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Best Buy Responding To Site Pricing Controversy

3/08/2007 02:42:00 PM Eastern

Minneapolis, Minn. – Best Buy says it is cooperating with Connecticut’s attorney general in his investigation of disparate pricing on the company’s e-commerce site and in-store Intranet sites, which may have been used to mislead customers.

The investigation stems from a recent column in The Hartford Courant that sparked complaints from about 20 consumers. When the shoppers sought price matches in Best Buy stores on items that were selling for less at Bestbuy.com, they claim sales associates called up what appeared to be the e-commerce site from Web kiosks, where the retails matched the higher in-store prices.

A Best Buy spokesperson confirmed that the in-store kiosks reflect prices at the local store level, which often vary from national online prices for the same item. Market-based pricing is a common practice in retailing.

While Best Buy does offer in-store price-matching of its online assortment, the procedure was not intended to be conducted via the in-store kiosks. “Unfortunately, we have learned that the [proper] process has not been followed consistently,” said spokesperson Dawn Bryant.

“We realize that we need to do a much better job of training our employees on price-matching policies and procedures; that process already has begun and will continue for the foreseeable future,” she said. “We also are revisiting how our employees and customers interact with our in-store kiosks and BestBuy.com.”

Bryant added that the kiosks were originally installed to enhance the shopping experience by allowing customers to compare products and services, access products not carried in stores, and to order out-of-stock items. “It is not, and never has been, our intent to mislead anyone,” she said. “Period.”

Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal is investigating the complaints to determine if there was any intentional wrongdoing.

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