You might recall the recent controversy surrounding Best Buy: It seems that the company had a secret intranet designed to look exactly like the main Web site… so that in-store computers and kiosks would display higher prices than what you saw at home. Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal was not amused, saying as he prepared his lawsuit:
“Best Buy gave consumers the worst deal – a bait-and-switch-plus scheme luring consumers into stores with promised online discounts, only to charge higher in-store prices,” Blumenthal said.
“The company commonly kept two sets of prices – one on its Internet site and an often higher set on its in-store, look-alike, available on kiosks. The in-store site was an Internet look-alike, commonly with higher prices, which were charged to consumers. Best Buy broke its promise to give the best price – an Internet version of bait-and-switch – a technological bait-and-switch-plus.
“Best Buy used in-store kiosks to conceal lower online prices and renege on its price match guarantee. Consumers seeking bargains were led to believe that lower online prices had expired or never existed. Best Buy treated its customers like suckers, not patrons to be prized.”
So now Best Buy has changed its ways, and has eliminated the secret in-store Web site and is displaying the same prices everywhere, whether you look them up at home or in the store.
Ha! Don’t be silly. Best Buy instead came up with a more unique solution: Adding a disclaimer to the in-store kiosks, saying the prices listed there may not be — what’s the word I’m looking for here — accurate.
Engadget’s take is a good one: “It’s still unclear why the company won’t just do the right thing and match its own listed prices, but we’re willing to bet the suits are patting themselves on the back for their innovative, out-of-the-box solution.”
Yeah, good for them. Meanwhile, I’ll be shopping somewhere else.