Computers, Customer Service, Online Orders, Software, Technology, Uncategorized

Update on Ballad of Best Buy Bonnie


(Refer to previous post regarding a refund problem Best Buy’s Geek Squad)

And so the saga comes to a conclusion, a full six weeks after it began. It turns out I was right to an extent. The alleged refund was never fully processed.  Had I not called to complain, yet again  – this time to a customer service rep named Amanda – I would still be waiting in vain.

Amanda accomplished what Bonnie and the others before her did not, could not or would not. Not only did she define “business cycle” as a monthly billing period which is, for them, 28 days, but also she scratched beneath the superficial to determine that my refund was stuck in some kind of limbo. She redirected it to the proper processing channel and, this afternoon, the money appeared back in my account – five days, 3 business days, after she initiated the action. It is, however, a full 41 days since the story began.

Why was it necessary for Best Buy to treat me so poorly that they have now lost a customer for life? Clearly I was not important enough – or my refund amount was so token – that no one before Amanda wanted to bother investigating what happened to my refund. And the bottom line is that Best Bu’s bottom line is more important to them than fixing a heinous situation that allows something that this to happen.

Kudos to Amanda, but I reiterate that I will never order anything online again from Best Buy or Geek Squad and advise everyone reading this to seriously consider doing the same. The stores seem to be different. Refunds are processed in a more timely manner. And, though I have issues with the length of lines at the checkouts and the overall lack of urgency toward remedying it – before I complain – I have had decent customer service in the store. If I buy anything from Best Buy in the future, it will be at a local store. Lesson learned.


Customer Dissatisfaction – or – Wrestling An 800 Pound Gorilla Named Microsoft


Let me tell you a story, but first allow me qualify things and set the stage so you better understand. I have worked in retail as either a manager, sales association, customer service associate or retail vendor support representative for more than thirty years. Also I was a computer technician from 1997 to 2007.  Between 200 and 2007 I worked as the manager overseeing a technical repair shop.

Over the years I have trained others and lead discussions about customer satisfaction. I may not know everything but I have a level of expertise. Also I do not believe the customer is always right but understand that my opinion on that matter as a retailer is immaterial because the customer usually if not almost always believe he or she is always right.

Now then, with all that out of the way, let’s begin. About a month ago I purchased a Microsoft Surface Pro 3 I5 256GB from Amazon. It came with Windows 8.1 installed. My overall experience with the product has been favorable and until yesterday I did not believe there was anything physically wrong with the device. My problem came about from upgrading it to a Beta version of Windows 10. That installation works, albeit with some expected glitches.

The past few days the computers has begun to randomly tell me my computer is “Out of Memory”.  In Microsoft jargon that usually has something to do with how memory is allocated by the OS not anything to do with the physically installed memory, which in this case is 8 GB. Also the computer has a problem whenever it boots up in Tablet Mode. The Tablet View appears to crash immediately leaving only a black screen. Since I have a mouse there is a cursor that still moves about when as I move the physical mouse on a mouse pad. As long as the cursor moves the OS hasn’t crashed . It is just some application or overlay that uses the OS that is to blame. In this case it is a new feature in Windows 10 that gives a transparent mask over the background screen that is color coordinated with the desktop theme.(When it works it is pretty cool.) After  I give the computer the tradition “Three Finger Salute” by pressing CTRL+ALT+DEL I am able to click on Sign Out and then log back on. After that everything works. It is an annoyance more so than a problem.

The combination of the two issues I have with Windows 10 Technical Preview caused me to desire returning the computer to Windows 8.1. When I installed Windows 10 I followed the instruction to a “T” when it came to backing up stuff. I created a USB Recovery Drive. So I didn’t think I’d have a problem reverting to Windows 8.1, but I did. The computer tells me I no longer have a recovery image even though I purposely left the image alone when I created the USB Recovery Drive. The system has the option of deleting it to free up space, but I have enough room in my SSD storage drive. When I tried to use the USB Drive the computer tells me the Recovery image is missing.

So, I think – no big deal. There has to be a way to download the image from Microsoft, right? I couldn’t find the image so I logged into Tech Support. I go through the same process with the online tech and we reach the conclusion there is something corrupted. He tells me they will replace the Surface Pro 3. However that’s going to take a few days. I can either give them a credit card for expedited exchange or they can send me the return authorization and once they receive my Surface Pro 3, they can ship me a replacement. I really didn’t to replace my device. All I wanted was a new drive image. And I didn’t want to be without my computer for a week or maybe 3. So I asked if I could do the exchange at the Microsoft Store – there are two in Orlando but both are a bit of a haul from where I live and certainly now within bike riding distance. When I asked the support tech if the in store exchange was possible he assured me it was and said he’d ensure they had a model like mine in stock to exchange and would schedule an appointment for me. I sent my son a text message to ensure he could drive me there and made an appointment for 8PM last night.

Based on what tech support told me I expected to go into the store, maybe have to explain my problem to them and perhaps have them check to see that the computer wasn’t otherwise damaged. Bottom line was I would end up with a different computer (likely refurbished) when I left the store. I did not expect wrestling with the 800 pound gorilla named Microsoft.

I was greeted when I entered. As Tech Support told me to tell them my name and that I had an appointment (for which I was early, by the way) I thought it would be a ten or fifteen minute consultation at most. I sat down at the service desk to wait for maybe three or four minutes before a service tech appeared and offered assistance. I really can’t complain about anything up to that moment. It was what happened next that floored me. He asked what I needed. I told him Tech Support made an appointment for me to exchange my Surface Pro 3. He asked what problem I was having, which I expected. I explained. He informed me that my warranty was voided when I installed Windows 10 because it was a beta and that they could not replace my Surface Pro 3 and that if I wanted they could apply the image to my device for me but they would need to check it in and keep it for a few days. When I informed him that was not an option because I don’t have a car and had to have someone drive me there he reiterated that was all he could do.

It was immaterial what Tech Support told me or that they offered to ship me a replacement. He asked me if I had purchased the Surface Pro 3 from the Microsoft Store  as if that mattered somehow. I replied I bought it through Amazon. I told him I was completely dissatisfied. I expected to come there maybe have them check out the Surface Pro 3 I had with me and then exchange it. He said even if that were to happen there would be a $200 charge.

What infuriates me about this whole affair isn’t about a exchanging a defective device. All I wanted in the first place was a recovery image or something to fix my problem. The first rule of customer service is to never lie to a customer. Microsoft Tech Support created an expectation that could not be fulfilled at the Microsoft Store. As a customer I feel they lied to me and in the process I was inconvenienced. To add insult to injury, after I expressed my dissatisfaction they asked if they could get me anything, like a bottle of water – as if that would cool me down. I’d been in the store for maybe twelve minutes at this point. I might have actually accepted the water when I first arrived.

#Microsoft #MicrosoftStore #MicrosoftTechSupport #MicrosoftSurfacePro3 #Windows10TechnicalPreview #Windows8dot1 #CustomerService #CustomerSatisfaction #CustomerDissatisfaction #PoorService #Amazon #USBRecoveryDrive #Warranty


Coupons, Coupon Everywhere


A lot of us have worked in retail at sometime or another and probably have had to work a checkout either ringing up merchandise or stuffing it into shopping bags. With the advent of self checkouts, both those jobs seem threatened, but have you ever noticed that the stores that utilize those kiosks have someone standing nearby to ‘assist’ while also making certain that everything is rung up and paid for. Yeah, I’m not sure how much payroll the self service checkouts really save.

Anyway, if you’ve ever been a cashier, I’m sure one of the banes of existence was the multi-coupon shopper. We’re not talking about the guy or gal with a couple of coupons for cents off an item or two. Multi coupon shoppers of real pros, the lady – as it is usually a lady for whatever reason, from my observations – with a organizer to keep her clipped coupons. She only buys what she has a coupon for and also waits for additional promotions, like in store coupons for BOGO (buy one get one) deals. That way she can receive multiple discounts off individual items. Hey, she’s good a saving money. As a consumer we all want to do that.

Manufacturers and stores obviously use coupons as a means of attracting attention and enticing a consumer to shop. The rub comes from those coupon shoppers who are attempting to get something for little or nothing through nefarious means. They usually shop close to closing time, have a zillion and a half coupons, often printed from discount coupon websites – some of which are bogus – and always see to be in as much hurry and the ten people in line waiting behind her for the cashier to dutifully deduct each individual, valid coupon – and debate the merits of suspicious ones.

Reatil Coupons

Coupon have been around seemingly forever. They help manufacturers and retailers temporarily increase the velocity of certain items in a product mix. With grocery retailers, it may be to move product before expirations codes expire. With manufacturers, it may be in an effort to empty out warehouse space in advance of a special seasonal increase in production  requiring more storage room. Whatever the reason, it is a win for everyone, except for the time it takes the cashier to scan or, worse, manually enter in the coupon discount information into the cash register. There are some ways, though, for the process to be streamlined while also enhancing security – if retailers and manufacturers were willing to make a few programming changes.

In the vast majority of cases, manufacturer’s coupons have scannable barcodes that can be programmed into retail cash registers to almost instantly deduct the promotional value off an item. In store coupons may or may not have bar codes. Often the store uses a look-up code programmed into the locations price look-up system. The time to manually type in a few digits results in a slightly longer delay in the overall transaction, but in the case of multi coupon shoppers, the time is significant adding to the air time for anyone unfortunate enough to be trapped in line behind.

Sometimes stores double a manufacturer’s coupon, and each item must be processed with a special code to allow the in store discounts. Other coupons are for dollars off an entire transaction total or a percentage off if a certain total amount is achieved. Those take more time yet. And, worst of all, there is the old faithful competitors coupon price matching of another store’s coupons.

Meanwhile, that one customer waiting in line behind the multi-coupon shopper has multiplied to now be three irritated customers. Hopefully this has prompted a front end supervisor to open another register to take the pressure off the cashier. Still, it causes a disruption. And at the end of it all, the shopper purchased x number of dollars of merchandise is paying x – coupon total dollars, sometimes saving half or more of the total original transaction price.

Obviously there is an incentive for a shopper willing to put forth the effort to clip coupons and save hard earned money. But there is also a golden opportunity for disreputable shoppers to abuse the system.


Having observed the phenomenon for many years as I worked in retail management, I have some ideas, provided manufacturers and retailers alike are sincere in wanting to provide value to their customers and not simply trying to attract attention while hoping most customers will forget to use the coupon at the checkout. (Believe it or not many customers do not use many coupons or sometimes forget to use them). It also assumes that the store wants what the customer does, to be able to have their items rung up properly and efficiently.

Here are some proposals:

1) Create a preregistration loyalty  system administered online that actually does more than a rewards system that is mainly used to track a customer’s purchases for future marketing purposes. With such a system a customer could ensure that they will always receive in store promotions automatically deducted from their totals through he scanning or a card of look up of their profile by phone number. If the customer checks a box to receive online ads, the store could provide promotional information on items based on a customers previous shopping habits. Yes, its intrusive but sometimes saving the money is worth it, especially if a shopper buys the time frequently enough to want to stock up when it is on sale or part of a coupon promotion. Manufacturer’s coupons could be included and discounts applied through cooperative advertising arrangements as well.

2) As part of the preregistration loyalty system any customer that enrolls would automatically receive discounts for the items on promotion that usually require the cashier to input a look up code. The count could be tallied through a report tied to the look up system. This would satisfy the manufacturer’s requirement for verification of coupon count to apply a rebate for the promotional period. The end result would be a speedier checkout experience.

3) Preload the look up codes for each product into a menu prompt that would appear on the register screen and signal with a beep to alert the cashier providing a one click, yes or no response to whether the coupon is present. This would also speed up the checkout process.

In most cases a physical coupon is required for the store to receive its cooperative advertising rebates from the manufacturer, as they are usually based on increased volume of sales during a promotional period. If a coupon is not present the system would default to preregistered customer discounts only. If a coupon is present, it would deduct the amount. If the customer has not registered and does not have the coupon, it would not deduct the coupon amount from the purchase price.

These measures would also allow the cashier an opportunity to inform the customer of the existence of a registration system for discounts and, perhaps, letting the shopper decide to suspend the order and collect the coupons before completing the transaction – or finding the coupon and getting a refund for the coupon amounts after the sale but taking the receipt and coupons to customer service.

Reatil Printable Coupons

Stores and manufactures need to address a growing problem of online coupon fraud. The net result is that retail stores lose money and eventually pass not he additional cost to all consumers. It may require the elimination of printable coupons altogether, or the creation of some security code that proves it is legitimate. Again, if manufacturers were to work with retailers the information could be preprogrammed into he stores price look up system  to streamline the processing. If the coupons were already int he stores system there would be no need for printable coupons.

#Retail #Coupons #PriceLookUp #PLU #CustomerService #Loyalty