Best Buy + Secret Website = State Investigation of Best Buy Sales Rules
Best Buy uses a “secret website” in their stores to mislead customers and deny them discounts advertised on BestBuy.com
On February 9, 2007 George Gombossy, Staff Writer/Consumer Watchdog reporter for The Hartford Courant, wrote this article on how Best Buy salesmen in the West Hartford, CT, and Newington, CT, stores refused to honor $150 discounts offered on a Toshiba laptop advertised on Best Buy's public website - bestbuy.com.
The salesmen justified their refusal by showing the customer a secret website that appeared to be BestBuy.com. This secret website that they accessed in the store did not have the sales price.Best Buy spokesman Justin Barber called the reporter back and said Best Buy's policy is to always honor the lowest advertised price, whether from its Internet site or from a competitor. Barber insisted that "nothing improper was going on and that there was no secret website that virtually duplicates the public site so salesmen can dupe customers."
On February 10, 2007 the Connecticut Attorney General's office started an investigation into whether Best Buy maintains a secret intranet site that may have been used by some salesmen to deny customers discounts that appear on the company's public Internet site. The AG's office office informed Best Buy that he wants answers about its Internet policies and to disclose whether it has an intranet site that could be used to mislead customers. His office will also look into whether other chain stores may be using similar sales practices."The key question is whether consumers were advertised one price, and then denied that price when they got to the store," Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal said last week. Under pressure from state investigators, Best Buy later confirmed that its stores indeed do have a "secret intranet site that has been used to block some consumers from getting cheaper prices advertised on BestBuy.com."
What happened at Best Buy is a great example of what can go wrong when business rules and processes are not managed properly. At a minimum, this is clearly an example of poor business rules management practices and poor process management practices. At a maximum, executives, employees and the company could be liable for damages.
This situation shows why business rules management is vital to the corporation.