Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login
Best Buy Is Thriving in the Age of Amazon (bloomberg.com)
371 points by cohaagen 8 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 446 comments

I can't speak for the Geek Squad (as I have never needed to use them), but they price match to Amazon (and several other online stores), and will generally have what I am looking for (at least for consumer electronics). I know that I will get it that day (vs. Amazon's "two day shipping" that regularly turned into three or four days) at an Amazon price, it will certainly NOT be a counterfeit, and I don't have to give my information so I don't feel like I am being tracked.

Lately my items generally show up on time but badly packaged. I would say 9 of the last 10 books I bought on Amazon have had some kind of visible damage, from minor cover dings to folded covers and ripped pages. The worst is when they put a single book into a bubble envelope that is so oversized the book can slide around and rotate a full 360 degrees inside the packaging. This is essentially a trade paperback book in an evvelope large enough to hold a textbook. I have avoided returns because I don’t want to get banned from Amazon over my satisfaction with a $12 book (they are known to fire customers with too many returns), but I have started purchasing the books I want that I see in indie shops at full list just to avoid this disappointing experience.

Honestly i’ve bought and returned plenty of stuff from Amazon. I never deal with their shit when something comes to me less than par. When I pay for prime, I expect to be paying for any mishandling of my items as well. Nearly every item i’ve wanted to return i’ve been told to just keep and i’ve never had any trouble with them. I always tell them i’m more than happy to send it back but they always refuse and just tell me to keep it anyways. I’ve been refunded several items in the $60-$70 range and told to keep it. It takes a lot to actually get flagged in their system. Especially if you’ve been a prime member for several years. (I think we’ve been members since 2008 or so). Don’t ever be scared to ask for it when it’s necessary and get your hard earned cash back.

Amazon is a small miracle. They stock everything, it comes right to your door, the prices are competitive in general and with Subscribe and Save you are doing even better. E-books are also incredible and with Prime you get Instant Video thrown in for free.

I'm sure bad experiences happen but compared to driving to the big box suburban wasteland to browse through a limited selection, Amazon is a godesend.

In my experience, Best Buy’s return policy and process has been awful. Granted it’s been years because it was so bad. Literally the worst of any store I’ve ever shopped at.

Last time I bought a router from them it was defective. I had to stand in line for over an hour. The clerk was surly and didn’t believe it was defective. Kept opening the box, pulling everything out, looking at all the pieces. Putting it all back. Over and over.

Then he didn’t said he couldn’t accept it because the receipt was ripped - which it was when the check-out person ripped it out of the register. He said they could take it back, but I wouldn’t be able to make any other returns.

I ended up asking for the manager who took another 15 minutes to arrive, argue and get it sorted.

The return took almost 2 hours. Absolutely crazy.

Counterdote: I recently purchased a monitor at Best Buy, decided after a couple weeks I didn't like it (for a variety of reasons), and returned it without hassle. Just walked up to the counter, handed them my receipt, told them I didn't like it, and they handed me money. Took less than five minutes.

Not to continue this too far but ditto. Completely fine return experience. I also don't have to worry about fakes nearly as much at brick & mortar stores. That said I still use Amazon extensively, for better or for worse.

I exchanged an item at Best Buy about 2 months ago. Took about 5 minutes. Forgot my receipt, but they were able to find it with my cc. They opened up the box to make sure the original items were inside, and brought me a replacement while I was at the counter.

Still not quite as good as Costco or REI, but at least with BB I know I'm getting the good I actually purchased and not some cheap Chinese knockoff.

Where are people getting all these chinese knock offs? I have never had this happen on Amazon I am curious what products people are getting

> Where are people getting all these chinese knock offs? I have never had this happen on Amazon I am curious what products people are getting

Here's a 1 TB microSD card [1]. No such product legitimately exists [2], so it must be a data-destroying counterfeit.

4.5 stars, $80.

That one was easy to spot, but it's my understanding that pretty much every MacBook charger on Amazon is a kock-off counterfeit [3]. They get the case perfect, but the electronics inside are a fire hazard [4].

[1] https://www.amazon.com/Wazzey-Micro-Memory-Adapter-1024GB/dp...

[2] https://www.theverge.com/circuitbreaker/2017/8/31/16232618/s...

[3] http://www.businessinsider.com/majority-apple-accessories-am...

[4] http://www.righto.com/2015/11/macbook-charger-teardown-surpr...

> This item is only available from third-party sellers.

I know that it’s not fair to expect customers to distinguish between legit and shady listings, but I consider this effectively a “do not buy this product” warning.

What have you done to verify you never received a knock-off?

I checked every one of my SD cards when I learned about Amazon's problem with fakes... Turns out I'd bought two fake SanDisk cards. They looked and worked like the real ones but the serial numbers were invalid. Maybe they'd continue working fine, or maybe one day I'd lose 64GB of photos in the middle of a vacation... who knows?

Needless to say, that destroyed my in Amazon. How can they guarantee they aren't selling malicious IOT devices, counterfeit healthcare products, cheap kitchenware made of toxic materials, or even the products of slave labor?

Was it shipped and sold by Amazon or by a 3rd party?

This has been the secret in my experience. Pay for Prime, and only buy Prime items. For me the convenience is worth it, even though I know I’m feeding directly into what Amazon wants; to not fix their massive counterfeit problem.

> This has been the secret in my experience. Pay for Prime, and only buy Prime items. For me the convenience is worth it, even though I know I’m feeding directly into what Amazon wants; to not fix their massive counterfeit problem.

That won't really help. There are prime-eligible counterfeits shipped from Amazon's warehouses due to the Fulfilled by Amazon program. Even buying from a known trustworthy seller is not enough, as Amazon commingles FBA/Prime-eligible inventory from multiple sellers of the same item:


Interesting. Thanks for the info.

Fulfilled by Amazon, from one of their 3rd party sellers.

Lower-cost electronics, mostly, and toys. So: memory cards, USB and power cables, batteries, etc. That's all stuff I now buy at Best Buy. I've purchased my last 3 TVs from Best Buy; and generally any purchase that I need to play with before fulling the trigger, like cameras.

Also: anything food-related that's by a major brand (like Oxo or Rubbermaid) I buy from a local store, as a lot of the Chinese Alibrands don't comply with FDA requirements but are advertised as if they were.

I told this story before, but I got a charger with a fake Intertek (an UL competitor) mark. Intertek had an alert on their site that this company just put their mark on a product. I told amazon cs and they refunded my money... but continued to sell the fraudulent product.

This was 2+ years ago and the last thing I will ever buy on amazon that uses electricity.

> Then he didn’t said he couldn’t accept it because the receipt was ripped. He said they could take it back, but I wouldn’t be able to make any other returns.

Looks like somebody being told by the manager not to accept returns or over return quota or something. Something shady definitely going on there... I never had such experience with local BB store, but I guess it depends a lot on local management.

This. While Best Buy can be convenient in a pinch the company, in terms of after-purchase-support is a joke. Case in point I ordered a washer/dryer set from them a couple months ago. Overall it saved about $50 but I felt like I was helping a local company as Best Buy HQ is here. Never again. Not only did they not show up with my delivery 3 times they had the nerve to show up over 90 minutes late the delivery day and had excuse after excuse after excuse. The moved me between two different escalation support people (out of TX) because of the first misstep and never provided me an easy path to contact anyone directly in the process. On top of all that ordering on .com means anyone local is 100% useless. I emailed the Best Buy CEO spam inbox and ended up negotiating $250 back after they ended up wasting well over 16 hours of my personal time waiting on no-shows and on the phone. I won't spend another dime with them after the Geek Squad manager who came out on delivery day as a "premium convenience to make sure everything went smoothly" drove back and forth in front of my house for an hour because he clearly knew the delivery was, yet again, late and he didn't acknowledge or apologize for the failure to deliver as promised. When I called him out on it he flat out lied to me. Best Buy seems to be a lot of internally segmented groups, none of which are empowered to solve a customer problem.

Hmm I had a great experience last week in San Francisco.

Took 10 minutes. And even though I returned the opened XBox controller a few days after their return window, they gave me store credit.

I was a happy customer.

I just charge back.

They screwed me over on a price match and I ended up getting the whole thing charged back.

BestBuy want to play games? I can play too.

By law a company can not refuse to return a defective item I believe. Whether they do it or refer you to the manufacturer, one way or another you are fully entitled to a refund if the item is defective. The whole "You can't make any returns if you make x amount" is more a scare tactic.

> In my experience, Best Buy’s return policy and process has been awful. Granted it’s been years because it was so bad. Literally the worst of any store I’ve ever shopped at.

Last few times I've had to return something to Best Buy, it's been pretty painless and quick. They know their competition is Amazon and one of its strengths is its return experience.

I have a 10 minute rule. If I’m in line or get hassled for a return, I get chargeback. With Americans express, you can do it online from your phone with no hassle at all.

Most retail purchases can be returned via the credit card no problem.

I have no doubt you'll get flagged at some point. I felt the same way before I even knew they would close my account. It didn't matter that the account was created in the 90's or early 2000's or that I had been a prime member for years or that I was spending around $10k a year there. They even kept my prime payment and didn't refund it. It's just a game of chance with their systems. You simply will never know what you did that triggered them but eventually, I think many prolific Amazon users get their accounts closed. Never mind that all the returns/problems are because Amazon carries fake shit, garbage products, and lately, won't even attempt to deliver packages with their shit ass Amazon delivery service (those assholes should all be fired). This is no doubt why Best Buy is flourishing.

> It's just a game of chance with their systems. You simply will never know what you did that triggered them but eventually, I think many prolific Amazon users get their accounts closed.

For Amazon customers in the EU, GDPR is supposed to help with the "You simply will never know what you did that triggered them" part as they are required to explain what led them to close the account.

Yikes. That sucks. I’ve heard once your account is flagged there is literally nothing you can do to use Amazon anymore. Can you elaborate on how it happened to you and when? I am pretty liberal when it comes to returns but I don’t use the system unless necessary.

I'm not sure why but I just got an email that said that my account might be in violations of their return policy. I stopped using them and a couple of months later, they sent another email saying the account was closed. Whatever I did, it was very typical shopping behavior for a small household and small business. There were a number of returns of fake / broken items. I figured that was Amazon's business. Selling a ton of fake / broken garbage and eating the returns because they are aware of the shitty quality of their merchandise. It literally is most of their business!!! Whatever it was, I never got clarification because Amazon doesn't have an actual return policy that can be violated in this way. They are just a bunch of liars and thieves. They sell fake / broken shit and they steal your prime membership money. Seriously, what kind of shitty company does business this way and treats their paying members this way? Fuck them.

> There were a number of returns of fake / broken items.

This is not typical at all.

That sounds typical to me. This far I have had a slightly higher than 50% success rate with AmazonBasics items. I don’t think I will be purchasing many more. Especially since they have started forcing me to mail back $5 defective chargers before they will send a replacement.

If you believe your account is flagged, you can sell that account to people who are willing to purchase Aged Amazon accounts, they will buy out the remainder of your Amazon prime payments.

Is that even a thing? What exactly would they do with Aged Amazon accounts? Setup a FBA storefront?

Sell reviews, more than likely. A review left by a seasoned account with an established and long purchase history appears far more legitimate than from an obvious shill account, and is correspondingly more valuable.

The same sort of incentive can be found in a lot of places. There's a pretty niche but healthy market for aged companies, for example. So rather than winding down and dissolving your entity, you can make a few bucks by selling it. And rather than making a new company, you would just buy one of those dormant entities. With multiple incentives, one of the primary being that the established entity will have an aged enough paper trail to pass a lot of fraud checks and credit opportunities that a new entity couldn't.

It's not that you won't get the money back this time, but that they will refuse to sell you anything in future.

Oh yeah. When you get flagged in their system it’s pretty brutal. But you have to be extremely malicious to have it happen to you. Especially if you have a strong background with the company (member for many year + prime member for many years). Not only will they black list your address but every address on the account you own, meaning if you sent your friends a gift from amazon they will not longer be able to use amazon anymore. They go above and beyond for the abusers of the system. But to be flagged for that abuse, it typically is extreme circumstances. You can be very liberal with their return policy as long as you’re not malicious you’ll be okay.

You make a very strong statement regarding a data point of one, that is to say yourself.

Immediately thereafter you list a way you can get flagged through no fault of your own because a friend who was flagged shipped things your your address as a gift.

I don't want to have to establish a strong background of years of membership in order not to get treated like trash. I'm not interviewing for a job or a date I just want to give you my money for goods that aren't counterfeit.

When you have a large minority of fakes and problem shipments you are going to have outliers. People whom you shipped 5 fakes/broken stuff in a row.

Banning these people means that not only can I not trust you to sell me a legit good I can't trust you not to turn your back on me afterwards.

Haha, I did a lot of research back in the day when I first started using prime to make sure that all the crap I received that I believed warranted a return wouldn't have my account banned. I wasn't just using my own experiences, but my research experience as well. I do agree with the rest of your statement though. Although if you ran Amazon you'd probably have to also agree with banning people that take extreme advantage of the system (obviously extreme, not semi-advantaging the system). Unlike Walmart or Best Buy, when you return things to Amazon you also have to account for shipping to and from the customer. I understand why Amazon does it-- if even 0.5% of the Amazon population took advantage it would be ridiculously unprofitable for Amazon to be running.

Now the fact that they sell fake crap and expect people not to use the return policy is obviously ridiculous. If you're going to continue selling fake crap, then you better be willing to allow people to return that fake crap without consequences. So I definitely agree with your point.

(and maybe yank your Kindle collection and AWS resources at the same time...)

Which is why you should have a separate account for AWS vs your Amazon.com account, and you should download and rip the DRM off your Kindle books.

Part of the appeal of Kindle for me is that I'm really shitty at keeping backups effectively.

Separate AWS account won't necessarily save you - if they can connect the two by name, address, credit card, etc. they're at risk. If you've got a business, having it under the business name might do the trick, but that's still a risk.

You just shouldn't buy drm encumbered things nor trust anyone who might ban you for no reason with no recourse.

Bought a couple of fixed sleeve professional mechanical pencils from them. They came loose, along with another, much heavier item, in a box without padding. All just bouncing around against each other.

Even when padding is put into a shipping box, often it's a rectangle or two of "air pillow" that doesn't come close to filling the free space. And/or some of the pillows are broken and deflated.

I've become concerned about how they will ship things.

And, with news of their apparent "kill accounts with too many returns" overreach or arbitrary-ness... Yes, ordering from Amazon is no longer a no-brainer.

(Not to mention the counterfeit problem; that, I myself mostly seem to have avoided by paying attention to the listed fulfillers. And the $150 billion versus temp employees who have to pee in bottles and collect benefits disparity.)

Sorry, I reiterate, occasionally in comments, because at this point, I believe bad PR is the only thing I can contribute to that has any impact.

Well, also, starting to make more of an effort to shop competitors, as pointed out in this comment thread. As to that, secure your payments process. For a while, that helped hold me to Amazon.

Amazon's packing skills have lead me to order in batches that I think will ship well together. Once I see that heavy item that is going to pound and smash the other items has shipped I'll order the rest. It is less than ideal, but as long as they suck at packing they can deal with two orders instead.

Only, you have to space your orders -- wait at least a day in between making them. Otherwise, their system often combines them and you end up with one box, anyway.

Kind of defeats the quick delivery convenience/reputation they are after.

Fire customers? I've never heard of that. My household is a heavy Prime user, and we make returns pretty frequently (few times a month). We've never had any issue.

It's more a ratio thing I think. If you buy a lot you can return a lot and still have a low return ratio. Plus it makes a difference if you buy and return only vs buy, return and get a different or replacement product.

Given my rate of book damage, I also have low confidence that the replacement item would arrive in good condition so exchange seems like a waste if time. I want to buy things and have them show up undamaged. Is it so much to ask?

I’ll be the last to defend amazon but there are people that abuse the lax return policy (there are plenty of guides on the web of how best to do this) and it is unsurprising that amazon will address it.

Not that I feel sorry for them in anyway. Their stock mixing is basically fraud. The only thing that is more maddening are the corporate submissive boneheads that rise to the defense of the prime service whenever someone has a legitimate complaint.

You think that's bad? I got my last book in the same package as a 40lb bag of cat litter.

I recommend buying used on AbeBooks. You can find what you want in pretty good quality for cheap and will have no trouble accepting a couple of dings.

AbeBooks is owned by Amazon, so they'll still get their cut!

Alibris is site that's very similar to AbeBooks, but thankfully not owned by Amazon.

I think Alibris is _especially_ wonderful from a seller's perspective. Their chat support is friendly and efficient, and does not seem to be an outsourced and overworked call center, but actual Alibris employees who can fix things.

Ooh, didn't know that! Either way, I do find it a better service for books in particular.

I use bookfinder.com to reach other places. There are cases where I have been able to find cheaper or out of print books

> they are known to fire customers with too many returns

I think you are being overly cautious. I've been buying with Amazon for many years and returned a bunch of stuff for various reasons, and only times I had issues were third-party vendors, but Amazon never objected or gave me any trouble with returns. Of course I guess if you actively abuse it they have some triggers, but I don't think honest use has high probability of triggering it.

you should definitely return those things. I've never heard of them firing their customers. I don't think Amazon got to where they are by offering a terrible service. And even if they do ban you, you can always go to a indie book store and there's plenty of other places online that sell books.

> I've never heard of them firing their customers.



As for terrible customer service, see the below for my reasons for cutting off Prime:


In particular:

• Prime shipping is no longer certain to be two days.

• Those which are assured to arrive within two days don't always do so, but I never get a credit for that delay against my prime membership for a failure to meet their SLA even though I'm supposedly covered with some sort of guarantee.

• Prime shipping is no longer certain to source from Amazon warehouses.

• And worst of all: Amazon commingles Amazon-sourced with FBA merchandise. I've had numerous issues with counterfeits from "sold by Amazon" listings in the last two years because of this.

I have been meaning to get into the FBA business and I downloaded the Helium10 extension for this. It allows you to see the inventory status of an item you are viewing on Amazon.

It is shocking how many times something that says `sold by Sony` or `Amazon` yet I press `inventory` on the menu that the extension injects into the product page and surprise, surprise, most of the stock is coming from FBA sellers.

any idea where they get this info from?

imagine a more consumer-oriented extension that could list whether a given amazon product was likely to have commingled inventory or not - do you think this is possible?

I imagine they get it from some Amazon API, however I don't have the specifics.

Take a look at the information it displays: https://i.imgur.com/ZbgfSlo.png

Ignore the price bit, it normally shows the price right but there must be a minor transient issue right now.

But as you can see, Amazon claims the product is sold by Sony. However most of the sellers are not Sony.

As you said, having a customer-oriented variant of this functionality would be an amazing feature for a browser extension.

I’ve never not gotten a monetary credit or a month of Prime when a guaranteed delivery misses its date. Quick email to CS and it’s sorted the next day.

Same experience here. I buy books from them frequently (Prime) and it's been years since they had proper packaging for books. It must save them time and money. I can't help but wonder if they're playing a numbers game, with a spreadsheet model showing it's more profitable to do it that way because "enough" customers will tolerate it and not demand an exchange. If a book arrives damaged I request an exchange, and have never had a problem doing that.

PS: Been reading HN for a while now. This is my first post.

I've had a lot of "two day" Amazon shipping turn into 3 or 4... the arrival date even on Amazon will show in the past for a few days.

What used to be a sure thing from Amazon, I now just think of as "maybe".

Having said that the crazy mess (tiny isles and disorganized) and $20 USB cables were Best Buy stores made me give up on them a long time ago. I've visited a few times recently to hopefully get a look at some laptops, but they always only had a collection off odd models and wonky specs.

I almost bought a calendar on Prime today only to see that it "usually ships in 1-2 months(!)"

Increasingly it feels like as a Prime subscriber I pay for shipping twice: once with my prime subscription, and a second time with the shipping cost built in to the price compared to other retailers. I ended up getting an equivalent item from Target, which ended up being cheaper even without "free" shipping.

That's super annoying. Amazon needs to be clear when an item is going to take a damn month to arrive. A giant huge warning at the top of the page telling me that I should be okay with waiting 1990's amount of time to get the package. And I should be able to filter it out of the search results, too.

I bought hangers, HANGERS, from Amazon, shipped and made by AmazonBasics, and they're "Arriving Aug 15 - Sep 21". Uhh? Well now I'm gonna have to go to the store anyway because I need hangers NOW not 5 damn years from now. Also how is it possible to have a whole MONTH for the expected delivery date?

Working at a distributor, it's actually really common for vendors to have ETAs that are months wide and pushed back multiple times.... Supply chains are hard.

I have seen the same thing, and I won't be renewing Prime when my current subscription expires. I mainly got it for the free 2-day shipping -- I very rarely use the Video or other services.

This is true even on Amazon. Very often the Prime price is exactly the same as their third-party price + shipping. This will be my last year of Prime.

I see it on Amazon, but it is interesting to look it at a macro level. If you are a third party selling on amazon without offering prime shipping, you have to cut your price to equal or lower to the amazon price or else no one would ever buy from you. So it is more that prime is forcing third party prices down to compete than Amazon double charging prime users.

> This will be my last year of Prime.

The refunded me the pro-rated balance of my subscription when I cancelled a year or two ago.

Having said that the crazy mess (tiny isles and disorganized) and $20 USB cables were Best Buy stores made me give up on them a long time ago.

You should pop by again and see if it's still the same. The last Best Buy I went to has massive aisle spacing and was highly organized. That doesn't mean I was easily able to find what I was looking for (headphones are scattered around different departments), but what you describe is not what I've seen lately.

Like other people have said, the only reason I go to Best Buy is because I need something right now. (Replace a failed hard drive, for example.) I don't expect to get the best buy; I'm paying for the convenience.

If you are a Prime buyer and your package is not delivered by the promised date, you can request and receive a free one-month extension of your Prime membership. I have done this several times. For obvious reasons, Amazon doesn't publicize this much.

They did that for me a couple of times, but what started to happen is packages were mark delivered, then not be there. I complained to Amazon, who gave me the run around (and kept it open), so when it came a day later, there was all the sudden no issue.

Write them anyway. I’ve had that BS, usually from USPS or UPS Mail Innovations (which is horrific service), and a quick email to CS gets me the credit (money or a month of Prime).

I think it depends who reviews the complaints. Every single time I've responded, my complaint (which I always word calmly, non-aggressively, and politely) are met with the response that "2-day shipping only guarantees that the package ships to your nearest Amazon warehouse within 2 days. The actual delivery time can vary, and while it is typical that the delivery will arrive on the same day it arrives at the warehouse, there's no guarantee." And nothing more. Well, one time I was offered a $5 credit. But that's the most I've ever been offered.

At this point I already cancelled my prime with Amazon, and generally try to buy things from other sites if possible. The counterfeit issue alone makes me avoid them whenever possible.

hearing about these kinds of experiences makes me wonder if we have already reached peak Amazon

I have had so many of these "free one-month extensions" from late Prime packages that I currently have six months of Prime membership credits applied to my account. I've been joking lately that if I were to actually pay for 2 day shipping, I'd get my package on-time.

I cancelled Prime because far too many orders would not come in on time. They kept giving me free months of Prime, but eventually I started thinking I could do better than free months of bad service.

I rarely ever buy anything from Amazon now unless I don't mind when the product comes in, the price is competitive, and the product is not the sort of thing which is often counterfeited. Their Amazon Basics brand frequently satisfies these rules.

Part of me wonders if they allow the counterfeiting for exactly that reason, so you know the Amazon basics will not be, then they can make yet more money off of you.

I'm trying to think of the last time I've had something not show up within 2-3 days. I suppose that this issue may vary quite a bit depending on where you live. I'm in the Dallas/Ft Worth area, and there are 6-8 large Amazon warehouses in this area alone, and Dallas itself is an Amazon Flex area.

I live in Austin, and I had pretty bad experiences when trying to get packages delivered to my apartment. The problem seemed to be with the carriers, who basically refuse to deliver to my apartment. My guess is that the carriers believe packages are too likely to be stolen where I live, so they refuse delivery.

To be fair to them, I might have had one package stolen, perhaps by an employee of a carrier. I don't know what happened other than that delivery was claimed to occur but no package appeared. Amazon was kind enough to to resend that one.

I can recall one time where UPS told me to drive to their facility in north Austin to pick up a package. I told them that they were paid to deliver and I won't be doing that. I can recall another time where I got a door tag from USPS that told me to go to a particular post office to pick it up, and it wasn't there when I arrived.

The most annoying part is that I think no attempt was made to deliver a fraction of these packages. I often would not receive door tags, and I can recall one time where UPS claimed they attempted delivery but refused because I apparently was not there where I believe I likely was there. No door tag that time either. The UPS driver seemed irritated at me when they finally did deliver the package.

I can also vaguely recall at a previous apartment (also in Austin) having some problems where delivery was claimed to occur but did not actually occur. That problem stopped at some point.

Even before then, when I lived in the Washington DC area, I can recall having major problems with LaserShip, who would do last-mile delivery in the area. Amazon seemed dedicated to using LaserShip. I recall canceling Prime back then specifically because LaserShip was so bad, and then starting again when I moved and LaserShip was no longer an option. You can read horror stories online about LaserShip. I vaguely recall one instance where they left a package in the rain that made me look them up and not trust them any longer.

None of this is necessarily Amazon's fault. The vast majority of packages that I received were from Amazon, and I haven't had problems with others, however. Might be that the carriers figure Amazon packages are more valuable than other ones.

In contrast, I've had no problems receiving packages at work from Amazon, but my work doesn't want me to receive personal packages there and I don't have a car, so I can't take large packages from work.

I noticed this with past issues, but recently I was offered a best case scenario of a $10 credit on my next order that is "sold and shipped by Amazon".

They owe met at least 6 months then.

One issue I have with Amazon is the lack of a concrete return policy. I was looking in to order a relatively bulky item (soundbar) and I wasn't sure if I would like it. The best item-specific return policy information I could get was that I "may" have to pay for return shipping and that I "may" be charged a restocking fee.

I went to a brick and mortar store instead, bought the same product for the same price with a well-defined return policy. I ended up not being impressed with the sound and was able to return it without hassle.

For small items where out of pocket return shipping wouldn't be too expensive I'll go to Amazon, but for large items I'll stick to places with a local presence.

I agree that they don't have a clear returns policy, and this is a huge problem IMO. Also, if you buy from a "marketplace" (aka third party) seller instead of Amazon, they can have a return policy that's different from Amazon's (or other marketplace sellers).

As far as items ordered directly from Amazon, I've found them to only give free return shipping if the item is broken or there's another issue that's Amazon's fault. They don't seem to give free return shipping if I just don't like the product. (At least that's how it is for my account. I've heard some of these policies are different for different account holders!)

For things like that,I generally order from Target or Walmart so I can an return it, hassle free and no worry of shipping fees or damage on the way back.

I also was recently in the market for a laptop and the listings for Amazon were so confusing and full of pitfalls it reminded me of the bad old days of eBay. Like three-line item titles making it hard to discern what model you were buying. I ended up buying from Best Buy.

I would never buy a laptop from Best Buy, Amazon, or any other third party retailer. Consumer PC laptops are like most Android phones -- full of third party crapware.

I only buy either the business line of laptops from Dell or HP or I'll buy from the Microsoft Store - either online or physical store.

The bundled crapware has nothing to do with where you buy your PC. Best Buy doesn’t install anything on the PCs they sell. Dell does, HP does, Lenovo does. You get the same crap if you buy direct or from a retailer.

If you buy a “Microsoft Signature” device, you pay a small premium essentially for the manufacturer to agree not to install crap. You might (or might not) get the same from the manufacturer if you buy a “business” laptop. But it all cases, it’s the manufacturer installing whatever crap comes on your PC.

> Best Buy doesn’t install anything on the PCs they sell.

This isn't necessarily true. Some PCs are Best Buy specific models, with extra bloatware from Best Buy (in addition to the OEM bloatware from Dell / HP / Lenovo).

This also affects physical components sometimes. I remember from laptop shopping a few months ago, that the MSI GS63 Stealth laptop ships with a crappier screen specifically for the Best Buy model, where as most other models had a decent screen. This was done so that the Best Buy model would have an artificially-low price in comparison to online retailers.

Reading something like this I have two thoughts:

1. Why would PC manufacturers de-value their own brand like this!?

2. It almost makes sense why Apple can get away with charging a premium. No mystery meat hardware/crapware regardless of retailer.

They don’t see it as devaluing — the people who buy the cheapest thing have very little loyalty, and everyone else isn’t buying the cheap, adware-subsidized models anyway.

This explains the second part: it’s less that Apple charges a premium than that they don’t enter low-end segments. If you compare them to equivalent quality PCs (Surface, Signature edition, etc.) there’s not much of a difference.

Most business buyers understand this so I think the managers making those calls think of the consumer and business lines as almost separate brands, with the latter being both more profitable and longer term, and thus less likely to get nickel and dimed.

I think the market is more of a gradient and less of a clear bifurcation between budget and premium. If you are spending around a thousand dollars, you are not getting a top-of-the-line PC and there likely is some less egregious bundled software on it, but it's not bottom-of-the-barrel either.

PC manufacturers lost any perceived brand difference the minute they decided to take marketing dollars from Intel and add an “Intel Inside” sticker on their computers and add it to their ads and when they decided to co Rand with Windows even to the point of including a Windows logo to their keyboards. The only thing most consumers know and care about is that it’s a computer running Windows with an Intel chip.

Your two observations are connected. They do it because they are paid by the software maker, allowing them to sell the product for less.

People use to always talk about the “Windows tax” and say that computers would cost less if they didn’t come with Windows. Actually the opposite is true. With all of the deals they can make preinstalling bloat on their computers, OEMs could make more than enough to offset the cost of a Windows license. They couldn’t do that with alternative OS’s.

They probably could -- if there were a large demand for Linux laptops, there's no particular reason they couldn't come pre-installed with Linux-based adware.

I bought a desktop Gateway from BestBuy awhile back. It had Best Buy specific crapware and the "special edition" Dell was the same price from the MS store as it was from Dell's website.

Buying the business line from Dell gets you better local support and no crapware.

Sometimes Best Buy has exclusive models that have specific software put on there by the manufacturer. You can usually verify if you are getting one of those models by googling the full model number to see if there are other sellers than Best Buy out there.

Walmart is famous for doing this with all manner of goods (usually their version has some sacrifices to achieve a lower price).

Chromebooks from anywhere including Walmart are of course free of any crap.

They probably have slightly different hardware to keep a price edge. But anyway, to anyone on HN I'd think bundled software is pretty much a non-issue; I've always installed Windows fresh and I feel like doing that isn't a big deal if you are technical.

Where do you get a free non OEM install of Windows if you aren’t an MSDN subscriber?

Well, I am an MSDN subscriber. But if you aren't, can't you get a "recovery disc" from Microsoft somewhere and then use the serial on the label? I can recall doing something like this in the past.

That’s interesting. I’ve never seen that. That means Best Buy has some deal to get a special Best Buy Crapware SKU from the manufacturer.

P.S. Gateway still exists?

P.P.S. Wikipedia says Gateway is defunct. How long ago was this experience?

Not so much, but as recently as five years ago. They don't pre-image, but they open up the computer, and Geek Squad "optimizes" and "preps" it for you, including installing a bunch of crapware.

And then when you ask for one that hasn't been "prepared" they look at you like "why would you ever want that?" and when you insist, they'll apologize that they have none of that model in stock that haven't been prepared.

Seriously? That’s not a new machine at that point.

It was 2013.

Gateway was bought by Acer and stop selling online and sells (sold?) exclusively through third party retailers.

Support was decent though. The hard drive crashed and I had to ship the entire computer back to them.

In some cases it does matter. There is a local PC store that is very overpriced, but they will build custom machines to your spec. I used to build my own machines as a hobby, but I just really don't have time for that any more. Not every city has one of these PC shops, mind you.

I prefer local stores for computers as well, since I know where they work and they know that I know where they work.

I just used my own license to install a fresh copy of Windows, so I didn't care. My laptop was a great deal so I am assuming I saved money over that route and I didn't really find it inconvenient.

I bought a MS Surface Pro a couple months back and they load it up full of "crapware" too. Thee are numerous games with constant pop-ups indicating what a deal I'll be getting if I only spend $99.95 for credits to keep playing, as well as the trial versions of MS Office that expire after 30 days.

Not the Surface Pro. The Microsoft Store sells “signature series” versions of computers from third party OEMs like Dell

I bought my last Macbook Pro from Best Buy. I had just moved and still had a coupon. No crapware to be found.

Apple products never have third party crapware. I was referring to Windows computers

You don't need third party crap when you're getting a machine with Apple Maps and iTunes. Don't Microsoft make it easy to remove all the crap ware these days?

Crapware == Crippleware where the OEM bundles third party trial software with the intended purpose of getting you to purchase the full version.

Notepad, the regular old command prompt, or IE is not generally considered "crapware". No matter how bad they are.

I must defend Notepad here. I enjoy having a simple text editor included on my machine that doesn’t try correct words or style anything. I often paste text from Word or Google Docs into Notepad, then paste into a WYSIWYG editor simply to remove all the inline span tags and other crust. Comes in handy when training others how to WordPress, for instance. TextEdit, on the other hand, is a rich text editor and gets in the way for this use case.

What's wrong with "the regular old command prompt"? It's served me well for ages.

Kind of weak line editing capabilities and annoying script compared to the alternatives. I'm a PS fan though.

I know it doesn't add a ton to the conversation to share an anecdote, but this conversation is really interesting to me right now. Tomorrow my new Asus Q325UA arrives, shipped from Best Buy. If you've never heard of the Q325UA, or have trouble finding reviews online, that's because it's the Best Buy version of the Flip S. In theory, it's very much the same machine, though I'm not sure from reviews if the Flip S typically ships with the sleeve or Asus mini dock - the Best Buy version only includes the Stylus. I'll find out the software situation tomorrow... and we'll see how the hardware does.

ETA: With a little research, I believe the primary hardware difference is SSD. SATA in Best Buy version, PCI-e in the Flip S.

I was shopping for a monitor and the specs that were displayed varied between items. Finding the frame rate they were capable of became a chore.

After getting multiple counterfeits from Amazon (including Ships/Sold from Amazon.com) due to the inventory commingling, if Best Buy stocks it, I'll go there instead.

> but they price match to Amazon

As long as the SKU matches. A lot of products tend to have a Best Buy specific SKU which prevents you from price matching on amazon, because amazon doesn't sell the same exact product. I had this happen a few years ago when purchasing a router.

Yeah, lots of companies do this. Wal-mart is another one.

My television comes with a built-in DVR in most stores. But I got it at Fry's, so it has a special SKU and the DVR disabled so it can't be price matched.

My recent experience trying to get Fry's to price match something on Amazon was horrible. It was a simple USB - Serial cable, and Fry's had it for about $9 more than Amazon. They (Fry's) insisted on factoring in sales tax and then calculated UPS 2nd day shipping, even when I told them I was already a Prime member, and then argued that it was their company policy. That was the last time I shopped at Fry's, and after 20 years of shopping there, I find myself unlikely to go back.

It's in their interest to do it anyway. Going back 30 years to when I was into photography, the local camera stores had a huge problem with customers coming in, consulting on cameras or lenses or other stuff, and then buying from Adorama or another big mail-order house.

If Best Buy doesn't price-match, some people will browse at the store and then buy online wherever it's cheapest.

Also, the item needs to be sold by amazon itself - even if it's shipped prime. That's unfortunately easy to overlook.

"I don't have to give my information so I don't feel like I am being tracked."

Uhhh, you for sure will.

First - BB is very aggressive on getting this stuff from you cleanly, i.e. name, addy, phone number - so they can 'track you'.

Second - VISA/MC transactions will absolutely be used for that and they'll try to match up their in-store with online experiences. FYI - Visa/MC/Amex will literally sell your transaction data to almost anyone. I went in to do a deal with Amex, their only concern was selling us all sorts of your buying data.

But it's nice to get stuff 'same day' :)

I am curious how they are "very aggressive". What happens with me is they say "what is your phone number?" and I say "no thank you", and they just skip it. Though it may just be my experience with them.

You are correct with the credit card, they will most likely track you, but you have the option to use cash if you wish.

The only way to be free from tracking is to:

1. Not provide your email address 2. Pay in Cash 3. Don't give your home address

That is literally the only way you can't be tracked. But there are so many times you are prompted to provide that information:

* would you like a receipt to be sent to your email address? * would you like to sign up for our debit card and get $40 in savings? * would you like us to home deliver this free accessory which is unfortunately not in stock at this time?

You have to have Stallman level of rigor if you are serious about not being tracked.

I have never had the third one happen to me honestly. But really I just politely say "no" each time. It really hasn't been a big deal for me, but your experience my be different than mine.

...or you pay with card, politely decline a membership and email receipt, and provide a trivial amount of tracking data compared to the amount Amazon gets from you merely visiting a product's page.

Isn't your credit card information something that can be used to determine your identity?

Yes, but unfortunately credit card transactions get sold to third parties by the CC companies regardless, so it's quite possible Amazon gets to track me with that either way.

Yea, I politely say no to everything. Boy, do they have a lot of questions though.

I love the puzzled looks of clerks when they ask for my phone number or address and I decline. I've only once had to resort to "I can make up a phone number if you really want one".

Haha, or when they tell me the data will be kept confidential. I can't help but laugh at that.

You always have the option to pay with cash at Best Buy, don't you?

I assume all credit card transactions are sold to third parties no matter the retailer. The only exceptions are large enough companies like Amazon/Google who are in enough categories that they can make more money using your information first party than they can by selling it. It's not that Amazon/Google respect your privacy more than other retailers, they're just sharing it with other departments instead of other orgs.

Why are you putting ‘same day’ in quotes? Are you not getting products from Best Buy on the same day?

Because without quotes it would just be improper English and poor grammar; 'same day' is a term, not proper language. I would have to write "It would be nice to get stuff without waiting" or "nice to get stuff on the same day that I purchased" etc..

Or you could write "same-day"?

Yes, 'same day' and "same-day" both convey the same meaning.

I semi-regularly buy stuff from Best Buy with cash without problem.

> FYI - Visa/MC/Amex will literally sell your transaction data to almost anyone

Any way to opt out of this? I try to opt out of all the sharing I can with my bank, but if it's being sold at the Visa/MC/Amex level, I'm skeptical that helps.

Visa/MC/Amex will literally sell your transaction data to almost anyone

There was an article linked on HN last year which indicated that Google gets 80% of all card transactions. My guess is that it's more by now.

"gets"? You mean processes? Or obtains, like from buying the information, reading emails etc?

Gets a copy of. Not processes; that's still done by the CC processor. But your transactions are sold. Your name, item purchased, price paid, where, when, etc...

G, along with so many others, will buy your transactions from VISA/MX/AMEX.

So even with Visa/MC/Amex - 'you are the product'.

You can pay cash and give fake data.

I was sold a set of counterfeit Powerbeats3 headphones at Best Buy about a year ago. No reason to be suspicious initially, but battery life, range, and pairing were never great. They stopped working after a month, and I brought them back to Best Buy. The attendant looked carefully at the headphones and told me that they wouldn't accept the return because the serial number on the headphones didn't match the one on the box or receipt.

Anyone want to tell me how that could happen?

In any case, I called Apple, and they said that the serial number on my headphones was a duplicate and sent me a new set. Range, battery life, and pairing with the legit model are now all great.

Yeah, someone returned fake gear before you bought it.

Or, a middleman unloaded, knowingly or unknowingly, a shipment of fake shit to Best Buy.

There's both a Best Buy and Microcenter near me (I feel very fortunate about this). I always buy from one of those two when I can instead of Amazon. It's always preferable to not deal with shipping at all, especially considering receiving packages at an apartment complex is never quite ideal, and it's always same-day.

There are other benefits as well. A year ago, I was trying to decide between a 27" 1440p 16:9 144hz monitor vs. a 34" 1440p 21:9 100hz monitor. Microcenter made it super easy for me to just try out both and return one. I suppose I could've done this with Amazon but it wouldn't have been as straightforward. (I went with the latter, for what it's worth.)

> vs. Amazon's "two day shipping" that regularly turned into three or four days

Where are you that this is true? This is directly opposite of my experience. I genuinely can't remember the last time a Prime/2-day shipment was delayed. In fact, I'll routinely and deliberately pay a premium to purchase something via Amazon Prime (both within Amazon and across internet vendors) precisely because of the confidence I have in their shipping reliability. No one else comes close, frankly.

That said, in fact I don't tend to buy BestBuy-style products at Amazon very often, precisely because these things are available at competetive prices at retail. Amazon wins for things I don't feel like "shopping" for.

> Where are you that this is true? This is directly opposite of my experience. I genuinely can't remember the last time a Prime/2-day shipment was delayed.

It happens all the time where I live. It's also not uncommon for my Prime packages to get totally lost by Amazon Logistics (I've never had that happen with another courier). At least now they automatically cancel those orders, I previously used to have to call them to tell them what to do when they lost my packages.

I've had multiple bad experiences with Amazon Logistics. They routinely ship things 2-3 days late and update the tracking information with some nonsense about "attempting to deliver the package but no one was home," which I don't buy for a second. They also routinely deliver to the wrong address. One time tracking information was updated to "delivered" and my package showed up at the building next door to mine 3 days later. I came close to canceling prime the last time this happened.

Where is this? It’s been years since that’s happened here in DC and the last time it happened they gave us a pretty generous credit.

I live in the Bay Area...I've had items be very delayed. Used to never have an issue, but recently (last 12 months or so) it seems like every other order has a delay of some sort (1 day or much longer).

My favorite last experience was:

- Amazon saying a package was delivered, it was not since I was at the delivery location...

- Amazon sent me an e-mail the next day saying they were deeply sorry for losing my shipment (unprompted since I didn't report it lost yet) and they needed to contact me regarding refund or re-fufillment...

- Finally a "neighbor" a few streets over came by with my package the next day. So all in all a 4 day delivery experience instead of a 2 day one.

Anyway, I don't know what they changed up about their supply chain, but something is much less reliable than it used to be. My hunch is their move towards more usage of their own "contract driver" model rather than something like FedEx or UPS. But that's just speculation.

So their gig driver delivered to the wrong house. Amazon figured it out, and reached out to make it right. That seems pretty decent customer service to me.

Probably exactly what happened. Wasn't trying to make a negative stab at Amazon besides the fact their two day Prime deliveries have not been reliable for me recently (and it used to be very reliable). This is just one experience among others. Never had an issue for years...and then all of a sudden a number of mistimed deliveries or incorrect deliveries all around the same time.

I think Amazon gets around this with legalese by guaranteeing it will leave the factory within two days ("shipping"), but they won't guarantee the day it arrives at your door ("delivery")

I pay for basic Prime delivery, don't live in a city, let alone a major city, and Amazon usually gets parcels to me within about twelve hours now.

> vs. Amazon's "two day shipping" that regularly turned into three or four days

I find this experience interesting. Here in the UK amazon offers next day delivery (and in same cases, same day delivery), and often delivers next day even when they don't claim they will.

I have had problems with counterfeits though.

From observing comments here, it seems to be regional and dependent on the carrier. In my experience it has been the USPS (though I am sure people in other regions will say UPPS is fine, but UPS is bad, or FedEx is bad). When I saw that Amazon was shipping via USPS, I automatically knew not to bother to check for it until at least the third day of the "two day" shipping. What was even more annoying is half the time it got marked as "delivered". I tried a couple of times to complain to Amazon, but that got me to no where.

I guess it depends on where you are. UPS is awesome where I am. They are always on time and have even called me to come meet them when they couldn't get up my road in the winter.

FedEx is hit and miss, depends on the contractor. One just stuffed a package in my mail box and marked it as delivered on my "Front Porch". My mail box is a mile away. Close, but no.

Amazon shipping - I hope it never expands to my area.

Same thing here. It doesn't seem to be Amazon as much as USPS thing. It is a game of pretend. I had once UPS guy do this few times, but I called Amazon and then UPS to complain.

In reality, most of the time I don't care when exactly it will arrive, but for that one thing I do, it always is day late :).

Interesting in the UK they have their own courier who tend to be better than the rest, until it goes wrong that is. Then its a pain in the arse.

I find amazon's own courier is by far and away the most likely to deliver damaged goods, FWIW (Central/East London)

I've had the same experience in the US. They also seem to be the most likely to miss the expected delivery date.

Here in the UK amazon offers next day delivery (and in same cases, same day delivery), and often delivers next day even when they don't claim they will.

The U.S. has next day and same-day delivery from Amazon, as well. It also has two-hour delivery in most cities.

But not every item is available in every delivery window. And not all delivery windows are available in all locations.

One of the advantages of living in a small country like the U.K. is that it's much easier to cover the whole territory. (U.S. is 40x larger than U.K., with 1/8th the density.)

Even though it's habitual for euro-HNers to compare themselves to the U.S., it's more often than not meaningless.

I reliably get stuff in 2 days, but I live near Boston.

All depends on how close to a warehouse you are. I'm in Seattle and most items I order from Amazon are free same day shipping.

Same experience with amazon.fr on all counts.

There are states in India that are bigger than UK. USA is 3 times as large as India.

Generally agree w/ your sentiment but don't assume you aren't being tracked. You most assuredly are. If you get a chance, try looking up how retailers are now sharing/selling "Level 3" data with some 3rd parties.

Cash is still a thing.

not just at the point of sale though. from license plate scanning in the parking lot, to facial recognition and traffic analysis in the store, modern brick and mortar retail is not far behind e-commerce when it comes to privacy intrusions to collect data.

Also, you are probably bringing your phone into the store, and it's emitting all sorts of identifying info. I've read about businesses selling tech that uses that info to identify you and uses the signal to track where you go in the store.

Never thought riding a bike and wearing a hat would help me out in the privacy department.

Do they usually have cameras at the face-level or just eye-in-the-sky cameras?

You need to turn off bluetooth on your phone too.

Huh, I wonder if that means you should disable WiFi discovery too.

Never thought I'd be that glad to be in the habit of mobile data only (not that there aren't problems there too...)

Any signal your phone emits with identifying information could be used. Why not your cellular signal?

I'm a lot less concerned about retail stores tracking me via cell signal, as it requires much more specialized hardware/software - meanwhile, it's likely feasible to modify extant in-store WiFi infrastructure to track that.

Yes, WiFi discovery can be used to track to too.

The counterfeit issue seems to be getting worse, not better. It's also become harder to differentiate legitimate listings from the manufacturer versus a third-party. I bought my smart TV from Best buy simply because I don't trust Amazon anymore. I'm having a hard time thinking what I wouldn't be suspicious of on Amazon...clothes are regularly counterfeit, colognes, electronics... Maybe books?

Anything worth counterfeiting likely is. A mass-market Dan Brown novel? A book is a book; as long as it's in English, you don't expect much from it, and it won't explode if improperly printed. A first-edition Lord of the Rings? Yeah, no. At that point it's less a book and more a collectible.

Software is also pirated on Amazon/eBay-- everything from resold OEM licenses (sans disc) to hacked binaries (sans DRM).

> I know that I will get it that day (vs. Amazon's "two day shipping" that regularly turned into three or four days)...

I've been seeing a big uptick in this, as well.

When I asked support, they gave me a response about "we only guarantee two days shipping time". There's no guarantee on order-to-ship time, and I've seen it go from reliably a couple of hours to 2-3 days at times.

> it will certainly NOT be a counterfeit

This is the competitive advantage that retailers without 3rd party sellers need to further emphasize

I often times go to Amazon to read the reviews and then buy at Best Buy in person.

it’s also easy to do returns. walk in with product, leave with cash.

Also they can order products from other best buy’s, including geek squad certified open-box.

Bought my tv from Best Buy (in Canada) last year. Better selection than Amazon for electronics plus free delivery and wall mount and a store in my city in case of service issues. For small electronics I can also just drive there instead of waiting two days for delivery.

I like Amazon a lot but Best Buy is doing well for themselves in the new retail era (so far). In some ways, I think Walmart may be a bigger issue for Best Buy because they have a huge selection and a bigger physical footprint.

I always use B&H or NewEgg and avoid Amazon, when buying flash memory and SD cards (in order to avoid counterfeits). I also bought an SD card from Best Buy recently because i needed it immediately.

Anyway, as for physical brick-n-mortal presence, I just wished that I had Micro Center where I live, instead of Best Buy, though. MicroCenter has far more inventories, more interesting stuff (like Raspberry Pis in store) and better prices as well.

The flip side of this is that they charge $50 more than Apple for an iPhone. Why make all your customers demand a price match for something so widely known? It seems like it would irk most people in the hopes of extracting a few bucks from a handful of folks.

Why make all your customers demand a price match for something so widely known?

A lot of people don't have access to Apple Stores. There are twice as many Best Buy stores in the U.S. (1,001 vs. 500ish).

And unless you're super-nerd, or super-cheap, you aren't going to drop $1k on a phone online.

The worst thing about Amazon is that they never ship on time. They used to be really good but its been horrible lately.

Also love BestBuy's work from home policy.

Best Buy also has a much nicer return experience if you have an issue with your purchase.

I haven't had a bad return experience with Amazon either though. Way more pleasant and hassle-free than other online retailers

I find having to mail a package to be a worse experience than just driving to a store. Also, Amazon doesn't have free returns for every return reason.

I agree about the counterfeit items on Amazon. I'm a long time fan and user of Amazon. My account is from the early 2000s.

After getting a few counterfeit items from Amazon, I'm officially done with them when it comes to electronics.

Didn't know they price-matched Amazon, thanks for pointing it out.

But that call-in "customer support" is a deal killer. I made an online purchase, a cheap antenna (thank goodness). It arrived in a box with my address taped on it but with customized shirts inside. Boxes were damaged during shipping and when put back together, someone got my stuff and I got theirs. UPS - "it's not on us, contact Best Buy". So I decided to use this to test Best Buy's customer support. I call. Foreign accent. I explain very carefully, slowly, in detail. She didn't listen to a thing I said. Started asking questions that did not pertain to the situation whatsoever. More explanation. 10 minutes in. 15 minutes. Finally she says, oh, I have a tracking number right here and your new shipment is on its way! I said, give me the tracking number, a little surprised she found the solution so suddenly. She read it off. It was the identical tracking number of the damaged box I had just received, and UPS showed it delivered to my house already of course (the one with the shirts inside). Anything to get me off the line. I called her bluff and said "That's the same tracking number as the box that was already delivered and had shirts inside". She said "Well, it's not our responsibility anyway." Me, "goodbye". Only $15 (and 20 minutes of time) to determine to what extent Best Buy cares about customer support, and to guide my purchasing decisions accordingly.

After reaching out to their customer service to try and resolve it, the next call should've been to you bank. You could've disputed the charges and gotten a refund pretty easily.

I've had similar issues with Verizon support reps. What I've started doing is if I get the feeling they're not helping, I just hang up and call again. At least with Verizon I'd say 50% of agents know what they're talking about, so usually that works.

I know this is a shitty solution (and to be honest, I've never had to do the same with Amazon) but it does help.

I recently switched to T-Mobile from Verizon, because they were willing to straight up pay off the phone I bought a few months ago, whereas being a Verizon customer for a decade has given me basically no benefits whatsoever.

Anyway, there was a screwup with the reimbursement, and the one thing I'll give T-Mobile's customer service is that any time you contact them, they text a survey to you afterward, and if you express displeasure through the survey, man, they are all over that. You get a call back shortly after from someone in a department dedicated to fixing customer service issues.

I'm pretty sure it's the very first time that responding to one of those surveys wasn't a total waste of time. I really wish more companies handled it that way.

Call the executive office instead. I had to do that when they tried to charge an early termination fee a couple of years after the contract expired and while guy on the phone was quickly fixing that he casually mentioned that when the customer service rep seems like they don’t understand it’s usually that they aren’t allowed to do something AND can’t tell you this.

It sounded like the worst job in the world and it was unnerving how casually he described it as the natural order of things.

> What I've started doing is if I get the feeling they're not helping, I just hang up and call again.

How much time do you end up waiting on hold?! Every time I had to deal with Verizon support it was a 30+ minute wait.

So somewhere, perhaps, somebody who was expecting a box of customized shirts received a cheap antenna?

That's exactly what happened - makes me smile. And that someone also received their customized shirts (if all went as planned) because I noticed the shirts had a local company name imprinted. I gave the box with the shirts back to UPS, let them know what had gone down, and hopefully they took care of business.

From my experience with UPS, they probably burned the shirts.

Technically, there might have been N>2 parties involved in the switcheroo.

Someone expecting the antenna received shirts, someone expecting X received the antenna, someone expecting shirts received X, ....

A tiny side note, it used to be the same everywhere, but recently (I'm in Paris) businesses start to care about customer support. To the point they even advertise it quite visibly on commercials (all local tech support). There might be a change.

On that note, it's tiring to read your experience.. I had better help from minuscule ebay sellers somewhere in China..

Conversely, Amazon customer support is world-class. I've had multiple instances of things arriving DoA, or breaking some months later, and every time I've hopped on the text chat Amazon has just shipped me a new one without asking for the old one back

When I get someone like that, I just hang up on them and call right back. Usually the next person is better.

But really, as someone else pointed out, you should have charged back.

Like most Americans I order a shitload from Amazon. However the last item I bought from Best Buy was a TV (my old LG just ... died).

Ordered online, chose to pick up in store.

Drive 35 min to store

Pickup process takes 10-15 min

Drive 35 min home.

Left after dinner, was watching it that evening.

The only condition that would have prevented me from using this model would be traffic, as it could extend the trip by 60-90 minutes and would also increase my stress significantly.

Whereas Amazon would take 2-3 days (maybe more) and I'd be shitting bricks worrying about it getting damaged and being forced through the horrors of shipping a return.

I ordered a TV from Amazon. They use a third party service that schedules delivery with you. Two dudes came out with TV, unboxed and set it up (put on stand, plugged in power to verify its working).

A few days after delivery I noticed a red line running along the top of the screen. Contacted Amazon about replacement. There was some issue with doing a direct replacement so they had me purchase another TV and then refunded the cost.

Dude comes out and picks up busted TV, puts it in box. New dudes come out a few days later with new TV.

All of that is to say - it really wasn't a big deal to order it online. Shipping was still free. Also they took packaging material with them, so it was nice not having to deal with disposing of a gigantic box.

I can't tell whether you're happy with Amazon's service. It sounds to me like you waited for delivery, got a bad TV, waited for delivery again... but at least you don't have to deal with the box?

No thanks.

He could have gone to Best Buy, drove the TV home himself if he had a car a 65-inch TV would fit in, dealt with the packaging and setup himself, and then found out it was defective.

It sounds to me like he got pretty good service and avoided a lot of hassle by doing it through Amazon.

Interesting. We ordered one from Amazon, I think a 50inch, and it was put on our front doorstep in the tv box. It was undamaged thankfully, but it looked like a normal Fedex(or w/e) driver, not a special delivery at all.

I can second that. I’ve ordered 3 TVs from Amazon over the past two years - all relatively cheap TCL Roku TVs ( < $350), a 32, 49, and 55. One was lost in transit and I ended up cancelling the order. Another didn’t arrive when they said it should so I ended up picking it up from UPS. I had to unbox it to get it in my car. I probably wouldn’t trust Amazon for a more expensive purchase.

Ordered a TV from Amazon the same way. The dudes said it was not their job to actually put it on the stand despite paying for and ordering white glove delivery. Had to do it myself with a friend later as it was too big to put up alone. This was about ten years ago. In retrospect, I should have known better who I was dealing with, but like most people here, I was ignorant of what Amazon was really like. This is minor compared to all their other shit.

Did you pay extra to have it unboxed and turned on? How much was the TV? I'm wondering at what level, or price they offer this service? The TV I purchased was not expensive, and the Amazon alternative was one of their "house brands" with Alexa integrated so I wonder if they'd provide the same level of service.

Did they schedule the delivery with you or did they just show up?

It was a 65 inch Samsung KS8000, I think about 1500 at the time. The delivery, unboxing, etc, was all free (prime). I scheduled the delivery on checkout, you picked the day and from several 2 hour windows.

> The delivery, unboxing, etc, was all free (prime)

"Free" in that it came with your Prime membership which you paid for ;)

your parent comment got more than 120$ of benefit in a single order; if you amortize the cost of that prime membership across a year and use it like this it certainly seems closer to free.

I was in similar situation not long time ago, and they wanted to charge me some money (around $100) for TV setup, even I am prime member.

That parent comment is now also locked-in and will justify Amazon's extortion to themselves by buying more things from them without bothering to check other stores.

They end up paying quite a bit beyond that $100/year fee.

Same experience for me. The first time, I bought TV from Amazon I was a bit nervous. But the experience was so great. No need to drive to store, find parking, fit huge box in my tiny car, park car in loading area, unload, move car.... so on.

Since then I have bought more TVs for myself and helped friends and family who were reluctant to order online. No bad experience so far.

I wonder what size TV you have to buy before that is how it works. I bought a 55 inch TV from them and it arrived shattered, shipped by UPS. The return was painless enough and the replacement was undamaged, but still, UPS and not a couple guys with the TV on a truck.

One reason Best Buy is still alive is that they effectively price discriminate between online buyers and in-store buyers.

I saw a deal for a 48” Vizio TV on bestbuy.com for $206 (in 2016, this was a screaming deal). I ordered for in-store pickup. When I went to the store, I saw the TV was listed for sale at $400 or so, with no indication of a better price online.

So Best Buy makes tons of money off folks who wander in, while doing good volume on online sales with lower margins.

I mean, convenience has a cost/value. Moseying to your local retailer and walking out with a thing has value. Now, whether that's ~$194 of value, IDK.

But like the original commenter, the thing I love about Best Buy (and other mortar and brick retailers) is the "I dont have to wait on shipping and lost orders" thing.

Oddly, I've had the opposite experience (in Canada): the online price would be the same as on Amazon. I wanted it now, so I went to the store (even though I hate driving to the suburbs/shopping mall), only to see that the item was 10% cheaper in the store.

(we always pay taxes for online purchases, so taxes are a non-issue)

How strange! I’d think that anyone who caught onto this pattern would check the in-store price before completing the pickup. If the price is lower in-store, you could just cancel the online order and purchase off the shelf!

Ah, to clarify: I would not bother ordering online, so it was a pleasant surprise to find the lower price in-store.

I think the line that they use is that bestbuy.com is a different business then best buy. something like that.

A lot of stores have that model- effectively putting online in competition with brick and mortar. I heard the founder of Staples (Stemberg) speak to this early in e-retail. Somebody asked how they were handling the upcoming online pressure, and he said they made it a separate unit with their own strategies, etc.

You think it is free to have that building, that staff, the parking lot, the electricity??

You need all that even if you're just running a warehouse.

Bought a TV from Amazon about 10 years ago. UPS couldn't deliver on the scheduled delivery day because the box was too big, and was stuck at the back of the truck. So I had to skip a day of work for no reason. They delivered it the next day in the early morning.

Sometimes, shipping issues are truly not Amazon's fault. Yet still they can impact us.

Why is Best Buy's shipping from DC to store less worrysome than Amazon's from DC to your house?

Good point. The difference being that "last mile", where I feel the transport has many more variables than a massive Best Buy truck moving merchandise from warehouse to store. It's also in Best Buy's interest to not damage the shit they're going to sell, whereas once the package is bought, and handed off to UPS/USPS/FedEx responsibility gets murky and easier to shirk.

The other major difference is my "return anxiety". If I get home and my TV doesn't work, I hop back in the car and swap it for a new one (round trip maybe 2 hours).

I bought two TVs from Best Buy and one from Amazon.

For both of the TVs, Best Buy tried to sell me insurance. They used the "refuse to take no for an answer" tactic. In both cases I had to say, "if you say another word about the insurance I'm going to walk out." I really meant it, too.

Amazon's shipper lugged my TV up two flights of stairs to a 3rd floor apartment.

> Like most Americans I order a shitload from Amazon.

I do too but can we say "most" Americans? Are there any stats available on their customers?

I wonder, how many Americans have purchased at least one thing on Amazon? How many have in the past year? What's the average spend per customer per year?

> I do too but can we say "most" Americans? Are there any stats available on their customers?

"Most" is almost true if you only look at ecommerce.

"This year, the online shopping juggernaut will capture 49.1% of the market, according to eMarketer's latest forecast on the top 10 US ecommerce retailers, up from a 43.5% share last year. Amazon now controls nearly 5% of the total US retail market (online and offline)."[1]

[1] https://retail.emarketer.com/article/amazon-now-has-nearly-5...

49% of sales might be very different from being used by 49% of people, though.

It was a casual remark, based on generalizations about my audience, not necessarily meant to stand up to scrutiny - however there's also this: https://techcrunch.com/2018/07/13/amazons-share-of-the-us-e-...

Here you go: https://www.forbes.com/sites/shephyken/2017/06/17/sixty-four...

tl;dr: As of June 2017, 64% of American households had Amazon Prime. 43% of all American dollars spent online are spent at Amazon.

Hate to be that guy, but I have Amazon Prime in my household because my wife uses it just enough to be worthwhile. She makes only a small percentage of her purchases there, and the others in our household make none.

The 43% figure is more relevant, and that's 43% of a relatively small share of all consumer spending, with much of it being done by a small group of large Amazon customers.

So I don't think it's accurate to say most people buy a shitload of stuff from Amazon.

Amazon’s US retail revenue was $318B for 2017 [0]. There are 126M households in the US in census’ 2017 data [1]. Thats $2,500/household. That’s definitely a shitload bought by most people.

Comically shitloads are pretty cheap and are $210/ton (a big pickup kid) if you’re in New Hampshire [2]. So pedantically, we’re all buying 10 shitloads.

[0] https://www.cnbc.com/2018/05/15/amazons-us-sales-to-match-wa... [1] https://www.statista.com/statistics/183635/number-of-househo... [2] https://www.milessmithfarm.com/farming-products.html

From your link it says,"Though Walmart remains king of sales with $495.8 billion in annual revenue and U.S. sales of $318.5 billion (a 3.5 percent increase year over year) for the fiscal year ended in January, Amazon is growing at a faster pace in the United States."

You are claiming that Walmart's revenue is Amazon's. You misquoted.

Oh wow, thanks for the correction. I misread the link and Amazon’s 2017 US sales are only $186M, not $318.5B.

Still a literal and figurative shitload for the average American household, but Acosta half as much as my original calculations.

> [2] https://www.milessmithfarm.com/farming-products.html

"From Our Farm to Your Table" ... hopefully not the composted manure!

Okay...here's more statistics for you. 75% of American online shoppers use Amazon for most of their online shopping [1]. 80% of Americans shop online [2]. So approximately 60% of all Americans frequently shop at Amazon.


1. https://www.cnbc.com/2017/12/19/more-than-75-percent-of-us-o...

2. http://www.pewinternet.org/2016/12/19/online-shopping-and-e-...

Applications are open for YC Summer 2019

Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact