Tuesday, November 23, 2010

How Many Big Box Stores Does it Take to Sell Me a Working Laptop?

So luckily my parents don't really know how to use the internet well enough to ever stumble across my blog so I feel like this is a safe enough place to talk about something related to their Christmas present.  My sisters and I are planning to get them a laptop to replace their 10-year-old barely-working OTV-built CRT-monitored dinosaur that they are scared to turn on because they're worried it is going to get a virus or crash or break the internet.

What I'm looking for is a 15.6" laptop under $400 with decent enough specs that it will stay relatively fast for several years.  And something that works, preferably.

Unfortunately, obtaining this laptop is easier said than done.  Upon doing a bit of research into laptop prices for what I want comparing local big-box chains vs. ordering online (Dell, Lenovo), the local places seemed to offer the best prices so I decided to go against my principles and buy a computer from Best Buy or Future Shop.

What principles?  Back in the good old days of 2005 I had an excellent experience with Future Shop's impeccable customer service.  There was a printer I wanted that was on sale, it was -40 outside, I drove a 1991 Chevy Sprint, and it was the last day of the sale and the printer was not available in store (according to the website) so I wanted to call and find out if I could get a rain check on the printer instead of risking my life to drive down to the store.  If I remember correctly I had to phone them about 20 times (no exag) before a 15 year old from customer service answered the phone 15 minutes before the store closed and told me I couldn't get a rain check over the phone, I had to come into the store within the next 15 minutes.  In the end I found out the printer was available at Staples for a price match and ditched my Future Shop rain check because I hate Future Shop.  I vowed never to go back.

I have since bought a few things from FS but nothing big and I hate myself every time I do.

Anyway back to the laptop saga.  On Sunday I went into Best Buy because I hate FS (even though they're the same company?), picked out a $400 Acer, the sales associate went to check if it was in stock and then proceeded to physically search all of the laptop storage cabinets for about 10 minutes (no exag) before finally saying "Yeah.... we don't have it in stock.  Sorry.  You can buy it online if you want."  WHAT?  Are you telling me your Geek Squad-written software that tells you what you have in stock was WRONG, or did someone hide all the laptops?  Either way, great sales skills.  He didn't even TRY to sell me a nearly identical Compaq model, just please go away I don't like people ahhhhhhh why does everyone ask me questions at my job selling computersssss

The next morning I checked out the FS website at about 8:45 and noticed there was a sale on the above mentioned Compaq for $300!!! until 9 AM.  I did some quick Googling to make sure it was the same model and that the reviews seemed solid and started going through the process.  I started typing in all of my info around 8:58 and was still entering info (there were about 5 steps to complete the ordering process) slightly after 9 but the price had not changed from $300 so I figured I was still going to get the sale price.  I submitted my order at 9:05 and as soon as I clicked that button, the price that was charged to my credit card changed to $350.  WTF Future Shop, thanks for tricking me.  I called customer service who said it was because the website takes a few minutes to update their prices when the sale ends so that's why it was still saying I was going to get the cheaper price.  SERIOUSLY I was 5 minutes over.  You can't just give me the sale price?  I was looking for my credit card which is why I was late.

Anyway long story short I decided that despite this stupidity, $350 was still the cheapest price I was going to get so went to the store to pick it up.  Brought it home, turned it on, and the display was bright red and super pixely.  ARE YOU KIDDING ME Future Shop.  After all that.

So I went back to FS for the second time that day, stood in line for customer service for 10 minutes, then found out I should be standing in the computer service line.  The tech guy had a look and was like "oh yeah this is broken" so I exchanged for a new one, had a feeling that maybe I should try it out in the store to make sure it also wasn't broken, shrugged it off, took it home, turned it on, red screen, back to Future Shop.


"I'm really sorry... this isn't a good impression of our store..."  YA THINK??  I did a straight-up return and vowed never to shop at Future Shop again.  This time I will try to hold myself to that.

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