Meanwhile, Best Buy customers have been contacting media to say that their experiences mirror the earlier ones reported, strongly suggesting the site confusion is, at best, widespread. At worst, some customers say, it could be deliberate and misleading if the employees knew what sites they were showing. "I recently encountered the Best Buy intrastore Web site pricing discrepancy. I often research products online, then make my purchase in the store. But I was disheartened when I arrived to find the price higher in the store," said John Thayer, an applications architect with Quality Bicycle Products in Bloomington, Minn. "I asked a sales associate, Can I get the Web price? The sales associate said, Sure, and we walked to a terminal to look up the price. What they pulled up on their terminal was a Web page showing the price that matched the store price, not what I recalled was the Web price. "What troubles me," Thayer said, "is the misdirection that occurs when looking up the Web price in their stores. How can a customer respond to this price discrepancy without becoming argumentative? Im sure many people respond with, Well, I must have made a mistake and just pay the higher price. In order to get the Web price, I ultimately had to return home to make a printout of my version of the Web price.""Last year, I purchased a Sony video camera. As I live an hour from the nearest store, I had researched the price that week," wrote the Fort Wayne, Ind., reader. "On the Friday before I purchased it, the price was someplace between $20 - $50 cheaper on the Web site than at the store on Saturday. I asked the salesman about this, and he took me to their computer and explained that the sale price had expired and showed me the price on the Web site. I did not know it was their [in-store site] rather than the public Internet site, so I purchased it at the store price. " When I got home that evening, I checked the Internet price and it was still on sale. I called back to the store and talked to the manager, and he refunded me the price difference with a credit on my credit card account. He explained that some of the sales associates didnt know that they were using the intrastore site rather than the public Internet site. As I got my money back, I didnt take it any further." A Michigan reader wrote in with a similar saga. "Around Christmas, I also found a good deal on the Best Buys site: a Canon digital camera for around $269. When I went to the store, the price was $299. When I told an employee about the Internet price, he looked it up on the supposed Best Buy Web site where the $299 price was the only price visible. So I went out and fired up my wireless laptop and went inside the store and showed an employee the lower price, whereupon they gave me the lower price through a complicated exception process." Retail Center Editor Evan Schuman can be reached at Evan_Schuman@ziffdavis.com. Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest news, views and analysis on technologys impact on retail.
Another reader wrote in to say that he also saw what he described as a "bait-and-switch routine at Best Buy with the [intrastore] and Internet versions of their Web site."