Testing the Best Buy Reserve Online Pick Up In Store Option for a Sony Smart TV

I’ll share the moral of the story at the top: Never try to buy a TV on New Year’s Eve or January 2. We did and we ended up testing the Best Buy “Reserve Online Pick Up In-Store” system with mixed results.

Why Were We Buying a TV on New Year’s Eve?


OK, I still think this is SquawkFox’s fault. When I write up my review of our cable alternative antenna I’ll explain why. In the meantime:

My husband like most engineers who are professionals doesn’t get much time off. Sure he gets lots of vacation, he just doesn’t get to take it, nor get to carry it forward, nor get to be paid in cash in lieu of taking it. So when he had a chance to take off December 31, he did.

Immediately, I recognized that meant my strong husband who loves electronics would be available to buy and carry a TV. (I didn’t realize TVs aren’t heavy anymore. Our most recent one weighs over 75 lbs for a 24-inch screen, which isn’t much until you start counting the stairs and the fact it’s a very awkward shape for one person to carry.)

And I’d just done some math and realized I could get a TV essentially for free using some of our mountain of Petro-Points. I wanted to use the Best Buy e-Gift cards but I wanted to spend them almost as soon as they were printed because they say they won’t replace them if they get lost or stolen.

So I printed out the e-Gift cards, and blithely sent him out to Best Buy to get the Sony Smart TV that was on sale that week in the Boxing Week flyer.

Bad mistake. I figure I owe him at least one more Shabu-Shabu and a chocolate cake in recompense.

He ended up back home over an hour later, after visiting 2 Best Buy’s, with some dubious advice and no TV. He said he’d been told we should use the “Reserve Online Pick Up In-Store” option to get the TV. So we did.

How Do You Use the Best Buy Reserve Online System?

It’s a very simple system. You basically just look for the TV online and click on the Reserve In Store button. Then you choose the store you want to shop at. It will advise you of the availability and the total price. You confirm that it’s ok and enter your email address. When they’ve received the order, they will send you a confirmation email saying it’s ready to be picked up. You print off that notice and take it to the store. At our store, they have a separate desk near the front to pickup online orders. You line up, show your order, and pay for your TV.

Of course, by the time we placed our order it was too late in the day to get the confirmation email and get to the store. Everything was closing early for New Year’s Eve, as it should. We did get an email, though, after the store closed saying the TV was ready for pickup. Of course, that meant we would have to wait till January 2 when my husband would be back at work. Fortunately for me, LED TVs are a lot lighter than cathode ray tube ones.

So far our test was proceeding fine. Unfortunately, the next part wasn’t so great.

Picking Up Our TV at Best Buy After Receiving our Reserve Online Confirmation Was Eventful

Exactly 2 minutes after the store opened on January 2, I arrived to pick up our TV. There were 3 people in line ahead of me and there was no sign of a clerk.

After 7 minutes, the clerk arrived back. He spoke to the first customer and explained that
although she had received an email confirmation that her item was ready to be picked up, it wasn’t. In fact there wasn’t even one of those items in the entire store or the warehouse. He promised to phone her when one came in, and she left, understandably not thrilled.

Uneasily, I watched the exact same thing happen, over the next 15 minutes, to the next customer in line. Sorry, despite the email your item is not here.

Needless to say I was becoming unsettled.

The next Gentleman stepped up to the desk. And he was a true Gentleman and very kind and gracious and I will always be thankful to him.

Because he said he had not pre-ordered anything but he would like to BUY MY TV. Ok, he just wanted the exact same TV I wanted. He was asking to place an order for one as there were none on the floor.

The clerk checked a few things and said he couldn’t order one because they were no longer on the online system. Then he said “But wait a sec, I think there’s one back here.”

Darn right, I was thinking. MINE IS.

He brought it out of the back room, and I had to speak up. I asked, as politely as I could, considering I had been waiting for over 20 minutes, “Are you sure that’s not MY TV?!”

There was no reservation code or name on it.

The clerk said his system said there was one more “in the warehouse.”

I was as polite as I could, again, but pushed by asking twice if he was sure.

Fortunately, the Gentleman ahead of me said: “Maybe you could check the warehouse BEFORE I buy this one.”

Off went the clerk. During the 7 minute gap, we inspected the TV, discussed its specs and so on. The Gentleman said he had considered going to the Sony store nearby and asking for a price match to Best Buy.

When the clerk came back, you guessed it, there was NOT another TV in stock.
That’s when the Gentleman really earned my respect. He said he was perfectly willing to put in an order and wait three days for it to come in. He had only planned to do that when he lined up.

And so, I got my TV. But it was thanks to the Gentleman ahead of me, not because of the Reserve Online system.

I think what might have happened is that they picked my order based on the Online request but forgot to label it. It was New Year’s Eve, after all. That would explain why it was at the front pickup counter, not in the warehouse.

Why Did I Pick the Wrong Day to Review the Best Buy Reserve Online System?

My test would have been fairer to Best Buy if I hadn’t placed a reserve online order on what is quite possibly one of their most busy sales weeks of the year. Placing the order on New Year’s Eve was probably even more inconsiderate. Still, Best Buy could have removed the option from its website during Boxing Week if they thought it would become unmanageable.

We used the system on this particular day because that was the recommendation of the sales clerk at one of the two Best Buy stores my husband visited. Both stores had shown the TVs as “in stock” when he checked before driving over.

Apparently, the “in stock” number shown online before you visit the store includes the items that are available through the Reserve Online system. Those items are not necessarily allowed to be sold directly off the store floor.

So while at the store, a clerk told my husband that if he placed a Reserve Online order he could probably get the TV we wanted even though he couldn’t get it by simply visiting the store without a Reserve Online filled order.

Was the clerk correct? I don’t have any way to know. Perhaps a Best Buy retailer will read this and chime in with further information.

For us, it was worth a try. And, in a roundabout way, it worked.

Would I Use the Best But Reserve Online Pick Up In-Store Option Again?

Yes. While the system is only as good as the people receiving the orders, picking them, labeling them and putting them where they are expected until pickup, it could be a good system.

It’s no worse than driving to the store and finding the item is not on the shelf. And if it’s working properly, it could be a whole lot better.

How Is Our Sony Smart TV?

So far, it’s excellent. Of course when you’re comparing to a 21-inch cathode-ray-tube TV from 1986 or one from 1974 that’s only started to colour shift a bit into the red spectrum, your judgment may be different than that of someone who upgrades their TV every 6 months.

I do wonder, though, whether it would have been simpler to just buy another monitor. So far it’s been used 90% of the time to watch YouTube (Captain Sparklez anyone?!) or to watch DVDs. (Downton Abbey Season 3. Yes, we know Matthew dies.) I did mention way back when we decided to cut cable http://financialcrooks.com/why-im-pulling-plug-rogers-cable-tv-cancellation-policy-seems-illegal/  that we don’t really watch much TV.

What Else Do I Have to Worry About: Is my Sony Smart TV the Stupidest Purchase I Could Have Made?

Now, of course, I am brooding about whether my Smart TV will lead me to ruin at the hands of hackers intent on taking over the western world through our appliances. I thought I was so smart having a stupid fridge http://financialcrooks.com/my-stupid-fridge-thwarts-hackers-better-than-smart-fridge/  but perhaps I’m just as mentally-stunted as that Kenmore. Time to start keeping an eye on our internet account, I guess.

The fact that 95% of the time the TV is unplugged (because I refuse to pay electric bills to keep a TV on standby) may help a bit.


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Join In
Have you used this Best Buy pre-order option? Did you have better success than the two people in line ahead of me? Please share your experiences with a comment.

2 thoughts on “Testing the Best Buy Reserve Online Pick Up In Store Option for a Sony Smart TV

  1. I’ve tried the Best Buy Reserve Online process, and had a similar issue (I presume), since despite receiving an email saying my purchase was ready to pick-up, it wasn’t anywhere to be found. I was ‘lucky’ enough to find the item on the floor, but was really surprised when I was told that I couldn’t just take that one! I had to buy it again and then wait for the one I had ordered to “come in”, and then I had to return it. Crazy, huh? The process was so broken, I decided to build a solution so that I could offer it to Best Buy and others that desperately need something to make the process easier for the consumer. I’d be very interested if you have experiences with in-store pick-up at other retailers and/or hear from others that have similar issues.

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