Best Buy Scam Gets Connecticut A.G.’s Attention
Who says the big boxes always charge the lowest prices possible? Certainly not the state of Connecticut, whose Attorney General Richard Blumenthal and Department of Consumer Protection Commissioner Jerry Farrell, Jr., have sued Best Buy for “deceiving and overcharging customers.”
In a release, Blumenthal said Best Buy used in-store computer kiosks to deceive consumers about product prices and overcharge them.
According to Blumenthal, Best Buy operates an internal site that’s virtually identical to BestBuy.com, but accessible only at kiosks in its stores. The difference between the public site and the internal site is that the latter lists “in-store instead of online prices,” said the attorney general, who explained that consumers access information at the in-store kiosk by clicking on a tab labeled “BestBuy.com,” even though they are not connecting to the internet site.
At issue is Best Buy’s pledge to match any lower online price, including from its own internet site. “Many Best Buy salespeople falsely told consumers searching for or seeking to confirm lower online prices that the kiosk connected them to BestBuy.com,” said the release. “When the site displayed the higher in-store price, salespeople allegedly suggested that consumers, who thought they were viewing BestBuy.com, previously misread the lower online price, or the online price had expired.”
“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,” said Blumenthal. “The company commonly kept two sets of prices—one on its internet site and an often higher set on its in-store look-alike, available on kiosks. The in-store site was an internet look-alike, commonly with higher prices, which were charged to consumers. Best Buy broke its promise to give the best price—an internet version of bait-and-switch.
“Consumers seeking bargains were led to believe that lower online prices had expired or never existed,” he added. “Best Buy treated its customers like suckers, not patrons to be prized… Our action seeks to compel Best Buy to fix its deceptive kiosks, eliminate confusion and fulfill its price match policy. I will also seek restitution for consumers and civil penalties.”