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XBox (Games)

Best Buy Apologizes For 360 Bundles 102

Posted by Zonk
from the better-late-than-never dept.
drScott2 writes "During the launch of the Xbox 360, some Best Buy stores created bundles of Xbox 360s and accessories, and would not sell the Xbox by itself. Thus, if you wanted to buy an Xbox 360 you had to buy the accessories too. The president of Best Buy has officially offered an apology. From the Brian Dunn's letter: 'I'm writing to apologize. While all of us at Best Buy were thrilled to be part of the recent launch of Microsoft's Xbox 360 video game system - one of the most anticipated events in the history of electronic gaming - the launch did not go as we had hoped.'"
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Best Buy Apologizes For 360 Bundles

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  • by Keeper (56691)
    What is this, like appology number 12? Dang, how many times are they going to appologize for this?
  • It's So Easy (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Adrilla (830520) *
    It's very easy to say sorry once the units have left the shelves and the extra money has been pocketed. If they really wanted to say sorry they'd accept returns on the accessories in the bundles for a full refund and just let the customers keep the Xboxes...that is if they aren't defective. :)
    • Re:It's So Easy (Score:5, Informative)

      by Snake98 (911863) on Wednesday December 07, 2005 @07:52PM (#14206313)
      RTFA, you can.

      "Customers who are unhappy with Xbox 360-related purchases made in November 2005 may return unwanted items for a full refund at any Best Buy store. In addition, if your Xbox 360 purchasing experience did not meet your expectations for any reason, please email us at [email address will be inserted when the letter is posted to the website]. (Employees with information pertinent to our investigation are encouraged to call our Ethics Hot Line instead.)"
    • Re:It's So Easy (Score:1, Redundant)

      by Lukano (50323)
      If you had actually taken 15 seconds to read the article you would have noticed;

      Customers who are unhappy with Xbox 360-related purchases made in November 2005 may return unwanted items for a full refund at any Best Buy store. In addition, if your Xbox 360 purchasing experience did not meet your expectations for any reason, please email us at [email address will be inserted when the letter is posted to the website]. (Employees with information pertinent to our investigation are encouraged to call our Ethics
      • Why is the later posting of the same quote modded Informative rather than Redundant? I mean I can understand giving the guy a break and not modding him down when he only posted a couple minutes later but shouldn't the earlier informer be given the Informative mod?
        • Yeah, he probably should, and damn, I had mod points yesterday.

          </offtopic>
        • Re:It's So Easy (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Fjornir (516960)
          Because unless you're a karma whore you don't care about a downmod and the moderation system is in place to help people who browse at a higher threshold not see Troll/Offtopic/Duplicate/Etc posts.
    • Re:It's So Easy (Score:5, Insightful)

      by the eric conspiracy (20178) on Wednesday December 07, 2005 @08:28PM (#14206502)
      IANAL, but isn't this sort of bundling actually illegal? I.E. you must buy unrelated item A to get B?\\
      • Re:It's So Easy (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Leiterfluid (876193)
        Maybe if they required you to buy a refrigerator to get the Xbox360, but I hardly think that games and accessories are "unrelated."
        • Given the power supply problems a refrigerator could actually be related.

          Unfortunately the articles don't list the contents of the bundles so we can't discuss this point. However I remember gas staion operators getting fined in the gas shortages of the 70's for bundling gas cans with gas purchases, so the criterea might be a bit tighter than just related.
      • Re:It's So Easy (Score:4, Interesting)

        by nutrock69 (446385) on Wednesday December 07, 2005 @09:18PM (#14206782)
        If I remember correctly (after the altzeimers kicks in...), rumor had it the retailers were under pressure to "sell out" of the XBOX 360 and related accessories from Microsoft. MS is a legal monopoly now, so they can get away with unreasonable requirements like that. Anyway, the bundling was probably the only way BB could guarantee selling out the accessories.

        And no - I don't think they're really sorry about it. They probably planned the apology weeks ago knowing that accepting returns for parts of the bundle after the inital sale wouldn't be a violation of their agreement to sell all of the accessories in the first place.
        • MS is a legal monopoly now, so they can get away with unreasonable requirements like that.

          I thought being found guilty of abusing their monopoly position for anti-competitive tactics was supposed to make sure they COULDN'T get away with 'unreasonable requests?'
          • Last I looked, Microsoft didn't have a monopoly over the console market.

            This isn't bundling anyway, accessories are part of the console package. If you sell a car and it comes with a radio is that bundling?

            Considering the Xboxes sold out, it seems Best Buy were just giving people what they wanted. What's wrong with that?
            • This isn't bundling anyway, accessories are part of the console package.

              Except for the ones that aren't. Extra controllers, cables that replace the ones in the packaage, and lets not forget that gods-forsaken con-job of a warranty they constantly shove down your throat. If they refuse to sell you the console without one or more of these things, yes, it's "Bundling" and it's what the local store was doing.

              . If you sell a car and it comes with a radio is that bundling

              If the car comes with a cheap Sparkomatic
              • Re:It's So Easy (Score:3, Insightful)

                by drsquare (530038)
                Isn't that just tough? If you don't like it, don't buy it. It's so popular it's selling out everywhere, if they can make more money with bundling then fair play to them.

                • Re:It's So Easy (Score:4, Informative)

                  by PyroMosh (287149) on Thursday December 08, 2005 @06:45AM (#14209150) Homepage
                  To everyone speculating on the legality / rules of this, I can comment on this with some authority.

                  I work for BBY, so first, it was simply some stores that took initiative on their own to create these bundles to drive their numbers. My store did not force people to buy bundles, we did put together folders with suggested accessories as well as coupons to entice people to purchase their accessories at a discount wiht the 360 that day. To my knowlege, none of the stores in my area participated in this practice, but clearly some did.

                  That said, BBY is very competative internally, so stores are always looking to innovate in ways like this. Unfortunatly, bundling in this way is against BBY's corperate policies. We can create all the bundles we like, but when we say you *HAVE TO* buy a bundle to purchase a product, that's where it steps over the line and is against BBY's corperate policies (not the law, though).

                  As far as law is concerned, it's not illegal at all. I seem to recall some of the game stores only sold bundles. If you wanted a 360 from [GameStoreX], you had to pay $800 or something retarded like that to get the system, controllers, a memory card, and like 4 games, or something. Didn't even get to pick the games. This makes sense to me, as if something is going to be ultra-rare, and it's price controled, like the consoles are, and you *know* you're going to sell out, why not make the most money possible for it?
                • I didn't. Zero-must have games on an overpriced Version 1.0 console?

                  That doesn't change the fact that the post I responded to was completely out of line.
                • Problem is they advertised it without stating the terms of the purchase. If I saw something costs $399 and you come in to buy it and suddenly I add restrictions, I'm probably breaking a few laws. If they had a *Must purchase additional items at time of purchase, or something like that it might have been legal.
              • The warranty is a con-job but it has no business in this discussion. Best Buy wasn't apologizing for their warranty they're just doing a corporate "mea culpa"...see in America we can have our Cake and eat it too ;)

                Whenever you research the corporation "technology" in Civ IV, when you get it there is a quote from some guy describing corporations: "Entities designed to generate the greatest personal profit with the least personal responibility". Just remined me of this...
                • Whenever you research the corporation "technology" in Civ IV, when you get it there is a quote from some guy describing corporations:

                  Please hand in your geek card immediately!

                  (For those of you who haven't played Civ 4, the voiceovers are done by Leonard Nimoy [wikipedia.org], a.k.a. Spock.)

                • The warranty is a con-job but it has no business in this discussion.

                  Apparently you never worked at a Best Buy. Pretty much the only thing in the Media department that brings them more profit than the hugely-marked-up items designated "Accessories" is those worthless scraps of yellow cardboard. I'd bet my Model M that those "bundles" had that thing in them.
  • bs (Score:5, Insightful)

    by steelmaverick (936668) on Wednesday December 07, 2005 @08:23PM (#14206469)
    Its all BS. They're probably gonna do it again anyway.

    When you think about it, M$ probably sells it to BB at $375, and BB sells it at $400. IIRC, EBgames gets XBOX 1's at $138 and sells them for $150.
    They're just looking for some extra cash. And once they have it, they'll say sorry, and do it again. I'm really sick of bundles. Why should i be forced to buy things i dont want anyway? Like those EU retailers forcing consumers to buy PSP Giga Packs with 2 crappy games, for a total of $400 USD.
    • When you think about it, M$ probably sells it to BB at $375, and BB sells it at $400.

      Reaslistically they probably buy it at around 390-395. Why do you think they push the bundle packs and accesories so much?
    • Re:bs (Score:4, Insightful)

      by the_humeister (922869) on Wednesday December 07, 2005 @08:53PM (#14206627)
      Not to be crass, but no one is forcing you to buy anything. You don't like the bundle, don't get it. Personally, I'm waiting until at least Halo 3 and possibly longer.
      • problem is what the said in the article, no matter where you went you HAD to buy a bundle. Same thing happened with the PSTwo and even my DS last christmas. when the ONLY way to get it is to buy a stupid bundle, your going to do it even if you hate it.
        • by damsa (840364)
          I don't think Walmart was selling bundles.
        • Like I said, if you don't like the bundle, don't get it. Spend your entertainment dollar elsewhere. It's that simple. That's one of the prices you pay for being an early adoptor. This happened with previous consoles. Why's it any different now?
          • Re:bs (Score:2, Insightful)

            by !an + Den!se (935385)
            I see how this works. You mean that misleading someone into believing they can just buy a 360 without paying that extra money out the nose for crap after waiting hours for it isn't slimey? And that it's actually the consumer's fault he was there in the first place? Yeah, those damn consumers. What they should have done, like you suggested, is go to another place after waiting for hours in one line so that they could be last in line somewhere else and not get one at all. A brilliant point.
            • by CFTM (513264)
              I don't know where you live nor the circumstances surrounding the advertisments you saw regarding the Xbox 360 but in Los Angeles, it was very clear that they were only selling bundles. If you didn't want a bundle, you have to wait until after Christmas...that sounds like economics to me, not some vast corporate conspiracy.
            • No, my point is this: don't get an XBox 360 now. However, if you so choose to attempt to get one now, prepare for all the crap that comes with it including:

              • long lines
              • bundles
              • astronomic ebay prices
              • basically being a "beta tester."
        • Re:bs (Score:3, Funny)

          "no matter where you went you HAD to buy a bundle." Oh snap, you mean they found out a way to make you lose the choice of not buying a damn thing at all?
    • When you think about it, M$ probably sells it to BB at $375, and BB sells it at $400

      I used to work at a Best Buy back in '99. I saw some of the profit and pricing information. At the time, Best Buy made a whole dollar on any system they sold. 149.99 for the N64, Best Buy bought the system for a total of just 149.00. The profits come from the games. The retailers get them for around 15-40 bucks each (depending on what studio releases them). I would be surprised if they were making more than a dollar o

  • by TheLoneDanger (611268) on Wednesday December 07, 2005 @08:48PM (#14206606)
    Total BS. Does anyone honestly think that the pressure to sell accessories with the 360s as bundles came at the salesperson level or just store management level? They went in knowing this was gonna be a high demand item, and that they would have increased leverage. They also probably knew that there was going to be a supply shortage of new 360s in the near future and didn't want to hold onto stocks of accessories, games and other stuff and let shoppers potentially get their extras elsewhere.

    Besides which, what does this cost Best Buy? Issue an apology probably written by his assistant/secretary/lawyer and then agree to give refunds for those people who actually manage to hear about this and bother to take the time to go through the process. I really only accept a corporate "apology" if it means they take a financial hit worse than what they gained through the improper behaviour in the first place.
    • by PyroMosh (287149) on Thursday December 08, 2005 @06:54AM (#14209182) Homepage
      No, it's true. I work for BBY, and I did much of the pre-launch planning for my store. Corporate sent us brochures, tickets, and some other miscellanious stuff for the launch, but there were no mandated bundles at all. In fact, it's against BBY policy. Stores that did this did so of their own initiative, and probably felt the heat for it. BBY is an organization of people. People who are under (sometimes massive) pressure to succede. Sometimes those people step over the line of what they're allowed to do. This is one of those times, and it's regretable.
    • I really only accept a corporate "apology" if it means they take a financial hit worse than what they gained through the improper behaviour in the first place.

      That was what the punitive damages turned out to be in the "scalding coffee in the lap" case against Mickey-D's. McDonalds was originally assigned damages equal to a few days (IIRC) profit from their coffee sales. The company's own doctors had described the temp the coffee was served at as undrinkable and dangerous given the cups. McD's execs said t

  • BS (Score:5, Insightful)

    by RzUpAnmsCwrds (262647) on Wednesday December 07, 2005 @08:50PM (#14206614)
    I waited outside Best Buy for 5 hours on Black Friday (for the $380 laptop and $150 PC/monitor). Quantities of unbundled items were very limited (the minimum specified in the advertisement) and the employees were trying to sell extremely overpriced "bundles" to drive up the price.

    Best Buy is all about upselling - from extended warranties to cables to services, their whole strategy to increase margin is to bundle overpriced junk with anything you buy.

    Best Buy is fine as long as you remember one thing - don't believe their lies.
    • BTW, during that week, Dell was selling a similarly speced laptop for $399.
      • I think you meant, During any given week, Dell Sells a similarly specced laptop for $399.
    • by thebdj (768618)
      Best Buy is horrible at doing these things and is part of the reason I basically refuse to buy anything there except for a few random DVDs every now and then. I was once in need of a few power cables for my extra PCs. I went to Best Buy and noted these cables, normal pieces of copper covered in proper insulation for indoor usage, were $15 a piece!! A 15-minute trip to MicroCenter later, I had three of the power cables for less than $5. I once saw them charge twice as much for a crossover cable and nearl
    • Best Buy is fine as long as you remember one thing - don't believe their lies.

      Best Buy is fine as long as you really remember this: You would be better off NOT shopping there.

  • by LoverOfJoy (820058) on Wednesday December 07, 2005 @08:54PM (#14206633) Homepage
    How is this apology being advertised? Will many of the disenfranchised people even know about it?

    On the other hand, it might not matter if they can get a much better "refund" by selling the accessories on ebay.

  • Steaming! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by obeythefist (719316) on Wednesday December 07, 2005 @09:46PM (#14206949) Journal
    Well that letter was so full of corporate BS it was making my PC steam. And the aroma! At least the flowers will grow.

    It's ridiculous that someone in his position wouldn't know about bundling practices, it was probably his idea. He apologises that it happened, he says he'll look into it, but he doesn't actually bother admitting that it was their own idea and they did it to make money. A sales and marketing exercise like the release of a new console is probably almost as important as christmas to these guys. Just like anything that makes customers (aka walking wallets full of cash to take) to line up outside the shop has got to get some special attention at the highest level.

    It's purely a PR exercise. They're not really sorry, and if they thought they could get away with it, they would. Heck, from the attitide of that letter, if they thought they could get a good revenue stream from stealing old ladies handbags, they would. Especially if all they have to do afterwards is write a "sorry, don't know what happened to your handbag, maybe it went missing, I don't believe in stealing handbags so I will look into it" letter.
  • by thundar2000 (459149) on Wednesday December 07, 2005 @09:53PM (#14206984)

    I tried to order an xbox at ebgames.com - and all they would sell me was a bundle.

    I did this with the PSP, and got burned big time (all the games were very bad indeed)

    So now, instead of having a pre-orded xbox because I wanted to avoid the bundles, I have a brand new DS with Mario Kart. And you know, I think I may be happier.

  • by MrShaggy (683273)
    Sounds a lot like the addage ..its easier to gouge you know, and apoligse later. Especially if you know what you are doing. Im sure that most people probably wont bother.
  • by Thatto (258697) <`moc.liamg' `ta' `nillihceigoob'> on Wednesday December 07, 2005 @11:24PM (#14207558) Journal
    ...when the PS2 released. We did the EXACT same thing. We setup tables, put the bundles together, and WOULDN'T sell a ps2 without them. It is all leverage. BBY knows that the people standing in line to buy the latest and greatest consoles are going to jump a few hurdles, and part with some more cash to get it first.

    Best Buy does not condone pressuring customers to purchase items they may not want or that may not fit their lifestyle

    The don't condone it, but they do reward it. The sales force at BBY is not on commission, but the management IS compensated for store preformance. An in-store sales manager determines how sales are conducted, and this would not be the first time a manager decided to artificially inflate his numbers. Regional management and upper management only looks at the balance sheet and customer comments. So if the store makes or exceeds expectations, and no one complains, then the store management gets some cash.
    • The store I worked at did the same thing, but they went a step further: They removed the systems from the shelves and placed them off to the side in a display which was manned by a CSR, whom the customer _had_ to speak with in order to get a system.
    • What I'm wondering is if they advertised that they sold in bundle form only. If thats the case they could be open to some litigation.

      Also, if that is the case, SOMEONE in upper management had to approve those ads since that is how retail works.

  • Let's see:

    1) Over-hype a product because you think people are stupid and will buy it because it's "sold out"
    2) Place a few units on eBay for super-high prices, hoping people will believe the 'hype'
    3) Make sure you don't produce enough units to meet demand (which _no_ business model ever does, unless it's just trying to push a device down "the people's" throats for marketshare purposes)
    4) profit!
    5) Introduce a subscription model and increase the price whenever it suits your corporation.
    6) mega-profit!

    It's th
    • Well said man! Couldn't have said it better myself.

    • Vote Democrat - preserve your consumer rights.

      Yay! Vote Capitalist Party A, which is so different from Capitalist Party B! They're both parties of the rich, they're both corporate, they're both corrupt, they both have the same incentives and motivations. The Democrats are at least smart enough to pretend otherwise, which I always thought would mean a longer life, more votes, more power, more trust, etc. But in the end, it's all the same crap.
      • Yay! Vote Capitalist Party A, which is so different from Capitalist Party B!

        I read a book by Peter Singer called "One World", where he borrows Thomas Friedman's term "the Golden Straitjacket". What this refers to is the freeing up of the private sector of the economy, shrinking bureaucracy, keeping inflation low, and allowing more foreign investment. It's called a "straitjacket" because if you try and take it off, all the money goes elsewhere, and the growth and rise of average incomes that came with it

        • The scope of politics shrink to the point where major parties have only minor differences, quibbling over how they think the jacket should be adjusted.

          For America to rise back to the great core that it's forefathers founded, 2 things must happen:

          1) there must be multiple political parties (not just 2)
          and
          2) the Executive branch of government must become a committee, not just a single person.

          The current "administration" has demonstrated that a single point of failure is not the American way. We don't settle
        • I read a book by Peter Singer called "One World", where he borrows Thomas Friedman's term "the Golden Straitjacket".

          It sounds like fine propaganda work. From your description, the thesis is that the system we have right now is the system that leads to the most prosperity for the most people, forever. That whole "American Dream" thing seems to have worked out for some generations, but it's disappearing fast for most Americans.

          It's a nice fantasy, and I don't refute that this "Golden Straightjacket" as defi
          • Actually, I believe the term "golden straitjacket" is meant to be a symbol for economic policy that looks really good before you use it, but once you "put it on", it's really hard to get it off. Also, it could also be a metaphor for some of the people in those societies who are "trapped". What I referenced wasn't part of the book's thesis at all, it was actually in the introduction talking about the "free" market economies that many nations are trying to foster ("free" not usually meaning everyone gets in
      • So by all means, don't vote. You'll be much better off by letting the people that care about the issues that affect _your_ life call the shots - kinda like how things are now.

        I certainly hope you're not under 25 - because if you are, prepare to get drafted to Iraq. The US military can't recruit troops anymore, and the existing troops are bailing as soon as their terms are up because they see the writing on the wall (they don't get numbed by O'Reilly or Hannity because they go to sleep in piles of sand eve
        • The Bush Crime Family has done enough damage. Vote progressive.

          Ok, I'll bite... Where are these progressive candidates? I mean nationally, not locally; I am fortunate to live in a town that happens to lead the nation in a Green Party'd city council and other local positions filled with GPers and other actual progressives. But anyone who starts a rant that looks like yours and gets around to telling me I should vote for someone like Kerry or Clinton shouldn't waste their time. Before I go down that path,
    • It's the same business model as the Oil/Gasoline companies. That's why you can't "buy" anything anymore, you have to "license" it.

      Gosh, you're so right. I think about that oil and gas that I was forced to license instead of being able to own, and I'm just outraged.

    • > 2) Place a few units on eBay for super-high prices, hoping people will believe the 'hype'

      Right, because the prices people bid for the item on ebay are determined by the seller. Or does your conspiracy involve Microsoft selling Xboxes to itself as well?

      >3) Make sure you don't produce enough units to meet demand

      Right, because its in Microsoft's interests to sell as few units as possible before the PSP-3 comes out I take it?

      Incredible. Microsoft makes a computer much more powerful than most peoples des
  • Best Buy Flamebait! (Score:2, Informative)

    by know_op (539136)
  • Thus, if you wanted to buy an Xbox 360 you had to buy the accessories too.

    Well, yeah. OR you could opt to leave the store and buy one somewhere else. It's their store. Their marketing division assumed that bundling would generate more revenue due to the high interest level for this item, and that would outweigh the number of sales lost due to consumers shopping elsewhere for a non-bundled alternative.

    I'm betting they were right in that assumption.

  • "I want to be very clear that Best Buy does not condone pressuring customers to purchase items they may not want or that may not fit their lifestyle."

    Since when does MORE gamestation related junktronics not fit the lifestyle of anyone desperate enough to get a 360 to pay for stuff he didn't want in the first place?
  • Yeah, ok, this will probably be an unpopular position.

    BestBuy sucks, but I have no problem with what they did. No one had to buy from them, and they can return it under their normal return policy.

    Yeah, if people WANTED one, there wasn't much they could do, but blame Microsoft for that, not BestBuy. There are plenty of annoying practices at BestBuy to complain about, I just don't think this is one of them.
    • Exactly. If you show that you are so desperate to buy a console that you will queue for hours, fight the crowds, put up with the inevitable v1.0 problems and small game libary, then you are going to get taken for a ride.
    • I would be fine with it too, if they hadn't advertised it as being unbundled. Then certain stores took it upon themselves to bundle them, instead of selling what was advertised. It's called a bait and switch and it's illegal because even though people don't have to buy it, if they don't, you've still waisted their time by advertising something you had no intention of selling them, so that they would come down to try and buy it.
  • Smart strategy (Score:3, Interesting)

    by hal2814 (725639) on Thursday December 08, 2005 @10:07AM (#14209868)
    Step 1. Sell a product in an overpriced bundle.
    Step 2. Since the buyer already bought the bundle, probably openend the items, and discarded much of the original packaging, offer a refund for the unwanted items weeks later. Not only will many buyers not bother to return an item they really didn't want in the first place, many buyers will not be able to return the items due to the packaging, etc being thrown away.
    Step 3. Profit.
  • reversal of history (Score:2, Interesting)

    by NewmanBlur (923584)
    Back in the day, game companies used to pack in games for free as an incentive to buy the hardware (Super Mario, Sonic, etc)... now the retailers use the appeal of the hardware as a way to force consumers to buy games/accessories they don't necessarily want. Interesting how things have changed.
  • This is exactly why I didn't buy my PSP at BestBuy, same deal. Sigh.

A penny saved is a penny to squander. -- Ambrose Bierce

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