Best Buy: I’m Done With You

I am a reasonable guy, but I’ve spent approximately 5 hours today either on hold, explaining the situation over and over again, or getting transferred to Citibank which is on my side of this issue.

So, I’ll explain this one last time before sending you packing permanently.

Today, I used the Best Buy app on my phone to make a purchase with my Best Buy Credit Card provided by Citibank. It’s the store card, the one that’s only usable at Best Buy and I’ve had it for a number of years. I have a $2,000.00 limit, and had a balance of approximately $1,250 at the start of this story of woe. So, basically I had about $750 available credit, which was sufficient for my purchase.

I added a Logitech 4k webcam, and two SteelSeries Apex Pro keyboards (one for me, one for my girlfriend) to my cart. Because I was feeling rather generous and like a sucker, I added a $10.00 donation to St. Jude Children’s Hospital and Best Buy’s Geek Squad extended warranty to all of the physical items I was ordering. The grand total, including taxes, was approximately $567.76, which is fine, because it’s below the approximate $750.00 I had available. All was well and I checked out.

About 3 minutes after I made the purchase, I got an email and a text saying that I needed to update my payment information. I was confused. I checked to make sure the purchase was on my Best Buy Credit Card, which I have used numerous times before, and it was. I checked to make sure the billing address on the card was correct, it was. I checked the account balance and saw that there was an easily explained mystery, but it lead me down the right path: The account balance still showed $1,25x, the limit showed $2,000, but the available credit was just about $180. The easily explained mystery of the discrepancy is no real mystery at all: Citibank had approved the purchase. But since they had the discrepancy, I decided to call them first and confirm the purchase went through.

So, after almost no time on hold at all, I started speaking with the first Citibank customer service representative that confirmed that the purchase was completely fine, and that they had the exact purchase amount for the main transaction ($557.76) and it was approved. They were happy. I was moderately happy and I was about to hang up. Instead of hanging up, I asked if they could give me the authorization codes for the purchase and they happily provided them. So, needless to say, Citibank is not on my shit list.

I then called Best Buy’s customer service, was given an expected hold time of less than 3 minutes, which was actually about 20 minutes. No big deal, that happens especially with customer service around the big shopping dates like Christmas. I got to the rep, and explained the situation, cheerfully providing my account information and a summary of what appears to have happened. He looked at the account and vehemently denied that there was any problem between their system and Citibank. “The order failed for some reason,” he told me, and suggested I take it up with Citibank. I explained that I had just spoken with them and they approved it. He said he’d put me in touch with the payment department and transferred me. To Citibank. I confirmed that this was, indeed, Citibank and confirmed with them that the order had been successful, then called Best Buy back.

Same hold music, same 3 minute expected wait, same ~20 minute wait, different rep. Explained the situation again, and was again told that this was an issue with Citibank. Oh! I forgot something! The first and second reps had retried the transaction without telling me, and decided it was a problem with Citibank or that I was too close to my limit because their attempts to retry it failed. That’s where my [starting] account balance, the successful charge, and my credit limit come into play… So, if I have an effective balance (starting balance and successful charge) of approximately $1,800.00, it doesn’t take a mathematics degree to know that an additional purchase of $557 would not go through because of the $2,000 limit. Before I realized that they were hitting the retry button, I was transferred to Citibank for the second time.

My third trip through Best Buy’s hold system was initiated at my request by Citibank and it was the first time I got in touch with someone that actually understood what I was telling them and made an effort to get me in touch with a manager. Here’s a little secret that most people don’t think about when calling customer service or technical support: the first line of “defense,” as it were — the front lines answering the telephone or responding via chats — have basically no power. Their jobs are to take information down, see if they can solve the problem, provide canned answers, and, when really pressed, to escalate the situation to the next level, usually a supervisor or manager. This third person understood that there was really nothing he could do for me after I explained everything, and told him that his retrying the payment wasn’t solving anything because of the effective balance on the account and my limit. He attempted to get me in touch with a manager for the better part of the 45 minutes we were on the phone before we got disconnected. He was the first (and possibly only) person that documented what was going on with the order. I wish I remembered his name so I could at least give him a pat on the back rather than the middle finger that I’m giving to Best Buy as a whole from here on out.

In any case, this particular gentleman did manage to speak to a supervisor that suggested that I cancel the order and place it again with a different payment method. The problem with that is that because Best Buy’s order system doesn’t acknowledge that Citibank successfully charged my account for the order, it would not be refunded with Citibank, and I’d end up paying for the order twice: once now and once over time with Citibank. That’s a nonstarter. It’s possible that after 3 days, that Citibank will cancel the purchase because Best Buy didn’t follow up on it in any way, but Citibank’s reps were quite confident that I would see the purchase in 3 days on my credit card statement because everything looked perfectly routine and normal from their side. I pointed this out to this fine rep and he agreed with me. He put me on hold again to speak with his supervisor and then I was disconnected a short while later.

Call number four was the same routine: wait 20+ minutes, identify myself, explain the situation again, but this time the rep had the added benefit of seeing the previous guy’s notes. This time, I was put on hold and ended up getting transferred to Geek Squad, Best Buy’s technical support people. Neither they nor I have any idea why the hell I was transferred to technical support. The decent human being at Geek Squad also told me that #4 had added to my order information that I had been charged twice for the order. I told him I had not, just that I didn’t want to pay for this order twice. We spoke for a bit, he apologized to me constantly, and tried to get me in touch with the Purchase Support team. I’m not sure if I ever actually spoke with them because the remaining calls that I’m not going to cover involved additional disconnects (which I suspect were deliberate), more transfers to Citibank, and way too much aggravation as I kept getting promised to speak to or receive a call from a manager.

Again, to the third guy’s credit, I did receive one call back from Best Buy while I was on the phone with someone else, but no message was left, let alone contact information for following up.

In total, I spent over 5 hours on the phone trying to get this resolved today, and accomplished nothing except the realization that I’d much rather give Jeff “Dr Evil” Bezos my money than set foot in or spend another dime with Best Buy. Once my Best Buy Credit Card by Citibank is paid off (which I’m going to do in the next month), I’m done with Best Buy.

Now, if some manager or executive would like to reach out to me and help me get this sorted, I’ll gladly speak with you/them, but I’m not holding my breath. All I wanted to do was get the order fixed, get the merchandise Citibank and I agree I paid for, and call it a day, but that’s clearly not possible with Best Buy’s customer service system.

Oh, one more thing… After the last straw, I called Citibank to ask them to dispute/charge-back the purchase (which will have to wait a few days), and in all, Best Buy’s various representatives tried retrying the purchase a total of 11 times today, most of which were after I explained how the math works.

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