Jon spent $250 on a Western Digital VelociRaptor but what he received from Best Buy was a Quantum Fireball, a discontinued hard drive that hasn’t been sold for nine years. Best Buy, of course, took no responsibility for the odd swap, and said that Western Digital must have accidentally sold a competitor’s discontinued drive. Western Digital, of course, said that a Best Buy employee stole Jon’s hard drive. We’ve seen this happen before with Best Buy, and Jon has made it clear that he knows how to bite back…
Last week, I purchased a Western Digital VelociRaptor hard drive on bestbuy.com for in-store pickup. After receiving the confirmation email, I drove approximately 1 hour to the store I had selected (the closest store to me), picked up my drive, and returned home. When I opened the package (it was sealed), I was shocked and dismayed to find that instead of the VelociRaptor, there was a 9 year old 30GB Quantum Fireball (a drive not even made anymore). I immediately called the store and spoke to someone in customer service, explained what happened, and was told ‘no problem, just bring it back and we’ll exchange it’.
Feeling a little better, I made another hour-long trip to the store, where I presented the bogus drive to the Customer Service desk. I explained what had happened to the girl working at the counter. She took the drive, and disappeared for nearly ten minutes. Finally, the Customer Service Manager (“John”) came out to tell me that they could not exchange the drive, and that I would need to take the issue up with Western Digital. He explained that since the drive was sealed when I purchased it, that ‘means that it came like that directly from Western Digital’, and Best Buy had no obligation to make it right. I told him that there was no way Western Digital could have sent this drive, as it was not even one of theirs (Quantum is owned by Maxtor, and this drive hasn’t been manufactured for over 8 years). He maintained that there was nothing he could do, instead he put a sticky note with Western Digital’s phone number on the box and handed it back to me.
While I knew Western Digital would take no responsibility for this, I decided to play along, and asked if I could call them on his phone in the store so he could talk to them. I spent the next half hour speaking with various representatives at Western Digital, all of whom told me the same thing: this was Best Buy’s responsibility, and they would not replace the drive. I then asked to speak to John’s supervisor, however he told me that there was ‘no one higher than him’ in the store, and if I had a complaint I would have to call their corporate number. Again, I picked up his phone and called. I spent another 45 minutes speaking to a number of people at Best Buy (all the while ensuring he stayed there with me to tell his side of the story). Finally, I spoke to a third-level Customer Service rep, who told me nothing could be done since ‘it is Western Digital’s responsibility’, however the best he could do would be to offer me a gift card for half the value of the drive (the total purchase price was $225). I told him this was unacceptable, and that all I wanted was either the actual drive I had (tried) to purchase, or a refund so I could buy it elsewhere. He told me that was ‘not going to happen’. I told him that Best Buy was, in effect, stealing my money, to which he replied ‘yep, that’s basically right’. I told “John” that I would be filing a police report and pursuing help from my credit card company, and left.
Since then I have been working with MasterCard to get the issue resolved. I am waiting to hear back from them, however I wanted to let you know that this is still going on (I remember a similar story several years ago about a couple who purchased a hard drive and instead received a box full of bathroom tiles). I am outraged that this company is allowed to continue to sell counterfeit products to customers, and then refused to help them out. They have stolen $225 from me, and their attitude is that they couldn’t possibly care less.
I realize that there are steps you can take as a consumer to help mitigate these risks-open the box at the store before you leave, etc., but this is not always convenient (and not easy to remember), plus I should not have to go out of my way to protect myself from being scammed by a company of this size.
I am hoping that my credit card company will reverse the charge. Otherwise, I will be forced to take Best Buy to Small Claims Court.
Opening the box inside the store is the only the way to guarantee that you have the right product. If you take your the box home and discover an unwanted surprise, file a police report in case you end up in small claims court, and immediately file a chargeback with your credit card company.