Best Buy Ties Up A Grand Of Guy's Money For A Month

Disregarding our sage advice, former Best Buy employee Patrick wanted to cash out his 401(k) when he left the company. But he found getting ahold of the money was tougher than getting out of the store without being offered an extended service plan:

On June 5th, 2009, I departed Best Buy after almost 3 years of working there (9/15/06 – 6/5/09). I had only recently become full-time, and I had enrolled in 401k when it was available. After I left, I was told my account wasn’t large enough to transfer, and was given a choice: I could either roll it over into an IRA, or receive a taxed direct deposit for the amount, which came to approximately $900.

Having just moved from NJ to TX, putting $900 in the bank would be a great replenishment for the costs of moving, not to mention would cover my first month’s rent and other bills while I worked toward getting a steady job. I called Best Buy’s “eGo” HR system(1-866-692-2947), dialed the prompts, and spoke with a woman who informed me that, unless I had an account with http://www.mybbyrewards.com, I wouldn’t be able to access my money. What??

Turns out, verifying my home address, phone number, social, and date of birth over the phone simply isn’t enough proof that I am who I say I am. If I can’t log in to their website, absolutely none of that personal information matters. The rep coolly expressed how sorry she was (I wish I had gotten her name) and offered to send me a password reset. With no other options, I accepted and hung up. “Okay,” I thought, “so I have to wait a few days. No big deal, right?”

Yesterday, the password (which had to be mailed to my address in NJ, as they couldn’t even update my home address without being able to log-in to that website) was finally received and emailed to me. I went back to mybbyrewards.com, logged in and…no. “There have been too many attempts to log-in and this account has been locked. You will need to request a new password.” !!

Understandably frustrated, I called the 1-866-692-2947 HR number to speak with a supervisor. I’ve read this site for a while and knew not to yell or scream, and also to immediately ask for a supervisor, as the line-level rep probably wouldn’t be able to help me. I first spoke with Rosie, who tried to access the account herself and confirmed the “account locked” message. After she took all of my personal information to again verify who I was, she found me a supervisor by the name of Ariel, who also attempted to access the account and again verified that it was locked. From there, it was back to the script: “I’m sorry, but the only way to get in is to have your password reset.”

At this point, there doesn’t seem to be anything I can do. Thanks to this completely broken system, there’s almost a thousand dollars of money – MY money – tied up, and no one seems to be able or willing to do a damn thing about it. The staff at the HR number were quick to suggest that I don’t use the website when I get my password, but instead, call a different number and use the password there. Despite my arguments, Ariel seemed to be on auto-pilot as she repeated, ad nauseam, “No one at Best Buy will be able to access your account.” I asked her for someone higher than her, such as an Executive Care line or email, but she instead re-routed me to a line that is only valid for active employees.

Patrick wrote back to us Monday with the good news that he finally got ahold of his 401(k) bankroll. Hopefully he doesn’t do something silly with it like go investing in the stock market.

(Photo: Vincent J. Brown)