Best Buy gives the lie to its advertising claims

Their commercials promised more than they could deliver.

You’ve seen it on Channel 6, Channel 8, Channel 12, Channel 35 and the Verizon and Comcast cable systems serving Richmond. Consumers saw it on their local TV channels across the country. It was a Best Buy television advertising campaign claiming that between the retail chain’s huge inventory, their online ordering and fast shipping, “Santa better watch his back this year.”

Well, this year, seeing wasn’t believing.

Aggressive online discounting against Amazon and Walmart Stores boosted website traffic, in-store sales and general demand — demand it turns out Best Buy couldn’t satisfy. The Minnesota retailer made news with a last-minute cancelation of orders dating as far back as the Black Friday weekend after Thanksgiving.

And when word of the cancelations leaked out — the company having disclosed them only to select media and never even mentioning them on Facebook and Twitter — they also made enemies.

Outraged customers have filled the Best Buy website with vehement complaints.

“I’ll sure think twice before ordering from you for #Christmas next #blackfriday 2012,” one tweeted on December 23.

Another complained that after having received an e-mail that her purchase was en route to her local Best Buy, another told her on the delivery date that it “suddenly ‘was delayed in shipping from warehouse to store.’ My beef is that the first email must have been a lie — the item was obviously never put in transit.”

Yet another posted of receiving a free bundled controller with a PlayStation order, getting it independently, then being told the main item was backordered, then being charged for the free item. “ really handled this transaction poorly,” the post said.

Orthers weren’t so understated. One post was titled, “I’d like to thank Best Buy for killing my Christmas.” Many called Best Buy a Grinch, and at least one tweet, citing a Gizmodo post, accused Best Buy of “screwing” consumers.

And still others advised disappointed shoppers which competitors they could order from instead.

Best Buy is coming off a third quarter in which net income declined 29%, in a year that saw company stocks lose 32% of their value. The fourth quarter, and the first quarter of next year, may make that look like the Good Old Days. “[T]he bad press is enough to scare some people away from ordering online at Best Buy in the future,” wrote one Los Angeles security analyst.

So the next time you plan a big sale, promotion or ad campaign, remember what Best Buy obviously didn’t: Never promise what you can’t deliver.