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Best Buy (Kiosk) Mistreats the Wrong Consumer

1 May, 2012 By: Erik Gruenwedel

Best Buy’s brand took a hit recently when a Time magazine technology reporter endured a poor sales transaction and follow-up at an airport kiosk.

Following a poor fiscal earnings report and sudden resignation of its CEO, the No. 1 consumer electronics retailer is looking to streamline operations, including shuttering underperforming big-box stores and replacing large retail footprints with smaller Best Buy Mobile stores and Best Buy Express kiosks.

The latter (not to be confused with Blockbuster Express) include about 200 Best Buy kiosks selling primarily cellphone and laptop accessories such as batteries, travel cases, headphones and digital cameras located in select major airports nationwide.

Technology reporter Harry McCracken attempted to buy a battery case for an iPhone 4s — a process that made a trip to the DMV seem like a picnic.

After deciding to purchase the $79.99 Mophie Juice Pack Air, McCracken used the kiosk’s virtual keyboard to input his email address for a receipt. When attempting to correct a typo, the reporter was unable to do so when the keyboard’s cursor would not alter the incorrect letter.

After getting the Juice Pack from the dispenser, McCracken realized it was different model from the one his wife had — and the one he wanted. After discovering that his wife’s charger is only sold at Apple stores, McCraken also learned that Best Buy Express kiosk purchases cannot be returned to Best Buy stores or BestBuy.com.

In fact, Best Buy Express kiosks apparently are operated by a third party — Zoom Systems — a reality that necessitates dealing with them directly regarding customer issues. With no ability to do so at the kiosk and having a faulty email address on file, McCracken learned later that returning merchandise (unopened only) mandates calling a toll-free number and waiting for a pre-paid return shipping label.

“So lesson learned: Buying an $80 gizmo is more complicated than buying a Diet Sprite, and you might want to be careful about where and how you do it,” McCracken wrote. “I’m done being intrigued by Best Buy Express — and I own an iPhone battery case which I don’t really want.”

A Best Buy representative said the retailer is working to resolve the issue with McCracken in addition to "[re-examining] our processes around the Express kiosks," according to kioskmarketplace.com.


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