Recently I provided 5 thoughts on the Best Buy customer experience. For the most part, they weren’t kind thoughts. Some readers chided me for expressing my preference for buying online and for “showrooming” at the store. So I decided recently that instead of ordering an HP Chromebook 11 online and waiting seemingly forever to receive it, I’d get some instant gratification and buy one at Best Buy’s South Philadelphia store.
I walked in, and that’s when things got weird.
Lots of “hi”s and “can I help you”s, followed by no one helping me.
Let me explain.
I had a bee in my bonnet to buy the new HP Chromebook 11. I headed straight for the “Google section” of the store, where I was met by a few demo units of Chromebooks, Android tablets, ChromeCast. And there it was, the HP Chromebook 11. I messed around with it. I liked it. I wanted it.
So I asked for it.
And that’s where things got complicated.
First, all of those Best Buy employees who were forever up in my grill suddenly were nowhere to be found. Then a Google employee appeared out of nowhere and started telling me how cool the product was, especially the packaging. Which I still haven’t seen, because there are no self-serve units on the shelves. Amiable Google Guy then disappeared, never to be seen again, but before he departed he promised he’d grab one of the Best Buy salespeople to get me hooked up.
A few minutes go by. Enter a friendly Best Buy employee toting a clipboard with an elaborate form on it. What followed were a fussilade of questions about just why I wanted to buy the HP Chromebook 11. So I essentially went through the same list that I posted here. I felt like saying, “Hey lady, I’m sold already. Give me the friggin’ thing so I can get on with my precious weekend day.” But my parents raised me to be polite. So I just said, “Sold! I love it! Please get me one.”
Turns out, just like Amiable Google Guy, Friendly Best Buy employee wasn’t authorized to hand me the package either. Just like Amiable Google Guy, she promised to send over a salesperson. To get the box. With the computer in it. Which they would then hand to me. I know, this was a momentous task that required a true professional. Not just any Best Buy employee can handle a box with a $279, two-pound Chromebook in it, after all.
More excruciatingly boring, inactive minutes passed. I didn’t want to wander away from the end-cap display because then I might miss my connection and never get the darn thing or, worse, that I might need to go through all of that probing again. Every time I thought my feelings might be spoiled or petulant, my wife told me no. No, they are neither spoiled nor petulant, she said. “What is happening right now is insane,” she said.
An older Blue Shirt appeared, apparently to turn off an alarm I had tripped when, bored and restless, I had picked up a Chromecast dongle and must have moved it too far from its tethered base. He noticed me standing there. He noticed me!
“Do you need something?” he asked.
“Yes, an HP Chromebook 11.”
“I’ll get someone for you.”
“You know, I’d just like to get this thing and skedaddle. It’s been 15 minutes now.” I received a perturbed look. He disappeared.
Shortly thereafter, a quiet Blue Shirt kid with acne appeared. He didn’t say a word to me, but I got the sense that he may be my savior. He had a set of keys. He started fiddling with the end-cap. He couldn’t get it unlocked. He asked me if I wanted the HP Chromebook 11. YES! Fiddle, fiddle, fiddle… open! My precious was inside the end-cap! Oh happy day!
Product paid for and in hand, we proceeded to the appliance department to look at fancy refrigerators. Thankfully, no one was there to not help us.