The WarranTards!

Microsoft once again has their alchemists hard at work trying to decipher the formula for “Apple Cool” and distill it into a easily replicable process. Let’s look at their last 3 “cool” efforts:

Windows “Mojave”: “Hey! Did you hear how shitty Vista was? You did? Well check this out! You like it? Oh really? THIS IS VISTA YOU IDIOT! HAHAHAHAHAHAHFUCKYOU!”

Gates and Seinfelddoing things: “Hey, you’re Bill Gates.” “Hey, you’re Jerry Feingold.” “It’s Seinfeld… You wanna buy some expensive shoes?” “Sure” (together)”VISTA!”

Now take out the part where they say “Vista.” That’s the campaign. They aren’t selling anything but confusion.

Microsoft Gurus: Well this hasn’t really started yet, but I assume it will go something like, “I want to buy a PC.” “Great! You know it has Windows Vista. Let me extoll the virtues of Vista to you… the Visturtues, if you will.” “Yeah, that’s cool… I’m going to buy a Mac. You guys sell those too right?

Now, I realize this comic isn’t actually about MS Gurus, but it did give me an opportunity to show you Best Buy through my eyes. I went with Josh to buy a camera at Best Buy a while back and they were seriously trying to sell him a replacement plan that didn’t cover anything beyond the manufacturers warranty. When I pointed that out the WarranTard in question died a little inside and finished ringing us up.

DON’T FORGET!!! PODCAST CASTCAST TONIGHT!!!

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52 Comments

  1. I did get insurance on my laptop (not through Best Buy), but that's because I have a 3-year old that plays fast and loose with her chocolate milk. I do sleep easier because of it.

    Best Buy mostly sucks. That said, I'm glad I have one nearby. What I find most annoying about them is despite having a city block's worth of retail space they rarely stock anything that's not firmly in the mainstream. Particularly when I'm looking for some obscure wire for my (admittedly inane) media setup and I'm told that what I'm trying to do is "not possible". Occasionally I'll get someone there that's truly helpful, but not often enough.

  2. also, to be fair, after seeing the 2nd GatesSeinfeld "ad," I actually like them. A really weird sense of humor there, although I still don't see how it's supposed to be selling anything.

  3. I dont shop there at all. I bargain shop for all my electronics and components which rules them out completely. Its usually newegg or Amazon where I find my stuff. Im cool with waiting 4 days to save giant monie$.

    Regarding the "cables" we have a couple of "Fry's Electronics" here in Dallas. They carry basically every cable, adapter and connector you could ever desire at a reasonable price. Their slogan should be "When you can wait for Amazon!"

  4. I am always confused when the Best Buy hate shows up. I've been shopping at the two local ones (and occasionally while on vacation) for about five years and I've never had any of the problems described. In fact, quite often when I return things the employees will tell me exactly how to beat the company and get a better deal. They ended up paying me ten bucks to upgrade to a DS Lite, and no, it was not in store credit.

  5. See, thats just certain individuals making a bad situation better. The fact that they need to tell you how to "beat the system" is a symptom of the problem.

    BB is a pretty shady bunch. They rake in millions a year from unspent gift cards, they have an internal intranet that shows different prices than their public website, etc etc. On top of that their prices can ALWAYS be beaten elsewhere.

  6. To be fair almost all retail brick and mortar stores have intranets with different prices than their own online price. If you want cheap shit, buy it online, if you want it NOW buy in at a store.
    That being said. Fuck Best Best buy and Fuck Futureshop (the Canadian Circuit City).

  7. I always feel sort of sorry for the folks who work there and _have_ to sell these stupid warranties to keep their jobs. Like the waitrons who have to "offer" you the stupid overpriced appetizers you don't want before you've even looked at a menu.

  8. Not quite what I meant. It's not that they need to show me how to beat their system, because the system has always played fair with me, but sometimes they will show me step by step how to screw THEM over. Example: I am now on my fourth MP3 player upgrade for the same $300 I payed them years ago. Only the first one was defective. Yes, they're not the cheapest… but hell, I live in Seattle. The closest electronics shop with great pricing is 45 minutes away on a good day. I'd never buy anything over ~$500 there, just on reputation, but below that they've been good to me.

  9. I don't think we're getting the Bill/Jerry ads in the UK but I've seen the shoe one and I think they're pretty clever, and also flawed, in relying on the public subconscious of "Bill Gates = Windows".

    That inferred "we have – it's called Windows Vista" to Jerry's "why don't you invent something that makes my PC uber kick-ass" question purely through Seinfeld's pause and gasp of realisation is a bit of a risk when (and no offense to those currently present) your typical American is probably not particularly responsive to such subtleties.

    Plus I've never found Jerry Seinfeld remotely funny or Bill Gates charismatic, which is probably more of a fail than the actual ad concept.

  10. Say what you will (and you already have, heh) but I'd have to say that sometimes Best Buy does have the lowest prices, especially on brand new DVDs. They do love their extended warranties, but I bought one from them for a laptop AND used it, so I'm not dissin' the extended warranty. We bought our washer there on clearance and it was almost half the regular price. So, all in all, I've had good experiences.

  11. Erik, i dont blame you guys at all. I blame the situation. I've done my time as an electronics store worker so I feel pretty confident dishing out the sarcasm. I was at the now defunct Service Merchandise, which made Best Buy's warranty pushing practices look like childs play. Ours was called "Service Plus." We were "encouraged" to push it on any and every purchase even if it was a $10 plan on a $15 phone. Service Plus numbers were the ONLY thing we ever talked about in meetings and was the only metric used to measure employee performance. This, in my opinion, is one of the main reasons the whole chain went out of business.

    Take yourself out of the equation and read your paragraph as an outside observer. You make Best Buy sound like a pretty shitty place to shop. Again, no offense to you. Everyone has to work and I certainly dont begrudge you for making a living. I just dont abide by your employers practices.

    Thanks for taking the time to share your perspective.

  12. Having been in quite a few sales environments myself, I think it's ridiculous to ask any employee to give 2 shits about upsales, replacement plans, or add ons if they dont see a dime in return. Unless you are in commisioned sales, your only focus should be on making sure the customer gets what would suit them best. Off the top of my head I cant really think of a brick and mortar store that exemplifies this.

    A word of advice to you and Erik: if the customer is a dick, kill them with kindness. Once they realize that the battle they've been planning for all the way to the store isnt going to happen they typically start to act like a human being and treat you the same. Its much harder to be an asshole to someone who is doing everything they can to help you out. The bonus is it also tends to make them feel like crap for being a jerk in the first place. Your job is less stressful and, in a way, you teach them a lesson about how to treat people.

  13. No, I agree. Most people arent going to work through the thought process, consciously or subconsciously, of " Bill Gates seems somehow cooler than before… I guess I will give Vista a shot."

  14. New release DVD's are usually cheapest at WalMart but only for the first 5 days after release. I also bought a clearence washing machine there so I could make use of a gift card I got at xmas. I got it home and realized it didnt have any springs in the door, so I went to home depot, bought some generic springs and rigged it myself. No point to that story I guess.

  15. I'm a Best Buy worker, and it seems like the comic's attacking us and not the company. Yeah, we know they're slimy buggers; that's one thing that's lame about working there. There's this yearly bonus called "Blue Crew Bucks" given to stores that perform really well. Our store has had great figures, and yet nobody's seen a cent of this money. Really, don't worry, we know, and we're happy to help people who aren't dicks. Are you a dick? Then we'll return the favor. Products are replaced all the time (at my store, it may be different elsewhere) on the basis that you say it doesn't do something, since 1: you were nice and 2: the customer service people aren't trained to know how to make your blackberry do x, y, or z, so they'll toss it in the DEVO box and get you hooked up with your stuff.

    And to anybody who doesn't buy service plans and has good luck, be glad that you've got a cool inventory department, because most don't give a rat's ass about monitors falling 20 feet off of shelves. Seriously, it's kinda crazy. If you're sure you've got things under control, don't buy, but if there's any chance you'll hit a problem outside your expertise (or that awesome dude who always lives near you with great tech skills (I rely on one of them quite frequently)), dish out the extra cash. I've bought it on my hard drive (used it twice), my Rock Band drum set (once so far), and my TV (it'd better not mess up, because I like my 32" LCD).

  16. Oh, I do kill them with kindness. Like I said, I made that woman who was bitching and moaning and wanted to return leave with a smile, AND our replacement package.

    We get a 'spiff' on the replacement package.. i.e. on a $150 item insured.. we get $0.80. Not really much of an incentive. We have this speaker that costs $4, that we get $1 on, that takes no effort.

    Then again, I'm not in a commission environment, nor would I place myself in one 🙂

  17. I work for an FYE (we sell the game stuff, not the cpu stuff), but I have friends at Best Buys. Yeah, everyone is forced to sell the warranty (when I scan a game item or ipod, it literally pops up asking if I told the customer about our replacement package), you just deal with it the way you want to.

    As far as online prices versus in stores, if it's $15 in a store, and $12 online, they are adjusting it for shipping. Since that $15 in store requires no extra money to get it in your hand, it might beat the $12 item in the long run, unless you're buying multiple items (keeping shipping lower by combining orders).

    What Erik (Mr. Bestbuy Employee) said was true, about if the customer is a dick, us retail folk will dish it right back at ya. I had a woman come in, with an ipod nano in the case, looking brand new that she wanted to return. Only one problem, she left the case on it still. So there it is, in the packaging, even with it appearing to be sealed, yet there was a magical case? Must be the rare and elusive 'ipod nano with free case' model. She wanted to return this 'unopened' ipod. I tried to be nice, ask if it was defective, or in any way not what she wanted. She said she accidentally bought two from us (which her receipt showed only one :D, seeing as how I sold it to her), and wanted to return this "unopened" one. I looked down and saw the black case on this 4gb silver nano, and ask her 'are you sure?'. She agreed, smiling, and I quoted our return policy from memory (essentially, unless the electronic item in question is defective, once it's opened it is yours), she fought it for 30 minutes, asked for a manager (which I am in no way one, yet I do most of the same tasks lol), and eventually, she left not only happy, but with a replacement plan?

    A lot of customers are just plain retarded. Don't get me wrong, I'll go to another store, and get treated like crap too, and I'm in no way saying the general public is a total twat, it's simply the fact that if you work in retail, you're not gonna be carefree and prancing around while rainbows and blackberries shoot out your ass.

    My name is Brandon, and that was my Rant.

  18. I never go to best buy unless I know exactly what I want and where to find it because of the abysmal customer service in my region. for example I've bee sold a bum wireless router and a bum dvd player. Both were packaged and labeled as new, turned out they were open box returns…

  19. It will all be better when the party of change – the republicans – take over next year. Then truth, justice, and appropriate treatment of all workers will prevail.

  20. I used to loathe Best Buy, and shopped mostly at Circuit City when I needed stuff, due to crappy best Buy customer service. Now, though, the last few times I've been to BB, the guys were actually really helpful, and didn't push me to buy stuff i didn't want or need. And every CC i've been to lately is like wandering around in a post-apocolyptic, "I am Legend" sort of movie, with empty, echoing aisles.

    • It used to be that Circuit City was the ONLY store I could go to. The Best Buys in my region don't seem to stock any useful computer parts, like empty towers or power supplies, and the independent computer stores that I knew about had all closed. Unfortunately, the only Circuit City within like 200 miles of me closed, so now I have to do my computer part shopping online.

      Needless to say, it's so much harder to get something like a tower or power supply when all you have to look at are tiny pictures (with frequently inaccurate or incomplete specs) instead of the real thing.

  21. My favorite Best Buy warranty experience happened 3 years ago when I was helping a roommate buy a flat-panel TV. After refusing the extended warranty countless times during the sale, the salesmoron then told us that we needed to have Best Buy deliver the TV to our apartment. When we asked why, he told us that since we didn't get the extended warranty, the only safe way to transport it would be under Best Buy's armed delivery service. Of course, this delivery would cost us a hefty fee. If we didn't have the delivery, they "would not be responsible for [us] breaking the TV in transit." We told them that we had it under control, and preceded to move said TV to the front of the store. The salesman then grabbed a bunch of his work buddies and trailed us to the door, all the while loudly remarking to them that we were going to drop the TV and all our money would be wasted. I waited at the door while my roommate retrieved his car (a massive 1994 Chrysler New Yorker), and then we loaded the sucker into the backseat in a matter of minutes. We then drove off while giving the bewildered herd of Best Buy employees a smug wave.

  22. You've got a retarded store. I load crap into peoples' cars all the time, and I'd guess half time people don't have the service plan. As long as you don't lie it on its face or back, there's no risk or anything, so those guys were stupid.

  23. No compensation at all, and unless you work in product process (inventory, merchandising, etc.,), they really expect you to get the plans. On a side note, one guy bet a manager that he could get more plans than said manager. Yesterday, when the bet finished, the underling hadn't gotten even half of the manager's total (it's hard when the person with whom you're choosing to compete has about three times your hours), and we shaved his head (the peon, not the fief lord). It was awesome, cuz he's kinda a douche, and we got revenge in a company sanctioned way. Hoo-rah! Punishing the weak!

  24. If they're open box and the store sold you them anyway, raise hell. Open box products are supposed to be sold with hella discount. Like, that's company policy. If that ever happens again, kick and scream until they realize that the policy is there for a reason, and that reason is employees don't want to make people as angry as you will be. That sentence was convoluted and a mess, but I'm sticking by it.

  25. I wish there was a Fry's Electronics around where I live. Sadly my choices are basically limited to Best Buy, Circuit City (unbelievably even worse than Best Buy), or Radio Shack (who seem to have transitioned into pedlar's of miscellaneous remote control garbage and cell phones). On the plus side I've got a Best Buy mastercard and it's got a really nice point reward system that more or less means I get a free DVD each month when I pay my rent with it.

  26. Reminds me of being in a store the other day (think it was an FYE but wouldn't swear to it). We asked a question about something or other, and the poor girl behind the counter gave us this 10 minute spiel about something or other at about 90 words a minute only stopping to inhale about twice. At the end of it we were just like "wow, do they make you say that to everyone that asks you a question?" to which she replied yes, and that that was the short one, they used to have a longer one they had to use, and the managers would listen and ream them out if they didn't do the whole thing, or if they screwed up part of it. All I could think was why even bother having workers at that point, you'd save time and money just putting up a big ass sign and telling everyone they had to read it before you'd help them (which is basically what they were doing anyway). We told the girl we were sorry she had such a shitty job, and then promptly went to another store.

  27. My thought process "Huh, what the hell was Bill thinking with these commercials… maybe he should spend less time trying to convince everyone that Vista doesn't suck, and instead work on, you know, making an OS that doesn't suck."

    That being said, every OS sucks, just some more than others, and in different ways. I used to really enjoy Linux, but lately I've had no end of problems with it, so much so, it's looking like XP is the best OS out there right now (although OS X is pretty close as well). Now if only it wasn't constantly under attack due to it's utterly brain dead security model. I would love to have the time and money to write my own OS if for no other reason than to fix all the security problems present in virtually every OS out there, but sadly I've got bills to pay.

  28. Only problem with DVDs at Walmart is they tend to only carry fullscreen versions. Widescreen DVDs are few and far between (at least at the Walmarts by me) not to mention poorly labeled. It's to the point I'm paranoid about buying any DVDs at Walmart and always double check that it is in fact a 16:9 ratio, and if I can't find anything that says what the screen size is I don't buy it.

  29. The stores around here do mark open box items, but I've never noticed "hella discount" on any of them. Usually it's something like 5 to 10 percent off the normal retail price (quick example, there was a open box Apple keyboard which normal is priced something like $60 and it was marked down to $55). I mean, sure it's discounted, but it's hardly much of a discount most of the time.

  30. The CC near me has never had good service in any way shape or form. In particular since they stopped giving out commission a while back it's just about impossible to find any employees there that give a crap about anything, not that I particularly blame them, if I worked in retail I probably wouldn't give a crap either.

  31. I work at BB as well, so I felt the need to comment, for some reason *shrug*… Anyway, yeah, the warranties are pushed because that's where the money is. However, while some of them are pointless, there are some that are useful, even if you sometimes have to jump through a few hoops to get results. This is especially true if you get a service plan with accidental protection on a camera or laptop. I work in the geek squad, so I see day after day people coming in with broken tech. Not one person who dropped their camera and had it repaired or replaced because they bought the accidental protection has ever been upset that they bought it.
    All I'm saying is, just because they're trying to sell you something more than what you originally wanted doesn't mean it can't be to your benefit.

  32. I bought an Xbox 360 at BB a while back and specifically got a warranty because of their failure rate. well sure enough two weeks later I got the dreaded 3 red lights. I went to get it replaced and they actually told me I needed to send it in to MS! I very politely told them that either they replaced my xbox or refunded me the cost of the useless warranty. They only agreed to replace it after I asked to see a manager and threatened to call the Better Business Bureau.

  33. I was physically intimidated out of the Shelbyville Rd Louisville KY store. five guys. They crossed their arms in a cop stance and escorted me to the door and watched til I left the parking lot.
    i did not raise my voice, or cuss I stated firmly that it was the worse customer service I had ever had after they refused to apply a $200.00 gift card I had to my account. WHAT? They cannot tell me how to spend my credit. I FINALLY found (after 2 weeks of spamming them and telling my story on their Face Book page) a customer service fellow, Kevin, a great polite person, who helped me out and finally applied that gift card to my account after I had written what black-mouthed, soul-less corporate bastards Best Buy is repeatedly. What allows them to physically intimidate single ladies in their store? I will never go back. it was an adrenaline BS situation and I deeply resent the time I had to spend on that issue. and look I just got sucked in again. yet, I think ppl should know my story.

  34. Hah. My husband runs his own computer support/service business, and we've done warranty work for BB (the nearest of which is like 2.5 hours away). We're getting to the point that we just won't do it anymore.

    In order to fix anything for them, we first have to fill out their forms, then diagnose the problem and let them know what it is, and what our estimated repair cost will be. They then either approve it or not, at which point we bill the customer and Best Buy reimburses them (so long as the amount had prior approval). They will also cover the repairman's hourly wage up to and including $15/hr (which I guess is what they pay their techs). Our rate is $65/hour, which is perfectly reasonable to get someone of his calibre and experience working on your machine, so the customer gets to either pay to ship it back to Best Buy to be worked on by them directly, or get stuck with an extra $50/hr in our wages. Or we get to work for $15/hr, which he, as a tech, hasn't done for about 25 years.

    On top of that, they grill us very closely as to whether the damage looks at all user-inflicted (we always say no), because if they have the slightest hint that the problem didn't just spontaneously develop then the warranty is instantly void.

    So, as a contract tech, our choices when working for them are basically: (1) screw the customer or (2) screw ourselves.

    Fucking Best Buy.

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