SAN DIEGO (TheStreet) -- A few weeks ago I went to a local Best Buy (BBY) to buy a cable modem. It was a Thursday night at about 7, and there were more salespeople in the large, well-lit store than customers.
As has been the case in recent visits, it was friendly, clean and the salespeople seemed to know the products. Or if they didn't, they did a good job pretending they did.
Once I chose the product, I headed to the cash register. But before I got there I whipped out my phone, pulled up Amazon (AMZN) and found the same product for about $20 less. I showed it to the cashier. He called over a manager to get approval. Done.
Then I asked the question that gave me the surprising answer: How many people price match? "Five out of 20," said the cashier.
I was stunned. I would've thought it was more like 20 out of 20. It's such a no-brainer. But that's not the point. The point is, rather than showrooming, I bought it there.
(Confession -- and maybe it's my age: I Like to go to Best Buy and chat up the salespeople as part of my product research. I love to get the pitch, and then go into 20-questions mode. And if the price is the same, I prefer to get it now.)
Price-matching, no doubt, didn't help margins. But that may be the least of Best Buy's concerns. More troubling, I thought, were CFO Sharon McCollam's candid comments in the earnings release, notably: