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Best Buy Confirms 'Secret' Version of its Website 356

Iberian writes "The Courant site confirms an oft-rumoured possibility: Best Buy does indeed maintain a second website for what one could assume is for the purpose of defrauding its customers. State Attorney General Richard Blumenthal ordered the investigation into Best Buy's practices on Feb. 9 after columnist George Gombossy disclosed the website and showed how employees at two Connecticut stores used it to deny customers a $150 discount on a computer advertised on Says Gombossy, 'What is more troubling to me, and to some Best Buy customers, is that even when one informs a salesperson of the Internet price, customers have been shown the intranet site, which looks identical to the Internet site, but does not always show the lowest price. [State Attorney General Richard Blumenthal] said that because of the fuzzy responses from Best Buy, he has yet to figure out the real motivation behind the intranet site and whether sales people are encouraged to use it to cheat customers.'"
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Best Buy Confirms 'Secret' Version of its Website

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  • GeekSquad (Score:3, Funny)

    by AmigaHeretic ( 991368 ) on Saturday March 03, 2007 @12:51AM (#18215218) Journal
    The GeekSquad charges a $29 Software Installation fee to let you use the "real" internet inside BestBuy so this lady would have only saved $121.00 anyway.
  • I've seen it. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by pupstah ( 78267 ) on Saturday March 03, 2007 @12:52AM (#18215222)
    I checked a price online last week, went in, and they checked and it was different.

    Wait for the flood of OMG CORPORATIONS posts to follow...
    • Re:I've seen it. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by mrchaotica ( 681592 ) * on Saturday March 03, 2007 @12:57AM (#18215254)

      Seems to me there are too good solutions for the customer:

      • Print out the online price and bring it in with you.
      • Don't shop at Best Buy.
      • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 03, 2007 @01:07AM (#18215308)
        Those are TWO suggestions that are TOO good TO overlook.
      • Better option. (Score:5, Informative)

        by apparently ( 756613 ) on Saturday March 03, 2007 @02:04AM (#18215588)
        Pay online, and do an in-store pickup.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by the100rabh ( 947158 )
        Better still...Carry ur Wi-fi enabled laptop and just simply beat them at their own game.
        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          But I wanted to purchase a laptop, do you suggest I wheel in my wifi enabled desktop intead?
          • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

            by bbcisdabomb ( 863966 )
            Yes, I do. Bonus points if you wheel in your friend's wifi enabled desktop to purchace your own desktop, though.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by mr_matticus ( 928346 )
          Like Best Buy will let you on their network, or like doesn't redirect to their intranet. Hell, if they really wanted to be jackasses, they could remap the IP on the networks to make it REALLY hard to get to the external site.
      • Well, Only one is praticle. Dont shop there.

        I have had more problems going into bestbuy then any other store. I have had more run arounds then any other store. I can't even call ahead and have them place something on a shelf for me and send someone else after it without problems. Best buy sucks for all practicle purposes. The only real reason they stay in business is because people expect them to suck and don't get disapointed anymore and they are the only choice in a lot of smaller towns.
      • Geek Solution (Score:3, Interesting)

        by abb3w ( 696381 )
        1. Use the kiosk to go pretty much ANYWHERE on the BestBuy website. Click the link to "careers", near the bottom of the webpage. Appropriately, we're only going into the career to get somewhere better as fast as we can. Clicking this opens a pop-up IE rendered Kiosk window (still without an address bar, the standard browser buttons, or the standard "File/Edit" toolbar of every windows program) at the Best Buy career site.
        2. Click the "about Minneapolis" link on the right; think of your own "want to get somew
    • by mastershake_phd ( 1050150 ) on Saturday March 03, 2007 @03:59AM (#18215974) Homepage
      • by rtb61 ( 674572 )
        So the humour point is it is fine for corporations to lie cheat and steal. Corporations that sell food, corporations that produce medicines, corporations that runs prisons, corporations that run hospitals, corporations that run your government.

        Do you realise how pathetic it is that they established a method to steal and defraud the customers on purpose.

        Well at least you are doing your part, to help create a society where fraud is an accepted practice,and where your life is a commodity to be traded for p

  • Enron 2.0? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by GrEp ( 89884 )
    Best Buy has a modest contract with Accenture (old Author Anderson) helping them re-design their IT. Coincidence?
    • by GrEp ( 89884 )
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by proxima ( 165692 )

      Best Buy has a modest contract with Accenture (old Author Anderson) helping them re-design their IT. Coincidence?

      Accenture [] was formerly Andersen Consulting, which split from Arthur Andersen [] in 1989, and it apparently wasn't exactly a friendly split. To my knowledge, most of the accounting problems regarding Enron and Arthur Andersen happened in the 1990s.

    • Accenture was formerly known as Andersen Consulting. Andersen Consulting was originally part of Arthur Andersen, then spun off as a sibling company in the 80's, in large part still tied to Arthur Andersen. In fact, there was a third company called Andersen Worldwide, which basically acted as a facilitator between the two main entities. Around '98 or early '99, AC managing partners got fed up with some of AA's business practices and partnership requirements, so they fully separated, severing all ties, and
      • by jcr ( 53032 ) < .ta. .rcj.> on Saturday March 03, 2007 @01:18AM (#18215356) Journal
        All of the spawn of AA shared a common corporate culture of sleaze. Andersen Consulting split off because the partners in the consulting side of the business didn't like paying their partners on the accounting side of the house what they were due under the terms of their operating agreements. The accountants were plently sleazy themselves (as the enron debacle demonstrates), but the consultants were willing to ignore the fact that the arthur andersen name is what got them in the door.

        After seeing how AA fucked over McCaw Cellular in the mid-90's, I wouldn't let them within a hundred miles of any job I'm running.


        • by Dan Farina ( 711066 ) on Saturday March 03, 2007 @03:27AM (#18215874)
          Actually they didn't like it (and won the suit) largely because Arthur Anderson had its own competing consulting practice -- effectively competing with the Anderson Consulting arm. This was found to be a breach of agreement and was how the divorce was finally settled. Wikipedia has (had?) all this information.

          It was a fortuitous breaking off, too -- not long afterwards Anderson Consulting changed its name to Accenture did Arthur Anderson implode due to Enron.
    • How would this be Accenture's fault? Even if they maintain, at an infrastructure level, both the internet and intranet site, Best Buy is still setting the prices, and likely entering the data, into both sites. Further, whether this is intentional fraud-as-corporate-practice or an error by a sales guy, it comes down to actions taken by Best Buy employees (corporate guys or man-in-the-field).
    • Re:Enron 2.0? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by MickDownUnder ( 627418 ) on Saturday March 03, 2007 @02:23AM (#18215650)
      I bet there's no dark plot here. You really think they could purposefully implement systems requiring dozens of staff with deliberate fraudulent intent and not have someone blow the whistle??

      I bet this is nothing more than just your standard run of the mill incompetence.

      I imagine they have an intranet site which has some information which is for internal use mixed with information that is meant to be the same as the online content. Due to the incompetence of those implementing these systems their intranet and extra-net sites are getting out of sync with each other.

      Guess what the result is?

      Every time the price difference is to the advantage of the customer there's not a peep to be heard.

      As soon as the price difference is to the customer's disadvantage! All hell breaks loose, they go into the store go "WHAT ITS NOT THAT MUCH". Pissed off, they refuse to buy it, go home, check the price again... boom major shit and fan action.
      • I bet it is simpler then that. The internal site is probably used as development as well as an attempt to keep costs of an external internet access down. This way all their secure and private information stays primarily on their closed network.

        It is likely that some inside don't know this and the discrepencies are just different versions of the site. One it live and current and the other is next weeks current and live site.

        However, I still hate shoping at best buy. I have had a problem with them before this
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by j00r0m4nc3r ( 959816 )
        You have just stumbled upon the greatest trick of deception. It's called "plausible deniability".
  • by proxima ( 165692 ) on Saturday March 03, 2007 @12:56AM (#18215246)
    Companies will go to great lengths to price discriminate (i.e. sell to different customers at different prices). If intentional, this particularly dirty trick might have the following reasoning: A customer sees a price online, but wants the item more quickly. So the customer heads to the local Best Buy, where the prices are supposed to be the same as what's online (unless specifically marked as an online-only special). By this time, the customer has demonstrated his or her willingness to buy the product and invested the time and energy required to get to the store. At this point it's likely that they are willing to pay more than the online listed price, and buy the item anyway.

    Another possibility is just that Best Buy doesn't want to market online prices as "online only" and that people who walk into the store and pay a higher price won't notice unless they look for the same item online (which most presumably don't).

    This reminds me of the whole pricing PR disaster from a few years back. IIRC, it involved people who were logged in seeing a different price than those who were just surfing casually. By knowing your previous purchasing history, could reasonably mark up items it thought you might be willing to pay more for. I don't know what happened to the program, I thought it just went away because of the PR nightmare.

    It'd be interesting to know just what's legal and what's not with some of these new tactics. Not all price discrimination is illegal; consider "student" or "senior" discounts, for example. Of course, avoiding a PR mess is probably enough to keep most companies from trying legal but dirty tactics.
    • by WhiplashII ( 542766 ) on Saturday March 03, 2007 @01:05AM (#18215292) Homepage Journal
      It sounds like an open and shut case of bait and switch [] or false advertising [] to me.

      Those are illegal, and will get you in big trouble with the FTC.
      • Where good old corporate ripoffs and deceptive trade practices are just chalked up to hard-nosed business practices. Perfectly legal and ethical. And if they're not legal they should be. That's where we're headed. Back to the 1880s.
      • In fact, it is very common for businesses to charge different amounts based on location, age, sex, and willingness to pay.

        -Many websites require you to locate yourself before presenting different prices for your area.
        -DVDs are region coded, and are priced differently based where you buy them.
        -Gas prices are based on what the locals are willing to pay.
        -Public transportation charges lower prices for old rich people, and higher prices for the young and poor.

        Sometimes it's just economics, and sometimes
    • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 03, 2007 @01:05AM (#18215294)

      By this time, the customer has demonstrated his or her willingness to buy the product and invested the time and energy required to get to the store. At this point it's likely that they are willing to pay more than the online listed price, and buy the item anyway.
      I had EXACTLY this situation happen to me with a certain home-theater-in-a-box. On their web site they listed it for a certain price that I found very reasonable compared to online vendors so I headed down to Best Buy and found it was $50 more in the store. When I confronted the customer service people about it they proclaimed that that was an online only deal (it didn't say anything about being online only) and offered me a "comparable", lower-quality home theater system instead. It pissed me off enough that I actually walked out of the store, drove home, ordered it online and used the pick-up-in-store option. Then I drove back after receiving the e-mail about my order being ready and walked over to the customer service desk and talked to the same exact girl I did an hour earlier. That's just stupid to make customers jump through hoops like that to make a quick buck.
      • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 03, 2007 @01:49AM (#18215524)
        It pissed me off enough that I actually walked out of the store, drove home, ordered it online and used the pick-up-in-store option.

        It pissed you off enough that you purchased from

        Man, that's sticking it to 'em.
    • In retail, this 2-website approach could have a non-sinister approach.

      Often, the online and brick-and-mortar operations are seperate, and ran by different divisions (sometimes the online operation is outsourced to a different company). These divisions may set prices independently.

      Thus, the second website is just one that reflects in-store pricing. At a large retailer that I worked at a couple years ago, our websites had different prices and this caused much confusion.

      DISCLAIMER: I've worked in retail (IT)
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by the_womble ( 580291 )

        Thus, the second website is just one that reflects in-store pricing.

        In that case they should not be using the second website to verify online prices!

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      I thought about too. One thing I have noticed that hasn't changed is that they will change the prices on things left in your cart--sometimes down, but mostly the price goes up. But the price doesn't seem to change in the wish list. It may be just because they don't notify you that the price has changed, but I've got a pretty good memory for what things cost. So what I've been doing is putting items to hold in my wish list and then only moving them over to the cart when I buy them.

      One thing that i
    • by gosand ( 234100 ) on Saturday March 03, 2007 @01:59AM (#18215566)
      A customer sees a price online, but wants the item more quickly. So the customer heads to the local Best Buy, where the prices are supposed to be the same as what's online (unless specifically marked as an online-only special). By this time, the customer has demonstrated his or her willingness to buy the product and invested the time and energy required to get to the store. At this point it's likely that they are willing to pay more than the online listed price, and buy the item anyway.

      I recently bought a DVD recorder... I did exactly this, and checked prices online. I wanted a specific model (Pye PY90DG) and Circuit City had it. When I got to the store, it was about $9 more. I asked the guy at the returns counter (nobody there) if they matched their online price, and he said they didn't because they were different systems (or something like that). For $9... I was just going to buy it and pay the extra, but he could see it wasn't sitting well with me. It was only $9, but the price was around $90. That is a considerable percentage! He took me over to one of their net-connected PCs, and let me order it online for in-store pickup. Then I went and took one off the shelf, walked it over to his register, and picked it up. He said they do it all the time, because their online prices are lower than the store prices quite often, and they didn't think that was very fair. I was very happy with my purchase, and would go back there for that reason.

      • I JUST did this with a circuit city monitor. The monitors price was $50 cheaper online than in the store, so I simply ordered it from my phone, waited 15 minutes, and picked it up while I was at the store.
  • i remember that... (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 03, 2007 @01:00AM (#18215268)
    yea used to work in the Big Blue and I remember that... To put a little foot forward for at least my store and me, I figured out that the intranet site listed store prices after the second person complained to me. After that I used one of our laptops with wireless to get onto the internet site.

    Honestly, I think it's not a management plan to rip people off, they just like to keep the internet best buy and store best buy separate so when a rep logs onto the computer you see your store's price... and reps' ignorance ends up screwing people over.

    Anyway my $.02 to try and throw out some facts and before everyone replies I know it was/is still a bad idea just throwing the facts out as I heard them
    • by proxima ( 165692 ) on Saturday March 03, 2007 @01:07AM (#18215312)

      Honestly, I think it's not a management plan to rip people off, they just like to keep the internet best buy and store best buy separate so when a rep logs onto the computer you see your store's price... and reps' ignorance ends up screwing people over.

      There has to be a better, faster interface for finding in-store prices than an exact mock-up of the website. Not to mention that an intranet site could have more useful info like items in stock, when more are expected in that store, what section/aisle of the store it's located in (or whatever).
      • This is so true. And think of it from the sales person's standpoint: List three or four prices for the same item: What we advertised it at, what we would like to get, and what we will take as a last offer. All are honest prices.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by CodeBuster ( 516420 )
        It doesn't even have to be a mock-up of the "real" BestBuy website, especially when one considers that the prices are loaded from the database and displayed dynamically when the pages are served to the browsers. It would not be difficult for the website to employ the same cloaking [] techniques used by the search engine optimizers to display one set of content to visitors from the public Internet and a different set of content to visitors from the BestBuy intranet (i.e. in-store computers at any of
      • They do. There is some sort of inventory interface that they use to look up current in-store prices and stock. The next time you go into a best buy and ask someone if a certain item is in stock, watch them on the computer and you will see it. It can also be used to look up stock at other stores in the area (perhaps chain-wide, I have no clue never worked there).

        There is no legitimate need for this second intranet site.
  • CC doesn't (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 03, 2007 @01:02AM (#18215280)
    This happened to me a year or two ago when I went to buy a digital camera at BB. The camera was cheaper online and when I told the salesman he tried to verify it and it wasn't there. I ended up going across the street to Circuit City which has full internet access...ordered the camera from with in store pickup, went back to bestbuy and picked it up for that internet price.

    Annoying though, and I hope they get a lot of heat for it (was also in CT btw)
  • by AusIV ( 950840 ) on Saturday March 03, 2007 @01:13AM (#18215334)
    I highly doubt sales people would be in on such a conspiracy. A company like Best Buy has sales people coming and going all the time. If someone got pissed because they were fired, the first thing they'd do would be blow the whistle on this. If these price differences are even deliberate, it's done strictly by the people managing the two websites. The sales reps would be told to sell at the intranet website's price, and are probably unaware of the fact that there's a different version of at work than there is at home, let alone that the prices are different in order to screw the consumer. It may be a conspiracy, but it's not involving every sales rep at every Best Buy in the country.
    • It may be a conspiracy, but it's not involving every sales rep at every Best Buy in the country.

      Well that's just grand. Not only are the Best Buy sales people stupid, they are ignorent too. Fabulous. I just want to shop there soooo bad.

    • by hansamurai ( 907719 ) <> on Saturday March 03, 2007 @01:29AM (#18215410) Homepage Journal
      I totally agree with you. [] is a pretty popular and well known website detailing bad customer experiences as well as the typical ex-employee willing to tell all about their three month "job of hell". I go there every couple months to read up on the latest posts if I'm in need of a laugh (or a cringe) and I don't remember reading about this secret website very much, if at all. Actually, I would bet the very existence of this website keeps Best Buy Corporate from revealing much of anything of what goes behind the scenes to the typical college student selling computers.
    • I know of this kind of stuff first hand. I worked at a local hardware store several summers ago. It was a chain store that through its contract bought most of its supplies through the chain. The chain also had an online website selling most, but certainly not all, of the things we carried.

      What we often found out was the website was COMPETING with US, the people running the stores. Sometimes the prices on the website were cheaper then what the we could of bought them from the distributor, let alone have any
  • Are people STUPID? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Creepy Crawler ( 680178 ) on Saturday March 03, 2007 @01:16AM (#18215344)
    Why do people continue to shop at a Retailer who is known for treating customers like E-Tards and continually abuses them and lies to them and most likely commits bait-n-switch?
    • by loconet ( 415875 )
      like E-tards? Do they give light-shows and water bottles at BB?
    • Some of us only buy loss leader items there. When they sell 100 count spindles of cds for $5, I usually swing by and pick up a couple for example.
    • Actually I've never had a problem there. It's definitely better than shopping at Circuit City. Trying to find a game I want there is a nightmare. I'm lucky if they're even separated by system, much less alphabetized or anything crazy like that.

      But then again, I only shop bargains at BB (or the odd game). I don't bother with their internet site, and I only get service plans on things I should get them on (like the camera that I often drop, or a PC I don't feel like supporting for a family member), not silly
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by _xeno_ ( 155264 )

      Possibly because some people like buying things at a physical store, and, let's be honest: all the competition with Best Buy is about as bad.

      I already refuse to shop at Circuit City. That leaves Best Buy and CompUSA, at least until CompUSA starts closing stores, at which point the closest CompUSA to me will be in another state. So you might argue that people should buy online or buy from other stores.

      But, really, when it comes to the things that Best Buy sells, if you're set on getting them at a physica

  • by Talgrath ( 1061686 ) on Saturday March 03, 2007 @01:24AM (#18215386) never shop at Best Buy.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by basic0 ( 182925 )
      Ok, so if I want a computer, I can get one directly from Apple or Dell, and they're better than the ones at Best Buy with superior service. If I want a digital camera I can go to Black's or Henry's or somewhere that specializes in photography, and I'd probably get a better camera with better service than I would at Best Buy. If I want a TV or home entertainment system, I can go to a store that specializes in that sort of thing. I live like 30 minutes from a place called East Hamilton Radio, who specializes
  • When I get pricing online and go to a store to get an item, I print out the webpage to take with me. Best Buy is the last place I go to get electronics/appliances/music, anyway.
  • by queenb**ch ( 446380 ) on Saturday March 03, 2007 @01:27AM (#18215402) Homepage Journal
    I have a domain that I bought on ebay for a dollar. It's misspelled but it's also extremely handy. Each time I have to go register on a web site some where, I register as (nameofwebsite) Then if I start getting spam, I know who sold me out. I bought something on-line from Best Buy's web site and so of course I register as Lo and behold, I start getting a ton of spam addressed to My first missive was polite, asking why they're sending me these emails. When I contact them about it, I'm told that it can't possibly be coming from them.

    When I write them the second time, I'm still polite and explain that they must be sending them because that's the only place I've used this particular email address. They write back and insist quite rudely that I must have used this email address to register somewhere else. Furthermore, they're quite rude in insisting that they're not spamming me and asked me why I was so stupid as to think that they were. "Surely you realize that a reputable company like Best Buy wouldn't spam you."

    My third missive wasn't polite at all. I rather pointedly asked them if they were mentally deficient or inbred, since they seemed to be too slow to pick up on the fact that they were corresponding with me at the email address of And as I pointed out to them, I am not likely to be using this anywhere else. It has be used in one place and one place only and that is their web site. I also tell them that they don't get my email address back from people that they have so rudely, and in violation of their own privacy policy, ho'd it out to, that I'll be doing some spamming of my own. Groups like the State Attorney General's office, FCC, UseNet, anyone and everyone else I can think of that might be remotely interested.

    Finally I got a letter back from Best Buy claiming that a security breach had "liberated my email address". I called the person that sent me the letter. He was rather nicer than the nimrods I'd been dealing with. When I asked if they had filed the proper disclosure, which is required in several states in which Best Buy operates, I got a long awkward pause and he finally admitted that one of their employees had been busted selling email addresses harvested by the web site. When I asked if they were at least terminating the miscreant, I was told that they were not. That was the last time I ever purchased anything in a Best Buy.

    2 cents,


    • by tm2b ( 42473 ) on Saturday March 03, 2007 @01:48AM (#18215516) Journal
      Careful, you can't be so certain.

      Create some email addresses, and then don't use them, ever.

      There's still a good chance you'll start getting spam, sooner or later. Having done this myself, I can only conclude that some spam list generators use dictionary attacks against MTAs, trying different usernames on known good domains until they find some userids where they don't get immediate bounces.

      Even that aside, there's a difference from an employee selling your email address on the side (regrettably, very common), and corporate actions.
      • by queenb**ch ( 446380 ) on Saturday March 03, 2007 @02:06AM (#18215598) Homepage Journal
        Perhaps you are unfamiliar with the doctrine of an agent. If you are paying someone, even if they're doing something they shouldn't be they are still representing your company, both from a customer service perspective and a legal perspective. I don't know how the law works where you are, but are responsible for the actions of your employees while you're paying them. I really doubt that spammers go around testing my domain, which has nothing but an MX record for email addresses. There is no web page or anything else associated with it. If they did, it's an amazing coincidence that two days after I place my order with Best Buy that I start getting spam.

        Had he sold out my SSN, Credit Card #, or some other bit of information, he would have likely committed a felony. As it is, he "just" sold out my email address. We're IT people. We handle and process data all the time. We are inherently in positions of trust. If you cannot be trusted, you should not be working. It's not a big leap to go from "just email address" to "just home addresses" to "just credit card #'s." I expect that a responsible and ethical company to have responsible and ethical employees. This person certainly didn't meet either of those criteria. The fact that they chose to keep him tells me that they lack a commitment to ethical behavior and enforcement of standards. You're comments here tell me the same about you.

        2 cents,

      • On the other hand, I have a Yahoo! email account of the form and I have never received a single spam in that account whatsoever. It was registered in 2000 and used for communicating with a certain well-known online auction site.

        Never received a single spam in my inbox or in my junk email folder. So I have concluded that 1) nobody's doing dictionary spamming that complex, and also 2) ebay hasn't shared their customer email list with spammers (yet).

        So if you really want to be sure

        • ... used for communicating with a certain well-known online auction site. ... ebay hasn't shared their customer email list with spammers (yet).

          We'll never guess which well-known online auction site... the suspense is killing me!!!!

    • by whoever57 ( 658626 ) on Saturday March 03, 2007 @02:15AM (#18215620) Journal
      You can also use the "+" notation that many mail systems (including gmail) support. What you do is put "+<unique identifier>" between the user and @ parts of your email address, for example, if my email address is:

      I can also use:

      This works automatically. No setup is needed for gmail and many other email systems. Unfortunately, a lot of website developers think that "+" is invalid wherever it is used in an email address and will not allow such email addresses in registrations.

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Shatrat ( 855151 )
        I've run into at least one registration form lately that would reject any email address with a + in it.
        This only works until it becomes widespread, and then the email addresses will not be considered valid or spammers will just truncate the +whatever. Until then, though, you better believe I'm gonna use it.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Dogtanian ( 588974 )
        This sounds like a variant of the service that some ISPs already allow; i.e. if my normal email address was, you can give out your email as, and the email still gets to you. In this case, the part before the "@" can be anything.

        Since isn't likely to be a valid domain, I don't think spammers are as likely to send something via a dictionary attack.

        If you want to entirely rule out the possibility that spam to (e.g.) "bestbuy@m
    • by SpectreBlofeld ( 886224 ) on Saturday March 03, 2007 @03:13AM (#18215834)
      I work for a Verizon Wireless retailer.

      Once had a customer come in and accuse us of selling his (physical) address information to spammers. Every time he applies for a service, he uses a different middle initial for his name, and keeps a record of what initial he used for what service. Said he used the middle initial 'K' when applying for our service, and soon starting receiving junk mail (of the snail variety) addressed to "John" K. "Doe."

      As you may or may not know, customer privacy is something Verizon takes very seriously (being one of the only wireless providers that didn't hand over call records to the NSA, for instance). Every customer is automatically enrolled in the Do Not Call registry, etc.

      Well, we investigated the matter, and eventually found out what happened.

      The handsets we sold at the time used vendor-issued mail-in rebates, which, of course, require you to fill out and mail in a form with your name and address... and, naturally, this guy used the same middle initial for the rebate submission as he did when he established wireless service, not making a distinction between the two (can't blame him). Investigation found the vendor (or the rebate company they employed) was the one "sharing" the customer info.

      We have since abandoned vendor rebates and now Verizon handles the rebates in-house.

      A piece of advice: Use a unique e-mail or middle initial for any rebates you submit than you do for making a purchase or establishing service. The responsible party may not be who you think it is, nor may they be aware it's even happening.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by zippthorne ( 748122 )
        You really shouldn't automatically put people on the Do Not Call registry. In the hands of unscrupulous actors, It becomes a call clandestinely list. People should be able to decide for themselves if they'd prefer privacy through legislation or privacy through obscurity.
  • I remember when they first changed the intranet site to match in-store pricing only. It makes sense since the internet is going after a mostly different demographic and would have to make prices even lower to compete (which they STILL save money on because running a warehouse costs much less than shipping it to a store and have to pay salespersons wages).

    Anyway, I was an employee at BBY when they started this switch, and, embarrasingly enough, I didn't notice the switch for over 2 months - and I was a cust

    • by Buran ( 150348 )
      "make me deny price matches and basically be a bitch to the customer"

      Did they hold a gun to your head? I highly doubt that. No, YOU chose to basically be a bitch to your customers, and it's attitudes like that that keep me out of Best Buy. Crappy service that MUST be someone else's fault. It's willingness to rip the customer off, like yours, that is resulting in Best Buy's shitty reputation. Grow a pair and admit responsibility like a good little kid.
    • These testimonials by actual BB employees are interesting, but I have noticed that they are all limited to in-store sales people. Where are the testimonials from the web developers, data entry people, site maintainers? Someone has to administer these machines, or write the code for the pages.
  • by symbolic ( 11752 ) on Saturday March 03, 2007 @01:30AM (#18215418)

    I found out the other day that my hosting company,, pulls a cute little trick - they have these offers that say you get x number of months of free hosting with y number of months pre-paid. So you buy the account thinking that as long as you've paid by the deadline, you're ok. It so happens that if you didn't enter a specific "coupon code" when you signed up, you forfeit the free hosting. At the bottom of their sign up form, it says, "Have a coupone? Enter it here..." - when I think of a "coupon" I think of a piece of paper that I might have received in the mail, or seen in a magazine. I didn't have either of these, so I didn't enter anything. I didn't give it a second thought until I saw that they issued my second invoice two months early. I have been going back and forth with them over this, and as of yet, they have refused to make any concessions. If you need servlet-based hosting, avoid the hassle and look for another company.
  • by jcr ( 53032 ) < .ta. .rcj.> on Saturday March 03, 2007 @01:30AM (#18215420) Journal
    This is another great example of the resurgence of reputation as a means of social pressure. Before we had the web, advertising could completely drown out the occasional TV report from your local consumer affairs reporter. Today though, anyone who cares about getting what they pay for can trivially check up on the vendor in question.


  • by fo0bar ( 261207 ) on Saturday March 03, 2007 @01:38AM (#18215464)
    First of all, I didn't know this was a "secret". I've seen it myself. It may have the same color scheme, but it looks noticeably different (no "top 10 tips to buy a new TV" or big flashy mini-ads or any of that crap). The purpose? If a customer wants to buy something that's out of stock or internet-only or something, the employee takes the customer's information and logs in using his employee ID. I've never used this part, but the customer supposedly pays in-store, then the employee puts the confirmation number into the site, and the item is either shipped to the customer or the store.

    (CompUSA has a similar site, though in their case the customer (usually business account customers) can access it too -- [] )

    Now, I'm interested in seeing what the result of the investigation is, but this doesn't seem to scream conspiracy. Maybe there was a discrepancy, and the employee pointed to that site because, well, that's the site he always uses. I make a best buy purchase every couple weeks, and always check the site first (mostly because best buy's stock sucks, and I have to figure out which of the 2 stores in town has what I need), and I have never seen a price discrepancy between and in-store.
  • Fraud. Highly illegal and despicable. They need a serious fine and to be forced to give refunds to buyers. Companies do it because they generally get away with it. If they knew they'd be hit hard for it they wouldn't do it. It's as simple as that. People need to be fired and I'm not talking the salespeople but the execs that are behind this scam. And it is a scam.
  • so inevitably.... (Score:4, Informative)

    by AnalogueDarkness ( 1070874 ) on Saturday March 03, 2007 @01:56AM (#18215546)
    there has to be a comment with an "i work for best buy" in here. well, i do. and it's ironic that this comes up at such a time as today. At work earlier today, I actually saved some customers several hundred dollars by ordering off of our "secret" internal intranet .com site rather than off of the regular internet. The customer in question wanted to order a laptop and have it shipped to a friend in California, and I noted that when i used our Clearwire internet terminal, the price came out to 1,049, but when i used the internal site, it matched our store savings down to 899.99. And the same with another laptop we are running on sale. I'm not sure how well the awareness of this internal site has been spread throughout the company ranks, but at my store at least, we are always up to honor a .com price, and we have non-intranet connected computers on our Verizon Wireless and Clearwire kiosks that allow us (and our customers) to verify a .com price against the internal website.
  • Chalk one up for the good ole blackberry, I walk into these stores and see something I like. Fire up the blackberry and check the online price. If it is lower I go show it to them, hard to deny what the online price is then.
  • A) The employees are oblivious that their intranet site is out of date/misleading B) They're trained by soulless managers to squeeze every penny out of the consumer as they can Not sure which is worse.
  • I bought a plasma TV in October when they were doing a zero-interest deal. They rang it up for the store price of $1,739, so I told them that the website was showing $1,619 as the price. The clerk went over to talk to the manager and, sure enough, they gave me the $1,619 price without protest.

    A week later the print ad showed the TV at $1,499 and they happily gave me a price adjustment when I asked for one. Fun times.
  • I don't know if you can do this in BBY, but when I go to Circuit City, if I see an item (say 4 GB Sandisk Micro Sticks) and if the price is xx.99, I then go to one of their computers which has internet access and then go to their web store and see if its cheaper. I know it works because the store I went to (in Jacksonville, NC) had its price $45 dollars higher then the retail store. I bought it online and picked up in the store. Of course, the evil looks on the store salespeople's faces is always fun. B
  • by xPsi ( 851544 ) on Saturday March 03, 2007 @02:36AM (#18215706)
    I used to enjoy shopping at Best Buy because at least they had stuff I generally wanted and needed. Also, the stores were pretty ubiquitous and the prices were basically competitive. The customer service was all over the place, sometimes right on, sometimes not, but usually nothing special. But then I tried interacting with the morons at Geek Squad. They make some pretty heavy promises (which Best Buy sponsors) on the web site like "Geek Squad® Agents fix any PC problem anytime, anywhere" and "Service guarantee -- If you're not completely satisfied with our service, the problem is remedied fast and free". So I bring a computer into the store and tell the agent "My computer won't boot and I think its a problem with the power chain, the hard drive isn't getting any power. It may need a new power supply -- but probably its just a broken connection." In other words, I told them the problem and what to fix -- or at least a good starting point. I didn't have the time to deal with it myself, so since they can "fix anything" (their agent on the hotline told me it would be "no problem" to debug the power chain) I figured I had nothing to loose (and if they couldn't fix it, I could bank on the service guarantee). So the guy at the store tells me, "great, we'll do a $70 diagnostic and get back to you." A week later they call me to say "we tried to do a diagnostic, but the computer won't boot, so you need to take it to the manufacturer." Fix any computer problem indeed. So when I went to pick up the computer I told the "agent" I wasn't satisfied with the service and wanted my 70 bucks back. Why should I be satisfied? I spent money and waited a week for them to tell me what was written right on the trouble ticket in my own words. Needless to say, this sparked a little "philosophical" discussion between me, the "agent", and his manager about what "service guarantee" means and why it's on their website if they won't honor it. In the end, they openly accused me of trying to get something for nothing. They kept telling me that since they had already done the work "someone had to pay." I pointed out that their "service guarantee" implies that, as a customer, I can, after service is performed, assess my own degree of satisfaction based on my own (presumably reasonable) standards. If I am not, then I get my money back. Case closed. This is called "customer service." My (fairly reasonable) basis for dissatisfaction was their claim to be able to "fix any computer problem" but yet charging me $70 just to tell me my computer wouldn't boot -- the very reason I brought it in to begin with. So I wrote a nice letter to Best Buy Corporate and ccd Geek Squad. Not an email, an actual formal, professional letter. I received a formal, professional response letter back from Best Buy "customer service" about two weeks later stating simply (in goofy corporate jargon) that, while they valued me as a customer, they were not in the business of reimbursing dissatisfied customers for work already performed on computers. Never mind the "service guarantee" paradox that "satisfaction", by definition, must be assessed after the work was performed.

    Needless to say, I'm not a big fan of Best Buy, so am glad someone is calling them publicly on this intranet pricing thing (potential scam).

    • by ZeroConcept ( 196261 ) on Saturday March 03, 2007 @11:25AM (#18217700)
      You can get the money back on Small Claims Court since:
      1) You informed them that the machine won't boot on delivery
      2) They agreed to fix it
      3) They didn't
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Grimster ( 127581 )
      Total derail to the actual topic at hand but next time, pay with a credit card, Amex is particularly fond of protecting their customers.

      Dissatisfied? Can't get satisfaction? Chargeback the bill. If you've used all the usual means at getting a refund for crappy or completely non existent service, just reverse the charges.
  • The old addage... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Excelcia ( 906188 ) <> on Saturday March 03, 2007 @02:56AM (#18215786) Homepage Journal
    The old (for computers) addage goes: "The difference between a used car salesman and a computer salesman is that a used car salesman knows when he's lying".

    I imagine, as far as most of the sales people goes, this is probably the case here. I doubt most of them even knew that the prices were different.
  • This BS will continue until corporate officers are held criminally liable and can't just buy there way out of trouble.
  • It's this sort of garbage, in conjunction with atrocious service and poor prices why I buy most things, especially electronics online. I've always been wary about questionable tactics having had friends years ago working at places like CompUSA.

    What I almost find more frustrating is terrible customer service. Store employees can't be bothered to show the slightest interest in serving the customer. They're often ignorant about what they're selling and many times I've seen these people lie in order to dupe som
  • by PoopDaddy ( 1064616 ) on Saturday March 03, 2007 @03:52AM (#18215950)
    "I'm sorry, I cannot divulge any information about our company's secret, illegal website."

    "Oh crap. I shouldn't have said it was a website.

    Oh crap! I shouldn't have said it was a secret!

    Oh crap! I CERTAINLY shouldn't have said... it was ILLEGAL!"

  • Works Both Ways (Score:4, Informative)

    by Jah-Wren Ryel ( 80510 ) on Saturday March 03, 2007 @10:41AM (#18217444)
    The Intranet version of the BestBuy website is well-known on the DVDTalk bargains forum.
    That's because it lists the "in store" prices and there is a whole slew of anime DVDs for which the "in store" price is super-discounted compared to anywhere else, including the extranet version of the same website.

    The common link seems to be that these anime dvds are either out of print or nearing out of print status. So even though the "in store" prices are really great, very few stores actually have them in stock. But, BBY's warehouse still has many of them in stock. So to exploit the situation, people have taken to using the in-store kiosks to place orders that are shipped directly from the warehouse to their home. If they were to place the same order using the BBY website from home, the cost would be 3x-4x as much.

    For a while there I poked around BBY's DNS and neighboring IP numbers in the hope of finding a way to access the intranet version from the internet and thus skip the trip to the instore kiosk. I don't remember the specifics, but I think we were able to identify the ip address and name of the intranet server (somebody used an in-store system to resolve and compared it to what it resolves to for everyone else on the regular internet), but even though it was pingable, and in the same class-c subnet as the main internet website, it would not accept connections coming in from the regular internet.

...there can be no public or private virtue unless the foundation of action is the practice of truth. - George Jacob Holyoake