Best Buy Either Voided Your XBOX Warranty Or Sold You A Used Unit

UPDATE: Dan gets sweet sweet resolution.

Dan’s XBox stopped playing DVDs consistently so he decided to take his unit back to Best Buy. After opening the box to test the unit, Dan says the Customer Service rep took the XBOX out of his sight, then came back and told him it had been tampered with and Best Buy would not accept the return. Sound familiar? We’ve heard this story before.

To add insult to monetary damage, the Geek Squad guy suggested to Dan that “maybe his friends” opened his XBOX. Dan writes:

The Geek Squad worker then proceeded to tell me that my friends may have opened it up. I’m married with 3 kids under the age of 4. I don’t have friends coming over PLAYING my XBox, much less opening it up. They told me that they simply wouldn’t take it back, and that it was Microsoft’s problem to deal with. A quick call to Microsoft told me that the warranty had been activated in November, which would indicate to them that this system was on their shelf for a suspiciously long time. However, Microsoft would not help me.

After speaking with the Best Buy manager (who told him that it would be “no big deal” for Best Buy to take the system back, except that they simply wouldn’t) Dan is stuck with a broken XBOX that neither Microsoft or Best Buy will touch. Dan says:

To sum it up, either Best Buy sold me a used XBox, or they tampered with it when I tried to return it. It’s breaking down, and I can’t have Microsoft repair it because the seal has been tampered with. I can’t return it to Best Buy. I’m out $300 and all anyone can tell me is that I’m out of luck.

We think Dan should kick this one up to corporate. Something’s rotten at the Ames, IA Best Buy.

Read Dan’s full email inside.

Today I have experienced firsthand some shady goings on at Best Buy. March 30, I purchased an Xbox 360 core system from Best Buy. It had been occasionally rejecting discs, so I tried to take it back today to return it. The customer service agent took everything out of the box, and actually hooked it up and started up “Fight Night.” Then the fun began.

Before I could really realize what was happening, she took the XBox around a counter to where I wasn’t able to see it. A few minutes later, she came back with a dead serious look on her face. “This system has been tampered with. We can’t take it back.” I had no idea what she was talking about. Their Geek Squad inspection worker came to show me where the tamper sticker looked bad. I told them that I had no idea how it got like that.

The Geek Squad worker then proceeded to tell me that my friends may have opened it up. I’m married with 3 kids under the age of 4. I don’t have friends coming over PLAYING my XBox, much less opening it up. They told me that they simply wouldn’t take it back, and that it was Microsoft’s problem to deal with. A quick call to Microsoft told me that the warranty had been activated in November, which would indicate to them that this system was on their shelf for a suspiciously long time. However, Microsoft would not help me.

I then spoke to a manager at Best Buy. I made it clear to him that either the Geek Squad worker had tampered with this unit himself, or they sold me a used unit as new. He then explained that there was NO POSSIBLE WAY to remove the little clear sticker on the outside of the XBox case without it being very obvious to them that that had happened. He will do nothing for me. He was kind enough to tell me that it would be no big deal for Best Buy to take the XBox back, give me my money back, and send the XBox back to Microsoft for trashing. However, he said, he just wasn’t going to do that.

To sum it up, either Best Buy sold me a used XBox, or they tampered with it when I tried to return it. It’s breaking down, and I can’t have Microsoft repair it because the seal has been tampered with. I can’t return it to Best Buy. I’m out $300 and all anyone can tell me is that I’m out of luck.

This all happened at the Ames, IA Best Buy. I have names of both the Geek Squad worker, and the manager who I spoke to if anyone is interested.

Thanks for listening.



PREVIOUSLY: No Exchange: Best Buy Manager Tries To Void XBOX Warranty


Edit Your Comment

  1. RST1123 says:


  2. Tush says:

    I’ve had terrible service at that Best Buy as well. It downright sucks. They kept giving me back me 3g iPod, saying nothing was wrong with it, but it would crap out every couple weeks. Finally after having a non-working iPod for months and hours of arguing with them they replaced it.

    Note to everyone: The Ames, Iowa Best Buy is crap.

  3. BillyShears says:

    Retail workers are – generally speaking – very angry and will not go out of their way to help you. (And that’s when they’re in a good mood.) This is a pretty slimy case, but I need to ask:

    Isn’t there a warning/notification in the manual that says “DO NOT RETURN TO STORE IF THIS THING BREAKS!” Or something to that effect?

  4. BostonDirtdog says:

    I have your solution… make 1 phone call to your local investigative news team. Around Boston, we have a bulldog of a reporter named Hank Phillippe Ryans. I’m sure you have your own version of her somewhere on your tv networks. I’m willing to bet that Bestbuy will want to keep this one quiet by making you happy real fast once news cameras are knocking at their doors.

  5. Coder4Life says:

    Ames, IA? i worked there as a rep for sometime.

    I woudl recommened he go to the Des Moines best buy and I am sure he’ll have better luck.

    That Ames Best Buy is horrible, it is filled with people who think Best Buy is heaven, and that they will all soon start making more than $8/hour because they have dedicated their life to work rather than school.

    Also their GM’s rule is: If the customer argues for a long period of time, then they really have showed their frustration and he’ll take it back.

    I’ve seen him do this for valid computer returns. A manager would come back and say someone is really angry, and he’ll go up there. He’ll stay there and try to piss off the customer for some period of time and then just return the product or take care of the problem.

    He figures 8 of the 10 times the customer will leave, since they have reached the highest point of management in the store.

    GOOD LUCK.. (Hint… Just goto the dsm best buy and you’ll be taken care of better than Ames).. Darn College Kids..

  6. evanking says:

    This happens more often then you would like to think. I had returned an original xbox to a Gamestop for this same reason, wouldnt play disks. They came back from their back room saying that they wouldnt take it back due to ‘tampering’, however when I got back to my house, the serial number on my xbox did not match the box it came in. Needless to say, that was the last time I went to a GameStop.

  7. AlteredBeast (blaming the OP one article at a time.) says:

    So, the best way to return an Xbox is as follows: Point out to the rep helping out that the sticker is untamperd. Bring a digital camera, take a picture of your console, w/ serial number, preferably with that rep in the shot.

  8. mmcnary says:

    Oh, I don’t know. I would have gone back to Gamestop at least once more, probably with a sheriff’s deputy…

  9. visualbowler says:

    I’ve had a problem with best buy once before. I purchased an open box item and some of the parts were missing but they would only give me universal parts which didnt work with the TV anyway. I used the geek squad executive email chain to see how that one worked. I got a form letter response the next day and figured ehh what are they going to do. The day after I got an email from a Senior Executive Resolution Specialist at Best Buy notifying me that she had placed a replacement part order and the part would be shipped to the store where either I could pick it up at the store or have it shipped to my house free of charge. I got the parts I needed and didn’t have to pay anything for it. The way things should have been dealt with in the first place, go figure. Everyone should contact the upper deck customer relations right from the start if they have a problem. It saves everyone a BIG headache. Now when customer relations doesnt need a senior executive resolution specialist to solve a simple relatively inexpensive problem, and will work hard to maintain a customer…that will be the day!

  10. Techguy1138 says:

    Why would stores do this? It’s known that the xbox has a variety of issues. Does MS make it difficult to return faulty units?

    Is there a cash incentive for reselling a returned unit as new? They keep the resticking fee?

    There has to be profit in it somewhere for stores to do this. I just don’t understand it.

  11. orielbean says:

    If you never get any help at all again from those fools, you can at least replace the drive. That way if the scumbags win, you can at least get it functioning again…

  12. dbeahn says:

    My experience with Best Buy is that in-store their managers and employees will try to bully, trick or strong arm you shamelessly. I’ve learned that the best course of action it to pull out my cell phone and dial Best Buy corp. customer service. Not only will this tie up an assistant manager (they always stand there and watch me) for the hour or so it takes to get my problem solved.

  13. pestie says:

    The moral of this story: don’t buy craptastic consumer electronic devices any more. Problem solved.

  14. Ryan Duff says:


    There has to be profit in it somewhere for the stores to do this.

    Yeah… they put you in a situation that causes you to be stuck with a broken unit therefore forcing you to have to shell out $300 for a new one.

  15. lincolnparadox says:


    The Ames Best Buy is a third tier store. They carry a limited inventory and have a limited installation and repairs department. They’re also used to dealing with college kids (Go Cyclones!). This means that they’re paid to make profit, not keep customers. It also means, they’re low on the totem pole, so they can be bullied into submission.

    So, what I would do is get documentation for the November warranty activation from Microsoft. Ask them to fax it or email it. Then, take that back to Best Buy with your March receipt. Write down the full name of each employee you speak with. Explain to them how this documentation suggests that they have sold you previously returned merchandise. Not only is this problematic because of the lost warranty time, but also because the previously returned device is now defective. Explain to them that you did not open or modify the device, and it hasn’t worked properly since purchase. Demand an exchange (not a refund) or explain to them how you’re more than willing to pursue this matter in small claims court.

    If they agree to the exchange, ask them to open the box and inspect the 360 for you, make sure it doesn’t have the same problem as your returned system. While they’re doing this, you should call Microsoft to inquire if the warranty on the new item has been activated on your cell. If it hasn’t, enjoy your new Xbox. If it has, demand a refund immediately. If they refuse, let them know that your next stop is the Ames PD to report them for fraud.

    Then I’d head over to at 515 Clark Ave and file charges with the APD. My next stop would be the office of the Ames Clerk of District Court, same building, to file a small claims suit. Make sure you add court fees to the cost of your Xbox.

    I’m guessing they’ll fold when you show them the Microsoft documentation.

  16. Coder4Life says:

    @Ryan Duff

    Actually they make myabe 2% profit on that console…

    Normally retail stores profit off the games & controllers and stuff.

  17. Coder4Life says:

    It does not matter if you console is under a 1 year warranty.

    best buy has specific return policy. Such as 14 days or 30 days or wahtever it is these days.

    This is what I hate about consumers, they think “oh my god this has a 4 year warranty”. 3.5 years later, this broke.

    Sorry GOTO THE MANUFACTURE.. and then they get all pissy and threaten to sue.

    If places like Best buy actually processed those warraties get ready to start paying another 20 – 25% more for each product…

  18. Franklin Comes Alive! says:


    He specifically says he bought the xbox on March 30. Since it’s not even the end of April now, we can assume he’s in a 30-day return window that Best Buy has. Exchanging at a store is always faster than dealing with warranty service, even if it is smooth. So he did exactly what I (and probably most of us) would have done in this situation.

  19. mac-phisto says:

    second lincolnparadox. i would also contact your attorney general. there are laws dealing with selling “remanufactured” or “repackaged” merchandise (i always call them crazy eddie’s laws, so i don’t know the real name of them) that provide stiff fines for companies that deceivingly package used products as new. the warranty activation is your ace in the hole to prove this.

  20. SOhp101 says:

    All I have to say is thank god for credit card purchase guarantees/dispute services.

    Also, before turning in an electronics product, make sure you take pictures of the warranty sticker.

  21. kingoman says:

    Ryan Duff says:

    Yeah… they put you in a situation that causes you to be stuck with a broken unit therefore forcing you to have to shell out $300 for a new one.

    Well, here’s why companies treat consumers like crap, right here! Really, you would just buy another one? Not only would I never buy another one, I’d never buy another anything from that Best Buy. If everyone walked away when treated like this, it would stop, but no, we just keep coming back and saying “thank you sir, may I have another.”

  22. Trick says:

    Since I run a large corporate help desk, I am asked often about “computer sales” at Best Buy. It is always my pleasure to steer these people elsewhere.


    Just not Best Buy.

    I would say by now Best Buy has lost at least $20,000 in computer sales. Nothing for such a large company but at least I know I am costing them business.

    Best Buy sucks.

  23. ironchef says:

    one might fight fraud with fraud.

    I’m not saying to
    forge a new warranty sticker and overlay over the old one. or try to buy a new one and swap it out back to best buy.

    nope. Not saying that at all.

  24. crnk says:

    Didn’t someone make a story on here recently by suing a cell phone carrier and having the paperwork served to a mall kiosk? I’d say that small claims court could have a real blast with this because you can bet BBY won’t show up for you.

  25. bloodr says:

    This guy needs to contact the BBB of Better Business Bureau of Minnesota & North Dakota which handles all Best Buy complaints and contact that guy from GS. It’s obvious he was sold a used product and the “pre-activated” warranty proves this. Going to court should always be your last resort.

  26. goyzilla says:

    Behold, the power of the Internet to find a way to hold businesses accountable for their transgressions. I don’t know how I could purchase anything from Best Buy with a clear conscience after seeing these types of practices exposed for all to see. I hope this person is able to get his problem resolved.
    As an IT pro, I have already discouraged at least $10,000 in new computer sales at Best Buy from friends and co-workers.

  27. Pressmoon says:

    Best Buy? Never buy anything from them. It must be a corporate practice to sell returned equipment as new when they can get away with it.

    Over 5 years ago I purchased my first pc from a Best Buy in Austin, Texas. The box that the HP desktop was in was sealed with HP packing tape and looked new. But when opening it at home, I immediately saw that included software cds in a separate box had a broken seal. I should have known that something was up then but in my excitement I blew it off. Until I went to register the purchase on HP’s website. It turned out that it’d already been registered to someone else previously! It had obviously been returned by him, resealed and resold at full price to me as brand new.

    I talked to the store manager and got complete denial that it was a used system. His comment was “that’s not possible.” I wrote to corporate headquarters for Best Buy and got a standard “thank you for writing letter but we do not feel that your claim is valid” response. I even had an attorney friend write to their CEO and got a similar response. As it wasn’t worth actually filing a law suit over at the time, I soaked up my pride and kept the pc.

    It’s plain corruption/greed in my opinion and I haven’t bought from them since. Apparently the practice continues to this day!

  28. shdwsclan says:

    Yeah, this is fraud.

    But, not all retail workers are scum.
    Its really just best buy and some other outlets.

    I used to work for office depot year ago, and they basically had, treat customers how you should be treated, and you were ranked too by mystery shoppers[yes they do exist]

    Were were generally really good.
    We only charged restocking fee on customers we KNEW were gonna return the hardware and we wrote it on their reciepts.

    Returns were usually not a problem. Our policy was only 2 weeks on the return[shorter than BB] but we were cool about it if the package wasnt opened or if it was an exchange.

    And OD also maintains that there is a greeter at all most day hours to direct you to departments and answer any questions right when you come in. This was called the Xpert or Xperson, probably is still called that.

  29. Namrepus says:

    Sell it on eBay for parts or look arround for a how to guide on repairing it yourself.

  30. moorie679 says:

    Sue the bastards, if the warranty has been activated months before you purchased it. Shop at new egg, they have excellent customer service from what I have experienced.

  31. Zuhaib says:

    Something does not sound right about all of this.
    First, the warranty is not activated unless you register the system, so that would mean the system was resisted by someone else (which MS would tell you that). And even so, its April not Nov. which means the system is still under its one year warranty by MS. So why would this not be a MS problem? I dont get why people are taking broken Xbox 360 to stores when its a Microsoft problem (unless its within its return time).
    If this is a real issue (something i very doubt) its a MS issue, too many holes in the story. This smells a lot like a dead fish.

  32. tadrow says:

    Zuhaib, I was the one who wrote the original story. I took it back to Best Buy since it had been less than 30 days since I bought it, that’s why I didn’t have MS deal with it.

    As far as the warranty, the warranty (according to the MS rep) can be “activated” when the unit is sold at POS, or if it has been some time since the unit has shipped to the store, it will be activated. It’s just so MS can track when the 1 year starts. Obviously that’s not proof in itself of anything, but it does show that this unit would have been at Best Buy for many months (and over Christmas) apparently without being sold.

    The warranty does me no good anyway, since I can’t use it since the unit I bought had the seal broken. I was sold a used XBox as new. I prefer to think that they did not tamper with it, and that they just put a returned unit back on the shelf, which I was unfortunate enough to purchase. It does seem strange that they intentionally took it out of my sight for a while, and then came back and told me that the seal was broken.

  33. hop says:

    again, as always…..BEST BUY SUCKETH…………

  34. a10thunder says:

    Buying technology is such a gamble these days. After hearing all these horror stories, I’m beginning to think that Costco is the only safe place to buy electronics.

  35. G-Dog says:

    Isn’t next gen gaming great?

  36. brattpowered says:

    Tip: If writing corporate, include paragraph breaks.

  37. mac-phisto says:

    @Zuhaib: xbox will not touch anything with that sticker removed/damaged or in the case of my friend, “applied upside-down”. as if you can remove the sticker w/o showing signs of tampering, but are stupid enough to reapply it upside-down.

    he can pay like $80-100 for them to “fix” it out of warranty, but he shouldn’t have to.

  38. rthefley says:

    I can tell you exactly what happened without almost 100% certainty.

    For years and still, to this day, I have friends, and NO, friends do not mean “me” … I really do have friends that do this, going back years and still, to this day.

    In our group of friends, this is simply known as the “Best Buy Swap.”

    Mod chip installs and or heavy wear and tear take a huge toll on Video consoles, mostly, it’s teens, all night gaming sessons, heavy use, being hard on consoles that cause they not to work.

    In the case of my friends, it was bad mod chip installs.

    The tools are cheap easy to get off the internet. If don’t believe me, go google “xbox 360 case tool.”

    One of two things happened to your Xbox 360. 1, someone bought it to return their bad Xbox 360. It’s very easy to open a box up, remove a console if you are careful enough and do the swap. Sometimes, the guts of a console are removed and the bad ones replaced into the new console.

    Trust me, this happens daily.

    If you want to get this fixed, here is what I would do. First, get your sales ticket handy. Then, get the store number of the Best Buy you bought the Xbox 360 from and then the names of the sales manager and, or store manager.

    Then, call information, and get the number of the State Attorney generals office. Don’t worry, they have a consumers dept. After you get a live person, which will be a rep. You tell them your problem. After a bit of a talk, they will offer to mail you a consumer complaint or direct you to download the form from the web. Also, be sure to get his / her name and the name of their superior as well.

    You then take this information and call Best Buy Corp. Now, for the important part. You need to use the right words at this point. Those words are, “I would like to report possible fraud within Best Buy.” Once you have their ears, and you will, you then go on to explain your story, problems with getting a new Xbox 360, and your “suspicions,” another good word to use. You then bring up the conversation you had with the Consumer Dept with the Attorney Generals Office and then the complaint you are going to file against Best Buy, and the Store / Sales manager.

    At this point, you also ask them to track the sale of the item via the serial number and ask if this Xbox 360 you purchased had been returned.

    This is VERY simple for them to do and should give you what you need to get your Xbox 360 replaced.

    The truth is, those kids at Best Buy, the girls smacking their gum and playing with their hair DO NOT always check return items all that carefully. Anyone can yell you a story about how they returned a DVD Player, a Harddrive, a Camcorder, etc etc, and the box was never inspected.

    Good luck.

    P.S. What I told you to do came from exp. The same thing happened to me. And, guess what, Best Buy corp called the Store Manager and the store manager called me and told me they would be more than happy to replace my Xbox 360.

  39. DefiantDragon says:

    Yeah, there’s a precedent for this kind of action – check out an earlier post on this blog.

    Man those guys are dispicable. I wonder if it was even the same guy??

    Can anyone prove that Best Buy has some sort of internal policy on this kind of action? I mean, cause – really – it’s a hell of alot easier to void someone’s warranty than it is to have to shell out for a new XBOX.

    Something smells fishy here and I don’t like it one bit!


  40. Denithor says:

    I haven’t bought a damn thing from “best buy” since that who internal website thing came out. I say just go to target or wal-mart. I wouldn’t even go to best buy if I was told that they had 10,000 wii’s and I would be guaranteed one.

  41. Mary says:

    While in this case, the employees and managers are suspect, I wouldn’t say all retail workers are angry people who don’t want you to get anything you want and are never helpful.

    I work over 40 hours a week in a retail establishment. I am angry, bitter, and quite jaded. I take all that frustration out on my managers and my corporate masters, not the customers.

    The customers are the reason I have a job, and they didn’t do anything to me. I make sure to treat them kindly, and to make exceptions when I’m allowed. If somebody is clearly buying products, using them, and returning them (this happens often in my particular line of retail) then we’ll be more harsh on them. But I usually assume the best of people.

    Retail workers in my experience have no real reason to tick off the customers, and every reason to ignore their managers wishes.

    In this case however, the entire store seems corrupt. Which is a sad truth sometimes. Everyone’s suggetions seem good though.

    I personally don’t shop at Best Buy anymore after a huge mess involving a very limited edition product and them cancelling my order so they’d have more to sell in the stores on the release day.

  42. BrentNewland says:

    My store almost never charges restocking fees. And we’re too understaffed to have an Xpert person – but we work as hard as possible to get to every customer (I come in at 8am and usually take my first 15min break at noon, then a combo 30min lunch/15min break at 2pm, then gone at 4:30pm – unfortunately, it gets busy around 10am to 11:30am, so I don’t get a chance to take a break when I should).

  43. dpickard says:

    I have been searching for similar stories like this to confirm what happened to me. I had purchased an XBOX 360 from Best Buy and ended up with a red ring of death. I took it back after I had it for 60 days or so and the clerk happily exchanged it and did not even use the extended warranty I had purcahsed because it was still under the original warranty. I went to the back of the store and grabbed a new box sealed and everything.
    After about a month of having that machine I noticed some strange issues, for example xbox live was not listing everything that should have been available and games where not always being saved, also the flap on the faceplat lost its spring because it was staying open all the time. So I took the faceplate off and noticed the sticker was broken. I called the Best Buy I purchased it from and asked them how I could have bought a brand new XBOX 360 from them with a broken seal. The person I talked to asked me to bring it in so they could look at it.
    When I goto the store the clerk remembered me from the call and called the manager. The manager never came after she called 3 times and 10 minutes had passed. She took the XBOX to one of the Geek Squad guys who immediatly said they could not take it because the seal was broken. (Why have me come in then.) So I was leaving very frustrated and decided to request a manager at the front door.
    I was lucky and not lucky at the same time. The manager aggreed to exchange the XBOX but it would use my extended warranty. I do not beleive I should of had to buy a new warranty and have doubts about paying full price for obviously restocked products. I have drastically reduced my shopping at Best Buy since then. I only go there now if I am unable to get a product elsewhere in town.