First, I stumbled across a copy of the open letter from Best Buy to consumers regarding the initial XBox 360 launch on the Social Customer Manifesto. The entire letter is reproduced below, but essentially states that the forced purchasing of XBox 360 bundles is not the policy of Best Buy and you can return any XBox 360 stuff you bought for a full refund.
"TO: Open Letter to Customers
FROM: Brian Dunn, President – Retail, North America
RE: Launch of Xbox 360
CC: Best Buy Store, District and Territory Employees; All Officers and Directors
DATE: December 6, 2005
I’m writing to apologize.
While all of us at Best Buy were thrilled to be part of the recent launch of Microsoft’s Xbox 360 video game system – one of the most anticipated events in the history of electronic gaming – the launch did not go as we had hoped. We sold out of Xbox 360s nationwide in less than two hours, and most of our stores did an outstanding job of serving our gaming customers. I’d like to thank the majority of our employees, who provided a terrific experience for customers at the launch date. However, our promotional activities in certain cases failed to follow company guidelines. As a result, some of our valued gaming customers had an experience in our stores that was inconsistent with what you’ve come to expect from us, as a leader in the consumer electronics industry.
Specifically, customers in some Best Buy stores were told that they were required to buy additional Xbox accessories or services if they wanted one of the sought-after Xbox 360 consoles, even though we advertised the Xbox 360 console alone. I want to be very clear that Best Buy does not condone pressuring customers to purchase items they may not want or that may not fit their lifestyle. In fact, these behaviors are in direct conflict with our desire to serve customers’ needs better than anyone else, and our values of honesty and integrity.
We are currently investigating all leads about promotional practices that may have violated the company’s guidelines, and we will take disciplinary actions as appropriate. We also have reminded all of our stores about our policies with respect to launches of hot products. Meanwhile, on behalf of Best Buy, I’d like to offer a sincere apology to any customers who felt pressured to buy items they did not want.
Customers who are unhappy with Xbox 360-related purchases made in November 2005 may return unwanted items for a full refund at any Best Buy store. In addition, if your Xbox 360 purchasing experience did not meet your expectations for any reason, please email us at email@example.com . (Employees with information pertinent to our investigation are encouraged to call our Ethics Hot Line instead.)
Last, I would like to invite you back to our stores, particularly later this month, when Best Buy will receive more shipments of Xbox 360s. While supplies continue to be very limited, we are truly excited about this new gaming platform, and we’d like to deliver the best of that experience to you. We promise an in-store experience that is focused on your needs and the needs of everyone on your holiday gift list.
Today I saw a post on Gizmodo that shows the clip below from the Best Buy Retail Insider that directs XBox 360 units received between Dec. 11 and Dec. 16 to be stockpiled for release on Dec. 18. Furthermore, the clip directs that XBox 360 units are for the general public and may not be held for “select” customers and/or employees.
It appears that Best Buy is trying to the right thing with the Dec. 18 release, but it just seems a little weird that they wouldn’t sell units as they come in on a first-com-first-served basis. Of course, by having a second “release,” there will be lots of lines and lots of people driven to Best Buy stores in hopes of getting a unit in time for the holidays — perhaps you might buy something else, especially if you don’t get a unit.