Returning Gifts At Best Buy Is A Big Pain In The Butt

Chris writes to tell us that Best Buy is basically being a huge pain the butt for no reason about exchanging a wedding gift for store credit. Chris writes:

Let me state clearly what they are having us do: I had to return the camera at the store, the cost of which will be refunded to my brother’s card. Then I have to call my brother and explain to him why I am exchanging his gift and ask him to please go back online and purchase a different camera for me. Talk about a pain for my brother who was just trying to get me a nice wedding gift!

I tried asking Best Buy to just give me store credit for the $300 so that I could go online and purchase the new camera without having to get my brother involved, they said no.

We read this letter twice and still can’t figure out why Best Buy wouldn’t just give them credit. We have to assume its because Best Buy likes the Consumerist and gets lonely if we don’t post any complaints from their customers.


I love the Consumerist! I’ve long followed all the shenanigans that Best Buy tries to pull, but up until now I have always been personally happy with their service and prices.

Until I got a wedding gift from my brother. My brother sent me and my fiancee the Nikon Coolpix digital camera. It’s a great camera, only problem is that you have to charge the battery. My fiancee and I are honeymooning in the Dominican Republic and plan to travel oversees at least once a year, so we want a camera that takes AA batteries so that we don’t have to deal with finding an adapter to charge the battery for our camera when it runs out of juice.

I pulled up the Best Buy website and looked around until I found a great camera that actually had better features than the one my brother sent me for $100 cheaper! Great I thought, I’ll exchange the camera and have $100 in Best Buy credit to get some blank cds, a memory card and other electronics type stuff.

The first thing that gave me pause was that the new camera I wanted was listed as only available online. I wanted to return the camera to a store and just pick up the new one lickety-split. I thought I’d hit a store and try my luck anyhow.

At the store I was told that I could not exchange the camera but that I could return it (without having to ship it back) and that the card on which the gift was purchased would be refunded. I explained to the person that the camera was a gift and that reimbursing the card would do no good as we wanted to exchange this camera for another camera. After much coaxing it seemed like they would be willing to help us, until they found out that the camera we wanted was only available online. I was told there was nothing that could be done.

Let me state clearly what they are having us do: I had to return the camera at the store, the cost of which will be refunded to my brother’s card. Then I have to call my brother and explain to him why I am exchanging his gift and ask him to please go back online and purchase a different camera for me. Talk about a pain for my brother who was just trying to get me a nice wedding gift!

I tried asking Best Buy to just give me store credit for the $300 so that I could go online and purchase the new camera without having to get my brother involved, they said no. I explained to them that by giving me the $300 store credit that the money would then stay within Best Buy (I’m not going to have my brother buy me a $200 camera and then ask him to go ahead and spend the extra $100 on something else for me at Best Buy) this didn’t phase them. I also told them that if they didn’t give us store credit that I could assure them that I would no longer be a Best Buy customer and that I had in fact seen the same camera that I was interested in purchasing available at both Circuit City and Amazon .com for $10 cheaper, but this fell on deaf ears.

I returned the camera, sent an email to my brother explaining things and asked him to purchase the other camera. The silver lining here is that my brother is saving $110 by purchasing the other camera through But talk about making your customers jump through hoops to give a gift! Shame on you Best Buy.


We read a lot of these complaints and “no store credit, only refund” is not a usual response that people get from retail outlets. According to Best Buy’s Online Return policy, they don’t accept exchanges. Only refunds, but apparently not in the form of store credit. Weird. Good to know, we guess.—MEGHANN MARCO

(Photo: garavondik)


Edit Your Comment

  1. KatieKate93 says:

    That’s a silly policy. Perhaps the cashiers have not been properly trained? Back in the dark ages (the 90s actually) when I worked retail at a housewares store, we always had the option to just pretend the customer didn’t have a receipt and issue store credit, with no penalty to the customer.

  2. elavender says:

    How ironic. I’m quoting the return policy listed on

    “We make it simple and convenient to return purchases. You can return items through the mail, or by visiting your local Best Buy store (so you avoid shipping charges and receive your refund more quickly).”

    At least I’m now aware that even though has a “Gift Ideas” section, the best gift idea would be to go somewhere else.

  3. B says:

    There’s only one reason I can think of this. They don’t want to have people returning stolen merchandise for store credit. It’s unclear if he had a gift receipt, which should prevent the returning of stolen stuff.

  4. enm4r says:

    If you push hard enough, or really just get the right person, they will give you store credit in the form of a gift card. I have done this a few times, usually when it involves a gift and/or reward zone points, because they are a huge hassle and their reward zone refunds never work out right. I always spend forevery trying to get them to correct it.

    Or, in the one instance I really could tell I wasn’t going to get the gift card I did the following. You could just buy another copy of the product you already have, and make sure to get a gift receipt. Then, immediately return the product you just bought. Wait a couple days, and try to return the other one with a gift receipt. They will probably notice that the product has already been returned, but I just played stupid. I said “all I know is that I got this as a gift, with that receipt, and it’s right here in front of me unopened.” I insisted I knew nothing about the other product, and that I didn’t mix up the gift receipts. They also ended up giving me a gift card for the full amount.

    Some of that takes a little work, but it’s worth it if you want to avoid the trouble of returning to someone and then getting them to rebuy a gift. Also, if they used reward zone points, it saves them some additional hassle of dealing with that.

  5. partyone says:

    I don’t shop Best Buy evermore, used to, but got burned once too many times. That saves me the trouble of not having to get in to these scenarios.

  6. dbeahn says:

    I’ve never had this problem with them. But then I’ve never tried to return something bought in the store to exchange it for something “online only”.

    I did exchange, without reciept, a 22″ LG LCD monitor for a 24″ Samsung LCD monitor. Both items are carried *in* the store tho. No questions, no problems – they just credited the price of the 22″ and I paid them the difference.

    Moral to the story: He only had to go through this cause he was being picky and not taking something that was in stock at the store.

  7. tedyc03 says:

    @B: The only way they could refund the card is to have a receipt. I doubt he carries his brother’s credit card number around in his head.

    My question would be whether or not the computer system would refuse to do anything but exchange or refund. Some companies have a policy that they refund in the form of payment used (on a credit card, a check several days later for a check purchase, or cash for a cash purchase). If the case is that the store’s computer systems wouldn’t let the cashier override for a store credit that’s one thing. But really, it’s still somewhat of a foolish policy…

  8. Skiffer says:

    Whoa…Why is this a problem? This has happened to me a number of times at different stores.

    The policy is a “prevent stolen goods” policy – only the person who bought the item can return/get credit for it. (Note a receipt for a cash purchase or a “gift receipt” counts as “proof of rightful ownership”)

  9. Amarain824 says:

    You also can’t buy something for someone else and have them pick it up at the store. When I tried to pick up a laptop my parents bought for me at school (I paid them back for it) they were like, umm no. They have to come and pick it up with the card they paid for it.

    I was like, the whole point of order online with in store pick up is to make life easy…they suck at it.

    I returned it and did the same exact thing with Circuit City (which is right next to Best Buy) and the BB store clerk watched me walk out with my laptop, no hassle.

    they are crap.

  10. B says:

    Too bad his brother didn’t just buy him something off the registry, or are we still assuming that registries are horrible affronts to common decency?

  11. quagmire0 says:

    I had a similar, and maybe worse experience. I bought a camcorder at the store. After doing some research, I found that the particular model had a certain motor noise issue in some of the units. Most people online said they’d returned it for a new one and had no problem. Within the 7 day limit they stated on the receipt (probably day 3 or 4), I went to a different Best Buy store (because I wanted to avoid getting another bad one) to return the item. I waited and argued for about an hour as they took the camera and went back and forth between employees – all while they put the camcorder up to their ear to hear the noise. Not only was the store noisy, preventing them from hearing the motor noise on the camera, but the issue was more with the playback on television than on the unit itself. Again, all I was trying to do was get an even swap. They finally broke down and said they’d replace it, but I’d have to pay the restocking fee. I finally caused enough of a scene for them to waive that fee. After all this fuss, they SEND ME over to the camcorder dept. to find a replacement. Come to find out they don’t have any in stock! So in all that time that I was up at customer service, they could have checked to see if they even had a replacement in stock. Bottom line is that I ended up having to ship the camera in to Canon and have them repair it under warranty. The only reason I had shopped at Best Buy was because I had received gift cards for Christmas. I’ll never willingly shop there.

  12. JustAGuy2 says:

    There’s a key piece of missing information here: did Chris have a gift receipt? If he did, I can’t imagine why he couldn’t return the camera for credit. If he didn’t, then he could get the camera somewhere else for less (or steal it), and then come in and trade it for store credit…

    Without a receipt, they might be able to look up who bought it in the system (if he knows the name, which he would, it’s his brother), and credit the purchase back to the card, since they’re sure that it’s actually a best buy-purchased camera).

  13. nequam says:

    I like this story because it worked out for Chris in the end . . . and Best Buy lost a purchase.

  14. BillyShears says:

    Does provide gift receipts if the purchaser thinks it might be necessary? Something like that could’ve avoided a little bit of hassle.

  15. Jerim says:

    If keeping this from your brother is such a big deal, perhaps you should just be grateful for the gift. If you want something better, get it yourself. It isn’t the gift, but the thought that counts. That camera he gave you represents his time and energy in finding something for you. Don’t throw your brother’s thoughtfulness in his face by getting rid of the camera. That just seems selfish.

  16. billybastion says:

    heres a tip: dont shop at best buy.

    buy from amazon people. although they may not be the greatest, best buy has been proven to be the fecal material of the devil. they are evil and their high school drop out/dont care about the customer only about pot workers arent any better.

  17. nosam says:

    I stopped shopping at BB years ago because of their return/exchange policy. I purchased the Collector’s Edition Pulp Fiction DVD. Put it on my shelf with the others without watching it. I’ve seen it several times, I know how it ends. A few months later I decide to watch it only to find a defect in the movie disc. The ink layer looked like someone had stuck their finger through it while it was still wet or something. I took it back, with my receipt even to simply exchange it. The guy at the desk first said, “you bought this 3 months ago and are just now watching it?” Yeah. So? I just want to exchange it for the same one. Not return it. “Well returns and exchanges have to be done within 7 days if you change your mind.” I didn’t change my mind. It is DEFECTIVE from the manufacture. “Well I can’t take it back or exchange it.” “Ok, fine.”

    So i went home, typed up a letter to BB HQ explaining the deal, enclosed the DVD with a note saying, “Maybe someone there can use it for a coaster or something since it does me no good.”

    Never got a response. Never spent another penny in BB.

  18. whiplashchick says:

    Since it was purchased online, a refund is the only option. When I worked there, the system is seperate and not connected to the regular POS system. It’s not that they don’t want to (maybe), it’s that the system won’t allow exchanges on purchased picked up in the store.

  19. Treved says:

    Similar thing happened to me. Bought this under the cabinet stereo so my wife and I could listen to music while we cook. Turns out we were stupid and didn’t make sure the thing would actually fit!

    Without even taking off the shrink wrap, we tried to take it back but they said we missed the return window (by like a day or two).

    I know, I know, I was trying to return it late. By why not step up and help me anyway? Instead what happened? I went over to Bed Bath and Beyond, where they take anything back that they sell. Turns out they had the same unit, I got store credit. I only shop for that kind of stuff at BBB now.

  20. effetecathexis says:

    I work at Wal-Mart and we have the same policy. It’s very simple: the camera was purchased on a credit card. Credit = Not Your Money. It’s the credit card company’s money. So no cash back, no store credit. All we can do is give a chargeback to your card. That’s the agreement we have with Visa, Mastercard, et al.

  21. Hawk07 says:



    I guess the brother could have gotten a gift card, but I’m somewhat against those as well. Gift Cards are the equivalent of saying, “I had to get you something, and I decided to just get you a gift card because I could not put any less thought into the decision.”

    Plus, not all cameras are built equally and just because it has more “features” doesn’t mean it’s a better camera. There are a lot of scams digital camera makers pull on consumers. Take megapixels for instance. Every picture I’ve seen from the Mars Pathfinder Rover is AMAZING and does laps around 5-7 megapixel cameras we find in the store, yet that thing has only a 1 megapixel processor.(remember the 3-D Nat. Geo. story?)

  22. acambras says:


    Please RTFP. Chris and his wife didn’t have a problem with the quality of the gift. They wanted a camera that could run on AA batteries so that they wouldn’t have to worry about recharging batteries while traveling.

    It doesn’t look like Chris was trying to hide this from his brother. He was appreciative of his brother’s nice gift, and he didn’t want to inconvenience his brother with, “Hey, Best Buy is going to credit your card — now will you please go online and get this other model?”

    It probably would have been helpful if Chris’ brother had gotten a gift receipt, but it looks to me like Best Buy’s rigidity cost them a $300 sale and perhaps lots of future business.

  23. whiplashchick says:

    It’s not a question of rigidity, it’s the fact that their click and mortar software sucks.

  24. Melov says:

    This is the same policy for most companies. You return a gift, the money goes back to the person who bought it, plain and simple.

  25. shopout says:

    As much as I despise Best Buy, they had a point. Credits have to be issued to the accounts on which the purchase was charged. When purchasing a gift, it is a good idea to state that at the time of the purchase, and then ask what the return policy is under such a circumstance.

    Many places require that the credit card that was used to make the purchase be presented when any credit or any other kind of exchange is given.

    Some places only require the original receipt.

    There are people who routinely work scams to profit off of buying and returning merchandise. One cannot blame the yahoos at Best Buy for what they did in this instance.

    On the other hand, if somebody gave a damn at Best Buy, there might have been a way to solve the problem less painfully.

    Gift giver, next time buy a gift certificate, but preferably not from Best Buy.

  26. shopout says:

    In the case of the purchase having been made by cash or check etc., the original receipt would normally be all that is needed to make an exchange. However, a certain amount of time is normally required to have elapsed in order to make sure that the mode of payment has cleared.

  27. bnissan97 says:

    Though not in the proper department but high enough at Best Buy to get you in touch with the correct people who can actually do something are, Brian Hay/Hoy 612-291-7339 and Tom Klassen 612-291-2327.

  28. Secularsage says:


    That’s exactly what I was going to say, except for the part about working at Wal-Mart. :-)

    And you know, folks, if you hate Best Buy so much, just don’t shop there. There’s no reason to make yourself unhappy when there are so many alternatives out there. Any time you’re dealing with a discount chain, you’ve got to expect a certain level of aggravation from time to time in exchange for saving a few bucks.

    If you want good service, you have to pay for it. That’s just how the world works. But in my experience, good service is usually worth a few extra bucks.

  29. Secularsage says:

    BTW, there are lots of scams out there involving buying stuff online with a stolen or phony credit card, returning it to a store during the credit period for store credit/cash, and then reporting the card as stolen so that the charges are dropped. Hence the seemingly asinine policy.

  30. nightshadowon says:

    Search and replace Best Buy with Target and you have the same problems my wife and I have had with our bridal registry.

  31. hop says:

    best buy sucketh

  32. bmwloco says:

    My wife’s CD changer died in her car. I went to Best Buy to buy another CD Changer, and found the last box with a DVD/MP3 changer on the cheap, then about $199.00 I pay with my bank check card, not Visa mind you, but cash that’s deducted directly from my checking account.

    The sales wonk assured me it would be an easy set up, no special tools necessary, no problem.

    I took it home and tried to hook it up. Dead. No juice to until, busted. I tested it with a volt meter, made sure I was getting power, etc. My every deduction read DOA gone.

    I go back to Best Buy with the package, very carefully packed up as I originally bought it. I have my receipt, too, stating that it was paid for by check card.

    Refund? Phht. No way. It took my throwing a fit for them to admit the situation was BS, but there was no way around it. It would be 2-3 weeks before I’d see a refund, by mail, from Best Buy.

    I got the check 18 days later.

    I’ve never walked into Best Buy again.

    I box it up and take it back

  33. agent2600 says:

    Post a comment!06″>Secularsage:

    The order system is separate from the rest of the store, and its like that for that very reason.

    I work at best buy and no one that works here tries to make life difficult for the customer, so stop blaming the store. If you have a problem with best buy corporate, then deal with them, but stop stop stop stop taking it out on the employees. Working at bestbuy is alot like a board game, we are giving rules and regulations, and we have to follow them.

    I have never just been like, hahahahha lets screw a customer over today….no…corporate sets policies for us to follow, and well…its our job to do it.

    I hate how customers blame the employees for when they can’t get things there way, do i go to your job and blame you for doing something your boss won’t let you do?

    try to see it from that perspective next time you want to yell and scream about how unfair we are to you, call 1888bestbuy and give corporate a earful, but not to the people that are just trying to do their jobs.

  34. Ben Clayton says:

    I don’t think I remember it being this bad at my Best Buy store after the holidays. I remember getting a pair of Shure headphones at the local Target where I worked, they were marked down to $44 even, while still asking a solid $199 at the Best Buy. I used them for a while, and took them to BB after Xmas for a $150 profit. They didnt ask me any questions, but it may have to do with the price of the object at hand.

    Just my $.02

  35. slowenuff says:

    Best Buys return policies change on a daily basis and vary buy store, time of day, and whoever may be working the customer service counter. My advice would be not to purchase anything from them you might have to exchange or return.

  36. Red_Eye says:

    Its sad to read something like this after an experience I had at a local electronics store this weekend Brandsmart USA. We were there and bought a few items, one of which was a DVD player. When we got home ( a 50 mile drive ) I unpacked the unit and hooked it up. We got the DVD players menu so I put in a DVD-R we had burned from video from our camcorder, no dice, said disc error and spit out the tray. I tried a copy of “Sneakers” dvd that had (miraculously?) never been played, same result. Lastly i tired a known working copy of Dinosaur from my kids room and it didnt work either. So packed it back up grabbed the receipt and back to the store we went.

    When we got to the store we went in the “Computer Service/Returns” entrance. A nice lady at the counter asked what was wrong with the unit and my wife said “I’m not satisfied” making a joke about their 30 day satisfaction guaranty. The woman said “OK, is there something wrong with the unit?” so we explained and as we were explaining she had already began the return process, handed us a receipt as soon as we had explained and told us we now had store credit ( we had decided to get a different unit after the bad taste in our mouth on this one ). The nice rep said we could either spend the store credit or if we didn’t find what we wanted we could take the receipt to any cashier and they would refund our payment in whatever manner we had paid. Total time from entry to walking into store with our return credit, less than 2 minutes. Its a great example of how to treat your customers.

  37. walalang says:

    i bought a NEW laptop from best buy and used it for a only 4 days and it started to freeze and i wasn’t able to shut it down unless i remove the battery. it freezed 3 times and its been with me for only 4 days. but when i return it to best buy, the so called ‘geek squad’ checked the unit, he turned the laptop on and off several times and said nothing is wrong with it. duh! if you just keep turning it on and off then probably you wouldn’t really found out what’s wrong with, he didn’t even checked the configurations or see if there were application lock ups.

    the geek squad guy didn’t even ran an application, well, if i’ll just turn on and off my laptop for the whole day then maybe it wouldn’t freeze… but i didn’t purchase my laptop just to turn it on and off… it is suppose to run applications and internet explorer without freezing.

    they didn’t allow me to exchange the laptop even if it is still covered by the 14day return policy.

  38. Jerim says:


    I did read the article. I understand what the problem is; that he doesn’t want a camera that he has to recharge. And he says that he doesn’t want his brother to be involved, which rules out putting the refund on the card. What I am saying is that if he wants something different and he doesn’t want to involve other people, then he needs to go out and get it himself. It seems like the poster is putting his material desires at the fore front.

  39. Xenuite says:

    OK, this is a lesson in reading. Read your receipt. The online receipt has several restrictions on it, as does the store receipt. If people actually read either one of these then they might find out they don’t have the right to return something.
    Oh, and letting a customer return an item is a privilege, there is no law or regulation that says you can’t be denied a return. This is true in any store in the world. Caveat Emptor. Let the buyer beware.

  40. ebbiebright says:

    store credits can’t be used to purchase things online. that’s why they didn’t return it to store credit when they realized that you wanted to buy something online because it wouldn’t do you any good.

  41. arcticJKL says:

    My wife returned clothing to Target and K-mart last week. I was shocked when they offered her the following options:
    a)gift card (ie store credit)
    b)charge back the card
    c) Cash.

    We took the cash.

    We did need to present the card used to purchase the product at target though because we didnt have a receipt for it.