No $1600 Camera But Here’s A Jar Of Pasta Sauce

UPDATE: According to KTVI/Fox in St. Louis, “A Sony representative has confirmed to Fox 2, the company is processing the shipment of a replacement camera to the Rittenbergs. They just have to send in the box as they found it — sauce and all.” (Thanks to Triteon!)

When the Rittenberg’s brought home what they thought was a new $1600 camera from Best Buy, they were surprised to find a jar of Classico pasta sauce inside.

“The only thing I thought was, ‘you’ve got to be kidding me,'” said Melisa Rittenberg of St Louis.

When they tried to return the camera, Best Buy told them the box was sealed, so the switcheroo couldn’t have happened at the store.

The Best Buy manager said a resolution is pending.

The pair advises shoppers to check their purchases before leaving the store.

“You take it out of the store, and it’s yours,” she said. “It could be an empty box. It could have a jar of sauce in it, like ours.” — BEN POPKEN

Pair claim they got ‘sauced’ over camera [AP] (Thanks to Brian!)


Edit Your Comment

  1. zibby says:

    If really was Classico, I’d be extra pissed.

  2. Bokonon says:

    The couple should claim that since the store inspected the package at the exit and didn’t see fit to open the package, they asserted that the package contained the camera.

  3. Even if the switcharoo didn’t take place at the store, what if it took place in the factory, or in the shipping facility, etc.? I guess that stops being Best Buy’s problem? Man, if that happened to me there would be marinara sauce in the customer service manager’s underpants.

  4. Grrrrrrr, now with two buns made of bacon. says:

    That couldn’t possibly be true. It’s not like somebody at the factory or distributor (or even the store) could have swiped the camera and then have done something so incredibly technologically advanced like say….resealing a box. And I thought only the Russians and terrorists had cellophane technology.

    Didn’t we already see this recently when somebody ordered an iPod and received a bar of Irish Spring?

  5. Angiol says:

    dwane_dibbly: Yes, actually. I’m not sure how that was resolved, but I do remember reading about that story.

  6. tjrchicago says:

    Just a guess that they didn’t pay for it in cash…

    Can anyone say “Chargeback”?

  7. iankasley says:

    I had that happen to me once when I bought a CD burner from CompUSA. (normally I’d buy online but it was a time-critical situation) Got the box home, opened it and found two old SCSI hard drives and a couple of blocks of styrofoam inside. The package showed no obvious signs of tampering, but obviously someone somewhere along the line had pulled a switcheroo.

    I took it back the next day, marched to the customer service counter and acted irate and the manager swapped it for another one without giving me any hassle. (I made sure to open the box before I left the store) They employees didn’t say it but had these looks of “we’ve got another one of these…” when they saw the contents of the box, so I’m guessing it had happened before.

  8. Triteon says:

    At 9:19p CST, KTVI (St. Louis Fox affiliate) has now teased this story twice during House and all three times on the news bumpers– once in, twice out. It’s a one-hour newscast, stay tuned…

  9. bookcat says:

    This is like my favorite story ever. Pasta sauce is like the weirdest thing that weighs about the same as a camcorder. Also, it’s the only thing under the tag “pasta.”

  10. FLConsumer says:

    Did they make sure the guy at the door checked their receipt before leaving?

  11. LintMan says:

    I bought some software from a BJ’s Wholesale once, and when I got home discovered the disks were missing from the box (the manual remained, though).

    Upon further examination, I discovered that while the box top had the original seal intact, someone had carefully slit the *bottom* tape seal open, removed the disks, and then reclosed the box (no longer tape sealed, but that wasn’t noticeable without looking). I thought I was screwed, since I couldn’t prove I hadn’t received them, but they let me exchange it for a new unopened box without any problems.

  12. max andrews says:

    Best Buy is a tricky sonofabitch. Their return policy is such that you must pay a 15% restocking fee upon a return of a non-defective product. As such, you would automatically lose your right to a free refund for an unopened product that say, you bought as a present but needed to exchange it. Best Buy is telling the consumer that we should be more careful, but it’s up to them abd THEY alone need to take measures to prevent these switches from happening. Such as, um, LOOKING INSIDE THE FREAKING BOXES/

    Also, best buy does not typically use cellophane shrink-wrap to seal their products. Usually only clear circular stcikers which with a bit of care are easily reapplied. I bought a digital SLR at best buy, opened the package carefully, saving the sticker, used it for a week, decided I did not like it, cleaned it, repacked it as it was when I had bought it, replaced the sticker, and returned it to best buy without them even opening the box to check inside. All that careful repacking and 15% fee avoiding in vain! I of course actually returned the product as I had bought it, but it would not be a stretch to imagine other, less ethically inclined individuals swapping out the good for say, a few cans of classico.

  13. Yoni K says:

    I’ve bought a pair of boots from Gall’s, an online Public Safety Supply Store (owned by Aramark, who’s got their hands in a whole bunch of different places). Instead of boots, I got a box of Depends Undergarments. Calling Customer Service and pretending to be legitimately offended at the insinuations the company is making regarding my bowel habits was a great way to get 50% and overnight shipping on the replacement.

  14. aka Cat says:

    Max: Has BB recently made their return policy harsher? I thought it stated that they ‘could’ charge a 15% restock fee. And I’ve returned a number of things that I just didn’t like, for a full refund.

  15. AngusMcMurphy says:

    Wow. Does anybody else think that buying something, using it for a week, then repackaging it “as it was when I bought it” and returning it because one decides they don’t like it might be a very big reason why places like Best Buy charge a re-stocking fee in the first place?

  16. Triteon says:

    Angus– probably, but I can’t complain too much. I did the same thing with a Commodore Vic-20 in ’82 (and upgraded to a TRS-80 CoCo2!)

  17. funkright says:

    It’s just like bestbuy.. making the vendor fix the issue (re: Sony sending camera replacement). It was bestbuys fault for not following through when someone took the actual product out and replaced it with the sauce.. They never want to take responsibility for their customers, their customer experience, and support.

  18. max andrews says:

    Angus, I consider it more of an insult that best buy, as a large electronics retailer, does not have a fee-less return procedure ecaxtly for the reason that you won’t like everything you buy. If a camera is advertised to do something, and I buy it for $1000 and it doesn’t do it very well, I should be able to take it back to best buy and get a full refund and not have to pay $150 just for them to put a new sticker on and place it back on the shelf. Costso, for example, will take back anything you buy, opened or not, as long as it’s in like new condition or defective. The only reason I even bought the camera at best buy (which cost $150 more than the same carmera at costco) was because all four costcos within 30 miles were out of stock for the item.
    Upon buying the camera, I was presented with a lengthly pamphlet on the return policy and told numerous times that if I opened it I would be charged a 15% restocking fee upon returning it. I wanted to be careful so I opened everything carefully, and I was glad having done so because the camera did not work as advertised. But the fact that they have this policy makes people like me be shady and slip in under the radar. It also allows other people to slip under. If they just let you return their products without threat of a 15% fee, then they could easily inspect them and make sure the product was still in working order and functioning well.

  19. goaway147 says:

    That’s funny; I bought a digital SLR camera from Circuit City on Saturday and did the same thing! Given that Christmas was still a month away, and their return policy specifies 14 days for cameras, I thought I better open the box (carefully lifting the sticker, as you say) and check that everything was new and accounted for (and that the battery held a charge and the camera/flash/TV-out actually worked). Now it’s repacked and resealed as the brand new gift that it truly will be on December 25.
    @AngusMcMurphy: And I apologize for nothing!

  20. mechanismatic says:

    Having worked the returns desk at retail stores before, I’ve found the entire reason that the system falls apart is because the person working the returns desk doesn’t want to have to open every box just to see if the product is in proper condition. If the box looks unopened and the customer says they didn’t open it, then you feel like an idiot to open it up and inspect it. Plus, you’re not necessarily qualified to inspect the condition of the item. There are obvious things you could check for, like scratches or broken pieces, but if there’s a missing piece, how would you notice unless you pulled out the manual and checked off all the components with which the product is supposed to come packaged. And even then, if it’s missing something, how do you know the customer is at fault? It could have been missing the parts from the factory. That does happen a lot.

    And then of course there are the customers who get supremely offended if you suggest that you have to check the product to make sure it’s in it’s original condition. A lot of retail employees hate having to deal with pissy customers. The only thing worse is getting reprimanded by your manager when you accept back an item that’s been switched or over-used by the customer.

    So not every retail employee will check the box. And never believe a store that claims that every item on the shelf is new, never opened, and straight from the factory. They will repackage and reshelf almost anything. But the manager will still act like you’re stupid if you suggest the item wasn’t like that when you first purchased it. If you want to be paranoid and don’t mind spending a lot of time, ask to speak to a manager after you purchase the expensive item. Open it up in front of them after explaining that you’d like them to witness the condition it’s in when you first open it in case there is some question as to it’s condition if you need to return it.

  21. Henrythoreau says:

    And somewhere in America, someone is even more suprised when a $1600 camera tumbles out on to their bowl of pasta.


  22. econobiker says:

    Like my former spouse’s lilly-white “won’t jaywalk in a mall parking lot” cousin who purchased a cheap sewing machine at Wal-mart for some scrap booking activitie crap. When she opened the box she found a group of bricks inside the styrofoam packing. She was all amped-up about returning the thefted box for an exchange thinking the police would arrest her innocent self- she was too good looking to ever have gotten a speeding ticket. I told her to get it in there and get another one. Upon returning with a new sewing machine, she said the Wal-Mart return clerk said that type of stuff happened all the time. The cousin couldn’t understand how people could do that so I had to educate her about flea markets and ebay as possible fencing opportunities for hot sewing machines…