Wednesday, September 2, 2009

The Fine Print

The fine print is the root of all evil.  Today’s example of corporate absurdity comes to you courtesy of Best Buy.  A year ago we purchased a new laptop for my son to use for school.  Being prudent parents, with full knowledge of the various situations that can arise with teenagers, laptops and schools we opted for the extended warranty coverage.  It wasn’t horribly overpriced, making it at least digestible when viewed as an insurance policy.
Fast forward to today, almost a year to the day after the original purchase:  The laptop (running that fantastic operating system from Microsoft known as ‘Vista’) is being its usual, less than agreeable, self and I learn that this has been the normal condition since it was purchased. (Thanks, Microsoft!)  I suggest that he check for a service pack that might address these performance issues.  He does, there is – and the wheels proceed to come off.  After installing the service pack the laptop devolves into a useless pile of components, taking an hour to fully boot and equally as long for a browser window to appear.  Ugh!  Time to call Best Buy to see about getting the Operating System reinstalled.
Or so I thought.
After calling the local store and spending over 30 minutes total listening to a phone ring in my ear through several failed transfers (nothing like a technology store that hasn’t figured out a 19th century invention…) I’m informed that the extended warranty only covers damage – “software issues” are not covered, and an operating system [sic] reload will cost you a cool $130.00 (well over 10% of the cost of the laptop when it was new!)  In this day of manufacturers shipping computers without media it’s more than a little underhanded to slap that kind of fee on a clean O/S reload that requires neither diagnostics nor backup – nothing more than a few keystrokes.  Keep in mind that if a drink were spilled into the keyboard or it were dropped it would be replaced, free of charge (but, according to the customer disservice goon at 888-BESTBUY, once you make a claim the warranty disappears…) The goon was quick enough to notice from my Best Buy Reward Zone profile that I am (was) an “excellent customer” – but guess what?  I’ll no longer patronize Best Buy as I have in the past.  They have proven to be nothing more than a corporate behemoth that only gives lip-service to customer service and chooses to gouge their customers at every opportunity.  I’ve got a bit of experience loading operating systems on computers, so I’m well aware of the effort involved.  Mr. Goon insisted that $130 was an industry standard fee for this service.  When I asked him to name a competitor that charged this fee he gave me Circuit City (umm, they’re bankrupt – I don’t think you want to compare Best Buy to them, do you?  Thanks for playing….) His next comparable company was CompUSA – hmm, 25 stores in 4 states plus Puerto Rico.  Again, not a flattering comparison for Best Buy.
So, we’re hunting up those media discs and embarking on a reloading session.  Thanks for nothing, Best Buy, we won’t be seeing you later.

No comments:

Post a Comment