Best Buy Switches Laptop Cover, Then Accuses Customer Of Fraud

Jed’s Gateway MX6030 laptop worked pretty well for a couple of years, then the problems started—faulty power adapter, kaput motherboard, dead hard drive. Luckily, he’d bought a 3-year extended service plan. Unluckily, when his motherboard was replaced, the bottom of the laptop—where the serial and model numbers are located—was swapped out with one from a different model, so that when he brought it back for the hard drive repair, the store manager accused him of fraud.

He was able to “prove” that it was indeed his notebook via the sheaf of repair papers he’d held on to from the motherboard replacement—the repair description noted that the bottom of the case had been replaced. But when Jed asked the Geek Squad people to help fix the problem—either make a note on his account that the model number was no longer correct, or update his warranty with the new serial number—they refused: the technician working on the laptop said he still thought something “shady” was going on…

…and. “I was told that they can’t do that and that I should laminate the repair paper I had because it was the only proof I have that this is my computer and that it is still under warranty.”

Here’s his full story:

I want to start off first by saying that me and my girlfriend both have had many problems with Best Buy in general. This includes an employee lying about what is included in their warranty and service plans and a huge problem with junking out a notebook that in turn voided a warranty, but that is not the problem I have today. We have both vowed never to buy a warranty from Best Buy ever again.

The computer that I purchased was a Gateway MX6030 on November 25, 2005 with the 3 year extended service plan. Surprisingly the unit did not give me any problems until recently. My ac adapter plug was acting funny and not charging my notebook. I took the plug into Best Buy Geek Squad and they told me I had to bring in the unit. At first I didn’t understand why they needed the unit for a plug exchange, but they explained that they needed to check the serial number on the unit to make sure that it matched my service plan. Although I don’t live very close to the store, I went back home and brought the unit back to the store. I received my plug in a couple weeks and everything was fine for a little while.

A few months later on November 8, 2007 I took my notebook back into the Geek Squad at the Corona Best Buy. The technician checked the serial number before it was logged in. The diagnosis was that it needed a new mother board and that the top cover needed to be replaced. It was sent out to Best Buy’s service location in Chino, CA. It was returned in a few weeks and everything seemed okay again.

On Wednesday, January 16, 2008 my hard drive crashed and once again I went to the Corona location of Best Buy to have it serviced. I was quoted two or three days to install a new hard drive. Saturday, January 20, 2008 at around 12:00 I decided to give the Geek Squad a call to make sure everything was alright with my notebook. They told me it should be done at 3:00. At around 3:00 I give them another call and they told me it’s still not ready, give it another hour. So I go to run a few errands and arrive at Best Buy at 6:00. I was told by a Geek Squad employee named Andrew that he just got to work and my unit has not been worked on at all that day. He would call me later that night when I could pick it up.

I did not receive a call that night so the next morning Sunday, January, 18, 2008 at 12:00 I called Geek Squad again. I talked to Andrew who tells me they are still not finished, but they have a problem. He tells me that the model of my notebook they have does not match the model number of the unit on the service plan and their manager said to stop working on it. He said he would call me back in a half an hour. I called them back more than an hour later and I inquire about the problem. I talk to Jared who put somebody else on the phone who tells me they can no longer work on the system, it isn’t under the warranty and it isn’t the correct model number. He tells me my unit is a MX-6421 and the service plan is for a MX6030. I ask him if he can match the serial number to the paperwork and see that it is mine. He told me this isn’t possible because the unit does not have a serial number. Baffled, I tell him I’ll come to store to figure this out. I bring all my paperwork for the services that have previously been done on my computer.

When I arrived at the store Andrew, another employee, and a manager by the name of Dahlia Mora, stepped into the back of the Geek Squad area to have a meeting about the situation. When they came back Dahlia asked me where the serial number is. I told her I was wondering the same thing. I asked them how the unit could have been serviced if the serial number was not checked when I brought it in. Andrew and Dahlia both claimed that the serial number does not need to be checked when an item is brought in for service. They both accused me of fraudulently attempting to service a Gateway MX6421 notebook under a MX6030 warranty.

Not knowing what to do I begin looking through my paperwork. I told them that another time I had brought in my plug, the employee made me go home to get the unit with the serial number. I am beginning to think they took off my serial number at the store before I got there. On the paperwork for the mother board repair I noticed that when it was serviced they also replaced the bottom cover. I show this to them and the manager blows me off, implying that it’s not possible that Best Buy would remove a serial number and replace a cover with one from another model. The other technician looks at the paper and sees the notation on the paperwork saying that bottom cover was replaced with model MX6421.

The manager was obviously mad and stormed off to the back. They told me they could continue servicing the unit, which was still not finished. One of the employees commented that they thought something “shady” was going on. They estimated another hour to hour and a half. I asked about getting a new serial number or marking my account in someway that this won’t be a problem in the future. I was told that they can’t do that and that I should laminate the repair paper I had because it was the only proof I have that this is my computer and that it is still under warranty. I never received an apology from any of the employees about accusing me of fraud or that they overlooked the covers being switched.

Having a piece of paper instead of a serial number is not enough of a substitute for me. I was told by the store this is best they can do. I talked to Geek Squad online on Monday, January 21, 2008 at 5:30. I was told by Agent McCabe that this issue is “not their responsibility” and to talk to the manufacturer. I talked to Gateway at 6:15 and they told me I needed to talk to Best Buy about getting the original serial number back onto my computer since it was them who serviced it. I once again went on Geek Squad’s chat and the same agent told me to talk to the store. I decided to call the Best Buy Service Center in Chino as this was where the service was done. I called the service center on Tuesday, January 22, 2008 at 11:00AM. They told me that they can attempt to issue a new serial number, but I have to take it back to the same Best Buy and have it sent back into the service center.

All I am asking for is my serial number back. Either the original, which is probably impossible, or a new one issued. If this is not resolved when my service plan ends in November of this year I will have a notebook that I cannot prove is mine let alone the correct model. Since Best Buy is the only one that will accept my paper as proof. Although the Best Buy service center told me I could be issued a new serial number, the manufacturer told me that this is impossible. I am also worried about giving my computer back to this store because quite frankly I don’t trust them with my property anymore. Lastly, I would also like an apology from Best Buy for accusing me of fraud and embarrassing me. Not one person so far has said they were sorry to me. I don’t know who else to contact or if there is anything that I can do. I hope that this letter will help bring change to how Best Buy treats their customers, but it seems like all hope may be lost Thank you for your time.


(Thanks to Jed!)
(Photo: Getty)