I need all of you to pledge to me that you will not shop at Best Buy anymore.
I've now been without an iPod for nearly two weeks (and have in all honsety been surprised at how well I've done without it) because Best Buy refuses to give me the customer service I need in order to be a returning customer.
Let me take you back to November 2004. My generous mom had just walked out of Best Buy with a brand new 4th generation iPod with the intent to give it to me for Christmas. (It turned out to be the best gift I've ever received--used more than almost anything else I own.) In foresight, maybe expecting an unseen tragedy, my mom purchased Best Buy's product replacement warranty--the one where after you buy something kind of expensive, the employee tells you that you can just break the product before the two-year warranty is up, then bring it and "walk out of here with a brand new iPod, no questions asked." This isn't true. This isn't true. It doesn't work that way, or at least it didn't work that way for me.
My iPod broke almost without warning two weeks ago immediately after resetting it because it froze. Every bit of data was wiped clean off of it and the poor thing just became sick. I thought, "no big deal, I'll just take it home, reformat it, then load all the music back on", but my computer couldn't read it anymore to reformat it. So I had no choice but to see what Best Buy could do to get me a new one. As soon as I mentioned to the employee that I had a product replacement plan for a broken iPod, I was given a pamphlet with a phone number on it to call. The idea was that I would call this number, have a mailing label emailed to me, pack up my iPod (with all the accessories), and within 10 days of their receipt of the item, I would have a gift card with the purchase price of the amount of the original purchase. I thought this was a lot more hassle than walking out of there with a "brand new iPod, no questions asked", but I was willing to do whatever it took, like I always am.
Fewer than 10 days later, to my surprise I had received the gift card in the mail, and felt pretty good about it. Sure I had complained a ton in the previous several days, but now that I had the card in my hand, I wasn't so upset anymore. I took lunch the next day to travel to the nearest Best Buy to redeem my prize, and was a little surprised to find myself so overcome with dislike for the store immediately as I walked in, that I actually became a little emotional. I approached the counter to pay for my new iPod only to be told that my card had been sent out without any money on it and that the money would be put on it "no later than Monday." I couldn't say hardly anything for fear that the shake in my voice would be really noticeable and someone would ask me, "why are you crying", to which my only response could be, "because I didn't get my iPod", which sounds a little lame. All I could do was think to myself that I wanted to tell the really nice employee helping me, "you know, I really appreciate your help and you've been really nice...I just feel terrible that a person like you has to work for a company like this." Of course I didn't say that; I just walked out of the store muttering the word "hate" under my breath and shaking my head.
Contrast that with an experience I recently had at Costco where I returned a camera I had purchase SIX months ago, which worked perfectly, and got CASH back for it--shipping and all. I told them there was nothing wrong with it, but that I had just seen a camera online that I thought would work better for me. And it has been wonderful. There, there really were NO questions asked, and I walked out of the store with exactly what I wanted. And I didn't even have to buy any kind of plan to allow me to do that--it was included in the (below) retail price of the camera. I will sing Costco's praises from now on and I pledge to you that whenever I need to buy some kind of expensive electronic item, Costco is the first (and in some cases only) place I will even consider buying it.
And I hope you'll do the same.
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