Today, I detail my first experience with Best Buy’s Product Service Plan (PSP). My Westinghouse W3213 HDTV died on May 14th.
In this post, I’ll show you the details of the program, and how to properly fulfill a claim when your technology wears out.
Yes, this is only Part I. It has become so long, we’re going to break this up… just because it now spans multiple pages.
Lesson 1 of Best Buy PSP: Keep your paperwork, know your rights. Read your plan brochure and keep a copy. If you lose it (don’t), call Best Buy and have them mail you a new one. You don’t want to have to do this after having a problem.
When my TV died, I already knew that there were several ways to file a claim. You can call Best Buy, take it to the store, and do it online. Seeing as I knew that I would have to take the TV to the store for shipment anyways, I went to the store to file the claim.
The initial service was quick and professional. They tested the TV on-site (you do need to bring your power cord, a remote helps too). Geek Squad then wrote up an order, and the system printed out a receipt with an estimate of May 24th (10 days later) for the TV to be back to the store. Good so far.
The following Wednesday (a week later), I get a call from the repair center in Chino, CA. I was informed that they had to order a part, and that would delay repair of the TV to May 28. Shipping would then take another week. A letdown, but well within Best Buy’s authority.
May 28th came and went. No call from the repair center, and checking the status online yielded the same “on hold for parts” delay message. So, the next day (the 29th) I called the center.
Lesson 2 of Best Buy PSP: Stay on the repair center. Don’t let them forget about your repair. The squeaky wheel gets the oil. Also, write down the Caller ID of the repair center when they call you… getting their phone number is like pulling teeth. Best Buy wants you to use your local store as a liaison, which means you can’t put the tough questions to the repair center unless you demand to.
The repair center told me that the system was now quoting a part arrival date of June 12! At this point it became pretty clear to me what was happening; the system was just spitting out longer and longer estimate dates. I told the repair center this, and to my surprise, the person I was speaking with agreed. I was promised a call back, later in the day, from the technician after they touched base with the vendor (I had to suggest that though, but I was feeling good at this point).
I called at 9 AM. I called back at 4 PM (after no call back). The phone rang and rang. I called back after a few minutes, same result.
They were ignoring me. As I will prove in a second…
I called my local Best Buy store, and let Geek Squad know what was up. They told me they would call the repair center and call me back. I didn’t let them know I couldn’t get the repair center on the phone.
The local store called me back. They told me they got the same June 12 date. I clued them in… that was where I was at 9 AM. They told me the repair center didn’t say anything about calling the vendor.
5/30/2008: So, I asked them what to do next, as waiting five weeks for my TV to get back to me was unreasonable. The technician said she was going to file a Junk Out order. The corporate office then looks at the case, and decides if issuing a comparable replacement is warranted.
Lesson 3 of Best Buy PSP: Don’t take the wait. Anything beyond three week turnarounds is unreasonable unless they can clearly justify it. Following Lesson 2 of this guide is a big help in that regard.
Now, at this point, I’m worried. See, I bought my HDTV on Black Friday, paying only $489. I camped out for several hours to lock in that price. When I bought the PSP, I was assured (by both the sales representative, and in the writing of the PSP) that I would be promised a comparable replacement… not just a gift card for $489. I knew that $489 wouldn’t buy me a 32-inch HDTV for years to come (unless I waited X number of months for a Black Friday to roll around again).
Unfortunately, others in similar situations have been pushed into the gift card route (by store managers), and have had to eat the difference. I wasn’t going to go that route… I know I’m in the right. So, I printed out Westinghouse’s model, and Toshiba’s model one step up. To add to the confusion, my local Best Buy was sold out of the replacement Westinghouse… it happens to be on clearance nationwide.
Also, because I like being technical on these things… Best Buy has two service plans, and unfortunately, not everyone understands the difference between the two.
First, is the Best Buy PSP (Product Service Plan), which is what I have. The other is the Best Buy PRP (Product Replacement Plan), which is their other option.
The PSP is offered on pretty much everything. It promises a Comparable Replacement, if Best Buy can’t fix it (or, if you have to send it off to repair three or more times).
The PRP is offered on a few, low-cost gadgets; things like iPod and other music players. Essentially, if your machine dies out of warranty… they give you a gift card for the purchase price.
See how this can be confusing for a Best Buy manager? On the PSP, you get matched by specifications. On the PRP you get a gift card. Yeah, me neither.
In reality, I suspect some less-than-honest Best Buy managers take the better of the two, depending on their situation. That three year old laptop gets a comparable-specification unit. While if you have an HDTV that went up in price… they’re going to tell you to take the gift card.
6/2/2008: Monday rolls around, and I call the store. I get the same Geek Squad “agent” that helped me over the weekend. She says that nobody will respond to her escalations, and that all she can do is send the escalation off again. So, I have to sit for another day.
6/3/2008: Tuesday. Not a good day. I call the repair center, to try and shake some sense in them. After all, they have promised me two callbacks (they were supposed to call the vendor, and confirm the part actually exists). Plus, they owed the store at least two callbacks as well…
Phone rings forever. I call back and back and back until someone answers out of pure frustration.
The “techncial manager” panicked when I mentioned the words “junk out”. He insisted that it was impossible that someone would file a junk out order, as my TV is still being repaired. When I explained how many call backs the repair center had promised… he promised to call me back.
And, to my surprise, he did. Unfortunately, he admitted that he could not get to the bottom of it. Basically, he claimed the center was taking a “training day” and that he wouldn’t get to the bottom of it until tomorrow. I pressured him with the threat of the junk out, and he began to idlely bicker.
The real killer was when he asked if I was a Best Buy employee. Now I knew I was in neck deep in it. Worse, the guy didn’t understand English, and actually now thinks I am a Best Buy employee. Sigh.
So, on to the store. I’ve now given yet another 24 hours… this time to a new junk out order. The Geek Squad “Agent” that was helping me through all this wasn’t in today. The other agents said that they saw my other junk out request, and that it was stuck in a queue. They too, were shocked to hear it was pending since Friday. So, now they are telling me to call the corporate office (1-800-BEST-BUY). I cautioned the store, that I would probably have to call them right back, and the runaround would continue. They gave the verbal equivalent of a shrug, and the call was over.
So, on to 1-800-BEST-BUY. Another unpleasant experience. The Home Service for TVs department has no record of my Service Order. They aparrently have a differnent numbering scheme. Worse, they can’t locate my Junk Out orders. After much idle bickering, they tell me that there is a special Replacement Department that handles junk out orders.
And, I’m not allowed to have the number. I have to call the store, direct them to call 1-800-BEST-BUY, and then have them call the Replacement Department. Fun. It seems every time I reach one department, I’m told their not the one to fix it. Then, when I call the department they point me to, I’m told there’s some secret password I have to say to the first department to make progress.
Lesson 4 of Best Buy: Have some stress management skills. And, be persistent. They will hate you. Unfortunately, their system is so broken, you want them to be as frustrated at you as possible… if you want a resolution.
Because Best Buy is in Texas, I know the “replacement department” is closed. So, I will be calling back to the store tomorrow, and make them call to get the number, and then call the right department.
Will I ever buy a Best Buy PSP again? Only if the item is exclusive to Best Buy, and I feel it is warranted. I can’t definitively say no, as I bought it for a TV that died 18 months after purchase. I may switch to SquareTrade if conditions warrant however.
Work at Best Buy? Drop me a note with the Replacement Department’s phone number… I’ll be sure to share it with the world.
Christopher Price will return in: PSP Wars Episode IX: Best Buy Strikes Back… With More Runarounds!
Update: You can read the conclusion to the saga here.