Best Buy Sells You A Box Of Bathroom Tiles Instead Of Hard Drive, Won't Issue Refund

Sam says that he went to and bought a hard drive for in-store pick up. What he got was a box of bathroom tiles. Now Best Buy is saying he’d better take it up with manufacturer and that they’re not going to issue a refund and that Sam should just take his loss. We don’t think he should. We think it’s not legal to sell someone a box full of bathroom tiles instead of a hard drive.

Here’s Sam’s letter:

Hey Guys,

I got on my computer and bought a Western Digital 1TB hard drive from and arranged for a store pickup so I could speed up my normal Saturday errands. I got the confirmation sheet and headed to my local Best Buy to pick it up. Well it took them a good 15 minutes to get my stuff out (quick pick up my ass) and I got a 10 buck discount for my time.

So I got home, opened the box and found not a 1TB internal hard drive but 6 pieces of bathroom ceramic tile wrapped in last months New York Post. I got into my car, raced back to Best Buy and voiced my complaint. The employee and assistant manager were more than willing to help, saying that it happens. So they set up the return and I repurchased the drive and while I was checking the contents to ensure it was a hard drive this time, the store manager came up, took the box from me and said to take it up with the manufacturer.

Now to my surprise, I argued with the guy saying that they have already accepted the return and I have now purchased the new one. He said I was shit out of luck. I followed up with the manufacturer today and they said they would get the complaint to the Best Buy Purchasing department. Best Buy corporate said that they stand by their manager’s decision.

I’ve told American Express to stop payment and went to the local consumer affairs department and will be going to the better business bureau. I don’t know if I’ll be held responsible for payment yet or not or if that Best Buy will get investigated or what. I’m going to go back there tomorrow to argue with the guy some more and get his boss’s number. I hope to get the local news media involved seeing how it’s getting close to the holiday shopping season and they love to get horror stories like this out on the air.

Western Digital informed me that the drive was manufactured in Malaysia on 9/4/07 and the newspaper that was in the box was from 9/16/07. The Best Buy is in Yonkers, NY. I might end up $300 bucks down the hole. Do you guys have any tips on how to better deal with the situation?

Sam, we think you did the exact right thing by stopping payment. Best Buy is in the wrong. It’s not legal for a store, no matter how huge and multinational, to go around selling boxes of bathroom tile as hard drives. Yes, Best Buy was hit with a scam, but that doesn’t mean they should get to pass the loss along to you.

A chargeback is appropriate. We’d also recommend filing a complaint with Andrew Cuomo, the AG of NY. Filing a false complaint with the AG’s office is actually illegal (Class A Misdemeanor), so maybe they’ll “take it seriously.”

You could also try filing a police report. This will be useful down the line (if you need to go to small claims court) because it provides additional official documentation of your claim, and hey, they might even help you.

The moral of Sam’s story is this: If Best Buy sells you an empty hard drive box, they’re going to think you’re a liar if you do this honest thing and bring it back to complain. (Rather than trying to return it without telling them there was bathroom tile in the box and risk getting busted for someone else’s scam.) Check your boxes before you leave the store.


UPDATE: Sam writes:

Hey Meg,

Thanks for posting the story. I’m amazed at the response it has gotten so far. I will definitely take up the advice offered.

Here is a quick update:

Western Digital said it was Best Buy’s issue (surprise surprise).

I’ve been told to contact Lewis the store General Manager who is the only person to overturn the other store manager’s decision. I was told to find him at the store this past Saturday. I was assured by Ed, the assistant manager on Friday evening that he would be there all day on Saturday. I get up at 10 and drive all the way back to Best Buy to speak with him and first I was told he was doing orientation for the new Best Buy employees. Then the acting store manager Joe told me that it was his day off and he would be back there Wednesday. I have a feeling the other employees have been warned about me and my case. I’ll start getting a police report together and start prepping something for Mr. Cuomo to look at.

Thanks Again,

UPDATE: Amex Slaps Best Buy, Obtains Refund For Reader’s Box Of Tile Hard Drive