ConsumerWatch: SF DA Investigates Best Buy Over Black Friday Deals

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Best Buy store in Colma (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Best Buy store in Colma (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS 5) — The San Francisco District Attorney’s office is looking into Best Buy’s business practices. The popular electronics retailer has been telling many of its customers that the Black Friday deals they snagged may never be delivered.

Best Buy waited until the week before Christmas to inform consumers of the bad news that it would be canceling many of the Black Friday purchases people were counting on for the holiday season.

People have gone to the web with complaints, many going to Best Buy’s online forum. One writer headlined their post with how Best Buy “Single handedly ruined Christmas.” As of Wednesday, there were 17 pages of complaints on Best Buy’s message board and several tweets about the canceled orders.

Brad Wilson, a deal expert from BradsDeals.com believes Best Buy sold too many items at deep discounts and is trying to recoup losses.

“A PlayStation 3 is not hard to find right now, so it’s not as if Best Buy is out of PlayStation 3s,” Wilson said.

The retailer is in a similar bind to what many online retailers found themselves in last year. Due to a computer glitch, various companies oversold limited Black Friday bargains in 2010. Those retailers eventually made good on the deals, because according to experts, following through with the Black Friday prices was their legal obligation.

Former U.S. attorney Anthony Brass explained that under California law, companies in this situation must honor the deals and prices like those offered on Black Friday.

“What consumers lost was opportunity. They lost the opportunity to seek similar Black Friday deals elsewhere, and when they lost that they gained the right to seek redress,” Brass said.

Erin Bix issued a statement on Best Buy’s behalf saying that “due to overwhelming demand of hot product offerings…we have encountered a situation that has affected redemption of some of our customers’ online orders.”

The company also added that it has no intentions of honoring the Black Friday purchases and pointed to a disclaimer on their website that says it can cancel any order and that its terms and conditions tell customers about limited inventory.

Legal experts disagree, however, and said the disclaimer does not supersede California law and consumers have the right to sue for the difference between the sale price and the current price.

Best Buy’s full statement:

“Due to overwhelming demand of hot product offerings on BestBuy.com during the November and December time period, we have encountered a situation that has affected redemption of some of our customers’ online orders. We are very sorry for the inconvenience this has caused and we have notified the affected customers.”

(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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