This customer’s appliance order wasn’t his best buy; indeed, he deems it a nightmare in the kitchen
That’s a pretty strong statement from Butler, 79, whom his daughter, “Mr. Glass half full. “I suspect his almost unwavering optimism inspired many around him during his dual careers as university professor, dean and episcopal priest. (He has retired from academia, but is priest-in-residence at St. James active in Somerville.)
“Even my patience is failing,” he snorted (softly).
I was with Butler on October 16 when he confronted two Best Buy managers about the stove that he had not yet received. It was the fifth time Butler returned to the Watertown store. Just hours earlier, a Best Buy representative had called again to cancel the delivery.
Before I came to his shop, Butler had given me a litany of canceled deliveries: September 9, September 17, September 21, October 2, October 5, October 7, October 10 and October 12.
What made it even more annoying was that Best Buy Butler had been buried in a deluge of emails that were confusing and contradicting. For example, on September 29th, he received six dizzying emails in which delivery dates were created and changed. In total, more than 60 emails fell into his inbox, forcing him to pick up the phone almost every day to clean up the mess. It took time for him to attend to pastoral matters.
A Best Buy manager later offered Butler the following explanation: “I’m sorry, but both of us [computer] Programs often don’t play well together. “
The whole experience angered Butler, who came east from St. Louis decades ago to teach at Ivy League colleges and then became something of an institution at Hobart College as a professor and dean for nearly 30 years. (He also lived extensively abroad as a scholar of medieval German literature.)
Butler, a widower, said he liked to cook. But without a fully equipped kitchen, the healthy diet he was committed to has suffered. He also lost sleep and was scared, he said.
Best Buy is one of the largest consumer electronics and home appliance retailers in the country, with approximately 1,000 stores and annual sales of $ 40 billion. I doubt it thought much about how its actions (and inaction) affected Butler.
At the store, Butler was reading from notes scrawled in a small leather-bound book held in his hands. As he spoke, the managers he had previously – and repeatedly – asked for help with seemed to sink a little deeper into their chairs.
One of them cut him off to apologize and offer a refund.
“I don’t think a refund is appropriate,” Butler replied, his words barely audible in the hustle and bustle of the store. (Memo to Best Buy Managers: The next time someone of Butler’s generation comes in with a complaint, offer them a chair, a quiet place to talk, and a little respect.)
“The only thing we can do is give you a refund and a humble apology,” one of the managers said, sounding like he wanted to move on.
The compensation for lost time and anger can only come from “Legal”. And no, they didn’t have a phone number. He would have to call the dreaded customer service number (again).
However, the size of his kitchen made Butler’s purchase difficult. The first LG model he bought turned out to be too big, which could have been avoided if the seller asked for measurements.
After that, Best Buy Butler announced that only one model would fit, but the only one that had it was the floor model. Well, said Butler, I’ll take it.
On his last call to cancel, Best Buy Butler announced that the device was damaged and undeliverable.
It seems Best Buy had been taking Butler for weeks only to end up saying it couldn’t fulfill the order. I wonder how seriously Best Buy took a customer who seems so meek.
Encouraged by me, corporate headquarters finally confirmed their shoddy treatment of Butler.
“This is certainly not the kind of experience we want for any of our customers and we apologize for the inconvenience Reverend Butler caused,” said Best Buy, adding that Butler will receive a refund and a Best Buy gift card shall be of unspecified value.
Butler later told me it was for $ 250, but it didn’t matter because he vowed never to do business with Best Buy again.
In an email to Best Buy (and copied to me), Butler requested compensation of $ 1,125, an amount he arbitrarily calculated by calculating 75 percent of the stove’s value. (Given Butler’s wear and tear, I think he should get at least 100 percent of the cost of the stove.)
“I’m not just doing this for myself,” he said. “I do it for others who have felt intimidated by a large company.”
And that three foot hole in his kitchen? It will be filled soon. Butler paid roughly the same price for the same model at Home Depot, which promised Friday delivery.
Have a problem? Send your consumer problem to [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @spmurphyboston.