Tag Archive for Best Buy

Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On

It’s all over the news, but for those of you who haven’t heard yet, there was a 5.2-5.4 magnitude quake in southern Illinois this morning, and yes, we felt it up here. Given I’ve already fielded one phone call and a couple emails from friends who don’t live in the region, I thought I’d go ahead and post a note saying yes, everything is fine here. I appreciate the notes of concern!

The quake shook our house pretty good, and I wasn’t sure if some heavy vehicles were rolling through (highly unlikely on our street) or if it was indeed a quake. It woke the Wife and I, but the kids all slept through it. I’m sure that’ll be the big topic at school today, though.

Not that I’ll hear any of it; I took a vacation day to hang out with John, who is at that tail end of his vacation. We’ll be hanging out, browsing places full of big, shiny, electronics like Best Buy and Fry’s, and no doubt dropping by to visit New Trends for a cigar. If I’m really lucky, one of them will have the new Canon Digital Rebel XSi in stock.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

Done Already?

Spring Break is officially over. I work in education so I got the week off, but it went by so fast it felt like just another weekend. It was one of those weeks I was constantly on the move, out running around for one reason or another or working on things at home. Today we even did spring cleaning and rearranged the living room.

I made fitness a priority, though. I still made it to my karate classes, and if you check out the Nike+ badge on the right you’ll see I managed to keep up on the running program as well. On Monday I visited the doc for a brief check-up, and on Tuesday I got my cholesterol checked (borderline total/HDL/LDL numbers, but triglycerides were nice and low). Not too shabby.

We upgraded the family ride this week. We had a bland, boring minivan and now we have one that’s a little closer to a man’s van. No flame job or anything like that, but it’s black and it has a lot of the electronic gadgets like navigation, Sirius satellite radio, and drop-down video screens for the rugrats. It also has a bigger set of balls under the hood, so I feel a lot less like a closet soccer mom when I’m sitting behind the wheel.

As of this week, I’m jamming the Blu-ray on an upgraded theater setup. I didn’t catch Full Metal Jacket in the theaters, but watching it in 1080p high definition gave me a craving for a bucket of popcorn. The setup took a while, but it was totally worth it.

Speaking of movies, I snuck out to see Doomsday with a friend. It’s one of those movies that’s so bad it’s good. It’s best described as a cross between 28 Weeks Later, Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome, and, of all things, Robin Hood. I wasn’t particularly taken with that third bit, but I had a blast through the rest of it and I really dug the subtle jokes. Clark, meanwhile, loved it all the way through. It was exactly what we expected and awesome in its badness. (By the way, Doomsday‘s site makes a big deal of it carrying the trailer for the new The Incredible Hulk flick. Meh. Doesn’t seem to be much better than Ang Lee’s lackluster version.)

The rest of the time I visited family, did some shopping, played the buy/pick-up/go-back-and-exchange game with Best Buy, and last night played a couple hours of Halo 3 co-op with some friends online (gotta put the new TV through its paces, don’tcha know).

Did I get any writing done? No. Did I catch up on my comics reading? No. Did I read anything besides magazines on the crapper? No. Those were also my goals for the week, but I did a piss-poor job of making them happen and I’ve been flogging myself for it. I need to finish reading The Road so I can get started on Brian’s Dark Hollow. I feel like magazines, websites, and even the odd style of The Road haven’t been providing the fuel for the writing urge that many books give, so hopefully jumping back into the horror genre with both feet will give me a much-needed jump start.

I wonder if I can get the school board to extend the Break another week…

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

Where Are the Vista Apologists?


Originally uploaded by MikeOliveri.

I’ve become more and more impressed with the MacBook I’ve been evaluating. Between reader comments and the things an Apple rep has showed me, I’m starting to really see the appeal of OS X.

The much-touted ease of use is really there. With no more instruction than “click here and here,” my son has fallen in love with PhotoBooth. The picture above is one of many he took while playing around, and he often asks me if he can play with the MacBook. I’m looking forward to showing him the Comic Life demo I downloaded.

I’ll be talking more about my MacBook experiences in the future, but for now I have to wonder, where are the Vista apologists?

I write a single post about my Mac experiences, and I’m swamped with comments and traffic spikes. There was no zealotry, just helpful advice and encouraging words. Meanwhile I’ve slagged Windows, especially Vista, several times, and there’s hardly a peep from my readership.

I’m on an email list for Illinois technology educators that has hundreds of members, and there’s a lot of talk about Vista headaches ranging from poor printer and hardware support to it being a massive resource hog. There are a few people who claim to like it, but they’re more interested in some of the administrative or security tools than anything a user might get excited about. Or, if they do like Vista in general, they have either turned off several features or they just accept the system’s quirks.

I read a column recently (I wish I could find it) that made a great point: Mac users love their systems. Windows users, meanwhile, just grit their teeth and reboot. This is why guys like John Roling, a former Windows power user, suddenly become Mac enthusiasts. This is why guys like me start exploring other options like Linux, and are willing to at least entertain the notion of purchasing a Mac.

This is why Dell and IBM are forced to offer XP as an option on their systems, and Vista was only installed on 39% of all PCs sold last year. This is why Best Buy is doubling the number of stores stocking Mac products this month.

The only thing the Windows, Mac and Linux camps can agree on is DRM and proprietary multimedia formats suck.

In the meantime, I ask again, where are the Vista apologists? If you’re out there, speak up!

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

Buyer Beware: Bricks in the Box

There’s a problem in retail circles known as the Brick-in-the-box return. The scam involves taking a legitimate item out of a package and replacing it with something else to fill out the package. The scam then works in one of two ways:

  1. The scammer relies on employee oversight/negligence and re-packs and re-tapes the box so it looks unopened, and returns the item to the retailer by saying they didn’t need it or something similar.
  2. The scammer relies on a con game and tells the customer service agent that he opened the box and found the wrong stuff.

Most famously, this involved bricks replacing VCR’s many, many years ago. This was common enough that a retailer I worked for had a Standard Operating Procedure called “Brick-in-the-Box Returns” that outlined how to handle such situations. It boiled down to one thing: any customer requesting a return because they got the wrong item was denied.

I bring this up because a guy ran afoul of this very scam at Best Buy. You can read all about it at Consumerist, but the nutshell is he bought a hard drive, opened it up, and found six ceramic tiles in the box instead of a hard drive. Classic brick-in-the-box scam.

I think he’s screwed. Every retailer, be it Best Buy, Circuit City, or Toys R Us, has the same policy, and they’re going to assume he’s not the victim but the scammer. Yes, it sucks that someone okayed his return and then a manager overturned it, but that second manager was in the right (by store policy if not general human decency) and if the return had been completed the first employees would have been disciplined. The customer might even be dealing with Best Buy loss prevention and possibly the police if he’d been given his money back, depending upon how far Best Buy would want to take things.

I’ve had three direct experiences with bricks in the box, and these are exactly why the policy is in place.

In the first instance, an elderly man purchased a laptop. When I handed it to him, he asked me to verify if it came with a modem (this was back around ’94, when such things weren’t a given). We opened it up and instead of his shiny new laptop we found an old model that had been painted gray and glued shut. Further investigation of the package revealed the scammer had opened the bottom of the box, did the replacement, then taped the bottom shut and fastened the original tape over the new tape to make it look brand new. Because the unit never left the store and I even opened it for him, we gave him another one. He asked me what would have happened if he had taken it home, and the honest answer was he would be out of luck. I managed to find a return on the same serial number, turned the case over to loss prevention, and had to discipline the employee who accepted the return.

In the second instance, a man purchased a 20″ television. He then returned it an hour later, claiming he didn’t need it. As the warehouse associates unloaded it from his car, the bottom of the box fell apart. There was a different television inside. We found the box had been glued shut, and the glue hadn’t dried yet. We went round and round with this guy for two hours, and it was ultimately turned over to loss prevention. Someone along the line must have put a scare into him, because the next day he picked up the old television and I had to ring up a sale (I forget if he kept the television or had to pay a restocking fee). I was to take the cash and then refund his original credit card, and he asked if the transactions would show up on the credit card statement. I told him of course — he’d see a purchase and a refund. He grunted and walked out. We speculated that meant his wife would find out about it.

In the third instance, a man purchased a video camera. I just happened to be there when he purchased it and happened to be the one to hand it over at the customer service counter. An hour later he returned, claiming it had the wrong item in the box. The camera in the box, however, was much older and much bigger, and didn’t even fit in the packaging. He didn’t repack it, he just demanded a refund. He screamed and yelled and made vague threats, and there was even an elderly woman in earshot telling us we were mean and we should give him his money back. The store manager and I held our ground because I was sure he was full of it. He took the box and went home, and we put a comment on his ticket in our system to warn other stores of the situation. The next morning, someone called claiming to be the guy’s lawyer and threatened lawsuits against me personally and against the store. I referred him to our corporate office. I happened to be working open to close that day, and that evening I got a call from another of our stores. The guy was there trying to return a product, the customer service associate saw the comment on the receipt, and the manager called me. She was confused because the camera she found in the box matched the packaging, and the serial numbers on the box and in the system (entered at checkout) matched the camera. She described the camera, and it was definitely not the one he’d tried to return to us. She went ahead and accepted the return (with a 15% restocking fee) and told him “hi” for me.

In the first case the store lost, in the second two we prevented a loss. All three cases are exactly why the policy exists, and exactly why I think this guy’s going to eat $300. Don’t get me wrong, I feel for the guy and I have no reason to not believe him. I’ll just be surprised if he gets his money back.

If you’re buying a high-dollar item this Christmas, I strongly recommend you open the box and inspect the contents before you leave the store. The hustle and bustle of the holiday season is an ideal time for these scams to go down because employees will be less likely to take the time to inspect returned packages.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

The New Face of Television

Best Buy is dumping analog televisions effective immediately in anticipation of television going all HD in 2009. I say good for them, because it’s pointless for anyone to purchase an analog television that’s only going to be watchable for a year and a half. They’ll also be stocking the idiotic bail-out coupons the gov conjured up to facilitate America’s transition from the old, sagging electric tit to the shiny new high-def tit.

I’d give the FCC a thumbs-up on this, too, but a while back Jon Torres sent me an article where the FCC is discussing putting disclaimer crawls across the bottom of the screen whenever there’s an incident of product placement. In other words, if a character on TV drinks a Pepsi, you may get a message across the bottom of the screen informing you this may be an advertisement.

Between that and their current censorship of the airwaves, they can go pound sand.

Unfortunately the Writers Guild of America, West supports the proposal:

“We believe that, in order to protect viewers, there has to be disclosure that adequately reveals product integration. The FCC should require a crawl to run at the bottom of the screen during the integration that would identify the product, its promoter, and the fact that the writers and actors do not personally endorse the product’s use,” stated WGAW President Verrone.

Verrone further explained that: “This form of disclosure would be no more intrusive than the warnings broadcast on pharmaceutical ads or the distracting promotions for what’s coming on next that are commonly seen in the lower part of the TV screen.”

He can go pound sand, too. No more intrusive than what we see now? What, the ad crawls as they are now aren’t bad enough? They cover captions, they distract from what’s happening on screen, and the persistent ones can cause burn-in in some sets.

Here’s a thought: how about we put the disclaimers in the credits, where they belong? Thanks, Mr. Verrone, for assuming I’m so stupid I can’t spot a blatant product placement when I see one, and that I’m going to automatically start chugging Pepsi because I happened to see Hiro Nakamura down a can in Heroes.

What a dick.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.