With most electronics stores having disappeared, BestBuy almost stands alone as a place where you can walk in and find pretty much whatever you’re looking for in the way of televisions, computers, accessories, and pretty much anything else that boys think are toys.
But what is BestBuy really selling you?
I once wrote about some shady business practices at BestBuy, where computer buyers are forced to pay for services they don’t need. I suggested that BestBuy’s practices in that area might be illegal, and certainly there’s a moral question attached to forcing customers to buy services as a condition of buying products—at BestBuy or anywhere.
This morning, I came across a piece at Consumerist that calls BestBuy out for becoming less an electronics store and more of a financing company. And my question is: so what?
I’ve give you: it’s annoying to have employees at stores like BestBuy constantly upselling, and certainly if you walk in to buy some small widget and the kid in the aisle tries to sell you a credit card and then the gal at the BestBuy register does it too it gets old. But you can simply say “no”.
The question is what message BestBuy is sending to its employees when they all but admit that they’re more interested in the financing part of their business than in selling the items that they advertise on TV and in millions of Sunday Newspaper inserts.
And the answer is this: they’re selling what makes money. BestBuy is selling business change.
I suppose there’s the occasional BestBuy employee who’s so enamored of electronics that this will feel unfair to them. But anyone who’s shopped in a BestBuy knows that most of the people who work there could just as well be selling shoes, or ice cream cones. So hey: you’re a sales rep? Sell what your boss tells you to sell.
Now if the story at Consumerist is true, it’s pretty horrible that BestBuy (or at least certain managers at BestBuy) have hard and fast rules that lead to automatic termination of employees who fail to sell services people didn’t come looking for and didn’t request. But the thought that it matters what business BestBuy is in? Ridiculous. BestBuy, like all businesses, is in the business of being in business.
And offering credit cards to customers doesn’t even qualify as bad customer service. Pushy? Maybe. But again, so what?
I wonder if the person who wrote that article realized that at supermarkets, margins are often less than 1%, and the businesses supermarkets are really in are selling shelf space to the companies whose product are on those shelves, and selling information about the buying habits of their loyalty card customers to anyone who will buy it?
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