EECB Scores Direct Hit On Best Buy After They Sell Used Phone As New

Obviously, stores sell items that has been returned by other customers as “open box” merchandise, but before reader David left the store, he specifically asked if the phone he was buying was “new” and was told it was. When he got home and found addresses saved on the phone and a few scratches he was understandably annoyed. He launched an EECB on Best Buy and after a little negotiation, he got a $120 gift card. Now he’s writing to compliment Best Buy on the way they handled his complaint.

David writes:

Long story, short:

Bought 2 (brand new) Instinct phones from Best Buy. One of them turned out to be used. I know this because it had scratches on it, and already had personnel locations stored in the GPS. Found an email address using Consumerist. Hours after sending the email out they call me up and offer me a $50 gift card for my inconvenience. I say ‘no’, and will talk to them further via email when I get back to town, as I’m on vacation. Email a lot back and forth… and finally get a $120 gift card (the price of the new phone). I used the gift card to pay for the broken phone. Happy endings all thanks to you. I also have to admit, that besides the ass hats that actually work in the store, Best Buy really handled this well.

Hey, that’s great to hear!

Here’s the email David sent to Best Buy:

Dear Mr. Anderson,

My wife and I just purchased two “brand new” Samsung Instinct phones from the Best Buy in Pentagon City, VA. We were told that even though one was missing the plastic, and had some small defects, that it was brand new, never used. It became clear once it was activated that it was used. In fact, it had addresses stored in the GPS. I am a long time Best Buy customer, but I will be returning the phones and I will buy them directly because I was blatantly lied to.



Best Buy responded with an offer of a $50 gift card, to which David responded:

Thank you for responding to my concern and offering me the $50 gift card. However, at this time I cannot accept this offer. I cannot accept because I do not believe these terms corrects the situation. Let me explain briefly what I have to do because Best Buy has lied to me and my wife: I have to use up my Saturday morning to go to the metro, pay $5 (round trip) and ride the metro approx 30-45 minutes to Pentagon City, walk to the Best Buy – approx 15-20 minutes, and return the used cell phone Best Buy sold me ( who know how long that will take). Then, hopefully the Best Buy is Pentagon city will have another Samsung Instinct (we bought the last one the previous time we were there, which probably explains why they sold us the used one) for us to purchase. And then, I have to get ahold of Sprint to port the number from the previous account to the new cell phone which took 2.5 hours(!) last time. Then return home via walking, and metro.

So that will be my Saturday morning August 23, 2008.

I understand that you had no fault in this matter and that you are only trying to help. I believe that a credit of $120 (the amount I paid for the phone) to my credit card account would right this wrong. It is not all about the money. It’s about Best Buy lying directly to my face, causing unneeded stress, and wasting my time and money.

I thank you again for helping.

Best Buy responded:

Thank you for taking the time to follow up with me. I am so sorry that the situation transpired in the manner it did and am still working internally with the Pentagon City store management team to find out why a store associate provided you with incorrect information regarding the phone.

Given the circumstances, I would be happy to send you a $120 gift card to cover the cost of the phone. You can still opt to return the phone to the store within the thirty day return and exchange period to acquire a refund to your credit card, or if it’s easier, you are welcome to mail the phone to my attention at the address referenced below and upon its receipt, I will credit your account. I will still send you the gift card given the inconvenience this issue continues to cause you.

Way to go David! We’re so proud.

For more information about launching your own EECB, click here.


Edit Your Comment

  1. SpdRacer says:

    Hell, I woulda said no to the 50$ gift card too. I got one for “test driving” a POS Ford w/ sync. So they obviously aren’t worth 50$.

  2. Parting says:

    Was it worth the hasssle?

    • @Victo: If I’m reading this correctly, a few well-written EECBs effectively got the him the phone for free because it was used. And he can mail the phone in if he wants to return it.

      That sounds like it was worth it. I might even go so far as to say that $50 was fair, but $120 plus I’ll take your return if you like by mail is pushing above-and-beyond. (But then again, I’m just the relentless BBY sympathizer/former employee/small-time shareholder.)

  3. Rob Phelps says:


  4. evslin says:

    Nice counter, and good work staying levelheaded given the alternatives.

  5. blkhrt1 says:

    Good to hear that this situation was resolved quickly and relatively painless. Kudos to Best Buy for taking the proper steps even if the noobs working in that store are liars.

  6. dunnowhat says:

    I actually live near the metro stop in question, and the Best Buy is only about 2-3 minutes away from the metro. Also, the metro is $1.35 each way on a Saturday. While this person obviously got the result he wanted (and deserved), I think grossly exaggerating easily verifiable claims can undermine a complaint letter.

    • blockbustarhymes says:

      @dunnowhat: I agree with your point about the exaggeration of distance/cost.

      But as far as inconvenience goes, trains come only every 15 minutes on the weekend…it basically would have meant a waste of a half-day sitting on the metro and in retail hell… he got them to up his hourly pain in the butt rate from 10/hour to 20/hour…

      Impressed that Best Buy in this instance went along with it.

  7. dunnowhat says:


  8. TorrentFreak says:

    The same thing happened to me at Radio Shack. I bought a pair of Blackjack 2’s a few months ago and I got used phones with Contacts/Name/Addresses/and Phone numbers.

    I didn’t know you can really do anything about it other than return them.

  9. wellfleet says:

    Yay for us!! Sorry the OP got a used cellphone, we’re supposed to junk those out and never resell a returned phone, which is why I believe this was an honest mistake. That said, how was this not noticed during the activation process? Activations take about 40 minutes, the phone is taken out and it’s this ridiculous, drawn out process (sorry my beloved Best Buy, but you know it’s true!). It took me an hour to buy a phone and I work there…

    Did the OP deserve the $120 back? Prolly not. Is it worth $120 to make someone happy and keep him as a customer? 100?% yes.

    See? We CAN do something right once in a while…

  10. db3b says:

    I assume considering the cost he paid for the phones he is a new Sprint customer. Wait till he gets a load of their customer service. Calls are routed straight to a very lovely man or woman in Manila, Phillipines and they all speak horrible broken English.

    Which is probably why, and deservedly so, they are consistently rated last in customer service. Now that’s the global economy at your door step. DirecTV the same once again Manila. My satellite radio: I’m scared to ask. We spend the money here in the states they could at least hire American Workers.

    Good Luck,
    You’re gonna need it….

    • Oranges w/ Cheese says:

      @db3b: But you see, we aren’t spending our money in America. Sure, $7.00 an hour goes to the Best Buy worker, but the rest goes to some Asian supply company which ships them the products from their Chinese factories.
      You might buy the product in America, but it isn’t an american product. So technically, the support staff is in the right place — exactly where the money is going.

  11. xspook says:

    I recently bought an AT&T SL82218 from Circuit City which was supposedly new. The packaging looked factory fresh and unopened. When I got the phone home, I noticed the owners manual had a small amount of writing on it. This phone system also has a digital answering machine, and when I initially plugged it in, there was a message on the machine. I thought it might be a “greeting” from AT&T or something, but it was a real message for someone who used to have the phone. It did tick me off a bit that I got an obvious factory refurb, but it works and is in otherwise new condition, so I didn’t bother taking it back.

  12. Audlyenough says:

    I’m the wife and purchaser of said used phone.

    The BB agent pointed out the small flaws on the front and said it was a factory defect, but that it was the last one left. I didn’t care that much about the small scratches, but I did care that there were addresses already entered into the GPS when we got home. AND I did care that it clearly did not function as well as it should. We both bought the same model, and when I held David’s next to mine and we tried to perform the same functions, it was clear that mine was not responsive.

    Dave’s new to the DC area, agreed on the overexaggerated cost of metro travel…he’s new to metro. I let him have at it cause he was understandably pissed.

    UPDATE: When we went to exchange said phone, the BB rep put Dave’s number on my phone. Thus, both phones had the same number. We went back and had it fixed…..2+ hours….The amount of technical difficulties that have resulted since cannot be numbered here. Spent all day chatting with Sprint reps yesterday….can’t sync my old numbers back….can’t open text messages….still not working…

    Clearly we’re an extraordinary case, but I am so sick of phones I could scream. I’m about to swear off cell phones altogether.

  13. Chiz0 says:

    So instead of going back to do an exchange, which i have done for customers several times, he shoots off e-mails right away?
    Unfortunately mistakes can happen, any return should be sent back, but the rep should have showed them the phones, and got them set up. It looks like you local Best Buy associates need some (alot)more training. Its people like them that give us good people in retail a bad name.

    • Audlyenough says:

      @Chiz0: Wait, who shoots off emails right away?

      The rep said, “those white marks on the phone are a factory defect” when clearly they were not. We were lied to. That was the problem.

      And yes, the BB people we’ve come in contact with do need more training.

    • BrianDaBrain says:

      @Chiz0: Agreed. I was thinking the same thing. I love that the OP got the issue resolved, but I think EECBs are best left until a last resort. Did the OP try to resolve the issue back at the store? I understand being pissed because he was lied to, but that’s what managers are for.

      In the end, though, the OP got what he needed, so I guess it worked out.

  14. bnelson333 says:

    I generally try to avoid blaming the victim, but getting a $120 gift card AND the option to return the phone? Just for the hassle? (which should be assumed anytime you deal with BB anyway) The EECB should be used to rectify a situation, not for profit.

  15. johnnya2 says:

    i am wondering why you think this guy deserves a free phone PLUS $120 for his time. Guess who pays for this so-called free stuff? We all do with higher prices. How are you sure this was Best Buys fault. Could it have been the manufacturers issue? Was the warranty going to be any less time? Why didn’t he notice nicks and scratches or look while he was at the store at the phones? To blame Best Buy for the time on the phone with Sprint is just nonsense. It would be like me blaming them for the incompetent boobs at HP who cant send proper replacement parts for my under warranty product.

  16. tworld says:

    I’ve returned items to Best Buy (Wilkes Barre, PA) on a few occasions and never encountered a problem.

    Once when an external hard drive did not work properly after I had it past the return policy, the manager replaced it with a brand new one. The sales staff is always helpful too.

    In the end, Best Buy did resolve David’s phone problem, so why all the fuss?