Best Buy Tries To Install Remote Starter, Wrecks New Nissan Altima

While cramming a remote starter into Andrew’s new Nissan Altima, Best Buy managed to break the car’s locking system, window controls, and a brake light. Andrew hauled the crippled car back to the dealership, which immediately blamed Best Buy for burning out the car’s wiring, and told Andrew that the parasitic system had to go. Best Buy defended their quality workmanship, and refused to issue a refund unless Andrew signed a waiver absolving them of any responsibility for damaging the car.

Andrew writes:

As an avid reader of the Consumerist, I hoped to never have a need to write in myself. Unfortunately, the way Best Buy handled a situation with my wife’s vehicle has changed that.

Several months ago my wife decided she wanted to get a remote car starter installed in her new Nissan Altima. She always had one on her previous vehicle and Best Buy had done the install before. When we went into the store they seemed a little confused by the smart-key system that comes with the car. Basically it does not use a traditional key to start, but rather a push button start in the vehicle with a key fob you just keep in your pocket. After making some calls the Best Buy technicians assured us they could do it without an issue.

When we returned to pickup the car we were informed it was not yet ready, and they needed it for another day. We were very accommodating and worked out alternate transportation for that day. After picking up the car we discovered the locking and unlocking of the doors no longer worked properly. At first they tried to claim this was just the way it was going to work now, but we explained that we were not told that up front and they could just take out the system. After a few phone calls they then told us to bring it back again for “programming” to fix it. So yet another day without a car goes by and the doors are now working.

After driving the car my wife discovered her electronic windows no longer are working correctly. We then noticed one of the remotes would actually remote start the car when you tried to lock the doors. Several more treks back into Best Buy to get these problems fixed occur. The next problem is that there was a blue alarm light constantly blinking in the face of the driver. It was very distracting to the driver at night, and my wife was concerned she would get into an accident. This happened on a weekend, so we were forced to not drive the car until they were able to get to it during the week. They were never able to actually fix it, but ended up just disabling the light.

There have been a multitude of other issues since then such as the remote start not always working when you push it, the car taking multiple attempts to start even when not using the remote start, and worst of all the fact that the vehicle can now be started without having your foot on the brake (a child can start it from the passenger seat even without a key).

Finally when we were already very unhappy with the system and things still to this day have never worked properly, my wife’s brake lights stopped working! She drove around running errands and very easily could have gotten into a wreck and injured herself and others. We took the car into the dealership and they said the issue was the result of the system Best Buy installed and it burned out some wiring in the vehicle. We had to pay ourselves to fix the problem and had to go yet another weekend without the use of the vehicle. The dealership told us this system could cause further problems and might void the warranty, therefore it should be removed.

We decided this was the last straw and followed the dealership’s advice. We returned to Best Buy and spoke to a manager. After explaining the situation they initially offered to pay only for the cost of the brake light repair and to remove the system. We would not get back the money for the system itself, the install, or even some additional parts they required us to buy to make the install work. After telling them that was unacceptable and threatening to pursue other alternatives, they still only offered to refund the price of the system itself, but all the install and parts would not be refunded. When I asked for an explanation we were told we could not have a refund because the install was completed. But our argument is that it was never completed properly, and even did damage to our vehicle! We asked to speak with the corporate employee who was making this decision and were told they could not provide that information and that this was their final decision. We would even have to sign a waiver absolving them of all responsibility to get what they were offering. So basically we end up paying several hundred dollars for absolutely nothing and have no recourse for future action!

We have been loyal Best Buy customers and have spent 10s of thousands of dollars at their store. We buy all of our electronics and appliances from them, and to be treated this way over a few hundred dollars is insulting. I was hoping the Consumerist would be able to assist and provide the proper contact to help get this issue resolved.

Install fee: $147.73
Keyless System: $137.40
Install Module: $22.16
Materials Charge: $3.69
Extra Keyfob they destroyed to install: $61.52
Repairs at dealership for wiring system: $90.00

Total money out was $464.50 + tax
Offered by Bestbuy: $227.40 back and they take the system
Total out: $237.10 and we have nothing to show for it but trouble!

For starters, don’t sign any waivers, and don’t let Best Buy claim brownie-points for effort. They failed to install a working system. They can either refund all your money, or you can file a chargeback.

Don’t waste time reasoning with a manager whose only interested is covering his own ass. Instead, politely address your request to Best Buy’s higher-ups.

(Photo: Getty)

Want more consumer news? Visit our parent organization, Consumer Reports, for the latest on scams, recalls, and other consumer issues.