot (original was 10 years old), and had the compressor changed out on the fridge. Both were way past their warranties, and both the manufacturers did for free.

    It is really nice to see (some) manufacturers stand behind their products. (I’ll never buy LG appliances).

    As for the best-buy employee, you should mention your conversation with the manager. I can understand their position — they can’t fix it for free (do they even employ service reps for repairs?). But they could have mentioned calling the manufacturer like you did.

    Give the management a chance to make it right — then flame them if they don’t!

  6. I browse at Best Buy a lot. Most of the time, and I mean MOST, the reps and sales associates have little to no clue about the products in their designated section. I make conversation sometimes about cell phones, computers and cameras and the reps have no idea what I’m talking about. The guy you spoke with probably doesn’t know the first thing about TVs.

  7. This is some truly epic whining. The guy at Best Buy doesn’t know anything about problems with Samsung TVs because Best Buy makes all their profit on warranties, and they will do everything they can to get you to purchase one. Once it’s out of the store without a warranty, they don’t care about you anymore because you are no longer a source of profit. This is the free market in action, dontcha know?

    Anyways, I fixed my brother’s Samsung plasma (which had the same problem: burst capacitors in the power supply relay control) myself for less than 20$ in parts and tools. Ayn Rand would be so disappointed in you.

  8. Whining? I don’t think so. Just talking about my experience and how I wasn’t happy with it. The Best Buy guy SHOULD have known about the issue and he should have told me about it. That’s customer service. He failed to do that and he was a smartass on top of it. Best Buy lost a customer. That’s capitalism.

  9. I do purchase electronics from Best Buy because their sales prices are hard to beat. BUT it annoys me that their perky young sales crew routinely ignores me, apparently preferring young to middle aged men over older women, never mind that I’ve got cash and I know exactly what I intend to buy. And then, I have to fend off all queries–No, I don’t want an extended warranty; No, I don’t want the Geek Squad to set up my computer at an additional charge; No, I don’t want a Best Buy credit card; and on and on ad nauseum!

  10. Why should he have known about the issue? He is a salesman, not a repairman. When you take you car in for repair, do you take it the salesman for advise or the service shop? I agree his attitude may have been smug by the way you describe it, but it may have been your disgust with the situation that clouded your perspective.

    Just my thoughts. By the way I can’t stand to shop at Best Buy, so I’m not trying to support them here.

    1. Maybe I’m expecting too much, David. I just think someone who knows his product line would know about this issue. It’s a matter of customer service. A good salesman would know.

  11. “Why didn’t the Best Buy guy know about this?”

    Cause the guy is paid $8.25 an hour and doesn’t have a reason to care….there is no incentive.

  12. I lost interest in Best Buy a couple of years ago – they didn’t have anything I wanted to buy. I got a Best Buy gift card for Xmas last year and ended up buying a portable electric heater with it. That was all they had that I wanted. Just another reason I shop online. I have been steered away from products, or to products based solely on the Amazon customer reviews. Something you won’t get from the pimply teenagers patrolling the aisles at Best Buy.

  13. JLP: “Maybe I’m expecting too much, David.”

    If you are expecting anything from Best Buy, you are expecting too much. There is not one thing that would draw me to shop there. Best prices? Almost never. Knowledgeable sales staff? Yeah right. Effective customer service? Chuckle.

    I buy all my electronics and appliances online. I can honestly say the customer service has been BETTER than in brick and mortar stores. I have no regrets and have saved a ton of money.

  14. Sam & RBK) you really think JLP would be better off purchasing a TV online?

    Good luck getting service for it, and paying who knows what to ship a TV back to an online retailer and paying 20% “re-stocking” fees if you plug it in and find a ton of dead pixels.

    Brick-and-mortar only for me, especially for something as large (and expensive) as a $3,700 TV.

    I do purchase light-bulbs online for my 6-year old JVC (it’s on the 4th bulb now). I do my own “servicing”.

  15. “Why didn’t the Best Buy guy know about this?”

    Because it’s not his job to know about every possible hardware failure for every single television set manufactured in the last 4 years. Your first call should have been to Samsung, not Best Buy.

    I agree that the customer service at Best Buy is poor, but in this case your expectations were unrealistic.

  16. Steve,

    I didn’t say it was his job to know every possible failure. Where did I say that? There is NO DOUBT in my mind that this employee had heard of experiences similar to mine (unless he was a very new employee).

    That’s the problem with companies today. People are too focused on “what’s my job” and not focused on the customer.

  17. BG,

    Crutchfield is a reputable company. They don’t always have the best prices but they do offer good customer service (at least they have when I’ve used them).

  18. JLP) likewise, you probably would have gotten better customer service calling Best Buy’s 1-800 number. I’d expect them to be better trained than a random sales rep. I expect the in store sales reps to be able to answer questions like “Do you have a lot of returns on this model?” (as a red-flag for models to stay away from).

    Either way, the best solution to your problem was Samsung — they were really the only people who would’ve been able to make it right for free.

    I think the big take-away from all of this is that Samsung is a real stand-up company that backs their products (even out of warranty).

  19. Oh — and let’s not forget the wisdom of the original Best Buy sales rep that steered you towards the more reputable brand…

  20. BG– Two things.

    First, if he bought it on line and I virtually guarantee it wouldn’t have been $3700 anyway.

    Second, Yes! I have had MUCH better luck with customer service at places like Amazon, Newegg, Beach Camera, monoprice, and a dozen other online stores than I have had buying things in person– especially for electronics. I’ve had to return one item out of dozens purchased, and it was replaced free of charge– shipping paid and all.

    Those restocking fees are not exclusive to online retailers. In fact from my experience they are just as common in brick-and-mortar places as they are online.

    I would not hesitate to advise JLP to buy his TVs online. I have bought 3 flat panels online, saved a couple grand doing it, and had no problems with customer service.

  21. RBK) And you are paying your states use-tax for all your online purchases right? Hard to imagine you are saving “a couple grand” if you are filling out the use-tax forms that you are legally required to do (in any state that has a sales-tax).

  22. BG– The tax is not the only difference. I bought one last December that was $400 less than any brick and mortar store. I bought one about 5 years ago that was $500-600 less than I could find it anywhere else. That’s $1000 on two TVs. I also bought Bosch appliances about 3 years ago for hundreds less than any brick and mortar stores were selling them for.

    Online stores have a very small overhead cost compared to brick and mortar, which means they can achieve the same margins with much lower prices. I imagine that’s all there is to it, but the result is a far better deal for the consumer that’s will to look online for products.

  23. RBK) I just did a quick check

    Panosonic 50″, Model TC-P50X3:

    Best Buy: $719.99 (in store right now, no waiting)
    Amazon: $718.00 (free 5-8 day shipping)
    NewEgg: $799.99
    Beach Camera: $717.95 (free 5-8 day shipping)

    Crutchfield and Monoprice didn’t carry it.

    The best you can do online with that TV is save $1.05, and wait 5-8 days for it to show up. If it’s damaged or you don’t want it — then you have to ship it back (time), or pay restocking fees.

    So, tell me, where are these hundreds of dollars in savings — if not from illegal tax avoidance?

  24. @BG: You said: “Good luck getting service for it, and paying who knows what to ship a TV back to an online retailer and paying 20% “re-stocking” fees if you plug it in and find a ton of dead pixels.”

    Seems the Best Buy service wasn’t going to be any better than the online guys.

    How many online purchases have you actually returned in your life? If you buy a large item such as a TV from Amazon or any other reputable dealer and it shows up defective, they are FANTASTIC about taking it back – at their cost. They send the truck to your door to pick it up.

    And Best Buy has a pretty steep restocking fee too
    for non-defective items.

    I get that you like to shop local, but some of your reasons are not valid.

  25. BG, give me a break. You look online for one model and expect that to convince anyone? Surely you know better. I know it to be true because I made these purchases. You don’t have to believe me, and frankly I don’t care if you do. But as long as we’re cherry picking data points:

    Samsung PN51D8000 51″ Plasma 1080p 3D HDTV
    Best Buy: $2069.98
    US Appliance: $1729, incl. shipping
    East Coast TVs: $1805 incl. shipping
    Beach Camera: $1977 incl. shipping

    Savings of $100-300 even if you pay the taxes. Also, I would think somebody who frequents personal finance blogs wouldn’t need it *right now* and could wait a few days for shipping to save over a hundred bucks.

    One last thing– prices are not ALWAYS, every day better online, so an online shopper just has to keep checking deals forums and price comparison sites for hot deals when they pop up. I was in the market for a 46″ LCD and waited a few weeks for the right deal. When I bought it for $600 you couldn’t buy it anywhere in person for less than a thousand. The same TV is $900 at Walmart right now, 5 months later.

  26. Mark said: “How many online purchases have you actually returned in your life?”

    None, but then again, I rarely make online purchases.

    “And Best Buy has a pretty steep restocking fee too for non-defective items.”

    There is NO restocking fee at Best Buy, unless it was a ‘specially ordered item’ that they don’t locally stock.

    “I get that you like to shop local, but some of your reasons are not valid.”

    I prefer to shop local, unless I must go online as a last alternative. I think my reasons are perfectly valid: I don’t want to wait a week (or more) for something to show up, and in questionable condition. I don’t want the hassle of having to be at home at a certain time for deliveries, or having to mess with shipping returns. I don’t cheat on my taxes, so any cost savings are negligible.

    RBK) First, you have seemingly admitted to not paying use-taxes on your purchases — so why should I trust your claim that you comparison shopped all the local stores (not just Best Buy).

    And secondly, US Appliances’ price for the TV that YOU cherry picked is actually $2,299.00, a whopping $229.12 more than my local best buy. Plus you must pay a 2% restocking fee even if you cancel the order before they ship it. If they have already shipped it, then you have to pay a 10% restocking fee, plus all shipping costs.

    For “East Coast TVs”, try googling “East Coast TVs SCAM” and read up on them. Their shipping is 2 to 3 weeks at best, and it is high pressure sales tactics to buy wall-mounts and warranties (and at least one guy said they refused to ship the TV without extra warranty purchases). Sorry, but I’m not dealing with some shady outfit, especially when we are talking about serious amounts of cash.

    Beach Camera’s price is in the ball-park for Best Buy: I’d pay the $93 to avoid all the shipping and potential restocking fee headaches.

    But you do what you want — but at least pay the friggin taxes if you are going to order online.

  27. BTW: I bought a camcorder at a BestBuy around five years ago — it worked great for 2 days, then died. I called the manufacturer (JVC) and they said it was toast and to return it.

    We took it to a different Best buy (in a different state too, as we were on vacation) and got an exact replacement within 15 minutes. No box, no fees, no hassle at all. That replacement camcorder is still going strong today.

    Not sure why I’m telling this story, perhaps it is the reason why I like Best Buy so much (I also love Frys too — especially with their free PC parts testing).

  28. That US Appliance deal must have just ended. It was good a few days ago, and that’s the whole reason I chose that product for example. East Coast TVs gets very good seller ratings but I’ve never bought there. You can find negative web sites by googling “Best Buy scam” too . . . though I bet you haven’t tried that.

    I will continue to do what I do, continue to save money, and continue to advise people to do the same. You can continue to be afraid of online purchases. I think we will both survive just the same.

    Oh, do let me ask you this though . . . do you buy cables at Best Buy? That’s the biggest ripoff of all.

  29. Actually BG that deal at US appliance IS still live. You just have to enter info to start the checkout process to see the final price. It’s $1729 and that includes a free $500 3D starter kit. It’s an outstanding deal whose total value is some $800 better than Best Buy.

  30. “do you buy cables at Best Buy?”

    No, I use the cables that come with the units/players — if the manufacturer things they are good enough, then that is good enough for me.

    I’ll trust you on the US appliance deal — I still only see the high price — terrible advertising they have.

  31. …and you have to wonder why ‘Best Buy’ stock has dropped so much over the past few months….

  32. “I don’t cheat on my taxes, so any cost savings are negligible.”

    So, are you saying that those that do shop online are cheating on their taxes?

    I bought a camcorder 6 yr ago online for $80 less (20%) than best buys in store price. It was delivered in less than a week and I paid taxes on it too. It still works today too.

    I bought a digital camera about 3 yr ago for $50 less online (15%). Still paid taxes. Still works great and delivered to my door in 1 week.

    If you can’t wait one week to save 10% to 20+%, that’s your problem. But, don’t knock those that do.

    I guess you can lead a horse to water, but can’t make him drink is true. I’m hopeful some day that BG will get it that consumers won’t products and services as cheap as they can get them. That compeition forces business to continually re-invent how they sell to customers. On-line retailers have undercut physical stores b/c they have less overhead. This is why Netflix and Redbox have driven Blockbuster into bankruptcy.

    A fool and his money are soon parted. Good luck!

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