Solicited Feedback for Best Buy

I went to my local Tenleytown Best Buy in Washington, D.C. for one thing yesterday: a Vista-compatible digital audio sound card. After selecting a Sound Blaster card, I went to the counter in the computers section to find out if the card I’d chosen would work with Vista.

The first person I asked directed me to another person named Chris, who was currently helping a customer with a seemingly complex and extensive transaction. I waited for ten minutes without even an acknowledgment from Chris that I was waiting.

Another associate was focused on helping a business customer. Even though I was clearly waiting without assistance yet and he was also waiting for access to the same computer that Chris was currently using, he made no attempt whatsoever to help me.

Disgusted, I walked away and looked for a computer with Internet access, hoping I could just find out for myself if Creative had released Vista drivers for this sound card. No luck – all of the computers I tried were locked down and could not access the Internet.

Next I went back out onto the floor, looking for someone else working in the computer section who might be able to help me out. When I found someone, I explained my situation. He suggested I check at the counter in the…; I cut him off, since I’d already tried that approach. I volunteered that I was perfectly willing to find the answer myself if he could point me toward a computer with Internet access, so he whisked me away toward a PC where he quickly found that the proxy prevented him from accessing the outside world. Interestingly, it was as if this was the first time he’d ever faced this realization.

He and I then went back to the counter in the computers section, where Chris was now nowhere to be found, and nobody was around to help us. At this point, the guy helping me tells me that he can’t provide any further assistance. Can’t! When I ask to see a department manager, he doesn’t flinch or give his conclusion of failure a second thought; he just gets on the phone and calls for “any available manager for customer assistance.”

Five more minutes pass; no available manager shows. I leave, box in hand, chip on shoulder, concluding that it would be easier to just buy the item, check for drivers when I get home, and then return the item if the necessary drivers are unavailable.

My Best Buy experience ended at a register where the POS signature unit had been broken off the counter and sat loosely atop its base. The device rocked as I attempted to provide my signature, but it didn’t really matter, because (of course) it wasn’t properly calibrated.

The only redeeming point of my entire experience was that – despite my obvious chip – the cashier pleasantly reminded me (for the first time in as many years as I’ve shopped at Best Buy) to keep my receipt available for the attendant at the door.

So here is my parting thought: At 3 in the afternoon on any given weekday, shopping at Best Buy shouldn’t suck so much.

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