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McAdams On: Buying a 4KTV

CASCADES, FALL—Max was perfectly happy with his big screen Sony projection CRT the size of a fatted heifer before I came along.

“I like the soft picture,” he’d say. “It’s easy on my eyes.”

Max is a master artist and colorist by trade, so I didn’t doubt him.

I, on the other hand, have spent a good deal of my adult life staring into a glowing screen. The massive Sony had a three-inch strip of dying phosphors across the bottom. I imagined I could hear them screaming with my imaginary profoundly acute hearing. Max, who is also a mind-reader and a Broncos fan, casually mentioned that maybe it was time for a new TV shortly after Peyton Manning skooled Tom Brady.

Coincidentally, I got an email from Best Buy the next day. OK, I get emails from Best Buy every day because I almost bought something online from them once. But this email offered a 65-inch LG 4KTV for $999. So I tell Max I’ll get it for his birthday because I like him a lot and screaming phosphors. Being a proud man, Max was not about to let any girlfriend of his buy him a TV set without seeing if he could get a better deal.

So we took a field trip to our local Best Buy where they did not have the 65-inch LG 4KTV for $999 in stock. They had plenty of 65-inch 4KTVs for many, many more dollars, but not that one. We then asked our friendly Best Buy associate if he could order it for us.

“Hem. Haw,” he replied.

“Hmm,” we responded.

The next day, Max tried to order it online. Best Buy would not ship it to his business. Best Buy would not ship it to his house. Best Buy would not ship it to a mouse. Best Buy would not ship it here, or there or anywhere. Best Buy does not like green money in hand.

Max got a customer service rep on the phone.

“I have a FedEx account,” he said. “I’ll ship it myself.”

“We can’t do that.”

“I am a shareholder. I’m trying to give you money.”

“I’m sorry, sir.”

This tactic, I am told, is called “the old bait and switch.”

I am not saying that Best Buy intentionally pulled “the old bait and switch.” I am saying the preceding true-life scenario was described to me thusly by two completely separate people, one of whom was not me.

In the meantime, since I had placed the pretend $999 LG 4KTV in my virtual Best Buy shopping cart, I kept getting email overtures that read like a mistake.

“!!!Big News,” said the first one, punctuated in Spanglish. “This has your name on it! Your cart has something in it!”

Then two days later, the less exclamatory, “Thanks for your interest, this has your name on it! We saved it for you...”

Five days in, they went passive-aggressive like an undershorts thief at camp.

“Uh oh, this has your name on it!”

And then finally, as if the previous series of emails never occurred and I hadn’t already discovered that the $999 LG 4KTV set was not available in or through any Best Buy store in all of California:

“You’re all set to check out at Best Buy.”

By this time, however, Max and I had gone to Costco where I let him do the talking. They had 65-inch Samsung 4KTV floor model that he got for pretty much the same price as the LG that Best Buy would not sell us unless we drove 3,000 miles to get it in Baltimore.

Aside from my own soupçon of niggling guilt about potentially setting off a chain of electronic upgrades across Max’s house, we both really like the new TV.

Thank you, Best Buy. Well played.