A Tale of Two Best Buys: Why Great Customer Service is Worth More Than Gizmos

Last week I went through the onerous process of switching our family phone plan from one major carrier to another and upgrading all of us to smart phones. With one daughter living overseas, it’s the best and least expensive way for us all to stay in touch. Yes, we’re late adapters, because, until now, we’ve been avoiding the extra monthly costs of a data sharing plan. But, here we.

What I knew would probably take a few hours ended up taking eight over the course of three days, beginning with a hunt for three iPhone4’s (no, not 4S’s), because they are now free with data plans. Little did I know what lay ahead.

Day One: The Phone Number Typo
The first obstacle was locating the phones. Our new carrier, ATT, had used up their inventory in local corporate stores, so I went to the nearest Best Buy. The store had a recent shipment, so we set to work with all the necessary paperwork. But then it was time to port over our numbers from Verizon. Both my husband’s and my phone number ported over with one incorrect digit.

It took an hour-and-a-half for this to get fixed. By the time we left the store, it was 10:30 p.m. To the staff’s credit, however, three members of the mobile phone team worked their tails off to straighten out a problem not of their making. It turns out that the numbers are keyed in by hand by the carrier, which seems pretty odd, but nonetheless, therein lies room for human error. Throughout, the staff were friendly, explaining what was going on as we waited and waited and waited.

Day Two: The Mics that Wouldn’t Work
Finally, we got home with our new phones and had a very late supper. The next day, I was running behind to meet a friend and made my first call. My friend picked up and I started talking. But he could barely hear me. When we met, we determined that the phone worked on speaker, but something was wrong with the mic. I called my husband to check his phone—same problem. So I called Best Buy and was told to come on back and they would make an exchange.

For the second evening in a row, I waited my turn and then sat down with one of the reps who had been on the scene the night before. She cheerfully pulled out a couple more phones and switched SIM cards. We tested them once, and all seemed okay. But then, after she had finished putting them in their new Otter Box cases, we tried once more. Not good. We couldn’t hear each other talking. It appeared that the entire lot of iPhone 4’s was faulty.

Now what? The sales rep located more at another Best Buy about 15 minutes away, called the store for me, and I took off once again, arriving about an hour before they closed.

Day Three: The Case of the Case
Here’s where the experience got ever more frustrating. While the staff at the second Best Buy were efficient and did a good job of switching everything over, testing the phones with me and adding the third line that we needed, when it came to putting the phones in their cases, the sales rep would not attach the plastic screen cover that is part of the case. When I asked why, she said, “Oh, we charge for that.”

I was dumbfounded. I had spent, by this time, nearly seven hours trying to get this whole situation rectified. It was late. I was exhausted. But no one at this store seemed to care. The senior sales rep repeated store policy and supposedly even checked with his manager. But, nope, not going to budge. I collected everything and went home.

And so, I went back to the first Best Buy the next day. There was no question with this team. Of course they would help me. I have issues with my hands and can’t do it myself, but even if that weren’t the case, this group had a totally different ethic about customer service.

You can be certain, if I need to go to Best Buy again for mobile support or equipment, I will go to the first store. Both have the same inventory and service plans. But this one has people who go the extra mile for their customers in what is often an incredibly frustrating experience. And that is worth a lot more than any of the latest gizmos and gadgets.

Marketing consultant Evelyn Herwitz loves to help you tell a great story about your great work. She specializes in search-optimized web content that positions you as an approachable expert in your field and helps you grow your business. Contact Evelyn for a free half-hour consult for new clients.


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