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Best Buy’s Secrets for Thriving in the Amazon Age (2017) (nytimes.com)
129 points by harshulpandav 26 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 135 comments

In my experience, no other category is so heavily gamed by shady marketplace sellers on Amazon than electronics. Search for wireless headphones on both Amazon and Best Buy and it’s night and day what you see returned. I’m bullish on Best Buy simply because it’s not a free-for-all of cheap foreign knockoffs.

Retail of yesteryear might stand a chance because employing buyers who actually curate merchandise to be sold will become a value add again.

That's why I like B&H Photo now too. All genuine products, sold by them, with real reviews. Their shipping is a little slower and they close Friday/Saturday which is frustrating but overall a good experience.

They even do price guarantee if you contact CS which Amazon discontinued.

B&H is great, agreed. They are an extremely honest company, so taking a few days longer is worth it in my opinion - you are going to get exactly what you ordered in my experience. On Amazon, that's only guaranteed if Amazon is the seller (not to be confused with "fulfilled by Amazon", of course). B&H is also closed on all Jewish holidays.

"only guaranteed if Amazon is the seller" nope it's not they mix inventory.

> They are an extremely honest company

B&H have been sued several times, most recently by the Labor Department, for discrimination in treatment of employees. Even I have heard about that, in the UK. They have paid out at least $8 million to settle the cases.

Instead I'd recommend keh.com

How can I tell that these are genuine beliefs in B&H and not just plugs and shills? This is a genuine question: I've heard of them and used to see them advertise a lot in magazines, when they were still a thing. But.. aggressive advertising is what they did, so how can I know?

You can't. I can tell you that I've been in their New York store several times and used them for decades.

Franky I'd be more suspicious of a business of their age and size that didn't have a few lawsuits against them. Also look at some of those lawsuits - remember it costs nothing to file a lawsuit, especially when fishing with lawyers on contingency :/

I'd say the only way to guarantee you're getting the correct product is to buy from the manufacture's page itself. Anker for example, everything is sold by them instead of sold by amazon.

Also been noticing a lot less companies allowing amazon as a "trusted online merchant" for returns.

While KEH was great for used camera gear (I haven't bought new or used gear in ages so IDK how they are now), B&H offers an unmatached breadth. If anything I'd say that Adorama is a much closer competitor to B&H, although I'm loathe to buy from Adorama due to the incessant spam I get from them every time I make a purchase.

Yes on both counts. KEH is mostly used photo gear and they tend to be my go-to for that although, like you, it's a rare purchase for me. I tend to default to B&H but I'd agree their closest competitor is Adorama (although B&H's store in Manhattan is much larger).

B&H is excellent. I was going to CES, and needed video and audio recording equipment that had to have some pretty specific characteristics, so I chatted with B&H rep online, and sure enough they were able to help me. They know their stuff.

But they are hella racists and discriminating.


Can anyone explain why this comment is being downvoted? Is it a matter of "yeah but Amazon does it too/is worse"?

Perhaps because it includes multiple breaches of this line in the HN guidelines:

> Eschew flamebait. Don't introduce flamewar topics unless you have something genuinely new to say. Avoid unrelated controversies and generic tangents.

There may be a case for introducing information like this when a company is recommended, but the comment would need to be worded with more civility than that one was.

Oh sorry, I just wanted to inform people. I will try better next time!

The story is very likely untruthful.

I see you are a disciple of the guilty-before-proven-innocent principle.

From the bit of googling I did, the suits appear to be settled. People seem to take considerably settlement checks as an implicit indicator of some truth. Granted there's probably more to the story.

They started giving education discounts and they provide really good customer service. I don't really have much of a problem with their closings other than I now keep a bit of a track of Jewish holidays. As long as you get your order in by early Friday, it tends to ship as fast as anyone. Plus, being assured the electronics I order is actually what makes it to my door makes it quite a bit nicer than Amazon.

They also don’t charge tax currently.

That's no longer correct. In the South Dakota v. Wayfair, Inc. case [1] in June 2018 the Supreme Court overturned its earlier case that prevented states from requiring out-of-state mail order/online merchants to collect sales tax on sales to residents of those states.

B&H is now collecting tax for sales to customers in states that have post-Wayfair tax laws enacted, which is around 3/4 of the states.

Most of the states that have not yet done so will be doing so soon. California's goes into effect 2019-04-01, so those of you from California have until then to get your tax-free online shopping done.

Here's a page with the status for each state [2]. Here's another useful page [3] with per state info.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/South_Dakota_v._Wayfair,_Inc.

[2] https://taxcloud.net/topics/States%20News%20and%20Informatio...

[3] https://www.avalara.com/us/en/learn/nexus/find_your_nexus.ht...

So my comment is still correct. They don't charge tax, currently.

The DO charge currently if you are in Alabama, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Utah, Vermont, Washington, West Virginia, or Wisconsin.

In a few others they do not charge but they warn you that they report the sale to your state's tax authority, which could make it hard to avoid paying your state's use tax.

I think Best Buy price matches BH also, although BH has much more obscure/expensive choices avail.

B&H is nice for Boston: buy on Friday, it arrives on Monday, free shipping (UPS ground I think).

Best Buy is kind of weird when it comes to computer parts. In the early 2000s, it was one of the only places near me to buy them. Then for a few years they started using the floor space for other stuff. Lately though, they have had a pretty good selection of hardware in the store and the prices generally aren't too bad compared to online either. If they are going to survive that's going to be one of the main ways to do it.

In 2019 choice is no longer a problem, making a choice is.

I find myself shopping in person more and more. Shelf space in San Francisco is expensive so it’s usually full of good stuff.

Also why product reviews are a whole genre on YouTube

> I’m bullish on Best Buy simply because it’s not a free-for-all of cheap foreign knockoffs.

After I worked on a project for BB, the best way I can describe what they sell is "high-end crap".

What do you mean? They're mostly a retailer aren't they?

Could you elaborate?

I agree with what you're saying, but I think the most gamed and shady category on Amazon is household products. Trying to find shampoo or toilet paper or cleaning supplies is ridiculous on Amazon. I generally go straight to Target (online) instead.

The best way to buy electronic product from Amazon is to buy none brand name. All the brand name I bought were useless fakes. I bought an unknown brand with great reviews and it's the best pair I have ever had.

Yep. It’s too much the Alibaba affect. I stick to the used market or known retailer’s online stores.

The reason I don't buy from Amazon is because there is no way to combine shipping and make it free.

I buy electronic components like diodes etc..from small Shopify stores and pay shipping only once for all items packaged together.

Item cost : 20 cent

Shipping: $2

This is where AliExpress sucks too, no way to combine shipping on small sub dollar cost items.

This is for India.

Not a fan.

Used to work there during college.

If we didn’t sell enough PSPs (extended warranties), we were not allowed to leave at our scheduled time.

Also, we moved all the laptop inventory to the back of the store, so if a customer wanted to buy a laptop that was in stock, but did not want to purchase an extended warranty, we were instructed to lie to the customer and say it was out-of-stock.

Also, the whole incentivized FBI Geek Squad informant deal was a bit immoral, too, IMHO.

Just to add my two cents, I worked at a Best Buy Mobile (the ones that were in the mall) for 3 years during college, between 2014-2017.

1. I had no issues with not being allowed to leave on time. Of course we were incentivised to sell GSPs with as many products as possible, I was never not allowed to leave on time if I didn't sell enough.

2. Never had to give up a sale just cause I didn't attach GSP or accessories.

3. Agreed here.

Unfortunately, I think you had bad management. With my manager, I never felt like I had to resort to scummy practices to get decent numbers. And maybe it was a district-wide thing, cause all my friends at other Best Buys (whether big box or mobile), had the same perception.

I still have many friends who work there, and to this day recommend it to people who are looking for a part-time job.

Seconded. I worked in the photo department and a woman had damaged the kit lens on a first or second-gen Canon Digital Rebel she'd bought a day or two before (I'm old, OK?). I mentioned offhandedly "we don't carry them but you can find them for about fifty bucks" and my boss was apoplectic that I hadn't pointed out she could -still- get a PSP (bullshit fake warranty) up to 30 days after the purchase for ~$200 and get a lens that way (dubious, since she'd clearly dropped it or similar).

Also, trying to push Entertainment Weekly and Sports Illustrated subscriptions on people who just wanted to buy a damn printer in peace. Not to mention that they bought a $39 printer and a $29 USB cable, then found out that half the time the printer came with a cable.

Horrible place.

> Also, trying to push Entertainment Weekly and Sports Illustrated subscriptions on people who just wanted to buy a damn printer in peace

I responded a similar comment to the parent comment, but this has never happened to me, must be a specific location or something? Or are these just really old practices I was fortunate enough to avoid? I live in Florida, and have never seen some of these things at Best Buy. The extended warranty has been useful for me in regards to computer monitors, mine went bad, then they refunded me the money, and when the replacement went bad I was refunded the money as well and bought a monitor that outlasted the previous two for a little bit extra (I upgraded from a roughly $160 monitor to a $299 Dell monitor).

Were we coworkers?

The first few issues sound to me more like poor management in a particular location, rather than a global company policy. However, it could be that company incentives led to this such management initiatives.

The overall company policies were pretty good, but each district was ran like the District Manager's personal fiefdom.

Corporate pretty much let DM's run things the way the wanted and, and most DM's let store General Managers do the same (to a lesser extent). That combined with corporate providing tools to make it easy to drill down into meaningless metrics, and you ended up with employees encouraged to walk low margin customers in some stores, while in other stores that would get you fired.

Really appreciate this insight. This is one of the reasons that I wish corporations died sooner and had less power over the employee.

Employees can provide helpful knowledge to customers in exchange for a wage. The ones who hawk PSP warranties are probably the worst customer advocates, yet aren't the ones being fired....

The helpful employees and loyal customers lose, corporate wins....

I've shopped at quite a few Best Buys near me. I used to hate them, until I found a good store. I love shopping there now. They don't pressure about PSPs, they're friendly, available, and knowledgeable, etc.

Whenever I end up at another Best Buy, I'm reminded how much I used to hate them because the others haven't changed.

It sounds like you worked at one of the many bad ones, and that sucks.

> Also, we moved all the laptop inventory to the back of the store, so if a customer wanted to buy a laptop that was in stock, but did not want to purchase an extended warranty, we were instructed to lie to the customer and say it was out-of-stock.

So what you're telling me is if they ask me about an extended warranty, say yes then change your mind at the register?

So, I believe you can ‘return’ the warranty portion of your purchase a few days after the initial purchase.

One technique was to speak w a manager prior to purchase, and make a deal where the manager, who would discount add-on accessories for the major purchase if you were willing to buy the PSP.

The customer would come back a day later and demand a full refund for the PSP, while keeping their add-on discount.

This did not happen often, though.

The right way to do it is to buy it off the web site and select in-store pickup. Then you don't even have to speak to a salesperson.

Was it actually better for Best Buy to lose a sale than to sell a laptop without an extended warranty, or was that just a case of bad incentives making the rank-and-file do things that hurt the company?

Bad incentives. Some items were low margin, but almost nothing was so low that it was actually worth losing the sale.

One of the things you were ranked on was PSP (extended warranty, but they beat it into your head never to call it that) attachment percentage. When a measure becomes a target...

Occasionally there was a loss leader sale item, and in those cases if someone wanted to by it without any attachments, it might have made short term financial sense to pretend we didn't have it, but I don't think the company could get away with that on a large scale.

Source: I also worked there during college. First in customer service, then as a Geek Squad supervisor at a new store, and I was sent to training at HQ up in Minnesota.

Measuring percentage would do it. I’m always amazed that companies can be so boneheaded. You’d think I’d stop being amazed at some point, but no.

My favorite was when we started focusing heavily on close rate. Close rate was just the number of transactions divided by the number of people who walked in the door, so someone proposed that we start breaking up people's purchases into multiple transactions.

I proposed a counter solution--we just move the laser sensor on the door a bit higher, so that short people wouldn't trigger it.

I worked in an electronics store (regional, not Best Buy, and out of business now) in the mid-2000s that had this exact measure.

In my store, on busy days, the manager would occasionally "greet" customers at the door for 10 minutes at a time. Coincidentally, the spot he would choose to stand would block the sensor, so instead of 20 customers coming in in 10 minutes, it looked like only 1 had come in.

The ingenuity of employees in gaming stupid rules also never ceases to amaze.

Truly, the mind boggles. Did you ever end up doing anything to improve the close rate?

Sounds like when I worked at Radio Shack. Not so much with warranties but with names and addresses. We did get a bonus for each extended warranty we sold.

I feel your pain.

A lot of hardware was sold near cost. The accessories and service plans are where the margins are.

The “team meetings” before and after every shift showed you the numbers from the previous day and your goals for the current day.

If your department didn’t hit their numbers, you’d get your hours cut or manager would get canned. Promotions went by how well you could sell, but you weren’t on commission.

They pushed for us to sell 2 black and two color ink cartridges with ink jet printers. Plus two packs of photo paper and two packs of regular paper.

Yes, the profit on the laptop was minimal, but the extended warranty considerably boosted profits, as well as provided bonuses for management.

They had a folding table setup at the front of the store w/ a PC running Excel, and every 15 minutes over the PA, each departments percentage of sales with extended warranties were read aloud.

Definitely the latter.

The CompUSA I worked in in college was like a scaled down Enron. Bonuses were paid for hitting those percentages, period. At the time (late 90s), BestBuy was better, mostly because they were more diversified.

For constrained product, it makes sense to play some games. You can 10x your margins with the right customer.

It would just depend. If you could close a laptop with a low margin but attach several high margin accessories management was happy. If the laptop was the only item, your department’s metrics would go down. They kept track of everything including number of items per transaction. Scanning the rewards points cards counted as an item so almost everyone walked away a member at one point.

I bought a 5-year warranty @ Best Buy for a laptop back in ~2002. Got the cheapest eMachine sold for writing papers at university.

I had it replaced and/or fixed at least 4 times. Was worth it for me.

Moving laptops to the back was almost certainly detected by corporate when their laptop sales plummeted for that store. The fact that they didn't do anything about it (if it kept up for more than a week) is on corporate. Entirely detectable.

Laptop sales dis not plummet, only laptop sales with no additional add-on items or other purchases in the same transaction ($30 USB cables, etc.)

> we were instructed to lie to the customer and say it was out-of-stock.

Odd, I never get asked if I want that till after the employees are checking me out. Must be that particular location then maybe? Sad.

"incentivized FBI Geek Squad informant deal"


Yes, that is what I was referring to.

Lately I prefer to shop at Best Buy over amazon. I have a couple nearby, so picking something up at the store is more amenable to impulse and instant gratification. It’s also fun to take a lap around a play with some stuff.

Besides that, the prices are competitive, not that it matters because they price match. Sometimes you can score a deal on open box items, which are conveniently listed on their site. Returning something to BB has been painless. I recently returned a monitor without the box for a full refund. I’d at least have had to find a box, pack, and ship that at my own expense w/ amazon which is a huge hassle.

Prime’s 2 day shipping on nearly anything is great but more than a few times I’ve had things lost in the mail. Amazon waits 3-5 days PAST the delivery date to consider it lost while you wait in limbo, and then you have to restart the order. It’s really frustrating if you need the thing quickly and it ends up taking more than double what it should to arrive. IME Amazon is not generous in compensating for these inconveniences.

Monitors/TVs are something I've had so much bad experience with, I pretty much always buy at a physical store over mail order of any kind.

Also, Prime's 2 day shipping doesn't mean nearly as much when a lot of products don't ship for 2-3 days after you order a lot of times now. I'm not sure if it's just gaming the system, but seems to be the case a lot these days. Not to mention co-mingling inventory makes me feel less certain on whole classes of items.

They're definitely doing all sorts of nonsense to game the system.

My latest gripe is in how they'll change or merge listings after an item ships so when what you order isn't what you get, it makes it look like you ordered the wrong thing in the first place.

The order confirmation they email to you forces you to click through to the site instead of giving you a static copy of your invoice so you have no proof to contest it either.

Sometimes you want to actually check something out before you buy it and that's the value that a Best Buy can provide that Amazon can't.

Recently I am needing to replace my failing 15 year old color laser printer and I've been trying to find a local store that has them models I'm researching in stock (want to print Tabloid for woodworking drawings - so not a large number of stocked options).

Both Staples and Office Depot had the printers, but none of them had ink in them and the store managers refused to install ink. This was frustrating because I wasted easily 2 hours between both stores waiting for the manager to even be available.

Best Buy had only 1 printer model but it had ink cartridges installed at least, but had no paper. A store associate helped fix that, but apparently the printer wasn't printing with black despite showing it had black ink. The associate kept wanting to demonstrate the printer not by printing a nice mixed content page but by copying a sales tag.

Needless to say I haven't been able to get print samples from any local retail establishment and I'd pay (reasonably) more than Amazon prices to get an good idea of the output quality before buying plus the instant gratification of being able to take a new printer home immediately. Hell since it's an ink jet I'd probably even buy the PSP/Extended Warranty without a fight.

All of these retail business are blowing their primary advantage by not having well working demo units available.

I may still end up buying from Best Buy or Staples but only because I can return to the store instead of having to ship back and pay for that return shipping like with Amazon.

The printers are probably such low margin items that its worth losing your sale so they don't have to spend the time setting it up. Most people don't care what the quality is as long as its not terrible so they will still sell a lot.

If you were buying 100 business printers I bet they would be happy to give you a demo.

This is probably true, especially the newer models with ink tanks that come ready to print 700+ pages out of the box as those won't move as much ink for the stores. I know at least Staples uses ink attack rate as a metric for employees.

You can watch reviews of printers online, and they show quality of print.

I'm not finding any that aren't just an overview of the printer features and unboxing, or how to install continuous ink systems. I found one in german that actually demonstrated one of the printers in use but that's it.

PCMag has actual reviews describing the output relative to other models but no photos of the output.

I worked retail for over 5 years before starting my tech career and I’ve been a big advocate for Best Buy over the last couple of years as I’ve watched their in-store experience improve. At my local store the service is always awesome, they accept returns without a hassle, and I can order stuff online and they usually have it ready in less than hour. Their staff once spent over two hours with me resolving an issue and not once were they jerks about it.

I’ve been considering dumping my Prime account and one of the reasons I’d feel confident doing so has been my good experiences with Best Buy as of late.

That's good to hear. I stopped going to best buy when every question I had for staff was answered by the staffer reading the card on the shelf. I go to a meat-space store when I don't know what I want and I need knowledgeable salesmen to help me. The BB in my neighborhood never ever had that, so I stopped shopping there.

People don’t want to or are unable to pay for a knowledgeable salesperson, hence why they do not exist for simple things such as consumer electronics.

Depends on the product. Look at home Depot / Lowe's / Rona where it's absolutely expected that there will be staff with contracting experience who have advice on what products to buy and how to use them.

I do not expect to find experienced professionals working a $15/hour job at Lowe’s or Home Depot. There might be some who are out of the game due to injury or age, but not as a norm.

It varies by region.

In Atlanta and thereabouts Home Depot is a minimum-wage job ($8/hr?) with no real benefits or employee discounts so you just get bodies to stock shelves. I've had much better luck in California ($15/hr?) where most of the employees seemed to be ex-contractors or otherwise experienced.

Yeah, here on Ontario most of the Home Depot staff are old guys who've got plenty of experience with the stuff they sell. At worst, their knowledge is out-of-date from current best practice.

Same. Best Buy also price matched me on a new Macbook Pro, for up to a year. So when Amazon dropped the price by $200 later on, I showed my receipt and that to Best Buy, and they matched it. That's how you get me coming back.

If Best Buy ever closes, I will be very sad. It's one of the last standing bastions where I can go see electronics in person, purchase them, and then return them for an immediate refund (if something is wrong). The fact that they price match Amazon is key. I will pretty much always buy at Best Buy if I can, because I can get the item on the same day, for the same price as Amazon, and still get all of the conveniences offered by a retail store.

I recently wanted a very specific model of TV, and after 15 minutes of price checking I found the it was noticeably cheaper (about 10%) at best buy than anywhere else. Picking it up was a breeze. I'd suggest price checking at best buy.

A few months later I bought a second TV and it was best priced at frys. It's funny how these things go.

BestBuy used to price match physical stores originally. I was surprised when I had bought my Surface Book 2 from BestBuy and without saying anything they offered to price match it with Amazon.

The article says Best Buy didn't have to layoff employees. But why would they ever? Retail has a high turnover rate already. All they had to do was not hire replacements when people left on their own. Or hire a part-time worker when a full-timer quits.

Is there any national retailer other than Walmart that has not been forced to reduce their labor budget as a response to Amazon? None that I've looked into.

Maybe Costco, I hear they've been doing well.

Any Costco in my area is packed to the brim Fri-Sun to the point that you have to drive around looking for spots.

It isn’t empty Mon-Thurs either.

BestBuy is a step down from frys, which is itself a depressing experience.

Poor inventory, mislabeled items, disinterested staff.

I happily shop with New Egg simply because of they stood up to patent trolls: https://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2017/07/newegg-fought-it...

100% no way Frys is better than Best Buy. All Frys is now is as-seen-on-tv junk and no name knockoffs like you get on Amazon. Frys might have some older or more obscure items, but that's not enough to make them a better store.

As for Newegg, I really want to like them but they have a habit of cancelling my orders because they think it's fraudulent. I just opt to order elsewhere and not waste time calling in to try to prove it's legit.

Newegg is now as bad as Amazon with that third-party reseller bullshit. The nail in the coffin for me was that when I ordered a hard drive from them recently I had two shipping options: free FedEx smartpost/surepost/whatever from New Jersey or pick it up in Southern California. Essentially it felt like I was being bombarded by scammy vendors and penalized for choosing free shipping. No thanks.

And then they were sold to a Chinese company, Liaison Interactive. I used to swear by them also, but had to stop after needing to return DOA electronics, which they wouldn't.

Indeed, I'd like an Amazon competitor focusing on high quality and great service as much as anyone, but going into a Best Buy is depressing.

The staff act like robots. Their responses and behaviour both when you ask for help and when you go to checkout seem scripted, while at the same time they give off a tired air of mildly annoyed indifference.

A lot of US chains are like this, really. Everyone just seems so downtrodden, even surly or hostile. I'm sure the staff is paid little and not treated that great, but still, I've never encountered this in Europe, where I'm from, and I can't imagine that conditions are much better there, so it might be a cultural thing.

If you're looking for A/V and Car Audio, I highly recommend Crutchfield.

They're amazing.

I don't know... I've had so many bad experiences with Fry's (both Phoenix locations) that I'd go to BB first.

My disappointment with newegg is they now are a store front for third parties a lot like Amazon, and it's an extra step to select newegg as the seller.

The secret to Best Buy is that you can play with things. Unfortunately I think they have kind of dropped the ball on this one. When I visit Best Buy, I often see empty product spaces, demo products that do not work, wires just dangling from a hole. This is not the Best Buy of my childhood where you went and could get your hands on things, really get to play around and know what you’re buying. I would never buy a 52 inch LED TV off of Amazon, but I would definitely buy it at Best Buy because I can actually see it. The secret to Best Buy is that you can play with things. When I visit Best Buy, I often see empty product spaces, demo products that do not work, wires just dangling from a hole. This is not the best spy of my childhood where you went and could get your hands on things, really get to play around and know what you’re buying. I would never buy a 52 inch LED TV off of Amazon, but I would definitely buy it at Best Buy because I can actually see it. They will even put your favorite DVD or Blu-ray if you bring it

It could be more of an issue with your location(s) manager... though I only really go to BB a couple times a year. Usually monitor or TV, or because I want something that day.

I go all the time, all over Northern Virginia. It’s not just one store or one city. Frustrating to say the least because I know Best Buy can be a great store.

BestBuy's shipping was far better than Amazon's in my experience. BestBuy always used to offer 2 day shipping for me and sometimes even deliver in a day for the same price as Amazon. In the case of Amazon, from 2012 to 2014, they used to ship fast. I place an order, it get shipped within 24 hours and I would get it in 2-3 days. But something changed in 2014. I noticed that my order would stay in 'preparing for shipment' for upto 5 days before they actually ship it. I assumed either that was Amazon's way of pressuring me to get Prime or their algorithms labelled me a low value customer. After 2 bad customer experiences and loss of trust due to the risk of getting fake products, I moved onto other retailers.

I once bought a laptop from BestBuy. It was over $2k. I came home, unpacked it and to my horror, there was a scratch. I immediately went back and BestBuy gave me a new one. In the case of Amazon, I ordered a furniture. They shipped the wrong color. Since I didn't want to deal with the hazzle of returning, I asked Amazon to give me the price difference (the color I got was cheaper than what I ordered). No. The only option Amazon gave me was return it and order again. Had to wait for another 10 days to get my color.

I came back to India and ordered a surge protector from Amazon. The item I got was not only poorly packaged, it looked like Amazon just shipped me something that someone else returned. It still had a previous shipping label (though I couldn't read it), was very badly packed with cello tape, and the plastic body had somehow got the green color from the Belkins packing. Thankfully, Amazon refunded me and I found it cheaper in a local store.

I've always preferred Best Buy to Amazon for electronics (and I definitely do my fair share of Amazon purchasing).

Recently, I bought my MacBook there. I also purchased a gaming headset from there.

I think the main thing is - what if I get my headset out of the box and one ear has no sound - easy fix with Best Buy. Same with the MacBook. In fact - I actually ended up returning my original MacBook to Best Buy within 14 days of purchasing it to get a slightly upgraded model - no questions asked, nothing lost but about an hour of time.

As other posters have mentioned, there's also the 'knock-off' chance on Amazon as well (or at least me, the general, uninformed consumer thinks that there is). I can't be certain that even Apple-branded products from Amazon are actually Apple products. But at Best Buy, my assumption is they are legit Apple products.

They price match Amazon which is really no secret, it’s just hard to do since they have more overhead.

My best guess is they hope to make up lost with items Amazon doesn't even list. I know there's some products that are owned by BestBuy, I forgot the company name for it, but some random electronics they sell.

Right, Amazon does not list Best Buy's house brand 25 dollar USB-A cable.

Some of that convenience stuff is so ridiculously over-priced(even compared to Walmart) and so restricted in choice(only option is the Best Buy brand) it must be integral to their business strategy.

you are thinking of insignia products

Looks like it's not just Insignia but Rocketfish, Platinum, Modal and Dynex as well.


We buy all our appliances from Best Buy so I'd hate to lose them like we lost Circuit City. CC's decision to ditch appliances was their downfall, IMO. As for buying electronics from BB, it's a checkered history for me. I've bought a MacBook Air cheaply there and our current LCD TV was 300$ there. When I last bought a PC laptop there 12 years ago trying to get out of the shop without extended warranty was a nightmare. I eventually 'won' by saying it was a gift and the new owner will run Linux (to escape the Geek Squad tax). Altogether, BB is not a happy place to buy a Windows laptop although things may have changed but I doubt it.

I've never had any issue at my local Best Buy just saying "no thanks" to the extended warranty stuff. Though I really only shop there about once every year or two.

I'm on my third year of owning two Tiles: One pre-2018 Mate and one Slim. As usual, it came time to replace them, and Tile's reTile program doesn't offer a one-mate-plus-one-slim option (the closest is a two-plus-two). So, I got one through reTile, and the other by heading over to Best Buy. I didn't even consider buying it on Amazon.

Another time, I needed a 3.5mm headphone to Bluetooth transmitter for my Nintendo Switch. I checked Fry's, Central Computer, and Best Buy; Best Buy had it, so I got it from there.

In both cases, the choice was partially convenience, and partially not wanting another box (or padded envelope) being used up.

> partially not wanting another box (or padded envelope) being used up

So, did you drive there? That's also an environmental impact. Just saying.

When ordering from Amazon extra packaging is used AND fuel is used to ship it. Seems like driving and not using the extra box would have a lesser impact. Or at least in my car because the store is about 5 miles away by freeway and I drive a small, fuel-efficient vehicle.

Because Amazon don't drive the package..? Or fly it in a lot of cases? In fact Amazon has recently been moving away from USPS to "Amazon Logistics" which means even less package co-mingling/less environmental efficiency.

They send many packages on the same vehicle, and do a shortest-path route. So the marginal impact of each package is minimal compared to making a dedicated trip to Best Buy.

Show me the figures that demonstrate that buying something at retail is less damaging to the environment than Amazon’s distribution and fulfillment.

Nope, I took the bus there & back.

I've had no success with Best Buy recently. They never have quite what I want. Here are some recent examples:

An HD capable portable radio. (ended up buying Sangean HDR-16 from Amazon)

A keyboard synthesizer (I know they carried these in the past).

I upgraded three car stereos and they didn't have anything I wanted in stock. (Ended up buying one from Amazon and two from Crutchfield).

An unlocked Samsung cell phone. They did not have the lower cost "J" ones (this was a year ago- even now on their website I see that only a few stores display them). I think we ended up buying from Microcenter- we are very lucky to live near one.

I love Microcenter! I'm about a 2 and a half hour drive from one and make my way up there probably 2-3 times a year carpooling with some colleagues and friends. I don't know if all locations are the same, but the inventory at the one I go to is more akin to a trade show than a Best Buy.

I actually started going back to Best Buy for the first time in 10 years probably. I was pleasantly surprised at the prices. What is even better was I was allowed to test the mouse, TV, and headphones I wanted to buy!

Bloomberg covered this phenomenon back in 2018. The article generated 446 comments on HN.


I wonder who buys dvd/bluray anymore... after netflix.

Me. For example, I’m currently legally rewatching Game of Thrones before the new season comes out even though I don’t currently have an HBO subscription. It is a durable copy that doesn’t buffer, is high quality, isn’t modified after the fact (such as when they removed the George W. Bush prop head-on-spike). For a one time price, I own it for life. I can and have lent it out to others. When I watch it, my analytics aren’t tracked, and there are no promos for other shows at the beginning.

> When I watch it, my analytics aren’t tracked

Unless you watch it on a smart TV. It's a shame you can't get the features of a modern TV without content tracking.

I mean, just turn off the internet on your TV. Most TVs have terrible built-in software anyway. My TV isn't connected to the internet, so it can't track what I'm watching.

I forgot to mention that my Blu-Ray player also has an Ethernet port and a bunch of "apps" available, and probably has the ability to report back on Blu-Rays viewed, but I don't use it for that reason (and I have better devices for apps, such as Roku.)

People who care about audio. Netflix streaming audio is shit. A Blu-ray has incredibly good audio tracks—usually 24-bit/96kHz lossless.

This got me really curious about what quality Netflix actually streams its audio, but the only thing I came across were tech support threads regarding low quality streams. Does anyone know of a good comparison of Netflix vs physical disc quality, and/or any hard numbers?

FWIW, I have an extremely good system and I've always thought that streamed audio sounds great. I honestly wonder if I've been missing out on the next tier!

What I recommend is having a DVD, Blu-Ray, and Netflix streaming of a movie with good sound and a lot of dynamic range that you can A-B-C with. Apollo 13 is a reasonable example and fairly cheap. :)

It's super obvious side by side, at least on my setup. Streaming is more-or-less DVD quality at best in my experience.

From what I've found, Netflix's highest quality audio is a lossy 640 kbps Dolby Digital+ (E-AC3) stream. For comparison, the highest quality BluRay audio would be the lossless formats Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD MA. Both of these formats support variable bit rate encoding, and from my personal library I'm seeing average bit rates of 4727 kbps for Atmos TrueHD and 2525 kbps for DTS-HD MA.

Dolby TrueHD is lossless, so the bitrate is somewhat irrelevant. DTS-HD Master Audio is also lossless, but "degrades" back to a lossy version if the decoding device does not support it.

The actual bitrate after decoding for a 24-bit 2-channel song with a 96kHz sample rate is 4.39mbps. With 5 channels, that's 10.975mbps (higher than a DVD for both picture and sound combined).

FWIW, TrueHD also contains a lossy core (AC3 in this case), just like DTS-HD MA. I was also surprised to see that my TrueHD tracks are 24-bit, but my DTS-HD MA tracks are 16-bit.

I do. A DVD is low on the list now, unless i know the material is best in SD.

BluRay is still a great purchase at times. I like the 24p film editions for classic movies, and in general, get best quality over most streams.

And no connection hassles.

I've started buying discs when they're on sale, because the discs should work for a long time, and I have no idea if I'm going to be able to watch what I want to watch when I want to watch it with Netflix (actually, I have a pretty good idea that I won't be able to watch it, because they rarely have what I want to watch anymore)

I buy criterion still. I'll use amazon and netflix but more or less prefer dvd. Also I like a lot of old movies, not all of which are available for streaming.

I always buy DVDs and CDs only. Streaming is like renting a movie as you don't physically own it.

I used to be concerned about Best Buy, until I realized they price match amazon, now I just go there if I need (want) something same day.

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