Best Buy’s bait and switch

I find this reprehensible. Best Buy has gotten caught publishing prices on their web site, and having a duplicate, look-alike site that employees access from inside the store. So, if you see a deal on line and want to go pick one up in the store, it is quite possible that an employee will show you a site from one of their in-store browsers that shows a different price on what appears to be the Best Buy site. Silly consumer, you must’ve mis-read the price at home!

First, let’s call this what it is: it’s a grift. It’s a bait and switch. It’s illegal. It’s a scam to get you in the store and sell you goods at higher prices or try to get you to buy other goods. Second, let’s watch Best Buy’s executive team ‘fess up and admit what they did. From the article:

“It’s unfortunate, some of the situations being described,” Bryant said. “What we’ve learned very quickly is we have not been clear enough in communicating to our employees the policy, and how to execute it in our stores.”

Woah. That’s not an admission. That’s throwing every one of your retail employees under the bus. You’re blaming 17 year old kids for not being convincing con-artists. Just think about the level of sophistication required to pull this off. It wasn’t by accident that an entire second web site and database went up and that machines deployed to the stores were configured to access it instead of the public site. The infrastructure required to make this happen isn’t accidental; it is the result of a massive, concerted effort by people very high up in the organization.

You lied. You’re crappy con-artists that got caught. And I hope you pay.

Update March 19, 2007: According to a report by The Consumerist, Best Buy is still doing this, even after an investigation was launched!