Consumer heavyweight Len Dastard takes on Best Buy

21 January 2011

Bitterwallet - Len DastardHola amigos! It is I, Len Dastard, back again to fight for you – my dedicados lectores. Whilst I write under the guise of a semi-retired Mexican wrestler I am a full-time litigation executive who gets his kicks from assisting consumers in their disputes with retailers. I also post dirty leotards to television celebrities, but let us speak no more of this.

This week I find myself up against BestBuy! Aieeeee! Avid Bitterwallet reader Damien contacted me to seek advice on a situation that he finds himself in with them. This is very similar to the matter which we successfully raised with Tesco.

Damien ordered an Olympus E-PL1 Compact System Camera. If you carry on reading to “Whats in the box” you will see that there should have been included an “Electronic ViewFinder VF-2”. This was not included and Damien used the Tesco letter in order to state that he considered BestBuy to be in breach of contract for failing to supply an item which formed part of their contract. This is a screenshot of the item when Damien ordered; it has been removed from the website.

The contract in this instance has been formed because:

1. Damien offered to buy the item
2. BestBuy accepted his offer
3. Damien paid for the item (known as consideration)
4. BestBuy then sent the item.

Contract complete. It is useful to try and remember these stages in order for you to determine whether or not your contract is legally binding.

Damien sent an initial email to BestBuy and they replied to say that will be happy to refund 10% of the purchase price (£38). This would not cover the cost of purchasing the ViewFinder as they retail at about £180. We have emailed BestBuy the following:

I do not feel that the offer truly reflects my loss.

My position was adequately set out in my recent email. In summary:

1. There has clearly been an offer and acceptance (plus my consideration) for an item as shown on your website.
2. An item was dispatched (albeit not as advertised). At this point our contract is legally binding.

As it stands, BestBuy are currently in breach of contract. You have failed to supply the item that was subject to our contract.

I am aware that the piece of missing equipment (Viewfinder VF-2) certainly would cost much more (in the region of £180) if bought separately. This is obviously considerably more than the amount that you are offering me to settle this dispute. This therefore is the
reason why I am not willing to accept your offer.

Should we not be able to reach an amicable conclusion I would have no alternative but to issue formal Court proceedings to remedy your breach of contract.

It is my genuine hope that we can deal with this matter without the need for any litigation.

So, we wait to see what BestBuy say. As soon as we have some information we will let you all know.

BitterWallet have been asked on a couple of occasions to assist following price rises by Fitness First. We are looking in to this matter but we need some assistance from anyone who still have a copy of their contract and considers their price hike to be extortionate. If this is you – contact us at [email protected]

18 comments

  • Wakdaddy70
    Was this bought online? If so they are subject to distant selling regs where the customer is entitled to a full no questions asked refund.
  • Len D.
    Wakdaddy70 - yes, this item was purchased online. However, if they were angling for a refund they would now be out of time in order to rely on the 7 working day cooling off period under the Distance Selling Regulations. Damien does not want a refund. He simply wants them to honour their part of the contract.
  • Harry
    On a slightly off-topic note, (ie, wanna rant about BestBuy for 2 mins!) Been on the phone to them myself. Bought an item as part of their "Advent Calendar" daily deal promotion. Was £9.99, however on dispatch I was charged the "after promotion" price of £14.99. Rather sneakily too, my statement says Best Buy took £9.99 and then a further £5 on the same day. Would have missed it had I not looked closely enough. My invoice, emails and account summary (on their website) all say £9.99, its only when I clicked on the specific order details that I discovered the £14.99 charge. Its taken 2 phone calls to sort out and I'm waiting still for the refund. What really got my goat was the customer service lady called my refund a "good will gesture"... what?! I was overcharged, its MY money! Its a shame really, I *love* BestBuy in the USA. The customer service over there is a real object lesson in how to do it right.
  • Ant
    I can tell you now what bestbuy will say, without any shadow of doubt. "Hi Damien, Thank you for your email. I will be more than happy to assist however first I will need to locate your order. So I can do this please can you reply to this email with the following information: - Full Name - Full Address - Sales Order/Receipt Number - Make and model of product - Contact Number Once I have the above information I will be able to look further into your query. I look forward to hearing from you. Regards John Singh Best Buy Customer Services"
  • Al
    I bought a dishwasher from BestBuy at the end of November. I opted for a 'pack' which came with rinse aid and dishwasher deodorizer (it was about £5 and seemed ok value). BestBuy delivered the dishwasher but not the other bits. After two (half hour) phone calls, 3 emails and many promises that they'd send out new ones, I just gave up. The dishwasher was excellent value and, if they're by far the cheapest, I'll use them again ... but I'd certainly go with other retailers first given BestBuy's rubbish after sales service.
  • Richard
    So they sent out an item which has been misdescribed. This happens all the time, there's no way they'll give you £180, they'll offer a refund for the product and that's it. This isn't news...
  • Henni
    Sounds like bestbuy has got off to a great start... @harry, you should raise hell, and complain about the sneaky £5 charge and the cheeky "goodwill gesture" by writing a letter to the directors/ manager. I would threaten to report them to trading standards etc unless i got an apology.
  • Henni
    If they offer a refund that'll cost them 380 quid! and unless they are truly represhensible, they won't be able to put the returned camera up for resale as is. Much more likely, if he doesn't settle for 100 quid or so, they will be forced to buy the missing part at cost and send it to him.
  • Tom B.
    Hi Damien, My name is Tom and I work for Best Buy. I am really sorry to hear that this has happened. If you send an e-mail explaining your problem to [email protected] we will take care of this as a matter of urgency. Thank you, Tom
  • dvdj
    Len - Lets face it, they haven't got the missing item and it was advertised incorrectly, they'll just offer a full refund or slightly up the partcial refund.
  • Len D.
    dvdj - good afternoon! I now know that they do have this missing piece of equipment... At the end of the day it is entirely up to Damien what he wishes to do in this situation but I hope that Best Buy look at this issue and accept some responsibility.
  • dvdj
    Len - Good Afternoon indeed, especially as I'm offski to the pub now. True that they should take some responsibilty, but they probably won't. The data input monkey clearly just copied some spec's and included the viewfinder as a mistake, especially considering the price of it.
  • someone
    If it's advertised as "in the box" I suspect it was down to a dodgy supplier than Best Buy, as I doubt they actually check items themselves before listing them
  • Richard
    Someone - doesn't matter whose fault it is. His contract is with Best Buy. Also worth mentioning that they are in breach of the Sale of Goods Act, section 13 in that the goods don't match the description (which includes packaging).
  • MrRobin
    It doesn't matter who made the mistake originally, it is the responsibility of the retailer to ensure the product description is accurate. Why should Damien have to pay for BestBuy's cock up? If Damien had received all the goods and then turned round to BestBuy and said 'sorry I made a mistake, I was only meant to pay £200 for this so that's all you're getting' BestBuy would (rightly) be demanding from him the rest, backed up with threats of court action.
  • Very C.
    The only time I take a screenshot of an order is when I know there's been a misprice. I guess Damien has done the same, knowing fine well that this was "too good to be true". It's a different proposition altogether trying to claim a 'loss' given those circumstances. Sure, Damien is probably over protective of web shopping and screen dumps all the time eh ? btw, overrated camera's - you can pick up decent cam at comet for approx £50 - save yourself some cash ;)
  • Ten B.
    [...] Consumer heavyweight Len Dastard takes on Best Buy [...]
  • Christopher
    >> Also, we are not asking for £180. We are asking for our contract to be fulfilled and the missing equipment sent. Couple of things... 1. Contracts are generally formed when both parties agree to form them. In this case, BB have (clearly?) made a simple mistake of copying a manufacturer's description for what looks like an identicle product, other than a single line at the bottom with 3 words in it, that suggest something else is included that the buyer picked up on and BB didn't, and obviously wasn't included in the end. I don't know how much the camera generally retails for, but I'm guessing around £350 - £400. Ditto with the VF2, but again I'm guessing around £200. Now at this point, the buyer is assuming BB are retailing a product worth around £600 for £400. Instead of querying them (given there's no image of the viewfinder, or box, and it seems slightly suspiciously priced), they purchase and hope for the best. All well and good, I'd do the same myself, as we all would. Except... BB could no doubt claim that their intention was never to sell the goods with the Viewfinder, and a simple C&P job made it look like it may have, but all other evidence pointed the other way, and would they ever be reasonably expected to accept a contract for something worth £200 more than they were selling it for? Is a perfectly valid legal argument, and other companies have won similar claims due to this. Then again, a 33% discount isn't completely abnormal. It's not like they were selling it at £3.99. So, OP could, and probably would, win that argument. Soo... what to do? Well, the 7 day DSR cooling off period is irrelevant, the buyer need only notice the incorrectly described item within a reasonable period of time, and can rightfully ask for a refund for the item, or a repair / replacement should it be available. In this case, I'm sure BB would be happy to refund. But OP wants a replacement, for something BB never intended to give them. Which brings me to... 2. Common sense. Something any judge would take in to account, no doubt. Should BB offer to pick up the item, refund them, and possibly even offer some money off as a goodwill gesture for a mistake any one of us could make (I myself have on multiple occasions failed to notice a slightly incorrect manufacturers description for goods I'm selling), that seems like a good trade off. If OP refuses, and demands BB send him 33% more than BB intended to sell him, and takes BB to court because they refuse.... I'd say OP's chances are 50/50, at best. >> it is the responsibility of the retailer to ensure the product description is accurate. I'm guessing it would be their duty to take reasonable care to ensure they're accurate. You'll never get everything 100% perfect, and with no doubt 1000s or 10,000s products on the BB site, there'll be plenty more errors than this one. They should always acept a return and refund, but anything more, I'm not entirely sure about. Oh and, FWIW, just because I only found out about this one... Consequential loss could only be claimed if the seller could resonably have forseen the loss. So don't even think about that one...

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