Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Price Match Death Match

I received a text message from Best Buy telling me the happy news: “Your entry last month has WON!” Nice! But since I hadn’t entered any contests at Best Buy I resisted the urge to click on the link and claim my $1,000 gift card. Later that same week I heard my local news readers warn us all to "Beware the Gift Card Texting Scam, News at 11!" How did I know? Easy. The company that sweats giving me a $50 product price match would probably not be doling out a $1,000 gift card to one of its crankiest customers. (Click here to read more about my travails at Best Buy.)

Here's what happened. I got a circular in the mail (yes, some stores still do this. The environment be damned!) from Microcenter, my favorite computer store. Good news: They were selling the iPad2 for $50 less than anyone else. Bad news: From my house, Microcenter is a macro-haul and the price of gas is serious enough to make me think twice about extraneous travel. So I took the circular to the nearest Best Buy. Before trudging through the store and into to the computer department just to get my feelings hurt, I stopped right inside the front door, asked for a manager and said these words:

“Do you price match on the iPad2?”

I then pointed to the picture of said iPad2 in the circular so there could be no mistake in my meaning, no breakdown in communication. Had the man said, “No,” I would have thanked him for his time, filled my gas tank and began my journey out to Microcenter. 

Much to my shock and awe he said, “Yes, we do price match.” So off I went to the computer department. As the cashier rang me up, I mentioned the price match and, lo and behold, the fun and fellowship ground to a halt. He said, “Oh, I’m sorry. We don’t price match on Apple products."

Did you catch that? In the 45 seconds it took me to walk from the front door to the back of the store Best Buy had changed its price matching policy. Is it any wonder that the business sector has essentially given this big box its last rites? Have we learned nothing from Circuit City?

Sensing the rising tsunami of my displeasure the cashier explained that in order to qualify for price matching I had to have the approval of a manager.


I had to have the other store's circular.


Said store had to be within 25 miles and he’d have to call them to verify the price. I pointed to the address and phone number on the circular.

Check mate.

Mind you, this was the kind of chicanery that I was trying to avoid when I walked in and said to a manager in my best non-Ebonic English: “Do you price match on the iPad2?” Perhaps I should I have said it with a British accent.

Seeing that I was not at all dissuaded, the situation -- for that's what it was now -- was upgraded from a plain old purchase to a customer service issue and relocated to the desk of the same name. Managers were called and they huddled up like football players trying to figure out their next move. Then they broke and scurried away, all trying to look terribly busy, save for one. The original manager whom I had met at the front door walked over to me like he’d been the one to draw the short straw. With the good grace enough to look ashamed, he handed me back my circular and said, “I’m sorry, ma'am. I don’t think I can do this.” And I, knowing that if this was a movie, this moment would be my close-up, looked him in the eye and said, “Well then, who can?”

A nearby cashier shook her head and said, “You’d have to call Kevin on that.” All the busy managers still within earshot exchanged guarded looks, glancing around as if just speaking his name would make him suddenly appear. Was Kevin the Best Buy version of He Who Must Not Be Named?

“But he's at home," someone said. "He's not coming in until two."

Oh the horror.

This was followed by much silence and foot shuffling. Finally, I spoke up and said, “Okay, I’ll call Kevin.” Short Straw Manager gave in, took my circular and said, “Let me see what I can do.”

Another manager threw up his hands and stormed off saying, “No! I’m not going down for this!”

Going down? For $50? Seriously? Was this money coming out of somebody's pay check? If it's standard policy not to price match Apple products wouldn't all the Blue Shirts know that? If Kevin is the only one who can make executive-level decisions why is he even allowed to leave building?

When Short Straw returned from his audience with the Great and Powerful Kev, he said they were going to "make an exception" for me. Me? I was touched. Really. That I should be given what I asked for -- nay, was told I could have -- after dealing with no less than four employees clearly, it must be my lucky day. Maybe I should have played the lottery. Maybe, that $1,000 gift card text was legit after all.

Thanks for reading The Urban Erma. You can subscribe to the blogcast (yes, I made up this word) FREE on iTunes. And, in case you were wondering, in addition to blogging I am also an amazing stand-up comedian. I do "Thinking Cap Comedy." Basically, if comedy were music, I'd be Jazz. Want to see a show? Check out my schedule at @

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