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Wednesday, Mar. 16, 2011 at 8:29 am

Good Buy, Bad Buy, Best Buy – a Customer’s Perspective

By Marijayne Bushey
March 16th, 2011

We’ve written about good or bad experiences before, we’ve stood on our soapbox and preached about it, and we’ve drilled it into our clients: the little things you do make a difference to your customers.  They know and they remember.  They tell friends and tweet the world at large.  It’s a topic we never tire of… so here’s another first-hand experience that highlights how both good and bad experiences linger in the customer’s mind, and have the potential to create repeat and new business for your company.


My husband has been scoping out GPS devices for months… years even… since before we even owned a car, in fact! But two weeks ago, in preparation for our first weekend road-trip out of state with my family, he got serious about it. We were headed to Vermont for a few days to ski, and we weren’t really sure how to get there, so we figured it was the perfect time to make a purchase. To seal the deal, Best Buy was offering some tremendous deals on GPS devices.

Thanks to hours of research, we knew we wanted a Garmin.  And living in a major metropolitan area, with lots of traffic congestion, we knew we wanted not just live map updates, but also live traffic updates (these are called LMT, for Live Maps and Traffic).  As luck would have it, a Garmin device with both features was on sale for a great price at Best Buy at that very moment!  We sped to the closest Best Buy, found a salesperson who retrieved the GPS we wanted from the stock room, and completed our purchase.

Three hours later, I had a fully charged device complete with downloaded maps for North America and Puerto Rico, and a smiling husband with a new spring in his step.  A few days later, trunk overflowing with gear, we set off on our first adventure with turn-by-turn navigation.

Our trip began during mid-week rush hour in a metropolitan area competing for the most congested traffic nationwide.  My brother had suggested we avoid the major roads and opt for slightly smaller highways.  We were feeling confident knowing that our trusty Garmin with live traffic would steer us away from gridlock.

After 45 minutes on the road, we suspected that something was awry.  Traffic updates didn’t seem to register on our device, and roadways were not showing the characteristic red/yellow/green traffic flow indicators.  It wasn’t such a big deal, since we had already planned to take smaller highways anyway, but we were concerned that maybe something was wrong with the item we had purchased.  Nonetheless, we arrived at our destination safely after an uneventful journey.


We decided to get on with the ski day, and deal with our GPS concerns when we got back to my brother’s house.  Despite crappy weather, with threats of rain, we persisted and purchased lift tickets at a southern VT resort that will remain nameless.  We knew what we were getting into; spring skiing on the East Coast means slow, sticky, slush.  But it had snowed 6 inches overnight, and it was still snowing in the morning, so we held out that we’d get in most of the day before it turned to rain.  What we didn’t count on was that most of the lifts on the mountain would be shut down while we were in the lodge eating lunch!

Now I can understand that the resort has no control over the weather.  But what you’re paying for at most ski resorts is a LIFT ticket, not really slope access.  And when they charge full price for lift access, I expect full lift service…. Not the kind of lift service I get at a much smaller resort with only 3 or 4 very slow lifts.  If I get the kind of lift access I get at a smaller resort, I also expect to pay the prices I pay at a smaller resort.  I felt like I’d been sold a BMW and then had it switched out for a Fiesta after a few laps around the track.

Despite making our points to management, we were told it was a weather issue that was out of their control, that the mountain was still open and that we could still get access to all trails.  To add salt to the wound, we walked out the door, got on one of the four open lifts, and got stuck for 30 minutes in windy sleet.  Needless to say, I won’t be going back there anytime soon.  I’ll make the trip farther north, where conditions are better, or out West, where Spring conditions come with Spring pricing… both of which are far better than the East Coast.


Upon arriving back in civilization, a little more online investigating into our GPS issue led my husband to believe that we needed a special cord, with a built-in antenna, in order to receive the live traffic updates.  So we found a Best Buy nearby, and trekked in to speak to someone, prepared to buy the special cord.  The salesperson in the GPS area, although very nice, was not really that informed about the differences between regular GPS devices, and LMT devices.  He had never even heard of a cable with a built-in antenna.  So, we called Garmin directly, and were very surprised when a customer service rep for the company told us that the serial number for our device indicated it was not an LMT, but just an LM device!  Of course we hadn’t been getting traffic updates!  We had been given the wrong item from the stock room!

When we got back from our trip, the first item of business was to dig up the receipt and take the GPS back to Best Buy.  I have to admit, we were a little nervous about what they would say to us, and whether or not they would honor the price from a week ago (which was $40 cheaper than the current listed price).  I expected to have to put up a fight.  But after a short wait in the customer service line, we told our story to a representative, presented an ID, and walked out the front door of Best Buy with a Garmin LMT device!  Talk about good customer service!  Despite the fact that I would rather have been given the proper device in the first place, the whole exchange was painless.

So, what’s the bottom line?  Customers instinctively know when they are getting the short end of the stick, or getting exceptional service.  If you think you can pull one over on your customers by using jargon or legalese, and throwing around corporate policies, remember that customer BS meters are more finely honed in the internet age than they have ever been.  We all know the airlines are taking us for a ride… in the wrong direction.  We also know the cable companies are feeding us lines… of propaganda.  Cell phone companies?  Yep: we’ve got their number.  And guess what, we’re onto you too.  Have you run into a company who pleasantly surprised you?  Share your story with our readers so they can get inspired to turn their focus on their customers’ needs.

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Comments (29)

  1. Its difficult times with companies today. I know sometimes its hard to please customers but sometimes it takes so little. But again there are hard pleasing customers. I get pleasantly suprised every time i take my car for service. The shop Im using and the guys working there are always helpful, they know they job and they never rip me off. And that should be the base, if you have a satisfied customer thats the customer that always comes back.

  2. I totally agree, if the customer is satisfied, not only he´ll come back but he will bring some more customers cause he was satisfied and he wants his friends and family to share. Thats why it should be prio 1 to make a customer happy.

  3. I don’t know if this is the norm for Hair Cuttery franchises all over, but I’ve been going to a suburban Philadelphia franchise since I was in college based solely on their stellar customer service. The first time I got my hair cut there it was just after a pretty terrible incident with chlorine from our pool actually bleaching my hair. The stylist recommended a specific conditioner for my newly bleached hair. I told her I wasn’t really interested in buying conditioner at the time and she told me she would just give it to me, because she really thought it would help repair the damage. I took the conditioner and used it and I was sold. It returned a lot of the lost body to my hair. That simple act of kindness has had me going to that same Hair Cuttery franchise to the same stylist for nearly 10 years now. I’m sure my lifetime value as a customer has been well worth the cost of the conditioner!

  4. file a complaint. follow up. go to the media. make noise.

  5. There are some companies that like to boast that they are the best in customer service by showing that they get certain awards in customer service based on a certain survey.
    However I know from my personal experience that their customer service is a crap.
    You should never buy a good or service from a company and expect a good service just because the company has received a certain customer satisfaction award.
    If you search the internet, you’ll find a lot of complains for the company from various online forums that you should buy attention to what people says about their products before you buy it.

  6. As per my experience these two things always come in life. You may encounter with bad guys also and good guys also.
    In a shop from where I always purchase my cloths there are two guys but I always went to good guy.

  7. I mean, some customers are impossible to please. Such a huge corporation like Best Buy can’t always please everybody. Personally, I find the best customer service from Mom and Pop type shops, they value their customers much more then Best Buy because losing 1 customer could sink the company. Big corporations really don’t care if they lose a couple customers.

  8. I agree with Jason. I’m sure some big companies would argue that they didn’t get to where they are by not being nice to their customers, but the thing is, the bigger you get, the farther the owner of the company gets from the customer. No matter how well intentioned and nice the owner of the company is, if he is unable to motivate and train his frontliners to duplicate his niceness etc., it’s just not going to be the same.

  9. I know the feeling about customer service, my hosting company I use love using jargon terms to try and get themselves out of sticky situations, it may work on less technical people but not me. Just a shame I am tied to a contract that I cant get out until it expires.

    Service is important, bad service will eventually lead into no customers. I mean is it really that hard to provide adequate customer service?

    Nice post, enjoyed reading it.

  10. One thing we all can agree on is customer service is a thing of the past. Where has it gone, the old saying the customer is always right, where did that go. When you say that today it sound like a`joke.

  11. I think customer satisfaction is highly dependent from the way we serve it … although sometimes it is less good products ..

  12. I think zappos would be one of the best shopping experience and i have ever experience and gilt too with their return policies it’s simple and i got my return labels in seconds

  13. You’re one of the lucky ones! I recently had a situation where the shelf and add said one price, it rang up another. It took over 30min and 3 people to correct the mistake. They treated me like I was scamming them until I could prove EVERYTHING.

  14. A happy customer is a moving advertisement. I think word of mouth or referring other to a company is an everlasting way to increase sales. A good article and interesting start as Good Buy…thanks

  15. Complaints are a great way to get noticed. You could even file a claim with the bbb this could help you with you. I have a Garmin it is an old one but still works pretty good…..

  16. It really isn’t that difficult to keep the vast majority of customers happy. I work as a wedding photographer, and the little things really do go a long way, and it’s the little things that people remember, and mention to their friends. In this day and age, more than ever, good word of mouth can keep a business afloat, whilst bad word of mouth can easily sink it.

  17. I had a very good customer service experience from T-Mobile in the UK recently. I had a problem with accessing my online account and was able to get help from one of their staff on Twitter within a few minutes of contacting them – which was great but especially because it was on a Sunday afternoon and saved me a lot of time waiting to get through to someone on the phone.

  18. @Jason i totally agree with U.
    well actualy due to size they are mostly focusing the market volume, but they forget that retaing one can be really benificial to them as well.

  19. I agree with Jason. Corporations don’t usually care about losing a few small time clients. They only tend to please their retail distributors, but in this case I was actually surprised to read that Best Buy gave you the LMT device. Now that I think about it I never had a problem with Best Buy, but Futureshop is another story.

  20. I know the pain of both being the customer, and then being the retail manager. (not in that career anymore thank goodness). Most retail big box places will tell you they can’t do this,, can’t do that. A majority can, it’s just more paperwork/busywork on the back-end for them. There are those like the ones mentioned above that love their job and believe in doing the right thing.

  21. Customer satisfaction is compulsory when you are running a business. It’s all about perception. If everything goes smoothly when you purchase an item you go back again to the same place. If you encounter problems, you stay away. I know I do.

  22. i also agree with jason and joey. there is huge difference between corporations and small business dealing methonds

  23. I primarily work with small businesses, and I try to get them to realize how much the world has changed in the last 5 years. Now, everyone you encounter, from customers to vendors, has the ability to praise or trash your business online. If you enable the Power of Nice you’ll be better off.

  24. I totally agree, if the customer is satisfied, not only he´ll come back but he will bring some more customers cause he was satisfied and he wants his friends and family to share. Thats why it should be prio 1 to make a customer happy.

  25. Marijayne, here in India, I am pleasantly surprised whenever an employee of a government run company goes the extra mile for me. They are used to make life difficult for their customers.

  26. better said good buy – bye bye, there is no such thing as a good buy, there is always a catch; there are satisfying buys for customers need, but exceeding needs- good buy, never saw one

  27. I swore to never deal with a particular “colourful” mobile phone provider in the UK after they screwed up my order for mobile broadband recently. When calling them and being dealt with professionally and promptly I swiftly changed my mind.

    It’s well known that as consumers we respond very positively to companies who manage to deal with our complaints effectively. I’m glad Best Buy restored your faith in them and that you’ve told the story. Maybe more companies will start to behave like this.

  28. Honesty is always good in business. The more clients trust you the more they buy. I personally experience it in my different businesses. So don’t try to lie it will never bring good results.

  29. Having been in retail for over 40 years, I have never used the words, good, bad or best. Simply put, each potential purchaser has certain criteria they are looking for in any product/service. Either your products fits those needs or it doesn’t. The customer moves on and so does the business owner.

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Mj has been proselytizing the merits of customer-centric, data-driven, continuous Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) for FutureNow since 2007.

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