Best Buy

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Bestbuystore.jpg
Typical Best Buy store

Best Buy Co., Inc. Template:Nyse is the largest specialty retailer of consumer electronics, personal computers and related goods in North America. The company's subsidiaries include Geek Squad, Magnolia Audio Video, and Future Shop in Canada, which together operate over 700 stores in the United States and Canada.

Contents

Retail offerings

While Best Buy is primarily associated with electronics (largely audiovisual equipment), there are a variety of goods offered at the stores. A large section usually located in the center of the retail area contains a large amount of music on compact disc (as well as other formats in the form of SACD, DualDisc, and DVD-Audio). In recent years, the selection of movies and television programs available has increased significantly, and some stores now have the DVD section featured more prominently than the music area. Following suit with some retailers, Best Buy relegated its VHS offerings through their online website, BestBuy.com, thus removing VHS entirely from their store stock. Home appliances such as washing machines, dryers, and refrigerators are usually featured off to one side of the building, and a selection of office equipment (mostly desks and chairs) is usually nearby.

Computer-related peripherals and software take up large sections, and a small section of cellular phones and PDAs is often present, as is an area devoted to still and video cameras. A fairly large area is taken over by televisions and related equipment. A selection of audio equipment for automobiles is often tucked into a corner, and the stores usually offer on-site installation services for car audio systems by way of a rear or side garage.

The building exterior is usually light brown in color with the entrance in an area designed to look like a blue box emerging from the rest of the structure.

History

In 1966, Richard M. Schulze opened Sound of Music, an audio specialty store, in St. Paul, Minnesota. The company grew over the following years, expanding to nine locations by 1980. In 1981, Schulze's most successful store was destroyed by a tornado. This event resulted in a highly successful sale that combined a large selection with low prices and heavy advertising. Similar "Tornado Sales" became an annual Sound of Music event.

In 1983, the company's name was changed to Best Buy Co., and the store shifted its focus to consumer electronics. Over the following decades, the company continued to evolve and grow.

In 2002, Brad Anderson succeeded Schulze as Best Buy's CEO.

In 2004, Best Buy brought their 24/7 computer support division known as the Geek Squad, nationwide. The Geek Squad, founded by Robert Stephens in 1994, offers round the clock technical support on most any computer problem at flat rate prices. Their clients include celebrities such as Larry King, The Rolling Stones, Ice Cube, and Cindy Margolis.

Diversity

Best Buy received a 100% rating on the Corporate Equality Index released by the Human Rights Campaign starting in 2004, the third year of the report.

Criticisms

Best Buy has many critics of the way they do business. For instance, Best Buy has been accused of bait and switch tactics, advertising a product and then refusing to sell it at the advertised price. They have been accused of being outrageously pushy in the promotion of extended warranties (called Performance Service Plans or PSPs by Best Buy), often lying or misrepresenting the terms. A consumer advocacy website targeting Best Buy, BestBuySux.org, has received thousands of letters from disgruntled employees and customers, and ranks among the most popular consumer advocacy websites on the Internet.

In 1997, a Reston, Virginia man, Ronald Kahlow, was arrested twice for trespassing while comparison shopping. Kahlow had first taken a laptop into the store to record prices on televisions, then a notepad. Kahlow later filed a civil suit against the company.

In late November 2004, Dell ran an advertisement claiming Best Buy wishes to 'fire' 20% of its customer base. The advertisement was based on a Wall Street Journal interview with the company's CEO, Bradbury Anderson.

On March 8, 2005, the Baltimore Sun reported on a bizarre incident involving a Best Buy store in Lutherville-Timonium, Maryland. The technicians there incorrectly told Mike Bolesta that they were going to waive a $114 car stereo installation fee since they had previously been wrong when they said a certain model would fit in his son's car. When he was later called and told that he had to return to pay the fee, he decided to pay in fifty-seven $2 bills. Apparently, he keeps the rare bills around as a gimmick for the children whom he hosts as owner of Capital City Student Tours.

The cashier at first refused to accept the $2 bills not knowing that it is actually against federal law not to accept a cash payment. The staff at the Best Buy store thought that the bills were counterfeit, because (1) they had never seen such a denomination before and (2) the ink smeared when the bills were rubbed with a counterfeit detection pen. They called Baltimore County police, who promptly arrested Bolesta and took him to jail. He was freed only after a Secret Service agent explained that the ink on U.S. dollar bills is capable of smearing. The incident was subsequently publicized on numerous blogs and Web sites as an example of the incompetence of Best Buy personnel.

Lawsuits

On May 26, 2005, Wisconsin Attorney General Peg Lautenschlager filed a lawsuit against Best Buy Co. for alleged mistreatment of customers. This mistreatment included the alleged misrepresentations of product rebates, service plans, and the return & exchange policies.

According to Best Buy's spokesperson, Susan Busch, "Based on our view of the allegations in the complaint, we intend to vigorously defend the lawsuit and cannot comment any further on the pending litigation at this time."

The suit follows an investigation in 2004 by Wisconsin's Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection agency, after receiving complaints about the retailer's stores in that state. [1] (http://www.madison.com/wsj/home/biz/index.php?ntid=41170&ntpid=3)

Incidents

On May 27, 2005, a New Port Richey, Florida resident named Marlene Anne Bagnall allegedly held a Best Buy service technician at gunpoint due to his alleged inability to repair a television. The aforementioned television had been serviced several times that week, though had not worked to Bagnall's satisfaction. Apparently, the 58-year old John Meyer was held at gunpoint, with Bagnall demanding that the retailer give her a new television. Meyer could not call the police as she, allegedly, threatned to kill him as well as turn the weapon on herself (see: murder suicide) were he to do so. Once an unnamed Best Buy employee verbally promised the 44-year old Bagnall that she would receive a new television, Meyer was allowed to leave.

After leaving the premises, Meyer immediately called the local Sherrif's Office, which resulted in Bagnall's arrest. She was summarily charged with aggravated assault and unlawful imprisonment.

She was subsequently released on a $10,000 bail prior to May 29, 2005 and has apparently had a history of mental disorders, which her husband claimed were being treated with medications. (Sources: [2] (http://www.sptimes.com/2005/05/29/Pasco/Broken_TV_leads_to_ch.shtml), [3] (http://politics.yahoo.com/s/ct/20050602/cr_ct/womanpullsgunontvtechnician))

Past slogans

  • "Making life fun and easy."
  • "Turn on the Fun!"
  • "Thousands of Possibilities, get yours, Best Buy."
  • "The intersection of technology and life."

External links

  • Official Best Buy website (http://www.bestbuy.com)
  • Best Buy Sucks (http://www.bestbuysux.org) - Best Buy consumer advocacy site with comments by employees and customers who feel they've been victimized.
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