Wednesday 7 March 2007

Buyer Beware: Internet Prices Do Not Match In-Store

Robert McLaws blog, Best Buy Just Lost My Business Forever talks about the now documented evidence that shows Best Buy has an internal Web site that is identical to their Web facing site, but with different, higher prices.

The salesman takes the unsuspecting customer over to a terminal when the customer indicates they saw a lower price for the product on Best Buy's Web site, and shows them this internal site that, of course, has a higher price.

The customer is then stuck for the burden of proof. Most people will shrug it off and pay the higher price without really thinking about it.

I ran a similar situation last summer buying a barbeque from one of our local retailers. I happened to flag a manager down when I was looking for the model I wanted, and he and I eventually found it. The price on the unit was more than the Web advertized price.

When I challenged him on it, he said I needed to give him proof.

So, back home I went, and sure enough the price was lower. I PDFd the site page with the sale price, and also printed the product's Web page. I went back with that print-out, and the manager went with me to the till to authorize the lower price. :D

  • It is very important to make a permanent copy of the site. The URL will be saved in the header as well as the date the copy was made.
  • If the URL is too long to show up completely in the header, copy and past it into an associated word processing document.
  • Company Web sites, especially retail and eCommerce sites, change frequently, so a permanent copy helps to preserve the evidence.
  • Hard evidence for the manager or salesman/woman to prove the case.
  • Gives the buyer leverage if there needs to be an escalation in confrontation.
If there is an escalation in confrontation, and the results are less than satisfactory, then one needs to be as public as possible. Spread the word on the Internet, let your local Better Business Bureau know about your situation, and talk about it with others.

There is also the possibility of getting the local law enforcement, district attorney's office, or your own lawyer involved depending on the gravity of the matter.

Business practices of this sort need to be rooted out, and people need to know about them. If a business consistently operates in a shady manner such as this, the more people that know about it, the more likely it will have an impact on their business by not giving them any and hopefully wake them up!

Buyer Beware!

Philip Elder
Microsoft Small Business Specialists

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