Absurdist adventure at Best Buy

I’m in the market for a new computer. And though not a fan of the big, impersonal conglomerate, I’ll still go there if I think it will save me some greenbacks. So I took a look at the Sunday flyer for Best Buy and saw what I thought was a reasonable deal: a 1.1GHz processor, 20GB drive, 56K modem, 17" screen, and a small color printer; all for under $400 after rebates. It would suffice for my simple needs.

I don’t really care for the rebate approach, but the various rebates totalled $375, so I decided to at least go to a store and talk to someone about it. The salesperson who was helping me, Mike, was a reasonably nice guy. He kept trying to sell me on a few upgrades, but I knew I wasn’t going to go for those, so I had no problem fending off such attempts. But then came time or the extended warranty (EW)…

I’m definitely not a fan of EWs. I take care of my electronic equipment, and everything I buy long outlives the EW. (My present computer is still running fine at seven years old, it’s just way outmoded.) So I told him outright that I was not going to purchase the EW.

He said, “Just let me tell you a few things about the machine.” I was in no hurry, so I indulged him. He told about how the manufacturer (eMachines) didn’t certifiy any repair shop as authorized repairmen, so any fixes would require shipping the unit to eMachines, blah, blah, blah. Regardless, after a few minutes of this, I told him that I simply wasn’t going to buy the EW so he didn’t need to tell me any more. My mind was made up, so he could save his breath. Then he said he had to tell me about EW, it was his job.

What? “Are you telling me you’ll get fired if you don’t explain the extended warranty to me?”

“Well, it’s my job. I have to tell you about it.”

“So you’re saying I can’t just take this computer system up to the counter, drop down $800 and walk out with it unless I listen to you explain the extended warranty to me.”

“Well, yeah. I have to tell you about it, it’s my job. I can get the manager and you can talk to him about if you want.”

Okay, I’m intringued about this. Best Buy apparantly won’t let customers walk out with electronic durable goods without being brainwashed first. So “Sure, go get your manager.”

So a few seconds later, Mike comes back with the manager of the computer department. He asked what computer I was looking at. I told him which one and added that I had no intention of purchasing the EW.

“But he has to tell you about the extended warranty it’s his job.”

“Why is that his job? I thought his job was customer service. And this customer doesn’t want to hear about the extended warranty. Why can’t I just turn down the extended warranty and spend my money on the computer.”

Raising his voice: “Because it’s his job! he has to tell you about it.”

“But why does he have to tell me about? I know I don’t want it. I just want the computer.”

Loudly: " It’s his job! He has to tell you about!"

At this point, I’m starting to get irate and my voice is begining to raise. “But why does he have to tell me about it? I know about extended warranties and I know I don’t want one.”

Loudly and with an expression of disdain: “He has to tell you about it. It’s his job! Do you want to know the rule why he has to tell you?”

“Yes, as a matter of fact I do want to know the rule why he has to tell me.”

Pretty much yelling at this point: “Because the machines have certain feature that we have to tell the customers about in case something goes wrong.”

“I’m aware that things can go wrong. But I know I don’t want the extended warranty. I just want to purchase the computer system and get out of here.”

Still yelling: “But he has to tell you about the machine and the warranty! We can’t just let customers walk out of here without knowing these things!”

Okay, I’ve pretty much shifted from irked to amused at this point because of the absurdity of the situation. The manager of the computer department is standing in the middle of the aisle yelling at a customer. Do these people not get trained on how to treat customers? So I asked, “So you think it’s more important to force information on a customer then let them make a decision on their own?”

He started to mutter something back, but I just told him to forget the whole thing and walked out. In retrospect, I wished I asked for the store manager to see what her/his take on it was. Is it an offical Best Buy policy to hold down their customers and shout information into their faces, or was this guy a one-of-a-kind jerk?

Anyway, I’m over it now. But I’m never going back to Best Buy. Has anyone else every had an experience like this at Best Buy or any other major chain stores?

I bought a monitor last week at Circuit City, and the sales guy went on his little shpiel about the extended warranty. After about thirty seconds he stopped for breath, and I asked, “how much is it?”

Turns out the EW on a $99 monitor was like $40. I told him I didn’t want it; he smiled apologetically (it was obviously a crappy deal, and he knew that I knew it) and shut up about the EW.

I’ve had pretty good experience with the computer salespeople at Circuit City: even when I don’t buy a machine (I handle computer purchases for my organization), they’re willing to spend time with me tweaking an estimate until it’s exactly what I’m looking for. They seem to be knowledgeable, too – something rare in computer departments.

Then again, maybe our local CC just has a good computer department.


It sounds like they view the spiel as sort of a Miranda rights of computer buying. They don’t want anyone saying "well, I would have bought the EW if only I’d known that … " so they make sure that they tell everyone what the EW will do, and what you can’t do if you don’t have it.

My guess is it probably saves them some legal troubles. If they can promise they tell every single customer about the EW as a matter of policy, then it’s harder for a customer to claim “he never told me that.”

I generally avoid that whole spiel by buying things online. When I am forced to buy something from a place like Best Buy or (shudder) Circuit City, I usually ignore them. If they launch into the spiel anyway, I just smile and say, “If it’s defective, you’ll replace it anyway, or the manufacturer will.” They generally shut up.

EWs on computers are gravy for the seller. Almost everything not involving cats,small children,alien invaders,or demonic possession is normally going to happen right out of the box.
Thats why they push them so hard-it’s almost all pure profit.

As far as Best Buy goes,I don’t know how the hoo-hah they manage to stay in business…The ones in my area(Chicago) seem to go out of their way to make you want to slap them for one reason or another every time you walk in & I hear the same thing from all over.

By the way,I recently bought an eMachines 4160 for my brother (at Circuit City-good deal on a floor model) & he’s very happy with it.The only negative poop I’ve heard about the brand concerns the power supply burning out. But that was with earlier models & doesn’t seem to be a problem w/the later ones according to various geeks of my acquaintance who have them.

My standing policy in Future Shop, Best Buy etc. is to say to the salesperson, when we get down to focusing on a particular model of whatever I’m going to buy, “I don’t want to buy any extended warranty, and if you try to sell one to me I’ll walk out and shop elsewhere.” I say this very politely. It always works.

The experiment requires that he continue telling you about the EW.

I had this happen the other day at Best Buy, I wanted to get a lap top, picked out the model I wanted, had him check stock, and told him to go ahead and ring it up (about $2K total) Then the EW pitch began, and at one point I asked him how much coffee he’d had that morning…(speed kills Del) Anyhoo, he went on and on and on, and finally I told him I didn’t have time for this crap, as I was on my lunge hour, and walked out the damn door.

Agree with Hokienautic that it’s a legal thing. They want to be able to say that ALL customers are ALWAYS told whatever, so you’re just wrong if you claim you were not told. When I subscribed to DSL service from my local phone company, I had to listen (this was over the phone) to a long spiel of legalistic boilerplate before I was permitted to say yes, I’d subscribe.

I used to always buy the extended warranty (this at The Evil Known to Men as Circuit City). Then I actually tried to USE the warranty. Three months later, I finally had a working monitor.

Then, a few years later, I had a problem with my car stereo. Again, after a massive hassle (and several months), I eventually got a working car stereo.

Fine. I’m not too swift on the uptake, but even I could take a clue at this point.

Don’t ever buy the extended warranty. If the thing you’ve bought breaks and you need the shop to repair it, then call up the warranty place and purchase the warranty at that point. If they ask if there’s anything wrong with the device, just say, “Nope! Nossir! Nothin’ wrong here! I just want to be sure it’s going to work in the future!”
…at least, that’s what I was told to do by the local CC manager. :rolleyes:

madcat: Thanks for the info on eMachines. The local Circuit City has a similar deal on them, and I may go there just to spite Best Buy (grudge holdin’ bastard that I am).

superbee: Thanks for the WKRP allusion. That’s one of my favorite lines. My others would be:

Mr Carlson: There’s a monkey on my foot! There’s a monkey on my foot!


Condo association: We’re sorry, Mr. Fever, but the contract has already been consummated.

Johnny Fever: I feel like I’ve been comsummated.

In all fairness I understand their stance. Not their methods but their stance.

I work for the DSL division of a Telco and I am in sales. Upon selling a customer DSL we must cover a LENGTHY list of “disclaimers”. Often times people say they would rather not hear them . I explain that I MUST cover them because if I do not I will get fired.

In your situation I do not doubt for a moment that you are fully aware that if anything goes wrong with your machine that you will pay for it out of you pocket if you do not have an extended warranty. That’s you. However many people that say “I don’t want to hear your spiel” are the same people that come back when they have a problem and raise hell over something that could have been avoided. Best buy is just covering their ass. I can understand that.

In the time it took to argue with the manager, who by the way you should “report” to his superior, you could have heard the salesman’s spiel and been out the door with your computer. I’d have just let him go for it, say no thank you and leave.
My .02 cents

LOL! I didn’t see this before I posted. That’s too funny. I wonder if that was me? :slight_smile:

I got the same spiel (without the yelling) when I attempted to buy a laptop at BB. The salesperson was astounded that I wouldn’t want the extended warrenty.

[pleading voice] "But if the screen breaks you’ll have to pay for it yourself!!

:: sigh ::

Yeah, I got the same “If the screen breaks” line when I was looking at a laptop at BB.

Must be in the training manual…

I went to but a nice new TV there about 3 months ago…it was surreal and patience-grinding.

I spent a half-hour telling thes sales rep that “No I don’t want the (mysterious acronym) feature that comes with that model, I wan’t this one right here.” He was trying to push some all-digital integrated port on the higher-up TV that cost $200 dollars more, even when I told him that everything I had at home was all analog equipment. He continued to insist that this feature would improve picture quality and I wouldn’t be happy with analog quality. Finally, I had enough of this guy and waved down another sales rep.

With the two of them together I said “This guy refuses to sell me this model TV. Would you sell it to me?”

The guy said “Yes sir!”, earning my respect as a true customer service rep, and brought the ticket up to the computer. As soon as he wanded the slip, the computer screen went to the Windows blue-screen-of-death, and then started to reboot…along with every terminal in the store! I had to wait another hour as the store was brought to its knees, unable to sell anyone so much as a $1 keychain.

I don’t even want to talk about the hell that followed (misbilling, delivery screwups, item damage) after they got their computers back on line. To shorten the story, there is no torture on this earth that would coerce me into ever setting foot in a Best Buy again.

Another Best Buy warning

If you wish to purchase a TV, but cannot find a salesperson, just leave, as you will never be able to attract a salesperson.

You’d THINK that standing on the counter and screaming “I wanna buy a TV” at the top of your lungs would attract a salesperson to the (empty) department, but you would be wrong.


When I bought my current computer at Best Buy, I went for the extended warranty. Not long after, I start having problems. Now, I could swear I heard that they will come out to your location and fix it. Nope. Not in the warranty. So I bring it in. I don’t have the original receipt, no service. But I can prove who I am, your records have this serial numbered computer sold to me. Sorry, no service, but you can buy service, and it won’t be 24 hours (I could swear I was told that too).

I’ll never buy an extended warranty again.

“What do you mean you want me to pay extra for you to stand by your product?”

When I bought my house (and moved out of my mama’s), my mother and I both decided to get home security systems.

She went first, and then sicced the salesman on me (if you refer them to another customer, you get a cash reward of $25… she gave me the $25).

Anyway, since I’d made up my mind to get the security system before the guy even set foot on my doorstep, I tried several times to stop him from delivering his HOUR-LONG sales pitch (complete with graphs, charts, and crime stats for my area) by politely informing him that I had already decided to buy the system, and would just like to fill out the paperwork.

At first he seemed to ignore me and just keep on with the pitch (and this is just what it was; it wasn’t info on how to use the system, it was all stuff about why I needed the system).

Finally, after I tried for the 3rd time to get him to cut to the paperwork, he informed me that he was required to go through the whole pitch.

So I relaxed and petted the dog until he FINALLY! let me sign the damn papers!