Man Expresses Disenchantment With Best Buy Refunds

Antonio Cangiano says he bought a brand new Aspire 5100 as a gift for his wife and barely touched it before a giant crystal liquid leak appeared on its screen. A Best Buy tech insisted it was customer abuse, but after an hour of arguing, he got them to agree to look at it in the warranty inspection depot. There is no lesson here, no takeaway, only one man’s vented spleen.

The Ugly Truth about Best Buy Refunds [Zen and the Art of Ruby Programming]

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  1. MercuryPDX says:

    Blank page??

    /. effect?

  2. forrester says:

    My wife bought me an aspire 5100 for xmas from walmart and so far its been a great computer. I am just dreading the day it does break and I have to return it to the world…well its still better than dealing with best buy (which I don’t buy anything from due to previous run-ins)

  3. azntg says:

    Poor guy. I think two mistakes were made on his part… 1) He bought an expensive item at Best Buy, 2) He did not call/write to the top and 3) He used a European card on a Canadian store. I don’t know what I’ve been told, but credit card companies have a tendency to screw you over if you use them overseas *shrug*

  4. beyond says:

    That laptop was DOA and the best buy rep was an idiot. What kind of insane abuse could a customer inflict on the laptop without showing any PHYSICAL damage within a matter of days?

    This calls for a chargeback!

  5. Hawk07 says:

    Could this be the same best buy store that ripped off a customers xbox 360 warranty sticker at the CSR desk so it couldn’t be returned?

    Unlikely, but this appears to be a chain wide problem.

  6. Frostberg says:

    Think about this from best Buy’s perspective. Like the post says, Acer will not cover this under their warranty. Therefore, if Best Buy returns the item, they will receive no credit from Acer. The problem is with the Acer laptop, not the company that sold it.

  7. backbroken says:

    @Frostberg: Best Buy should choose not to retail products from vendors that don’t back their products. There is some shared responsibility here.

  8. dudeursistershot says:

    Ok let’s look at this logically, guys.

    You own a business with extremely low profit margins. Generally, computer departments make 14-15% GROSS margin (including Geek Squad services, service plans, accessories, etc). This is BEFORE you even factor in the cost of doing business, electricity, labor, rent, etc.

    Someone bought a computer that we in the business call a “brick”. By that, we mean that it was on sale, and you didn’t purchase any accessories or profitable items along with it. We lost in the range of $125-150 GROSS on your sale, not factoring in the associated credit card processing fees and labor of the salesperson. The person didn’t give best buy $800, they took $150 from best buy and gave Acer their small, generally 10%ish profit margin (say $80).

    Now let’s say that after someone does this, they then come back and attempt to return it, citing a dubious defect that is 99% of the time the result of physical damage. So now you are asking Best Buy to take back an item that cost them $950, from a vendor that we do not have a “Devo” (Defective return to vendor) agreement with (we would therefore have to write it off), and give you a new $950 item. Net loss to Best Buy: $1100 (free $950 item, recieved $800 for another $950 item). And you are asking them to do it for a defect that is VERY likely the result of you damaging your computer, and if it isn’t, it’s the result of a MANUFACTURER’s DEFECT (bby didn’t manufacture that computer, remember?).

    Can you see the ridiculousness of us accepting this return?

    Try to deal with Acer, see what they can do. They made the defective item, not Best Buy, and as such they are at fault. They warrantied it for one year and they are responsible for it. If they won’t accept that it is their responsibility, then you should have a course for action against them as they have a responsibility to honor their warranty.

    Best Buy, by contrast, has no responsibility to honor your return. In fact, the Best Buy return policy clearly states that “Best Buy reserves the right to deny any return.”. In this case, the denial was quite understandable given the situation and I think, looking at both sides of the situation, you can see my point. It’s just not financially possible for us to do what you want to do.

    There is something that would make it possible, though. Remember when we offered you that accidental damage service plan? For $99, you would have been taken care of, no questions asked, for any accidental or physical damage that occurred to the computer for the first year. For $279, you would have been taken care of for any physical damage or hardware related issues for THREE YEARS. You also would have received a 35% discount off of an advanced diagnostic with repair to take care of software-related issues within those three years. You buy that next time, we’ll take care of you. You don’t, you have no right to be whining.

    If it were up to me, computers would not go on sale and hemorrhage money like they do, and in addition they would cost 10% more. If that were to occur, we would have the financial ability to take care of people like you much more easily, and would do so.

  9. dudeursistershot says:

    Ok let’s look at this logically, guys.

    You own a business with extremely low profit margins. Generally, computer departments make 14-15% GROSS margin (including Geek Squad services, service plans, accessories, etc). This is BEFORE you even factor in the cost of doing business, electricity, labor, rent, etc.

    Someone bought a computer that we in the business call a “brick”. By that, we mean that it was on sale, and you didn’t purchase any accessories or profitable items along with it. We lost in the range of $125-150 GROSS on your sale, not factoring in the associated credit card processing fees and labor of the salesperson. The person didn’t give best buy $800, they took $150 from best buy and gave Acer their small, generally 10%ish profit margin (say $80).

    Now let’s say that after someone does this, they then come back and attempt to return it, citing a dubious defect that is 99% of the time the result of physical damage. So now you are asking Best Buy to take back an item that cost them $950, from a vendor that we do not have a “Devo” (Defective return to vendor) agreement with (we would therefore have to write it off), and give you a new $950 item. Net loss to Best Buy: $1100 (free $950 item, recieved $800 for another $950 item). And you are asking them to do it for a defect that is VERY likely the result of you damaging your computer, and if it isn’t, it’s the result of a MANUFACTURER’s DEFECT (bby didn’t manufacture that computer, remember?).

    Can you see the ridiculousness of us accepting this return?

    Try to deal with Acer, see what they can do. They made the defective item, not Best Buy, and as such they are at fault. They warrantied it for one year and they are responsible for it. If they won’t accept that it is their responsibility, then you should have a course for action against them as they have a responsibility to honor their warranty.

    Best Buy, by contrast, has no responsibility to honor your return. In fact, the Best Buy return policy clearly states that “Best Buy reserves the right to deny any return.”. In this case, the denial was quite understandable given the situation and I think, looking at both sides of the situation, you can see my point. It’s just not financially possible for us to do what you want to do.

    Remember when we offered you that accidental damage service plan? For $99, you would have been taken care of, no questions asked, for any accidental or physical damage that occured to the computer for the first year. For $279, you would have been taken care of for any physical damage or hardware related issues for THREE YEARS. You buy that next time, we’ll take care of you. You don’t, you have no right to be whining.

    If it were up to me, computers would not go on sale and hemorrhage money like they do, and in addition they would cost 10% more. If that were to occur, we would have the financial ability to take care of people like you much more easily, and would do so.

  10. The Stork says:

    That’s a weird story. Working at BBY for a year and a half, there was some very consumer unfriendly activities but nothing like that. I can understand pulling that line on something that was obviously mangled (iPod crushed by a truck tire or something) but screen problems on laptops are a dime a dozen out of the box.

    Heck, the machine was probably DEVO and they might have been able to send it back and get their money from Acer. If not, it’s still a fourteen day return policy and it’s better to lose your shirt (and, like, $500-$600 cost at most on a cheap Acer) than lose a customer, even if you don’t make much money off of them, when the person is certainly within your return policy.

  11. firefruze says:

    There is an agreement between Best Buy and the consumer that if the item doesn’t meet standards it can be brought back within the return period, this shouldn’t be the customers problem if Best Buy can’t return it to Acer unless they specifically stated that Acer’s product is the exception to the agreement.

  12. ShadowFalls says:

    Best Buy 9 out of 10 times will claim it is customer abuse in an attempt to get themselves off the hook. Manufacturer flaws do occur, but the issues here were not with Acer replacing it, it was with Best Buy trying to give the run around. Besides, the vast majority of these “Best Buy techs” are not qualified to say customer abuse.

  13. hop says:

    BEST BUY SUCKETH……………..

  14. rbf2000 says:

    When I worked in customer service at Circuit City, if I saw a laptop brought back in this condition I wouldn’t accept the return, either. It’s not that it’s necessarily customer abuse, just the mere fact that it’s physical damage. Most return policies state that items have to be brought back in “like-new” condition and having the LCD leaking is not “like-new.”

    However, depending on how convincing his story was, and what kind of mood the management was in, they might have offered an exchange, but most likely we would have referred him to the manufacturer.

    On another note, why would he get this mad at Best Buy for not taking this exchange if he claims that not even the manufacturer will back that sort of issue?

    This is obviously a crappy situation, and it would be nice if, as customer service associates, we could believe everything that everybody says. But unfortunately, there are too many people out there that lie and try to take advantage of the system so CSRs have to use more of a discerning eye, and when a laptop comes back leaking, that’s a pretty big flag.

  15. kimsama says:

    Crystal liquid? Sounds like an 80’s softdrink.

    Methinks you meant “liquid crystal.”

  16. Wormfather says:

    It’s become obvious to me that Best Buy is now the world’s problem. I think someone should bring this to the UN.

  17. loueloui says:

    I can totally see this guy’s point of view. While his story may be implausible it certainly isn’t impossible. Having purchased this item only a few days prior is a strong argument for manufacturer defect or shipping damage. This case calls for a common sense decision something Best Buy management is either incapable of or uninterested in doing. I have been the victim of their hostile return policy myself.

    Correct me if I’m wrong but isn’t the cost of shrinkage by either theft or damage be factored into the cost of the item ? It appears that BestBuy wants it both ways – to charge more for their products, and have the cost of defects borne by consumers.

  18. skrom says:

    He probably opened the lid by lifting on a corner instead of the center. It happens all the time. Just because you dont know you abused it doesnt mean it wasnt abused. I used to work at a Best Buy and I can assure you they will never deny a refund if it is defective and not abused because they get credit from the manufacturer. But they arent going to eat the cost of a laptop every time someone breaks one either by accident or on purpose. Its not like Best Buy loves to deny returns because they get credit for truly defective merchandise. The poeple that get missed are the ones that get charged a restocking fee because they wanted to rent a laptop for a weekend, or a GPS and camera for vacation. These are very low margin items, sometimes less than 10 dollars which after they take 10% off to resell them open box they lose money on them hence why there is a restocking fee.

  19. Mdrnman says:

    This is a sad tale, to be sure.

    Fact of the matter is, the product was not DOA. He admits that it was perfectly fine the time he used it before the damage occured. If the screen was damaged upon purchase, he would have seen it immediately. I work in the wireless industry and LCDs with damage are incredibly easy to spot.

    I do believe his story, but like someone said above, using the product in certain ways can damage it. Also placing it in a “safe spot” and then finding it with a broken screen pretty much screams “something or someone happened upon it”. Put it in a hot/cold room or area? Hide it where the kids can find it? I’m sure we could speculate all day.

    I wish him luck, but these issues are normally cut and dry. The product was sold with no damage. He admits to using it and not seeing any issue. Days later uses the product again and it breaks by itself? Sorry, just doesn’t make sense.

  20. kracer22 says:

    I don’t think WORST BUY even offers cash refunds anymore.. only store credit in the form of a gift card. I hate that place.. I only go to scope/fondle new tech gear.. I rarely ever buy from there, only when theres a sick deal or black friday or something.

  21. moeman128 says:

    I purchased dozen LCD screens from them a few months ago. I had the manager telling me I was crazy for making them open and test each on the LCD’s to prove there were no dead pixels and that they worked at the store. After a few they found one that was dead and they could not get to work. They tried to box it up and put it on the cart, saying it would be covered by the warranty.

  22. Josh885 says:

    To be fair you really have no way of proving to best buy that you didn’t drop it or otherwise abuse it to cause the problem. If best buy just took back every product that looked like it had been abused on the word of the customer they would go out of business replacing things that were broken on purpose by the customer who knew he could just get another one. To protect themselves from fraud that could cost them millions they have to refuse to replace items unless it is obviously or can be proven that they where factory defects. It sucks but thats just the way it is.

  23. infected says:

    Acer has no agreement to accept defective products back, the PCs are all servicable items (i.e. NOT DEVO). I agree wholeheartedly with DUDEURSISTERSHOT.

    The guy broke his laptop and just doesn’t want to own up to it I bet.

  24. Fist says:

    I bought a digital camera from Best Buy and the so-called “extended warranty”. The salesman said that the warranty would cover it even if I dropped it or damaged it myself.

    I brought it in to the service desk because I dropped it a few too many times. Thinking this was covered, I thought there would be no problem. Well, the guy behind the counter told me that I broke it on purpose to get a new camera. I told him “yeah, thats my scam. I took time out of my day, from my job, just to get a new camera”.

    Well I didn’t have the correct plan. There are two plans, Service and Replacement. They don’t tell you the difference when you purchase it. I had the Service plan which basically covers nothing. Even if it was covered, they would say that it was “customer abuse”.

    Best Buy will no longer get my business or my family or friends.

  25. mr.dandy says:

    @ DUDEURSISTERSHOT

    1. I have no sympathy if Best Buy’s margins are low. Boo hoo. They choose to sell and advertise for those prices, they have nobody to blame but themselves. Loss leader? They make up for it with foot traffic, otherwise they wouldn’t do it. Clearance item that they couldn’t sell fast enough? That’s their problem, means they ordered too many of a dud SKU. They should get out of the biz if they can’t afford to sell at their own chosen prices. Simple, no?

    2. I’m agree that there is a lot of return policy abuse. But the scary thing is this guy would seem to have done things the best way possible. Taken at his word, he had a 2 day-old receipt, all pack-ins, and a unit with no external sign of damage. If he’d dropped the thing, he’d most likely have a cracked case, or a bashed box, or major scuffing to the finish, etc. Those are the returns that should be denied. If he’d waited for 3 months, or didn’t have any of the pack-ins, those also are the returns that should be denied. Not a guy who did everything by the book.

    3. If Acer won’t back up the product, Best Buy shouldn’t sell it, or should put a clear warning on the item that it isn’t covered by the mfr or the store. Of course, that would be bad for business, which is why they don’t. And also why they deserve a little notoriety for this practice.

  26. Mei says:

    A cracked LCD is physical damage, plain and simple, and I don’t know any retailers that would accept such a return.

    In five years of performing rollouts and desktop for a variety of companies, I’ve never seen a cracked LCD right out of the box, whether standalone or laptop(including Acer laptops). Dead pixels are common, and DOA units show up now and again, but that’s all.

    I will say that laptop screens are much more fragile than their desktop counterparts, far more prone to breakage due to frequent handling, and unsurprisingly most people won’t admit to mishandling; If the screen breaks, it’s clearly a defect – how dare acer make a laptop screen you can’t use as a handle?!

    I’m not a fan of BB, but I can’t fault them in this case. If the laptop had a dead Hard Drive, or wouldn’t power on, I expect they would have exchanged it for him with no issues. In this case BB has to choose between believing the customer or their supplier, and their supplier has far less motivation to lie.

    If I were in his shoes, I would followup with acer directly. They have more appropriate information regarding any complaints about rapidly-breaking screens, and the repair will cost them less to perform, so they might take less persuading.

  27. Extended-Warranty says:

    It’s bone headed consumers like we are seeing here who are the ones who have the problems.

    Ok, right off the bat, I work at Best Buy.

    Just the other day this SNOBBY woman wanted to return an open Windows Vista, and obviously was denied. She just told us that was fine because she was disputing the charge and we would be out of money. I also read lots of comments saying the charge should be disputed. Want to be a smart consumer? READ STUFF.

    What types of disputes are covered?
    The FCBA settlement procedures apply only to disputes about “billing errors.” For example:

    unauthorized charges. Federal law limits your responsibility for unauthorized charges to $50;
    charges that list the wrong date or amount;
    charges for goods and services you didn’t accept or weren’t delivered as agreed;
    math errors;
    failure to post payments and other credits, such as returns;
    failure to send bills to your current address – provided the creditor receives your change of address, in writing, at least 20 days before the billing period ends; and
    charges for which you ask for an explanation or written proof of purchase along with a claimed error or request for clarification.

    Best Buy does not deny these returns because they want to piss you off or don’t care about you. They will not receive credit for them. I want to se you return damaged items elsewhere and see what happens.

    All the time we have customers try to return damaged items and no one ever knows how it happens. Sorry it isn’t a “manufacturers defect” because the lamp fell on it, it was in your pocket and didn’t get hit now it looks like this.

    When asked if he wanted to warranty he probably said something like “no I don’t need it, I’ll be careful”.

  28. m4nea says:

    After working in retail electronics for two years, I would have to agree with those in defence of Best Buy. He started it up with no problem, and then “poof”: one magically appears? Fishy, at best, if you ask me.
    I agree wholeheartedly with “dudeursisterishot” (although one with such a professional opinion should have a name to to with it).
    It doesn’t take even an hugely educated person to look at broken screen and declare it so.
    It’s kind of disturbing that this small-time customer issue snowballed into such enormity…