More like he used a price-matching program to swindle people.
Suppose you want a 512GB microsd card. You've heard through their ads Best Buy will match Amazon's prices, so you depart your house with cash in hand, happy you won't have to wait for shipping. You walk into Best Buy, pick a Sandisk drive off the shelf, and show the cashier that despite Best Buy listing it at $150, Amazon only charges $100, so please match their price.
Sorry says the cashier, this Sandisk 512GB U-3 V30 A2 Class 10 microsd card is model SDSQXBZ-512G-ANCMA, while the Sandisk 512GB U-3 V30 A2 Class 10 card on Amazon is model number SDSQXA1-512G-GN6MA so we can't price match.
Price matching means absolutely nothing when every single one of Best Buy's overpriced products has its own special model number that prevents them from ever having to price match anything.
Of course, sample size of 1 and it's quite possible that the employees at my local BB are just lazy to my advantage
but they're being paid hourly, so it's not like it result is more work for them.
A common example of this scam was phone cases. Each retailer is provided the same item with a model number differing by a single letter (A for Amazon, T for Target, B for Best Buy). Because of this deviation I was not allowed to offer price matches on any of these items.
The first is when I bought a vacuum cleaner. The web site said it was on sale for $50, so I went to the store to buy it. It was $100 in the store, so I made them price match themselves.
The second was with a MacBook power adapter. Future Shop, a Canadian store similar to Best Buy, had it for $95, Best Buy had it for $105. By getting Best Buy to price match, I got it cheaper because they will beat the price by 5%. Here’s the interesting bit though: Best Buy owned Future Shop at the time (they’ve since retired that brand), so once again they price matched themselves.
In both cases they did it without complaint, but they did verify the competing price, etc, as they should.
It took quite a while for Best Buy to finally rationalize its store locations and get rid of the redundancy. Some Future Shops took on Best Buy branding, and in cases like the one above one of them was picked to close.
I was recently at Lowes, I had found a Saw Horse online at their website for $80 off, and tried to price match it to themselves but when the cashier looked it up it came back the store's price (even though I still had the page open on my phone, and at my home computer at home).
Then got treated like I was the one trying to pull a scam, rather than them discontinuing a sale mid-way through a work day, and me being caught by it.
"It says $80 online" "Here, let's pull it up on the website, $100, you must have been mistaken" Head home, nope, $80.
They got caught - or provably so - when mobile data became better. "Weird, if I turn store wifi off and hit refresh by 3G the price magically goes down".
That ended up in a lawsuit, and no doubt some gift certificates via class action.
"Target updated its smartphone app Wednesday night after a Minneapolis TV station reported that some prices displayed on the app increased whenever users approached a store. In one case, a product's price increased by almost $150." ...
What generally happens is: (1) associate is dispatched to pick an online order, listed by SKU and bring it up front, (2) they arrive at the bay and start looking around for a match, (3) while they are supposed to verify down to the SKU level, sometimes they say "DeWalt 20V circular saw" = "DeWalt 20V circular saw", grab it, and move on, (4) repeat for the next order.
That's assuming there's stock in the store. In the event it's Ship-to-Store, you add the additional touch of warehouse getting it right. Although in my experience that rarely goes wrong (because automatic verification, etc as things go out).
I always do a SKU / item check if there's anything that might be a problem. In my personal experience, it happens ~1:50 orders (usually with easily confusable substitutions).
That's common with some stores, like large department stores and mattresses being a common example. But the manufacturer has to be part of it.
And it's simply not common or widespread in electronics. Apple isn't doing it. Logitech isn't doing it. Etc.
There might be a few brands or product categories which do... but it's also not generally to avoid price-matching, but rather to sell a lower-quality product that Best Buy pays less for. They're not just slapping a different model number on it -- it also has less memory, or cheaper packaging, or a lower-quality screen, or whatever.
Kohl's has adopted an interesting strategy recently of becoming an Amazon drop-off location. By doing so, they get people to walk through their store, browsing their merchandise, if only via a brief visual scan. Once you've dropped off your return, they give you a card good for a discount on anything in the store for one day.
For stuff like SanDisk sticks/sdcards you see multiple SKUs for the same product all of the time -- they may have a clamshell sku for merchandising on a shelf or clip, have a "bonus" storage case, etc.
Apple is different because they exert alot of brand control. But PC OEMs have many models of similar products, especially at retail where factors like how long a CPU will be available for restock may matter more. The shitty HP Model whatever laptop on the shelf at Walmart will usually not share a model number with the shitty laptop at Costco or Target. Sometimes retailers insert their own upsell in the packaging as well.
Also TBF Sandisk makes this worse considering how often even inside best buy I'm scratching my head over why they have multiple items that have the same U/Class rating but different packing on the shelf.
I've had decent luck with BB Price matching since around 2010 or so, when they started worrying about Newegg/Amazon and were to some extent proactive about shifting their business model. On the other hand the types of items I've price matched tend to be specific enough that Part number shenanigans aren't a concern.
It's hard to tell what's going on:
1. Re-labelling the product to catch the confused parent market?
2. An actually better product for the switch? (maybe better read IOPS that helps loading time?)
3. A worse product but in ways they think you won't notice on a switch? (lower sustained write speed perhaps, basically any SD card can outpace eshop downloads)
All seem equally plausible, but my guess is on 1 or 3.
They also warn that counterfeits are rampant.
BestBuy needs to watch out. Pissing off customers with sleezy tactics is not the way to go.
If you really want to see this strategy in action, try shopping for mattresses.
Similarly, my friend was a contractor and told me the paint manufacturers would have paint stores with good paint. The same paint was available cheaper at Home Depot, but the sku would be slightly different and the paint properties like thickness would also be cheaper (in the quality sense)
Of course, often they'd do other little things too, like maybe a smaller HDD but a better CPU. Just enough to make it not really the same Laptop, but close enough you picked up on the trend.
The only time I took advantage of price matching, it ended up saving me money. The phone I was looking for was $250 on Best Buy website, but $220 from Amazon 3rd party sellers. I went to a Best Buy store hoping to get it for $220 and not having to wait for shipping. They actually price-matched it at $200 on the spot.
The one at best buy has the model number: BBY-51FJVFX
The one at staples has the model number: STP-51FJVFX
Notice anything? :)
"Sorry, this is a 512GB-SANDISK-AMZN SD card, we only carry the 512GB-SANDISK-BBY, it's a different model".
The price match was deceitful, they obtained money from it. Sounds like a swindle to me.
In what way is tricking people into thinking they'll be able to easily price match not deceit?
Even back then, I remember a lot of their corporate-produced video content played at quarterly meetings would talk about the value in reinvention. They were very aware that companies that didn’t adapt to the market were doomed, they’d reference old department stores for comparisons. It’s not surprising that even though they stumbled for a few years, they still managed to turn it around.
I remember being very aware of the high production value of those same quarterly videos. They looked so expensive and were occasionally funnier than they had any right being. It stood out because we all felt under paid and under valued, we’d talk about how much those videos must have cost and how much we all could have used some help.
A few times a year, I still have anxiety nightmares where I’m late for a shift or I show up and there’s a line out the door and nobody to help me. Or there will be miles of racks of computers that need virus scans run and I have to do all of them before I go home. It was the most stressful job I’ve ever had, possibly the most stressful job I’ll ever have. It taught me more about troubleshoot software and dealing with angry people than I ever could have predicted. Simultaneously one of the worst experiences and a crucial one. Funny how that works.
Of course, consumers should expect that because Best Buy is blatantly evil, but the scummiest thing was that customers would walk in with a printout FROM BESTBUY.COM showing an item was $129, demand we match their own website instead of charging $149, and they'd be walked over to a kiosk showing that the product at bestbuy.com was $149. (They had a mock bestbuy.com running on the kiosk that looked like the web version but with in-store prices). Remember smartphones weren't a thing at that point.
It was valuable as a reminder of just how bad most jobs are, and that most people in America are treated like absolute shit by psychopath bosses who themselves live in fear of their boss, and so on. It certainly was a motivator to learn to code.
Quitting the Wednesday before Black Friday was a thrill. It's supremely depressing Best Buy still exists.
That being said, I do often prefer Best Buy to Amazon for tech things, for the same reason I prefer clothing stores to online shopping. For something that expensive and personal, I want to see it in person. I want to see if it'll fit (whatever that means... from sizing to the types of plugs, etc), see compatible products, etc.
I do love is how accurate their website is. It's usually right, and I'd love if more stores had an online way to see if something was in stock before I went all the way there. In my experience, Best Buy is the one that gets it right the most.
Agree about clothing, too.
I'll choose them over Amazon any time if they have the item that I need (which they typically do).
Whether that's worth it or not to any given person is a personal thing but I was really surprised by it.
- I bought an Apple Watch through them that was the cellular version. There was some activation error with the carrier when we tried to set it up, and rather than the employee I was working with shrugging it off and saying, “Sorry, you have to call the carrier”, they handled it all for me and got it fixed before I left the store.
- I bought a Logitech mouse. It was having issues with the cursor stuttering. I went to return it, they went though the process in store of updating the firmware to make sure it was a hardware issue, and then they gave me a full refund and recommended another mouse (which I still have and love).
I just hope that experience continues to be solid now that their retail locations are open again...
Why doesn't Walmart complain every day that Amazon's a better tax cheat?
Mutually assured destruction?
The Land of the Giants podcast series also touches on Amazon's financing, capitalization.
Amazon's core innovations are, in order, 1) tax avoidance, 2) profits avoidance, and 3) treating knowledge workers as an inexhaustible resource to burn thru.
I average well into 5 figures a year on Amazon stuff. Have been for years. Have never had an authenticity issue.
I buy sold by Amazon and 3rd party. Name brand and white label. Electronics and home goods.
I’m just not getting it?
Amazon has responded to lawsuits with the hands off "hey it's not us, it's the seller and we're not going to vet our sellers stuff." So apparently it's the customer's job. I don't have the time or knowledge to know how to test toys I buy for my daughter for lead so I just don't buy from Amazon unless it's a hard to find book or something I'm pretty sure won't be dangerous.
I used to buy all my home gym stuff from Amazon stuff and since have switched to directly buying from brands like Rogue Fitness, or Titan and the difference in the quality of even basic stuff like weights, is just worth skipping Amazon. The dumbbells I've bought from Amazon all have some form of rust on them now.
It's that way for clothing and everything else I've tried. Amazon is a game of hit or miss trash. In the midst of the pandemic I actually could not find a Surface charger for my laptop anywhere but Amazon and had to buy it from them and I was so worried it was counterfeit. It wasn't. I was lucky.
If I’ve gotten counterfeits they were certainly of the quality i was expecting from the brand name and I really don’t care, that’s the free marketplace baby, capitalism at full health.
Except that the other end of that spectrum is kids toys with lead in them. Or, hell, adult toys with lead in them.
Point is you don’t really get to say “the harmless counterfeits are fine, just stop the harmful ones” when you don’t know which ones are harmful. The only way to avoid that ambiguity is to stop counterfeits as a whole. A total lack of regulation isn’t capitalism at full health, it’s poison, often quite literally!
But for a specific example of high regulations and decent outcomes look at the food industry, whether that be restaurants or the food supply chain or farms. All of it is highly regulated for good reason.
Taxi medallions is a good example: NYC streets were flooded with taxis and it was slowing down traffic. And there weren’t enough passengers for drivers to make a living. So limiting the numbers did make sense. But the way it was implemented was far from perfect.
In any case if you think commodities industries are working healthily I really have to disagree. Most products are unnecessarily expensive crap. We have little consumer choice in most markets critical to people’s health and livelihood and no way to incentivize improvements.
* companies do not face rampant infringement of their brand name (which they own, it is part of their means of production), and
* customers aren't swindled with intentional bait-and-switch practices (which would mean that they are not free to make choices in the market), so
no, counterfeiting has no place in healthy capitalism even if counterfeits often pass for the real thing.
A free market, by definition, has full transparency; if you can unwittingly get a counterfeit, it's not a free market.
A brand is just a label, immaterial to the quality of the received commodity. The term I would use for folks who buy an expensive item, sight unseen, and expecting proportional quality, from a third party market is “sucker”. Regulating counterfeit sales will just keep prices high and competitive pressure low, fucking us all over.
Why not simply regulate the quality of the item and force brands to compete on things that matter? Say, require phones to have offer a version with a headphone jack so you aren’t forced to shell out endless money for dongles and bluetooth sets every X years.
You really want regulators to design technology? That’s about like the EU forcing USB2 charging ports on phones when USB-C was a better standard.
This was full retail price, proper SKU, MFG picture. when I went back to review the order it seems a third party seller was substituted at check out which I could have missed. I went through extreme and deliberate lengths to purchase exactly what I wanted from the manufacture and pay retail prices and still got fooled. I was actively going through mental checklists during the purchasing stage on amazon to avoid counterfeit and didn't succeed. Majorly annoyed.
I have even worked the packing line at amazon. Over Christmas in 2000 I worked the line to pay some school bills, so I can even visualize some of the failure modes. yup.. still not enough.
- Brand name lock
- Serial Adapter (knockoff chipset)
- Apple Watch charger (these are endemic)
- Dell brand charger
You likely don't realize it but you probably have counterfeit items in your home right now, that were either very carefully copied or part of a "third shift". You also likely have refurbished items sold as new, and if you've ever gotten brand name things in plain packaging, cross-market items (such as intel CPUs that are sold at much lower prices in other regions, and then sold for a profit to the US).
The ones that were listed as being actually from Apple and sold by Amazon were no cheaper than buying at the local Best Buy or Target or I think Walmart (I know they sell Apple watches and bands, but I'm not actually sure if they have Apple brand chargers).
Every single less expensive third party one had either almost exclusively terrible reviews, or an overwhelming majority of the positive reviews were for completely unrelated products (and the reviews that were not obviously for other products usually omitted actually saying what they were for so you could not tell if they were actually for the charger or for some previous item that once had the same listing).
Like so many things at Amazon, this has gotten completely out of control. There are so many variants of it, too: There’s what I would call “style overloading” where the control that usually lets you choose between the red or blue toaster has been overloaded to choose between the toaster, the egg beater, and the waffle maker, and all the positive reviews for the waffle maker now give the toaster 4.5 stars in the search results. Then there’s what I will call “SKU retreading,” where a discontinued product has its product page repurposed for a new one, transferring all the old reviews and resulting search presence to the new one.
Somewhat appallingly, I’ve seen even popular brands like Aukey engaging in the latter. As you say, it’s sometimes not clear until you actually read the reviews and see they’re referring to features the product doesn’t have, or are posting pictures that look very different from the product photos. I’ve even used the “report incorrect product information” link on these and described the problem, and the listing has unsurprisingly remained unchanged weeks later.
Isn't that basically a rule for apple peripherals? You can't buy them new for cheaper than MSRP?
I definitely do not want a knock off charger. I didn't care so much about the serial adapter, but it was still very annoying.
On an individual level, sure. If the real product fails 1/1000 of the time, and the counterfeit fails 1/100 of the time, you've got 99%+ happy customers of both. The damage is only really evident in the aggregate.
Remember when the guy tested all the USB cables? Some of them were downright broken, but many worked just fine (except not to specification, so were perhaps damaging or even dangerous, but they worked), so most people would never notice that something was amiss.
I’ve also heard of counterfeit books: they look the same as real books, but are of lower quality print and paper. Would you notice? Would you just think the book wasn’t as good quality as other books, without questiining whether you actually got a counterfeit product? I’m not convinced I’d necessarily notice.
Another anecdote: my wife wanted to buy a refill for the Clorox brand hydrogen peroxide based sanitizer she prefers to use. There weren't any in stock on Amazon, but she found a third-party that was advertising effectively the same thing (right down to the ingredients indicating a 1.86% by volume solution of hydrogen peroxide). What came from Amazon was something closer to an industrial-grade bleach-like cleaning solution.
It's not the first time this has happened, either: we've had shoddy device charging cables, rechargeable batteries, etc. It has happened enough in the last year that we have substantially drawn back our spending on Amazon, and we will not under any circumstances buy any electronics (devices, accessories, etc.) from there. I'm actually quite close to stopping my Prime membership and cutting them out altogether.
The good thing was I noticed it. My worry is when I don’t.
I can usually find something cheaper on a different site (best buy, B&H, Microcenter, Newegg...although Newegg has been really bad for me lately, monoprice, Walmart). And the rare couple of times I don’t, I’m willing to pay the $1-$2 more (I’m much better off in the long run anyways).
Honestly, it’s really really hard to find something that is also available elsewhere, cheaper on Amazon than anywhere else for me. So I’m not willing to take the counterfeit risk, for basically no benefit.
Even so, I haven't had any trouble with products bought directly from them since then (though the introduction of a captcha just to log into the damn site was rather annoying). Their third party marketplace appears to be a total cesspool, however. I bought some "new" hard drives from two separate vendors... both batches arrived beat to shit, with 35-50k hours of runtime and some with significant error counts.
Only after the fact did I bother looking into it, and notice that ALL vendors in the hard drive category have ratings less than 80%, and plenty of reviews accusing them of selling used as new. Newegg obviously doesn't care. Sad, indeed.
I’m still willing to buy from Amazon items that aren’t potential fire hazards.
The "Amazon's Choice" for "high security lock" is actually a Chinese knockoff  but you wouldn't know that unless you are familiar with the original.
Even people dying doesn't seem to get products removed
>A 23-year-old man in Missouri purchased a motorcycle helmet from Amazon that was at the time listed as certified as meeting US Department of Transportation safety standards. Later that year, however, he was killed in a crash while riding. A federal investigation later found that the helmet did not meet DOT standards and was recalled. The WSJ, however, found the product still for sale, with an active listing promising compliance, until the WSJ contacted Amazon to inquire about it.
Nothing happened after i reported it, either.
That's what's so infuriating about Amazon. Amazon should proactively police their store for counterfeits, but they don't. To add insult to injury, they won't even respond in a timely manner to reports of physically and economically impossible counterfeit items that are sold as part of a well known type of fraud .
 IIRC, I reported some "2TB" microsd cards selling for $10 a few years back, and the listings remained up for weeks. Had the same experience reporting price-gouging on N95 masks and hand sanitizer early in the pandemic, too.
Now I just don't use filters. The utility company filters the water well enough.
If you want to test an SD card, this site details how:
It seems quite possible you may have had a fake and simply not detected it.
Returning items is a PITA to me, so I just tossed them and vowed to never buy blades from Amazon again. I never heard anything from Amazon, but it's interesting that years later they still have a problem with Gillette blades.
I avoid buying electronics from Amazon precisely because distinguishing a counterfeit USB charger from a real one is not easy. And the counterfeit one might result in my house burning down...
Although to be fair there's a Yamada Denki less than a 10 minutes walk away from home, so in terms of convenience it's even better than Amazon...
2) Some of the fakes are very good, you may not know you're getting a fake. But if it's something like a fake Apple charging brick, it won't have anywhere near the safety engineering of the Apple product, so you may not ever notice it but you had a fake. Or you could have a food product that wasn't made to safety standards.
There are some products that are "safe" to buy and you won't have to worry but there's a ton of stuff that will randomly be counterfeit. -- even prime stuff.
It's also common for me to order something several times -- and then suddenly get a counterfeit product.
I honestly recommend people use eBay instead or BestBuy :) or Newegg or anyone else essentially.
There's just no competition for price besides Wal Mart usually being pretty good and that's why I always go to Amazon first if it's something Wal Mart wouldn't have. Maybe I've had counterfeits but if so they were good enough I didn't notice. The problem seems extremely overblown, as someone who does a very high percentage of their shopping there.
The varieties are very low, and (therefore) prices are ridiculous.
You can argue their price is the same as Amazon for the ones the have, but there usually are plenty of quality cheap alternatives online (Amazon Basic, monoprice, etc.).
The accessories Best Buy makes money on are going to be harder to price match, because they could be exclusive, or not popular on other sites, possibly listed at even higher prices.
Going in to Best Buy to get a price matched game makes sense, but buying a cable might be 4x-8x the price.
and: seven of us said the same thing all within 5 minutes, guess this was a dead horse to beat.
They agreed with you, that if BB has the exact same item as Amazon, they would match the price. It would work for "unique" products that aren't just very generic, easily replaceable, and don't have a significant variation, where a customer would prefer a very specific model of the item (like headphones, videogames, movies, tvs, monitors, etc.). If you want to buy Die Hard trilogy on Blu Ray, you probably won't be satisfied with buying Rambo trilogy on Blu Ray, despite them being somewhat similar. You care about the exact model of the item here.
But if you just want to buy something generic, like a USB-C to USB-C cable, it isn't something that people have brand loyalty towards, it is something very generic and easily replaceable. You don't care about the brand, you just want a USB-C cable that supports Thunderbolt 3 spec and is at least 6ft long. On Amazon, you will have bajillion choices from different brands across all price ranges. At BB, you will have a couple of brands that are probably not even on Amazon for various reasons (e.g., it could be a BB exclusive version of that item) and are significantly overpriced. And you cannot just price match any USB-C cable to any USB-C cable that meets the same spec and is the same length, it has to be that exact same model.
So, for example, if the "premium" brand version on Amazon costs $20, cheap one costs $8, and the only version from a completely different brand available at Best Buy is barely even the same quality as the "cheap" one from Amazon but costs $40, it makes no sense to buy it from BB.
But there are still products where BBY has its own SKU for a product. "Oh, that 8TB WD drive is cheaper? Shame it's a WD8TB2020-AMZN, we only carry the WD8TB2020-BBY".
Might have gotten the listed sales price, can't remember well. Still more even so.
They may have the statistics to prove it, I still order from them and I have definitely gotten counterfeit goods but they've also consistently refunded my order when it gets messed up. Maybe they figure that the cost of fixing it is higher than the cost of replacing the item for the fraction of customers that notice.
I just tried to return something. They wouldn't honor their returns policy. There are a lot of similar complaints.
Pretty sad Frys seems to (maybe) be going under. Especially since they'd price match. I heard they're having problems with suppliers and are still trying to stay open, but a visit to the store really looks hopeless for it's future.
1) pay more than I should,
2) be buying someone's returned/opened merchandise that they just put back on the shelf, and
3) hassled if I discover it and try to return it.
Am I lucky or are you guys not able to detect suspicious product listings/sellers? I see them sometimes. They are easy to avoid.
Perhaps the posters you are replying to are simply choosing to buy from places where they don’t have to spend the mental energy to do this.
It seems kind of absurd to me(and I’m not trying to be negative towards you- I sparingly shop on Amazon due to its convenience) that a retailer can convince their buyers that this is normal.
This is a skill that shouldn’t be required on Amazon. You don’t walk into a supermarket carefully inspecting every item to make sure it isn’t shady. You expect the supermarket to do that for you.
Shopping on amazon often feels like buying wares from a rolled out blanket on the sidewalk in comparison.
- kids toys
- any kind of supplements/protein powder/etc.
- cheaper electronics/cables/etc.
The severity is bad if counterfeit but isn't this unlikely to happen because anything edible can't be commingled?
I think the point is that they shouldn't be there in the first place.
Who better to buy new electronics than someone who has:
- clearly bought electronics in the past
- is knowledgeable about e-waste recycling (guessing there is a strong correlation between this and disposable income)
- is now inside your store because you have an e-waste recycling program
This by itself would be a brilliant move.
My Dad bought a TV at Best Buy several days ago. He looked for the model he wanted, couldn't find it. Went to the front desk and asked, they looked it up and sure enough it wasn't in stock. My Dad walks to the back of the store, finds the exact TV model he wanted with no assistance from any 'blue shirt'.
Sounds like they still have some work to do lol