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The Gradual Death of the Brick and Mortar Tech Store 491

Posted by samzenpus
from the say-hello-to-the-dodo dept.
Cutting_Crew writes "As we all know brick and mortar stores have been closing left and right recently. We had CompUSA, Borders and Circuit City all close their doors within the last 4 years. According to an article on Forbes.com, it is spelled out pretty clearly why Best Buy is next in line to shut its doors for good. Some of the reasons highlighted include a 40% drop is Best Buy stock in 2011, lack of vision regarding their online services, management too concerned with store sales instead of margins and blatant disregard for quality customer service."
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The Gradual Death of the Brick and Mortar Tech Store

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  • by n1ywb (555767) on Thursday February 09, 2012 @08:35PM (#38990341) Homepage Journal
    Thank god we still have Radio Shack. I went in recently and found they were even selling arduinos. I've bought a bunch of components there for my electronics projects. It's not Fry's, but at least there's one 10 minutes away from my home in Nowhereville Vermont.
    • by Sorthum (123064) on Thursday February 09, 2012 @08:44PM (#38990445) Homepage

      I've long thought that Radio Shack must be a front for the mob; there's no realistic way they could still be in business selling overpriced cell phones and inexpensive components to hobbyists...

      • by symbolset (646467) * on Thursday February 09, 2012 @09:21PM (#38990749) Journal
        Maybe you'll find this funny: Even the CEO can't figure out how Radio Shack is still in business [theonion.com].
        • by ColdWetDog (752185) on Thursday February 09, 2012 @09:52PM (#38990995) Homepage

          My local Radio Shack (rural Alaska) sells:

          - Batteries, lots of different kinds of batteries. Actually reasonable quality batteries.
          - The standard bits of Junk Electronics - cordless phones, clock radios, a scanner or two, cheap marine band radios (a local favorite).
          - RC airplane stuff.
          - Junk electronic games.
          - Cables, actually a reasonable selection of cables. Most 'normal' people can get what they want. (No 15 pin Amphenol waterproof bulkhead mounts).
          - Junk electronic games.
          - TVs.
          - Hot tubs.
          - Tanning booth in back.
          - Espresso Bar in front.
          - A rather odd selection of component parts - resistors, capacitors, LEDS, some surface mount stuff, some generic transistors, a couple of coils.

          So, it appears that the owner has taken the core of Radio Shack inventory and overlaid it with stuff he thinks that the locals would want or just stuff he's interested in selling. Whatever works, I suppose.

        • by hairyfeet (841228)
          I can actually answer how they stay in business....DIYers with their balls in a vice. i have an engineering friend and i don't know how many times the shack has bent him over because he needed a spool of solder or resistor or some other little thing for a project that the deadline was looming on and he'd rather get the bite took out of his wallet than risk not getting paid. Since these little projects he whips off for the local college can easily net him a thousand or more a pop can't say as i blame him, bu
      • by JWSmythe (446288)

        You know, I really wonder about that too. I picked up a cell phone there, not too long ago. It was the same price as anywhere else. I only got it there because it was closest. It took 3 employees about 2 hours to figure out how to activate it. In that 2 hours, no one else came in. There was plenty of traffic coming into other stores around it though.

        How does a $100 purchase pay for 3 employees, and the overhead of the building?

        I'd say it's rare, but in oth

    • by twotacocombo (1529393) on Thursday February 09, 2012 @08:44PM (#38990451)
      Radio Shack these days is a shadow of it's former self. I went there with my dad as a kid, and remember shelves full of electrical and radio crap that I couldn't even comprehend. I went in there for the first time in ages about 3 years ago.. holy crap. It looked more like an AT&T store than the Radio Shack of old. People were lined up to pay their phone bills, and the walls were lined with cell phones and MP3 players and whatnot. Only in the back corner were any sort of electrical components, and nobody could really help me find what I was looking for. It's almost as if someone bought the Radio Shack name, and slapped it on a completely different store...
      • by viperidaenz (2515578) on Thursday February 09, 2012 @08:53PM (#38990541)
        There is a franchise in Aus/NZ called Dick Smith. Same thing happened. Up until around 10 years ago they were an electronics store. 1/4 of the floor was components, 1/4 for audio, 1/4 for phones and 1/4 for computers.

        Now its 1/4 cell phones, 1/2 computers and tvs, 1/5 audio and the last tiny section electronics.
        • by Danieljury3 (1809634) on Thursday February 09, 2012 @09:01PM (#38990591)
          Isn't 1/5 a bit generous. I went into one last year and the only electronics stuff they had was a soldering iron. I think at the time I was looking for some solder which they didn't have. Jaycar is the place to go for electronics stuff in Aus/NZ
        • by griffjon (14945) <GriffJon@ g m a i l .com> on Thursday February 09, 2012 @09:48PM (#38990963) Homepage Journal

          What Brick-and-mortar store can hope to compete with the internet for commodity-level components? It's not even fair to hope they would. I mean, cmon - Best Buy stocks even-further-overpriced Monster Cables as their entry-level cable. I don't fault the Shack for seeking higher rungs on the value chain. And I'm hardly a fan of either the Shack ("You have questions, we have blank stares") or Best Buy ("Best means most expensive!"). But, I do fear for the complete loss of generalist tech stores. A book is a book is a book, but when deciding between tablets or notebook PCs, or the like, actual interaction with the device answers a gazillion questions that don't seem to have answers on websites.

          • by SacredNaCl (545593) on Friday February 10, 2012 @12:50AM (#38992131) Journal

            I don't know, but MicroCenter seems to be able to do it. I haven't looked at their books, but on price, they compete against the Newegg's, Amazon, and everyone else on the major items that matter. You pay a slight convenience fee for some items (1-2% above to have it today), but most things it works out in your favor even with the tax.

            Now they could be bleeding money left, and right ... However, I don't think so. I think they are just making slightly less money on each sale.

             

      • by n1ywb (555767) on Thursday February 09, 2012 @09:30PM (#38990822) Homepage Journal
        I agree RatShack has gone downhill, and it's especially unfortunate that they no longer sell amateur radio gear. But I think it's actually been improving of late. They carry way more components than they used to and they finally took my advice and put them in drawers. They still have solder, RF adapters, antennas, some basic computer parts, kits, books, arduinos, basic stamps, 100 in 1 electronics sets (I've already bought one for my 2 year old, can't get 'em started too early!) Radio Shack is a hell of a lot better than nothing and let's hope this positive trend continues.
        • Imagine how awesome Radio Shack could be if they started supporting local efforts of Makers to build things. Why is Radio Shack not offering modern electronics courses, along with rentals of some gear too hard to afford yourself?

          They could really transform themselves into something powerful with a small twist.

      • by ceoyoyo (59147) on Thursday February 09, 2012 @11:31PM (#38991633)

        Meh, I went in about fifteen years ago with a friend and asked for a flux capacitor, then watched the sales guy search for one for ten minutes.

        It hasn't really been Radio Shack for a long time.

      • by TheLink (130905) on Thursday February 09, 2012 @11:34PM (#38991655) Journal

        Might be reflective of the USA's electronics manufacturing industry.

        You want to see old school radio shack style stuff (and more), go to China (especially Shenzen). Of course there's a difference, in those places you may see people doing dubious stuff like assembling batteries in front of you and sticking the "original" holograms on them: http://www.bunniestudios.com/blog/?p=283 [bunniestudios.com] ;)

    • Thank god we still have Radio Shack

      I saw a Radio Shack a bit back in a mall - that was just filled with cell phones and cell phone accessories.

      I also was at a big Fry's Electronics... they had some stuff, but it's not like you could just pick up some random resistor or even set of resistors.

      For components, and arduino's etc., online is really your friend.

      What I don't get, however, is the projection of Best Buy going away. Would that be in favor of Walmarts and the like? Because I can't imagine somebody bu

      • by number11 (129686) on Thursday February 09, 2012 @09:24PM (#38990782)

        What I don't get, however, is the projection of Best Buy going away. Would that be in favor of Walmarts and the like? Because I can't imagine somebody buying a a big screen TV or even a laptop based solely on online descriptions

        They'll stay around a while for the TVs and refrigerators, you're not going to buy a refrigerator online (though the home improvement chains offer serious competition for appliance business). People will get their computers at places like MicroCenter, which gets the big box store stuff right, at least as it applies to computers.

      • by dgatwood (11270)

        Between Fry's and Radio Shack, I've generally been able to find most of the components I need for most hobby projects. They have a pretty good selection of resistors, capacitors, etc. as long as they have them in stock. Unfortunately, it often takes two or three stores to find them in sufficient quantity. Hint: for components, always go to Campbell. Never go to Sunnyvale. YMMV with San Jose.

      • by hairyfeet (841228) <bassbeast1968&gmail,com> on Thursday February 09, 2012 @11:45PM (#38991743) Journal

        Because reviews from actual geeks is usually worth more than hands on? I mean holding that Seagate 1.5Tb would have taught me nothing but over a dozen reviews that were 'Holy crap i bought a dozen of these and they all choked and died hard in less than two months!" tells me quite a lot. Take the new netbook I got, most places had it listed as having win 7 32 bit and with a max RAM of 4Gb, but Amazon had as its first review a guy that pointed out it was actually Win 7 X64 and oh it takes 8Gb and here is the link. it was only $6 difference between the 4gb stick and a matched pair at that time so I bought and can say i'm really happy with my EEE. Handling it frankly wouldn't have told me anything more than i already knew since i had handled 12 inch netbooks before and had already tried out a customer's older EEE so i knew what to expect. it was online where they had not only the info about it actually being 64 bit and a link to the matched pair but even a tutorial on how to take the unit apart if you'd like to change out the HDD for an SSD. The first reviewer had actually done that and according to him with 8gb of RAM and an SSD the EEE handles more like a CULV than a netbook.

        so I can see wanting to do your shopping online because handling it only tells you about size and feel, it tells you nothing about whether the unit sucks power, or dies 5 minutes after you get it home, runs too hot to watch HD video or struggles with some kinds of content, all that you can find out from reviews. Hell I had a real nice back and forth on a review I did for a Deneb X4, I even ran a couple of programs for the guy and timed them just so he'd know what he was looking at, and i'd probably do the same thing for someone with my new Thuban if they asked on my review, you just can't get that kinda thing offline.

        • by skine (1524819)

          Probably the only reason I continue to shop at BestBuy is that their computers have access to the internet, and specifically NewEgg.

          That way, I can see how well it's rated, understand the specifics of the item, compare prices, and determine whether it's something I want now or within three business days.

          Also, I feel bad for every Best Buy employee who asks if I need help (which they have to do, given the ten-foot rule). Two minutes of reading the reviews of a single product on NewEgg tends to make me more k

      • ...I can't imagine somebody buying a a big screen TV or even a laptop based solely on online descriptions...

        Hate to disappoint you, but I bought my new widescreen TV online about 9 months ago. :)

      • by DurendalMac (736637) on Friday February 10, 2012 @12:54AM (#38992155)
        I can see Best Buy going away. So many of those stores are run by inept morons and so much corporate policy is made by inept morons. If you're really lucky, you'll get an honest salesperson who actually knows what they're talking about. Otherwise it's brainless chunkheads throwing whatever they can at you. If you're really lucky, you'll get a Geek Squad tech who knows what he's doing and will fix it right. Otherwise, you get some idiot sales flunkie who can barely read the checklist of crap to do, a checklist that probably ends with "Just sell 'em a bunch of crap if you can't figure it out". Best Buy's reputation has been dwindling because they're bloody incompetent. People will go elsewhere for their goods if it continues and BB will tank. Any town big enough for a BB already has alternate stores.
      • by Rakarra (112805) on Friday February 10, 2012 @05:19AM (#38993281)

        Because I can't imagine somebody buying a a big screen TV or even a laptop based solely on online descriptions (unless you're determined to get Apple gear in which case going to a store and poking at the laptop adds nothing to the decision-making process).

        I don't see why you wouldn't buy a TV based on online descriptions. Unless you're at a high-end videophile store, the TV you see in a store will most likely be calibrated incorrectly, have the brightness turned Waaaaay up to match the bright store lighting, and an image split and shared with a hundred other TVs which may or may not be the display's native resolution. Seeing a TV at a store is usually a horrible way to get a judge of image quality and online ratings and tests are a more reliable way than your own eyes to get a good idea of the visual quality. Not a bad way of figuring out how the bezel will look to see if it'll match your den, though.

    • by mjwx (966435) on Thursday February 09, 2012 @08:58PM (#38990573)

      Thank god we still have Radio Shack. I went in recently and found they were even selling arduinos. I've bought a bunch of components there for my electronics projects. It's not Fry's, but at least there's one 10 minutes away from my home in Nowhereville Vermont.

      Australia lost anything resembling radio shack years ago. Dick Smith Electronics was once a store where you could go in and buy capacitors, electronics kits (pre-arduino days) and just about anything else you need. Now days they sell phone plans, Norton AV and overpriced HDMI cables.

      If I want electronics components I go online, especially if I dont want to pay a 400% mark up (this is not hyperbole, it's Australia).

      But I figure this is the way all shops are going. Frontage is becoming less and less important with the advent of smart phones. An online business with a warehouse in an industrial district near the airport is just as competitive as a store-front in the CBD with millions walking past each day. If I see a PC component I want in a store, the first thing I'll do is look up prices on StaticIce to see how much cheaper it is if I order online. I dont think the traditional storefront is going to survive for too many more decades, rather we'll start to see kiosks attached to large automated warehouses (basically forklifts on rails). You buy what you want at the kiosk and it gets picked out and delivered to you shortly. We're already hallway there with Australian supermarkets providing an order online function and having that delivered to your house.

      I think people are getting over the appeal of seeing a product and will happily give it up for some savings. Obviously this doesn't apply to all industries but to things we consider a chore like grocery shopping are the prime candidates.

      • There's a place for the storefront, but it's not mass-market commodity items. I'm sure that in the next couple of decades, storefronts will be pretty much limited to boutiques, custom work, one-of-a-kind things like antiques, and services. And I think our retail districts will be better for it.

    • by lymond01 (314120) on Thursday February 09, 2012 @09:11PM (#38990679)

      Reality is that people don't need to build cool gadgets anymore. Cool gadgets are mainstream. And fixing digital circuit boards no longer requires colored resistors. You just toss it out and buy a new product.

      • And fixing digital circuit boards no longer requires colored resistors.

        You are right, nowadays it only consist of changing busted capacitors... I never saw another defect in a modern electronic device. Sure my sample is small since I do this as a hobby but it must be one the most frequent sources of failures or I won at the sampling lottery...

        • by SydShamino (547793) on Thursday February 09, 2012 @10:36PM (#38991305)

          I spend my days designing modern electronic devices, and I have seen other parts with plenty of defects. But...capacitors are generally crap. We as a company have decided to stop using tantalum electrolytics in our products because they fail far too often, and do so with flashy results. But ceramics while stable crack too often in the manufacturing process and still aren't always available in larger capacitance values. We're moving towards polymers for bulk use and ceramics for pretty much everything else, and have to design boards around protecting the ceramics from cracking.

          • by Winter (87716)

            I do design of some telco electronics, and we only use tantalums. After we figured out you have to double the voltage rating, we have not had a single tantalum failure in 6 years. Before then we had a few flashy failures.

  • by afabbro (33948) on Thursday February 09, 2012 @08:39PM (#38990385) Homepage

    I thought this looked familiar...this article was published on the Forbes web site on January 2nd. It's also a bit ranty rather than well-researched, though there's no doubt that Best Buy is not doing well.

    Cutting_Crew...because Best Buy is doing poorly, its stock is down 40%. Its stock price is not one of "the reasons highlighted" for why it's doing poorly. Stock price is an effect, not a cause.

    On a related note...is Fry's having problems?

    • by Sorthum (123064)

      Well, one of their VPs embezzled $65 million from them back in 2008, so they could probably be better...

    • by decora (1710862) on Thursday February 09, 2012 @09:04PM (#38990611) Journal

      you are probably a hedge fund guy, or friends with a hedge fund guy, or some other type of person who makes money by buying and selling big chunks of other people.

      you see a story about an electronics retailer.

      they see a story about an opportunity to short sell or buy credit default swaps against a company's debt. imagine if you are sitting at a poker table and instead of chips you are playing with coins that each say '1 million dollars'. you can start to get an inkling of the mindset here. you dont care if the other people at the table are nurses, waiters, hairdressers, authors, poets, politicians, soldiers, etc. all you care about is what is in their hand, and which way the game is going to go, because you can get rich off of it, but more importantly, you can get the high you get from winning. thats what the "their stock price is down" thing means. it doesnt pretend to have any intelligent commentary on cause and effect. its poker information for poker players.

  • by assemblerex (1275164) on Thursday February 09, 2012 @08:40PM (#38990391)
    They have no concept of the competition that Amazon represents. They think in store purchases will keep them alive. They need to:
    1. Fire half the staff, and only hire professional sales people (Not 30 seventeen year olds)
    2. Reduce the store size by half or more.
    3. Reduce prices by having less selection but enjoy the bulk purchase price point.
    4. Stop high pressure pushing of accessories and service plans on people.
    5. Work with vendors to have exclusive items made for them not found online (like a white or pink dyson)
    Still doomed by their horrible reputation.
    • by wanzeo (1800058) on Thursday February 09, 2012 @08:51PM (#38990523)

      As someone who has spent time as an electronics sales rep, I say good riddance.

      I was always as honest and informative as I could be (much more so than my coworkers), but you really can't give meaningful advice in a 10 minute sales pitch. Half of the people are coming cold to the technology, they are not going to be educated in time to make a good decision. The other half have made up their minds because of marketing, and nothing you say will convince them otherwise. And then add to that the fact that most technology purchasing is rather subjective. Just look at the heated discussions on any tech website about which products are the right choice, they go on for pages and pages. And that is between people who are already very well informed about the basic principles.

      Spending a few hours reading user reviews on amazon or newegg, and being able to google unfamiliar terms, is more valuable than the most tech savy and personable sales rep. And because most sales reps are subpar, internet shopping wins by a landslide.

    • 4. Stop high pressure pushing of accessories and service plans on people.

      That is sometimes the only products they sell with any significant profit margin.

    • by tlhIngan (30335)

      It's a cultural thing.

      In Canada, we have "two" tech stores (Best Buy and Future Shop, but both are owned by Best Buy). The retail selection in Canada is far better than the B&M store in the US in my experience, showing that people still shop retail.

      Of course, online, the US is way better.

      The problem is there really is no reason to buy online in Canada - Amazon.ca barely sells more than books, CDs and DVDs, and at prices you can find retail. Plus you hae to pay shipping or wait a week (no Amazon Prime).

      S

  • by damn_registrars (1103043) <damn.registrars@gmail.com> on Thursday February 09, 2012 @08:41PM (#38990413) Homepage Journal
    Brick & Mortar will still serve a purpose for a while yet. There will always be times when you need some widget that day, and no amount of money will solve that problem through Amazon. It might not be Best Buy, but it certainly won't be WalMart either; we will have a large nationwide chain carrying electronics for people who need something now and don't mind paying a little more for it than they would online.

    That said the complaints listed in the (over 1 month old) article are very similar to what was happening at CompUSA when they were in their death spiral; young kids were being hired with no knowledge of anything, and corporate suits with decision making power were being promoted who knew even less.
    • by Doctor_Jest (688315) on Thursday February 09, 2012 @09:07PM (#38990639)

      I think people will pay a little more if they have a better experience. Stores have forgotten that, and like the failure of all those who tried to compete with Wal Mart on price, they lost. Retailers can't compete on price with the online retailers, even with sales tax (which is a nightmare of logistical nonsense just waiting in the wings)..

      Retailers need to stop focusing on price and margins and wonder if there is still such a thing as customer loyalty. I don't know if there is, but companies like Best Buy don't seem to give a shit about trying. If it doesn't work, it doesn't work... but for fuck's sake, how can these companies make the SAME EXACT mistakes that their dead competitors make and expect to come out on top, or even alive for that matter? It's like watching monkeys throw shit at each other. It's funny, but you don't want to get any on you.

      • by damn_registrars (1103043) <damn.registrars@gmail.com> on Thursday February 09, 2012 @10:24PM (#38991211) Homepage Journal

        I think people will pay a little more if they have a better experience

        That same statement is made, instead ending with "to support a local business" or "to buy an American-made product" or "to support a good cause". But in the end it's just words, words that most often are not backed up by action.

        Retailers can't compete on price with the online retailers, even with sales tax (which is a nightmare of logistical nonsense just waiting in the wings)..

        The problem is though - and anyone who works in retail can tell you this - customers walk in to the store and if it isn't something they need right away (and even some times if it is) they'll say "I can buy it for less through [random fly-by-night online site that's been up less than a week]". So the retailers have to be aware of their online competition and at least put up a good fight on price.

        Retailers need to stop focusing on price and margins and wonder if there is still such a thing as customer loyalty. I don't know if there is, but companies like Best Buy don't seem to give a shit about trying.

        I'm moderately happy with their rewardzone program. Granted I live in a place where there is no alternative for electronics if I can't wait for them to be shipped, so they have me in somewhat of a bind.

        If it doesn't work, it doesn't work... but for fuck's sake, how can these companies make the SAME EXACT mistakes that their dead competitors make and expect to come out on top, or even alive for that matter?

        Because they all get lead down the same street. They all face the same customers.

        The real tragedy, though, is that they all promote the same kind of shit-for-brains thinking to upper management. Not only do they push the stores to select for the least knowledgeable (and hence least expensive on payroll) employees, they also strive to give their employees as little power as possible when dealing with customers.

        Quite honestly, many of the employees at Best Buy couldn't give you good customer service even if they wanted to, as they simply are not allowed to do such a thing. I saw the same thing as an employee at CompUSA and now I can see it in the employees at Best Buy with myself as a customer.

  • by Peter Simpson (112887) on Thursday February 09, 2012 @08:43PM (#38990427)
    When there's Newegg? I mean, honestly: $25 USB cables and re-boxed returns vs easy return, no tax and better prices (even including shipping).
    • by Sorthum (123064) on Thursday February 09, 2012 @08:48PM (#38990497) Homepage

      The sole reason to go to a BestBuy is "I need this item today." That's about it.

      • by lymond01 (314120) on Thursday February 09, 2012 @09:16PM (#38990727)

        And Best Buy needs to consider that. Drop its online prices. Up its in-store service and knowledge. Work to maintain its employees for more than 6 months. Hire people at reasonable salaries, train them regularly, don't mess with their schedules without telling them. As it stands now, most of the employees in Best Buy are high school kids who stand around and chat with each other, don't know the answer to your questions, and will be gone in 3 months. This is no way to sustain a business where knowledge is useful. Let the transitive staff wait tables. Hire real employees and pay them real money and treat them like real company employees.

        The only problem with Best Buy is that management doesn't see the company's role in the new age. And since they're lost, they feel their company is lost, so they treat all their employees like a 4 year old's goldfish.

      • Even the Internet is starting same day delivery [amazon.com].
        • In terms of total hours it doesn't really seem much quicker than the more expensive "next day" services. It's just rather than "order in the early evening receive in the morning" it's "order in the early morning receive in the evening". I'm sure there are occasional situations where that is handy but it's still considerablly slower than driving to a nearby retailer. Heck it's considerablly slower than catching the bus to a nearby retailer.

          When the shit hits the fan the difference between having something in

  • by dgatwood (11270) on Thursday February 09, 2012 @08:49PM (#38990505) Journal

    With consistently higher prices and terrible customer service policies, I can't imagine how Best Buy has stayed in business as long as they have. There's a reason I've always called them "Worst Buy". They usually are.

    To give you an idea of their customer service, I priced a product online with Google, and it told me that Best Buy had it for a great price. I went there, and found that they had just raised their price by nearly a hundred bucks. I knew this because they had a recently returned unit available for less than their previous price. I bought the returned unit.

    Unfortunately, it was defective (flaky HDMI output). At most stores, when a product is DOA, you can go in and they'll swap it out with a working one. Not at Best Buy. Because they didn't have any more customer-returned products from when the price was lower, my only option (at their store) was to pay an extra $120 to get a working product.

    I pointed out that their new, higher price was about thirty or forty dollars higher than Fry's, just two blocks away, and over a hundred dollars higher than Amazon. Needless to say, I opted for a refund.

    I then drove to Fry's. They matched Amazon's price, so I ended up getting it for almost exactly what Best Buy had been charging two weeks earlier.

    Why anyone ever darkens the door of Best Buy is beyond me. I could see buying stuff like DVDs from Best Buy online (where you can price compare easily), but just walking into the store, your odds of getting even an acceptable deal are right up there with winning the lottery.

    • by TrekkieGod (627867) on Thursday February 09, 2012 @11:19PM (#38991537) Homepage Journal

      Priced a product online with Google, and it told me that Best Buy had it for a great price. I went there, and found that they had just raised their price by nearly a hundred bucks.

      The thing about Best Buy is that the price their advertise online is always lower than the price at the store. I learned this a while back, and as a result I always buy at their online store and choose "pick up at the store."

      Usually I'll just avoid them completely, but if they do have a competitive price, or if I can't wait for the shipping from Amazon or Newegg, then at least I save myself the annoyance of going over there expecting a price only to see it 50% more expensive than the price advertised online.

      Circuit City had the same problem. Years ago I needed a wireless keyboard, and they had a pretty good deal advertised online. I showed up, saw their in-store price was significantly higher. I figured, "hey, I'll just price-match it at the register," only to have the cashier tell me that they couldn't price-match online offerings, even if they were their own. So I walked to the side to make sure I wasn't blocking anyone else in line, pulled out my PDA and logged on to their website using their public wifi right in front of her (blast from the past, huh? It was before the smartphones took over), ordered the keyboard with pick it up at the store, showed her the confirmation number and asked, "can I pick it up now?"

  • by Osgeld (1900440) on Thursday February 09, 2012 @08:50PM (#38990515)

    The closest one to me is a good 40 min away, and when you get there its almost a circus of disorganization. Example when you walk into our location theres geek squad, and some networking on the first isle, then pens and paper and post-it notes, then printers, then celphone accessories, then laptops then camera accessories, oh then celphones, then laptop accessories and on and on until your in the back of the store looking for the power supply you went there for in the first place they are out ... even though their website says in stock in that store.

    so while you are somewhat forced to check every fucking isle cause they are now interweaving departments, that way you wont miss some stupid gadget you dont want, you cant find anyone to answer a simple question cause all 3 of them are busy upselling the newest HP laptop and your wasting your time cause these people wouldn't know what they have in stock even if they were paid to.

    Hm sounds just like compUSA doesnt it?

    The only reason I ever go in there anymore is because once in a while you can find a openbox or floor model deal, which is why I have a stainless steel microwave that only cost 35 bucks, but its at the very bottom of my list to even consider when I am out to get something specific.

  • Good riddance. (Score:3, Informative)

    by Higgins_Boson (2569429) on Thursday February 09, 2012 @09:09PM (#38990663)
    Best Buy is a horrible, horrible place. Those stores are typically overpriced, asshole-filled warehouses with a stench I can only guess is dead animals hidden in the car audio department. Lump all that in with morons on the sales team and even bigger morons in management and you have the reason this place will not be missed by most people.

    If you are a Best Buy idiot (read: employee), I apologize for offending you... but you deserve it. Last time I went to a Best Buy was to buy a family member a flat-screen LCD television. I asked for help from no less than 5 people before someone ACTUALLY came back "in a couple of minutes" as promised repeatedly. It was a mistake, especially since the same set was $70 cheaper online. Too bad it was too close to Christmas at the time to bother ordering it online.

    Good riddance, assholes.

    P.S.
    I am sure this will be modded flamebait or troll or whatever... I simply do not care. Especially since those titles (flamer and troll) are used to say "I disagree with you" these days, instead of what they are really meant for. Which is to label someone who actually IS trolling.
  • by diamondmagic (877411) on Thursday February 09, 2012 @09:15PM (#38990705) Homepage

    The Apple Store should disprove this, though: At $4,032 per square foot per year, the NYC Apple Store is the most profitable retail store per square foot in the world, period.

  • by jarrettwold2002 (601633) on Thursday February 09, 2012 @09:36PM (#38990851)

    Before, you go "you're stupid for shopping on black friday" 1) I know and 2) it was for my youngest brother. That being said, I expected to wait out in the cold living in North Dakota and all.

    I fully expected to wait in line for quite a while. What I didn't expect was the hours waiting to check out. 3 hours in, I get to the head of the "TV" line and lo, they are taking customers four at a time and running them through (for lack of a better term) "sales stations." Now, at each one you got a miniature lecture about the wonders of a variety of things; overpriced HDMI cables, Geek Squad's "calibration service", the "benefits" of their warranties. It took the group in front of us around a half hour to make their way through the stations before they were allowed to check out. Of course they could stop along the way and ask questions, further delaying the line. Mind you there were at least a hundred people behind us waiting. After watching that clusterfuck of an operation I along with a couple other people bum rushed the line, told the sales station people to fuck off and checked out.

    On the opposite side of the store, in the "computer" line they were having people fill out forms regarding their computer experience. You weren't "allowed" to check out until you had completed your form. Once you completed your form, your personal information was taken and digested and you were up sold on the same shit. They made the mistake of letting someone who was behind my friend move ahead of him. Two managers and a lot of cussing later, he had started a little revolution and everyone behind him refused to fill out the stupid paperwork.

    On random other occasions, people have wanted me to go up with them to help them pick out whatever electronic device. Again, getting ahead of the responses I spent quality time trying to convince them to buy elsewhere. It amazes me how often a sales guy will come up, not go away when we tell him to go away and then start arguing with me to the point where I have to raise my voice to drive them off.

    I've never seen a company that fights so hard to keep people from buying their shit. Ever. I've never seen a company where the reps are so willing to argue with the guy who is helping someone buy something. It is mind boggling. The customer service there is mind numbing. Every so often a miracle happens and you have someone who honestly knows what they're talking about. Those guys need to be cloned and replicated somehow. They're not confrontational, they don't try to up sell bullshit you won't use, and are actually helpful. /end rageface

    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 10, 2012 @12:14AM (#38991915)

      As a former employee at Best Buy, I can tell you exactly why they make it difficult to buy that stuff. The three big times in the year are Chirstmas, tax time, and back to school. The seasons around each of these events takes up around 70% of the year. In that part of the year, there is only a finite number of an item available at the store you are at any given time. Best Buy will sell out of the hot laptop that everyone wants. Frankly they don't want you buying it if you don't buy the additional warranty or accessories or whatever. If you don't buy it, someone else will. I'm convinced that corporate would just rather have you shop somewhere else. They get shipments twice a week, but there is a million different variations that the public demands so it's hard to keep all of the stock flowing to the exact right places, so it's easier to make it a difficult experience for the grab and go customer who just want to buy four of the laptop with a $5 markup and leave none for customers who might potentially want to buy other items to go with it. Contrast this with Amazon, where they can ship your item from anywhere and it makes little difference to the customer. Best Buy has a pretty decent store transfer and warehouse ordering system, but customers often refuse to wait as they have waited until the last second to buy a gift and only budgeted for the laptop that has been on sale the last six days.

      • Frankly they don't want you buying it if you don't buy the additional warranty or accessories or whatever. If you don't buy it, someone else will. I'm convinced that corporate would just rather have you shop somewhere else. They get shipments twice a week, but there is a million different variations that the public demands so it's hard to keep all of the stock flowing to the exact right places, so it's easier to make it a difficult experience for the grab and go customer who just want to buy four of the laptop with a $5 markup and leave none for customers who might potentially want to buy other items to go with it.

        That's the problem. People ARE shopping elsewhere. Their pricing isn't just a nominal markup, it's an astronomical markup. Their logistics are a mess, I show up to buy some sennheiser headphones listed as "available in store" on their website. They couldn't find them. That was followed up by "well, the system does that all the time." Fix the damned system. That was $30 that walked out the door to be spent on Newegg.

        The best part of standing in that line was a)talking to random people b) getting one o

      • by J-1000 (869558)

        ...so it's easier to make it a difficult experience for the grab and go customer who just want to buy four of the laptop with a $5 markup and leave none for customers who might potentially want to buy other items to go with it.

        That seems to be a common thread among failing businesses: They all have well-reasoned excuses to intentionally inconvenience their customers.

  • by buddyglass (925859) on Thursday February 09, 2012 @09:37PM (#38990863)
    I'd like to see a chart of the revenue growth of "brick and mortar" Apple stores over the last 10 years. Fry's also seems to be doing alright, and like Best Buy they also have questionable customer service.
  • by wjcofkc (964165) on Thursday February 09, 2012 @09:50PM (#38990987)
    Let's not forgot that this is the same place where if you go in citing a price on their website they will pull up an intranet site that is a clone of bestbuy.com with different prices to "prove" you wrong. Getting busted for that was the end of me shopping there.
  • by i_want_you_to_throw_ (559379) on Thursday February 09, 2012 @09:56PM (#38991035) Homepage Journal
    "Amazon showroom" ?
  • by manual_tranny (2566083) on Thursday February 09, 2012 @10:26PM (#38991225)
    I guess I am one of the only ones that noticed the way Best Buy did business more than 15 years ago? As a child I remember them charging an exorbitant fee for diagnosing and repairing a radio, only to have replaced the batteries. Best Buy has always been a racket. In the early 00's, Monster Cables were apparently made out of Pixie dust and Myrrh, from the way their employees talked them up. The poor employees. They are hassled and forced to mess with customers, but they get no commission for being pushy salesman. Best Buy has an opportunity now to prevent failure. If they don't change, you can bet that someone is making money on their failure.
  • by David_Hart (1184661) on Thursday February 09, 2012 @11:09PM (#38991479)

    The theory presented is that Best Buy is dying due to lower than normal sales and lower margins. This is presumed to be caused by poor customer service based on personal experience with the writer's local Best Buy store and some inventory issues for items that NO retailer had in stock during the Christmas season.

    The truth is actually more boring. Best Buy sales are down because the economy has been in the toilet. Best Buy margins are down because margins are down for all electronics. In addition, the mad rush to 3D that electronics manufacturers were hoping for never happened. Very little of this has to do with customer service.

    Personally, I have never had a problem with my local Best Buy. I've been able to return items without question and they have been very helpful when I am looking for a particular item. Anyone who knows me knows that I am a big proponent of Amazon. But there are many people like me who just don't feel comfortable buying appliances and expensive TVs over the Internet.

  • by kermidge (2221646) on Friday February 10, 2012 @12:18AM (#38991939) Journal

    Okay, I just read most of the posts. There is much truth therein.

    Out of my own ignorance and un-brightness I post a few thoughts.

    Apart from general overhead (rent/lease/taxes, wages, utilities, whathaveyou) the single largest hassle as I see it is in inventory. This has always been a large factor in, for instance, hardware stores. With electronics all the problems of inventory are magnified - everything stocked is automatically obsolete before it even reaches the shelves, for starters. Don't even bring up things such as support, drivers, etc.

    That's bad enough for old-fashioned business models. Complicating factors such as lack of awareness and understanding on the part of customers and staff only exacerbate the situation. Emphasizing 'bottom-line Friday' and 'get the sale' as distinct from establishing customer relations and developing accounts helps clinch the fail.

    The owners and smart stockholders will always make out like bandits, especially if they've paid the slightest attention to the standard CYA aspects of law and tax law no matter what happens to the brick and mortar realities. The CEOs and such will do quite fine even if they technically "lose" some money due to bankruptcy/failure of the businesses they're 'in charge of.'

    The only people hurt will be everyone else. [paragraph unwritten because it's obvious/transparent/redundant]

    In the meantime, everyone who shows up to work has bills to pay - they all have need of income: their livelihood, and lives, depend upon it. Yet, as I've been saying for thirty years and more: if you show up for work and do not understand, janitor to CEO, that the only reason you have a job and the only reason there is a business is because you have customers. and act accordingly, you might as well turn around and go find something useful to do or kill yourself and remove a burden from the species.

    One way or another, whether it be pumping septic tanks or working out of my real estate office, I spent half my working life in sales. While I was happy to have happy customers, to this day I prefer, and strove for, _satisfied_ customers; that is, people who knew I stood behind what I did or that the company for whom I worked did so. Everything else, IMHFO, is dross. YMMV.

    That Best Buy is going down the tubes is simply a matter of time. Whether owners, management, and staff change their world view or no, perhaps it's just a matter of watching another species of dinosaur die. I'm young enough to be sad and old enough to simply try to make it through the next day. When the local hardware store and bookstore close, then, apart from the congenial tavern, should I be able to afford them, it'll be all she wrote apart from what's available to me on the 'Net.

    Brave new world, indeed. Cheers.

  • by metalmaster (1005171) on Friday February 10, 2012 @12:57AM (#38992181)

    Managers worried about numbers and goals over customer service....

    I work as a mobile consultant for an office supply store that recently started in wireless sales. They sell electronics stuff including computers and tablets. Anyways, when im not selling phones i'll help customers with electronics and other things that i know about.

    Just last week a customer comes in with a sales ad, and shows me the exact laptop they want. They dont need a sales spiel they just wanna buy. I go to a keyholder/manager to get the laptop and i get a "stern talking to" about how their tech associates have to reach goals on computer sales and warranty sales. The manager told me to send the customer to a tech associate(who has a queue of 5 or so customers because he cant multitask.)

    I sure as hell dont care about their numbers and i know that the customer wasnt really willing to wait for a tech associate when i'm available to help right now. I went to someone else to get the laptop and ended up selling the customer on a 3 year warranty. Some managers can be so thick-headed

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