Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Best Buy #FAIL: snatching defeat from the jaws of victory

Sony, Samsung, HP, Gateway - take note. You spend billions of dollars on research, development, marketing and advertising only to hand the keys to the kingdom over to a retail store and cross your fingers that the stores' happy elves will help your products will fly off the shelves.

Oh dear.

I went to Best Buy on Sunday - looking for a monitor for my office at work. If it's been a while since you've bought a monitor let me just say that now is an incredible time to get a great monitor for a low price. You should think about upgrading your existing monitor for an energy efficient LED model, they're as slim as a credit card, save space, look great. (OK - not as slim as a credit card - but pretty close).
As with anything technical I'd done my research before I went to the store - had a specific size in mind, resolution, HDMI ports and I'd preselected a couple of manufacturers. I checked that the store had the monitors I'd selected, in stock. Should have been a quick job, into the store, check the image quality, crank up/down the brightness/contrast, pick the one I like and then out right? Wrong.

Unfortunately, Best Buy had chosen to use all the monitors on display to advertise their warranty products. (We all know that warranties are a total scam and a waste of money). The video was a white, grey and gaudy yellow display that kept playing over and over again. There was no way to view anything other than the warranty video.

Net effect: it was impossible to differentiate between each product.

A store rep came and asked if he could help me. I asked him to remove the video so that I could compare the monitors by looking at the native display and several high definition images. At such a high resolution I'm sure the eye couldn't notice the difference - but each monitor does look different. If I'd wanted to buy blind I could have just ordered the monitor from Amazon.  The store rep said there was no way to remove the video. Despite explaining why, the store rep said that they could not remove the video. So there really was no way to compare the three models that I had preselected. Buying a monitor without seeing the picture is as stupid as buying audio equipment without listening to it.

So I left the store without a monitor. No sale for Best Buy - but worse still - bad news for the manufacturers. Just imagine investing so much in your product and your brand only to end up displaying some cheap ad for a useless warranty product. That's like swimming the English Channel only to give up two feet from the shores of France.

I drove to Fry's Electronics down in Palo Alto. All the monitors were displaying high resolution images on a slideshow. I could play video from each monitor. It took a while to decide as the monitors were all good and Fry's had a greater selection of monitors (also at cheaper prices). I left with a monitor and managed to get a discount on the monitor I'd selected. And no - I didn't buy the warranty package.