An investigation by Connecticut's Attorney General over bait-and-switch charges has gotten electronics megalith Best Buy to budge over its allegedly deceptive "secret website."
An inch, at least.
The company has expanded the disclaimer on in-store kiosks to tell customers that similar interfaces may be deceiving.
A banner at the top of the in-store kiosk interface now reads:
THIS KIOSK DISPLAYS IN-STORE PRICES — WHICH MAY DIFFER FROM NATIONAL INTERNET PRICES
Promotions can differ between stores and internet. See your sales associate if you have questions.
The legal controversy arose over accusations of running a bait-and-switch scam using bestbuy.com and the company's in-store kiosks. The kiosks use an identical interface to bestbuy.com, but don't list the various deals and sales available on the website.
Customers pondering why an in-store price was more expensive than one advertised online would allegedly be told the deal had expired or never existed. The clerk would then show the price listed on the kiosk under the pretext that it was bestbuy.com as proof of the customer's descent into madness.
Best Buy denied any wrong-doing and said they use the same interface "to ensure that customers familiar with the national web site could easily navigate the in-store kiosk." The company agreed last March, however, to add a banner to its in-store site reading "This Kiosk Reflects Local Store Pricing."
Some critics were not satisfied by the change and noted the kiosk's appearance remains virtually identical to the website and customers still access information by clicking a tab marked "BestBuy.com."
These potentially deceptive problems with the kiosks remain to this day. But at least the banner is a little more eye-catching. Feel free to check yourself out of the asylum. ®