Best Buy Sells You A Box Of Bathroom Tiles Instead Of Hard Drive, Won't Issue Refund

Sam says that he went to BestBuy.com and bought a hard drive for in-store pick up. What he got was a box of bathroom tiles. Now Best Buy is saying he’d better take it up with manufacturer and that they’re not going to issue a refund and that Sam should just take his loss. We don’t think he should. We think it’s not legal to sell someone a box full of bathroom tiles instead of a hard drive.

Here’s Sam’s letter:

Hey Guys,

I got on my computer and bought a Western Digital 1TB hard drive from BestBuy.com and arranged for a store pickup so I could speed up my normal Saturday errands. I got the confirmation sheet and headed to my local Best Buy to pick it up. Well it took them a good 15 minutes to get my stuff out (quick pick up my ass) and I got a 10 buck discount for my time.

So I got home, opened the box and found not a 1TB internal hard drive but 6 pieces of bathroom ceramic tile wrapped in last months New York Post. I got into my car, raced back to Best Buy and voiced my complaint. The employee and assistant manager were more than willing to help, saying that it happens. So they set up the return and I repurchased the drive and while I was checking the contents to ensure it was a hard drive this time, the store manager came up, took the box from me and said to take it up with the manufacturer.

Now to my surprise, I argued with the guy saying that they have already accepted the return and I have now purchased the new one. He said I was shit out of luck. I followed up with the manufacturer today and they said they would get the complaint to the Best Buy Purchasing department. Best Buy corporate said that they stand by their manager’s decision.

I’ve told American Express to stop payment and went to the local consumer affairs department and will be going to the better business bureau. I don’t know if I’ll be held responsible for payment yet or not or if that Best Buy will get investigated or what. I’m going to go back there tomorrow to argue with the guy some more and get his boss’s number. I hope to get the local news media involved seeing how it’s getting close to the holiday shopping season and they love to get horror stories like this out on the air.

Western Digital informed me that the drive was manufactured in Malaysia on 9/4/07 and the newspaper that was in the box was from 9/16/07. The Best Buy is in Yonkers, NY. I might end up $300 bucks down the hole. Do you guys have any tips on how to better deal with the situation?

Sam, we think you did the exact right thing by stopping payment. Best Buy is in the wrong. It’s not legal for a store, no matter how huge and multinational, to go around selling boxes of bathroom tile as hard drives. Yes, Best Buy was hit with a scam, but that doesn’t mean they should get to pass the loss along to you.

A chargeback is appropriate. We’d also recommend filing a complaint with Andrew Cuomo, the AG of NY. Filing a false complaint with the AG’s office is actually illegal (Class A Misdemeanor), so maybe they’ll “take it seriously.”

You could also try filing a police report. This will be useful down the line (if you need to go to small claims court) because it provides additional official documentation of your claim, and hey, they might even help you.

The moral of Sam’s story is this: If Best Buy sells you an empty hard drive box, they’re going to think you’re a liar if you do this honest thing and bring it back to complain. (Rather than trying to return it without telling them there was bathroom tile in the box and risk getting busted for someone else’s scam.) Check your boxes before you leave the store.

bby1.jpg
bby3.jpg
bby4.jpg
bby5.jpg

UPDATE: Sam writes:

Hey Meg,

Thanks for posting the story. I’m amazed at the response it has gotten so far. I will definitely take up the advice offered.

Here is a quick update:

Western Digital said it was Best Buy’s issue (surprise surprise).

I’ve been told to contact Lewis the store General Manager who is the only person to overturn the other store manager’s decision. I was told to find him at the store this past Saturday. I was assured by Ed, the assistant manager on Friday evening that he would be there all day on Saturday. I get up at 10 and drive all the way back to Best Buy to speak with him and first I was told he was doing orientation for the new Best Buy employees. Then the acting store manager Joe told me that it was his day off and he would be back there Wednesday. I have a feeling the other employees have been warned about me and my case. I’ll start getting a police report together and start prepping something for Mr. Cuomo to look at.

Thanks Again,
-Sam

UPDATE: Amex Slaps Best Buy, Obtains Refund For Reader’s Box Of Tile Hard Drive

Comments

Edit Your Comment

  1. ry81984 says:

    You will be fine. American Express will give you your money back especially since the manager stole your harddrive after you purchased it.

    The successful return of the box of crap is 100% irrelevant to the new transaction for the new drive.

    If I were you I would contact the local police department for theft.

    You returned the box of crap and bought a new drive. You should have called the police for theft. Since this was a new transaction and the manager then stole your harddrive, they would have made him give it to you or he would have been arrested.

  2. DeeJayQueue says:

    It’s sad that things have come to this, what with the efforts that companies go through to put products in packages that cannot be opened without power tools. It would seem likely that the thieves aren’t so much the people walking into the store and boosting product off shelves, but the people working in the DCs and warehouses. Of course we kinda figured this all along, and it was only a matter of time before the problem grew big enough to warrant attention.

    I hate being forced to think that everyone is a thief and act like everyone thinks I’m a thief. It’s a bullshit way to live.

  3. Jean-Baptiste Emanuel Zorg says:

    So they set up the return and I repurchased the drive and while I was checking the contents to ensure it was a hard drive this time, the store manager came up, took the box from me and said to take it up with the manufacturer.

    In addition to the above listed recommendations, I suggest you file a complaint with the police against the store manager. Assuming you’d already paid for it, it’s your property. He’s not allowed to “take it” from you. It sounds like what really happened is that after you purchased the new drive, the store manager came up and STOLE YOUR NEWLY PURCHASED DRIVE FROM YOU.

    The fact that he may have given you some money shortly thereafter doesn’t negate the fact that he robbed you.

  4. timmus says:

    Sam, Sam, Sam! You have AMERICAN EXPRESS. One call to them about this mess and they will put Best Buy over the barrel.

    • Anonymous says:

      @timmus:

      thats not true, AMEX refunds you your money themselves, they pay for it not bestbuy, they get away with it.

      Sammy shoud have called the police right away and not let go of the box he bought, one look at the new slip with the box to match and possibly there camera footage, he would have gone home with his harddrive and gotten the manager arrested for theft and he should have pressed charges…

      too bad it wasent $500 or it would have beeen a feloney

  5. FMulder says:

    I am going to go out on a limb here and figure that it is unlikely some thief in Malaysia stuffed the box with pages from the New York Post, especially one from a future date.

    Checking boxes before leaving the store is essential, and not buying from Best Buy is also important.

    Good mention of the holiday season, this is a perfect time to remind buyers to be cautious because undoubtedly this type of theft is going to increase when the hectic shopping starts. Definitely get the local media involved, reach some local community networks, and let the management of that Best Buy know it is being done.

    People should be warned, there are possible other victims who won’t be as resistant to Best Buy’s attempt to make them eat the cost, and companies need to know that their advertising isn’t just what they place in the papers, but how they treat their customers.

  6. R3PUBLIC0N says:

    To the original poster:

    I got the impression you bought the second drive from Best Buy. Return that as well. There’s no reason they should have your business. As an added bonus, you can inevitably find things cheaper than at Best Buy online.

    Summary for everyone else:
    When a store screws you, ensure they never see your dollar again. Don’t keep shopping there!

  7. Coyote says:

    If the drive was new and not refurbished it would have to be a store employee that stole the drive. Judging by the managers reaction he may well have been the that did it. Also yes he would be liable for theft if the return was approved and the new drive was already paid for.

  8. ry81984 says:

    Western Digital Caviar GP WD10EACS 1TB
    $299, Free Shipping 3 day shipping
    [www.newegg.com]

    Best Buy Sucks

  9. cosby says:

    With the story saying “So they set up the return and I repurchased the drive…” it sounds like you already returned the old drive. If you had already paid for the new drive yea I would have called the police and filed a theft report against the store manager.

    As far as checking the box before you leave the store goes who does that? Sure if the box apears tampered with but a lot of the time you have no way of being sure. Also hell if you are going to open the box are you going to check and make sure every cable is in it(not really an issue with a hd) and that the serial numbers match?

  10. fuzzycuffs says:

    After hearing about a lot of these cases on Consumerist, I’m beginning to think that opening anything you purchase right there in front of an employee is the only way to go.

    Which is really really lame.

  11. Twitch says:

    So, if someone else that DIDN’T work for BB came up to you in the store and said “Tough Shit, you can’t have this drive, it’s mine” what would you have done? Called the cops.

  12. MoCo says:

    Yesterday, I opened a box of tiles that I purchased to tile my bathroom floor. Instead of tiles, there is a Western Digital 1 TB hard drive. The tile dealer won’t swap the hard drive for a box of tiles and told me to take it up with the manufacturer of the tiles.

  13. scoobydoo says:

    Lets look at the facts here; it’s obvious that the tiles were not put in the box in Malaysia. And assuming the OP is an honest guy, then someone at Bestbuy did this. I highly doubt it was a return that was resold as Bestbuy would have to be insane to accept a return without checking the contents.

    So; someone working for Bestbuy opened the box, stuffed the tiles in it, and put it back on the shelves.

    To me that sounds the most plausible. Sad to say that I really don’t trust any of them and ALWAYS check the contents of my purchases before leaving.

  14. etinterrapax says:

    This is getting ridiculous. It’s one thing to ask consumers to be responsible for what happens to a purchase under warranty once it’s at home, but it’s ridiculous to ask them to be responsible for what happens in a store prior to purchase. This issue had better come to a head soon.

    I know people pull all kinds of return scams. Saw plenty in my Sprawl-Mart days. But this is clearly a new kind of shrink issue, and they’re going to have to face fixing it from within or losing customers and/or money on the other side. No one’s going to trust a sealed electronics purchase now.

  15. Sir Winston Thriller says:

    I never buy from Best Buy anymore. I’ve had too many problems with returns, advertised prices, and their scamerific “rewards” program.

  16. noutoo says:

    Hard drive was bought in New York and the news paper the tiles were wrapped in were New York times. Why do I think the switch wasn’t made in Malaysia??

  17. the Yonkers NY Best Buy is really shady. You should try going to the Hartsdale, NY location and return it there, explaining how Yonkers was unhelpful and rather rude. I have found better luck with their Customer Service dept.

  18. stanfrombrooklyn says:

    My brother used to work at Best Buy in high school. You would be absolutely amazed at how often people try to scam big retailers. Every single day someone would swap a sticker and then try to buy a 42″ TV for $50. The biggest day for video camera returns is the day after high school graduations. So many people buy a video camera, videotape their kids, and then return the camera claiming it was “broken”. I was always amazed at how brazen people think that Best Buy was basically a library.

  19. I know people pull all kinds of return scams. Saw plenty in my Sprawl-Mart days. But this is clearly a new kind of shrink issue, and they’re going to have to face fixing it from within or losing customers and/or money on the other side. No one’s going to trust a sealed electronics purchase now.

    One of my principal love/hate relationships with Fry’s electronics is the return queue. In order to use Fry’s generous return policy (30 days on just about everything but food), you must submit to the reverse cavity check when you return an item. They open the returned box, check the contents against the SKU, and will even plug it in to determine functionality for certain items.

    When an item is returned, a Fry’s manager must sign off on the process, and if the item is resaleable, that manager initials a sticker that seals the box. They’ve even started re-shrinkwrapping boxes that are returned.

    At Fry’s they are no-nonsense about employee shrinkage. Everything that could conceivably be stolen in a “warehouse” is actually delivered to the store’s ‘cage’ – which is located out in the open behind the registers. One person works in the cage, and RAM, OEM hard drives, CPUs and other small, high value items are only given to the cashier after the customer presents an itemized sales floor ‘estimate’.

    The system seems to work well. Even in these times of NewEgg, Frys still does a respectable and price-competitive business in these high value commodity items without requiring the ass-tastic tactics of BestBuy.

  20. Benstein says:

    If someone came up to me and tried to take something off of me that I had already paid for, I would pepper spray them and call the cops.

    The problem with this story is NOT that the box had tiles in it (the lower level BB employees rightly gave an exchange, which if that was the end of it the story would be no big deal), the problem is that the store manger STOLE the dude’s new hard drive after he paid for it!!! At this point you are not in the wrong to resist by force.

  21. Worse than being scammed, the tiles were wrapped in the New York Post.

    Eeeuuuw.

  22. JeffM says:

    @CaliforniaCajun:
    Here is an interesting story about Fry’s. I bought a Pioneer DVD-R there in April- I didn’t try and burn a DVD until August when I realized that what I had actually got in the box was a Lite-ON CD-R with Pioneer stickers. Naturally I ran back to Fry’s to demand a swap- of course being 4 months later, no box, no receipt I was met with a lot of resistance. The customer service department head said this “couldn’t have happened” – so I suggested that she was saying that I was lying to her – she also said that wasn’t the case. :)

    I asked to talk to the store manager- who was on a conference call. Fast forward about 45 minutes and a very polite man asked me what the story was – said it was tough to believe but agreed that I’m obviously not trying to get the best of Fry’s. He promptly refunded my whole purchase price and I bought a new DVD-R that day and have continued to do business with Fry’s. (I generally spend a couple $K there a year)

    This took place at Fry’s in Sunnyvale, CA. I’m glad it turned out with a favorable outcome so I can continue to happily shop at and recommend Fry’s.

  23. GothamGal says:

    When are people going to stop shopping at Best Buy? They are horrible. People will never learn.

  24. @JeffM: That’s a great story – while Fry’s checks every box that gets returned, some of their employees are less than detail-oriented.

    Good to hear they have come a long way since the “you must have a Ca. Drivers License to write a check drawn on an out of state bank”.

  25. Buran says:

    Wait a minute, he took it from you after your paid?! Stop the presses! That’s CRIMINAL THEFT. Press charges, right NOW.

  26. ElizabethD says:

    Worst Buy.

    I’ve tried to post three times with no success! Consumerist Comments doesn’t like me today.

  27. vdestro says:

    Yep. Should have called the cops right on the spot.

  28. faust1200 says:

    To add insult to injury the tiles were wrapped with an article about Hilary Clinton (see picture) You heartless bastards!

  29. InThrees says:

    So the assistant and the employee actually processed your return, and you COMPLETED the new purchase?

    I mean, money changed hands, and the manager took YOUR new hard drive from you?

    That absolutely warrants a police report.

  30. drduran says:

    I would have called the Police and reported that the manager had stolen the property that you purchased from the store. You have a receipt with the time and date on it, the merchandise is yours.

  31. Greasy Thumb Guzik says:

    @CaliforniaCajun:
    Fry’s actually sends management out from HQ to the stores & padlocks the dumpsters every once in a while. Then the dumpster is shipped back to the San Jose HQ & they search through it to see if anyone in the store is “throwing out” something valuable so they can retrieve it later that night.
    That was in a Forbes article on Fry’s a few years ago.

  32. ExVee says:

    Right, if it had been me, the moment the manager removed the drive from my possession and refused to return it, the cell phone would be out and I’d have a couple cops on the way over. Then I’d be calling one (or more, but I particularly like the one station) of the local news outlets to make it a real party. Unfortunate that Sam didn’t do any of that at the time. But hopefully he will send updates of whatever legal remedies he pursues.

  33. LatherRinseRepeat says:

    I never understood the purpose of ordering online and then picking up in-store. From what I’ve seen, it doesn’t really save you time, and there’s no discount on the purchase. So what’s the incentive?

    Anyways, that brings up a related point. Smart shoppers inspect the product before buying. If you look at a shelf full of hard drives and you notice that one looked and felt a little different than the rest, you would be a little suspicious right? A smart shopper would guess that it was either opened in store, or tampered with, or it was a returned item.

    Quit being lazy, people. Go to the store, inspect the product, and then buy. Don’t let some Best Buy drone pick the product off the shelf for you. You could be receiving a box of tiles.

  34. Simpoleca says:

    Pretty simple to know what happened.. I used to manage a futureshop and things like this would happen.. Someone purchases a product has access to a shrink wrap machine at work, loads the box full of junk, re-wraps it and returns it for a full refund. The CSR is none the wiser as it appears to be “Factory Fresh”

    We busted an Asian gang that was doing just this to various retailers throughout South Western Ontario.

    you my friend have been taken advantage of by BB, contact the BBB and resort to a ECB if need be…

    Simpoleca

  35. Benstein says:

    @LatherRinseRepeat: Often times you are not allowed to inspect the product. For example, if you buy an ipod at BB, they walk it over to the register.

  36. BearTack says:

    The tiles certainly wouldn’t pass the implied warranty of merchantability that all non-asis sales are required to meet ;^)

  37. posturific says:

    @MoCo: you sir, are a winner.

  38. dlab says:

    @stanfrombrooklyn:

    What’s your point? What you said does not relate to this at all. This guy bought what was supposedly a hard drive, and his hard drive box contained tiles. He was defrauded and is seeking compensation. I don’t see how that is in any way similar to people swapping stickers or trying to scam the return policy.

  39. cde says:

    @Benstein: “The problem with this story is NOT that the box had tiles in it (the lower level BB employees rightly gave an exchange, which if that was the end of it the story would be no big deal), the problem is that the store manger STOLE the dude’s new hard drive after he paid for it!!! At this point you are not in the wrong to resist by force.” Quoted for Truth

  40. cde says:

    @dlab: He’s pointing out the other side to the story, i.e. what Best Buy must think (Before the manager went and stole his harddrive)

  41. adrock75 says:

    Are you sure those aren’t bricks of cocaine? You could come out ahead in the situation.

  42. dmann99 says:

    We had a shrink wrap machine at the computer store I used to work at. It consists of a hot wire to create the seams and a blow dryer to do the shrinking. Certainly not high tech.

    I understand there are scammers out there that buy legit items and claim there were rocks in the box but unless Best Buy is inspecting every return (even shrink wrapped ones) then they are part of the problem, not the solution.

  43. Imaginary_Friend says:

    Someone needs to get over to that Best Buy and do a little detective work. Find out if the tiles match the ones in the Best Buy employee bathroom and take some pictures! This story is so YouTubeable!

    Best Buy is the scum of earth – they pull this crap all of the time. I agree with the previous posters who can’t believe people still shop there.

  44. nequam says:

    This story disturbs me because it turns the idea of escalation on its head. How many times does Consumerist and its readers/commenters (including me) advise escalating a problem to the manager? This seems to be the rare case where the clerk and the assistant manager got it right, and then the manager screwed it up.

  45. HeartBurnKid says:

    @noasalira: No, maybe some thief in Malaysia didn’t… but some thief in a warehouse in New York certainly could have.

  46. anmlStyl says:

    If Best Buy can check receipts at the door, the least they can do is provide an area for the consumer to open and check their boxed/sealed product before they leave the premises.

    Boy, the days of the euphoria of opening something new are long gone…

  47. ivealwaysgotmail10 says:

    I emailed consumerist more than a month ago about best buy selling me a g1s laptop that was obviously mis-described blatently on their website and trying to charge me restocking for returning.

    more than a month later, Ive spoken to executive customer support maybe 10 times, Told them that all i want is the website changed so that it doesnt happen to anyone else….. OF COURSE, 1 month later, IT STILL SAYS THE g1s HAS A 15.4″ OLED SCREEN, ANy geeks out there want to go and buy a laptop with a screen from the future?

    I do not know one person that has ever had anything good to say about best buy, ive heard more horror stories about best buy than ive heard insults to George bush.

  48. rainlion says:

    My problem with all of this? This isn’t the first time this sort of thing has happened at Best Buy stores… just as they’ve historically had issues with credit card fraud/abuse – identity theft there.

    You always get the runaround locally… sometime regional/national management is better.

    It’s enough to make me want to never use the store.

  49. zedrak says:

    One time I bought a Nintendo DS screen protector from bestbuy and when I got home the box was completely empty. I didn’t bother wasting my time disputing a $5 item but I sure learned my lesson. After that day, I always try to open the box and check the inventory while I’m still IN the store or better yet while I’m at the counter before I leave. This kind of thing happens all the time and it really really hurts if you get stuck holding the bag especially for a $300 item!

  50. Buran says:

    @zedrak: Unless, of course, you pay with a credit card. For all the “why don’t people use cash” people…

    THIS is why.

  51. Girtych says:

    I know this will be a very unpopular opinion here on Consumerist, but I believe that it’s too difficult to tell whether the purchaser is completely honest, or whether he took the box home, stuffed it with the tile, kept the first HDD, and brought it back to make a fuss.

    I’m not going to debate the manager’s actions. Taking the drive away after the money went through is definitely theft, pure and simple. But it can’t be determined whether the tiles were in the box before Sam took it home. I definitely hope that he’s in the right, as I’ve seen BB pull this crap far too many times already.

  52. BugMeNot2 says:

    It sounds like one of the Best Buy Employees got a five-finger discount on an upgrade for their computer and replaced the contents of the box with tiles so that loss management wouldn’t notice missing inventory.

    As with any place that pays their employees near minimum wage, you are bound to get a number of unscrupulous people working for that organization.

    I highly doubt that the box was that way out of the factory. It’s much more likely that it was stolen by an employee looking for a free computer upgrade. Either way, Best Buy is still legally responsible for providing either a refund or furnishing the actual product.

  53. jordandeamattson says:

    Hi Sam -

    I would go to the local police department and file a complaint for fraud (not theft, because they did not deliver to you what they said they would deliver which is the definition of fraud).

    I would also go to the BBB and the Consumer Affairs division of the local District Attorney and the State Attorney General.

    I would also contact the FTC and file a complaint.

    You are right on the mark with respect to disputing this with your credit card.

    Here is a key question for you: did they represent this product as new or previously opened? If they represented it as new, they have some explaining to do.

    How did a product which is clearly not new get into their supply chain?

    Perhaps the local manager wasn’t so anxious to address this issue, because he has been “skimming” product, replacing it with ceramic tiles.

  54. tuxokc says:

    Here’s an ammusing anecdote about missing/substituted merchandise.

    I’m in a local grocery and among the items I’m looking at are 12 pack cases of soda. I pick up one case, and it just does not feel right. I try another and it feels better than the first. Being an Honest Joe, I take both with me to the checkout and ask the clerk to weigh them. Low, but one is twelve ounces short. This was clearly a problem in the bottling process that I’m sure the grocer brought to the suppliers attention, even if was just one in 10,000. A less observant customer would have been out a quarter and had to take it up with the management…

    The moral of the story: Buyer Beware. I’m in the habit of giving every item I pickup from a shelf a good shake whether I’ve decided on a purchase or not. If the weight distribution is not right, or it rattles wrong, or it bursts into flame, I point it out to an employee.

  55. KJones says:

    I won’t fault the original purchaser, so this is more about advice for other buyers:

    If the product already has a broken seal in the store, have them open it before you buy it. If they won’t let you, you have to wonder what they’re hiding.

    If the item is shrink wrapped and small but high priced, open it at the customer service counter. If it’s not what you paid for, you’ve got witnesses and can demand a refund.

    caveat empty: buying a pig in a poke

  56. consumefaster says:

    I’ve heard tales of people with access to shrink wrappers buying things and replacing them with sand, metal filings or whatever. Many of these people think they’re only screwing over the “Big Corporation,” but this shows that’s not always the case.

    If you hate big corporations, don’t buy from them. Stealing from them just makes you as bad as the morals you claim to abhor.

  57. yetiwisdom says:

    It’s easy to do just follow these steps
    1: Cut a hole in a box
    2: Put your tile in that box
    3: Make her open the box
    And that’s the way you do it

  58. clownpocket says:

    They are scumbags.
    I bought a hard drive from Best Buy. It was remarkably cheap, and there was only one box on the shelf. This box was open, but eager to get a bargain, I grabbed it, and peeked inside to make sure there was a drive in it.
    There was so I checked out.
    When I got home I opened the box and found a old used 6GB drive instead of the 80GB that the box label said.
    Those motherfuckers would not refund or even listen to me.
    I took it to small claims, won, partly because the process server messed up and they were a no show in court.
    The collection process was a bitch and I was busy with work so I let it slide, just like a rebate.
    Some pimply punk store employee must have made the swap and put the box on the shelf. Although, it might have been a manager, because of the suspiciously low price.
    Bottom line:
    Fuck Best Buy

  59. mandarin says:

    For more fascinating stories on BB, head to Bestbuysux.org

  60. infinitysnake says:

    @Greasy Thumb Guzik: That’s reasonable, I think. I ship at costco, and I make a habit of rummaging in the box bin in the back to get boxes for my groceries. More than once I’ve found someone’s stash of “recycled” dvds…

  61. g33kgurli says:

    This similar thing happened to me at Wal-mart. We purchased a PS2 and more than a few games for the kids. We got everything home; the kids are opening games left and right – and guess what…the most expensive game was empty.

    There were a few tell-tale signs of employee theft in my situation.

    1. the shrink wrap was completely bogus (the kind you use with your hairdryer – NOT the manufacturers wrap.
    2. on closer inspection the game case had scratches and had obvious wear to it.

    Walmart actually took the game back – and gave me little hassle.

    What sucks about this is that you can’t open a game and get your money back; however if you open it away from the store and the product is empty you’re almost always screwed. Fortunately the people at my store were nice…but I think that’s the exception.

    Anyway – I have NEVER purchased anything from BestBuy – I think they are overpriced, and the customer service there has always sucked – Newegg is where I do 99.999% of my electronics shopping.

  62. plastikwaren says:

    Reasonably certain that it’s illegal for them to take the replacement back after the return and replacement has been processed too. Make sure you have full record of that particular portion of the event.

  63. jsprusko says:

    I would have had the manager take the information from the harddrive box/box of tiles and confirm whether or not it had been a return. Since the newspaper was the New York Post from 09/2007, chances are the drive was originally purchased by someone in the New York Metro area and returned. And returns should all be documented in the system.

  64. skrom says:

    Or course everyone assumes the guy was honest and didnt put the tiles in there himself to scam Best Buy. I love how everyone here is always so anti business. If they took everyone’s word for what was wrong with their purchase they would be out of business due to shrink. There would be a huge rash of people buying HD DVD players and putting their old VCR in the box and resealing it and return it etc…This guy should prove the box had tiles in it when he bought it.

  65. SpyMagician says:

    The problem is that “big box” stores have truly degraded to he point of just being warehouse dispensaries where EVERYONE is considered a thief. People don’t work there a long time, they don’t have loyalty and nobody cares. Why should employees provide quality service beyond closing a sale when they pay you nothing? Might as well steal.

    It’s truly horrid. And a great example of how smaller/long lasting businesses are better. And I’m not talking just small mom & pop shops, but even large-but local-department stores really were a good part of a community.

    I’ve gotten better service from NewEgg than I have ever gotten from any modern big box store.

  66. MrEvil says:

    @skrom: The thing is, the folks that do the item swaps are the ones that don’t go into the store in a huff claiming that their 1TB hard drive was replaced with tiles. What the scammers do is bring it back hoping the dimwit cashier doesn’t inspect the item. That was the case when I worked at Best Buy, and Lowe’s before that. Not to mention the fact that at the Best Buy I worked at no less than three employees were caught stealing over $4000 worth of merchandise….I only worked there six months. The only reason they caught one was because he had nabbed a copy of The Matrix reloaded before it was set to be released.

  67. Propagandist says:

    I doubt that this is a case of employee shrinkage… it would be too difficult for an employee to do this at work. He’d have to accomplish all of the following without being seen: open a box, take out the hard drive, stash it somewhere no one would find it until the end of his shift, then get a newspaper, fill it full of heavy ceramic tile, wrap it all back up, put it in the box, and then re-shrinkwrap the box, then put the box back on the shelf. The privacy necessary to accomplish all of this just isn’t afforded in the average back-store area of most retailers.

    All of this would be VERY easy, however, for someone at home. Most likely, a customer bought it with cash, took it home, did all the above, and returned it for a refund, and the Best Buy customer service rep just saw the shrinkwrap and assumed that no one could have opened it, and gave the scumbag their money back. This scam is as old as the hills — I knew a kid in school in 1985 who accomplished the same ratty scheme with two bricks filling in for a 5.25″ floppy disk drive for a Commodore 64, THAT is how old this scam is.

    Now, even if your local Best Buy is staffed by morons, though, there are simple ways to protect yourself… ALL hard drive manufacturers, for example, shrink-wrap their products with special shrink-wrap branded throughout with their logo. If the plastic on your hard-drive box doesn’t say “Western Digital” all over it, I advise reaching for a different box.

  68. robotprom says:

    I wonder how long it will be before everything is packaged in clear plastic.

  69. darkonc says:

    @SKROM: clearly someone swapped the drive out for the tiles — but the clerk and the assistant manager accepted his story and gave him the money back. At that point the tiles were Best Buy’s problem.

    Then the guy then buys a new drive and opens the box to make sure it’s real. Having verified that he had a real drive for his money, the manager came in and stole the drive from him (once they accepted his money, it was no longer Best Buy’s drive).
    From a purely legal perspective, this was theft, not bad customer service. From a more subjective point of view, it was both.

  70. Buran says:

    @Jack Szwergold: Low pay isn’t justification to steal.

  71. Honus says:

    I used to work at Circuit City. We were insured against this kind of shrink. So all the people out there who suggest that the Big Box retailers will go under are way off base. Do you really think every open box return can go back to the manufacturer?

    My worst day on the job was the day a kid brought back a return for a 400 dollar external hard drive. I inspected the purchase same as any other purchase and went to withdraw the money from the register. There wasn’t enough in the drawer that day so I called a manager. He inspected the packaging, and went to the safe. Just after handing the kid the money he reexamined the box only to determine an almost unnoticeable slice. Kid jacked the innards and returned just the case. Pure profit for him.

    I felt like such an idiot. But the manager reassured me, as I had never made such a mistake before, that we were insured against such fraud.

    The thing is, it’s really easy to miss one. And because store lighting is so dim, sometimes the warehouse guys don’t catch it either, and if it happens to look like it’s never been opened, they “bump” it back into the inventory.

    This is retail. But that manager was 15 different kinds of in the wrong. Best Buy is obligated to return the hard drive. There is nothing a manufacturer can do in that situation.

  72. 8abhive says:

    This reminds me of a troubled drive manufacturer about 1990 who, just before going bankrupt, filled stacks of HD boxes with bricks (5.25″ HDD days) and shipped them. (Miniscribe? Priam?)

    Shipping bricks made their books look better for a few days, but then the credit coffin sealed shut when dealers started screaming.

    Anyway, while I can’t dispute the McJob aspects and lack of honesty in these places, in relative terms it’s small time.

    It must be interesting/demoralizing/hell to start a career in today’s ratail.

  73. averagejoe1971 says:

    “As with any place that pays their employees near minimum wage, you are bound to get a number of unscrupulous people working for that organization.”

    The sad truth is that when it comes to employee theft, pay rates have little to do with it. How else do you explain high level corporate embezzlement? For US employers, the stats are staggering: 15% of your employees will never steal from you; 15% of your employees will steal from you regardless if they think they will be caught, and 70% will steal from you IF they think they will NOT get caught. Therefore, I don’t blame BB for taking measures to prevent this crap and driving up the prices when I shop there.

    The manager surely has some explaining to do as to why he took back the box. If he can show that there was no way it was in inside job and that the guy HAD to be the one pulling the scam, he might have a case for what he did. If he knew for a fact that a scam was underfoot he is not obligated to watch his merchandise walk right out the door.

    If the purchaser is not the theif, the interesting questions for the investigator might revolve around who in the store happens to be remodelling their bathroom and might have a few extra tiles lying around the house. That, and he could compare the tiles with those available at the local Home Depot to see if they were recently bought.

    Of course, the investigator doesn’t actually have to DO this, just make it known to the employees that this will be done and see how long it takes for one of them to fess up, if at all.

  74. invisibleh8 says:

    Coming from somebody who both worked at Best Buy and is the king of borrowing products for a few days or weeks until I can afford something better here is what I think happened. Since the tiles have been taken already it’s hard to preform any tests on them. The tiles were picked up and placed on a piece of newpaper and then wrapped. Why the newspaper. It was used to stop finger prints from being transferred. This really does scream of somebody at a warehouse level with spare tiles around and some old newspaper. It really doesn’t look like you had any part of it from a criminal aspect. I myself am guilty of buying a HD and changing the stickers off my old one and returning it. I hate best buy. I worked there for 3 months before they were able to give me a paycheck due to there own admin problems. I had to take them to the labour board and in the end they still screwed me out of a weeks pay.
    They truly are corporate scum.

  75. smile says:

    I would have to say that I agree with the person who mentioned it would be too hard for an employee to commit this crime. It is all too often that customers/consumers will stuff whatever they can find into the box and try to return it packaged or not. On top of that, it is to my knowledge that every employees’ bags/purses/jackets et cetera are checked upon leaving — even for breaks and lunches, in order to prevent this sort of thing from happening.

    I will say this, however: I have seen things like this happen at the fault of the manufacturers and warehouses. I do not think that the people in Malaysia did this, but I wouldn’t put it past the warehouse the product resided in before being delivered to the BB store.

    Also, I do believe what the GM did was wrong, seeing as the product was already returned and a new one was purchased. Personally, I would have filed a police report, and I think you would benefit from this as well in the long run, just in case things haven’t cleared yet.

    As for the whole “don’t buy from best buy,” I disagree. Every store has it’s problems and every store has its perks. I read a suggestion about another location’s excellent customer service — Maybe you should try that one?

    Unfortunately, because of the sick, sad tricks performed by various positions, I can understand people being very, very cautious and possibly refusing services related to yours. Keep in mind the advice you have been given by all these people, such as opening the product before you leave the store, [sometimes that may not be an option available to you until the product has been purchased] look at the packaging, and if you can, go into the store instead of buying online [my personal advice].

    I sincerely hope things have worked out by now.

    Best,
    Anonymous

  76. prophet_5 says:

    I had a similar, bad experience at Best Buy in Kennesaw, Georgia. I purchased a car stereo with the “extended protection plan” for my wife’s car. My thought was that if she had a problem, they would fix/replace it, and that would be one less problem for me.

    Instead, it opened up a world of headaches for me. The unit started to “drift” – the station would randomly start to drift up or down and fail to stay on a station, even when a preset was selected.

    I took it back to Best Buy on a Saturday. The salesman in the car stereo department said that the problem would require replacement of the unit. He found a comparable unit, which was $18 more than the one that I had purchased. I agreed to pay the extra $18.

    We went up front, and at the return desk, the store manager came up (starting to sound familiar?) and said that with “that brand”, they would have to send the unit back to the manufacturer for repair. I explained that there is no repair for a bad tuner, they just replace them. He made me wait for almost 3 hours for his installation staff to remove the unit, leaving a gaping hole in the dash. I left furious that it had taken so long, and that they hadn’t honored the spirit of my “protection plan” (who was being protected anyway?).
    After 3 weeks of listening to my wife complain that she had a gaping hole in her dash and couldn’t listen to the traffic report (which is essential in Atlanta traffic), I called the store. I was even more furious to learn that the unit had come back 10 days ago, and no one had called me.
    I made an appointment for that Saturday to re-install the unit, and had to wait 2 hours past my appointment time to get them to re-install the unit. I spent the 2 hours berating the store manager, and telling him that he had NOT made me a satisfied customer. He tried to lie to me to tell me that he “couldn’t” do anything about it, and I stood my ground and said that he could, but he didn’t want to. He refused to admit that he COULD have replaced it, but that he didn’t want to.
    I left with the “repaired” unit, and it immediately drifted again. I went back to the store, and the tech that installed the unit said that all they reported on the sheet that came back with the unit was that they “cleaned the contacts”.
    I was told that I would need to return another day with another appointment to wait once again to have the unit removed, and it would have to be sent back again (!), and then another appointment to have it re-installed.
    Now, I get hardly any time with my wife on the weekends as it is, and my work week doesn’t allow me a lot of time either, so my time is precious to me. That’s why I bought the plan in the first place – to make it easy on me if I had a problem.
    Rather than spend another 3 weeks and 5-6 hours on a $200 radio, I drove to nearby Circuit City, which installed a new stereo in 35 minutes.
    I went back to Best Buy – just to show my receipt to the store manager, and make some comments about he “serviced” me – much in the same way that a bull services a cow.
    I wrote emails to each and every member of Best Buy’s Board of Directors, and I sent a comment to their website.
    As I expected, I got no response.
    I made that my last purchase of electronics from Best Buy. The Circuit City store manager in Alpharetta, GA (Northpoint Mall area) went out of his way to make me happy when they were out of stock on an item a month later. He gave me a discount, and free delivery.
    I returned to Circuit City for my next several purchases, and was even greeted by name (!) by that store manager. I spent about $3,000 at Circuit City, and took the receipts back to Best Buy in Kennesaw to show them to the store manager. Even though he was visible, he went to hide in his office to avoid me. What a coward.
    My entire family now avoids Best Buy.

  77. ablestmage says:

    How is it that every time something like this happens it’s a giant news event? This is not news, it’s an absurdly insignificant occurence. Can we please just wait until thing is resolved first, like say, after AE does their thing, instead of getting all emotionally involved in a Dear Abby sap story?

  78. JayDeEm says:

    Back in my Circuit City days we would get the ‘Bricks in the Box’ returns a couple of times per month. The bad part is that one could never tell who was actually scamming and who was getting scammed. These always went to corporate loss prevention, which was a huge hassle for the legit customer, but discouraged the scammers.

  79. jesirose says:

    What makes tile bathroom tile and not kitchen tile?

  80. scaremonger says:

    One thing that scares me (as usual):

    This was a “call ahead” order.
    This means an employee knew someone was coming soon for a particular item (a nice, expensive item). Was wondering Sam, did YOU get to pick the HD off the shelf?, or was it waiting for you. You say it took them awhile to get it, perhaps they already made a “special” one for you. Since you are a pickup order you are less likely to do other things in the store and figure out your harddrive rattles.

    “They always screw you in the drive-thru”

    Now whether BB got screwed and transferred the tiles to you knowingly, or a group of employees did it on purpose remains to be seen.

    Good luck. I know it doesn’t help but looking at all these posts, at least BB will run a net loss for this scam.

  81. shakestheclown says:

    @jesirose:
    What makes tile bathroom tile and not kitchen tile?

    The urine stains.

  82. suckacheeta says:

    i have had this happen at bb, also bought a “new” minidisc player (back in the day) and it had hair on it, and unbeknownst to me my brother returned the same unit and got a haircut, no shit! I have bought open box stuff at bb before and got fcked. My last time actually purchasing I got a ps3 at the okemos bb, when it was impossible to get one. I then drove back to Chicago and opened the open box item back up. TO my surprise there was everything except a controller. My local bb would not help nor sony and it took about 2 weeks to get any thing done. They gave me a brand new ps3 which i played for 29 days and then returned it. I, unlike other people, gave everything back. And now that piece of trash has lowered significantly Basically you need to physically inspect any open box item, and any item that is in any way shady. If the box is cut, seems light, whatever, pretend you are buying it off a van somewhere, because if you try to get help many times it is almost impossible. I would turn the newspaper and tile over to the police and get it fingerprinted, this is probably a felony, check with an attorney or police. Next tell best buy if they are not going to replace the item, tell them to disclose who purchased the item before you did. I am pretty sure they will either say no and just return your hd, or maybe they will release the data to the police. Hope this helps, good luck.

  83. MrDragon says:

    Best Buy – I live in Minneapolis, and avoid BB for computer products. Overpriced cables, the pitch for ‘extended service plans’ (or whatever), ‘Geek Squad’ branded products (oh please), and so on…

    Last straw: bought a Belkin FM transmitter to send tunes from my MP3 player to my crappy car stereo. Walked out the doors, and opened the thing to try it in my car. Every frequency on the thing had interference from local radio stations. So, I walk back in the store to return it. Girl behind the counter is resistant because my ‘credit card hasn’t been billed until end of day, return it in a few days’. I have her call the boss over, and explain the situation. He says she’s in the right, so I ask them if they think I’m trying to rip them off for $20?!?! I then suggest we try the thing, and add that I’ll be informing corporate that this product should be pulled from the shelves at every store in the corporate HQ’s home city. They refund the money. :-)

    Still, they lost a consumer, a customer, and a professional computer tech that not only bought a lot of stuff from their stores in the 80s/90s — but also used to recommend their store to clients as a source for computers, notebooks, monitors, printers, cables, software, and more.

    To paraphrase the Dubya: Screw me once, shame on you. Screw me twice, ain’t gonna happen.

  84. iankasley says:

    I had this happen to me a couple of years ago when buying a CD burner at CompUSA. Shrinkwrap looked completely legit, box pristine, etc. Opened it up and found two old SCSI hard drives inside. Took it right back and while I was obviously pissed,I wasn’t rude to them, and they exchanged it without any problems.

    On the other hand, I once bought some $10 part at Radio Shack, got it to the car and discovered what was in the box wasn’t what was advertised, and when I went back in the lady working there reluctantly swapped it for another one while making oblique accusations about “Maybe you just took it out and put this other one in, eh?” to which I responded by just glaring at her.

    In reality, it looked like some clueless bozo employee (could have been her, for all I know) had probably opened several different items for a customer to see which was compatible with their device, then sloppily stuck bits and pieces from several different products into a single box, as what I initially got had instructions for one thing and the cable from yet another.

  85. jonsg says:

    Is is worth mentioning that ceramic tiles are superb at capturing fingerprints?

  86. utgold says:

    People, just quit shopping at the Best Buys and large stores they care about you till they sell you something. I was burned by them. But never again.

  87. remey says:

    @Benstein: As a best buy employee, we’re told to do that so you don’t steal it.
    Once a person starts running, there’s nothing we can do.
    We could ask you to please go pay for it, but we’re not allowed to put ourself in a possibly harmful situation.
    However, the ipods are in a clear plastic packaging, so no worries to us stealing it and selling you an empty box.

  88. jeffeb3 says:

    Do you know what this means? There are a bunch of 1TB hard drives out there in “OEM” packaging for cheap, not quite ethical prices! Where can I buy one?

  89. vanstrien says:

    If it makes you feel better I promise to never buy anything from Best Buy. They were already dubious in my mind but stories like this clinch it.

  90. nobaloney says:

    Years ago I wrote a column for a long defunct magazine. It was a kind of muckraking piece called “Interesting Times”, after the old Chinese curse, may you live in interesting times.

    One month I submitted a column called “C.O.D. Bricks” about the then common practice of suppliers sending a box C.O.D. cash required but you could never inspect what was inside before turning over the cash. The point of the article was that the supplier didn’t trust you but you had to trust them.

    I wrote it after I got incorrect product and spent over a month to get it replaced.

    The magazine refused to print it; they said it would impact their advertisers.

    I never wrote for that magazine again.

  91. jakesdad says:

    I haven’t told this story in years but I haven’t stepped in a best buy (oxymoron of all time) since 97. I had a printer eat a transparency which I took to their repair center on the other side of town (Atlanta). their 1st reactions was “oh, YOU didn’t buy the extended warranty” to which I replied “it’s still under the FACTORY warranty”. they then said “then you should have sent it to HP” to which I replied “YOU’RE people told me I HAD to bring it HERE instead of sending it to HP!”. that was the opening act of a twelve week ordeal of them lying about repair dates, lying about when they sent it to HP, climaxed with them trying to pass off a different model on me (I don’t mean asked if I’d accept it, I mean put a cheaper one in a box & told me it was mine), having me spend over an hour driving to the repair center in rush hr in rain to find out it wasn’t actually there and on & on… to show a BIT of mercy and in the interest of being fair to her the woman who FINALLY helped me, found my printer and got it back THREE MONTHS later was very nice/apologetic and said: “we want to make sure you continue to shop at best buy” – I smiled, thanked her but explained that ship had sailed a while ago. that was TEN YEARS ago and they have not nor will they ever get a cent of our dual six-figure household again! the day they are the last electronic retailer on earth will be the day I do a full 1040 w/an abacus! real smart business there, guys – PO someone w/a ton of disposable income that likes to buy gadgets over repairing a $400 printer…

  92. Dacsman says:

    Not the first time this has happened with Stores including Best Buy. A co worker purchased a portable drive and it did not work, when he returned it BB said the serial numbers did not match and has been going around in circles for a month now. Most likely what happened to you was an inside job by one of the employees…

    Keep fighting and take it even higher, I would start writing (if you have not all ready done so) the cooperate office.

  93. nhkru says:

    You might actually be ahead of the game with the tiles. Those look like bull-nosed edge tiles, which can be fairly pricey (up to $25/tile). Wait until AMEX refunds the price and take the tiles to Home Depot for a refund.

  94. Trackback says:

    Another customer service win for BestBuy. This time a Jobsworth manager interrupted a routine transaction and plunged Consumerist reader Sam into a the Kafka-esque world of consumer law.

  95. kluelos says:

    It’s an interesting anecdote, but without specific names and places, that’s all it is: an unsubstantiated story. If we’re going to hold corporate America’s feet to the fire, it has to be over specifics, not vague allegations and hearsay. ‘Some Best-Buy somewhere’, some unnamed manager, these form no basis for action or demands for action — retrain the staff at THIS store, and fire THAT manager, and so forth.

  96. Jbrad00 says:

    I used to work at CompUSA, and we did get several people trying to scam us by changing price tags an what not. Most the time when we got junk in a product box, it was a careless customer service person who returned it with out cheching the box. Everytime we had someone come to us about being the victim we just ate the cost.

    With that said, I still hate CompUSA.

  97. utgold says:

    @Dacsman: If you recall they resell old parts from other system that they upgrade for people beleve what they say, so they took the old drive out of a computer they serviced and resold it thats why the serial numbers didn’t match..

  98. lionemom says:

    Sam’s best chance at getting his money’s worth or getting his money back is by going through American Express. He should still send complaints to the NY AG and Best Buy, but I wouldn’t expect any response from Best Buy. I have heard several stories of bad experiences there, but I have also heard of great customer service experiences there. I think it depends on the store, possibly the region.

    As a rule, Best Buy doesn’t prosecute shoplifters, even if they are employees. They fire the person and write off the loss. It’s not cost effective to prosecute. This is why I am confused by the store’s failure to compensate the customer either with a refund or replacement. Maybe they believe Sam is the thief rather than the victim. It doesn’t cost them anything to replace the unit or refund the money. That amount of money is a drop in the bucket of their shrinkage. So to me, this is an example of poor management practice. There are definitely managers of Best Buy stores that will give your money back to make you go away rather than get hassling letters and phonecalls reflecting on their store.

    I do think every consumer should protect themselves by insisting that the box be opened and the contents examined AT THE REGISTER for EVERY purchase, at ANY time of the year, even the holiday shopping season. There are stores that do that as a standard practice because they KNOW that there are shoplifting scams that replace things like that in the box on the shelf.

  99. HeartBurnKid says:

    @skrom: Of course we assume he’s being honest. Think about it logically: If you were trying to run a scam and got caught, would you email your experience to a web site millions of people read every day?

  100. zedrak says:

    @Buran, I agree with you 100%, but this was one of the very very rare times I decided not whip out the CC since all I was paying for was 4.99 + tax….. Ah well, you win some…

  101. mike_art03a says:

    I know that this is beating a dead horse a bit, but I’m not surprised. I bought a Gateway laptop from BestBuy in Gatineau, Quebec (Canada) and an extended warranty, thing is, I worked in a computer store at the time (was named CompuSmart). About a month after purchasing it, the hard drive died, so I took back to the store to be repaired and I was told that it had to be shipped out for repairs and it would take 2 weeks, no biggie. I phoned a week after it was supposed to be back wondering if it was in, the guy told me that it hadn’t come back and that they would follow up about the status of the unit. So I waited… 1 week… 2 weeks… 3 weeks… got fed up, phoned again and was told the same story. Now this is getting to be a major piss off seeing as I spent over $1500 for the laptop alone. So I told them that they’d better phone me next week or else. (Side note: I phoned Gateway’s support line to find out that the hard drive was supposed to be replaced on site within 3 days as all best buy had to do was order the part from them and it was shipped same day, nice…) No phone call, so I went into the store with a buddy of mine who was a consumer advocate (plenty of those in the nation’s capital) and asked what the hell was going on. The tech told me that there was nothing on record about me bringing in the laptop for repair, not a smart move… seeing as I had the repair slip in my hand as well as the receipt and warranty papers. Hell, I brought the box that it came in as well!

    Anyway, I demanded to see the manager and he started to give me the same crap and I told him, “Look, I have this repair slip here with *your* store’s number and address on it and you’re telling me that my laptop isn’t here?” In an attempt to prove me wrong, he told one of the techs to look in back for a Gateway laptop and sure enough, they came back with one that was identical to mine, flipped it over and the serial numbers matched. After some digging around, turns out it was never shipped out. He offered to make sure that it was shipped out this time and I refused, I told him that I was misled for almost 2 months and that I wanted a replacement unit. Being the ass that he was, he started to argue when my buddy chimed in and flashed his ID card and told him that he was in violation of consumer laws… more crap ensued.. and long story short, I ended up going home with a newer Core 2 Duo laptop with a 120gb drive instead of a Core Duo unit with a 100gb Fujitsu drive (which apparently are notorious for failing). As for the local best buy… they got slapped with a $500,000 fine after other consumers lodged complaints and the manager was fired.

    As for returns, the store I worked at was part of a smaller chain. We always inspected all returns, shrink-wrapped or not and tested them as well. I came across some interesting things… dog shit, dead birds, shotgun shells and my favourite, 2 pairs of 40DD bras! Man, those people who tried to fraud us got shipped out so fast, we didn’t even give them the box back! Also, if customers insisted on inspecting the product. No problem! Out came the exacto knife and the product was out to see. If the customer wanted it, great! Elsewise, it was resealed and put back on display. That’s how business should be done.

  102. Joe says:

    I’d be very leery about the contents of anything you purchase from Best Buy. I learned the “crap in a box” lesson about a year and a half ago.

    I had bought one of Yamaha’s higher-end home theater receivers from a Best Buy in Richmond, VA to replace an older one I had. When I got the box home and opened it up there was a dated, lesser model receiver in the box. I inspected the outside and noticed that someone opened it from the bottom, dropped the new receiver out and slipped in the older one in its place, resealing it to look like nothing happened. If you didn’t turn the box over and inspect it closely you’d never know (lesson learned for me).

    I immediately brought the box back to Best Buy and was met with skepticism and disbelief by the person at the service desk and one of the supervisors.

    After several calls to Best Buy’s customer support center and arguing with the people there for over two hours, one manager finally took notice of the damage to the bottom of the box and approved the exchange of the receiver with a new one. Needless to say, I opened the new box right there to verify that the correct receiver was inside.

    I’m not sure what’s going on at Best Buy’s distribution centers but it would appear that they need to spend less time worrying about customer dishonesty and a little more time vetting and monitoring those who work for them. I’ve NEVER had this problem at any other store.

  103. jeffjohnvol says:

    Everyone should print this article and leave it in your local BB store near the HD’s.

  104. hatebestbuy says:

    I had a VERY similar problem with Best Buy and will NEVER EVER EVER shop there again. I purchased what I thought was a BB King Christmas CD. When opened, Burl Ives was inside. I went to exchange the $10 CD and Best Buy refused. I did not want the $10 back, I just wanted the CD. They refused to exchange. I talked with the manager, no help. I tried to call customer service, no one answered the phone. I emailed them and never received a response. I cannot believe that could handle a $10 sale so poorly. BOYCOTT BEST BUY!

    • That's Consumer007 to you says:

      You can also most certainly report them to your local attorney general’s office for fraud given you kept the outside wrapping or receipt showing it mis-labeled.

  105. nhhendu says:

    I must be the rare, 1-in-1,000,000 person or something, but I’ve NEVER had any problems at Best Buy. I’ve probably spent about 2 grand there over the years and even returned several items. Especially with electronics, the associate has always opened the box, inspected the contents and tested the item. When they are not familiar with the item, they call someone from that department to make sure all the items and all the accessories are in the box.
    My Best Buy location must be the rare exception. It’s a training store for the region, so maybe that has something to do with it.

  106. vjpearlman says:

    I attepmted to sign up with DirectTv in 7/07. I had an appointment for them to come out to install. On the date they were supposed to come the tech called and asked exactly where I was located at. I informed him how far north and that I was a block away from the lake. He said “OH SHIT” and then said we will be there in a half hour. One hour later no show. They never showed up at all. Then on the same day a DirectTV rep called to apologize and stated he himself would come out to install and made an appointment with me for that following Monday. Well he never showed up either. For some reason I gave them one more chance and the Representative I spoke to set up an appointment, told me I would be getting their special offer which was $10.00 off per month for so many months and then there was an additional $10.00 off for 10 months. I was also informed I would be receiving a redemption coupon for a free protable DVD player which I never received and when called to question it was told I was not eligible for that rpomotion.I had asked the rep. if when they come to instal will they also hook up VCR and DVD and I was told yes. When the gentlemen came to hook up the service he went on the roof to install dish and left 30 feet of cable on the roof and also made extra holes in the roof. My landlord was furious so I had him deal directly with DirectTV. He never informed me of that outcome. So now when he was in the apartment doing the installation I reminded him about the VCR and DVD and was told that is not my job so of course it was not done. Also I was given a box with a DVR (until now didn’t even know what the DVR is) and a separate box in my bedroom. On 1/30/08 I called DirectTV to see when my year contract was up and was advised since I ordered the box with the DVR I am on a 2 year contract. Also when the gentlemen signed me up for the 3rd time he signed up for packages I didn’t even want or ordered. I advised DirectTV to cancel my service and they said I will have to pay a 300.00 cancellation fee which I refuse to pay because of all the mishaps this whole time. They are sending me the information so I can return their boxes. Had I known that this was going to be a scam and that they tell you anything just to get you to sign up I would have never signed up with them. I have never had such aggravation and stress from just trying to get cable services. I would never reccommend DirectTv to anyone nor will I ever use theirh services again.

  107. chrisegill1 says:

    congrats to sam hopefully my case ends so well.

  108. Anonymous says:

    Last year around christmas I purchased blazing angels for the nintendo wii. I opened the game in the store to make sure everything was cool and all that was there was a clear plastic disc. I immediatly went to the service department for an exchange and was met by a prissy little girl who said that i switched the real game with this clear disc and was trying to pull a fast one. The clear disc actually had some writting on it and looked like a manufacturing mistake. I asked her if she knew where to get a clear disc like this and she proceeded to make me soooooo angry that i almost broke my rules and hit a women. To make a long story short best buy would not exchange the game and the manufacter ubisoft kept telling me to return it to best buy. I still have the stupid clear disc and justhad to eat my 40 bucks.

  109. That's Consumer007 to you says:

    Although I want to first point out that Amex did resolve this by getting the guy his refund, and Best Buy is horribly and obscenely at fault for this situation, if a “store manager” stole my property or refused to refund my money when it is clear they needed to, the police would be involved, plain and simple. The store manager wouldn’t be able to leave the building without a bloody ass scene, or in handcuffs (citizen’s arrest outside the store) if it were my money. Period.

    People need to learn to stop letting retail and corporate aholes violate their rights.

  110. jared says:

    Why on earth does anyone in their right mind shop at Best Buy? Friends don’t let friends buy from Best Buy.