Best Buy Profits – Free Music CD with Tax Software Purchase or Not?

This past weekend, I went to Best Buy to pick up a copy of TurboTax. I was enticed by an offer in Best Buy’s latest flier that promised a free music CD with a $25 purchase of tax software. I knew that Intuit had sent me a copy of TurboTax at the end of last year, but I couldn’t remember where I put it. When I saw the offer for a free music CD, it seemed like a no-brainer … buy my fave tax software and get some free tunes.

So off to the store I went …

I picked up my copy of TurboTax and wandered around the store looking at all the cool new stuff. I eventually found my way to the music department, found something worth adding to my music collection, and headed for the registers.

At the register, I handed the CD and copy of Turbo Tax to the cashier. He rang them up and gave me my total. It was roughly fifteen bucks more than I had expected.

Lo and behold, Best Buy’s system failed to deduct the price of the music CD. I squawked, of course.

“Hey, what about the free music CD with a $25 tax software purchase?” I asked.

The cashier looked at me like I was from another planet. (His look was so convincing, it left me to believe that either he was trained to look that way or I really did appear to be from another planet.)

I scrambled to unfold the page from the flier that I had stuffed in my pocket.

“Here it is,” I pointed to the offer. “Right here.”

The cashier looked at the flier incredulously. He pulled his own flier from underneath the counter. After flipping through a few pages, the cashier found the offer and placed a call to the office.

An efficient young woman promptly burst from the office and made her way to the register. She punched in some codes and quickly disappeared, with nary an apology for the inconvenience. I got my free music CD with the only cost being five wasted minutes.

The free CD offer was clearly a loss leader. Best Buy expected that a substantial portion of its customers would buy more than just tax software. They wanted to bring feet into the store. If I had rolled up to the register with arms full of goodies, it’s highly likely that I would have never noticed the cost of the not-quite-so-free CD.

I had to laugh when I read the current articles about the company’s Q4 profit surge.

Does Best Buy profit from an inattentive customer? You betcha.

I wouldn’t call this a case of bait and switch … more a caveat emptor case of “make sure you double-check that tally before you hand over your dough” …


[tags]TurboTax, tax software[/tags]

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  • marc klink

    Something I’ve known for years…Best Buy isn’t!

  • Lona Curtis

    Interesting story. Perhaps you need to rethink your tax software next year. Got mine at the dollar store for ……… a dollar …… worked perfectly. One thing you are right about is to keep a close eye on that bottom line and make sure you were charged correctly.

  • john martin

    Well actually you got a special deal. If you’d have read the add you would have seen that the free cd was for TaxCut NOT TurboTax. I got a free DVD with TaxCut last week and the sales girl even told me that the DVD was free when she keyed it in. VERY HAPPY!

  • Stacey

    I had something similar to that happen at Wal-Mart once. It was a big price deduction on some household kitchen thing. I think these places do that stuff all the time, and catch a lot of people with a lot of items that don’t pay attention to the register as it rings em up. I had one store clerk tell me when something rang up that it would deduct it at the end.. Needless to say it didn’t, and needless to say I pointed it out to them,much to her chagrin.

  • empkae

    Watch out at BB! A few years ago I picked up a “free” AOL cd just to see what was new. (I know. A lame idea.) They had to run it through the checkout and somehow I ended up being billed for a subscription! I caught it before accepting my bill and the “free” item was removed.