Monday, January 11, 2010

When the Best Buy Isn't

OK, I'll admit it.

I do shop at Best Buy. And yes, their "extras" sales pitches are annoying. I feel like I should come in with a sign that says "Just give me the product and the advertised price so I can leave with my wallet intact."

Over at The Consumerist , there's a fine article about just what a rip-off their optimization scam is.

With adult children, and quickly-growing grandchildren, my family's gifts of choice at Christmas or birthdays are usually electronics. This past Christmas, game systems, telephones and computers comprised most of my purchases. I watched sales carefully for months, and Best Buy came in the lowest for laptops and netbooks.

While I did not run into the "we only have optimized computers left in stock," I did get the hard sell to purchase optimization. I had to constantly repeat my mantra: "I am just purchasing the advertised computer." It strikes me as odd that all the extras are pushed so hard when Best Buy employees are salaried, not paid on commission.

One particularly ridiculous conversation occurred when I went to purchase a netbook that came bundled with a carrying case for $249. They were out of the bundle, but they had the computer alone for $279. I said I'd forego the carrying case, but I wanted the bundled price. It took three employees, two managers and forty-five minutes to finally decide that I could buy the computer without the case for $249.

You would have thought I was the one trying to scam Best Buy!


Linda said...

This isn't about the Best Buy blog but about the previous several days' blogs and the comments you received. I rather suspect that those who were so ready with the "enabling" comments have never walked in your shoes. One of our granddaughters was born with a metabolic disorder that meant that her mother, who began single parenting soon after our granddaughter's birth, would not be able to work fulltime. This child required frequent hospitalizations and wasn't expected to live long. This was happening at the same time that my husband was learning that he would likely lose his job within a couple of years, a job it would be unlikely he could replace. We had savings and I had (and have) a small income, but did we have enough to support ourselves and also our daughter and her small family? Were we running through our own savings too fast when we stepped in to pay for expensive medications or procedures? Were we enabling our daughter, a daughter who had made the decision to have another child, to allow her to stay home with her fragile and disabled child, providing the therapies that would eventually allow that child to far exceed expectations? (Despite being deaf by a year, severely developmentally disabled at a year, thought to be severely mentally retarded, with an uncertain life expectancy, due to my daughter's and others' intensive therapies, she's now mainstreamed in kindergarten, at the top of her class.) If we took an honest look at our finances, we shouldn't have done what we did: tell our daughter that we would support her while she quit work and met the needs of her fragile daughter and her older granddaughter. You bet we enabled her. We enabled her to build the best future possible for her and both her daughters. We also know a bit in our extended family about dealing with children and adults with mental or emotional handicaps, and it does no good to these family members, ourselves or society to turn these people out on the street when they go through a period when they temporarily can't cope, even if those temporary periods are repeated periodically. People who would readily understand the challenges of my physically disabled granddaughter--her deafness, her wobbliness, her other physical disabilities--do not grant the same understanding to those who suffer mental or emotional challenges. Thank you, Grace, for having to been willing to shoulder these challenges for children who had little hope of ever having someone like you in their lives, for helping make their lives and their children's lives as sound as possible.

Grace. said...

Sometimes life throws us curve balls, if not directly to us, then to our families. You and your daughter got a few of those. Finding the line between enabling, and genuinely helping is the hard part, made even harder in situations like yours and mine. But we set to have families, and isn't much of this precisely what a family is for?

Linda said...

I agree, heartily. My daughter is now in a different place financially and with her children, but when she was wrung with guilt, I told her this is what families are for. We're making every effort we can to ensure our financial stability well into the future, but it's a delicate dance that parents of adult children or grandchildren with disabilities of any kind must dance when they might move toward enabling a more stable life in the future and enabling wrong choices. Some responders just don't understand that choice.