Thursday, January 05, 2012

Time to short Best Buy

Five years ago, after a particularly bad experience, I wrote a post whose title tells it all: "Circuit City sucks."  I have never had so much deja vu than reading this Forbes article: "Why Best Buy is going out of business...gradually."
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.
This past holiday season I found myself in a Best Buy and and much of what the author writes is true, although I would add one detail.  The aisles and spaces at my local Best Buy used to be wide and inviting, leaving a modest area for kids to play at game consoles.  Now every square-inch is filled with stacks of crap and bins filled with crummy DVDs such that it's like negotiating a mine field to get across the floor.  Here's a hint of how inept this store was: the weekend before Christmas they didn't have power delivered to either of the IPads on display.  I'm no marketing genius but I think if you're trying to sell electronics, you should provide electrons.

For the record, this is the first Christmas where I did all my shopping online - everything, mostly from Amazon.  Here's another story: on the Wednesday evening before Christmas, I saw some winter boots on the Lands End web page that were marked down from $70 to $34 - no tax and free shipping (natch).  So I ordered them, figuring I would pick them up once I got back from my holiday travelling.  But then on Friday, there was the UPS guy with a Lands End box: they had upgraded the shipping to next-day just so I would get them before Christmas.


Bram said...

I go to Best Buy if I need to see something in person before I order it online.

It seems to me that they started going downhill as soon as Circuit City went belly up.

Anonymous said...

I worked at Best Buy 20 yrs ago, and they had inventory problems then. Plus, now, if you buy a laptop, they try to shove another $100 or $200 onto your total for preloaded Crapware.

another Eric Lindholm said...

The author obviously hasn't had the same experiences with Amazon that I have. Sure, they are better than a brick-and-mortar Best Buy, but I've had them make numerous errors, and some of them have gone unsolved.

Among the most glaring have been in books, where, due to some ISBN mis-coding, they send a book other than the one that is ordered -- and if you return the book and ask for the correct one, they merely resend the same incorrect one.

Reading comments from Amazon customers reveals wider-spread problems, mainly having to do with incorrect product listings which Amazon fails to fix or live up to. For something that I bought from Amazon just a few weeks ago, I had to read and analyze dozens of comments to be assured that, yes, they had fixed this particular listing problem, and yes, I really would be getting the item described. It took close to an hour of my time and was at least as inconvenient as getting the item at a traditional store.

The author finally professes, on the last page, "I'm not shilling for Amazon," when it's obvious that he is doing exactly that. To borrow from earlier in his piece, did he really expect anyone to be fooled by such a ridiculous claim?

It's a shame when someone with a solid thesis destroys his credibility by allowing a personal agenda to permeate and corrupt the body of his argument. But what's worse is to celebrate that author as some sort of insightful truth-teller.

Roger Bournival said...

Question - what's the longest line at Best Buy?
Answer - the return line!

Best Buy blows. Get over yourself, a.E.L. In the words of the immortal John McLaughlin, you are WROOOONG!

Eric said...

Um, I don't think he said the article was incorrect about Best Buy, just that the author was an advocate for Amazon.

Just sayin'. Have a good weekend.