Thursday, January 01, 2015

#BestBuy #DNGAF

This is a story about how Best Buy harbors fraudulent sellers, expects the customer to absorb the hassle, cost and inconvenience, and even when the fraud is flat-out admitted by the seller, does not give a quarter f*ck.

Still, what Best Buy has cost me in effort and aggravation is compensated for, at least somewhat, by the humor value.

I purchased a WiFi cam on Best Buy's online store.  The title of the product, in its entirety, is:

AGPtek - TENVIS Wireless Audio Video WIFI Webcam IP Security Camera OSD IR support iPhone Android - White

Before you continue, ask yourself; does this product do "wireless audio?"  Feel free to check out the listing and read all the technical specifications to see if anything clarifies the matter.

Got your answer?  Awesome...

If you answered "yes," you'd be wrong.

On November 12th, I sent Best Buy an email asking if perhaps I was "somehow sent the wrong product" and if so, "how was this listed as having audio capabilities," and if they would be "willing to replace it with a similar camera with audio capabilities?"

Best Buy told me to contact the seller.

I contacted the seller (Mambate) with the same basic query and the reply was, "Here we attached a picture, please plug the audio cable to the port, then it will have audio for the device."

P-p-p-plug in?

I might be a bit old but the "Wi" in WiFi, I'm fairly certain, isn't short for "drill a bunch of holes in your walls to run a cable."

Indeed, the only thing the specifications mention about a cable is:

Connectivity Technology: Cable, Wireless

Indeed, the camera has a WiFi antenna and an ethernet port.  If the audio was wired-only, shouldn't the description read:

Connectivity Technology: Video (Cable, Wireless), Audio (Cable only)

...or perhaps...

Connectivity Technology (Audio): Cable
Connectivity Technology (Video): Cable, Wireless

I replied back to Mambate.

"There's nothing in [the product] description, or the technical specifications, about the audio being capable only with a wired connection.  Therefore, what anyone would reasonably expect to receive is a camera with "wireless audio" capability.  This product does not do what the description claims it does.  Are you willing to replace the camera, without charge, for a model which does provide wireless audio and IR video capability?"

Camille, the Mambate rep, replied:

"This item is wireless ip camera, not wireless audio, as it doesn't come with handsfree speaker itself, the audio cable is needed if you want to get the audio output. Most ip camera needs the audio cable if customer needs audio output, therefore, we don't have correct item you need. Will you keep it or not?"

Now I feel stupid.  I should have known that "Wireless Audio" meant precisely the opposite because "most" wireless cameras need a cable for audio, the description in the listing be damned.  If only two of my friends didn't have WiFi cameras that sent audio wirelessly, I would probably have known that most of them don't do this.

But OK, it's my fault.  Mambate continues:

"If not, here we offer you RMA#, please send the item back to us."

Let's step back for a moment to consider this offer...

I spend an hour or two researching the best camera for my needs, pay for it, have it shipped, unbox it, mount it only to find it doesn't do what Mambate says it does, it's my fault, I should have known and now Mambate thinks the equitable solution is for me unmount it, repack it and ship the camera back at my expense?

I tell the Camille she's delusional for, on top of everything, expecting me to pay for the shipping.

Camille sends me a prepaid mailing label.

I replied back to Best Buy, informing them the seller has admitted, outright, the product doesn't do what the listing says it does and ask two questions:

  1. Can you tell me what standards exist within Best Buy to prevent sellers from using Best Buy's reputation to scam Best Buy's customers?
  2. Is it incumbent upon the buyers to waste their time to discover the scams, or do you have some kind of mechanism for insuring sellers make honest listings and punish ones that don't?
Ram replies.

"I understand that you want this thing will never happen again to any Best Buy customer" and "We are definitely here to help you with any problems you may experience with your Marketplace order. With this, I've documented your concern, and I'm sure they will also make sure that this particular thing will not take place again."

For a reason I just can't put my finger on, Ram's assurances that "they will also make sure that this particular thing will not take place again" doesn't fill me with confidence.

And my questions remain unaddressed.  Not glossed over, just ...ignored.  So I ask again.

Maydel replies, saying Best Buy is there to help and the sellers operating under their name have been approved based upon their reputation.  Apparently, admittedly ads they've placed are not accurate, and not correcting them when told, and blaming me for not knowing better, none of this qualifies as a bearing upon Mambate's "reputation."

What would?  Trafficking in human organs maybe?

But fair enough.  They've answered the question.  The answer doesn't actually match reality but at this point, we'll take what we can get, right?

Maydel does not attempt to answer the second question about what mechanism exists for forcing sellers to correct fraudulent listings or discipline fraudulent sellers for making them.  But we've got Ram's assurances that he's sure this particular thing will not take place again which is nice.

Maydel offers a 800 number if I've been unable to resolve the issue with my order.  But Mambate has offered to take the item back which (a) Best Buy will clearly consider a resolution and (b) my problem is no longer with Mambate, my problem is with Best Buy.

I replied back to Best Buy asking how they intend to deal with the fraudulent listing which still exists on Best Buy's page.

Jadra replied with instructions on how to get in touch with the seller.


Conclusion: If you're considering purchasing from Best Buy's website, realize that you could very well pay for it, receive it and drill holes in your wall before you realize it doesn't do what the listing said it did and Best Buy will tell you to cast your eyes upon the field in which they grow all the f*cks they give.

And it is barren.

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