Best Buy Refuses To Sell You An XM Radio Without Your Phone Number

Reader Travis would like to purchase an XM radio from Best Buy. Sadly for him, Best Buy refused to sell him the radio without first learning his phone number. Travis does not want to share his phone number with Best Buy, therefore Travis has no radio.

I recently had a situation with a Best Buy in Spokane Valley, WA. I was looking to purchase an XM satellite radio. I looked it all over and decided on which one I wanted. I picked up the box and took it to the front.

You don’t need to purchase a subscription, apparently you just call once you make the purchase and talk to XM and they set up your service. While trying to make the purchase, the cashier asked for my telephone number. I politely refused to give my telephone number.

She immediately developed an attitude (like so many you describe at Best Buy in your stories). She told me that she could not sell me the radio without my home phone number. I asked her where on the sign with the price tag that it said $149 + Phone Number. She said it doesn’t say that, but she could not sell it to me without my phone number. I then asked her if there was a manager who could come talk to me. The manager came over and had a brief conversation with the cashier and then refused to sell me the radio without my home phone number. Both developed the same nasty attitudes that are described so often by people with stories about Best Buy.

I politely left and walked across the street to Circuit City, but they didn’t sell the model I was interested in. Now I am torn…I will never give my phone number, but there is no where left locally to buy what I am looking for.

Does privacy not mean anything anymore? I guess what struck me as odd is that I just sensed the same attitude from the Best Buy cashiers that everyone else describes. I mean, they have a god complex or something. It is just strange. Does Best Buy teach it’s employees to be that way? It must or it wouldn’t be such a wide spread attitude.

Any ideas?


Does anyone actually know why Best Buy needs your phone number in order to sell you an XM radio? We’ve never bought one, so maybe we’re missing some key piece of information that will M. Night Shyamalan this whole situation for us. Anyone?



Edit Your Comment

  1. MikeB says:

    Give a fake phone number.

  2. chili_dog says:

    Want to to know why they need your number? Here’s the answer:

    Training sales personnel to get good customer data is so important. As I started to complete the form the clerk told me “As long as you put down your phone number you don’t need to fill out the rest, we can look it up.”

    Well, she is only partially correct. We provide a terrific service to our clients with great match rates for reverse look up of phone numbers, email addresses and more, but if you are only getting a cell phone number, which is what I did, you are probably missing an opportunity to grow your customer database and to communicate in the future with your customer. Cell phone numbers do not reverse append.


  3. consumed says:

    Why the hell couldn’t he just give (509) 876-5309 and be done with it. Or buy the radio on eBay for half the price and then activate it later under another fictitious number. What a non-issue.

  4. dorianh49 says:

    What’s a siltation?

  5. iheartconsumerist says:

    Whenever a company asks for my phone number I just tell them 555-555-1234. Its a lot easier then trying to explain why its really in no ones best interest to give their telephone number out to random businesses.

  6. ClayS says:

    Why would reader Travis or anyone else that reads The Consumerist still shop at Best Buy?

  7. Jon Mason says:

    gotta agree with the “make up a phone number” suggestion. I normally just give em mine and change the last digit. I know you shouldn’t have to, but like showing your receipt at the door – sometimes just going with the flow and not getting stressed about it is the way to go for an easier life.

  8. ClayS says:


    It’s probably an accumulation of silt at the mouth of a river.

  9. AstroPig7 says:

    At some stores, I’m just asked for my ZIP code, or rarely my area code. I give my brother’s phone number if a store thinks that it needs that much information on me.

  10. diamondmaster1 says:

    Real simple:

    Best Buy probably has their software set up so that without a phone number, the Point-Of-Sale system can advance no farther. I once worked at a now closed National retailer that had a similar system in place; there was no way to gimmick it or go around that phone number screen without information.

    The obvious answer is to give a phony telephone number each and every time asked for it. I use a variation on my actual number, just switching around the last four digits to anything that I think of at the moment.

  11. mexifelio says:

    @dorianh49: “A sedimentary material consisting of very fine particles intermediate in size between sand and clay.”

  12. jamesdenver says:


    I do this too. It’s a jumbled variation I’ve been using for years and I almost give it as the real number sometimes.

    But somewhere I wonder if someone actually has that number.

  13. Silversmok3 says:

    I don’t specifically know about XM, but Sirius requires a phone number in order for my job to sell any Sirius equipment. My understanding is this is in case of either:

    Customer return.

    Technical Problem

    Other Unforseen Problem.

    Again,I don’t specifically know about XM,but the phone number is used by Sirius,and Sirius alone. We don’t have anything to do with the customers phone number besides putting it into the computer.

    While there is nothing wrong with privacy,if the OP is that concerned that someone is going to maliciously use her phone number,use another number.Like a pizza places, for example.

    Besides, with service activations that bill you monthly,it might be a good idea to give the company that is taking your money a way to contact you directly.

  14. Ayo says:

    Do some research, find out what THAT best buy store’s phone number is. Give them that number.

  15. jwissick says:

    Tell them 1-800-eat-shit.

  16. Jean Naimard says:

    I give my phone number, the one I had 35 years ago…

  17. Leiterfluid says:

    Because not all experiences are the same. I typically get good service at both the locations I regularly go to, but it might be because I manage my expectations.

    I don’t buy big ticket items without doing the research myself. I go in expecting to pay full price, and working my way down from there.

    I use their own policies against them. Even if it means standing in line to get $1.10 off a DVD.

    If I were in the same situation as the submitter, I would have done exactly what the first poster suggested, and give them a fake phone number.

  18. frankadelic says:

    Travis, you forgot to give us a derogatory physical description of the cashier you had trouble with that has no bearing on your consumer issue but shows what a fucking asshole you are!*

    *Please note: Travis I don’t think you’re an asshole at all and I hope you find a better vendor for your XM radio! If you like I have an older Sirius radio I’d be happy to give you.

  19. remusrm says:

    youeathshit => 968-328-47448

  20. boxjockey68 says:

    Well, hang on a second here guys, to play devil’s advocate, why do we HAVE to tell them anything? Don’t we have the right to pick & choose who or in this case what company we give information to?
    If someone, anyone, wants to buy something at a store, why CAN’T they refuse to give out their phone number? Why do they have to make up a number to make the purchase?

  21. Meg Marco says:

    @dorianh49: Something your spellchecker likes.

  22. chili_dog says:

    Make sure you show a receipt when you leave. IT’S THE LAW. Bwahahahahaha

  23. marsneedsrabbits says:

    Memorize the local phone number for time & temperature.
    That’s it.

  24. pylon83 says:

    You can refuse to provide the information just the same as the store can refuse to sell you the goods without it. Unless your state has some sort of law that says otherwise, they could demand your social security number, and if you don’t provide it, they could refuse the sale.

  25. LilKoko says:

    This happened to me at a Whole Foods a while ago. Instead of an attitude, the cashier pulled “the smirk.” I shopped there all the time and that was the first I heard of them needing my phone number for a CASH purchase — which I wasn’t willing to give. I was hungry, it was lunchtime and my hour was ticking away. I was starting to get real pissed! After the cashier continued to play cute with me, I told him, “I’m not giving you my number.” I left the purchases on the counter and walked the heck out.

    I complained on their corporate website and the store manager responded, saying that the cashier should not have done that, will get extra training, blah blah blah. I still didn’t go back for months ’cause I didn’t like what happened. Only recently have I gone back. I have never seen that cashier again, and the company still does not have my number — which is as it should be.

  26. Pancakes?? FRENCH TOAST!! says:

    Buy the unit direct from XM. You’re getting the service from them anyway.

  27. photomikey says:




  28. LatherRinseRepeat says:

    I can’t believe stores still ask for your phone number. Most places just ask for your zip code now. Fine with me, it’s not like I’m the only person living in my zip code.

    But I agree with everyone else.. just give a fake number. I usually give the number to my local movie theater listings. Since no human answers that line, there’s no real harm in it.

    Also, Best Buy tracks you down with your credit card. Back in the days, I used to buy blank CDR’s and MiniDiscs there. A few months later, I received some (worthless) coupons for CDR’s and MiniDiscs. What a coincidence, eh?

  29. getjustin says:

    The other day I was picking up a Christmas gift at Pier One and was asked “Could I have your phone number?” I said, simply, “No.” (much to my cousin’s shock). She did the transaction without it. I’ve never heard of anyone refusing a sale for failure to give a number.

    When all else fails give them a fake number or just shop elsewhere after notifying a manager why.

  30. 92BuickLeSabre says:

    @LilKoko: Hmmmmm. That example sounds more like you were getting hit on.

  31. endersshadow says:

    I always go with local area code + 867-5309. Every now and again a cashier will catch it and just laugh.

  32. sporks says:

    Buy it from an XM retailer online. They’re cheaper there sometimes and I’ve bought from several different XM retailers without trouble. Best Buy usually overprices their radios. Case in point, my NeXus 25 would’ve cost twice as much there when I bought it a while back, but I went online (or maybe even it was at Wal-Mart) for $50.

  33. Blue says:

    About attitude and customer service……….it has sunk so low that i think what is next is for retailers to just tell the customer to “Fuck-Off” when they see fit.

  34. drburk says:

    go to the local phone book and give the cashier the phone number for the Best Buy you are currently standing in. I would be willing to be that most cashiers wouldn’t know the phone number to the store and you could walk away and get a good laugh.

  35. MercuryPDX says:

    @Blue: Funny you should mention that…. []

  36. entitynein says:

    @LilKoko: “I have never seen that cashier again, and the company still does not have my number — which is as it should be.”

    Yes they do, you called their corporate offices… call-logs…

  37. MoogleLally says:

    Ahhhh, Spokane. I ran as far from thee as I could, and yet the stories keep coming.

    Agree with the ‘make one up’ sentiment. Should give them the Circuit City’s!!

  38. Hawk07 says:

    They probably use the number as a primary key in their customer database.

    Also, I don’t know why Travis didn’t just make up a number. He could have reversed the tables and asked the cashier and manager for their personal numbers and made it a condition of the sale. That would have been an interesting conversation.

  39. nursetim says:

    If he was activating it at the store, I could understand, but he was going to activate it at home. I have Sirius, and I didn’t have a problem giving them all of my info when I activated it, but why does BB need it, especially since he is doing the activation later.

  40. Eilonwynn says:

    “I’m from Canada. Put in whatever you want.” Alternately, “I’m from the States. Put in whatever you want.” “I’m on vacation, put in whatever you want”. Works like a charm in Best Buys in both Amherst, NY and Oakville, ON.

    The only place I could see it being a problem is if it’s tied into a refund.

    If they demand a postal code, I give them the code for a post office box.

  41. ionerox says:

    I always use my ex’s phone number :)

  42. ? graffiksguru says:

    @mbouchard: ditto

  43. bravo369 says:

    Give the phone number of the store. I’m sure the cashier knows what it is. They probably won’t realize until you give them the last digit.

  44. nursetim says:

    Since we are making up numbers, heres mine. I am a Star Trek nerd, and I know the hull number of the Enterprise is NCC 1701, so make a phone number 622(NCC)-1701. Maybe Consumerist can create a database of fake numbers that spell out things to throw at these places that insist on a number.

  45. Curiosity says:

    @pylon83: Er, not really true all the time – it depends on the state that has “jurisdiction”.

    Usually you are not legally compelled to provide your Social Security number to private businesses unless you are involved in a transaction in which the Internal Revenue Service requires notification. The company has the right to refuse you service for failing to provide this information in some states.

    BUT state law can protect consumers. For instance in some states like New Mexico law N.M. Stat. Ann. § 57-12B-1 et seq.:

    Prohibits a business from requiring a consumer’s SSN as a condition for the consumer to lease or purchase products, goods or services from the business. A company acquiring or using SSNs of consumers shall adopt internal policies that (1) limit access to the SSNs to those employees authorized to have access to that information to perform their duties; and (2) hold employees responsible if the SSNs are released to unauthorized persons.

    See [] for more info on your own state laws.

  46. celyn says:

    “It’s unlisted” also works.

  47. QWGHLM says:

    Oh, Tommy Tutone. There’s an alternative to the “Jenny” number called the Reject Hotline. They have them set up for most states, and the caller gets a voicemail message that basically tells them the person who gave them that number wants nothing to do with them.

    Oooh, I just found out it’s in Spanish, too!

  48. BillyShears says:

    Give them a number of a local Circuit City.

  49. jasonorl says:

    So what happens if you don’t own a telephone (or at least tell them that)? Does that mean you can not shop there? That doesn’t sound right.

  50. Buran says:

    Buy it online.

  51. newspapersaredead says:

    Usually this kind of garbage ends when I look the clerk dead in the eye and say “I’m walking out of this store if you ask me that question again. I’m not giving you my phone number.” I have never been refused when I take this action and mean it. Meaning it is the key point. If they think you will cave in and give them the phone number they smell it and will continue to insist you give it to them. Actually I take it back now that I think about it. There is a hair salon that insisted on a phone number to give me a haircut. They explained that they needed it to create a database so they can keep track of my style preferences and the stylist therefore would have all of the information in front of her on subsequent visits. The first few times I went there I refused and they still managed to be able to cut my hair without a phone number. Then one time I ran into an old bag who wasn’t getting the point. I walked out and went to a competitor who charged more, but then I realized I received a better haircut than I was getting at the discount place who wanted my personal information.

    I will again ask as I’ve asked on previous Best Buy stories. Why is anyone who regularly visits this site continuing to go to Best Buy? Why would a company like Best Buy even consider changing its business practices if the we continue doing business with the repeat offenders?

  52. Buran says:

    @nursetim: If you can do Voyager’s without web searching for it I’ll be impressed (I can, but telling you would kill the challenge).

    And we’re geeks, not nerds. :P

  53. Jacquilynne says:

    @Hawk07: A phone number would be a horrible primary key — they change constantly, and don’t correspond to a specific individual.

  54. manok says:


    I just came up with that phone number. Took me all of .5 seconds. You’d be rocking out to some XM right now if you could do that.

  55. OmicroN says:

    You could do like I do: I grab my BlackBerry while I’m waiting in line, whip out the good ol’ Google Maps and look up the telephone number for the store that I’m in. Then, when they ask for the number, I give them their number. They’re usually too dumb to realize it, and they accept it.

  56. So many comments and nobody’s suggested the following:

    (612) 291-1000

    I bet even the manager-dude doesn’t have Best Buy’s Richfield MN corporate office number memorized. :-)

  57. sven.kirk says:

    @AstroPig7: Usually when they ask for a ZIP, they are looking to charge the appropriate tax rate. I always give them a FL zip code, so I will not get any sales tax.

  58. mgyqmb says:

    You guys giving fake numbers probably have inundated some poor schmuck down the block with telemarketers and advertisements. Awesome.

  59. @boxjockey68: I don’t like the idea of giving them what may be a real phone number just because I don’t want to give my own.

  60. jchabotte says:

    if you lose your receipt, they can look up your purchase history by your phone number in case you have any issues and need to return it.

  61. LilKoko says:

    @92BuickLeSabre: Yeah, that crossed my mind at the time, too. But, well frankly, I ain’t that hot, I ain’t that young (and the cashier was), and I was clearly not in the mood for shenanigans! I was hungry and pissed dangnabbit!

    @entitynein: Nope. I emailed them using their website. I didn’t have to give out any info. I did give them my name by choice, because when I complain, I go on record. That’s just how I roll.

  62. brian25 says:

    I recently bought the Simpsons DVD from Circuit City in Merritt Island, FL. The young girl asked for my number and I said “No.” My Wife was standing there with my daughter and looked slightly shocked. The cashier responded by saying, “Well it is used for refunds if you lose your receipt.” I said, “Yea right.. anyways, I am getting a movie not a DVD. I don’t trust you guys when you put it into some master database… next thing you know i’ll be getting phone calls…” She ended up putting in the number to the store and I completed the sale.

  63. Mike_ says:

    A few news sites still ask for your ZIP code, gender and year of birth. As far as they’re concerned, I’m a 107 year old woman living in the White House (20500).

    Give them a fake number. When you get home, call the store and tell the manager why you won’t be going back. And then don’t.

  64. youbastid says:

    @Buran: And then you’d be giving them your address AND phone number. AND e-mail address.

  65. buckykat says:

    I agree that it would be quite easy to make up a phone number or to be ready with a stock ‘fake’ number. However, I disagree with one poster above who said it is a ‘non-issue.’ The point of the original post is that this is yet another example of an action by a company that pits its workers against the consumer. Forcing employees to extract personal information from customers (while perfectly legal and within a company’s rights) is just another action that makes (some) customers hate stores like Best Buy. Customers who wish to maintain a semblance of privacy should not feel that they need to lie in order to make a purchase.

  66. humphrmi says:

    I respect this guy for standing his ground and refusing, and walking out.

    But yeah, I just give a fake number whenever places insist.

  67. faust1200 says:

    @dougm: Leave Jenny out of this. She’s been through enough over the last 25 years.

  68. bohemian says:

    Go to Target, you can buy an XM or Sirius without a phone number and you can go to the main checkout to pay for it. Ta-da!

    So far I have gotten away with refusing to give my phone number without being refused service. For zip codes I just give them whatever local zip code pops into my head at the moment or make up some numbers.

  69. Snarkysnake says:

    They used to pull this shit on me at Radio Shack.They also gave the little weasels that did it business cards. They were ASSHOLES about it. No number,no sale.I would ask for a business card from the manager and call in to my local sports talk show and tell their listeners that I had two tickets to a major college or pro game that I wanted to sell at face value because I had to work etc…Then I would give the number of the head weasel on the air and all hell broke loose.Payback’s a bitch.

  70. homerjay says:

    @youbastid: Yeah, one would assume you’d be giving it to someone other than Best Buy– and really, isn’t that all that matters?

  71. Xerloq says:

    @celyn: Or, “How the heck should I know? I don’t go around calling myself.”

  72. lstaylor says:

    @sven.kirk: Actually when a store asks for your zip code it is because they want to know what area their customers live in, they do this because it tells them where a profitable location for a new store would be, which is why I always give my zip code. Now if they are asking for a phone number it usually is so their computers can do a reverse lookup on your address and send you coupons and other junk mail, my response is always: “I just have a cell phone.” and since they cannot look up my address through a wireless number the matter is usually dropped.

  73. Xerloq says:

    But really, Get Grand Central!. Mine plays this whenever anyone calls

  74. blueboxer says:

    I work at Best Buy – a couple comments:

    1. Normally when they ask for your phone number (in my experience) it is on cash sales to give you a way to look up your receipt if the need ever arises.

    2. For satellite radio sales, the POS system prompts the cashier for all the customer’s information (name, phone#, address). If I remember correctly, there is NO way around this – its built into the system by corporate and cannot be bypassed. I believe this information is sent directly to Sirius or XM, but the point I’m trying to make is that there is no way for a salesperson or manager to get around this.

    Call Corporate if it’s that big of an issue.

  75. crymson_07 says:

    Simple answer:

    Look up the Best Buy phone number for that (or another) location and provide that to them at the time of purchase.

  76. ampersand says:

    @crymson_07: Haha, I was going to say the same thing.

  77. What The Geek says:

    The short answer to why they need a phone number? For big ticket purchases, many stores’ pos systems won’t allow the sale to go any further w/o collecting customer data.

    The long answer? This is done so that they can send you flyers and “special offers” later on.

    I shop at for electronics. They’ve always got what I need, they’re always helpful on the RARE occasion when an issue does come up, and I get my stuff from them in three days or less. Did I mention they’re cheaper than BB or CC? Best part? No blueshirts.

  78. fonzette says:

    DUH. Every time I’m asked for my phone number – in person, on the internet, wherever – I give them my asshole ex-boyfriend’s cell phone number. Not only do I not have to worry about potentially being hassled, but I also get the satisfaction of imagining his cell # all over various telemarketing lists. It’s a win/win!

  79. What The Geek says:

    @fonzette: That’s funny – I do the same thing to my ex-wife.

  80. scoosdad says:

    @Silversmok3: “Sirius requires a phone number in order for my job to sell any Sirius equipment.”

    I just bought a replacement Sirius radio at a major national chain store, and nobody asked me anything, whether it was new, a replacment, a gift, nothing. Just took my money and off I went.

    I don’t recall the retailer asking for my phone number when I bought my original Sirius radio either, because I know I would never have given it to them if asked.

  81. Draconianspark says:

    Best buy takes phone numbers / zip codes to sample what area people are from in order to determine if it is suitable to build another store.

    Just give the cashier the phone number for another bestbuy ^.^

  82. juniper says:

    Does your local Circuit City store not carry the model you want, or does the entire chain not carry it? Because if they carry it, just not at your store, go into your store, tell the manager that you’d like them to order you one for in-store pickup, and that you know Best Buy carries it right down the way but you prefer their customer service so would prefer to buy it from them if possible.

    I’ve done this before with electronics stores and the manager is always 110% happy to help me if they can, because they know I am already their friend when I tell them I prefer their customer service to their nearest competitor right off the bat.

  83. headon says:

    Same happened to me. Manager even got involved. Went to circuit city they matched the price and made the sale. Best Buy really sux. I wonder if they have any idea how many sales they are losing due their stupid POS policy.

  84. balthisar says:

    @sven.kirk: Uh, that’s not how it works. ZIP codes are for marketing research. Get enough ZIP codes from a place where there’s no store, and you can bet there will soon be a store. Stores charge sales tax based on where THEY’RE at; not where YOU’RE from.

  85. Stacker says:

    I would recommend you give them the number for a $10/minute phone sex line.

  86. legotech says:

    I remember reading an article about how like 60% of the population of the US lived in Beverly Hills according to the zip codes given to some company….90210 was quite the show at the time :)

  87. zippyglue says:

    I haven’t been to Best Buy in 5 years. They tried to screw me over, but I held my ground and after four hours of hanging around the returns department they finally gave me my money. Funny part of the story is that I did what I’ve seen recommended here on Consumerist, I called their corporate customer service right from the store. The corporate office agreed with me, called the store, and the store manager told them that they were wrong. Hysterical. — Like I tell my friends, I won’t go to Best Buy again if they are giving away $20 bills for a dollar. They SUCK!

  88. Rachacha says:

    Give them the phone number for the Circuit City across the street. Circuit City I am sure would be pleased to get the special “valued customer” flyers from Best Buy

  89. @balthisar: But they will tell you that’s the reason. I’ve had several cashiers tell me the same thing.

  90. ParadeDC says:

    The reason they ask for your phone number is that when the XM radio (or any satellite radio, or TIVO for that matter) is scanned into the register, it automatically goes to a signup form, which cannot be exited out of. If you cancel the form, the radio is taken off of the transaction. I don’t know why the cashier was snippy with you, but it’s something they have to do due to the registers. I used to be a cashier at Best Buy and had to deal with this all of the time; most people just make up a number and that’s fine. No one will call it anyway, it’s just for registration purposes from XM.

  91. BigBoat says:

    Nice standing on principles there, but how much is your time worth anyway?

    Make one up.

  92. coren says:

    I have a bad habit of using the numbers of people who jerked me around on Craigslist. Oops.

  93. route52 says:

    Use – they’ll give you a number with your area code and you can just give that out if necessary. It’s basically a voicemail system. You can leave a nice (or not) message and leave it at that.

    I used to work at a store where we would ask for the last four digits of the phone number; it didn’t matter what the number was, it was just what we would type in to the system to call up their name. If a person didn’t want to give up their phone number no problemo, I’d just put in my last four digits and put the sale through as if I was buying the stuff.

    Most people didn’t have a big problem with it because we had a ton of repeat shoppers who liked getting the coupons from the database. But if someone didn’t want to give their number or get put into the system I never hassled them about it. Probably against company policy. I also never hassled people about credit cards – I had to ask and I did but I always took no for an answer… wtf did I care?

  94. theblackdog says:

    I will second using There was one of those pushy timeshare people who would not let me get away from their booth unless I filled out one of those entry forms for a “free” vacation. I gave a rejection hotline phone number, and I hope the company got the message when they called it to tell me I “won”

  95. barty says:

    @snarkysnake: When I worked at Radio Shack about 8 years ago, I asked every person that came through the door for their name and address because it was one of the performance metrics that we got rated on. If someone declined, I just had a bogus address I’d put in to make the computer happy or just skip the screen. I *NEVER* told anyone they couldn’t buy something (unless I *had* to have a name and phone number to sell someone a cell phone or satellite service) if they didn’t provide the information. Being paid on commission, I’d lose a sale if I did something like that. Before I went on to bigger and better things, they actually put out signs in the stores informing customers that 1)The information was PURELY voluntary (I guess there were some stores saying it was required…our managers would have had our butts for that!) and 2)The information was only used to keep track of sales within the store and was only used to send out the monthly flyers. We had the capability of deleting a person in the store if we were asked.

    For what its worth, probably 98% of the people who walked through the door gave it without batting an eye. There were a bunch of older men who would actually come in just to sign up for the monthly circular, usually if you didn’t buy anything after about 6 months the computer tossed your name out. Of course that was when Radio Shack was still in the business of selling gadgets and electronics parts that those guys would tinker with. Now its just become Circuit City or Best Buy lite.

  96. 91004 says:

    I normally give my old PO Box at the USAF Academy and my old dormitory number… Of course the phone number is over 20 years old and is non-existent anymore….

    PO Box 7087
    USAF Academy, CO 80840-7087
    (719) 472-0743

  97. StevieD says:

    I am pervert. Give me your number and I will give you mine.

  98. mikeluisortega says:

    I always give out “867-5309” ask for jenny

  99. csdiego says:

    Maybe this is a regional thing, because I’ve never shopped in a store that wouldn’t put my transaction through without a phone number. They always ask me at the Container Store, I always say “I’d rather not give it out, thank you”, and that’s the end of that.

    Anyway, can’t they get all that info from your credit card?

  100. Snarkysnake says:

    Wish I had shopped at your store…

  101. ophmarketing says:

    Whenever I’m asked, I always give the number to the old pay phone that used to be in the hallway of my college dorm in the mid-’80s.

  102. Crim Law Geek says:

    I usually use my phone number but change the last four numbers to 9901. This is usually the test/ID number of the telephone exchange which spits back a pre-recorded message, so no real people will get phone calls meant for me.

  103. Shadowfire says:

    We should all agree on a phone number, and always give it in stores that ask for one. We can create a massive database across several retailers that includes only one number.

    [i]This plan is genius.[/i]

  104. wearly1977 says:

    I am wondering why anybody would buy an XM radio!!!

  105. sauceistheboss says:

    8675309 FTW

  106. Buran says:

    @homerjay: Yeah, I meant “buy from someone else that you trust”

  107. Voltron's Underwear says:

    Haha, I live in Spokane, and the only reason I go into that shithole is to try things out before I buy them online.

    @MoogleLally: When did you leave spokane? So much crazy shit happens within 30 miles of this place we’re in the national news on a weekly basis… last week some guy in Hayden cut his hand off and put it in the microwave because it had the “mark of the beast” on it…

  108. Buran says:

    @ParadeDC: I take it that filling it with zeroes or fives or something like that never entered your head?

  109. mannymix03 says:
    put yourself on it and give out your number at best buy. The cashiers have been trained to ask for it, dont make their minimum wage job any morse because you are worried about getting some calls. You think your phone number is some private number? If your registered to vote in a state I can get your number, name address and date of birth with maybe 2 phone calls.

  110. coan_net says:

    I’m not sure if anyone else came up with this idea, but why not just give a fake phone number?

  111. ripple says:

    The people who dont want to give a phone number are the same people who will complain that they cant get a refund because they lost their receipt. Most of the times they only ask for your number so they can look up your receipt if you lose your receipt. I usually give my number and it was worth it the few times I lost my receipt and had to do a return, and not one single time have I received a phone call from a retailer pushing merchandise. Radio Shack is the one I will NOT give my number to, and I only buy something there like once every 5 years because no other store carries things like diodes

  112. forgottenpassword says:

    Meh…. I just give out the phone number of my dickhead ex-landlord. Let HIM deal with the telemarketers.

  113. m4dhatter says:

    All of you who make up and give false numbers are adding to the problem. If you don’t want them to have your number and want them to quit asking then we all need to do just like this guy did and say “No” and not back down. If you give a false number you go in their system as a “does not mind giving home number” statistic. If everyone who gives a false number said “No” instead then we would start to impress upon the decision makers that we do not like this policy.

  114. BugMeNot2 says:

    i didn’t read all the posts but why not just buy it online? would most likely be cheaper. if you are hell bent on buying from that shitty retailer for some reason, then just ask that manager for his boss’s number and also his bosses’ bosses’ number so that you can ask why the manager in the store is turning down a sale. that will shut him up and he would ring you up immediately.

  115. coold8 says:

    I would call Best Buy corporate, make sure with a *67 or whatever it is. I must say, Circuit City asks for my phone number all the time, I give it to them every time, for the simple reason that I loose my receipts all the time. The few times I have had to return things, that phone number has been my savior. I am still boycotting best buy /banned from my local best buy for selling me an open-box PSP as new, and then refusing to take it back after it was broken (corporate eventually gave me it back). I still can’t figure out why people shop there. It is ironic to me that the cockiest people I know tend to have this thing where they work at best buy, and the day the kid starts working there (never knew about router before in his life), he is suddenly a expert. The kicker is, he recommends linksys Wireless-N routers as #1!

  116. Greasy Thumb Guzik says:

    I always tell these news sites that I was born in 2008.
    The sites always accept that.

    I always give 90210 for a ZIP code!

    For a phone #, look up your local county morgue & give out that #!

  117. clickable says:

    1-area code of your choice-382-5968, which, not so coincidentally, spells FUC-KYOU. And you’ll be on your way, whistling a happy tune, in minutes.

    Seriously, couldn’t you figure this out yourself? They want a phone number, give them a phone number. If you get home, want to sign up for service, and learn that a real telephone number is actually required, you can change it at that time to the correct number.

    I don’t know, some people think that the “principle of the thing” is worth the hassle of arguing with the guards at the entrance who want to check your receipt, or the near-to-imbecile clerk who demands your phone number, or whatnot. I think only how fast can I get out of here with the widget I want at the price I want to pay. If it means reciting a ten-digit number on demand, heck, that’s fine by me.

    I would never dream, of course, of providing a genuine phone number out loud, in front of an audience of strangers, particularly since no law requires that I do so under those circumstances.

  118. BuriedCaesar says:

    I work at a private university with more than 10,000 students and nearly 2000 employees and if pressed, I just give out the main campus phone number. If they really want to find me for some issue, they can because the operators will forward any calls, but so far it’s not happened in the 15 years I’ve been working there. I’ve given out that number multiple times to Best Buy, Circuit City, Fry’s, and just about any other place in town that wants “my” phone number…

  119. Paul D says:

    @mbouchard: UCA-NBL-OWME?

    My old roommate used to give a fake phone number and address for all kinds of stuff. I don’t remember the number, but the address was :

    Cal Ripken
    54321 Blastoff Rd.
    Springfield, KY 44444

  120. Frostberg says:

    Best Buy doesnt want to call you. just give them your phone number and deal with it. XM needs it and its tied to the serial number on your radio.

  121. FSugino says:

    Tell them you’re from overseas and make up a 24 digit phone number. That’ll mess with their entry screen and they’ll give up.

  122. kdoyle55 says:

    I used to work at best buy and there is no reason not to make a sale without a phone number the prompt for the phone number can be circumvented by hitting the escape key, or as I sometimes used to do…enter my own number for the customers who didn’t want to give their number. I think the problems that show up at some stores on here are just individual store management, but still I don’t know why you would even bother shopping there.

  123. caj11 says:

    Here’s my contribution…

    Plenty of phone numbers are available at the website

    Just find a payphone in your area, memorize the number and you’ve got yourself something to give these stores that insist on it. No harm done, just some payphone that no one uses anymore ringing from time to time. Although payphones are being disconnected at a rather rapid pace, I find that the ones at the airports are kept active, probably for the foreign visitors whose cell phones won’t work here.

  124. crazypants says:

    If you object to big box store’s inane corporate policies, maybe you should consider paying a little more and getting your radio installed at one of the many “mom and pop” based car stereo stores?

    Clearly this was just a matter of principle for this fellow, otherwise he would have given a fake phone number without thinking twice.

    Sorry to say, but there are far better/more intelligent things to make a stand on than something as silly as this.

  125. Michael Belisle says:

    The cashier just works the there, and can only sell you an XM radio when you provide a phone number. There’s no use arguing with the foot soldier.

  126. Sure I could agree with you, but then we'd BOTH be wrong. says:

    I usually will give the phone number I had as a child, 30 years ago. Yes, I still remember it.

    Or, just pick one of your old numbers, one that you will remember in case you need it.

    For instance, when shopping at the supermarket, where you have to give up your personal information to get a “club card” just so that you can get the price listed on the shelf… I don’t carry the card, so I just enter my old phone number on the keypad, and it looks up the account (with the fake address I created as well)

  127. Antediluvian says:

    I like to tell cashiers I forgot my phone number.
    If they really press the issue (after I either smile like a doofus or have no smile at all, depends on the attitude from the register side of the transaction), I might say I just moved and don’t remember it yet, or it’s in my roommate’s name or something.

    But really, it’s hard for them to prove you didn’t forget it.

    ZIP codes I’ll usually give out, like others have said, because they may target circulars to those areas.

  128. bledblueandgold says:

    They ask for your number for a few reasons.

    1.It allows them to track your sales so they can profile you as a customer. (a Barry, Jill, Ray or Buzz)for those of you who know what that means

    2.One good aspect for the customer is that it allows them to pull up your purchase if you pay cash and have lost your reciept.

    It is more or so for the first one though. The second is just by luck something that can help you out

  129. LAGirl says:

    @endersshadow: that’s awesome!

  130. inkhead says:

    Very simple, just give them the pentagon switchboard:

    I promise they’ll delete the number after they accidentally call you to sell you something later.

  131. cladari says:

    Whenever any store asks for my address and number I just reply

    123 Avogadro Ln
    My State, 14179


    Nobody gets it but I enjoy it

  132. boblc123 says:

    Consumerist you need to stop wasting space and posting these incredibly stupid complaints. Are you that hard up for news? The idiot could have just given a fake phone number and be done with it. They want a phone number so they will have a record of your sale in their database incase any problems arise or he tries to return something without a receipt.

  133. dvdchris says:

    So I take it Best Buy’s phone entry system isn’t that complicated. In many phone # entry systems business phones are banned numbers and many phone numbers are pre-blocked, refusing to allow you to enter them; like all the phone numbers belonging to said company, including all retail locations and corporate offices.

  134. rg says:

    Just one more reason to tell satellite radio to go fcuk themselves. Go for an HD radio, they don’t need to know your phone number.

    And are the people in this story for real!? If you’re too stupid to make up a fake number then you’re probably too stupid for a satellite radio anyway. Either that or they’re from CA and think it’s better to whine and make a scene.

  135. iviper1 says:

    I know at CompUSA whenever ringing up big ticket items like computers, electorics, etc I think XM radios, the POS system automatically asks for the customer phone number. I never asked, just hit zip +123-4567.

    Alot of cashiers who are told to do everything right or get fired dont know any better and ask every time. I think this was the case. Alot of people I found take their job too seriously.

  136. Lyrai says:

    I’VE BEEN TO THAT BEST BUY. They’re all pretty much uncaring assholes there! Seriously. You try and get help from a clerk there it’s like pulling teeth.

  137. Nighthawke says:

    Offer them up the number for dial-a-prayer. Because Lord knows, they will be needing it!

  138. MelL says:

    Or maybe say you don’t own a phone.

  139. crankymediaguy says:

    The number for the switchboard at the White House is 202-456-1414.

    You know what to do.

  140. aikoto says:

    I have no problem providing my phone number. It’s 1-900-F*&K-OFF. I suppose the last seven digits aren’t important, but make sure that it’s a 1-900 number so if they ever call it, they get what they deserve.

  141. marzak says:


    using that logic then why is when i don’t get carded for smokes or booze they just just put in 1-1-1980? that’s not my birthday. BB can put in random numbers. so long as it’s a real area code, the database won’t bark at them

  142. qmsterling says:

    (Area code here) + 867-5309!

  143. Pixel says:

    (area code) 555-1212 is long-distance directory assistance. That is what I use if they demand a number.

  144. kc2idf says:

    Give them a double-wammy…. Use 900 for an area code and 555 for an exchange. Just make up the last four digits.

  145. IrisMR says:

    You know, I used to give fake numbers at Futureshop (Same dudes)… Until I gave a fake one and there actually was someone with that number in their computers…

  146. parliboy says:

    “Can I have your phone number?”

    “I don’t own a phone.”

    Problem solved.

  147. crazyflanger says:

    Don’t give Best Buy your number.
    Don’t give Best Buy a fake number.
    It is about principle. Go above the nazi cashier, and her manager, and keep escalating. Ask for the corperate office ph#, etc…etc….and call up corperate while you are still in the store, hell while you are still in the line, holding everyone up. Seriously make them throw you out of the store while you wait. It isn’t your fault, it the lame asses who are probably missing the point of a “policy”. I freakin hate Best Buy. I hate them even more now. I won’t bore you with my stories of employees that don’t know what they are selling, cuz they are all 18 years old….thats it, thats all I’m saying…oh god I need a drink. Thanks a lot Travis!

  148. B says:

    Was there a refund involved?

  149. JohnMc says:

    heck, just try to buy anything in a radio shack without giving your phone number.

  150. Clarkins says:

    I always give Toys R Us their own number back when they ask for a number. They never realize it.

  151. Mary says:

    @dougm: Many computers at stores are now programmed to kick out what they see as “fake” numbers. I don’t know if it’s proprietary information for me to tell you, but a store I used to work at rejects anything 555, almost anything 1234, and I’m pretty sure 867-5309 was on it. They’re excuse was that their database was getting clogged because hundreds of people were choosing those numbers.

    I can think of no reason why Best Buy needs to know the phone number. When I bought my XM radio, I picked up the radio and a XM gift card for $50. I bought both, activated the radio at home, and all was well. But I don’t remember if they asked for my phone number, it was over two years ago. This might be a possibility for this gentleman though.

    Or he could go with a fake number, or even look up the number for another Best Buy and give them that (pick one not in their region so they won’t recognize it).

  152. Mary says:

    Something else that just occurred to me: if you’re of the still writing paper checks variety, and don’t print your phone number on your checks, be prepared to give it or a fake number.

    Our store could not accept checks without a phone number on them. Absolutely 100% couldn’t do it. But if you gave us a fake one we wouldn’t know and wouldn’t bat an eyelash, as long as you never SAID it was a fake one. But the company who made sure we got paid when you wrote a check required a phone number, there was nothing anybody could do about it at the store level.

    So it’s not a bad idea to have that rejection hotline number memorized ; )

  153. StinkyCat says:

    Consumerist is full of legit gripes wrapped in whiney annoyingly long and self absorbed screeds.

  154. MissPeacock says:

    I like all these suggestions for giving fake numbers.

    Last week I returned some merchandise to Belk. The items were originally paid for with cash, had all of their tags, and I had the receipt. I was asked my full name, address, phone number, and DRIVER’S LICENSE NUMBER. When I refused to give it to the cashier and demanded to know why she needed my DL # for a cash transation, she told me she wouldn’t give me my money back. I wish I’d been thinking more clearly and had given her fake information. I really do feel as though I bent over and took it.

  155. HOP says:


  156. captbob says:


    (also useful in bars)

  157. glitterpig says:

    I didn’t realize anyone *didn’t* make up numbers for these things. By the way, 20252 is an excellent zip code to use – it’s Smoky the Bear’s personal zip, but he’s never complained when I’ve borrowed it to feed to intrusive salesclerks.

  158. brent_w says:

    Jerks like many of you who give out fake random numbers are the
    reason I get so many random phone calls about all manner of stupid shit
    all the time.

    Do others a favor and give a number you know to be invalid, such as 555.

  159. Cogito Ergo Bibo says:

    @91004: Just because you don’t have the number anymore doesn’t mean it’s nonexistent. Someone, somewhere, might have it, now. Even if they’ve subdivided area codes since then and your old address is now in a different area code. There are only so many numbers to go around. Very likely the number has been reassigned to someone/some place now in your old area code, in Colorado Springs.

  160. bentcorner says:

    I just tell them I don’t have a phone and life goes on. I’m pretty sure that if you had done the same, they would have sold you the XM.

  161. Bruce says:

    Anytime a business asks for my Zipcode, I always respond with 10048. If the salesdroid asks where that’s at, I respond lower Manhattan and leave it at that.

    If they want a phone number, it’s (911) 512-1024.

  162. badfad says:

    This seems to be a complex case that can best be expressed through an equation:

    Best Buy Customer Service + Spokane = Normal Best Buy Customer Service

    It’s good to know that at least their customer service is homogenous.

    Now, my question: Why is the phone number so critical in the first place, especially when you can use any number of the aforementioned methods of providing dubious info?

  163. algormortis says:

    “604…” “Oh, you’re from *scrunchy face* CANADA? Oh, we don’t need it then.”

    (I have a 7-11 SpeakOut prepaid phone for use in Canada as it beats my “discounted” roaming rate of .30 a minute plus tolls plus taxes by a country mile…)

    [] doesn’t just have sexy payphone pictures, it includes phone numbers to give snoopy types.

    of course when you bark at me for my ID for a $12 credit card purchase (really this is ridiculous) you probably noticed it was a Washington license and yet failed to correlate it with my “canadianness” a little bit earlier. this reveals a lot.

  164. consumerd says:

    I just give them this one
    328-849-7448 which translates to “eat-thy-shit”. Another favorite is “fuc-kof-fpls” or 328-563-3757.

    Those are the numbers I typically give out depending on mood.

  165. xskeptictankx says:

    I would have given them their own phone number just to see if they’d catch it.

  166. yetiwisdom says:

    I totally agree with Travis’ position and am constantly surprised by the blithe attitude people have about giving out their numbers or giving out fake numbers. By giving out a fake number you are effectively saying it’s OK to ask for a number – so what happens when companies start cross-referencing your numbers at the POS against a database (like TARGET with returns this season)? Will you be irate THEN?

    I had a few situations in my town where I was asked to swipe my license to gain entry into a bar/restaurant and I fought that as well, causing a stir, making my concerns as a consumer understood by the company leadership and local papers. I also did a little experiment and wiped my driver’s license to protect myself against the random collection of my data. For example, Wal*Mart asked for my license for a return this holiday and attempted to swipe my license through their reader to collect my info. Doh! The license wasn’t readable and they don’t care to enter it manually. There’s at least one database I avoided…

    Here’s the full story []

    And how to wiper yer own license for fun & happiness []

    Try paying attention to how often you are asked @ retail for your information and instead of giving it, reply politely “no, thank you” and smile.

  167. tcvcam says:

    I worked at Best Buy for around a little over a year, and in its POS (point of sale) system the satellite radios and tivos are the only item that will not let you advance to tender without a phone number. It seems to only happen on subscription service items. I asked once for an explanation and was told it was for the convenience of the customer so when they go to begin the subscription with the company all the information for the device is already imputed. When a customer refuses it only makes our job harder because we have to explain why we are not able to process the sale.

  168. mongocrush says:

    Do what I do. When they ask for your phone number, ask them why they want it. I’ve gotten several different answers for this question. The most common is that they need it if I return the item to which I respond “that’s why I have a receipt”. Another response was so that they can track where people are buying are from, to which I reply “no thank you”.
    Just be Polite but Firm with refusing to give them your number and you will be fine.

  169. axiomatic says:

    I gave them number to the Best Buy store I was at. It was at the top of the (fake) web page the salesman had open with the price (not) from the external website.

    Of course he didn’t catch it.

    My wife and I had a good laugh about it when we got to the car.

  170. chartrule says:

    at least like the former Canadian company “Consumers distributing” they didn’t demand your SIN number with every transaction

  171. axiomatic says:

    Odd, I had a very “tame” response rejected, yet David_Consumerist can type “eat-thy-shit”???

    What gives Consumerist?

  172. DjSnipSnip says:

    How about using Google’s GrandCentral?

  173. themediatrix says:

    Awesome info, YETIWISDOM!

  174. SayAhh says:

    It just occurred to me that giving them your ZIP code (instead of your phone number), then paying with your credit card, can be dangerous: you know how the gas stations will only sell you gasoline if you enter the credit card’s billing ZIP? Well, now they [WorstBuy] have it.

    If they still ask you for your ZIP code (Big5 Sporting Goods stores come to mind), you can always say you’re from Schenectady, NY (pronounced skÉ™-ˈnek-tÉ™-dÄ“). Why, you ask? Its ZIP code is 12345 :)

  175. jeco says:

    These demands for personal info really piss me off.

    At KMart they ask for my ZIP code and one time I said “I don’t know” and the clerk didn’t look that surprised, then I looked around and realized half their clientele probably didn’t know their ZIP.

    A lot of times they’ll justify their invasion of privacy by citing corporate “policy” so I tell them my “policy” doesn’t permit it. I guess policy is a real power word.

  176. TTFK says:

    There is always the option of giving out the office number of your state AG..

  177. chattwriter says:

    Actually it’s used for 2 things:

    1. Tracking your receipt in case you lose it (which, believe me, a majority of returns are without a receipt so this is a life saver for many people).

    2. You have to give a phone number for many products – from satellite radios to GPS systems and even Quickbooks – in order for the serial number on the product to be activated. This prevents stolen merchandise from being able to be used, and protects you in case the item is stolen.

  178. Irishangel says:

    I have had the same experience with a satellite radio purchase at my local Best Buy, but it was Sirius instead of XM. I refused and asked why they needed my personal information, the cashier tried to explain that that was what the computer told him and that he can’t complete the transaction without the info. I kept refusing and asked to speak to a manager. Another associate came over and explained that it was for product safety. If the radio ever became stolen, then the “thieves” would not be able to start the subscription. I didn’t really like this explanation, but I eventually had to accept because I couldn’t find this model at any other store, circuit city or otherwise. Also, it was the day before I was to leave for the Christmas Holiday and I needed to have the give before I left. Otherwise, I would have definitely left without making the purchase.

    My only question in thinking about this situation is….Does Bestbuy say it’s for Sirius as a scapegoat? I mean, could it be that Bestbuy is the one that wants the information but they blame it on Sirius/XM?

    Suffice it to say, in desperation, I relented and was afraid that they were telling the truth so I gave my actual information. :(

  179. Difdi says:

    Give them the number for the local office of the Better Business Bureau.