Yesterday I went through the horror of taking my 15 year old brother to the Best Buy in Orland Park, IL on LaGrange Ave. I had close to $100 in Best Buy Gift Certificates given to me for Christmas. My brother and I were en route to dinner and we decided to swing by the aforementioned Best Buy to pick up a video game, Assassin’s Creed, and XBOX Live Gold. We entered the store. I browsed the camera aisle looking for a cable to possibly purchase for our flat screen then headed to the video game section. I picked up the said items and headed to check out where hell will shortly ensue.
I stepped up to the red haired, slightly obese cashier and she immediately gave me a look of disgrace as if I did something wrong. I replied with a “hi” to make the tension less awkward. She immediately asked me for my ID. I’ve never been carded for a video game before so I politely handed it to her while asking my brother for my gift cards I gave him while I was busy shuffling through my car just 20 minutes earlier.
She then left the the register booth with my ID and video game and went to her manager. The Best Buy cashier then came back and shouted that I’m purchasing a video game for a minor in front of everyone in line behind me and her fellow cashiers. She even had the nerve to ask, “Is that even your brother with you?!” Hell yes he is! I was embarrassed! It’s like she was condemning me for purchasing alcohol for a minor. [ed. Assassin's Creed is rated "M" for Mature, meaning it's considered not suitable for kids under 17. It's a game where you play an assassin during the Third Crusades and you take out various historical figures.]
I quickly responded back that I am 21 year old and that the video game and peripheral are for me. She shook her head with a menacing grim and said that she saw me take gift cards from my brother and that what I am doing is illegal. Enough of this obese 17 year olds shenanigans! I demanded a manager. Unfortunately the manager was probably about 18 years old as well.
In front of the store again he told me that I am illegally purchasing a video game for a minor. I responded back that they are my gift cards! I want to make a purchase. That’s when he picked up Xbox Live GOLD. I then asked if I couldn’t buy that either. He then took a few minutes to scrutinize the box looking for an online peripherals rating. He never found it and said to me, he’s not sure, I might not be able to do that either (Xbox Live was also rated E for everyone mind you). I continued to repeat that these are my gift cards, I’m 21 and I want to make my purchase. The cashier and manager continued to condemn me in front of all that I’m illegally purchasing the game for a minor.
I brought up two ultimatums. “So I have to go drive miles outside Orland Park, IL to another Best Buy to purchase the video game then?” The manager shrugged and said, “I guess so.”
I also brought up the option then that if I left the store with my brother, came back in by myself and made the purchase, would that be legal then? The manager replied, “Technically, yes, that will be OK.”
I then told them to hold on to the Xbox Live Gold since it was the last one left. I left the store with my brother, told him to go to the car. I then walked back into the store. The manager earlier told me that I can’t use the old video game I originally had in hand because it was deemed under “penalty.” I then had to walk all the way to the back of the cavernous store, pick up the video game then walk back to the line I was originally in. I stood in line for another 10 minutes waiting. I finally got back up to the obese red head cashier where she smirked and looked at me and said, “Yeah, we can’t sell you that video game.” What?! “Those gift cards are illegal.”
How the hell does she know someone didn’t just give me the gift cards on the street or if I had more of my “OWN” gift cards from the car. They just told me that I was able to purchase the video game once I walked my brother out.
I told them that they made a fool out of me before everyone in the store. She continued to be as politely as I can put it a “bitch” to me. I purchased Xbox Live Gold and said to the hell with the game. After making the transaction I told her I didn’t need a plastic bag since all I’m carrying out is a small little hand held cardboard box. Who needs a plastic bag for that? She then told me that under company policy if I wanted to exit the store I needed a plastic bag. Absurd! For me to exit the store I need to kill the planet now? I never see people with bags over DVD players that are twice the size as the flimsy Xbox Live cardboard box.
Anyway I left the store, we ate dinner and on the way home we stopped at the Best Buy in Mokena, IL. I purchased the same exact video game, Assassin’s Creed with my brother right beside me. I was never carded, I was never interrogated, I was never questioned. I had a wonderful experience there but I had to go through a three hour ordeal of going to the Best Buy in Orland Park, eating dinner than spending another 20 minutes at a Best Buy miles away all for a video game.
Three things Best Buy, first drop the mandatory plastic bag policy. Second, you need to revamp your treatment of customers and not threaten them of their illegal actions in front of all. Three, can I get reimbursed for some gas money for driving miles and miles out of my way since I was banned from buying a video game at your store in Orland Park, IL?
That is one crazy story, Matt. Now, if you had a copy of The Consumerist.com Consumer Action Manual (an as-yet unwritten pocket-sized book in the style of those “How To Escape From Anything” Books), you would turn to page 42, under “Dealing with in-store employee’s wacky interpretations of store policy” (just a working section title). There you would see that when little Mr. and Mrs. Blueshirt have decided they are the petty dictators of the cash register universe, you calm yourself down and call their corporate headquarters or customer service line and let them know what is going on. Oftentimes, this results in a call to the store from official company people with a few more firing brain cells who can straighten the whole matter out. Perhaps then corporate would have informed this store that video game ratings are just voluntary recommendations, it’s not “illegal” in any sense of the word to sell them to a minor, and especially not to an older sibling who just happens to have a minor with them. We offer this advice based on testimony from readers for whom it has worked, as well as former employees of various retail establishments.