by Joe Shea
American Reporter Cofrrespondent
September 17, 2008
PLAYING THE FED
BRADENTON, Fla., Sept. 19, 2008 -- When it comes to paying your bill, Best Buy's vaunted technology is a total bust. Anyone from your bank to Chevron or a brokerage house can post a payment on the same day, but if you are within less than two days of the payment date, Best Buy wants you to pay an additional $15 - that's how corrupt this outfit is.
Before we open this discussion, a few disclosures: I've written about Best Buy before. I do have a Best Buy account; it is not overdue. I do shop at Best Buy even now, though as infrequently as possible.
That said, what gripes me is that Best Buy won't accept payments in its stores, and while it recently started accepting them online, it's made finding its bill-pay files really difficult even for a sophisticated Internet bill-payer like myself.
But the worst feature of their crappy technology is Best Buy's inability to accept a payment here and now, as Radio Shack, Circuit City and almost every other retailer like it can do.
The problem mainly occurs on Friday; any payment on Friday can't be applied to the account until the following Monday. The company's clever ruse is to tell you, "For your convenience, choose from our two different online services:
Online Bill Pay Service
Your convenience! What a lie!
What happens is this: You go the Website, search for the bill-pay area, login and look at your bill. Except for the difficulty of finding the bill-pay area (a problem ExxonMobil had until we pointed it out; they promptly made it much more accessible), everything else is pretty much the same.
But let's say today is the 19th of the month, and your bill is due the 20th, a Saturday. Rather than just letting you pay it, BestBuy demands that you use their Rush Payment Service and pay an extra $15 because your payment won't post on Friday - a day before it's due! If you pay after 4PM on Thursday, it, too, will be late. So you can be two days early in posting your payment online - but you're still one day late. $15, please!
Best Buy could simply schedule all payment dates for weekdays to avert this problem, or update their computers so they can post payments the same day, as every competitor does.
These greedy rats have you over the barrel. You can't go to the store to pay it, because Best Buy stores don't accept payments (the employees can't be trusted, I guess). You can go mail it - for $12 - by USPS priority mail for tomorrow's delivery (which they won't accept on Saturday, I'll bet). Or you can pay it late, incurring a $35 late charge. You can also pay $15 to pay it the same day over the phone. So, even though you have logged in online a day or two before the payment is due, ready to pay it, they'll charge you another $15 to do so.
This ought to be illegal. If every other financial and retail institution in the world can take payment the same day, a technology company like Best Buy ought to be able to do so, too. But I guess their technology is a lot worse than I thought. At the same time, they've made it much easier to complain by using the Contact Us button on their homepage. I sent them a copy of this article to make sure they know how I feel!
Hopefully, someone will initiate a lawsuit, boycott or other campaign to get Best Buy off the dime. We'll be glad to write about it when they change their ways.
This is one in a series of articles about the way credit card issuers cheat and manipulate their customers.