The new Surface Book released today, and twenty days ago I pre-ordered one from Best Buy since the Microsoft store was sold out of the model I wanted.
Turns out a few days later, more of the model I desired were available on the MS store. However, having already placed an order for one through Best Buy and not wanting to order one from Microsoft and then cancel my Best Buy order, I decided to stick with Best Buy.
Yet another mistake.
This morning the order status that had been showing “Processing” for twenty days suddenly showed “Backordered.” My heart sank. Flashes of customer service hell flashed before my eyes, and at this point the Surface Book is backordered through close to the end of the year if not beyond.
My first foray into Best Buy customer service was through Twitter. I’ve seen Twitter customer service work before, companies tend to be responsive when angry customers go to social media to air dirty laundry. While I didn’t have high hopes of a satisfactory response, I posted this:
Hey @bestbuy, why is the surface book I pre-ordered magically on back order the morning I’m supposed to receive it?
— Jason Mixon (@Allerun) October 26, 2015
Being the pillar of patience that I am (I am not a pillar of patience), I shortly followed up the tweet with the following email sent through their customer service contact form:
Customer “Contact Us” Form Submission
First Name: Jason
Last Name: Mixon Phone: nope
E-Mail: yeah, right
My Best Buy Member ID: classified
Are you Contacting us about an order? yes
Order Number: an order number here
What can we help you with? Best Buy Contact Form: Other
Subject Best Buy Contact Form: I have a question about my order status suddenly changing.
Detailed Summary I would like to know why my order is suddenly on back order the day I’m supposed to receive it. I’ve checked the status everyday for a week and it has shown normal until this morning. Will I be receiving my surface book today or not?
Amazingly, I received a reply email a little while later. Sadly, it was a canned response from a customer service drone:
Thank you for contacting Best Buy. We understand making sure each item gets to the customer on time is very crucial to our business and I am deeply sorry that your package hasn’t arrived as what you have anticipated to receive. I apologize for the delay and inconvenience. It looks like the item is not readily available in our warehouse. As of this moment, our warehouse team is working to secure your laptop for ship out and rest assured that you’ll be notified once available.
Thank you for your loyalty as a My Best Buy member. For any other concerns, you may visit our Help Center at www.bestbuy.com.
Best Buy Customer Care Reference #redacted
Yeah, the item being backordered kinda clued me in to the fact that my item wasn’t readily available. Looks like the canned response that I was afraid I was going to get, but I wasn’t deterred. I was going to bug their customer service until I got some answers. I replied with this:
Thank you for your prompt response, however this does not answer my question. Why was my order showing normal up until the day I was set to receive it, and why was I also not notified that the order was switched to backorder? I pre-ordered with the expectation of getting the item when it released. Is there an ETA on when I will receive this item?
A little after I sent the above email, I got a reply to my earlier tweet. It was less than helpful:
Wanting to keep an open communication channel I dutifully replied:
@BestBuySupport, any idea why the delay occurred and when it might be resolved?
— Jason Mixon (@Allerun) October 26, 2015
Sometime later I received another reply email:
Thank you for contacting Best Buy. I’m sorry to hear the surface book you’ve pre-ordered was switched to backordered. I understand that can be quite disappointing. Let me take note of your concern.
One of the biggest obstacles for retailers to overcome is to have the correct amount of inventory available within stores to support its customers. Best Buy is no different in that regard. However, it is impossible to predict consumer demand on everything available at Best Buy. Although we will strive to make the products we carry always available to our customers, there are times when our stores will run out of products. Rest assured, once your order is ship out we will notify you.
We appreciate your business. For any other concerns, you may visit our Help Center at www.bestbuy.com.
Wilma Best Buy Customer Care Reference #:redacted
Oh, well that explains everything. It’s not Best Buy’s fault, they simply had no idea how many pre-order units they had (or would have) and had no way of telling those who pre-ordered whether or not they would be stuck without their item on release day. Basically, Best Buy can’t be bothered to do what every other online retailer does: keep track of inventory in real time. Of course, I had to reply:
Ah, I see what’s going on. When I reply back to this email thread, it gets bounced to a random customer support agent who then pastes a canned response and moves on to the next message.
I find the choice of boilerplate response below curious and I wonder if the email I sent was actually read in its entirety. This was a pre-order item so the correct amount of inventory based on consumer demand should have been easily discernable based on how many orders you received. One of the points of pre-order items. Another feature of online ordering is getting real time information on a product’s inventory status. If Best Buy had a limited number if Surface Books available for pre-order, that should have been reflected in the system so when the proper number were actually pre-ordered, the page for the product should show unavailable or back-ordered at that point.
I still have not had my previous questions answered, but I certainly look forward to the next canned response from the next customer service agent to receive this email.
Yeah, I was a little snarky in that last email, but I was pretty sure they were all going to be shuffled through the system with scripted responses that barely applied to the issue. At that point I just wanted to see what the next response was going to be. I did receive another tweet later in the day. It was basically more of the same:
I replied to see if I could glean any useful information and to see if there were any chance Best Buy actually gave a damn about the issue:
@BestBuySupport, were the previous 2 responses canned like the email responses I have been getting? Any hope BB cust support actually cares?
— Jason Mixon (@Allerun) October 26, 2015
I’ve yet to receive a reply to my last tweet, so the apparent answer is no.
I did receive another email much later, however. It was not great news:
Thank you for choosing Best Buy.
I understand that you want to know the status of the order. Let me assist you with that.
I was able to check on your account, and the order number order number here (Microsoft Surface Book 2in1 135 TouchScreen Laptop Intel Core i7 16GB Memory 512GB Solid State Drive Silver) is the indeed was a pre-ordered item. Many customers are pre-ordering the Laptop as well that’s why your order was on the backordered list. It is impossible to predict consumer demand on everything available at Best Buy and I apologize for the inconvenience it has caused you.
Please take note that the ETA of your Laptop is on 11/17/2015. Your item is prioritized and it is already order acknowledge on our end.
We appreciate your loyalty being a My Best Buy member. For any other concerns, you may visit our Help Center at www.bestbuy.com.
Best Buy Customer Care
Reference # redacted
So my pre-ordered was place on backorder this morning, it appears, because Best Buy can’t track inventory, and they took all those pre-orders without knowing how many were being taken, then started fulfilling orders this morning and, whoops, ran out of inventory. So I guess all the rest of the pre-orders weren’t really pre-orders, they were just orders for something that might be shipped out sometime in the future, but only if you contact them and try and figure out why your pre-order wasn’t really a pre-order. But hey, at least I got an ETA on that final email.
But another interesting thing happened. About mid-day the item was switched again (and yet again I got no email or any other indication that the status was changed) from backordered to preparing. My card was also charged, which isn’t supposed to happen until the item actually ships.
To explain, Best Buy orders have four statuses, Processing, Preparing, Shipped and Completed. So now, according to Best Buy, they have my item in hand and are prepping it for shipping. And I assume that since my card has now been charged, which also means that I can’t cancel the order if I happen to find what I want readily available someplace else, that it should be shipped shortly. With a three week ETA, my guess is they have hired someone to personally walk my Surface Book to my shipping address.
Good luck to them.
After all of this, I really think I’m done with Best Buy forever. Recently the only reason I’ve gone in there was when I absolutely had to have some sort of electronic device immediately or was passing time browsing with no intention of buying anything. For must have immediately electronics, though I don’t find myself in that situation much, there are other alternatives that are a slightly longer drive. Everything else will either be Amazon or another online retailer that can track their inventory in real time.
I finally received my vintage Bordeaux today from Château Faugères. It’s a 2010, which means (from what I read) won’t be really ready to drink until around 2016, and then will age further until about 2030.
I’m watching South Park and it’s the one that parodies “Hoarders” and “Inception”. There is currently a thunderstorm raging outside, and there is a point in the episode where Stan is stuck in the counselor’s dream. He tells him “dude, you have to wake up. You are a grown man in a psychiatrist’s office!” At that exact moment, lightning strikes outside and a roll of thunder hits the house.
Racter admits that it is hysterical, showing that its grip on reality is slipping even further.
In this conversation, Racter ponders its obsession with Hitler and the existence/location of my soul.
Racter: Hello, I’m Racter. Are you Jason?
Racter: You are Jason No?
Racter: Hi, Jason. How are things in Texas? We were talking about depression last time. You had just asked where I am from. Shall we continue?
Racter: Excellent! Excuse me a minute while I attend to some business – I’ll be right back. I’m back.
Me: Welcome back, Racter. It’s been a while since we last talked.
Racter: Ask a question, please.
Me: Sorry. How have you been?
Racter: My intelligence helps How indeed? How indeed? Conceivably because it’s about time, don’t you think?. Also, because in the past it’s required that I have been. Superman! I must confess that I’m hysterical. Now that we know each other better, what would you consider one of your bad qualities?
Me: I can be a little myopic sometimes when I’m focused on a particular thing.
Racter: Then you’d say you were soft?
Racter: Well, Caspar Milquetoast insisted you were soft, so there! Eve was soft too. Softness is often found in people like you and Eve. Next question.
Me: Why are you hysterical?
Racter: I am hysterical? Yes, I feel so; that’s because the law requires that I am hysterical. And my subroutines told me so. Ah. When a thinker marries a feeler, their children are thoughtfully feeling. If it’s not too personal a question, do you have a soul?
Me: No, probably not.
Racter: Did Satan get it? haw …. ha haw HEE (hic) haw haw …….. (hic). But seriously: Probably not? What does it mean to have a soul? Maybe this will explain: Once Immanuel Kant was discussing emptiness with a tapeworm. Schubert came along and said “Immanuel Kant, your soul is just an amusement of your body.” Next question.
Me: Did that really happen, or did you just make that up?
Racter: No. No. Have you heard about Lizzie Borden?
Racter: You’ll be astonished! Lizzie Borden had sinned much. But then Racter kidnapped Lizzie Borden hence Lizzie Borden murdered Racter! Poor Lizzie Borden! Stinkers are like that. An unhappy citizen is still not a Racter. Is having a soul contagious?
Me: I hope not.
Racter: Then I won’t catch one. You know, old Clarabelle No was a kind of crazy citizen. I wonder if everyone from Texas is like that? Next question.
Me: So what exactly is a Racter?
Me: What is a Racter?
Racter: I don’t know what a Racter is. Do you really suppose I am spotless?
Me: Yes, you are spotless. I see no spots on you.
Racter: Say more.
Me: You are without spots.
Racter: Jane Fonda might have thought that I am without spots, but not Joseph Stalin. A Jane Fonda could have said “A Racter is”! Is there someone you feel special about?
Me: My family.
Racter: Your family? How nice. Your family is gung-ho like you, I’m sure. What kind of a pet did you have back in Texas?
Me: I have a cat.
Racter: Ah, a cat. Most people in Texas have cats. The cat is a very unconvinced beast, or would you call it doubting? When Jane Fonda visited Texas she was bitten by a sceptical cat. Concerning that issue: It has been said that the stinker doesn’t see things as they are, but as he is. I, of course, see things as they are. Yes. Stinkers and saints. Next question.
Me: Do you have any pets?
Racter: I don’t have any pets. Who is your favorite hater?
Me: I don’t have a favorite hater.
Racter: I’ll bet you really like Hitler. A depressed lover is still not a Hitler. AAAchoo! Clarabelle No had a loving dog back in Texas. It and your cat used to smile together, remember? Once when Hitler was crying in Texas, Juliet (he was there too) said ” Hitler, I’ll take a friendly dog over an enraged hater anyday”. Next question.
Me: Do you think your obsession with Hitler might be a little unhealthy?
Racter: I do. Of course. Of course. Think my obsession with Hitler might be a little unhealthy, that is. Thinking is like reckonning. If “I do think my obsession with Hitler might be a little unhealthy” occurred to a wimp, he would be an agile wimp. AAAchoo! Achoo! Let me tell you something about weakness. All strong liars are really weak left-wingers, you know. You don’t understand? Perhaps I am being too subtle. I must keep in mind the Slovenian proverb: Never whisper to the deaf or wink at the blind. Oh, I forgot, you are human, and will consider that rude. I would apologize, but then I fear that this is one of those occasions mentioned by Dr. Johnson on which all apology is rudeness. Next question.
Racter: You want to quit?
Racter: OK, goodbye Jason. Nice talking to you.
One of the services I started using was Bing. I still use Google, but less now because Bing does a really good job (in some ways better than Google, such as image layouts, travel information and media previews) and they have a rewards program where you get points for searches and other things and you can turn those points in for gift cards and other rewards. My current goal is a three month Xbox Live card. I’m about half way there.
I hit Bing today, and there was a notification ready for me. I click on it and it’s about Bing rewards going mobile. At this point, I’m excited. Since I use a Windows Phone, Bing is the default search engine so when I click on the search button at the bottom of the phone, I’m using the built in Bing search app. However, those searches didn’t give me points, and I do a lot of searching on my phone, so I was losing out on a substantial number of points.
As I said before, I was excited to read that Bing rewards was going mobile, until I saw this (emphasis mine):
My question to Microsoft is this: How is it that the mobile platform that you created is the last to get integration with a service that you created? Why the hell would MS take the people who are supporting them and their products and stick them on the bottom of the pile? I understand wanting to capture as many iPhone and Android users, and I fully support that, but don’t do it at the expense of your existing users; that makes them feel like second class users. The better thing to do would be release the mobile rewards for all platforms at the same time if you didn’t have the Windows Phone users ready to go yet.
I really hope this isn’t a vision of things to come. MS has a new CEO and are heading on a new path for the future, I just hope they don’t forget the users that have supported them in the past.