01-16-2012 06:00 PM
I'm posting this in both the "Best Buy & Geek Squad Policies" and "Mobile Phones" boards, just to cover my bases.
I'm in need of a serious venting session. I have the Best Buy Black Tie Protection plan for my iPhone 4. I've paid about $15 a month since June of 2010 and have only had to replace my phone once, despite the beating it took...chances are I could have bought an entirely new iPhone by now with the money I've just bled into their program (I'm afraid to do the math). Needless to say, while I was somewhat pleased with the very fast turnaround time (I suspect the phone was never sent out, just swapped), I have an issue I believe is extremely relevant to ANY smartphone users.
If you have a smartphone (iOS, Android, Windows, Blackberry, etc.), then you are obviously paying that extra arm-and-a-leg-and-firstborn for your data plan. As you have no doubt gathered, this is not a cheap investment to make for what we get. That said, if your phone breaks and you have this black tie program, then you have the option of sending your device in for repairs. The "nice" option is that you are given a loaner phone to use during the duration of your repair-time. However, this is where things get sticky and where I have a few problems with this program:
1.) I spent an hour this afternoon calling 10 (yes, 10...this is NOT an exaggeration) different Best Buy locations and mobile stores to find a suitable replacement loaner for my smartphone. I was willing to drive out the extra 30 - 40 minutes (not including rush hour times) to get a replacement to use so long as it was a smartphone. However, not a single location had a smartphone available. All that these stores could offer was a "standard no-frills flip-phone" to use while I continued to pay my outrageous data plan fees. Some locations only had 1 loaner flip-phone to use. Now, we all know that if you have a smartphone, then chances are it's because YOU USE YOUR DATA PLAN. I'm not paying the extra $30/month to my phone bills so I can help AT&T buy gold-plated toilet seats for their owners...I pay that extra money so that I can check email, find things on the internet, communicate within social circles, find locations and map out routes, check scores (if warranted), and so forth. And Best Buy is going to give me some P.O.S. phone in its stead? Yes, this really is a 'first-world problem", but that doesn't take anything away from the fact that it's still a PROBLEM. Yes, I know that it's called a "phone" for a reason, but these days, a SMARTphone has expanded upon that word and simply having the basic phone functionality does not cut it any longer. Really Best Buy? That's the best you can do? You're going to give me a phone that is about 1/100 the value of my own phone to use while you "repair" mine? (and by "repair", we all know that just means "swap out"). If you truly believed in your protection plan and REALLY wanted to make it a money-maker (and let's be honest, that's all this is really...a quick cash-grab), then you tell your customers that you'll give them a loaner that will at the very least, be somewhat comparable in terms of what you are sending in for repairs. This way, not only do you give customers more peace of mind buying into this program as well as possibly even making them come back for a future purchase when their contract is up. Some folks may switch up between iOS to Android instead simply because they liked using the Android interface better or vice versa. But, you'll never know.
2.) I was told that I could (as an option) just buy a prepaid phone and then return it later. Really? Who does that? I'm already paying $15 a month (over the course of nearly 24 months now) and now you suggest I just buy another phone (granted it's prepaid so no contract) and use that for a while, then when my actual phone comes back, I can just return it for my money back? So while I'm using a phone I know I'm going to return for my cash back, I now have to be extremely cautious because if a SINGLE thing is wrong with it during my "loaner" period, then guess what, I just got myself a prepaid phone. Chances are even more likely that when I try to return the prepaid phone, I will get a "well, this item has been used, the best we can do is give you store credit". Right guys, that's really going to sell me. Oh, let's not forget that if I get a prepaid phone that has any data capability, I'll probably drop a pretty penny for that as well (if I were to get a comparable Smartphone, then it'd be over $100...and you really think Best Buy is going to give me a FULL refund afer using it for a couple of weeks? How's that Best Buy Kool-Aid tasting?)
3.) The hold times are ATROCIOUS. I only called to ask a question that should have been asked and answered in about 2 minutes. I called 10 stores (again, no hyperbole intended here) and I spent at LEAST 7 - 9 minutes PER call on hold. Now, they claimed that their mobile department was filled with customers. I don't think I've ever been approached more often by salsemen anywhere else than I have at Best Buy if I ever browse around the mobile department. And yet somehow, when I call, they have "LINES" of people. I also did not know that January 16th was an extremely busy shopping day on the calendar (according to one sales rep). I spent so much time on hold i nearly broke into tears when I called the 10th store and they put me on hold. I tried to get out as quickly as possible: "...NO..PLEASE...NO MORE HOLDING..I CAN WAIT WITHOUT BEING ON HOLD..." to no avail. I was once again introduced to the hold music that by then, I knew what the genre, meter, key, and tempo was. Several times, I was on hold for so long that the same person who initially picked up my call picked up again and greeted me all over with a "Thank you for calling Best Buy, how can I help you?" (Has this ever happened to anyone else where you wanted to jump through the phone when this happens and you want to say "I guess that whole 'too cool for school' attitude didn't pan out too well for you later on in life, did it."?)
4.) Is it my imagination or do the people who work in the mobile department seem to be the grumpiest group of early-20-somethings you've ever heard in your life? Half of them didn't sound like they were awake, the other half seemed too bothered to really make intelligible sentences, let alone complete ones.
Now, I understand Best Buy is a company and their business is making money (although these days, they're better known as the "Amazon-try-before-you-buy-stop") It could be said that offering a loaner phone is a huge incentive, but if customers really knew what kind of loaner they were getting, perhaps they'd realize they're better served just taking better care of their own phones. Oh right, Black Tie also covers cosmetic damage? See my prevrious sentence about "taking better care of phones" to address that issue. Plus, it would save them the whole trouble of dealing with the apathetic employees who occupy the mobile department.
Honestly, if i had known that this was the nightmare I was going to endure, I would have just re-upped my applecare protection plan and invested in a really good screen protector and case. I just hope that my own horrific experience will somehow serve as an early warning for those who are even considering the plan.
01-16-2012 06:05 PM
I just wanted to make a quick correction: The employees weren't THAT bad...I was just frustrated that I spent an hour on the phone, 50 minutes of which was on hold. The employees themselves were actually friendly....at times....depending on where you called...and who you spoke to.
01-17-2012 11:35 AM
01-18-2012 09:22 AM
...Is that more hold music I'm hearing in the background? Wait, I know this song...
Yes, I know I'm being a smart@$$ and that the snark isn't going to really help my situation, but that whole "thank you for your continued patience" thing is beginning to really get to me. I'm not being patient because I'm understanding and because it's the polite thing to do...I'm not even being patient..I just have no other choice.
I mean, really, what do you EXPECT me to do? What other choice do I have? To drop this? I'm not going to drop it because I feel that as an informed consumer, I'm doing everyone ELSE a favor and warning them about just what they're going to be put through if they ever buy into this program.
I thought I would be getting a new item if mine was ever broken, but now it's a refurbished item. The hard part to swallow is that refurbs are always hit or miss...and in my case, this refurbished iphone was a miss. (laggy response times, home button registers multiple clicks, battery drains in less than 24 hours)
01-18-2012 09:32 AM
01-23-2012 03:57 PM
Thank you for taking the time to post here on our Community Forums. I hear loud and clear that our Black Tie Protection plan isn’t living up to your expectations; you want us to turn that repair or replacement around faster for you and have smartphones on hand to offer as loaners. We definitely want to offer you a plan that you find valuable. I appreciate your honesty and will share your thoughts with some of our leadership here at the corporate office.
I apologize if any of our employees were grumpy. When you come in already frustrated by a broken phone, working with someone that is impatient or a prickly doesn’t help put you at ease. Thank you for your persistence despite your experience in store and all of the trouble getting through to your local stores by phone.
Let me know if you’re still looking to have that phone repaired. I would be glad to help make the process as easy as possible and answer any questions you might have along the way.
01-23-2012 05:40 PM
Yeah. I know what you mean. I went into Best Buy today with high expectations because my phone backing keeps falling off and I lost it somewhere around the house or in my truck. I purchased the Black Tie Plan with my new Blackberry Torch in Sept 2010. I was told that if it broke then they would replace it at the store free of charge. This was good for me due to my wife's experience with waiting for a replacement phone from AT&T and not liking the upgraded replacement. So $240.00 over two years for the Black Tie Plan versus $120.00 + $50.00 surcharge thru AT&T. If I knew the plans were the same thing .... refurbished phone with 3 to 5 day wait.... then I would of stayed with AT&T plan. ($70.00 bucks down the drain.) I will either find the back or order the back from Amazon.
01-23-2012 06:00 PM
LOL. Just thought about this. Best Buy Black Tie is the same as what you get in a fancy restaurant. You go in expecting alot, pay twice as much for only half of what you paid for.
01-24-2012 08:41 AM
Agreed. It's a lot like trying to go to a restaurant that's been getting rave reviews and advertises that they take pride in their service. Yet, when you call, the host is having an extraordinarily bad day, you have to wait at least an hour while the servers walk around you asking if you submitted your name to the list every 5 minutes, the prices are exorbitant, you place your order only to get a "quick lunch" portion during dinner, your order comes out another hour later, then when you send your food back to have it boxed up, you get someone else's breadsticks. (Sorry for the food analogy, I'm hungry)
I was told I'd be getting a phone call from a store (I don't even remember which one) when a decent loaner comes in....it's been over a week now and my current phone's not getting any better.
Seriously, what's with the refurbished crap? We're just getting someone else's formerly broken phone that they "repaired"? I'm paying $15 a month for someone else's former problem? Twice the price for half the value. Great job best buy! (insert sarcasm here)
01-24-2012 09:39 AM
Thank you for taking the time to post here on our Community Forums. I hear loud and clear that our Black Tie Protection plan isn’t living up to your expectations <obviously> ; you want us to turn that repair or replacement around faster for you <I never said that the speed was a problem> and have smartphones on hand to offer as loaners <basically, yes, especially for what we're paying you guys for your plan ($15/month). Otherwise we are stuck paying for a data plan that we're unable to use until you can give us our replacements>. We definitely want to offer you a plan that you find valuable <I don't think you have any other plans available...the iphone only came with the $15/month plan while pretty much every other phone was $10>. I appreciate your honesty and will share your thoughts with some of our leadership here at the corporate office <You say it like they actually care? You'll understand that I don't exactly believe this statement>.
I apologize if any of our employees were grumpy <you don't have to apologize...if anything, they should be the ones doing that>. When you come in already frustrated by a broken phone, working with someone that is impatient or a prickly doesn’t help put you at ease <would it put YOU at ease either?>. Thank you for your persistence despite your experience in store and all of the trouble getting through to your local stores by phone <This is one of those 'ends doesn't justify the means' situations>.
Let me know if you’re still looking to have that phone repaired <OF COURSE I want my phone repaired. It hasn't worked properly in 3 weeks now and I can't take it in because you guys are going to give ma Motorola STARTAC, then give me another formerly broken phone that you "fixed">. I would be glad to help make the process as easy as possible and answer any questions you might have along the way <are you going to take a week to respond each time? If that's the case then no thank you..otherwise I'm going to wait 3 more months just to get this resolved>.
- Please undersatnd, I'm not upset at you as I'm sure that your response is pretty much what the corporate office wants you to say (I've worked in the corporate sector. Believe me, I know. I'm just angry because this is PRECISELY what I was afraid of when I opted for this plan over Applecare.
I'm pretty sure that if ANY of the mobile department employees were to break their phones (that they're so busy texting on during the day), the first phone they'd get would be the prime loaner (if such a thing were even available) at their store...they wouldn't settle for a piece-of-junk 8-year-old phone...they'd grab the best loaner they could and tell their customers that they're "fresh out". (Spare me the whole "swearing upon the integrity of our employees" crap..I know it, you know it, and they sure as crap know it).
And the whole "we'll replace your phone....with a refurbished phone" business? What is that? I'm giving you my broken phone for someone else's broken phone that's been fixed but still has other parts in it that may be faulty as well? GREAT policy guys.
All this griping and I still have my concerns...my phone is broken, the black tie program is offering a loaner that doesn't use data to the capabilities that I am paying for, thereby negating the possibility that I can use a different phone until mine is repaired, your representatives are zeros, and I'm actually paying $15 per month for this abuse. What I'd like to know is what you're going to do for me after I've shelled out well over $200 (around $240 so far) for a program that's supposed to give me piece of mind and is now beginning to give me headaches. I paid for a service and I'm pretty sure that if you were in my situation, you'd expect nothing less.