Circuit City might have lost the retail electronics battle recently but that doesn’t mean the war is over for Best Buy. This past week, a US District Court ruled to allow a new Class Action suit that alleges what is basically a company-wide conspiracy to prevent customers from taking advantage of Best Buy’s price matching policy. Some key contentions of the suit:

  • Best Buy had an undisclosed Anti-Price Matching Policy
  • Corporate headquarters disseminated the anti-price matching policy to regional managers, store managers, assistant managers, and necessary store personnel
  • Best Buy taught its employees how to deny price match requests in its training facilities in New York
  • Best Buy provided financial bonuses based, in part, on denying proper price match requests
  • Best Buy denied more than 100 proper price match requests per store per week

These are some pretty serious claims and to make matters worse, the plaintiff’s legal team has managed to get its hands on an alleged internal document written by a member of Best Buy’s Competitive Strategies Group that goes into detail with regards to tactics Best Buy employees might use to avoid price matching. Here is an excerpt:

Price Matches

It looms on the wall, on a 9 foot sign.  Our Price Match policy.  There it is plain as day in English (Y en espanol para los de usted que puede leerio.)  However, just because it is our policy, do we abide by it?  Does it really help the customer?

What is the first thing we do when a customer comes in to our humble box brandishing a competitor’s ad asking for a price match?  We attempt to build a case against the price match.  (Trust me, I’ve done it too).  Let’s walk through the “Refused Price Match Greatest Hits:”

Not same model?  Not in stock at the competitor?  Do we have free widget with purchase?  Is it from a warehouse club (they have membership fees, you know)?  Limited Quantities?  That competitor is across town?  We’ve got financing!  Is it an internet price?  It’s below cost!…

If you live in New York State and feel you’ve been wronged by Best Buy’s attempts to avoid matching a price for you, well, this is the US and you’ll probably want to get a piece. Michael Braunstein, the attorney for the plaintiff, can be reached at (845) 356-2570 or mbraunstein@kgglaw.com for info on how to get involved.

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