Culver City (CA) – Last week we reported on the empty store shelves as a result of the then pending Microsoft Vista operating system. Some electronics stores like Best Buy had taken laptops and desktop computers off shelves in anticipation of the launch and it now appears that employee bonuses could have been hurt by that action. One Best Buy employee told us that their “Blue Crew Bucks”, essentially bonus checks based on profit, could be slashed to zero.
The anonymous employee said that his store is normally very profitable, but has not had any computers to sell for the last couple of weeks. As a consequence the bonus Blue Crew Bucks checks could drop to nothing which is in stark contrast to the normal $2500 for full-time employees and $1000 for part-timers. “These last two weeks have taken us from $2500 for a full timer/ $1000 for PT, down to a huge fat whopping $0.00,” said the employee.
We talked to another Best Buy employee who confirmed similar situations in Southern California stores. He said that most employees are eligible for the bonuses if the store turns a net operating profit. The profit comes from a combination of keeping sales up along with keeping shoplifting and employee theft losses down. Of course you won’t get any profit if you don’t sell any computers.
Blue Crew Bucks were introduced a few years ago as an incentive for both hourly and management Best Buy employees to increase sales and decrease theft. The checks range from a couple hundred dollars to a few thousand, depending on the number of employees and the operating profit. Since Best Buy employees are not on commission, some employees have counted on the bonus checks much in the same way as waiters and waitresses rely on tips to supplement their income.
Of course we don’t know if Best Buy and Microsoft have made any backroom deals about shelf space. Major companies often pay retail stores for premium spots to sell products and Microsoft could have paid a very hefty premium for all the launch kiosks and displays in the Best Buy stores. Whether the employees will get any of that money is a different story.