Like most bloggers, we love the occasional opportunity to take some corporate weasels to task for their questionable business practices. Because SMBs are far more inclined to mimic consumer behavior and head to a big-box retailer to purchase their tech gear, it seems fair to use this space to warn SMBs about some skeevy doings at Best Buy.
(Not to mention that Best Buy has been making strong efforts to woo the SMB market, including buying voice/data/services provider Speakeasy earlier this year.)
As reported on Consumerist.com, Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal accused Best Buy of what he called "a technological bait-and-switch-plus," luring customers to stores with low online prices, then showing them higher prices on in-store kiosks.
Tipped off by a reader, a reporter for the Hartford Courant newspaper found that information on the kiosks came from a corporate intranet, which looked exactly like the public Best Buy Web site. Best Buy initially denied the intranet existed, but changed its story after Blumenthal became involved.
Blumenthal says the kiosks were used to "conceal lower online prices and renege on its price-match guarantee." Adding insult to injury, "consumers seeking bargains were led to believe that lower online prices had expired or never existed."
While not admitting any wrongdoing, Best Buy has added to its kiosks a bright yellow banner with a disclaimer pointing out that prices on the kiosks may differ from the public site.