Best Buy Car Stereo Scam

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Someone asked me the other day, about buying an aftermarket head unit for their car, and wondered if Best Buy would be a good place to buy it and get it installed.  They knew I used to work at a car stereo shop after school in high school, which is why they were asking, but I totally forgot about working at Best Buy after that era.

The first thought that came to my mind was, “hell no”!

Getting the head unit installed at Best Buy would be fine, but buying the actual equipment from there I would not! The installers are better than some chop shop in your local neighborhood, and you’ll get an actual factory adapter instead of having your wiring harness chopped to hell with some electrical tape holding it all together. I remembered the shady shit the sales managers used to have us do, in order to sell more bullshit add-ons whenever customers came in to get their speakers or radio upgraded in the store… the installers outside were pretty straight with people, but inside, holy hell what a different story!

Now, they wouldn’t have their mother or sister buy all that stuff now would they?  Nope.

How Best Buy Screws Over It’s Car Stereo Customers

If you know a thing or two about car stereo systems, you’ll know that there are certain things you need, and other things that are nice to have. But when customers come in to your local Best Buy location in Central Florida, they’re often recommended to purchase all sorts of questionable nonsense, simply to increase the price of the sale… so the sales staff can hit their “numbers.”

Use Of The “We Don’t Work On Commission” Line

No keep in mind, this is the biggest fucking racquet ever. Best Buy doesn’t pay employees commission, so these retarded sales meeting about hitting department numbers and whatnot, are really just rallying the troops of some twenty-something college students that just need a job.

They groom you from the second you walk in the door, so even though it may seem like the person helping you knows everything about everything, half the time they’re dumber than a doorknob when it comes to the specifics about the product/solution you need.

Fear Sells. Plain And Simple… And The Best Buy Department Heads Know It.

So where does the scam part come in?  Because, for the most part, your local Best Buy is a good place to shop, even though there are things like this you have to watch out for. And in Best Buy’s defense, this isn’t their fault nationwide, and is mostly governed by the management of the individual store. Sad part is though, most of the time those managers will do anything to make themselves look good, even if that means pushing unnecessary products on unsuspecting consumers with fear based marketing like I’m about to show you.

Usually when you come in to Best Buy t get your speakers replaced, or radio upgraded, you walk in to the store and try out everything to see which model you like and what fits your budget.

You’re pleasantly greeted by a “non-commission” salesman, and typically recommended some products based on what you’re looking for. When you inquire about getting them installed however, is when things start to take a turn for the worst.

During the checkout process, they’ll quote you for a price to install, for which you’ll need a wiring harness adapter, and a head unit installation kit. These are common and are actually legit purchases required to add an aftermarket head unit to your car, both so there is no cutting of the factory wiring harness, and so there is a solid mount for the new radio and a nice trim ring so it looks factory.

But from here, things go waaaaaay south. On every single fucking sale, no matter what you’re buying, what kind of car you have, none of that matters… they’ll start hitting you for things like “bass blockers” to stop your speakers from blowing.

Now for anyone who knows anything about car audio, for one you would NEVER add something like this inline in a vehicle that has a factory amp. Half the cars that come in the install bay have them from the factory, which is just nuts.

Next, telling someone that these “filters” are going to stop their speakers from blowing, and that every car needs them, totally avoids the subject of how it ruins the sound quality of those $200 brand new speakers you just bought!

If aren’t aware, removing a certain frequency from your audio output, simply to prevent some type of fabricated potential damage, totally removes the bottom half of your bass tonalities from your sound system.

In short, your car is going to sound like shit after all this gets hooked up, and that brand new head unit and speakers you think are so awesome, are never going to perform how they should because you were sold snake oil.

But this is just the beginning…

Lying about “bass blockers” with every head unit install, using fear to make customers think they’re going to “blow their speakers” if they don’t spend the extra 20-$30 bucks (which is insane btw, those are a $6 item, retail, and take no extra time to install if the guy is wiring up the head unit harness anyway!)

Sales Managers Of The Stores Teach Employees How To Sell Add-On Products That Are Both Unnecessary, And Wrongfully Advised

If people resist believing this BS when they’re inside the store, the sales manager will casually walk by and offer reinforcement.

By reinforcement, I mean saying things like this directly to the customer: “oh yes, you need bass blockers with any new speakers. You know how sometimes when you get in your car and left the radio up to loud, and your speakers will pop when you start your car again? Yep that will blow your speakers, and these bass blockers will stop that surge from happening.”

Now They’re Inadvertently Making Each Customers Sound System Sound Like Shit! (no mid range or bass, depending on which frequency the bass blockers cut out and below)

If that’s not enough, then they try to con people into believing that the “extra power” from an aftermarket head unit, is going to be much more than their stock speakers are used to. So if they don’t want to take advantage of “today’s deal” where you get 4 speakers with your head unit with “free installation” (*just pay for bullshit speaker adapters and mounting rings, since the speakers on special aren’t necessarily the ones that fit your car… but hey, if we can get your to buy $25 plastic rings to mount a 5 1/4 speaker in a 6.5inch hole, fuck it why not!”)

So they’re trying to “help you” avoid blowing your factory speakers, since you’re upgrading your head unit. And keep in mind, “we don’t work on commission,” so you know the advice is solid. (yawn)

Then comes the last ditch effort I talked about briefly above, in order to extract more money out of you, which is a fear based lie about how when you leave the radio on in your car when you shut it off, the next time you start it up, that initial POP when it turns on will blow your speakers. And if you buy these bass blockers, they will stop that from happening.

What Bass Blockers Really Do!

News flash fuckheads… bass blockers block frequencies from 600hz and down typically, they’re not fucking capacitors (meaning they don’t store any energy to eliminate some make-believe “surge” from getting to your speakers)

Why They Sell This Way

Because it works.

Think about it…

  • “we don’t work on commission…”
  • “we’re trying to save you from damaging what you’re about to spend tons of money on…”
  • “for just a few bucks more, you can be protected, and we’ll install it for “free” if you get this weekly special…”

Sounds legit right?

Sure it does. And unsuspecting consumers are non the wiser, and no one is going to notice this stuff that isn’t an audiophile or someone with experience as an audio installer.

Meanwhile, Best Buy is adding anywhere from $30 – $120 bucks to every sale by the time you add all these gizmos up.  But that’s not what really pisses me off, it’s the fact that people are spending their hard earned money, and being lead by idiots that know nothing about audio quality, and customers end up buying GOOD products that will never perform or sound like they’re supposed to…. all so some car audio department can get better monthly “numbers.”

What a fucking rip off…

How Do I Know All This?

Department Numbers Drive The Whole Ecosystem At Best Buy

As someone who worked at Best Buy himself personally, I really got to see the ins and outs of how they operate internally. Most college kids who are into gaming and are savvy to tech, are often drawn to work at Best Buy for the employee discount.

The Reality Is, Most People Working At Best Buy Are College Kids Who Don’t Know Shit About The Department They’ve Been Assigned To

But beyond that, they don’t have much life experience besides what they’re passionate about, and are often put in departments totally unrelated to what they know.

Take me for example… I was good at car audio, but the TV department was under performing. They saw my ability to do well in car audio (because it’s what I knew!!), and moved me to TV’s and home theater.  When I didn’t know how to answer customers questions about some flatscreen, they would prep me on some bullshit line to spew to get them to the next step of the sale.

Why I Was Forced To Go Along With It If I Didn’t Want To Be Out Of A Job While In College

This is when it became abundantly clear that they were doing this with everyone, and ultimately customers were being lead to buy things that were way out of line from what they needed. Yet, there is subtle pressure internally that’s known, and if you don’t perform well, you may not get the hours you desire.

Either than, or people will be moved to terrible departments they hate, until they just quit.

The model is basically, let’s get everything we can out of this cat, until he either gives up or submits and becomes a lifer.

Not Best Buy’s Fault… Or Is It?

My first reaction thinking back on all this, is that it isn’t Best Buy’s fault this goes on, and is probably widely dependent on store to store sales managers and the general manager.

Sales Managers Trying To Meet Quota, Even Though They “Don’t Work On Commission”

I’m sure corporate is aware of all the shenanigans that do go on, but it’s not like they’re banging down the door of their top performing stores to make sure they’re being compliant ya know.

But on the flip-side, what about these hundreds of thousands of customers, driving around with $500 speakers that sound like they bought them from a flea market?

They’ll likely never even know it, and it’s a shame that the entire time they own that car from now on, the music is going to be bass-less.

How You Can Protect Yourself From Wasting Money On Things You Don’t Need When Buying A Car Stereo or Replacing Your Speakers

A lot has changed with the advent of YouTube, and most cars have tutorials online and you can buy everything you need right on Amazon.

Here is a list of head units I recommend that are good and affordable, and here is a list of installation kits that are super cheap if you’re interested in seeing what is involved in putting in your own car stereo.

Should you do a self install?

Most people should not do a self install, it just isn’t worth the hassle. But what you can do, is educate yourself by reading articles like these, and buying your equipment online so you know you’re not getting ripped off.

Then find a local car stereo place in your town that will do the installation for you. It’s usually under $100 dollars, and if you find a good shop, they’ll have all the wiring harness adapters and trim kits you’ll need unless you want to buy your own online.

If you do install it yourself, make sure you use a wiring harness and you can buy it here: amazon link to dash kits

Never cut your factory wiring harness… if you do, it’s a real pain when you go to sell your car if you want to remove your aftermarket stereo, since they don’t give you much money for that upgrade when trading it in.


23 thoughts on “Best Buy Car Stereo Scam”

  1. Erm.. bass blockers are 100% capacitors.. they’re non polar capacitors. They don’t ‘work’ in the method that polarized big capacitors that people pair up with amps are supposed to work, but that’s a blatant piece of misinformation.
    Actually, this entire article is full of misinformation. Best Buy hasn’t pushed “bass blockers with every headunit” since what.. like 2008? Almost every single deck there now has an HPF setting on there, and set to about 80hz on factory speakers you’re usually golden, good to go.
    Whoever gave you the information to call the installation service at Best Buy a scam sounds like he was jaded.. There’s a huge talent pool there, and in my experience, not a lot of crooked installers. You’re just as likely to get “scammed” at a local mom n’ pop shop. The one thing you need to watch out for if you’re getting product installed at a Best Buy is just making sure you’re tech is experienced. Once again, there’s veteran installer who have been in the game over 15 years and can do any car blind folded, and there’s newer techs who are (unfortunately) just thrown into the mix trying their best to get by. But that’s any place. I’ve seen installs from mom n’ pop shops that are barely above what a 15 year old on youtube can pull off.. and I’ve seen MECP Master work from Best Buy installers that looks like the products were factory.

    This entire article is fairly rude and sensationalist, and you should be ashamed at feeding into that trend on social media.

    • Hi Isaac,

      Not sure how you took it from the perspective as an installer… the installers are awesome, it’s the people doing the selling inside the store that are duping people, not the guys in the bay. Cheers!

      • I have to agree with Issac:

        It sounds like you haven’t stepped into a best buy for car audio needs in about 10 years… Which you cannot base your opinion on an outdated system that has been revamped 4 times over now.

        Our car installers are encouraged to help as many clients as possible on the floor, and you just called them awesome.

        Also, the sales people might use the term “free install” but they are referencing Total Tech Support, which you failed to mention completely. You can get a new deck, speakers, and a back-up camera installed however many cars you want for $199.99 flat. From there you will also continue to get support included in that price on every computer you own, all of your gaming systems, any tablets, cameras, (basically if it is sold at a best buy, whether or not you bought it there, they can help you in some way)

        TL;DR- You may want to go into a store and try to purchase some car audio so you at least have some current info to go off of. Only speaking to disgruntled employees isn’t doing your blog justice

        • So, which one of you is going to rewrite your comment a fourth time? It’s obvious Best Buy has hired a PR firm to respond to this nonsense that no one is even reading, but you’re clearly totally glossing over the point about installers vs the sales floor… inside is where people are being taken advantage of left and right.

          Nice try though, really. 😉

          Best Buy Hiring PR Firm For Damage Control

  2. Hi Matt,

    To echo the other’s your rant is seriously outdated. Best Buy has not had a “sales” staff for car audio for the last 4 years. I have to assume that the experience you reference may have been because of a lone wolf of an installer, an old chap that still hangs on to his/hers outdated tendencies. It is just plain ignorance to base a single experience or even multiple experiences but from a single location on your entire argument that this is the norm for a NATION wide retailer. The complexities of today’s vehicles can often times require significant costs in parts, sometimes more than the equipment cost itself. I’m surprised you didn’t mention the black magic wiring harnesses that can cost anywhere from 100 to 200 dollars. Based on your level of experience I would assume you to think those are not needed either.

    Maybe before you set a precedent based on a single event you should gather more data. Maybe call some local Best Buys just to get some quotes and estimates, they can even email you the quotes itemized so you can see what is involved. I bet you will find that after doing a little more research that your entire argument is complete non-sense.

      • No one is coming out of the woodwork here. Some of us are just employees who love doing what we do, and the company we do it for. That’s all. This article is clearly attacking that company. And different IP’s. Well yeah, I would hope we dont all have the same IP address. This info is outdated. That’s all they’re saying.

        • Half agree. But this is not an attack on the company, it’s an outspoken piece on the ridiculous ways of internal sales processes created by management within individual stores. They’re under pressure to hit their numbers, and since the staff doesn’t work on commission, they don’t have a lot of options.

          The installers themselves usually have nothing to do with this at all. They’re just going along with what was sold inside/what’s on the install order. They don’t know if customers requested specific items, if they’re compromising because they’re out of stock but want it done today, etc…

          • It’s also up to the installer to correct whatever was sold that was not needed, or add on whatever was missed, informing the customer 1st, of course. But best buy had not pushed non polarized capacitors at least since 2011 when I started. The only time they’ve been sold is when a client comes in with their own tweeters they want installed… if they don’t have crossovers.

  3. matt,

    you do realize that different IP’s addresses mean we’re posting from DIFFERENT places.. i.e.- we’re different people.

    this definitely sounds like something that happened years ago, as since ive installed (7 years now) i have never been, nor have any of the floor salesman, pressured to sell unnecessary equipment. i know i am always trying to find the best price for the install that will meet my customers desires, be it car audio, or remote starts, other in car tech, etc.
    Bestbuy has some of the lowest parts and labor costs in the aftermarket auto industry, i know because i constantly can beat quotes from other local and chain shops by about 30%, before i ever even ask to see the quote from those shops.

    if you came into any store in the country i can guarantee your view would change on this. in fact i challenge anyone reading this article to go to your local bestbuy with an install bay, and talk to us, or even call and check before making a trip. compared to every other car audio/electronics place in my area, we far surpass service, price and overall performance.

    on the sales standpoint, you will run into a salesperson that got bad information, or one that doesnt know what theyre doing, its inevitable.
    in my store, i do the selling, the installs, phone calls etc. and i try to train all the floor ppl in the same way i do things. so im not sure what kind of experience you had, but it seems very distinct, one sided and VERY outdated.

    • You guys are clearly a PR firm.

      You all seem to be missing the point of the entire article altogether, so I guess I’ll spell it our for you: I was the employee among many they trained to do this.

  4. What’s more likely?
    A big company spending money just to comment on a small blog or other car audio installers found your page and think you are wrong.

      • You really think Best Buy would waste money hiring a PR firm for your little rinky-dink blog?? Come on big head. Or maybe another ex-installer found your blog post, posted it on an installer forum and now we’re all making fun of you? Use that big head of yours and tell me which is more likely?

        I installed for Best Buy for 11 years. I think I pitched bass blockers about 4 times total, and it was always on a tiny 3.5″ or 4×6″ speaker. And thank you for showing us your intellect. Bass Blockers ARE capacitors exactly, you ignorant fuck. Also, never once have I seen a sale or deal on one single size of speaker. It’s ALL sizes of that brand. I have no motivation to sell 5.25″ when the vehicle can fit 6.5″ (you pictured spacers anyway, not adapters, you ignorant fuck).

        All in all, you’re just stretching the truth from your extremely limited experience in an effort to make a blog post someone might want to read. You’re the Fox News of blogs. Fuck you.

        • Aww can’t handle a half decent discourse huh. You do realize this is a complete waste of my time right? But just in case someone else reads this that actually cares…

          Since you seem to be missing the ENTIRE point of the post, let me help spell it out for you mister qualified installer:

          What Best Buy employees, likely yourself included, (but most definitely the sales staff) fail to inform customers correctly on…. is that your little “capacitors” attenuate all frequencies 600hz and down. How many DB depends on which model they’re sold, but no one gives a fuck anyway, so long as they get that $30 accessory included on every sale so the car audio department numbers improve.

          So meanwhile, a customer thinks they’re getting this badass new head unit they were upsold on, brand new speakers with (you guessed it) “more bass,” and blah blah blah, it doesn’t matter what the installers do, the entire system is going to sound like shit compared to factory like this. it’s not like they have an Audiocontrol in there, and they got separate amps for highs, mids, and subs. For christ sake, you may as well put a set of horns under the dash, that’s pretty much what they sound like…

          And all this, to “protect new speakers from a little “pop” that may blow brand new speakers if you leave the volume up to loud when you start the car…” says the Best Buy sales manager anyway.

          And by the way, who talks to people like this anyhow? Oh that’s right, Best Buy employees for the win. (way to strut your blue/yellow stripes pal)

  5. Wow, I stumbled across your article and it brought me back quite a ways. You see, another installer and I were responsible for starting this bass blocker madness 25 years ago. If I remember correctly there was a challenge that we couldn’t get rid of a few particular inventory sku’s over a short period of time. Challenge accepted and within a month or two all of the bass blocker inventory we were sent was cleared out (as well as other non moving sku’s). Of course this bumped up the lead installer’s numbers and gave him a fat bonus. We probably got lunch out of it. Everything that was sold at this time got multiple sku’s attached (think replace labor charge etc…)
    Instead of being reprimanded it received nothing but praise!! Go figure. The store manager looked better which made the district manager look better. Before you know it the corporate management wants to know why we are doing so well while other locations are struggling.

    You have to realize that at this time Car Audio was the cash cow for Best Buy. They were not the powerhouse they are today and almost went bankrupt from a really bad computer purchase (think millions of $$$ of product that was obsolete before you took delivery). Car audio was a huge influx of cash and saved them from bankruptcy.

    I left a short time later but before I did bass blockers were being rolled out company wide. Why stop there when you can add speaker adapter clips, speaker brackets and speaker matting. It’s amazing that 20 plus years later this is still a staple for them. All because of a simple challenge and a free lunch!

  6. Different IP addresses is easy its called a VPN. All you Best Buy guys are just Circuit City left overs and all of you are out for the $$$ no matter how much you have to lie and cheat to get it. I worked at Best BUy in Kennesaw Ga and Matt is absolutely correct with everything that he has said. So fuck all you haters. you can eat my nuts.

    • While Matt is right about sales staff at Best Buy in general, he’s dead wrong about everything in the car audio department, and that’s what’s pissing these installers off. But for fuck’s sake, it’s the same story with sales staff at any retailer. If you walk into any store and think that 20 year old kid is an expert on that $6k television and everything that goes with it, your just a fucking dumbass.

  7. I will reuse any parts from a previous install that are still intact and solid enough for me to feel comfortable putting my name on. Salespeople are trained(by me the installer) to always sell the parts listed no matter what unless discussed with me, when the install is complete I return any unused parts. I train and work side by side with every salesperson we always try and do what is in the best interest of the customer. Best Buy also price matches all legitimate retailers, local or online. I am honestly concerned for my job because we do car installs/sales for such a low price I don’t know how it could be profitable.


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