A Tale of Two Computer Stores During the Pandemic

Last week we needed a get a new laptop computer for my son to do his school work. Rather than order something online and wait to have it shipped, on Thursday afternoon I went to the Micro Center website and reserved one online for in-store pickup (pay at the store). On this page, they say the following:

With increased demand for work from home products and social distancing, you may experience longer delays for in-store pickup orders. Until further notice, we unfortunately cannot guarantee orders will be ready for pick up in 18 minutes. We apologize and appreciate your patience and understanding as our associates work hard to take care of all customers. Orders placed after 6 p.m. will be processed the following day.

OK, so that makes sense why I didn’t get an email from them on Thursday. Or possibly even Friday. But when I didn’t see an email from them on Saturday, I figured there must have been some mix up, maybe there was a typo in the email address I gave them? I had no way to know since I did not receive an email immediately after making the reservation, and I had long ago closed that browser tab which said that an email would be coming when the order is ready for pickup (though I don’t recall that tab had any useful information).

Finally, around noon on Sunday, I gave up and decided to order a laptop from Best Buy.  Rather than having it shipped to my home, I decided to go with the “contactless curbside” option. Since they were closed on the day I ordered (Easter), I received an email about 15 minutes before the store’s opening on Monday saying that my order was ready. I then drove to the store, and the pickup process was as fast, efficient, and contactless as promised.

And now, guess what happened later on Monday? I received an email from Micro Center this morning saying my pickup reservation is ready! I wanted to cancel the reservation to free up the laptop for someone else, but I didn’t see any way to do so in the email, and I found this page:

Can I cancel my In-Store Pickup reservation?
We know you’re busy, so there is no need to contact us. All in-store pickup reservations are automatically canceled if not picked up within three days.

So are there any takeaways from this experience? Micro Center essentially kept their normal reservation process unchanged, and it seems like it broke down under the increased demand during the pandemic. But Best Buy came up with a new process suited for the current conditions, and it worked like a charm. I have to say I’m impressed with Best Buy, given that my (rare) recent experiences with shopping with them have been less than stellar.