Best Buy is no Radio Shack

Best Buy last month had a great deal on a stereo receiver. In this day and age, a stereo is mostly for the audiophile. Or, those, like me, that have the speakers and the room and are looking to replace their existing stereo – but not go so far as to dump it all for a Bluetooth speaker.

The Harman Kardon AV1700 was offered for several hundred dollars off. Plus, it had features my decade old receiver didn’t – such as Airplay – whereby I could play music from my iPad wirelessly through the stereo. Pretty cool eh? And it has Internet Radio stations built-in. But, I digress.

The Best Buy ad was in the Sunday paper. I went online to see if the local store had it in stock. But, the website search using the part number on bestbuy.com revealed no item. Finally, I brought up the Sunday insert ad online on their website, and the link from that brought me to the stock status. Yes, they had one! Wow, that was some work!

So, I went to the store and while standing in line at the customer service to pick up the stereo (I had purchased it while online so it wouldn’t be sold to someone else before I got to the store – but alas, I think I was the only one that thought this was a steal), I received an email from Best Buy that my order was cancelled – due to insufficient stock. Sigh.

So, for the fun of it, I walked over to the stereo department and viola – they had one there! It was the display, however. But it’s fully functional. So, I called the 800 number on my cancellation email and they said – really?! – well take it over to customer service and show them. So, I did.

Well, after a few more blue shirts got involved, it turns out they can’t sell a demo. They said that when they receive one, it goes on display and they discard the box and everything that came with it. So, what do they do with the demo in the end? – according to them, they send it back to the manufacturer. Wow! What a waste!

When I worked for Radio Shack a million years ago, we kept everything. If it was the last one, we sold it as new because it was never used. It was probably already on a clearance or sale price. And we had the box and the wrapping – everything.

So, in the end it turns out Best Buy had the unit still available in their warehouse. I reordered it from there and a few days later I had it- new in a box.

But, ya gotta wonder. The trash that accumulates from discarding what comes with the demo – multiplied by all the display demos – again multiplied by all the Best Buy stores. And then the customers that can’t buy that last one they miraculously found. And those that think they found one only to get to the store and find it wasn’t to be. And finally, the cost of shipping that demo back to the manufacturer. I hope at least they use it for repairs or rma replacements. I hope.

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