Sunday, February 02, 2014

Is Best Buy dead?

When I told friends on Friday I had been working on an article about Best Buy Canada's latest round of layoffs - they announced they were turfing another 950 employees almost a year to the day after they announced they were blowing off 900 staff and shuttering 15 stores - I ignited quite the firestorm of feedback.

I heard stories of roaming aisle after aisle with nary a salesperson to be found, of finding an actual salesperson, only to have him turn tail and run the other way, of finally catching up with someone, only to realize he couldn't answer questions about his own shoe size let alone the tablet that brought them to the store in the first place. I heard similar experiences of questionable sales practices, non-existent after-sales service and an overall retail experience that made a post-shopping 45-minute hot shower virtually mandatory.

So there wasn't too much sympathy among my friends.

I even heard from a reader who has spent most of his career in consumer electronics, and summarized the zeitgeist rather nicely:
"I am not sure who is worse BestBuy or FutureShop. Whilst BestBuy don’t use the commission sales method vis-à-vis FutureShop, they both suffer catastrophically from under trained, incompetent and often rude 'sales associates'. If you haven’t done your homework before going in, you are at their mercy and will invariably be pushed to buy the most expensive product."
Yup, I can see where he's coming from.

I wrote this piece for Yahoo Canada, Best Buy layoffs won't stop slide, and, yes, it didn't take long after the piece went live for me to get a slew of email from readers. Some of them were supportive, while others were kinda nasty. The nasty ones were, big surprise, sent anonymously, using throwaway web addresses. So predictable.

(The good news? The article has attracted 119 comments - and counting. Looks like it touched more than a few nerves. Good.)

I also received a rather challenging email from the Best Buy folks, and from the looks of it they were none too pleased. Then again, the truth always seems to hurt more when you refuse to hear it.

Your turn: Big box stores. Yes or no? Why/why not?


Kalei's Best Friend said...

Our one and only BB was redone - meaning the aisles use to go north/west now its east/west which makes it look bigger yet, more confusing... With the internet, I think most stores are bare of customers as well as employees.. years ago they would have one check out line open no matter how many folks were standing in line.. well, looks like their perserverance in keeping the one check out employee is apropro.. btw read were JC Penney is closing stores as well.

Thumper said...

I used to love Best Buy, and it was my go-to place for music, DVDs, computers...pretty much anything electronic. But now when I walk in there, what I'm looking for is rarely on the shelves. The CDs are in the back of the store and the diminished display space is so small that they might as well not even sell CDs.

I went looking for an iPod last week; I found the display but couldn't find anyone to get the actual iPod for me. The only department I seem to be able to routinely find help is in computers...and I know more about them than the people trying to sell them.

Best Buy has done this to itself; why should I contort myself to find someone working there to hunt down the item I want to buy? And why do I know more about the differences in the tablets I'm looking at than the people who are supposed to know their merchandise? They've made it too easy and appealing to just buy from Amazon.

I prefer to buy locally, but they've turned themselves into an Amazon showroom.