Best Buy: No Warranty? You Are Not A Valued Customer

A sleazy Best Buy salesman tried to scam Phil into buying a warranty. Phil was offered a “free warranty,” which may exist in Narnia, but not Best Buy. When Phil’s purchases were wrung up, he noticed the salesman scanning a warranty coupon with a gift card. Phil asked the salesman to scan only the gift card, not the warranty coupon.

He said that if I got $100 worth of merchandise, and warrantees, I’d get a gift card that I had to use on the warrantees. I asked how the computer could ring up the gift card if the warrantees hadn’t yet been purchased. That seems like an impossible paradox (and is.) I asked him to start over and just hand me the gift card instead of ringing up the warrantees. He said he couldn’t because I wasn’t a valued customer and could only become one by buying the warrantees.

This can only end well.


Phil complained to customer service, who, shockingly, defended their salesman, saying the computer would not accept the card without the warranty. They gave Phil a number to call Best Buy corporate. It connected Phil to a fax machine. Phil escalated to the store manager. The manager, a clever legal mind who knew that possession was 9/10ths of the law, respectfully conceded, saying, “fine, since you somehow got it you can use it.” Huzzah. The computer accepted the gift card without the warranty.

Phil’s email, below.

This all started with me being told “do you want a free warranty?” at best buy’s checkout. I, of course, said sure, and when I saw the guy process the checkout, I was suspicious. He rang up my items, scanned some sort of coupon, and then got a gift card. In a second purchase, he bought warrantees with that gift card. I asked him if I really needed the warrantees to get the gift card. He acted like a guilty moron, and said yes. He said that if I got 100$ worth of merchandise, and warrantees, I’d get a gift card that I had to use on the warrantees. I asked how the computer could ring up the gift card if the warrantees hadn’t yet been purchased. That seems like an impossible paradox (and is.) I asked him to start over and just hand me the gift card instead of ringing up the warrantees. He said he couldn’t because I wasn’t a valued customer and could only become one by buying the warrantees. To be a valued customer required me being in the system, and buying a warranty got me there. I asked if I could just buy 1 warranty (I had bought 3 Nintendo DS games for $30 each) and get in the system, then keep the remainder of the gift card. He said I had to buy all three.

As I left, I saw a coupon on the floor. It said: free $10 gift card if you spent $100 for the week of father’s day. The word warranty did not appear in the fine print (although plenty of stipulations did appear in that fine print, leading me to know that he was lying; they’d hardly leave a main term out of coupon, and besides, they have to honor coupons as printed).

Customer service backed him up claiming that the computer would not issue me the gift card unless I got the warranty next; a clear lie. The guy in customer service claimed he was the manager. Then he gave me a fake number that was supposedly best buy’s customer service hotline. It actually led to a fax tone.

I finally found the store manager and demanded that they honor the coupon. He said that the coupon was only given to valued customers. I said “Well I have it, ring it up.” He finally gave in and said “fine, since you somehow got it you can use it” (although they were laying all over the store). Another customer service person had no trouble ringing everything up without warrantees (so management had been lying about the computer not allowing this, although we knew that).

This leads me to believe that they were trying this scam with every customer. It was elaborate, and everyone in the store was in on it. The checkout guy sounded like he was reading from a script when he initiated the scam. Everyone knows that Best Buy makes most profits from warrantees and not products. If this was just a bad employee pulling a scam, the management would have fixed things immediately. I’ve kept the story simple, but each manager gave different elaborate lies about how best buy corporate either forgot to mention warranty on the coupon, or the “valued customer” bullshit, or something else. Clearly this was planned to bring up profits, and I cringe thinking about how much they made off this during that week that the coupon was around.

With this in mind, the intranet site does not surprise me. It’s the same kind of deal – trick consumers who don’t have time/expertise enough to fight to get the advertised deal. Show them the fake website and hope they give up and just buy it; tell them there are new random terms to a coupon and hope they buy warrantees.

The best buy was in Skokie, IL near old orchard mall.

Best Buy: Thousands of possibilities to get hosed. What will they think of next? — CAREY GREENBERG-BERGER
(Photo: Tengaport)