Does best buy sell over priced junk (cables and the like)?...Yes!
Are the associates the best source for gaining knowledge on various equipment and set ups?...No!
Can shopping at best buy be a good experience?....Sometimes.
Below are a couple of good experiences I have has at best buy in recent times:
I frequently buy more and more blu-rays and cd's at best buy ever since amazon starting collecting sales tax in CA (for the states not getting taxed on amazon/online, it will come soon enough). I have purchased many catalog and newer releases there in the past year or so with most of them being from the "bargain bin" paying about $7-10 per movie....similar to amazon prices. I also pre-oredered 2 or 3 films there in the past year for their exclusive extras. I have also purchased more then a few CD's there, mostly $5 or so. Not too long ago I got a Queen box LP box set that had 5 vinyl albums with one cd packaged together in a nifty box. Price tag said $10, when rang up at the register it came up as $1...score!
Not too long ago I wanted to replace by ps3 as my primary blu-ray player.....got sick of the fan noise. I also wanted something to be able to play back SACD's and DVD-A's, as I never really explored either format much and was curios. Oppo players were on my list, but since I was I intending o connect everything with hdmi or spdi/f I wasnt too keen on dropping 5 bills on one of their players. I went to one of my 4 local best buys to check out what they had on the shelf. The manager of the magnolia department helped me out. I explained what I was looking for and he happily demo'd both blu ray play back and sacd playback of a denon 1611 blu-ray player. Grateful for his assistance and time, we started to discuss pricing. He checked his computer and the price was currently at full retail (something like $450 or so cant remember exactly). While he was checking his computer for the price I brought up the denon player listing on amazon on my phone. Showed him the price (listed at $260ish if I remember correctly). He happily priced matched no problem, and even gave me a little bit more of a discount (paid less then $250 out the door).
At another best buy when I was TV shopping almost 2 years ago I was able to play with multiple sets in the magnolia section. The associate helping me allowed me to adjust all tvs I was interested in and even allowed me to demo blu-rays on them. Before purchasing I explained that I intended to go to frys and see what they had as well. He implied that was probably a smart thing to do. At the end of the of the demo session, he thanked me for considering best buy for my purchase and gave me his business card and told me to call or come back to see him if I had any questions. I did go to frys to check out thier tv's and it was hard to get anyone to help me and I couldn't demo the tv's properly. However I did end up purchasing one of their floor models due to the excellent discount I was able to get on it. However before the tv was delivered I was informed that it had been damaged in the delivery truck. After receiving a full refund I found a better deal on an open box set from tigerdirect and purchased from there. At a later date I was back in the original best buy I was demoing tv's in and the magnolia associated remembered me and asked how my tv hunting was going. I relayed my experience and what I ultimately ended up doing. He was impressed with the deal I ended up with from the on line retailer. When ever I go back there and he is working he says hello. I actually impulse bought an open box sony 300 disk cd changer from him one day...he even marked it down a tad more for me too.
All in all both experiences for me were very good from a customer service stand point. I find dealing with most of the magnolia associates to be fairly positive. I have been able to play with some of the high end tv sets (elites and the 75 inch samsung model). Never any pressure, never any bad info relayed to me. One time me and the magnolia manager at the best buy closest to me (the bby in the first experience section) were talking cables, and he right off the bat said he knew high dollar hdmi cables were a waste of money for consumers and he didn't like the pressure to push them on consumers. Very upfront and honest.
I have run across a few ditzes here and there at bby, mostly the non magnolia associates and mostly in the computer and tablet sections. I dont make many high dollar purchases at bby or brick and mortar stores in general. I mostly just buy media and occasional accessory or the rare item costing $100 or more...but this is few and far between.
I do see the writing on the wall for consumer electronic stores and am responsible for helping it along by making most of my purchases on line through amazon and newegg and others, and I will be sad to see bby and the remaining consumer electronic stores go, but unless they can figure out a way to profitably compete in the new market, they have to go, that's just how business works.