Best Buy Bust: Why Counsel Should Review Everything You Do ... Ever

By William Peacock, Esq. on January 22, 2013 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Hear the one about Best Buy? Someone drafted a Best Buy coupon offering $50 off of a purchase of $100 or more using a MasterCard. Exclusions included Sony stereos and a few other overly-specific items.

You know what wasn't included? Gift cards. Savvy shoppers flocked to the store and purchased hundreds of dollars in Amazon gift cards for half price, reports the Consumerist. Best Buy will presumably eat the loss.

The company apparently botched the discount language, too. It wanted you to purchase a single item that cost $100 or more. The language simply called for spending $100 in total.

And there were even more mistakes in how the coupons were handled after customers tried to redeem them: Some stores were asking customers to log in to their email at the cash register to make sure that they were among the lucky few who were supposed to receive the coupon. Never mind the fact that the original unrestricted coupon was posted to the Bust Buy website.

By late afternoon, the company redrafted the coupon. It shortened the seven day sale to one day, added a load of restrictions, and quite possibly, ruined its relationship with customers who showed up, coupon in hand, ready to purchase items at the promised discount.

And since the original coupon -- emailed to thousands of people, posted to Best Buy's website, and shared on social media -- is still in the hands of consumers, the stores are going to have to deal with irate customers being turned away for the next six days. After all, the coupon says "Valid 1/21 to 1/27." Whoops again.

Whether this is "bait and switch" or obvious price mistake is a matter for debate. What can't be debated is that someone, somewhere, in the Worst Best Buy corporate office just put another nail in the already reeling company's coffin.

And this, my friends, is why counsel should review everything ever done by anyone in any department. Seriously. Who is better at drafting overly restrictive language than lawyers? Does anyone think that there is even a remote chance of this happening if one of the many legion of unemployed law graduates was hired to review the language used in the coupons?

Better yet, why not have the in house legal department review coupons that will likely lead to abuse? Who didn't see this coupon raising a ruckus is this economy? Lawyers would have come up with ideas like single-use serial numbers (like Staples regularly employs), one coupon per credit card restrictions, and the obvious: no gift cards.

Now, in house counsel and the corporate offices are going to have to deal with threats of consumer protection lawsuits, angry letters, and the loss of thousands of customers.

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