Costco Sells You A 60GB iPod In A 160GB Box, Apologizes, Gives Refund

Reader Sean writes:

This is a copy of a letter that I just sent to Costco, I X’d out the serial numbers

This letter is in reference to my purchase of a 160GB Ipod Classic from the Brick, NJ Costco (store #229) on March 29th. While the packaging and box indicate a 160GB device, I discovered that the box actually contained a 60GB Ipod. I seek a full refund on my purchase and an apology from the store’s general manager, Leonard for my treatment.

Only one hour after purchasing the Ipod, I opened the box in my apartment in the presence of my girlfriend. To be certain that the capacity of the device was in fact only 60GB, I downloaded Itunes and plugged the Ipod into my computer. Itunes confirmed the device’s capacity was only 60GB. Upon discovering the error, I immediately went back to the store and explained my dilemma. The issue was quickly escalated to Leonard, the store’s general manager. Before I could even begin to explain what happened, Leonard told me in a stern and knowing voice that “this Ipod did not come from this box”. He accused me of going home, switching the Ipod with one that I had previously owned, and was attempting to con Costco for a better Ipod. I felt as if I was being scolded by a teacher in middle school. I was insulted and humiliated. I’ve never been accused of committing a crime in my life. After a few minutes of trying to explain the situation to Leonard, it was evident that his mind had been made up before he even began to talk to me, and my efforts to convince him were fruitless. I can’t help but think that if my girlfriend or mother were the one returning an Ipod that they bought, they would have been treated differently. I believe the general manager saw a young man and assumed I was trying to pull a fast one. Rather than having my issue addressed, I was embarrassed, accused of committing a crime, and escorted out of the store.

I know from working in customer service that the customer isn’t really always right, and there are plenty of deceitful people out there who would try to pull a scam like this, but I believe that a loyal customer with a perfect track record, who has never returned anything to Costco, deserves the benefit of the doubt in situation like this. I should not be guilty until proven innocent. I am NOT a thief. I am an IT professional and make a decent enough living that I do not have to scam my local Costco to get an upgraded Ipod. Never in my life have I been treated like this at a retail establishment

From talking with Apple (case # XXX) I’ve learned that the Ipod that was in my box is a 60GB Video Ipod (the serial # is XXX) that is not in production any more. The serial number on the box that I have (for a 160GB Black Ipod Classic) is XXX. It is also of note that Apple told me that neither of these Ipods has been registered with Itunes, which I believe indicates that neither Ipod has ever been used.

I honestly have no idea how that particular Ipod got in the box that I opened. It was shrink-wrapped when I opened it and I did not notice any obvious tampering with the box or contents. (the pouch with the earplugs was unopened). I’m not sure if Apple is at fault or if it is the misdeed of some warehouse worker along the way who switched out Ipods and re-shrink-wrapped the package. But I do not believe it is my responsibility to figure that out. I just want what I paid my hard earned money for and an apology from Leonard, the general manager for treating me like a thief instead of a customer. Thanks for your assistance in resolving this matter.

We were about to advise Sean that he’d have better luck talking with his credit card company and doing a chargeback (based on the many stories we’ve heard from customers of certain other retailers), but before we could post his letter, Sean wrote back to tell us that Costco had made good and the issue had been resolved.

Kudos to Costco. These situations usually involve a chargeback or someone calling a local reporter.