Best Buy's little Black Friday the 13th

A little Black Friday nightmare occurs when Best Buy's systems keep processing online orders for an HP computer package that had already sold out. Purchasers are aggrieved.

Sometimes, readers write to me. Sometimes, a couple of their words begin with an "f" or a "b." However, on Friday it was just "b"s. "Best Buy," "Best Buy," they said, along with one or two other words beginning with "b."

The customers' simmering frustration seemed to be directed at a Black Friday offer of a spectacular deal on an HP Pavilion P6214y package. I am sure this was a very fine offer. Unfortunately, Best Buy kept taking orders for it after it didn't have any more of the product.

The Best Buy community forum was positively humming with anguish. A poster named Ibanezlord wrote: "I ordered the HP Pavillion P6214y bundle the minute it was available online which was on 11/26 around 11:36pm Pacific time. How long will it be untill (sic) I receive my entire order?"

This sounded reasonable. Measured, even.

Best Buy employs such warm, friendly people. CC Kyle Mac/Flickr

Ibanezlord continued: "The printer is supposed to be here this Friday 12/4, but I am more concerned on how long it is going to take to get the whole package. I would hate for BB to send me a part of the package and then expect me to pay shipping to send it back if my computer never shows up. Why would BB sell me something they do not even have in stock? Also, there was no indication of the package being back ordered."

The more I read, the more concerned I became. I know people can get rather upset when they buy things, when they Best Buy things, and then don't get them. Posters to Best Buy's forums were concerned that they wouldn't even get their shipping fees back. And it's the little things that can really rile.

So I contacted Best Buy about the readers' complaints, and the official reply was this: "On Thanksgiving morning we noticed a system error that allowed a limited quantity of special offers to be processed after the product had sold out. This resulted in a limited number of orders involving those products to be canceled."

As all mathematicians know, many numbers have their limits, but this was an offer that enticed people to buy computers with very lovely numbers.

Best Buy continued: "While it is unusual for our system to experience errors like this, as soon as we became aware of the issue we fixed it and notified affected customers. We encourage those customers to contact us if they have any questions, and we'll continue to make the appropriate adjustments to ensure our customers receive the service they expect when shopping with Best Buy. We apologize for the uncommon error."

But will Best Buy do anything for these depressed, disconsolate, discombobulated customers?

I did ask. And here's the reply I got late Friday from Erin Gunderson at Best Buy: "At this time we are encouraging affected customers to contact our customer relations department. Once they get in touch with a representative, we will handle [the problem] on a case by case basis."

One can only hope it will all be handled with that most service-oriented "f" and "b"- fair and balanced.