I’ve never given any stock to the whole ‘Friday the 13th is an unlucky day’ nonsense, mostly because I’m Irish, and naturally lucky. But after my encounter with a manager on duty at the Best Buy in Altamonte Springs, I may have to re-think this.
I went there looking for an adapter to connect a set of pc headphones to an xbox360. Although they didn’t have what I was looking for, I did grab a 7port usb hub and a usb cable for my phone. I took these items up to the cashier, he rings them up and now we’re waiting for his register to approve my bank card purchase. One of the great thinks about my card is that as soon as any authorization, payment or deposit is made to it, I get an instant email right on my phone. There have even been times I’ve received the email before the register has started to print the receipt. While standing there, I get the email saying Best Buy has posted a purchase for $63.58. In the store, the cashier is still staring at his screen, then it displays a message indicating there was an error, and he needs to call for approval. I say,”Wait a minute, I’ve already received the email saying you’ve charged me for this.” He just gives me a sort of blank look, picks up the phone and calls for the approval. As he’s typing in the approval number, I get another email saying Best Buy has posted another charge for $63.58 against my account. I tell him they’ve now charged me twice, to which he sends me over to their customer service desk. No I understand he’s a cashier, and not high up in the food chain there, but my thinking is if he’s been made aware that what my bank says doesn’t match what his register says, that would have been a good time to get a manager, before trying to call it in.
I end up waiting a little over 5 minutes for one of the girls behind the counter to even acknowledge me, then she just starts pulling my purchases out of the bag without even asking what the problem was. Once I start to explain that they’ve charged me twice, she look over my shoulder and gets John Benedict the Manager on Duty to come over. I proceed to explain to him what just happened, and he says our POS only shows 1 charge. I say I understand this, but their system did in fact charge my bank card twice. His reply is I would need to call their corporate office about it. No offer to look into, no nothing. SO now I’m a bit annoyed, and say fine, take your stuff back. John goes over to the register and proceeds to do a void for the $63.58 amount. After he finishes, I tell him that good customer service would have been to at least made an attempt to double check, not just blow me off.
As I’m walking out the door, my phone beeps. I look down and it says “A purchase has been made for $63.58 at Best Buy Altamonte.” I turn around and walk back up to him and tell him they’ve now charged my card 3 times. As I’m saying this, a 4th charge appears. He tries to give me the call corporate line, I end up explaining to him he needs to call the customer service number in the back of the card, they will explain how to remove the unapproved authorizations.” He reluctantly picks up their phone and starts to call. Meanwhile, charges 5, 6 and 7 show up on my bank card. He goes through the menu until it gets to where I need to enter my phone pin, and hands me the phone. I enter my pin, and choose the option to list to current authorizations. It starts with, “Your current balance is $54.96″ which is crazy, because before I bought anything at the store, my balance was $627.18. Best Buy was now holding $572.22 of my money.
John speaks to a customer service rep at my bank, who explains that he needs to fax over a statement on company letterhead authorizing the release of the incorrect charges. She further goes on to give him all of the authorization codes. So now, this ‘Manager On Duty’ who was so dismissive is fully aware I’m not trying to scam them, this is in fact a serious issue. Surprisingly at no time does he have one of the staff call their IT dept to have them check to make sure this isn’t something that’s going on with other customers or at other stores. Nor does he even address me about the situation. I understand that the lawyers tell everyone never say sorry to avoid any sort of admission of guilt, but if he had looked at me and said,”I have no idea how this could have happened, but I will do everything I possibly can to fix it”, I would have been in an entirely different mood. As a programmer I’m aware that software can sometimes have bugs. I wouldn’t have been overjoyed about my money being gone, but I would have appreciated the attempt at trying to make me feel better. Instead, he hands me the phone so the customer service rep can talk to me. She was very polite and explained it could take up to 48 hours after they receive the fax to return the money. Meanwhile, Best Buy took the least $54.96 from my account and now I’m broke.
While I was on the phone with her, John steps away. He disappears for more than 10 minutes, only to return, pick up the phone and start calling someone else. On a quick side note, while I was waiting for him to return, 3 of the employees standing right next to me start discussing another customer who apparently had called several times the day before about a computer they were fixing, and what a pain he was. One of them said to just take a message and they might call him back. Obviously poor customer service at that store isn’t limited to one individual.
Now John’s back and waiting on the phone for someone. Remember, He’s fully aware they’ve emptied my bank account. He’s also aware it’s going on an hours since we started this. Does he offer me a seat? Does he say “Since we’ve taken all your money, Can I buy you a soda”? Nope, he tells me it’s going to be a few minutes on hold, and then just stands there like a rock. Eventually he gets to someone named Melissa, and after he talks with her I get the feeling I’m about to be even more unhappy. He hangs up with her and tells me there’s nothing they can do, the money will be returned eventually. I try to get him to go to the next level, but apparently we’ve reached the end of their desire to do anything. He doesn’t seem to grasp the fact that 1, their software might not only be stealing from me and 2, he already knows what he needs to do to clear this up as he’s spoken to the bank.
So I decided to step away before I did something that would have required more than $500 bail. After leaving the store, I post the following tweet:
I was a bit surprised when I received a reply to this pretty quickly:
I reply with the follwing 2 tweets:
These of course after I check out who this person is actually supposed to be. Now, I’m feeling a glimmer of hope that maybe someone there might actually understand that taking care of the customer comes first. NOPE, I wait and wait, then send this tweet:
Now, I get a reply, but I’m sure you can understand how I’m not holding my breath for anything to actually get done:
Saturday April 13th
I just got off the phone with my bank. I understand they are limited in what they can do, so I had them list my card as lost/stolen. This way, once I add funds to my account I won’t have to worry about Best Buy still trying to get money from it.
I’ve emailed firstname.lastname@example.org with most of the above information, and added the following:
Your store currently has 10 holds on my bank card totaling $627.18 of which, I only approved $63.58. Your Manager John Benedict, is fully aware this is an issue with your computer system, is aware of the steps he needs to take to fix this, but is apparently unwilling to do anything. After speaking with my bank they tell me it could take up to 30 days for the money to be returned to me if Best Buy does not fax over a letter releasing these bogus authorizations. I can absolutely assure you if it takes 30 days to get my money back, we will be going to court.
My main anger stems not from the money being taken without my approval (although this is very concerning to me), but the way your manager treated me. When first brought to his attention a bit of skepticism on his part would be warranted due to the possibility this could have been a scam. HOWEVER, once he spoke to my bank, he should have been not only more empathetic, but more willing to help. Having worked in the hospitality industry I can assure you that if a manager had treated one of our hotel guests with the indifference I was shown, they would have been relieved of their position immediately.
Lastly, I’m not one to deal with issues like this quietly. Even in all this I see a positive in that John has provided an excellent demonstration of how a persons attitude can cost a business customers. I’m including this in the email so you are aware that all correspondence including the twitter exchange yesterday will be posted in my blog.
Now the ball is in their court.
Update Saturday Apr 13th.
Apparently I’m not the only victim of this. I visited the Best Buy facebook page and discovered another person who was charged 3 times for 1 item. When she addressed this with them, they told her they were working on it. SO, THEY KNOW THIS IS HAPPENING AND NO WARNING TO THE CUSTOMER?
And, I just checked my email and they’ve sent me a survey? You haven’t solved my problem, but you want to know how you’re doing?
Update Monday Apr 16th.
I received a reply by email:
Thank you for bringing this to our attention and I’m dearly sorry for the length of time, inconveniences, and treatment that you received while in-store. Please understand that this is not customary behavior and I know I would also be raising these concerns to seek further guidance if it happened to me as well. With that said, in order to look more into this issue for you, can you provide me with the following?
Phone number(s) associated with the purchase
Customer Service Pin Number(s): 15-17 numbers on the purchase receipt(s), ending in the purchase date(s)
Any other information that you’d like to include
Once I receive these details, I’ll begin researching this situation and let you know any feedback I receive as soon as possible.
Thank you for your continued patience,
I did reply back with the requested information, but also pointed out that Justin should read their Facebook page, as well as the fact that I’m very surprised that since I had reported this issue early Friday morning, people were still running into it on Saturday.
2nd update Apr 16th, 2012
I received a response, but I’M NOT HAPPY:
Ugh, I’m so sorry! L Unfortunately, I see only one purchase and any others would be authorization holds, which should automatically drop off within 7-10 business days. I know that this isn’t the answer that you want to hear, however, you may certainly work with your bank for further assistance on inquiring what date you might see those funds. Again, I’m very sorry for any inconvenience.
I spoke with my bank prior to this. They tell me if Best Buy doesn’t fax a letter telling them to release the fraudulent holds on my account, it will take 15-30 days for them to drop off, not the 7-10 Justin is stating. So, I felt compelled to reply:
Wow, is everyone at Best Buy trained in the best way to be useless. Speak with John Benedict at your Altamonte Springs Store. He spoke with my bank and they explained what needs to be done. He has a list of all 10 of the charges placed against my account by your system. SOMEONE FROM BEST BUY NEEDS TO FAX A LETTER TO MY BANK ON YOUR COMPANY LETTERHEAD STATING YOU WANT TO REMOVE THOSE CHARGES.
I know that you want your money back and I don’t blame you one bit. I’ve been informed that Jill, from our Corporate Office, has already started working on your situation in hopes of getting your funds returned to you as soon as possible. She should be in contact with you soon and I would recommend that you continue working directly with her for any additional concerns. Again, I sincerely apologize for the inconvenience.
So now I’m being transferred to someone named Jill. This will be the 5th person from Best Buy I’ve dealt with. And remember, this can all be fixed with a SIMPLE FAX TO MY BANK!
4th Update Apr 16th, 2012
So after contacting Chris Elliott who is a consumer activist (and who has a really good website: Http://www.elliott.org ) he contacted Jill Nezworski who has now contacted me:
Best Buy received your concerns from Christopher Elliott. Please allow
me to respond.
First, I am sorry for the incident that you have described below. In
addition, I realize that you have dealt with several people on this
issue and you are asking for a fair resolution. As a consumer myself, I
understand the importance of good customer service and timely
resolution. Please do accept our apologies.
I am happy to work with you and fax whatever information necessary to
your bank to get this resolved. I spoke with John at the store and he
stated that you have 9 authorization numbers from the bank. Can you
forward that to me along with the fax number? I would be happy to send
the document as soon as I receive it (I will be here until 5pm CST).
There will not be a delay on my part if I get this before then, I
promise you. I am eager to help, and look forward to your kind reply.
John at the store wasn’t truthful with her. He was the one who spoke to my bank, he was the one who wrote down the information they needed to fix this. So, I had to take time out of my day to contact my bank to get this information to get my money back. I have emailed her, and am waiting for a response.
I do want to say one thing though. Even if she does handle this, why did I have to involve someone with the media? Is Best Buy so uncaring that the feel the little people don’t matter?
5th Update Apr 16th, 2012
I received the following from Jill:
I have sent the fax. I will check back with you first thing in the morning to make sure that the changes have been made to your account. Once confirmed, I will be sending you a gift card for this experience.
Update Apr 17th, 2012
So, at 3pm est, I finally have my money back. I was without my funds for 4 days. 4 days to fix something that could have been fixed in 15 minutes. 4 days to fix something that SHOULD have been fixed in 15 minutes.
Here’s the email I received from Jill:
Keisha stated that they have removed the authorizations. I appreciate you sticking with me while this was worked out. I know that this was no fault of yours.
As promised, I also wanted to get you a gift card for your undue frustration. Please expect a $100 gift card to arrive at your <address redacted for privacy> address in 2-3 weeks. We sincerely welcome you back to Best Buy for a much better experience.
I wanted to end this with my response, only because I hope someone may see this and realize how easy it is to lose a customer:
I want to make clear that my anger and frustration isn’t because due to the money being removed from my account. I write software and can understand a crazy glitch like that may get by testing. My issue was the way I was treated by everyone afterwards. The store Manager on Duty John Benedict was dismissive with me and first tried to tell me I needed to call your corporate office. Once I convinced him to contact my bank, the error was confirmed, he was given the appropriate steps to follow, but still gave me the ‘nothing we can do’ line. Would he have accepted that if he was in my place? Afterwards reaching out to your social media staff I was met with the same results. Your Facebook page on Saturday had at least 2 others who had the same problem. If I were handling your Facebook account and saw that, I would have started calling people in the company to get this resolved. Instead it was the ‘I understand your frustration’ line.