Best Buy quoted four different policies to Mark when he tried to exchange his step-daugher’s iPod speaker. The speaker was purchased as a gift from BestBuy.com by her father, who is currently serving in Afghanistan.
After we received the items, we decided that she would take back the iPod speaker set because we already had one in the house. That way she could get something that she would enjoy, and she could still use our speakers. It sounded simple, just return the item, get a store credit, and let her pick something out. We were so wrong on that one.
Mark brought the speaker to Best Buy, where he was told that the stores could only return, not exchange items purchased through the website. Not wanting to argue, Mark went home and called customer service. A supervisor said only the corporate office could help. When Mark reached corporate, he was told stores could accept exchanges. The CSR gave Mark a case number and an 800 number to call if there was a problem exchanging the speaker at the store.
Mark’s problem exchanging the speaker at the store, inside…
Mark returned to Best Buy and asked to speak with the store manager. The manager refused to call the 800 number and adamantly declared that their system was not set up to process an exchange from the website. Disappointed, Mark again called customer service. This time, he reached a CSR who told him that exchanges at the store were possible at the manager’s discretion.
Mark’s full email, below:
My stepdaughter’s father sent her 2 birthday presents, which he purchased through Best Buy online. He had them shipped directly to our house. As he is currently in the military and serving in Afghanistan, this was really the best way for him to get her something for her birthday. He purchased an iPod and a speaker set for her. After we received the items, we decided that she would take back the iPod speaker set because we already had one in the house. That way she could get something that she would enjoy, and she could still use our speakers. It sounded simple, just return the item, get a store credit, and let her pick something out. We were so wrong on that one.
My first attempt at returning the item was on 02/16. I was told that since the item was purchased through BestBuy.com, it could not be returned at the store. The girl who told us this almost seemed happy about it. As soon as she saw the receipt, she just cut me off and said they wouldn’t take it back, that they didn’t have to take it back. Not wanting to argue with her, I said OK and left.
I decided to call the number from the receipt, and talk to someone there. I figured that in our case, an exception might be made considering the circumstances. I called and held for 30 minutes, and finally got through to someone. This representative told me that the person in the store was correct, and that the item could only be returned at the store, not exchanged. This would mean that the credit would go to my daughter’s father’s credit card, and he would have to turn around and purchase something else for her, then have it re-shipped. He is on a base with about 1000 troops, and it’s hard for him to get to a PC to do anything. I explained this to the rep, but she wouldn’t budge. I asked to speak to her supervisor. His name was Gerard A. Here’s how the conversation with Gerard went:
Me: I understand the policy, but do you see the circumstances surrounding this particular item? Can’t an exception be made?
Me: So you want us to return it, credit her father’s card, have him call to ask what she wants, then have him re-order another item online? That could take weeks. He only gets to a computer on rare occasions, and this is her birthday.
Gerard: That’s what you have to do. That’s our policy.
Me: Can you explain why this policy works this way? Why can the store take the item as a return, but not an exchange or store credit?
Gerard: I don’t know why the policy works that way. I just know we have to follow it.
Me: Can you put me in touch with someone who can explain it a little better for me?
Gerard: No. That’s the best explanation anyone can provide.
Me: Can I speak to your supervisor then?
Gerard: I am the supervisor.
Me: Can I speak to the person you report to?
Gerard: I don’t report to anyone.
Me: Then you own Best Buy?
Gerard: (long pause) You have to call corporate if you have a problem.
Me: No, I want to speak with someone at the online department who you report to.
Gerard: I can’t do that.
Me: Why not?
After several minutes of back and forth, Gerard gives me a number, which he told me was a direct line to his supervisor. The number ended in 1000, so it made me suspicious. I asked him, “You just gave me the number to the corporate office anyway, didn’t you? This isn’t your supervisor’s number.” Gerard admitted that it wasn’t. Disgusted, I hung up.
I called the corporate office the next day, and talked to a rep. I went through the whole story again. She said “hold on”, and blind transferred me without letting me know where I was going. And behold, I wind up right back with the same department I spoke with the night before! I talk to Muhammed, tell my story again, and he tells me that it’s ridiculous that the store couldn’t handle my exchange request. He gives me a case number, and tells me to go back to the store. He says if they give me any trouble, tell them to call the 800 number and give the case number to someone in online customer service to straighten everything out.
Back to the store I go. I’m told by the store rep about the policy again. I explain to her about my phone call, and show her the receipt from the box, the phone number, the case number, and tell her about my conversation with Muhammed. She tells me no again, and refuses to call the 800#. I ask to speak to a manager. She leaves the counter and goes to a table in the middle of the store and starts speaking to another employee for about 5 minutes. She comes back and tells me the manager said no. I ask to speak to the manager. She speaks into her headset “Yeah, he wants to talk to you”. The person she was talking to comes up and is immediately confrontational. He says no they can’t do it. He refuses to call the online customer service number. He says that is their policy, that they have no way in their system to accept an exchange or give a credit for an online purchase. I ask him, if they are able to scan the item to return it, why can’t they scan it for an exchange, given the amount of time and effort I have expended up to this point. He repeats their policy, and says nothing else. He tells me the case number is useless, because it only means that I called customer service and talked to a rep. He said they have no power over what happens in the store. I ask him why the rep would specifically tell me to come back to the store to get an exchange if it was not up to him to do so. He says he doesn’t know. He won’t discuss the matter any further. Frustrated again, I leave.
I made one more phone call after this fiasco. I thought surely someone at Best Buy online would rectify the situation. I called and relayed my entire story again, give all my info, including the order# from the receipt, which I have given 3 times up to this point. The rep then tells me that the store was right. We discuss it for a while, and she just keeps repeating the same thing back to me over and over. I ask to speak to her manager. At this point, I don’t even care about the item. It’s the horrific service and conflicting information given by employees of the same company that is driving me nuts. I speak to the manager for 15 minutes, explaining my story, the situation, and the 3 different versions of their policy that I have heard so far. He then tells me it is up to the manager’s discretion at the retail store as to whether they will return the item! That would make version #4 of the Best Buy online return policy. He says there is nothing they can do if the manager doesn’t want to return/exchange it. After that, he was totally unresponsive to my issues with the way this situation was handled. He just wanted to talk about the item and how to return it.
So, I guess this is Best Buy’s policy for anyone who receives an online gift from someone else:
1. Receive the gift in the mail
2. If you don’t like it, return it to the store, and have them refund the original purchaser’s credit card
3. Call the person who bought it for you, and tell them you didn’t like it, and to buy something else for you
5. Receive the new gift
6. If it’s broken or damaged when you receive it, go back to step 2 and repeat
7. Don’t call online customer service, because they won’t help you
Sorry this was a bit long winded, but the service I received was legendary on this one, and I had to tell you the whole story. Since we’ve received the item, I estimate 4-5 hours have been wasted trying to exchange it.
What’s the policy, Best Buy? — CAREY GREENBERG-BERGER