Sunday, December 31, 2006

Best Buy Calls 911 On Customer Asking For Refund

Best Buy calls 911 after Consumerist reader RJH asks for a refund on a nonworking Tony Bennet CD.

Sooooo RJH buys the CD and goes to his car to play it. He gets "Disk read error" three times. RJH walks back in with his three minute old album and receipt and asks for a refund.

The clerk tells him there's state and federal laws against refunding money. Our guy calls him a fool.

Manager comes and says the guy can have a substitute disk or leave, or else the manager will have him arrested for trespassing.

Guy laughs.

Manager calls 911...

RJH writes:

    "I was out shopping with my daughter, Z and her brother yesterday, trying to use those dreaded gift cards, the one of interest was from Best Buy.

    While they are looking for music, I see the new Tony Bennett CD, kind of a Duets and I decide to spring for the fifteen bucks.

    We get to the car and I pop it in and see "Bad Disk" on my player. I tried unsuccessfully three times to get it to work, but alas, it must have been a bad disk. So I walk back into the store with my three minute old receipt and show it to the door guard who shows me to the return line. Now I have owned this thing for three minutes and I just want to swap it out. It is three days after xmas and I really do not want to go through the entire return process so when I finally get to the front of the line; the customer service trainer is waiting on me. I tell him, forget it, just give me my money back, it is a bad disk.

    He tells me there are state and federal laws against them refunding my money at which I literally laugh out loud. I said there are no such laws. He claimed there were and I said, if you believe that you are a fool. Then I asked to see a copy of the law at which point the "manager" showed up. He said that he would show me the law it was right out the front door and If I did not leave, they would have me arrested for trespassing. At this point the manager says I can have another disk or be arrested for trespassing. I asked again to check the CD, it was a bad CD.

    I am thinking this is a riot, let's just see where this goes.

    Sure enough, he calls 911 for a trespasser in his store.

    I am literally laughing out loud. I go back to the car where the kids are and explain that I will be a few more minutes. I get my phone and call my wife and tell her what is going on.

    Then I call corporate in MN. I explain what is going on and the "senior customer consultant" tell me to please hold after he agrees that it is an out of control situation. The first question that corporate asked me was if they actually checked the CD to see if it was bad. I told him that they did not check it in spite of my requests.

    About this time the manager comes to me and says that it looks like the cops ain't coming so he will give me the money back.

    Now the cops show up, (three officers in two cars!) I have the customer service people refunding my money, the three cops looking for me, and me on hold with corporate.

    I get my money then approach the cops and explain my side of the story. They just shake their head. I apologize for the store manager wasting their resources. I was kind of hoping that they would arrest me.

    I finally get the guy from corporate back on the line and he commits to calling me tomorrow with resolution.

    Turns out it wasn't a call from him I got today, the store manager called. I went over the details with her and after what seems like a thirty minute discussion she admitted there is not a federal or state law against a store refunding a customer for a defective product. She then asked what it would take to make it right, I told her to think about it and call me back. She did call back later today and offered me a twenty five dollar gift card. I asked her to donate it to Salvation Army and guess what, they can't do that either."

Pathetic. Kudos to RJH for standing up to these Best Buy mendicants. They didn't count on a customer calling their bluff. Doubt RJH will be purchasing many Tony Bennet CDs from them again.

What this means for your weekend: If you believe a store is wrong, stand up for yourself.

Meet their threats with complete confidence.

Be like Violent Acres, who, on the advice of her Marine father, kicked a bully in the nuts with her Cabbage Patch rollerskates and yelled while standing over his body, "I'LL EAT YOUR EYES! I'LL EAT ALL OF YOUR EYES!"

See you in 2007.


Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Introductory DSL Prices on the Rise... because they can

Industry analyst Dave Burstein takes a peek at how consistently high cable broadband prices have allowed the major phone companies to raise their introductory DSL prices of late. As BroadbandReports recently noted, Verizon bumped the price of their $15 768kbps DSL tier to $20, and Burstein claims AT&T's website reflects a recent price-hike as well. "Compare those rates to France, where twice the speed, 60 channels of TV, and free international calls have settled at about 30 euro, or $40," laments Burstein.

That means customers who want reasonably priced service had best get on the stick and order DSL service soon. Otherwise they may find themselves facing price parity between DSL and cable modem service instead of enjoying the steep discounts we have been getting for the past year or so.

Customers can check pricing and availability using Anyion's DSL & Cable Modem Availability website.

Monday, December 04, 2006

5 years later, WTC mail keeps coming

NEW YORK - It's the kind of holiday mail that might have been tossed aside, discarded like any other piece of junk mail: a special offer for a facial at a local spa.

Only the address on the letter no longer exists. And the woman the letter is addressed to died more than five years ago in the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center.

Hundreds of pieces of mail destined for the former trade center still arrive every day at a post office facing ground zero — the relics of the unfinished lives of Sept. 11 victims.

Telephone bills, insurance statements, wine club announcements, college alumni newsletters, even government checks populate the bundles of mail. Each bears the ZIP code once reserved exclusively for the twin towers: 10048.

"I guess sooner or later they'll realize the towers aren't back up," said letter carrier Seprina Jones-Sims, who handles the trade center mail. "I don't know when."

Some of the nation's most recognizable companies and organizations, from retailers to research hospitals, are among those sending the mail. Much of it seems to result from businesses not updating their bulk mailing lists, said U.S. Postal Service spokeswoman Pat McGovern.

The postal service declined to identify the senders and recipients of the letters according to policy. Several companies formerly housed in the towers also declined comment.

The trade center mail meets varied fates once it arrives at the Church Street station.

A handful of companies pay for a service that forces the post office to hold the mail until a messenger picks it up. The rest of the mail travels various routes. Some will be returned to the sender, some will be forwarded to the company's current address and some will be sent to a Brooklyn recycling firm to be destroyed.

That the Postal Service is even forwarding mail from a nonexistent address five years later is rare. "Normally we'd only forward mail for a year, but we're making an exception here," McGovern said.

The trade center's mail used to travel from the Church Street post office and up through the towers. It would start on the ground tucked in the letter carrier's bag and continue up higher and higher — to the 68th floor, the 89th floor, the 104th floor.

The morning's mail never made it through the flames and smoke on Sept. 11, 2001. It stayed put with the letter carriers, who silently observed the chaos that unfurled outside the post office.

Flying debris blew out most of its windows. After a three-year restoration, its doors officially reopened in August 2004.

Rafael Feliciano delivered mail to floors 78 through 100 of the south tower for three years. He watched the tower collapse on television from a bar several blocks away with a co-worker.

"He turned to me and said, 'You just lost your route,'" Feliciano recalled. When the dust cleared, he spent weeks identifying office workers who came to pick up their mail, searching for familiar faces to see if they had survived.

Mail addressed to people who were killed was marked as deceased right away, he said. But it kept coming.

"It's been five years later. How many people don't know the towers are gone?" he said.

Jones, 39, took over the trade center mail after Feliciano — too shaken to enter tall buildings any longer — left his route to become a driver. She gets to work at 5 a.m. The mail is carefully divided among white plastic trays labeled by company name.

But the Church Street post office — built in 1935 and now on the National Register of Historic Places — is no longer the bustling hub it was when it stood just steps away from the city's tallest buildings.

Between 2001 and 2002, the total weekly volume dropped from 1.2 million pieces to just 485,000. It has risen slightly in the years since.

The neighborhood is slowly awakening, attracting more and more residents and businesses after the exodus that occurred five years ago. The post office's marble floors are newly polished and the building is brimming with employees. When they gaze out the long bay windows overlooking ground zero, they see nothing but blue sky.

"You start flashing back to that day," Feliciano said. "That's why I got off the routes. It's like a movie that plays over and over in your head."

Friday, December 01, 2006

100 million free 411 calls = providers nightmare

Jingle’s free 411 service has announced that users have now placed over 100 million 411 calls.

Jingle isn’t creating a new market - they are destroying an entrenched, $8 billion market with an ad supported, free product. Every call processed by their system is $1 to $1.50 that won't end up in a greedy telephone provider's pocket.

Their profit per call is minimal... but in volume it has potential. And the biggest benefit is it encourages people to continue using their phone (especially cell phones) to get directory assistance. Jingle's call automation techniques make their costs to provide the service much more sustainable than traditional directory assistance models.