Nathan for You (2013–…): Season 3, Episode 1 - Nathan for You - full transcript

Nathan faces off against a big corporation in an attempt to help a struggling electronics store.

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- My name is Nathan Fielder,

and I graduated from one of
Canada's top business schools

with really good grades.

Now I'm using my knowledge
to help struggling

small business owners make it
in this competitive world.

This is "Nathan for You."

Alen Harikian is the owner
of Speers TV,

a South-Pasadena
electronics store

that's been operating
in the neighborhood

for over 60 years.

But ever since a massive
Best Buy moved in

just minutes away
from his tiny shop,

he's been finding it impossible

to keep up with their
aggressive pricing.

- Their sales are ridiculous.

I mean, there's no way
that I can compete.

- And if it keeps up,

Speers TV is at risk
of going extinct.

So I paid Alen a visit
with an ambitious solution

to undercut
his biggest competitor.

Are you familiar with
the Best Buy price-match policy?

- Yeah. It's horrible.

I mean, it's bad
for small business.

- One of the main reasons

Alen has such a hard time
competing with Best Buy

is because of their aggressive
price-match policy,

which guarantees
they will match the price

of any local competitor,

preventing stores like Speers
from underselling them,

but if Alen
dropped his prices so low

to make his TVs virtually free,

according to Best Buy's
own policy,

they would have to match
that price, too,

giving Alen
a short window of time

where he could buy up
all their inventory for $1

and then resell those TVs
for any price he wants

to make a huge profit.

The plan: use Best Buy's
price-match policy against them

to get Speers an endless supply
of $1 TVs.

- Um...

It's a great idea.

- It might take a little bit
of work and time to do.

- Okay.

- Do you have a lot
going on right now?

- No, I honestly don't. No.

- So you don't
have commitments at home

or anything right now?

Relationship stuff?

- I'm not in a relationship, no.

- I'm not in a relationship
either, so...

- Oh.

- We can both work on this,
you know, full-time.

- Okay. All right. That's fine.

- After a bit more discussion,

Alen was on board to move
forward with dropping the price

on one of his premium
Samsung HD TV models

to just $1 apiece,

but once the new discounted
price went into effect,

people would be flocking
to Speers to get the deal.

So to help dissuade
these bargain hunters

from buying up
all of Alen's dollar TVs,

I implemented a strict
dress code, requiring customers

to wear formal attire
just to enter the store.

I then had all the dollar TVs
moved to an area

at the back of the store

and had a new wall constructed
to surround this area

that could only be entered

through a tiny,
two-foot-tall door.

Finally, in between the door
and the TVs,

I added a live alligator,

which would hopefully force
customers who made it this far

to reconsider their decision

to take advantage
of the great offer.

With our preventative measures
in place,

I could now prepare
to get Alen his TVs.

According to Best Buy's policy,

price-matches are restricted
to one item per customer,

so to maximize the number
of TVs I could get Alen,

I put an ad on Craigslist
to recruit a team of people

to help make the purchases,

and later that week,
I met with those who responded

to see if they
were right for the task.

So this job involves
buying things.

- Okay.

- Are you good at buying things?

- Um, I would say so.

Like, what do you mean
by buying things?

- Like, going into a store
and buying something.

- Yeah.

- All right. Great.

All six applicants
seemed qualified for the job,

so after printing out
some flyers

and distributing them
throughout the neighborhood,

it was finally time for Alen

to offer his $1 prices
to the world.

On the morning
of the big promotion,

the deal vultures were already
circling out front,

and that meant
we had to move quick,

so I met my team of buyers
out back

and gave them each the dollar
they'd need to buy the TVs

and then sent them off in a van
to Best Buy.

Meanwhile, I hung back
at Speers to help Alen ensure

his inventory
remained untouched.

- Hi.

- You look good.
- Thank you.

You too.
- Thanks.

And once Alen
unlocked the front door,

we were officially
open for business.

- Wow, this is nice.
- Can I help you, or...

- We're here to...

for the TV deals.

- Just so you guys know,
we do have a strict dress code,

as you can see
on the wall, so...

- Wow.
- There's no advertising

about the dress code.
- Yeah.

- Yeah.
- That's...

- I mean, it's right
in the front of our store

for everyone to see.
- Yeah, but that doesn't...

- It's inside.
- This is the front.

- It's inside.
We were waiting out there.

We were waiting
in the front of the store.

- I knew some people
might be a bit frustrated,

so I offered up a list

of tuxedo rental stores
in the area

to show them that Speers
did value their business.

Honestly, you seem like
very nice people,

and I'd love to let you in,

but I think doing so
would be unfair to the customers

that, you know,
chose to dress... decent.

- What the...

- My plan on the Speers TV side
was working,

as 30 minutes after opening,

exactly 0 of his $1
televisions had been purchased.

Meanwhile, everything
was on track with my buyers

as they were just now
arriving at Best Buy,

but then, to my surprise,
a customer actually returned

with attire that met
our strict dress code.

Did you rent that?
- Yes.

- I wasn't completely shocked
that someone

would be determined enough
to make it inside,

but I was hopeful
that the remaining steps

would prove more discouraging.

So this is the section
with those TVs.

- Okay.
- Um...

- It's the premium-TV section.
- Yeah.

- That's the doorway?
- Yeah.

These are the more
expensive ones...

- Okay.

- So we keep them
in a separate room.

That's gonna
be in there. Okay.

- Yeah.

Oh. Okay.

That's not good. Um...


- The customer
may have been determined,

but once he came face-to-face
with our alligator,

it was all over.

I'm sorry.
I mean, I feel bad,

'cause that's a dollar we're
losing as well, you know?

My plan was a success.

The guy chose
not to buy the dollar TV,

and every customer after
that met our dress code

got no further than Herbert
as well.

- Herbert?
What is Herbert?

- I'm sorry.
Did you not want a TV? Or...

- No, I don't want to be in
the same room as an alligator.

- Everything seemed
to be going according to plan,

but then I got word
that, back at Best Buy,

things weren't looking so hot.

After presenting the flyer
to sales associates,

my buyers were told

that the company would not
honor their price-match.

- This is a store,
and this is their price.

- I couldn't understand
why this was happening,

so I left the shop
and headed over to Best Buy

to see if I would have
any better luck myself.

I actually have a price-match
for this to get it for a dollar.

- Why not?

- They are.
They're within 25 miles.

- Even with my confidence
and negotiation skills,

I was denied a price-match too.

I'm gonna count to three,

and if you don't do it
by the time I get to three,

I'm gonna leave, okay?

One, two, three.

- I couldn't believe it.

How could Best Buy,
one of my favorite companies,

turn their backs
on the very policy

that drew me in as a customer?

It was a classic

but the one thing I knew
is that when big corporations

try to mess
with regular people like us,

we don't have
to take it lying down.

So, the next day,
I returned to Alen's store

with a slight adjustment
to our plan.

I'm just so sick and tired
of these big companies

like Best Buy and Enron

thinking that, you know,
the rules don't apply to them.

- Yeah. Yeah.

- They can just push around
the little guy.

You know what I mean?
- Yeah, absolutely.

You're right.
- As far as I'm concerned,

you're entitled to those TVs.

- Yeah.

- So that's why I've decided

to file a class-action lawsuit
against Best Buy on your behalf.

- In a way, it's
kind of nerve-racking,

you know, like, going up
against a big company.

- And how is that gonna work?

What is the process?

- You know, I don't know what
it will entail at this point,

but we'll figure it out

You know what I mean?
- Mm-hmm.

- We both aren't
in relationships.

We don't have a love life.
- Yeah, but...

That's true.

- So you have time to do this?

- Well, I mean, I...
this is my only li...

basically, only way
of making money.

So I wouldn't want to do
anything to jeopardize that.

- After telling Alen
I was gonna sue Best Buy,

he was immediately concerned.

- They got bigger lawyers,

better lawyers, probably,
more money.

- Alen was worried that Best Buy
would retaliate

and have their lawyers
come after him.

So you're a bit worried?

- Yeah.
Not a bit. A lot.

- I was torn.

I couldn't live with myself

if Alen ended up
broke and homeless

because of my actions,

but according to my research,
suing was the only way

I could get him the TVs
he was rightfully owed,

but that's when I came
across a sure-fire way

to legally protect him
from Best Buy:

a diagnosis of insanity.

If Alen were diagnosed
as clinically insane,

Best Buy wouldn't be able
to come after him for anything,

but to do this
would take some maneuvering.

So without telling Alen

I was moving forward
with the lawsuit,

I booked him an evaluation

with L.A.-based
clinical psychologist

Dr. Judy Rosenberg.

I told Alen it was just
a routine checkup

for insurance purposes
for the show,

but I came prepared with a plan

that would hopefully get me
the diagnosis I needed.

So I'm very concerned
about my friend Alen.

- Mm-hmm.
- I believe he maybe

has some sort of psychological
issue happening.

- Okay. What are you noticing?

- He believes he's the manager
of an electronics store...

- Okay.

- And has been working there
for the past 15 years.

- Okay, so this
is a delusion that he's having.

- I mean, as you'll see,
he has quite the imagination.

- Okay.
- All right. You... you ready?

- Let's go.
- Okay. It'll be easy.

Just be yourself.
- All right. Okay.

- It'll be
pretty straightforward.

- Okay.

- All right, so tell me
a little bit about yourself.

- Well, I work at the Speers TV.

- Mm-hmm.

- I've been there for,
I would say, 15, 16 years, and...

- Mm-hmm.

And are you still working there?

- Yes, I am. Yeah.
- You are.

Do you like?
- I love it.

- You love it. Okay.

- Maybe ask about the alligator.

- Okay.

I didn't know. Go ahead.

- Well, we did this thing where,

you know, we put an alligator
inside a small door...

or a smaller room, basically,
with a small door...

- Mm-hmm.

- And we would have
customers coming in

to get a $1 TV, basically.

- Okay.

- So... and the only thing
they had to do was go...

have, basically, a dress code.

We had a dress code.
- Okay.

- So you have to be
dressed nicely.

Maybe a suit, you know.

A tie. Nice shoes.

- Wow. That is so interesting.

- Yeah.

It's interesting idea, and...

- It is an interesting idea.
- Yeah, so.

- After Dr. Rosenberg
was done with her evaluation,

I excused Alen from the room
so I could get her report.

What did you get from him?

What sense...

- He's not rooted in reality.

You and I can sit here and go,

"Wow. What a story."

- Hmm.
- "Jeez."

- Yeah.

- I mean, read
the writing on the wall.

Alligators, little doors...

- Is this insanity
we're witnessing? Or...

- I'm seeing psychosis.

I'm seeing delusional thinking.

- Is there any way you could
put that in writing for me?

- Sure.

- With proof
of Alen's insanity in hand,

he was now immune
from prosecution...

Thank you so much.

And knowing he was protected,

I was comfortable
moving forward with my lawsuit,

but if I was gonna go up against

a massive company like Best Buy,

I would need some legal advice,

so I paid a visit to my old pal,

California judge Anthony Filosa,

for guidance
on how to build my case.

- If you decide to sue Best Buy,

based upon what you've told me,

it's gonna be a huge battle.

- Filosa was skeptical
about my prospects,

but he said
there was one piece of evidence

that could turn the tide
to my favor.

- If you had an insider
from Best Buy that...

that could testify
as to the price-match policy

that they don't adhere to
across the board,

that's relevant.

- So I need info
from the inside.

- Yes, whistleblower
for... type of person.

- It became clear
that without an inside source,

I wouldn't have a case,

but getting someone
from within these walls

to disclose
corporate secrets on camera

would be a whole other

So to conceal
my true intentions,

I put up an ad
to recruit Best Buy employees

for a new reality show
called "Retail Dating,"

where people who work at retail
stores go on blind dates,

and after a couple days,

I got a response from a female
Best Buy employee named Elle.

- I'm 24 years old.

I've worked at Best Buy
for three months.

- My plan was to pose
as another retail employee

who was chosen to be her date,

and because she mentioned
she liked alternative music,

I decided to go as the manager
of a local Hot Topic

named Nathan,

but what Elle didn't know
is that my one and only goal

was to get secret inside dirt

on the Best Buy
price-match policy.

Do you want to see
a magic trick?

- Oh, sure.
- Do you like magic?

- Yeah. Yeah.

- It's just a little...
- Yeah.

- It's not...
- Why not?

- Okay.

See the coin?

- I see it.
- Okay.

- I think I've seen that before.

- Okay.

Now that I had impressed Elle,

it was time to see
if I could get her to admit

that there was something more
going on with the Best Buy

price-match policy
than meets the eye.

One cool thing about Hot Topic
is that, you know,

they're pretty lax
on the rules, you know?

We can kind of do
what we want a little bit.

- Yeah.
- For example,

we have this, uh,
price-match policy.

Sometimes, like,
someone will come in

with a legitimate price-match,

and if I'm not feeling it,
I'll just be like, "No."

You know what I mean?

You guys ever do that? Or...

- Oh, I've seen it happen, yes.
- At Best Buy?

- Mm-hmm. Yes.
- You've seen what?

- Other people not do it
because they're not...

- Not do the price-match?
- Yeah.

Because they're not
"feeling" the person.

- Oh, really?
- Yeah.

- That's crazy.

- Yeah.

- And there it was:
the smoking gun.

On-camera evidence
of a culture of corruption,

eroding the insides
of one of America's

most-respected institutions.

But even though I had
what I needed,

I didn't want to be rude
and leave abruptly,

so I decided to stay
for the private salsa lesson

I had prearranged for the date.

How are you guys doing?

You're supposed
to move your shoulders,

your hips,
and your arms as well.

- I have to admit,

I was a bit nervous
about dancing,

but once we got going,

I discovered I was actually
really good at it.

- Look at his eyes.

He's waiting for you.


- And once our date was over,
we said our good-byes.

- Nice meeting you.

- Okay. Yeah. See you.

- Bye.
- Bye.

- Now that I had
the evidence I needed

against Best Buy, the potential
of an ugly courtroom battle

was becoming a scary reality,

and the only people
who could screw it up

were my team of TV buyers,

who would have to take the
stand if this went to trial.

So I invited them
to a courtroom I rented

to prepare each of them
for what they would face

when they went head-to-head
with the Best Buy legal team.

Do you swear to tell the truth

and the whole truth
and everything?

- I do.
- Yes.

- I do.

- Yes.
- I do.

- On the morning
of March 31, 2015,

you entered a Best Buy,

trying to price-match
a TV for a dollar.

Is that correct?

- It is, although I would have
to think of the exact date.

- How did you find out
about that promotion?

- From...

Uh, a flyer.

It was a flyer
that was in the...

- A flyer.
- Mm-hmm.

- Did anyone tell you
to go to Best Buy that day?

- Well, yes.

I mean, no.

No. I just wanted to go.

- And was the television for
you, or was it for someone else?

- It would've been for me.

- It was for you.
- Mm-hmm.

- Then how would you
explain this footage?

What you'll be doing
is going to Best Buy

and using this flyer
to price-match

and get a TV for a dollar...
- Okay.

- And you'll bring that TV back
to me for me to keep it.

It's not yours.
You understand, right?

- Mm-hmm.

- How do you explain that?

- Um...


- Right away, my buyer's
lack of confidence

began to concern me,

and as more and more
took the stand,

it became clear
that they could be thrown off

by even the simplest
of questions.

Ms. Barcelona,

have you ever seen a man
that looks like this before?


- And for the first time,

I began to have doubts
about our chances

of winning this case.

To make matters worse,

when I showed Judge Filosa
the damning evidence

I had obtained on Best Buy...

- A witness has to be in court,

otherwise you can't introduce
their testimony,

'cause they have to
cross-examine her.

- But I have it on video.

- No, that's not good enough.

- He told me that Elle's

would only be admissible

if she agreed to say them
in an actual courtroom,

but when I arranged a meet-up

to ask her if she would be
willing to testify in person,

she wasn't at all interested.

- That's really weird

that you'd take someone
on a date and then ask them,

"Hey, dude, like,
why don't we sue Best Buy?"

- Okay.

- For all I know, you're crazy.

- Elle didn't want
to help me out,

and our case was crumbling
before my very eyes.

- With Elle and her testimony
out of the picture,

my case had taken a huge blow,

but for some reason,
once she was gone,

I just couldn't get her words
out of my head...

For all I know, you're crazy.

- And for the first time,

I started to really think
about what I was doing.

Here was a woman who thought

she was sharing a genuine
connection with someone,

but it was all just
a calculated ruse

to get information,
a classic bait-and-switch,

and in that moment,
I realized I'd become

no better than the corporation
I was trying to defeat,

that in my efforts
to take down Best Buy,

I became the worst guy.

I could've kept pursuing
this lawsuit

and tried again to get
the court testimony I needed

from another Best Buy employee

that submitted to my
"Retail Dating" show...

- You know, when you work
at Best Buy,

you're, like,
in a tech playground

with, like, CDs and DVDs.

- But I didn't want to break
the heart of another angel

who was just searching
for a real connection...

- Admittedly, it's been awhile
since I've been on a date.

- So I decided to drop my case

and give up
on getting Alen his TVs.

When you define yourself
entirely by your successes,

failure can leave you feeling
pretty empty inside,

but when I was reviewing
the footage we shot,

I stumbled upon
a conversation I had with Alen

on the day of his big promotion.

- She says like, "You know,
you should, you know,

find someone and get married,
so... have kids."

- Your mom?
- Yeah. So.

- And it made me realize
that my definition of success

might've been entirely wrong.

Getting close, or...

- No. No.
- No.

- Just concentrating
on the job, so.

- Yeah.
- Yeah.

- I didn't see it before,

but the truth
was all over his face.

Alen might've said he wanted
some TVs at a discounted price,

but it wasn't what he needed.

So, the next day,
I returned to Speers

with the one thing
he'd been denying himself

for so many years.

So I know I couldn't get you
those TVs that I promised...

- It's okay.

- But there is someone
I'd like to introduce you to.

- Okay.
- Is that okay?

- Yeah, that's fine. Yeah.

- Okay. One sec.
- Okay.

- Thanks.

- Hi.

- Alen, this is Cathy.

- Hi. Nice to meet you.
- Hi, Cathy. Nice to meet you.

- Cathy used to work
at Best Buy...

- Yeah.
- Okay.

- And she also
happens to be single.

- Mm-hmm. That's right.
- Oh.

- So I'll let you two
get to know each other.

- All right. Okay.
- Awesome. Thank you.

- Hi. So.
- Hi.

- Hi. So.

- How are you doing?
- Everything's good.

Yeah. So.
- Good.

- Yeah.
So you worked at Best Buy, huh?

- Yeah, I worked at Best Buy
in high school.

- Oh, you did?
- Yeah.

- Okay. Which location?
Was it around?

- Seeing Alen light up

made me feel great
about what I had done.

- The crazy thing is, like,
once it starts raining

for a few days,
everybody's panicking.

- Oh, yeah.
Then they freak out. Yeah.

- They're like, "Oh, my God,
we need the sun.

It's California. What the hell?"
Like, they can't do it.

- As for me,
I was fine being alone

because it would give me
more time to focus on my work.

- So 773 is a Chicago
area code...

- Okay. All right.
- But it's my cell phone.

- It was good to meet you.
- Good to meet you too.

Thank you so much.
- All right. Bye.

I'll see you soon, hopefully.
I'll give you a call for sure.

- Okay. Bye. Yeah. Thank you.
- Okay. Bye.

- You have the Hot Topic look.
- Oh, yeah.

Well, employee discount,
you know...

- How much discount
do you get, anyway?

- 40%.

- Oh, my God.

- That's pretty good, right?

- That's amazing.

- What do you get at Best Buy?

- I think it was 40% off.