How to Poorly Represent for Your Brand in 140 Characters or Less

Today, I went to BestBuy with my 15 year old daughter to look for a digital camcorder.  She wanted something that did HD and we found an interesting model for $149.  I suggested that we go back home and read some customer reviews  before buying it (plus, she had neglected to bring her money).

She did her research and in doing so, discovered that the camcorder was on sale for $99 on BestBuy’s website.  I looked at the offer on the website to make sure it wasn’t a “web only” deal.  It wasn’t.  She started to order it online for in-store pickup but noticed that a photo id for the credit card holder would be required.  She doesn’t have an id yet, so we jumped in the car and headed to the store.

At checkout, the camcorder rang up at $149.  My daughter, who doesn’t like confrontation and doesn’t yet earn her own living, was more than happy to pay $149, but I was not.  Moreover, as a 23 year veteran of the Consumer Electronics industry and someone who was familiar with BestBuy’s issue a while back regarding web/in-store pricing, I wanted to be sure that they honored the online price.

I told the cashier that it was $99 on the website.   He started to point me to a makeshift kiosk that had been set up to allow customers to do on-line price checks, but then actually walked over to it himself and looked up the item on BestBuy’s website.  Sure enough it was still $99.  He did a price override and we completed the transaction.

BestBuy has received lots of praise for their innovative use of social media, both internally and externally.  As someone keenly interested in retailers’ use of social media, I naturally follow them on Twitter. I am also very much a Customer Experience aficionado, so when I got home, I started an exchange on Twitter with Best Buy’s Chief Marketing Officer, Barry Judge.

bestbuycmo exchangeAs you can see, Mr. Judge’s first reply challenged the idea that prices should be the same.  Now without taking a big detour into the intricacies of multi-channel pricing strategies, I’ll say that there are absolutely situations where prices can and should differ.  Between physical markets (and sometimes stores in the same market) prices can vary based on the competitive environment.  Between online and in-store for a chain like BestBuy, it gets a little more complicated.  They have to compete with on-line pure plays (e.g. Amazon), but not cannibalize their physical stores, especially if their strategy is to have the two channels compliment each other. In this case, given that it was not a web-exclusive offer and their own price guarantee says they will match, I replied that they prices should be the same.  Otherwise, it can only lead to a bad customer experience like the frustration of finding that you should have received a lower price and having to drive back to the store for a refund.

I made a few other comments including pointing out that the cashier handled the situation well.  When I suggested that customers don’t care about the different “value propositions” that Mr. Judge had cited earlier; that what matters to the customer is the experience they have, the “tone” of the conversation shifted dramatically.

When I told him that I was well versed in multi-channel retail complexities, I was shocked by his reply.  Not wanting to assume a meaning, I asked him to clarify.  At that point he abruptly ended the conversation.

Of course, that didn’t end the conversation.  I posted a link to the exchange on Twitter and asked for people’s opinions and the replies and retweets have been coming at a steady pace.  It used to be that if you shared a bad experience, 100 people would hear about it.  In the world of social media, those numbers can increase exponentially (ask United Airlines).  With that being one of the fundamental facts for companies to understand about social media, I was really surprised that the Chief Marketing Officer for BestBuy would engage with a customer former customer in this way.

What do you think?  Was I being out of line?  How could this conversation gone differently?

174 thoughts on “How to Poorly Represent for Your Brand in 140 Characters or Less

  1. Doug, this is an excellent article and I appreciate you putting it out there highlighting the poor customer service that a Best Buy officer has shown you, a customer, when engaging in an honest conversation about their business practice.

    I will be promoting your post to my followers and public as well. Thanks bro!

  2. Wow. I can sum up my reaction to his tone by saying that he is not doing Best Buy any favors. Maybe he perceived your conversation as an attack for some reason, but there are better ways to gracefully exit the conversation and preserve some professionalism.

    That said, I long ago gave up on shopping at brick-and-mortar electronics stores. For my needs, they just can’t compete with sites like Amazon or Newegg except in the rare circumstance where their price is less – and that doesn’t seem to happen very often.

  3. I am continuously amazed at how defensive people get on Twitter and how they really don’t want to hear what their customers are saying. I had a similar conversation last week with the CEO of a publishing & event company on Friday. Via a DM, I pointed out that his operation has just spammed me with the same email three times AND that it had a typo in it. He came back with a comment about “why does Twitter make everyone so snarky” and pointed to typos that I had made. I explained that the only reason I had tweeted him was that I didn’t have his email and i thought it was something he needed to know. I never heard from him again.

  4. Pouring fuel on the fire may not be the best way to generate customer good will. While your “tone” was sharp and to the point, it’s the retailer’s job to turn the situation around and seek a soft landing – not invite a crash-and-burn. Amazing.

  5. The other side of the coin is: Best Buy gave you exactly what you wanted when you requested it, according to their stated policies. While it may not be the optimal method, they did exactly what you asked them to do as a customer.

    I’m not quite sure why you felt compelled to be vociferous with your criticism given that outcome>

    1. I don’t think the author was saying that Best Buy didn’t honor their stated policy, the post is simply about the craptastic public interaction with @BestBuyCMO.

      I also wouldn’t say this post is vociferous, at least not the definition of vociferous I’m familiar with.

  6. It’s always interesting to me that figures such as the CMO choose to wade into a conversation at all with such a chip prominently displayed on their shoulders. It’s obvious that by the first Tweet he really didn’t want to hear that they were potentially wrong. By the second and third Tweet he’s so defensive I can clearly envision his letter jacket in the high school lunch room.

    I’m continually amazed that people still try to maintain an ivory-tower like position on Twitter. To ignore your comments would be one thing, but to bother to be so sneering back takes a real commitment to attitude- and naivete that such communications won’t be around for awhile to inform others of the arrogance.

  7. Doug, while your tone may have been confrontational up front, that’s no excuse for Mr. Judge’s reply. He could have engaged you in a honest discussion of pricing strategy and turned the exchange into a positive. Instead he decided to dismiss you. Note to BestBuyCMO: Perhaps you might re-think replying to tweets on a Saturday night.

  8. James, Katie & Steve: Thanks for the comments. I really appreciate hearing your thoughts.

    David, I’m with you. I make virtually all of my CE purchases from on-line retailers; primarily TigerDirect and eCost.

    Michael, yes, they did give me exactly what I wanted. From a customer experience standpoint, the better scenario would have been to price the product in accordance with their policies in the first place. I think you may have missed the bigger point of the post. It wasn’t that my experience was marred by a pricing error; that happens to customer’s every day. But when the executive of a company who has received accolades for their innovative use of social media demonstrates engages with a customer in a condescending and defensive way, it sends a clear message that they really don’t get it. I would have never written the post had Mr. Judge not interacted with me the way he did.

    1. maybe he was drunk/out with friends and showing off to them… I do think you came at him just a tad strong, but his reply was ridiculous and completely over the top. I’d be ashamed if our CMO answered a customer like that. It’s ON RECORD for God’s sake. Step away from the wine before drunk-posting….

  9. Agreeing with Michael a bit here. I think your tone is pretty aggressive. “You guys gotta stop doing that!” and “Lesson not learned?” and “You took a lot of heat for…” &etc. It sounds like you’re reprimanding a teenager, not talking to a fellow professional.

    I’m trying to think of another social circumstance where that kind of a response would not be considered rude and I’m coming up with a blank.

    Judge could probably have handled it better, but — since you asked — you probably could have, too.

    1. @Thud – the right response from @BestBuyCMO was to say nothing rather than something that will now forever be used to show what “not to do”.

      It doesn’t matter if you think the person asking the questions is a jerk or a saint, your response is live on the web, and then stored forever. You can’t ever slip. Better to say nothing.

      1. Going just off the Twitter conversation alone, Thud and Michael are right about your aggressive tone, Doug. Obviously the situation could have been handled differently (by both parties), but it seems pretty clear that neither of you were trying to engage in a conversation…ie. tweets convey that you both think you are in right.

        In a customer service situation such as this, Barry Judge should have been more delicate, but everyone is human…even on Twitter. Doug, in the heat of the moment, it may seem fair to call Mr. Judge out, but I’m not sure his responses warranted this type of post/social media uprising.

    2. How would have Barry Judge reacted on Doug’s comments in a discussion over the counter at Best Buy?

      Would he have asked Doug to leave the shop not to say kicked him out?

      Had Barry never come across the maxim that the customer is always right?

      I am not suggesting that customers should be able to swear in shops as they please an expect applause for it.

      My point is that Barry should have taken an issue of a customer seriously followed by a tactful response. After all, his salary is paid for by the customers purchasing from BestBuy

      1. I agree with Thud @ Jenn Van Grove, Doug, you came off aggressive. Your tweets to his were 2 to 1. From BestBuyCMO’s standpoint, you were just there to complain. There were no outstanding product issues to resolve. You got your product at quoted price with no issues and you were happy with it. When the CMO thought “what good will come out of me spending an hour of my time trying to explain our business model in 140 character increments to someone who just wants to vent?”, I think he made the right move by ending the conversation well and early.

    3. You can give me the whistle for piling on. Your tone up front was accusatory and set the tone for the conversation. “You guys gotta stop doing that” was blunt and a little rude. It may not have been your intent, but it came across that way.

      He should have been savvy enough to deflect your negative criticism, however, but he was not. As someone noted, if you’re not up to the task of dealing with the public, perhaps you shouldn’t deal with them on a Saturday night.

  10. My first career spanned 20 years in managing chain retail stores. While it’s been quite a while since I’ve worked two 12 hour days on a weekend, I’m always amused by stories like this.

    We were a regional chain (35+ stores) so much smaller, but our management was just as clueless. People who don’t actually spend some time on the sales floor each week get the idea that they can somehow change reality by talking to customers about what the COMPANY’S issues are.

    They don’t care.

    Customers want a good experience, a fair price, and to be treated like grownups. And that’s true for brick-and-mortar as well as online.

    This dude needs to spend some time on a register.

  11. Best Buy continually amazes me with its ability to shoot itself in the foot. All the bad publicity over the customer comparing prices in NoVa years ago has still not been forgotten and this just reinforces the BB policy to sell to the uninformed masses and stiff them whenever possible. Considering that BB just tried to screw you out of $50.00 — 50% of the price of the item — I think your tone was pretty reasonable.

    1. I think your tone and your early positioning were more than a little “sharp.” You come across right away as hostile and preachy, and for that, you got a frosty response from the CMO of a former competitor. Might you have been looking (itching?) for a scrape? It comes across as so.

      As for his response- not his best day either. The CMO should at least be able to deflect the conversation with a “thanks!” and leave it at that. He failed to do so and is now a 3-day running example of How Not To Tweet With Agitated, Bating Customers. Sorry, FORMER customers.

      Final score? You both look petulant, really.

  12. Wow. This guy should be fired for his comments. The customer is always right. Even when the customer is wrong, the customer is still right. You don’t treat paying customers like that. His attitude was very poor. The only reason this guy probably won’t lose his job for acting like such a jerk is it’s the norm at Best Buy.

  13. If you’re representing a major corporation on social media sites, you need to be able to interact with customers and be handle whatever criticism that may come your way with professionalism and a conversational style. Here, Mr. Judge did exactly the opposite of effective social media marketing by taking a defensive, arrogant and elitist stance.
    Instead of starting an honest discussion or at least blowing some kind of marketing smoke with Doug (or even just ignoring him altogether), Mr. Judge shoots himself in the foot with a superior attitude.
    Doug is (was) a customer. Doug has lots of followers on twitter. Not smart, Mr. Judge. You may be hearing from your boss on Monday morning.

  14. Still can’t believe that conversation took place. Glad that the customer service rep was able to yet you that price override, though.

    So if you don’t stop Best Buy in RVA, where do you shop? (Or do you wait for hhgregg to show up?)

  15. Hey Doug,

    Very interesting exchange and resultant post here. While I’m familiar with Barry’s interaction with customers online in general, this is not his usual method of dealing with people. Maybe you caught him at an inopportune time on a Saturday evening? Not that it’s an excuse, but maybe he just didn’t have his mind in the game. He was tweeting from his phone – an indication that he may have been out for the evening.

    As someone who represents a big brand on the web, I can attest to the temptation to lose one’s patience in a heated online exchange – especially when engaging in conversation during “off” hours. It takes great discipline to keep from giving in to those all too human emotions that can tip us into an ugly exchange. And the reality is, occasionally it’ll happen. Of course, it’s what a brand representative does with it afterwards that can potentially influence the outcome positively.

    We’re all human (yes, even big brands), and we sometimes make errors in judgment. It’s not an excuse; it’s just the reality. What matters now is how they decide to rectify the situation or circle back with you. If I were the one who left a customer feeling this way, I’d take a fresh look at the conversation and see what made sense for my company.

    Of course, it brings up another related point: for the online brand ambassador, you need to decide if you’re going to engage beyond the normal work week. If you allow your weekends and evenings out to be interrupted by messages you’re checking and responding to, then you should be prepared to be just as professional on a Saturday night as you are on a Wednesday morning.

    Thanks for the thought-provoking post, Doug.

    Scott Monty
    Global Digital Communications
    Ford Motor Company

    1. Scott, it’s also a cultural thing – of individuals and organizations. The other very human thing is to point out the flaw in others – of course, we can see it when we know it well 🙂

      One of the things I’ve been thinking about is the appropriateness of having certain kinds of conversations in certain media. Even in the comments here…

      While I’ve been fortunate to meet Doug and you face to face on a couple of occasions and could probably read between the lines, I suspect I would just be guessing or inferring for others. And that wouldn’t be fair. We tend to judge others’ behavior by our intentions, which is apples to oranges on best days.

  16. If Mr. Judge’s goal was to alienate customers, his performance should be acknowledged with a bonus. The execution of his “marketing strategy” was flawless!

    Should he be fired? I think that’s over the top, and unnecessary. It’s likely that in most cases, Mr. Judge does his job well like all the other corporate soldiers at Best Buy. However, at a minimum, he should be required to work at the busiest of the chain’s stores on Black Friday after extensive customer service training classes, and should offer a written AND public apology on Twitter to Doug for his lack of class and decorum.

  17. Scott,
    There is no such thing as “caught at an inopportune moment” on Twitter. It’s 24/7, 365, and it’s live.

    If one cannot control one’s emotions and demeanor, they should not ever represent their corporate identity in public.

    Barry’s job is as the CHIEF Marketing Director – not a clerk, not a backroom merchandiser. If he can’t control himself in the public eye, he has no business being on Twitter or any other medium that is public facing.

    He deserves whatever backlash comes with this. He chose to respond. He could have waited. He could have tempered his response. He chose not to do so. It shows lack of awareness and lack of customer-centricity that his job requires.

    He’s not on Twitter as Barry Judge. He’s on Twitter as BestBuyCMO. Perhaps this should serve as a reminder of his role in the public channels.

  18. Which just goes to show, Shelly, that even brand representatives are human. Again, I’m not making an excuse for him; I’m just saying that we all make mistakes.

    1. fine if he makes a mistake, but he’d better have the PR flaks telling him to apologise & make up for this asap

  19. This is one of the best customer experience “you couldn’t make this **** up” examples I’ve ever seen.

    Anyone in any enterprise with C-for-Chief (of whatever) in his/her title MUST tread carefully in any direct marketplace exchange. Judge went from zero-to-confrontational in what, seven Tweets? He probably didn’t stop to determine what your reach and influence might be, just assumed you were another dumb cluck customer who needed to be educated in the ways of the marketplace and “value proposition”.

    When Circuit City collapsed, Best Buy was left as the last chain standing. That never improves customer service or experience, particularly when BB considers Wal-Mart as its only real competitor. Customer service @ Wal-Mart is non-existent, meaning that BB figures it can get away with the same approach.

    Your exchange w/CMOBestBuy proves my point.

    1. I do not think Doug is being “whiny”. As someone that has worked in retail, I can say I have had my share of angry or disgruntled customers (which Doug seems to be neither.). IN ALL response the company’s, and my own response is NEVER to be negative. Listen, empathize and offer solutions. Those have been part of my ethic when dealing with customers. NEVER have I heard or seen a policy that states, “If a customer is rude, reply with a smart or rude comment. Stick up for the company and do not back down” NEVER!.

      The customer is who pays my salary. If I can not handle them, day/night or in your sleep, I would re-think my job choices.

      BTW if you want a whiny blogger, check out

  20. I have no idea what all this fuss is about. In this case, I think Doug is making a mountain out of a molehill. I agree that Judge would have done better to just ignore Doug’s several replies. Judge got caught up in the conversation.

    The customer is not always right, and in a case like this it is best just to simply ignore the customer because this type of customer will cost you more resources than he is worth.

    After Doug posted five tweets in a row Judge should have simply ignored the conversation and moved on. Doug was unnecessarily rude and provocative.

    If Best Buy loses any customers over this blog then I think they should consider themselves lucky because customers like this, despite what they might claim, are not good for the bottom line even when customer experience and any potential negative comments about the company are considered.

  21. Doug,

    Thanks for prompting some really interesting and informative thoughts and comments; hopefully Mr. Judge will re-engage with you.

    In a 24/7 channel, is it reasonable to expect individuals to respond immediately 24/7? As the esteemed Scott Monty points out: there are “off” hours. Is the expectation different when engaging with a brand or brand representative? As a defined representative of the company, it might have been best for @bestbuycmo to not address this tweet during a personal weekend if that was the case. (Maybe a third party app like Google’s Mail Goggles is a good idea!) And easier said than done for most of us of course.

    It’s also sometimes impossible to tell tone from a tweet. Asking for clarification is important — a DM can help or sometimes just directing the twitter conversation to actual voice interaction can resolve a lot.

    We all know that customer service continues to be a major challenge for every company. It’s sad how few brands DO actually consistently engage beyond a script. In this instance, the tone, the time and the context all warrant more dialogue. I applaud you for taking the time to bring this to BB’s attention. I think it’s also a positive to see a CMO taking the time to interact with the community. Just like in life, those interactions can sometimes be a bit dis-jointed and murky. But hopefully they push us all to be more effective listeners and communicators.

    Thanks for a great post and forum,

    Michael J. Kauffman

  22. While I agree with Scott that customers can come at you with guns blazing online — and that it’s likely tempting to respond in kind on occasion — the burden lies with the company representative to either a) come back to it later, when he’s not wanting to wring someone’s neck; b) try and tone down the situation with a little empathy; c) think like a marketer first if they’re going to put their company within their Twitter ID; or d) take the conversation offline.

    Doug got up his own head of steam, but I don’t think Doug’s tone would have deteriorated if the CMO hadn’t tried to pass off his concerns by “schooling” him on multichannel pricing issues. It doesn’t really matter what your internal or external corporate challenges are when you’re dealing one on one with a customer in a real-time discussion.

    If you’re going to engage at a moment when you’re not feeling terribly ready to engage, you’re going to have to face the consequences of how that looks. I think anyone on Twitter who has gotten their back up about something can look back a few hours later and wish they hadn’t decided to die on that particular hill.

    The problem is when you don’t go back to fix things or express regret or turn the situation around — especially when you represent a bigger concern.

    Sure, it’s a Sunday, and Barry should have breaks like anyone else — but if you’re going to let someone pop your cork on your off hours, you’ll want to monitor the results.

  23. Doug,

    I think you might have started the conversation off with a bit of a dismissive and attacking tone. You did not start off with question rather you started off with a bit of an insult by referencing “dirty tricks”. I think the person initiating the conversation has the responsibility for setting the tone.

    Although I think the CMO could have handled it a bit better it appears he was only matching the playing field that you set for the conversation. In the future I might suggest starting off with a sincere question about your issue rather than a backhanded statement. Just because we are the customers that does not mean that we have some special conversational handicap that allows us to pick fights and then be upset when the person we pick the fight with fights back. Had you approached the conversation with a transparent Win Win attitude you might have had greater success getting to the bottom of the pricing discrepancy. In a conversation both the customer and the business have an obligation to initiate a conversation in good faith.

    Hope this helps

    1. Doug, I have to agree with Rich on this one. Pricing discrepancies can be frustrating, and given BBY’s past issues it would be easy to assume that this was just another example of a scam waiting to happen, but still, as a customer (and really, as another person attempting to engage someone in a discourse) you have the responsibility to not open the discussion with an attack. The CMO deserved your respect just as much as you deserved his.

      This was a fail on both sides, and let’s be honest here, you started it.

  24. Thanks for posting your experience Doug. Great points to learn from. I’d like to add a few to the discussion.

    1. I don’t think you were being hypercritical. I think it was totally appropriate to set the stage for a deeper and hopefully more meaningful conversation about multi-channel pricing strategies (MCPS) and why BBY continues to employ them. After all, you’re the customer with the issue requesting an explanation and companies should be ecstatic to have its customers be so engaging.

    2. Mr Judge decided to engage with you publicly, but once he understood your level of experience with MCPS, probably should have suggested the two of you take it offline and add more than 140 characters. But reissue a sequence of tweets that outline the resolution for the public who was following the discussion or would have in time. Just because you engage with a customer on one platform, doesn’t mean you have to keep it there.

    3. I also think this situation highlights a serious disconnect that exists between companies wanting to engage with social media but not really having the necessary culture in place to be successful with it. Being social is not in the DNA of most companies. Faking it, outsourcing it or simply wishing it would happen doesn’t make it so.

    4. I also think that companies still just don’t get it that policies which make it more confusing to do business with a company need to be removed, as well as employees who insist on their adherence to such, thus sacrificing both customer engagement and thereby long term loyalty.

    5. I think it would behoove large companies, in light of the cattle call of SM fiasco’s (United Airlines, Domino’s and now Best Buy) to remove the SM Management function from ‘old thinking’ marketers and allow those with a much fresher approach to customer engagement to do just that.

    6. A company today has to start understanding that their competition isn’t, in this case, the guy next door as Mr. Judge alludes to (Wal-Mart, Target, et al) but rather the last interaction it had with each of its customers.

    Lot’s of great lesson to be learned form this Doug. Thanks again for sharing and talking about it openly.

    1. Absolutely, great points Jeffrey. This is exactly why I cringe when I hear about companies rushing to get on Twitter and Facebook without a clear sense of what they are getting into, and without first forming a sensible strategy for engagement.

      It also is interesting when the people tasked with shaping the social strategy are those least familiar with the space. Figure out who your early adopters are and LISTEN to them. Get a personal twitter account and try it out before you jump out there as the face of your company.

      I doubt this is the last time we’ll see a high profile company make a silly blunder like this via Twitter. While it’s fascinating to watch how various companies are choosing to engage with their community, it’s getting to a point where you’ve got to wonder when companies will really begin to shed the old-school thinking and get a clue. It’s not about marketing or pushing your business model. It’s about user/customer experience.

  25. I think Jeffrey Summers’ comments make mine less useful, but I am writing up a little post with “next steps” in mine.

    Interesting and thought-provoking post. Thanks.

    BTW, Hugh McGuire shared this with a bunch of us. He’s a good egg.

  26. Try tweeting to the CEO, Brian Dunn. He is a great guy that has been with the company since he worked as a Part time audio salesman. His Twitter is “bjdsr”. He may want to hear about this.

  27. Well, once you got a ‘rise,’ you did set on him a bit stridently. Hyena at a carcass is melodramatic and extreme, but then, you posed issues on full-automatic and then recoiled when he assayed that you had more time to invest on your topic than he does (or did).
    You are right: He fell back onto the sword upon which customer service dies an awful death every day, and that is “It is policy or procedure.” What you did not give him is an avenue for escape or thoughtful discourse. Yet you take grave umbrage when he cuts his losses.
    Does it suck? Yep. If you don’t want customer service at a big box to suck, then go to a local merchant, and pay $179 for that same camera. But know that 45 cents of each dollar will circulate in your local economy, compared to 13 cents spent at Best Buy, Circuit City (oops, never mind that one), or IBM.
    And, if you spend that money at a local merchant, you just might be recognized and genuinely appreciated the next time you shop at that emporium.

  28. Ok, have reread the exchange three times. On first pass I was somewhat with you. That changed on the second/third. You were way aggressive and don’t really come across as someone one could have a good discourse with. Sorry! Barry tried a reasonable exchange, discovered an attitude problem and loosing situation and cut his losses. He maybe didn’t do it elegantly enough for most commenting here but that’s that.
    You ended up having a good experience at BBY, they corrected and matched the price yet you still felt compelled to raise hell, bitch and Tweet the CMO – why is that?

    1. I still am amazed at these responses!!

      No matter what the customer says… and that mean not matter. You must follow the rule of keeping good relations. NEVER strike back; Listen, Empathize and Offer Solutions.

      I take it a majority of the people saying Doug was out of line do not work in a retail setting.

      1. Or and one more thing…. Why not raise hell, bitch or Twitter! How else are the businesses going to know when they do something wrong (or right fo a change?).

      2. Actually, in my opinion, Barry kept his cool fairly well considering he was basically being stalked.

    2. Stalked??? mmmm Twitter is a public social entity… mmmm. Don’t think you can be stalked if you put yourself out there. It’s not like it was a home phone, or address. Come on.

      1. You can be stalked on a public street. Twitter’s no different.
        He was called out directly rather than just a general BBy rant.

      2. That’s ludicrous. It’s not like it was Mr. Judge’s private Twitter account. He very clearly is putting himself out there as a representative of Best Buy. Anyone can send him an @ message, and he can chose to respond or ignore it. Doug’s tone might not have been very nice, but that’s what you will potentially be exposed to when you join Twitter as a rep of your brand. It’s a multi-way communication channel. To say he was stalked is just silly.

        Mr. Judge should have responded in a more appropriate way. End of story.

      3. Just because it’s public doesn’t give you the right to use as you wish. Something that seems to have been forgotten in this whole exchange – the customer is not always right.

  29. The fact that you included in your first tweet that Best Buy “…is still up to its old pricing tricks” is either overly “familiar” with the recipient or being adversarial right off the bat. Neither side helped themselves brand-wise in this exchange – except give material for a post.

  30. I have some sympathy here for Barry Judge. Yes, he was probably a bit defensive, but I’m curious why Doug took the issue to the CMO of Best Buy as opposed to bringing it up with the normal customer service route.

    I know that the matter was dealt with in-store but that was to have the price discrepancy resolved. I’m not really sure how a CMO would be responsible for being the first port of call for a customer’s query.

    This is where the “free market” of social media can also be a bit of a downside – anyone and everyone is a “target”. I’m not saying Doug was wrong for querying the issue – just dubious as to whether it should have been aimed at a company’s CMO.

  31. He lost me at “you must think I’m stupid.” Here you are, a customer, trying to explain the situation from the customer’s perspective. You can’t be wordy and polite in a tweet. I agree that this type of pricing is ridiculous. If I saw this, I probably would not bother the back and forth that you had to go through to get the camera.

    If your daughter would not have forgot her money and you had gone home to check the online price, you would have returned home later to find out you were just taken for $50. A more ticked off you would have had to return to the store trying to get the $50 back. Would they have honored it then? It’s just a bad policy on their part, and I wonder why he didn’t just thank you for the information so they could fix what is obviously a policy that could potentially kill customer relations.

  32. Mr. Meacham,
    While I found the confrontational conversation between you and Mr. Judge entertaining, I saw it as unproductive for both sides. I was surprised by your first reaction, given your many years of retail experience in multi-channel retail environments. I would have thought your first reaction would be to make sure you documented the name of the sales clerk who, after starting with the company line, took action to verify your claim, see the issue through your eyes and get the override. Then, starting your conversation with praise for the employee that, ultimately, did the right thing. From there, you could have positioned yourself as being on Mr. Judge’s side in a conversation to explore ways for BestBuy to maintain both its profitability and its determination to retain existing customers and grow their customer base through relationships founded on uniform, fair treatment of customers across all variations in their multiple channels. By working together on issues of such great importance to company and customer alike, you and Mr. Judge would have been in a better position to affect positive change.

    Thanks for taking time to consider my humble opinion,

    Dr. Dave Dyer

    1. I’m going to have to agree with Dave on this, Doug. Just because we can vent directly to a CMO via twitter and be confrontational (as well as inexcusably rude), doesn’t give us free license to do so. Would you have made this same remark, in the same language and tone in a face-to-face interaction? Regardless of what a C-level exec should do, any human will lash out when boxed into a corner. You successfully antagonized Mr. Judge with your first tweet.

      Sometimes I wonder if social media isn’t just another form of bear-baiting. When the bears attack, we find it sporting to poke them further.

      Doug, I’m guilty of this as well…so maybe your post has provoked me to be more conscious of my own behavior in social media. I’d like to think that I’ll use some of the techniques that Dave mentions here in his comment the next time.

      1. I agree with Dave and Chris. It doesn’t seem like you started your rant as a “conversation” it seems like you just wanted to berate the CMO because you could. Your tweets are inflamatory and are clearly not working to fix or improve the situation. Further, the store rectified the situation on the spot and the employee did a great job taking action and ensuring that your request was met on the spot. A more civil tone and less of a firehose of negative sentiment will usually result in a more positive outcome in any conversation, and I believe in this one as well.

  33. Reading through the previous posts, I can see how there is a need for companies to learn about social media. It is a new “public” medium that must be respected the same as radio, tv, print, etc. Once a statement is made, good or bad, it can’t be taken back. It can’t be erased because of the viral dynamic of the internet and gets written in the history books for all to see. For this reason, there must be some since of responsibility on the behalf of the company or the customer.

    You know that old saying, “the customer is always right”? Technically, that may not always be the case, however to me it means that your customer’s perspective is all that matters in his world when he is ready to buy or has bought a product/service. If the company doesn’t use empathy and align its perspective to the customer, the customer WILL either not buy or TELL OTHERS OF THE EXPERIENCE. The customer is the life-blood of any company and should be treated as such. With today’s economic environment, you would think even the larger companies would be more sensitive.

    In this real life issue, I can safely say BBY NOW has at least lost 2 previous customers.

  34. We blogged earlier this year about a similar experience with Best Buy. In the comment section, we get a suggestion from a BBY employee (“Best Buy Community Connector”)that we return again so they could try harder. Ummm, no. Then another commenter attempted to educate us in pricing theory and markdown strategy (so that we could be better customers of BBY).

    Multi-channel pricing issues are never going to be sufficiently reconciled with the customer, who perceives all channels as one entity. Assigning different SKUs to the same product, no matter the justification, is smoke and mirrors. The only way to charge more for a commodity is to offer an outstanding customer service experience, which BBY generally doesn’t. As a retailer, you either compete on price or service. It seems as though BBY needs to choose, once and for all.

    Unfortunately, cost containment issues at BBY have resulted in staff reductions at corporate (earlier this year thousands of HQ employees were offered a buyout), despite increased market share from competitor failure. It’s safe to say the company will continue to pay major lip service to a positive BBY customer experience – a well-known oxymoron. It’s also realistic to expect that the lack of training and education in problem resolution, which apparently reaches the highest executive levels per this exchange, will continue at BBY.

  35. Thanks for sharing this post. I think that you bring up many interesting points here. I found your start to the conversation slightly confrontational but I don’t find it any different than how an aggravated customer would address the situation with a representative while at the Best Buy store. I think that Mr. Judge handled the situation extremely poorly and unfortunately I think that this happens more often than we think. I think that many executives jump on the social media train because they want to hear all the good things about their company but not want to have to address problems. Unfortunately for Judge and Best Buy how the CMO,(who’s primary focus should always be on the customer in everything he does) truly feels about customers is now public knowledge and will no doubt spread like wild fire. Maybe best buy should consider putting the store representative who handled your situation correctly on Twitter and leave the executive team out of their social media strategy.

  36. Just a comment from a sales & marketing standpoint. . .

    Thanks for posting your exchange. As a salesperson, I shudder at BB’s response. “Thanks for the feedback; we’re always trying to improve our processes and this one definitely needs improvement–I will look into it and get back to you” would have been an acceptable response. (And then he should have looked into it and gotten back to you.)

    At least the guy at the store took care of the situation appropriately. I suppose he’s getting paid $8 an hour, but at least he did his job and you got the product you wanted, at the right price. Naturally, since he was “real” and not in Twitterland, he had to take responsibility for the problem.

  37. Again thank you to everyone who has added to the conversation here. There are clearly differing opinions but that’s what makes the discussion so valuable.

  38. So, let me get this straight, your daughter has a credit card, but no photo id for the card?

    Or, was she purchasing it on your credit card, then planning to get to the store … well, who knows how??

    Of course the in-store and web prices may be different. That’s pretty basic retail economics. I am now coming to an understanding of why Circuit City went under. Aside from the really crappy customer service, I mean.

  39. I’ve gotten burned like this before from BB. Glad to see it’s getting some exposure. Too bad Mr. Judge didn’t compose himself better. We all have our blips here and there, but I guess when one becomes a CXO those blips need to become transparent.

  40. Hmm, I think a lot is being read into the conversation and that this is somewhat overblown in my opinion. Personally, I think that both sides lacked the appropriate level of courtesy and professionalism, but then, online discussions often easily get out of hand.

    While Mr. Judge’s comments were abrubt, I don’t think they should raise such an ire from everyone.

    Could he have handled it better? Sure. Having run a support center for many year at a major MNC high tech firm, I learned that my corporate hat was always on when discussion about my employer or our products were the topic. Whether on or off the clock, people would view me as the face of the company. Often, I was their only avenue into the company and therefore, a company of 15K people boiled down to the one person they were talking to from that company. Therefore, one must always be on their best behavior when discussing work related material…there is no off duty/off the record when it comes to these discussions.

    As a customer Doug, I think you set the tone with your initial post. You came off as hostile from the get go…not suggesting that you should or should not have done that, but you should recognize the tone that it is setting when you make the statement.

    Human nature is to take defensive positions when being attacked…it takes some effort to overcome instinct and shift into “customer first” role. Not everyone can do that so easily. We all tend to take attacks personal, even when it is aimed at a policy.

    As mentioned, having run a support center for several years, I have learned to take a different approach when I am the customer. I don’t go straight for the guns when I have an issue with a company…I am prepared to go there if/when needed, but I don’t start conversations off that way because it just isn’t useful. Why set them on the defensive when I am trying to get a decent answer or resolution to my issue.

    You did not do that with the clerk at the store so I am not sure why you felt the need to do that with Mr. Judge. From the tone, it would likely have appeard to Mr. Judge that you wanted to attack his employer and their policies instead of having a real discussion over the fine points of pricing. You immediately went on the offensive. His first response was an attempt to turn the conversation to something productive, but then you blasted back with a flurry of posts further pushing an aggressive tone.

    What should he have assumed from your posts? Again, not likely that you wanted to have a productive discussion, but more venting.

    This next response from Mr. Judge is where he fell short…he implied that you thought he was stupid…One should never put words in a customers mouth…just a bad idea. He then followed up with an ambiguous statement that could have serveral interpretations…another bad idea. To put the nail in the coffin, his abrupt ending of the conversation signified an attitude of “I don’t care about you as a customer”.

    I think in reality, he was probably determining that this was a “no win” situation and therefore, decided to exit the conversation. He just did not do so gracefully.

    All of this on a weekend as well when he probably had other things to tend to. However, he should not have entered the conversation if he was not prepared to take a sufficient amount of time to attempt resolution. Especially given that the first post was pretty aggressive. He should have realized that there was a challenge there and it would take some time to resolve.

    On another personal note, I have found that Twitter is too limiting for a decent discussion/debate like this in the first place. 140 is just too short to get any decent points across (either a complaint or response).

    Anyway, just my opinion…I don’t think that blowing this up was necessary, but since it is out there, might as well join in.


  41. This post reminds me of a statement President Barack Obama said at his inaugural address; [paraphrase] ‘You will be remembered by what you build, not by what you tear down.’

    We have a choice to show respect for others, to think the best of others, or to choose a different path.

    What I know for sure is, to a large extent the quality of our life depends on the quality of our relationships. And the quality of our relationships depends on the quality of our relational skills.

  42. From the get-go it seemed you wanted a heated exchange – perhaps to turn into a good link bait blog post? I dunno, it seemed that way. The blog posts about people using Twitter to bully companies to get free shit or shame them is starting to get old.

    On the other hand, if he can’t stand the heat he shouldn’t be on Twitter.

    Additionally, I don’t think Twitter was the appropriate place to discuss the complexities of sales channels. Instead you guys just ended up lobbing 140 character bombs back and forth which is hardly useful (and why I don’t try to settle arguments with my girlfriend over text messages) or productive.

    In his place, I would have said, “Sometimes these things happen. Send me your email via DM and we can discuss further and in more detail.” (103 characters)

    1. I really do not care what the Twitter or Social Media “rule book” says. The first law in human interaction is always respect for the other party from the get go. If that is in a barroom or on Twitter or in a boardroom, the retail floor or the street. You always start with respect for the other party, good intentions and a genuine hope for an amicable result. The rest is just a conversation that might end with an agreement or an agreement to disagree. From there the customer has a choice of providers.

      I find the fact that there is any confusion over the questions being asked to be, honestly, quite ridiculous. From my perspective I would say the following are incredibly obvious:

      First, Doug set the stage for a lousy encounter. Suggesting “tricks” is some pretty strong and inflammatory language especially when the counter party is clearly a person of integrity and is quite proud of his company. Doug questioned their integrity and that is not a good thing to do with anybody.

      Second, the CMO did not handle it correctly but it does go back to Dough throwing the first punch in the conversation. Maybe the CMO needs some customer service communication training or something like that but it does not change the fact that it appears that Doug wanted to insult him and his company and then was not happy when the person he sucker punched swung back. I think the CMO probably cares about his customers and his company.

      Third, the customer is not “always right”! In fact, in a lot of cases they are wrong and that is why they rely on knowledgeable customer service representatives to help provide them with advice and counsel on products and services. Nobody is perfect and that is certainly true for most of us as customers. That is why we ask questions and conduct exchanges with people who are more knowledgeable than we. By this logic, as long as you are a customer you should he able to answer any question about anything because hey! The Customer Is The All Knowing Power In The Universe. I cannot count the number of times I have been wrong in a customer service situation and I think the same is true for all of us. I do not need to be treated like a child and I do not want to be considered to be always right. I want to be told the truth and if I am a jerk then I guess I will have to deal with some push back from time to time.

      Further, at what point does the customer become wrong? Is the customer still right if he or she goes to the headquarters and throws a rock through the window or drives his car into the lobby at the store? No he or she is not and to suggest that we, as customers, are always right and have license to do and say whatever we want because we are the customers is just ridiculous. By this logic I should be able to go into the grocery store, grab a bag of Lime chips and a six pack and sit down in the camping section and have a party and not pay for anything. When they police come I can let them know that I AM the customer and the customer is always right and that they will just have to deal with that. I cannot do anything wrong because I am the customer? That is nuts!

      I don’t know about this one guys and gals. Doug clearly insulted this person and the company he works for and should not have expected to be treated as a grown up. The CMO needs interpersonal skills training but probably even more needs a mulligan from all of us who sit firmly in this same glass house.

      As a customer, I think we share part of the responsibility for lousy customer service. We are sometimes spoiled, arrogant and disrespectful and then we expect everybody to kiss our butts because we are the mighty customer. Yes I want to be treated well but I know that I need to start off respecting everybody that I come in contact with. Had Doug started off with a compliment and a question this would never have happened. Doug threw the first punch and Best Buy CMO might have responded too aggressively.

      And I will tell you what! Everything I wrote in this post is 100% right because I am the customer and the customer is ALWAYS right.

  43. I think Doug clearly had a legitimate “beef” about the pricing models, but I’d deduct 2 style points for overly-aggressive and accusatory tone kicking off the “conversation.” However, the “stupid” comment instead of taking the conversation off-line is a 5-point deduction. Proverbial lesson: A soft answer turns away wrath. Retail pricing models discussed over a good BBQ and a brew would pretty much settle this thing down…

  44. Sorry, Doug, great post, but but put me down in the blame-Doug-slightly-more column as well. Sure, BestBuyCMO got a little defensive and there are lots of cliche “Big Corporations gotta learn Social Media” that self-appointed Social Media “experts” can blather on about here. However opening a tweet exchange by telling someone their employer is up to their old tricks and they gotta stop was a disrespectuful and aggressive first move. If I were a CMO, CSR, or other corporate rep, and got these tweets, emails, calls, etc., I’d hope not to say anything rude back, but this is the kind of customer behavior that makes it seem unclear: whether to “fire the low lifetime value customer” or try to convert them (at what cost) so their resultant blog posts will be glowing instead of disproportionately scathing. Judging from the comments above, you both lose brand equity here.

  45. What a fantastic discussion we have here. I genuinely appreciate everyone taking the time to read, comment and write their own posts regarding this little exchange. It has some valuable lessons for all of us. As the discussion has gone on, it’s has evolved, as several of you have pointed out, into several camps, each with different perspectives regarding my approach and Mr. Judge’s response.

    I’ve pretty much stayed out of the discussion, but felt it was appropriate to comment on a couple of things I’ve heard repeatedly.

    Some have challenged the appropriateness of me engaging with the CMO over a simple pricing error, which, as I pointed out, was resolved in the store. I believe companies who are actively engaging in Social Media channels are or should be there to listen to their customers. In BestBuy’s case, the CMO is the one who seems to be taking the lead on Twitter and he was the BestBuy contact that I was familiar with. It shouldn’t matter if I address a concern to the CMO or the CSR, it should get the same attention.

    Social media provides wonderful conversational platforms. Most believe that we have an obligation to carry on those discussions in a respectful manner; that we should be as careful when making statements online as we would face to face. I agree with that and will acknowledge that my “tone” was a bit aggressive. That is a lesson for all of us to take away from this exchange.

    Of course, there is another lesson to be learned and that is to make sure you have all the facts before you make a judgment call based on the “tone” of a 140 character tweet.

    Some of you have described my initial tweet as “accusatory”, “inflammatory”, etc. I would agree and will tell you that it was intentional. In the post and in the tweets, I mentioned a deceptive pricing scheme that got BestBuy into trouble back in 2007. Thousands of people have read this post but only a handful have taken the time to click the link to read the details. Perhaps if more did, they would better understand my “tone”.

    In case you don’t know, two years ago, BestBuy was sued by the state of Connecticut for tricking customers with two identical-looking Web sites in its stores, with the only difference being that one had higher prices. While their in-store price guarantee (not the guarantee) states that they will match their web price if it is lower (except in the case of “web-exclusive” offers), they were running a “fake” intranet site which was identical in every detail to the real site, except it had higher prices. According the the lawsuit, BestBuy would use the fake site to deny price match claims.

    The Connecticut Attorney General stated at the time that “Best Buy treated its customers like suckers, not patrons to be prized.” “Best Buy gave consumers the worst deal: a bait-and-switch-plus scheme luring consumers into stores with promised online discounts, only to charge higher in-store prices.” The Consumerist article I linked to in my blog post points out that even after BestBuy admitted to the “secret” website (after initially denying it), they were still using it more than 6 months after the suit was filed.

    While the secret website may be gone (I’m assuming it is), BestBuy is still being accused of deceptive pricing practices two years later. In March of this year, a Class Action lawsuit alleging deceptive price-match practices at Best Buy stores was certified in a US District Court. You can read more about that here:

    From that article: “The complaint is backed by internal documents, dispositions from two current Best Buy employees and claims from former employees that the retailer promoted an anti-price-matching policy among managers and other key personnel. Best Buy allegedly taught employees how to deny price matches, offered financial incentives that were partly based on this practice and overall denied roughly 100 valid price matches per week, the complaint says.”

    So clearly, it’s not just me who has accused BestBuy of “pricing games”. They have a history of being accused of deceptive practices that stretches back several years, all of which involve maintaining higher prices in the store than on line and denying price match claims against their own in-store policy.

    My initial tweet about “pricing games” was a direct reference to those accusations, which I’m sure Mr. Judge is very aware of. Perhaps my tone was accusatory but given the situation and their ongoing problems in this area it seemed appropriate at the time.

    You can read all about the 2007 Connecticut lawsuit here:

    Details on the 2009 class action lawsuit are here:

    1. Sorry, Doug, I have to disagree. You say that Barry is taking the lead on Twitter so you went that route. Did you tweet @BestBuy? Did you use their website option to click on the “Call Me” button? These are the customer service options you could have taken and you chose not to, so it comes across as wanting to have a go at Best Buy (right or wrong).

  46. Haven’t read through all the comments yet (got here from Twitter) but there are some things that I’m rather surprised at:

    Your tone was hostile from the first tweet, so I can see why he thought you attacking him. However, that does not excuse his following exchange: I don’t see how cost can come into play as you’re complaining about a difference between the online price and the in-store price.

    This seems to be a case of jumping to conclusions, at least to me.

  47. Doug,

    You’re a hack. (What a familiar beginning, huh?) In your attempt to describe the litigation involving Best Buy, you glide over important details. The suit’s end result was more one of employees not being properly trained to describe the utility of the in-store web site rather than it being some “fake” site, as you call it. It is a mirrored internal site that is not meant to represent the online site or the online site’s prices. I don’t like it much either, but it exists and is not illegal. It just needs to be explained for what it is, an electronic directory of in-store hard goods that is not meant to represent the online store. You make it sound a lot shammier than it is. If it was as bad as you say, the court results would have been a lot worse.

    Admit it. You felt privileged to carry on the tone of your complaint with @BestBuyCMO because you feel you have enough related work experience to throw your wonk credentials around. You wanted some weird sort of acknowledgment/respect from Barry, or perhaps $500 gift card and a routine “I’m so sorry sir.” Instead, you got what you deserved, which was to be gently derided and roundly dismissed.

    What you apparently never wanted was a rational conversation. You blew that opportunity up as soon as your started typing your first Tweet.

    I’ll ask again: What did you want? What were you seeking in your conversation with @BestBuyCMO? You’ve never said, which is telling.

    – “Fred”

    1. Fred, Thanks for commenting. I wanted nothing from this exchange other than to voice my annoyance to a company representative who has chosen to be an active participant in the Twitter community. Regarding the litigation, you fail to mention the new class action lawsuit. We’ll see how that pans out.

      1. Classic Koolaid. I insult you on your own blog and you begin your response with “Thanks for commenting.” Is that what the teach you first in the “dispute resolution” chapter? Pour on the happy Koolaid in a hackneyed attempt to win confidence? Laughable.

        You lost confidence and integrity with your ham-fisted tweets to Best Buy, and showcasing them as though they made some large and smarter statement about the landscape of social media and customer service.
        The only thing it showcases is that you’re a clod to converse with, and that you fall back on robotic sales-speak crutches when your bluff is called.

        You should really blog about the weather instead. Leave the important stuff to the pros. Doug Meacham, congratulations. You’re now officially `that guy.’ Good luck parlaying that into something relevant.

    2. “Fred” if you’re going to try insult someone “anonymously”, you should know more about them. Doug has held many conversations with “c” level executives. He doesn’t tweet with Barry simply for some sense of accomplishment. Doug is well beyond that.

      Second, if you think you know so much about BBY’s AG action in Conn., why didn’t you mention the fact that the mirrored site was the only externally facing website available in-store. So that when a customer went to it, they found the same (higher) price and not the (lower) web price. The legal system isn’t quite through with them and the discovery from a class action suit (if it gets that far) will be quite damning. All of you blue shirts should be afraid.

      1. OK, Reality Police, because that’s a real name and not anonymous, or something. Sigh.
        Real names aren’t the issue. Issues are the issue.

  48. Doug,

    Your most recent post makes your actions even more distasteful than before. You admit that you had an agenda when you rudely and aggressively approach Barry Judge. You chose to speak to him with total disrespect and talked down to him rather than trying to engage in a conversation with him. I think your whole intention all along was to provoke some type of reaction that you could then use to drum up some perceived controversy. You’re doing nothing but vilifying a genuinely good guy for your own benefit/promotion. Well yippee for you. I hope you’re proud of yourself. Personally, I find your actions to be the worst of what people see in the social realm.

  49. Doug – Nice exchange, thanks for sharing. I think you threw the first low blow and then the CMO did some dummy throwing etc etc. All good entertainment.

    Reading the comments above from others who have had ‘interesting’ customer service experiences with Best Buy and then reading this….I am wondering if an all inclusive Twitter strategy is the way forward for them.

  50. I can’t help but feel that social media tools such as Twitter have given people the license to be rude and overly confrontational. You were clearly provoking him and unfortunately he took the bait. He didn’t handle your aggressiveness appropriately but it’s not the crime of the century. Your exchange with Barry showed me two things: Corporate reps need to be “on” 24/7 AND certain bloggers believe it’s their duty to point out their (BB in this case) flaws in utilizing social media. And honestly, the latter really only highlights an elitist attitude. It’s easy to point out the flaws of others and apparently beneficial in terms of page views when done in a snarky manner.

  51. I’m not sure Mr. Judge really gets social media. He’s certainly riding its wave and has a good PR firm, I’ll give him that, but this exchange goes counter to what he preaches: the customer owns the brand. That said, I actually agree with him that online should cost less. Go ask

  52. Maybe this is why BB is looking for someone to run their social media!

    When tweeting we have expected responses from companies, especially those who put their name out there and advertise that they are tweeting. Average tweeters are posting up to 10 times a day. Many go offline for a few days (like weekends!) and don’t tweet any responses.

    We need to have realistic expectations when it comes to companies responding via twitter. We also need to recognize that not everyone is as knowledgeable in electronic social media as we [think we] are, so sometimes things will be said that are off-the-cuff. If you were to meet the CMO at a conference, would you have introduced yourself with your initial tweet? Probably not. If you had been friends for decades, then yes, your initial tweet made sense.

    Take a look at your expectations and decide if BB’s CMO needed to be called out, or if you were truly aiming for a fight!

    1. Hi Heather, Thanks for your comment. Your point about saying things off the cuff is spot on. I acknowledged in a comment last night that there is a level of politeness that is often abandoned when interacting with people electronically and I am certainly guilty of that in this case.

      I was not aiming for a fight but did want to send a pointed message (perhaps too pointed). After my initial tweet, I was simply responding to his assertion that prices should be different based on channel (regardless of what their price match guarantee says). There was never any intention of calling out the conversation until Mr. Judge made his highly condescending and frankly offensive (to me) remark regarding my knowledge of retail and consumer electronics specifically, followed by his abrupt end to the discussion.

      People say things in online forums that they regret later, but if you are representing a multi-billion dollar company in a public forum, as Mr. Judge is, the stakes are astronomically higher. When an irate customer complains in a store, they are generally not met with personal attacks and being shown the door. This is essentially how Mr. Judge interacted with me and that is what I felt needed to be called out.

  53. Doug, stop it – you’re going to force companies to shut down these social media channels before they have a chance to develop. When you start a conversation with, “BBY is still up to its old pricing tricks,” you can’t possibly expect a good conversation. I sincerely hope your antagonistic stupidity doesn’t prevent other executives from joining twitter.

    1. I agree again and I really think that Doug owes three apologies at this point.

      Doug first I think you need to apologize to Mr. Judge for starting this whole situation.

      Second, I think you need to apologize to Best Buy shareholders as a whole for what appears to be an attempt to hold their brand hostage so that you can drive traffic to your Blog.

      Third, and probably most important for you, I think you need to apologize to IBM for the negative publicity you have brought about for them. I can tell you for sure this makes me seriously question the IBM brand more than it makes me question the Best Buy brand. I think you need to remember that you also represent a brand and whether you like it or not your posts on your own personal Twitter or Blog will be help against your employer.

      Lets put this to bed in the most professional way possible. I think a personal apology from you to Mr. Judge should do it. I see that you attempted to do this earlier but you made things worse by citing a past court case in your apology.

      I am personally going to increase the amount of business I do with Best Buy to make up for them losing you. I loved how Mr. Judge handled you so I actually respect his brand even more now.

      Good luck

      1. What? Why should Doug apologize? It was BBY’s un-customer friendly pricing policy that caused this post. And apologize to BBY’s shareholders? Holding their brand hostage? C’mon. Get real. Their brand is at risk every day their doors are open. Every interaction with a customer puts their brand at risk. BBY is 80%+ institutionally owned. The buy-side doesn’t care what Doug posts on his blog, they only care about their bottom-line results.

  54. It’s rare that I read 99 post comments, but I did this time–perhaps because I have my own Best Buy bad customer experience story.

    My issue was resolved in court–in my favor. But I still smart over BB’s condescending attitude, evident today in their CMO’s tweets to Doug.

    I think Doug captured my opinion on this debacle best when he wrote, “But when the executive of a company who has received accolades for their innovative use of social media demonstrates engages with a customer in a condescending and defensive way, it sends a clear message that they really don’t get it.”

  55. Pingback: You are Always On
  56. These comments are hilarious. I love watching the old boys club grapple for “respect” they haven’t earned. Your days are numbered and if you tried to rip me off like that I’d probably have had harsher words for you.

    BestBuyCMO: to answer your question; YES, your web prices should be the same as your in-store prices for identical products. I shouldn’t have to tell you that. You should also note that your customers are entitled to their opinions. I shouldn’t have to tell you that either. And lastly … why the hell have you not man’d up and joined this conversation?

  57. I have a very hard time believing this is true. Seems like an old Circuit City employee is a little bitter. And it’s widely known that the CC employees were ignorant beyond belief.

  58. Apparently BB no longer price matches their own website. I was told this yesterday when I had almost the exact same problem. Customer Service said it was a new policy. Apparently, price matches Amazon and and since they don’t price match those sites, they won’t price match their own site anymore.

    This is remarkably short sighted, as there is basically no point in going to the store if the best deals are only available online. Further, they’ve lost the main competitive advantage they had, a brick and mortar store. They now are directly competing with Amazon. Bad move (Amazon was $15 cheaper than their own sale price).

    It’s quite possible that the CM reps (and their manager, I asked her too) were mistaken and they do still take the online price, but if that’s the case they have an even bigger problem, one where store managers are flying by their own rules and making it up as they go.

    Either way, for as much as they tout social media (and Judge likes to do it a lot), in reality they seem ignorant to what the web is about and where it’s going. I wrote Judge an email explaining my situation, but have not heard back from him. I suspect since he just heard something similar from you recently, he just ignored it.

  59. Wonder what changed, when the site first launched in June 2000, the in-store web kiosks where the actual website.
    Having been involved in the site research/development/launch back then, and all the planning and issue resolutions I can understand where a web price might not match a store price – way to many variables involved. But, since you can order online, pay, and pickup in store within 30-45 minutes, the stores should certainly match the price (without and argument) if there is a discrepancy.
    Since I was involved, I would love to have been a fly on the wall to hear the discussions along the way that changed that original decision/philosophy. Everything, and I mean every discussion we had, every meeting held, every decision made was focused around customer service, helping the customer find the right product for them and making the customer king. BBY as your smart friend.

  60. I should also say though that even though that was the tone/philosophy, with thousands of stores, thousands of employees on the retail floor, there is no total control over an errant employee or store manager. You can count on things going awry, it a certainty.

  61. Although I’m not familiar with Best Buy (being on the other side of the world and all), based on their previous legal issues and this interchange, it seems to me that their customer service is remarkably inconsistent…so inconsistent that it’s landing them in the courtroom repeatedly. If that is the case and their policies are continuously landing them in hot water, one would think that Doug’s initial tweet could be considered a service to Best Buy, regardless of his tone.

  62. What was your complaint anyway? You go the product you wanted at the price you wanted it at. There was a (1 minute?) delay so the cashier could check and adjust the price.

    What would the Best Buy CMO’s proper response have been, in your eyes?

  63. I have to admit what surprises me most, is the number of people commenting here who think that you are in the wrong instead of Best Buy.

    I don’t think there was anything at all wrong with your tone, especially considering that your daughter would have been relieved of an extra $50, if you hadn’t intervened.

    Reading about the fake-instore-website only reinforces the idea that they think their bottom line is the only thing that matters.

  64. Wait, am I missing something? You knew the policy, knew the price difference, went to the store, you told them it’s cheaper online. They gave you the lower price. And your complaining?

  65. What a load of hot air! In the UK we have a store price, and a web price. As the CEO tried to say, these are different markets – but the better stores allow one to buy on the web and collect at the store (saving postage and getting an even cheaper deal than either the store or a delivered web purchase. Good for them, I say.

    Of course, stores have to protect their store prices, which cover different overheads. It’s up to the consumer to do the checking. I don’t know about Best Buy’s price-matching guarantee, which seems to cloud the issue, but as far as I can see it gives you the option to collect ANY item at the web price just by asking for it. Heck, they even provide the capability to do that in store!!

    The average store consumer chooses to walk into a store and buy at the store price. It seems to me that Best Buy are handing you everything. All you have to do is raise a finger and check the price. Is that too hard?

  66. On topic:

    You did come off a little aggressive, however, ‘online’ should be the most demanding time for professionalism: he was completely out of line.

    A little off topic:

    I just had a similar situation with a pricing discrepancy with DELL.

    $699 CAD vs. $412 USD. The EXACT same product.

    I understand that there are various factors that can lead to pricing discrepancies – a global pricing model can be very complex. However, to have more than $300CAD difference is just insane.

    I called DELL. They would do NOTHING for me. After calling an ‘inbound’ call center several times, I decided to tweet about the discrepancy in their pricing model.

    I got a reply from a DELL employee offering me the product for $479CAD(Vs. $412USD).

    Too late.

    I had already ordered it to my friend in the states and saved over $300.

  67. I know I’m late to the party here, and my question is sort of irrelevant. Sorry. I am curious, though — what did you use to create the screenshot with the relative timestamps?

  68. Just read a post this morning where Wallmart flat out doesn’t match web prices and if you order online to be picked up in store it won’t arrive at the store for two weeks. Give it to BBY, they’ve had in-store pickup (if the store carries the particular item) in about an hour at the web price. They’ve had that since launch day in June 2000. They even have special parking right up front for web orders.
    I’m not aware of any other online store that has that even here 9 years later. It was a huge internal effort to make that happen, lots of things had to change and be rejiggered.

  69. As someone who worked for or inside of Best Buy in some capacity for three quarters of a decade, I can say that I am shocked – SHOCKED! – with the attitude of the Best Buy CMO upon being called for Best Buy’s egregious discrepancies in their publicized pricing tactics.

    And by shocked, I mean to say that it does not surprise me one bit.

    This man is the Chief MARKETING (keyword there) officer, and he doesn’t know how to interface with the public? That’s as epic-#fail as you get.

    I missed this when it first broke, because I was in Vegas getting married. So I hope my comments aren’t too late and/or redundant.

    Great post, Doug.

  70. Doug, it appears that BB is using the car dealership biz model of providing separate pricing models between web and lot. The upshot is, throw a high cost deal on the web, and make the lot price even higher – whatever the market will bear. In response to your question, as long as there is no regulation on this model, expect to pay more in person – they’ll claim it’s overhead they’re paying for. The bottom line? You’re still paying premium for crap made in China.

  71. You weren’t out of line, and he acted a bit unporefessional, but we’re all humans. He must have felt upset or he thinks he is above you… or whatnot, but it’s his decision to lose a customer, and then lose more. If he or the company thinks they can afford it… their problem.

  72. Great post, absolutely shocking that you received a response like that from such a senior member of staff. Although perhaps because it was so long ago they didn’t have a specific social media policy at the time.

  73. A fascinating discussion is definitely worth comment. I think that you need to publish more about this subject matter, it may not be a taboo subject but generally folks don’t talk about such issues. To the next! Best wishes!!

  74. The brand must be genuine by speaking truthfully about what it is that you do well and why you do it. This isn’t about pulling one over on the public. It’s about acting responsibly and living up to your reputation.

  75. Great article! Social media can make or break you – I don’t think you were out of line. There is also another way to have your say – a great website called This site allows you to write reports about your Suppliers, and give them a fair chance to respond to you.

  76. Do you mind if I quote a few of your posts as long as I provide credit and sources
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  77. Great article, thanks! Customer service is probably one of the most underrated things in this world – truly a dying art. I have come across a website which allows me to receive the customer service I deserve. By writing reports about my Suppliers, and allowing them to respond to me regarding the matter at hand, has helped restore my faith in customer service.

  78. Hey there! This post couldn’t be written any better! Reading through this post reminds me of my previous room mate! He always kept talking about this. I will forward this write-up to him. Fairly certain he will have a good read. Thanks for sharing!

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  80. In real, social media has been emerged as a true power of consumers these days.
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  81. First of all I want to say excellent blog! I had a quick question in which
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  82. Nice article Dug. It is really a bad customer service experience. Social media helps us to show how such high position people forget about their responsibility.

    Thanks for sharing this.

  83. do you think slogans or taglines may play a role in twitter and other social media? I think twitter communication, being so limited in space (e.g. 140 characters) would largely benefit from short catchy slogans.

  84. Hi, I have noticed that on you mention that you have used the search engine scraper by creative bear tech for B2B lead generation and finding guest posting opportunities. Would you recommend this software? The £500 price tag is a bit steep for our business and I wanted to do my due diligence before committing ourselves to this sale.

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