Unclear on the Concept

Posted: September 20, 2010 in Uncategorized

Nothing has driven me crazier than losing my main link to the world of entertainment, my 50-inch-Panasonic TV. A terrific TV for 5 years, it just stopped working. The events of the next couple of days taught me that the consumer electronics industry still has a way to go when it comes to serving customers in the C-scape, the new world where consumers have much more power and demand more and better service.

First, my experience dealing with Panasonic was painful. My TV was dead when I arrived home late Monday night. I immediately went on the web to find out what was wrong. Because Panasonic customer support was down, I wound up trying to use a generic service that cost about $39 but offered service on weekends and evening.

That was a disaster as all I was allowed to do was type in the question and wait, in some case hours, for a response that told me very little. So I was dead until Tuesday when I called Panasonic. Panasonic listened to me describe the problem and quickly told me they would have to send a technician out to me but instructed me to call a technical service that handles their product. I should have expected this to be a jobbed out service, what with the fact that I was calling from a place without a large population: New York City.

So I called Advisory TV, and I was told that the visit from the tech would cost me $235 before I even got an answer to what the problem was. Desperate, I agreed. He came Wednesday morning. That was good. But the news wasn’t. After doing some tests he determined that the board inside the TV that was now faulty was an expensive board and total repair and replacement was going to cost more than a new TV.

When I asked him about new TV’s, he recommended LG and Sony. So much for farming out tech support, Panasonic!

So I went to Best Buy at lunch on Friday and found a Sony 55″ led 3D TV that was awesome. And, it was on sale. But they couldn’t deliver until Saturday and I was going away for the weekend.

Best Buy has generally done a great job serving its customers. But what happened next taught me that there still is a disconnect between their store and online efforts. They made my life difficult and it almost cost them a loyal customer who had a preference to buy from them.

I was going to be out of town until Sunday, so I arranged to have the concierge desk in our building accept delivery of the TV and escort the delivery people to my apartment and stay while they removed the old TV and set up the new one. Meanwhile I went on the web so I could get measurements for the new TV and I discovered that Best Buy offered a package with that TV that gave you a 3D Blue Ray player, some 3D glasses, The USB receiver that allowed the TV to get web content and a special transmitter that synched the special 3D glasses to the TV. The package only cost $200, which was a discount of more than $1,000, if you bought it with the TV.

I was upset. The sales person at the store never told me about about the package, nor did he mention that the TV didn’t come with the 3D glasses. On the other hand, the web site said the TV couldn’t be delivered for 7-10 days.

So I called the store to see if they could add the package. I got put on hold for 15 minutes by someone in the TV section. When I hung up and called again, the TV department didn’t even answer. Another call an hour later got similar results. I couldn’t even ask!

Now I had to leave for the weekend.

The TV was delivered and installed. One point for Best Buy. So when I got back on Sunday I went to the Best Buy store to plead my case. At first I was told that the store and the website have different specials so I was out of luck unless I wanted to return the TV I bought and buy the package from the website. Then, a supervisor finally came over and offered to discount the additional pieces, but nowhere near the amount cut by the package. And, by the way, the glasses were sold out. Frustrated, I bought the Blue Ray DVD player and the USB link to the wireless internet. Tomorrow, I get to go back and see if they got any glasses in.

For the future: How about syncing sales on all platforms, and delivery options? How about offering a long standing customer the ability to take the package that was advertised? How about training the sales people to explain what comes with a TV and what doesn’t!

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