How to Drive Customers Away: by Sears and Best Buy

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Hattie_post_graySears and Best Buy are up to their devil-in-the-details shenanigans again. They still think that boondoggling customers is good business: “pull ’em in the door with a lure and then… ‘wham’… you got ‘em.” How can they not realize by now that it is no more than a cheap tactic that turns customers off?

My darling Goodie, poor thing, would have written this cause he’s the one it happened to. But he’s still vibrating on the couch with frustration, indignation, and a foaming mouth. I’m lookin at him now as he tries to recover by gulping potato chips, swilling beer, and watching 14 football games at once.

Anyway, here’s the sad story:

A fine example of clear communication

A fine example of clear communication

We’ve been needin a new icebox, so Goodie went to old reliable Sears’ web site, found just the fridge we wanted, was delighted to see that shipping was free, and went about ordering online (fun isn’t it?). BUT, just to be sure, he called the store, explained what he was doing, and asked for confirmation: “The shipping is free, right?”

“Well, Mr. Goodwin, sort of. You have to pay the $70 shipping charge up front because, you see, we use third-party delivery services and they have to be paid, and…. So, Mr. Goodwin, what you do is you send in a rebate after purchase and Sears will send you a credit card worth a value of $70, and there you are.”

“But that’s not really ‘free shipping’,” says my Goodie. “The web site is misleading, and it’s very unpleasant to be told one thing when it really means another very different thing.”

“Yes, sir. It is a little confusing.”

Well, Goodie was confused and aggravated enough not to buy from them. And like any discriminating purchaser, he turned to other vendors. “Let’s try Best Buy,” he said. “They don’t mess with you like that.” And off he went to the Best Buy web site where he found another nice unit at just the right price, ad guess what else? That’s right: a 2-day special discount with free shipping for items over $399. Manno!


The devil is in those “Details”

BUT, just to be sure, Goodie drives to the actual store, asks about the unit which they (the store) had told him over the phone they had in stock. Ah, but it seems it was (surprise!) a computer error. Not in stock after all. But the good news was that, “Mr. Goodwin, if you order it online, you’ll get the free shipping.”

That’s still a good deal, right?

Not so fast.

Because when dear Goodie got home and went online and started ordering, he didn’t see no nothing about free shipping. So he called the store and asked about that.

“Don’t worry, Mr. Goodwin, when you get near the end of the purchasing process, the free shipping will kick in. You’ll see it.”

Never happened. So, right before he’s about to click that awful “submit” button (they gotta find a better name than ‘submit’, don’t you think?), he calls back just to double-check.

“Well, Mr. Goodwin, your item must not be on the list of “selected items” that are eligible for the free shipping discount.”

Indeed, after a lot of harangue and checking, turns out that our dear selection didn’t qualify under the terms of their big, front-page FREE SHIPPING banner (the tricky “see details” part which, by the way, was never mentioned by either the salesperson in the store or the customer rep on the phone—with whom Goodie spoke 3 times).

What on God’s green earth is going on with all this, please tell me? Here’s a store selling good stuff we want to buy and pay good money for—that “submit” button was about to yield them $1,000—yet they are jerking us around. The worst part is that there’s no good reason for them to do it. It only makes things worse.



So what did we do? We ordered the darn thing from Home Depot which is delivering it in 3 days with, yes, free shipping—no questions asked, no tricks attached, no boondoggling whatsoever.

Too bad that some people actually admire the gall of Sears whose logo says, “Life. Well spent.” But it’s certainly not money—or time—well spent, I can tell you.

good ’ol customer confidence

You gotta love the exclamation point

And Best Buy, whose slogan says, “Buy with confidence.” The confidence that the ‘deals’ are never what they seem is all I can gather from that.

Wanna know why we’re still scraping the bottom of the economy? Cause too many companies are still lying to, cheating, and blatantly misleading their customers—their former customers. •

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One Response to “How to Drive Customers Away: by Sears and Best Buy”

  1. Wow. Good for you. Too bad so much of YOUR time was wasted trying to scrape away crap and get to the truth (in advertising). Unfortunately, they will continue to prosper because so many people are still trusting (“I saw it in print so it must be true.”) Years ago someone warned me that Circuit City ALWAYS charged the MSRP and do not expect any bargains. I guess that didn’t work too well for them.


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