Iowa Best Buy Won't Sell To You Unless You Sign Up For Rewards Card?

Frank says he wasn’t allowed to complete his purchase at a Best Buy in Des Moines, Iowa unless he signed up for their Rewards card: “He called over his supervisor. In a rather harsh manner, she told him that everyone purchasing items is now required to sign up for a rewards card.” Sounds like somebody had a quota to meet!

You may have heard about this already, but I thought it was rather odd.
 
I was at Best Buy the other day here in West Des Moines, Iowa. It was the store at the Jordan Creek mall. I went to purchase my items and the young kid working at the register asked to see my rewards card. I told him that I don’t have one. I avoid that card because I don’t like the junk mail coming into my mailbox. I prefer to purchase my items and leave.
 
Well, he looked confused and called over his supervisor. In a rather harsh manner, she told him that everyone purchasing items is now required to sign up for a rewards card. She said that they cannot let buy things without having one of those cards. I was rather anxious to get back and finish homework for my college courses, so I got the rewards card and left.
 
Maybe this is normal, but I wasn’t very happy about it. Granted they’ll send me coupons, but I know it’s going to benefit them more than it will me – otherwise they wouldn’t do it.

(Photo: qnr)

Comments

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  1. acknight says:

    Umm… no. That’s a quick way to go out of business. They can require it as a condition of purchases, likely, but it’s a stupid policy. It’s probably not even actually policy.

  2. apotheosis says:

    Well if it’s true, that’s just silly.

  3. Next time just refuse. See if they’re willing to lose a sale to back up a bogus policy. Also, don’t you have to pay like 10 bucks for a Rewards Zone card, or did they stop doing that?

  4. blackmage439 says:

    No, no, no. This is absolutely NOT normal. Sure, every time I buy stuff at a Best Buy, the cashier asks if I have a rewards card. I always say no, and I hear nothing else. (Now that I think about it, I really should sign up for a card… man I hate myself sometimes. Damn you, Worst Buy, and your sometimes cheaper prices!)

    Not to mention this is extortion. Best Buy is not a membership warehouse like Costco or Sam’s.

    Sounds like someone needs to make a quota, indeed.

  5. Channing says:

    “What’s the quickest way to get in contact with corporate?” probably would’ve either changed her attitude or made the buyer realize that Best Buy is made of the exact opposite of awesome.

  6. Machete_Bear says:

    It’s not a Sam’s club. This manager was either misinformed, or more likely, lying to pull one over on you. Had OP staunchly refused, I’m sure Mr. Manager would have backed down.

  7. Concerned_Citizen says:

    If he really wanted it, he should have walked to one of their internet terminals and purchased it online and chose in-store pickup. That would have been pretty funny.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Evertime i go there they want to sign me up for free issues of sports illustrated. I hate this crap. I want my stuff and i want to leave.

  9. I will say I’ve got several gift certificates through my reward zone card, mostly thanks to some big-ticket purchases. But to require it … yeesh.

  10. DePaulBlueDemon says:

    I would have refused. Did you get the manager’s name? Call Best Buy, this is plain ridiculous. Tell them you’ll be shopping at Circuit City from now on.

  11. Diet-Orange-Soda says:

    @Concerned_Citizen: And print off the confirmation email on one of the display printers. Wah-waaaah!

    Frank should not have signed up on principle alone. And if he was thinking about it anyway (which he wasn’t) he should have signed up at another store at another time.

  12. backbroken says:

    There’s a a very specific tool I use in situations like these. That tool is the word “no”. Memorize it. Make it be your best friend. Then use it liberally.

  13. Diet-Orange-Soda says:

    @The Count of Monte Fisto: I like the gift certificate idea, which is why I signed up. Unfortunately they expire soon enough that I can’t stack them so any benefit to me is lost. I’m not about to buy something just because I have a cert.

  14. AaronZ says:

    Ok, so a store does something you’re not happy with, and you have a choice about where to spend your money… and what do you do? – Cave in on the issue and then go complain on the internet.

    If only best buy sold spines too.

  15. mgy says:

    @catdogpigduck: Sometimes they’ll sign you up without your knowledge in order to meet attachment goals, especially during the holiday rush.

    The more you know!

  16. bravo369 says:

    Certain things I will just shrug off like when a cashier asks for a zipcode but i would have refused profusely to sign up for another card. I have enough cards from stores along with my own credit cards so i have made it my own policy to not sign up for anymore of them even if they provide a savings. I’m more of a ‘leave the store if i don’t like the service’ person than someone who will call corporate for every stupid little thing but I think I would have taken the time out to call them on this one. The maanger probably gets a bonus if his store meets a quota and i bet corporate wouldn’t be too happy to find out he’s forcing customers to sign up

  17. Channing says:

    @AaronZ:
    “If only best buy sold spines too.”

    Sorry, you have to sign up for their card first.

  18. Concerned_Citizen says:

    @Diet-Orange-Soda: You do not need to print out the confirmation. Best Buy’s site just says you need the order number, ID, and the credit card used in the purchase.

  19. MrDo says:

    The writer of the email is a fool for signing up. Honestly, what did you need so badly that you couldn’t pick it up at another retailer?

  20. thesabre says:

    Wow. That’s insane. That’s when you say “no thank you”, calmly place your items on the counter and walk away. It’s not worth getting angry about. You can get whatever you need somewhere else, be it Circuit City, Wal-Mart, Target, online…

    I do like that idea about purchasing it on an Internet terminal and selecting to pick it up at the store. Well played.

    With that said, I still think the author is, as MrDo said, a fool for just caving in like that.

  21. LatherRinseRepeat says:

    “..so I got the rewards card and left.”

    Huh? I have to second The Count of Monte Fisto‘s comment. I think Best Buy still charges a membership fee for their Rewards program. This story lacks details.

  22. midwestkel says:

    They used to charge $10 for that card. Now its free. Why wouldnt you sign up? The only mail you get is coupons and free money when you spend a certain amount.

    I have had it for years back when they charged you $10 a year but its free and you get free money if you spend a lot.

  23. Diet-Orange-Soda says:

    @LatherRinseRepeat: Best Buy’s reward program is free now.

  24. cheviot says:

    Short of walking out, he should have signed up for the card, bought the stuff, then cut up the card and handed the pieces to the cashier.

  25. @thesabre: I tend to agree. Let my local Best Buy treat me like that. I can just as easily take my money elsewhere, homework or no. A hearty chorus of “Wal-Mart down the street sells these too; I don’t have time for this” would have been fun.

  26. Diet-Orange-Soda says:

    @midwestkel: Why not? I mentioned above, the Reward Zone certificates expire. On top of that, I can buy (most) anything at Best Buy cheaper or at the same price without feeling dirty.

  27. cristiana says:

    @LatherRinseRepeat:
    Best Buy stopped charging for the rewards card a few years ago.

  28. y2julio says:

    @Concerned_Citizen: cool. I didn’t know that. Next time they refuse to price match something from their site for me. I will do that. Just buy it online and do in store pick up.

  29. SadSam says:

    I’m so over the 20 questions game at the check out.

    Zip code.

    Phone number.

    Rewards program.

    Do you want to donate a kidney to XYZ charity.

    Please hand over your first born.

  30. kc2idf says:

    If you want to be confrontational, then a possible attack is to calculate the post-tax price of your purchases, then place that amount of cash on the counter. Go over by a nickel or dime or so (or even round to the next highest dollar), just to allow some wiggle room. Explain the total you have arrived at. Count the money out for the cashier, so that there is no question about the amount. Then take the items and leave. You will probably tangle with their security people, because you will set off the alarm, but I don’t see what they could possibly accuse you of.

    Another option is to play the game, but then pay them in $2 bills. They hate that.

  31. jedipunk says:

    –sarcasm–
    Oh come on! Quit your belly aching. You are just feeling out card. I don’t get why everyone is always complaining about showing receipts or IDs. They are doing this in your interest. Really. Just do it and be gone. What is the big deal here?!
    –/sarcasm–

  32. chartrule says:

    when retailers require conditions to complete a sale to you its time to find another store

  33. smirky says:

    @cheviot: That’s still playing their game of forcing you to sign up in order to buy something.

    There’s nothing wrong with that if you don’t mind signing up but if you already declined then why be bent over like that?

  34. katylostherart says:

    if the items weren’t pertinent to your homework you should’ve just bought them somewhere else. actually you probably should’ve just bought them somewhere else. i’ve never actually seen anything at any chain store than you can’t get easily at another chain store. half the crap on sale at best buy can be bought at target, walmart, circuit city, kohls, sears, etc.

  35. BlondeGrlz says:

    @bravo369: It’s not a store credit card. It’s like those rewards cards at the supermarket, but you (supposedly) earn coupons instead of getting $2 off your cereal. There is no chance they can force you into a credit card. God forbid.

  36. Buran says:

    Personally I would have dropped my purchase on the counter and walked out the door and left them to clean up the mess, literal and figurative, that they made.

  37. katylostherart says:

    one day i will make sense. even to myself hopefully.

    i think i’ve killed too many braincells…

  38. mountaindew says:

    We bought a TV few months back at Best Buy. At checkout, they asked if we wanted to apply for their Rewards Card. We declined then, and they told us that we could sign up online with the receipt when we get home if we changed our mind later. Well, we did try to sign up online few days later, and it will not accept the receipt for the purchase that day.

  39. bobblack555 says:

    “I was rather anxious to get back and finish homework for my college courses, so I got the rewards card and left.”

    Moron.

    You write in to complain, but you still took the bait and signed up.

    Its your own fault, dude.

  40. opal says:

    @kc2idf: No receipt? Could turn into the cashier not actually running it through and you would have no “proof”…

  41. StevenJohn says:

    Two sides to every story. I want to hear BB’s side. IF BB agrees with the OP all Hades is about to break loose.

    Of course the OP could just be a CC troll.

  42. highmodulus says:

    Thank God I have a Crutchfield in my town, as well as Newegg and Amazon for most everything else.

    Best Buy and Circuit City seem to be in a steel cage match for sleaziest electronics retailer– but wait, whats that, its Sears’ music!

  43. Okaasan says:

    Hey kids? How do I print this column out so I can take it to this Best Buy and ask if it’s true. This BB is right down the road from me.

  44. Okaasan says:

    @Okaasan: Ah! Never mind . . . I figured out that it doesn’t want to print the article when I’m in FireFox (might want to look into that), but will if I’m in IE.

  45. Megatenist says:

    Just last week,I went into Best Buy with my cousin who was looking for another PS3 controller.He didn’t find one he wanted,so instead,on the way out,bought a Dr.P and some gum.The cashier asked us if we wanted a Rewards card, saying “you’ll save alot of money on your gum and pop!”

    We just looked at her and said no.She badgered us for about a minute about getting one and how much money we’ll save.I soon realised there was manager nearby watching her.When he saw we were not gonna cave in and get one,he gave us a dirty look and walked away.The cashier then said she didn’t blame us and how her job sucked.

    I kinda felt bad,but we weren’t about to be bullied into getting a card, espescially since we rarely go to Best Buy (I personally go about once every 3-4 months)

  46. NumberFourtyThree says:

    Yeah, I know this isn’t company policy. I agree the store was probably falling short of some quota, and in desperation the manager turned to this to try to make up the shortfall.

  47. sburnap42 says:

    @bravo369: FYI: Most likely the reason they ask for your zipcode is so that they can use databases of addresses to match your credit card to an address. See, Visa won’t give them the address of someone who uses a card at their store, but they can get lists of names and addresses and your name + your zipcode is generally enough to match the one to the other.

    I’ve never worked for Best Buy, but when I worked on software for another large retail chain, this was *exactly* what it was used for. (Not, as they instructed their cashiers to say, for demographic purposes.)

  48. Jim says:

    I spent about $4,000 at BB last year, and I think I got $80 in Rewards.

    Granted, I usually don’t need or have an interest in the rest of the coupons they send, and those would add to the value, but their Rewards card isn’t extremely rewarding.

    If the card gave you more than 2% back, you might not have to force people like this.

  49. My keyboard has a typo key says:

    Until I serve legal tender or give access to credit tender. I am under no obligation to purchase at any store.

    If it does not serve me.
    In the 21st century. The market is to robust to be a corporate shill and go against the consumer.

    Yeah, the mega-box is never “in it” for the consumer’s benefit. So give us free information all you can (all we ask more like it) and shut up.

  50. markedward says:

    There’s another Best Buy a few miles away from the Jordan Creek mall, near the Valley West mall, that I’d encourage Frank (from the story) to check out and see if they’re also “requiring” these reward cards.

  51. t-r0y says:

    I think the manager was asleep during her training. My guess is that BB requires the cashier to ask, but the customer is not required to have/use one.

  52. joshthephenom says:

    @Diet-Orange-Soda: I think if you set up an online account with them you can ‘bank’ your rewards certificates so that they don’t expire. This feature also has an expiration, but I think it doubles the time they’re good for.

    But I could be wrong. I just remember one of their cronies telling me that while purchasing an LCD.

  53. dtmoore says:

    im going to go over there at lunch at see if they make me sign up, theres a new album out I want to pick up anyway :D

  54. rawsteak says:

    signing up for a rewards card while making a purchase is hardly rewarding in of itself! i would have asked them to sweeten the deal, maybe with a discount or a giftcard, then fill out the card with bad information and been on my way. if not, then i wouldn’t buy anything and leave.

  55. Veeber says:

    @Machete_Bear: I bet you they weren’t doing well on their rewards card signup metric and the manager instituted the policy.

    Dumb policy but when people are desparate…

  56. fluiddruid says:

    I hate to stand by Best Buy, but…

    This Best Buy is about 5 miles from me. I don’t shop at Best Buy often, but on the few occasions I do, it’s at this store. I’ve never, ever had a problem. I also work at a software company and know a great many people who shop at this store. I’ve never heard of this ever happening.

    I bet this is a rogue manager/cashier situation.

  57. kc2idf says:

    @opal:
    Do it right, and you have witnesses.

    Okay, maybe it was a boneheaded idea, but I mean really, WTF?!?

  58. fluiddruid says:

    A curious aside…

    I actually signed up for the Rewards program because I found a Wii at the other Best Buy in West Des Moines (University Ave). I had to fill out a form. It must have never gotten sent to corporate because I never heard about it again and didn’t get anything in the mail.

  59. SinA says:

    should have said “sure, i’ll sign up, and you’ll give me a 50% discount.”

  60. darkrose says:

    Datamining at it’s finest. I used to work in the IT department at a regional retailer. We could track basically any purchase through the “rewards card”. And since the retailer also had a name attached to the account number, we could tell that Customer X sure liked to buy product X from us.

    Scan it with any plastic information, and we could tell what the customer bought without using their rewards card (with the debit or credit card), and could attach those purchases to that account. Only took one time.

    Not exactly sure what happened to that data, but I helped build the queries to do this stuff. I wouldn’t put it past this retailer to sell it.

    If you’re a BB rewards customer, don’t be surprised if you start getting Dell catalogs or something because you bought some computer games.

  61. mariospants says:

    Guys, guys guys, your best answer for these information requests is just say “sorry, I live in Canada”. They’ll mention that they have a friend or cousin who married someone who’s from Canada and they’ll stop pestering you.

  62. Copper says:

    @darkrose: That’s exactly what it’s for. We have an enormous database of all customer’s purchases. If you’ve used a credit card with Best Buy, we have your information. We have your name, address, phone number and purchase history, even if you haven’t used a RZ, but that helps in the case that you move.

    If we have your email address, we’ll send to targeted junk mail. Just bought an HDTV from us? Expect to get emails from BBY asking you to purchase a Blu-Ray player or HDMI cables.

  63. @Jim: On the other hand, you presumably didn’t pay for the card in the first place. The only time it’s not worth it is if you feel obligated to shop at best buy because of the card.

  64. Haess says:

    I should have figured there were more people from Iowa reading Consumerist.. Yay!

    Ive only been to the SE 14th Best Buy, and had no hassle there.. I would repeatedly refuse to sign up though.. Its not a membership store, sheesh..

  65. I’m from the Des Moines Area, and a member of the reward zone program, and this particular Best Buy had a “Reward Zone only” night the other day, as a “reward” for it’s loyal customers or something. It is possible that you came in during that event.

  66. FreeMarketGravy says:

    I know hating on Best Buy is a favored pastime here (and with good reason), but anyone who thinks this is a company policy or anything other than a manager freaking out over low Rewards Card signups for the week/month/quarter/year and overreacting with a terrible plan to
    “correct” the numbers is delusional.

  67. farker says:

    This is ludicrous. The card IS free, but it has never been and should never be a requirement for purchasing items from the store.

    Of course BB would love for 100% of their customers to be RewardZone members, it would make life much easier for their marketing department.

    Clearly the poor sap who’s the manager of this store was up against some pressure from higher-ups to get more cards.

    Hopefully the OP contacts someone at BB who can explain how such a thing occurred.

  68. Okaasan says:

    @Okaasan: Allrightythen! I went over to the Jordan Creek BB and spoke with Tony, the manager. I took a copy of the story from the Consumerist site to show to him. I, then, asked him if it was true. Tony said they had a “Members only” sale and in order to get discounts for that sale you needed to be a member. The sale was to be by invite only, but they did not turn away other customers during that sale. Could be the clerk was trying to give the OP all the discounts he could and that required that he be a member. Tony assured me that my daughter, who was with me at the time, would not be required to be a Rewards Member to shop (and purchase) in their store.

  69. Okaasan says:

    @DePaulBlueDemon: Unfortunately, we have no Circuit City’s here in the Des Moines area. And our CompUSA went out with the garbage a few months ago. :-(

  70. Pro-Pain says:

    People are STILL SHOPPING AT BEST BUY????? Oh well. Let ‘em get screwed. Now this is where you blame the victim.

  71. dtmoore says:

    I just went over there during lunch to check it out, and I can assure you I didn’t have to sign up for a rewards zone card to check out.

  72. nardo218 says:

    @catdogpigduck: They never ask me that – cuz I’m a girl! Discrimintion!! I should be offered mags I don’t want too!

    Re the OP, I would’ve shouted to all the people in line “This lady says we all have to buy rewards cards or we can’t buy anything else!!” Yah, it’s a free program, but it’d be nice to use mob mentality to my advantage for once.

  73. dantsea says:

    I was at Best Buy the other day

    Well, there’s your problem, Frank.

  74. @dantsea: You know, this joke begins to lose it’s luster the 739,432nd time.

  75. FreeMarketGravy says:

    @nardo218: Yes, causing mob scenes due to your own ignorance (not that they should be pushing them on anyone, but Rewards Cards are apparently free now) is a great way to go about handling situations.

  76. Shadowman615 says:

    I would have called their bluff. I doubt they would have let you leave without purchasing the item.

  77. dantsea says:

    @valarmorghulis: Have a tissue.

  78. EyeHeartPie says:

    @FreeMarketGravy:
    She stated that she knows the program is free. She was simply stating that if she yelled out that buying (even though it’s free) Rewards cards was required to make a purchase, the mob mentality would have caused people to leave without purchasing anything, leading to lots more than 1 lost customer.

  79. FreeMarketGravy says:

    @EyeHeartPie: In what world is causing a scene the mature and proper way of dealing with a problem?

  80. HOP says:

    best buy sucketh

  81. vatica40 says:

    For those cautious of the RewardZone program, I’ve been a member of the free version for about 2 years now, and the only mail, junk or otherwise I’ve gotten from them as a result is some 10%/12% off coupons once a month. I can verify this because I don’t really get any other mail.
    So lonely…

  82. forgottenpassword says:

    reminds me of the time I was signed up for an aol account against my knowledge when I bought a laptop there years ago (I got a great deal & took my time paying it off interest free …even though I could have payed for it outright, but I’d rather have the money in savings earning interest). I got a bill in the mail months later from aol saying I owed them money.

    Called aol & said that I never signed up for it & that I specifically declined it when I bought my laptop…. they cancelled their bill.

    I found out later that this was common practice with best buy employees (signing customers up for aol against their knowledge)…. the miserable pricks!

  83. aluminum54 says:

    if you were in a store that was having an after hours event (which anyone that HAS a reward zone can purchase at) it will be required to make that purchase. however, there are no quotas for the card, there is no junk mail attached to it, it is simply 2 things. 1) a card to reward you for purchases and 2) a way we can track purchases. If you pay cash, and try to return something w/o a receipt, you can’t get far. If you have the rewards card, we can look up your transaction and re-print your receipt, allowing your return. Also, as we track information, the more you spend, the more coupons you get to come back in for more.

    it is completely bogus for them to force you into the card, i agree with someone above about the “whats the quickest way to contact corporate” because that would shut most of those kids up.

  84. parnote says:

    @Pro-Pain:

    @dantsea:

    And I couldn’t agree more! WHY, OH WHY are people still shopping there, then writing in to complain about how they were treated/screwed/abused by Best Buy … when their abuses/treatment/screwing of customers is sooooooooooooooooo well documented in story after story after story here on Consumerist? If you are a Consumerist reader and STILL shop there, you deserve what you get.

  85. Helen9999 says:

    The reward zone card is to earn money back on purchases and to receive coupons.

  86. hatrack says:

    @sburnap42:
    I assume you’re implying that they do that to send junkmail. Well if that’s true they seem to be going to a lot of trouble to collect information they don’t use. I have never received targeted junk mail from BB or any other retailer.

  87. Rususeruru says:

    Eh, I’ve walked out of BestBuy on many occasions for lesser irritations. Contrary to what they believe they are not the only major electronics retailer. And yes, the other guys may cost more but I can justify the increase by not supporting someone that irritates me.

  88. Part-Time-Viking says:

    Well, I’m glad that the readers here still over-react to insignificant stories about BB.

    To all the people who always post “WHI DU PPL STILL SHOP THER!?1 one one!”, just because we see one sided complaints about the company here frequently doesn’t mean that issues are common, or even kinda frequent. BB is a massive company, there is bound to be issues that come up from them. The readers here over-react to every story posted about Best Buy, and this is just one more example to support this.

    The reported situation is kinda buggered up, the only thing that I can think of is that the store was trying something new to boost numbers, then again, as far as I know we aren’t tracked on signing people up for Reward Zone, unless if it was set up as a store competition.

  89. Joe6638 says:

    I work part time at Best Buy for extra income, and have done so for a few years. I am amazed at what I read about going on at other stores, these things have never gone on at mine to the best of my knowledge. We never push reward zone on anyone, we will ask if you want it, if you don’t, fine no problem

  90. drew029 says:

    This is crap. Let me tell you the deal as I am an employee of this store.

    On Sunday we had a rewardzone members ONLY event after hours from 730-10 on Sunday night. We closed the store at normal hours (7pm), and set up some customer appreciation stuff before we reopened at 730. This was a by invitation only event, however our management staff decided they would let any customer with a reward zone membership in, and if they didn’t, they would be required to get one.

    That’s what happened. We just decided to be more customer friendly by allowing more people to take advanatge of great offers, but it was by our rules. Why would we let someone who wasnt a rewardzone member take advantage of the special offers, or the free drawing for $50 best Buy gift cards without being enrolled in this program? We didnt have to let you in without being a member, we were working with you.

  91. drew029 says:

    oh and by the way Circuit City doesnt have the balls to move into a market with 4 stores within a 60 mile radius…

  92. pssshwhatever says:

    I’m a line-level BBY employee and have been for 3 years (about to graduate college and move on to a real job), and the rewards program is free and certainly NOT required in order to purchase. We’re required to offer, and some managers will want you to try and persuade, but we’re certainly not allowed to require it for purchase. If that happens to anyone else here, get the manager’s name and call corporate. The manager will definitely get a stern talking-to from district staff (I’ve personally seen this, and more, happen) and you might get a gift card. Definitely not a company policy, it was a rogue manager trying to up the store’s RZ percentage.

  93. ninjatales says:

    The BestBuy in Roseville (MN) is terrible. Strangely enough, the Circuit City there is terribly nice.

  94. Android8675 says:

    We don’t require it, but we ask everyone, and definatly we get a TON of return business when people come back with their $5 coupons. Buying a ton of crap they do NOT need. People how many 42″+ HDtvs do you NEED in your 1 bd. apt?

  95. icust298 says:

    Drew29, luckily we have the internet or I’d be forced to pay for overpriced equipment at Best Buy all the time. Oh Best Buy what would I do without your superior monster cables and $50 hdmi cables?