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Best Buy [still] sucks

Picture of a Best Buy storefront.

It has been a long, long time since I last set foot in a Best Buy store. Ever since I was able to purchase products from sites like Amazon and Newegg I hardly ever set foot in a brick and mortar store. In fact, the only time I would even think of visiting a store was in the case of an emergency: hard drive failure, power supply failure, and the like. Since I started to notice that may laptop’s current hard drive, a Samsung HM160HI, is starting to overheat I have been looking for a replacement laptop hard drive. Unfortunately, I made quite a mistake....

I had spent the last couple of days researching different laptop hard drives, looking for a drive that has a good balance between capacity, speed, and heat. I had entertained the thought of using this as an excuse to purchase a Solid State Drive but quickly abandoned that thought as 64GB drives currently run between $200 and $300. Of course, I’m currently using about 90GB on my current 160GB drive so I would have to purchase the next viable size up: a 128GB drive, which runs about $400. Forget that!

Having previously upgraded a laptop hard drive in my old laptop I knew that having a 7200 RPM drive over a 5400 RPM drive really does make a world of difference in speed. Of course, a faster speed means higher power consumption and rotational speed (duh), which leads to a higher operating temperature. So with that, I had a target drive type I was looking for:

  1. Must be at least 120GB. (Easy!)

  2. Must run at 7200RPM. (Narrows it down a bit)

  3. Must support SATA II and NCQ. (Pretty much weeds the cheap ones out right there)

  4. Must have positive user reviews. (Narrows it down even more)

  5. Must run cooler than my current one. (Any drive can hit that with no effort!)

Power consumption is actually not on the list since my battery is already 49% worn (meaning it currently operates at 51% of its designed capacity) and I hardly use my laptop away from a power outlet. After much searching and reading I decided to settle on the Western Digital Scorpio Black 320GB 7200RPM drive (Model: WD3200KTRTL). After researching that model I found that it did not have the freefall sensor to park the heads when it was dropped. This was OK actually since I am hardly on the road with it and I *starts knocking on wood* haven’t dropped my laptop yet *stops knocking*.

After checking online prices for the drive through various vendors, I stumbled on the fact that the drive sold at Best Buy for the same price as other online retailers! Not only that but it is in stock!

Screenshot of the product listing for the hard drive listed at a price of $79.99.

See? It’s available AND only for $79.99! Well, happy as I am, I finish off the work day and head down to the Greeley Best Buy, expecting to walk out with a hard drive. Of course, I should have known better.

When I finally got in to the store it took me a bit to find their hard drive … shelf. I say shelf because all of the drives they have are on the bottom shelf in the store. They have a few portable ones hanging up in the corner but that doesn’t count. After searching all of the tags on the shelf for about 10 minutes I finally found it. Or rather, where it should be and with a higher price! It was marked at $94.98! (I wish I had taken a picture of it!) $15 markup for going to the store... wonderful! At that point, I pulled the website up on my phone to make sure it was "still in stock" and being sold for $79.99. Yup, it was. A Geek Squad member came over and asked if I needed any help. I directed them to the empty spot on the shelf and asked if it was in stock. What a mistake that was, it took him about 10 minutes to come back and say "Nope, the website must be out of date." Thanks, geek squad, really!

As I was walking towards the door I spotted a normal Best Buy employee. Naturally they asked if there was anything they could do so I figured I'd try again. I asked if they had the drive and about 5 minutes later he came back with it in hand. The exact model I was wanting too (impressive)! Rather than inquire why the previous employee took longer and couldn't find it, I took the drive to the checkout counter.

Checkout Lady

Did you find everything you need?



Checkout Lady
That's great.
The price rings up as $94.99. I expected this.

I noticed online that the price was $79.99. Any chance I can get it at that price?

Checkout Lady

No it doesn't.


I'm sorry?

Checkout Lady

The website wouldn't have a different price.

I pull out my phone and load the website
See? Here's the site, the model matches, and it's for $79.99.
Checkout Lady

I can't trust your phone, how do I know you didn't make that up?

You can pull it up here if you want.
Checkout Lady

The Checkout Lady calls the manager.


Is there something wrong?


Not really, I was just wanting to purchase this at the advertised price.


The website doesn't have the right price.


Really? That would be bad if the price is wrong then.


It is wrong. We don't have to match what the website says anyway.

All right. Have a nice day. Thanks anyway.
I walk out. I heard them calling after me but I really didn't want to deal with them anymore.

As I was walking out of the store I wondered why I even went there in the first place. I didn't really need it right away and the online price was competitive. I suppose I could have ordered it online and picked the "in-store" option, but I am glad I didn't. After getting home, taking a nap, and looking online again. I found the model with the freefall sensor (the WD3200BJKT) available on Amazon for $89.98. So for $5 less I can get a higher model than Best Buy offered as well as free two-day shipping from Amazon! It should be here on April 2nd! Wee!

OK, as I was writing this, something really funny and irritating happened. As I loaded the Amazon page for the WD3200BJKT I noticed something odd... the price dropped! To $79.99! Go figure. Amazon may or may not refund the difference (they don't offer a post-purchase price match guarantee) but I'm not going to worry about it. It's not worth the hassle.

So what did I learn? Best Buy still sucks, the employees are a pain, and I don't plan on ever going to one again. Their prices may be (somewhat) competitive online, but it seems like you still have to buy online and forget about the store.... Oh well, I'll be happy when my drive comes in on the 2nd!

Imported Comments

Anon on Sunday, July 3, 2011 at 11:00 AM wrote: Just sayin'.

Roger on Sunday, July 3, 2011 at 12:05 AM wrote:

The last time (against my better judgment) I went to Best Buy they explained that they couldn't possibly match a competitors advert on the grounds that it was a different geographical market (and Best Buy employees decide what constitutes one). So I drove for 10 hours to the other store. Kidding, I drove for a few minutes to this other store and bought it there, and thanking Best Buy for reminding me never to go to them again.

Daniel Wayne Buchanan on Sunday, July 3, 2011 at 12:35 AM wrote:

I know exactly what you mean! Every time I go in there, I feel like its the most complicated thing I've ever done, and also feel like a total computer illiterate. I won't go there now, since they're my competitor with the Geek Squad (not really).

Deafjams on Monday, July 4, 2011 2011-07-04 at 7:25 AM wrote:

The Best Buy online store and the Best Buy brick and mortal stores are basically two separate beasts. It costs less for Best Buy to operate online, therefore there are lower prices online than at the stores. That's their reasoning behind not price matching the online store.