Reader Nick writes in with a bit of social engineering.
Here’s a fun tip for fellow Consumerists who would like to return gifts to Best Buy, but would prefer cash over a gift card (the only refund possible with only a gift receipt)
* Before you do anything else, ensure that the person that bought you the gift paid with cash, debit card, or a check. The amount has to be under something like 150 dollars, otherwise Best Buy corporate will issue a refund check. If they paid with a credit card, you’re out of luck, the money will go back on the card.
* Look on your gift receipt and find the “four-part key” – it’s just under the “Val #” and just above the text “GIFT RECEIPT”, and follows this format: “#### ### #### ##/##/##” The first section is the store number, the second is the register number, the third is the transaction number, and the fourth is the date. Write this number on a piece of scrap paper.
* Bring your item and the scrap paper into Best Buy. Head up to the service counter, and tell the Rep that a friend/relative/whoever bought you the item and gave you the receipt, but you left it at home. Here, you can either actually place a call home or just tell the rep that you know that they would need the “four-part key” and have it written down. Either way, this takes just a tad of social engineering, but you somehow need to convince them that you knew they’d need the “four-part key”.
* Give them the scrap paper and the product, and tell them you’d like to return or exchange it, and keep the difference *as cash*. If the person bought the item with the methods listed above, there should be no problem and they will gladly hand over the cash!
* Enjoy your cash, and not being locked in to spending your gift money in just one store!
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
Thanks, Nick! We’re sure someone out there could use this bit of advice.