Best Buy Says Ian Can Keep His Free Xbox

Last month Best Buy gave Ian a free Xbox 360 due to a snafu while handling his extended warranty.

We polled readers, who by a 51-29 percent vote said he should keep the console. Ian, though, tried his darndest to get Best Buy to accept the 360, but Best Buy wouldn’t have it. He writes:

A seemingly agonizingly long time later (today), Alex from Best Buy Corporate Offices left a message on my home phone. I’ve written down the most important part.

“I contacted the regional office, and we can’t seem to find out where you got two. I guess at this point, you can just keep that, if you haven’t returned it to the store already.”

I, like approximately two thirds of consumerist readers who answered the poll, have no qualms about receiving a free Xbox from Best Buy. I was very surprised how many of the commenters (who were the minority) proclaimed me a morally corrupt human being for accepting the free Xbox I was offered. I would just like to point out how you really shouldn’t judge my entire moral fiber based on one action. I’m a guy who holds doors open for people and regularly gives to charity. At the end of the day, I get to keep the Xbox.

Cheers to Best Buy for handling its mistake like professionals and letting Ian off the hook— as the Cardinals refused to do for the Bears Sunday.

(Photo: tubbynj)


Edit Your Comment

  1. Pink Puppet says:

    Sorry, OP. While it’s great that you attempted to return the 360 eventually (and even got to keep it), you really shouldn’t have needed the interwebs to tell you that maybe you shouldn’t accept things that aren’t rightfully yours.

    Lots of people are going to think that’s uncool, no matter how many doors you hold open for others. This being the Consumerist, those that think it will probably say it. After all, if we get one over on a company, who can say it’s a bad thing when a company gets one over on us?

    • mac-phisto says:

      @Pink Puppet: last time i checked, it wasn’t my responsibility to police corporate business models to ensure efficiency.

      that’s what this comes down to, imo. obviously, there’s a crack in corporate policy somewhere – it appears the OP did more than a customer should be expected to do to ensure the company knew a mistake was made.

      whether he went to the store or called corporate is irrelevant. it is the same company, if they cannot communicate effectively internally, it is NOT the customer’s fault. kudos to the OP for trying to “make it right”, but i wouldn’t fault him for doing nothing at all.

      • coren says:

        @mac-phisto: True, but earlier indications seemed to be that he knew when he picked it up it wasn’t his – why did it take him coming home and posting online for it to come to him trying to “do the right thing”?

        • Lez Lemon says:

          @coren: Yeah, the fact that he went and got the XBox from the store when he already had received an XBox set off my “not cool” detector right there.

          • Cyberxion101 says:

            @AirIntake: You appear to have missed the whole part of the original story, wherein he went ahead and picked up the second XBox even though he knew that he wasn’t entitled to it.

            Sure Best Buy made a mistake, but the OP capitalized on it, knowing that the XBox wasn’t his to claim. He only asked us what he should do because he was afraid that he’d be caught, and get in more trouble than the 360 was worth.

            He’s no saint.

  2. wgrune says:

    I would request the same thing that Alex left in the message in written form for records. It is too easy to pretend that the phone call never happened if BB changes their mind in the future.

  3. ThomFabian says:

    “I would just like to point out how you really shouldn’t judge my entire moral fiber based on one action.”

    Odd, if there were nothing wrong with the action, why would you fear your moral fiber being judged by it?

    • JulesNoctambule says:

      @ThomFabian: People often judge others for doing/being things that aren’t universally agreed upon as wrong.

    • Tedsallis says:


      Bingo. If it feels wrong, that little tickle is what is commonly known as your conscience. Jiminy Cricket calls it “that still, small voice that people won’t listen to”. You could have quietly made it right, gone to the store and talked to the manager and returned it. Or done some good with it like (again quietly) donating it to a children’s hospital. But hey, why not make a big production of showing the world that it’s okay instead and then take the endorsement of thread trolls as validation of your “moral compass”.
      And guess what. Even though someone at Best Buy said it’s okay, it’s still not okay. All they were really saying was “we have no way to account for it in our computers so it’s easier to just let you keep it”. The store that gave it away by mistake will take the lumps in the form of shrink. It will show in their system no differently as it having been stolen. The person responsible for handing you the XBox 360 will be tracked down, written up and possibly fired. Merry Christmas anonymous blue shirt. Tough luck if you have a family or kids.

      Here’s hoping you enjoy your XBox as much as all the attention this saga brought you.

  4. custommadescare says:

    Good for Ian. It will no doubt come in handy when his system red rings!

    And thanks Phil….I thought I could put the Bears drubbing behind me, but you had to go ahead and remind me!

  5. MikeB says:

    He should make certain to keep all correspondence from BB just in case someone at a later date tries to get the xbox back or charge him for it.

  6. CompyPaq says:

    I would just like to point out how you really shouldn’t judge my entire moral fiber based on one action. I’m a guy who holds doors open for people and regularly gives to charity.

    Holding doors open and giving charity doesn’t excuse other actions. Until Best Buy said that you could keep the XBox, it was rightfully theirs and you shouldn’t have even thought about keeping it.

    • AI says:

      @CompyPaq: Until a Best Buy representative showed up at his door to take it back, he was under no obligation to go out of his way to return it. You think if Best Buy accidentally had something of mine because of a mistake I made they would be trying to return it to me? Keep dreaming.

      • jimv2000 says:

        @AirIntake: Seeing as how they gave him $400 for his orginal Xbox, he knew that they didn’t owe him anything else. He should have told the person giving him the Xbox that he already had received a refund and not taken the XBox in the first place.

    • lannister80 says:

      @CompyPaq: Sure they do. They’re called mitigating factors.

    • Sifl says:

      @CompyPaq: I totally agree! I mean the first thing to my mind, reading that line, was…

      “So what if you do that. So do Mafia, Murderers, Gang Members and other criminal types.”

      I do agree. Definitely should not have kept it. Very unethical.. even if it took almost an eternity to do the right thing.

      But then that’s merely my opinion.

  7. doctor_cos wants you to remain calm says:

    I would just like to say how privileged I feel to be able to post in the same forum as such saintly honest people. How nice to be of such high moral character that you can be quick to point out to others their flaws.

    (Oops, now I’ve done the same thing in the other direction!)

    Perhaps we should all just lighten up and stop being so snarky.

    • NeverLetMeDown says:


      I don’t think it’s being snarky. His situation was no different between one where the bill is $5, you hand the guy a $10, and he gives you $15 in change. It’s his mistake, but if you notice it and don’t point it out, it’s clearly unethical.

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      @doctor_cos: Just because we all make mistakes frequently, does not mean we should not strive to stop making mistakes. It doesn’t mean we should throw our hands in the air and say “Well, what can you do? That’s just how it is.” I refuse to embrace such futility, that’s all.

  8. Meathamper says:

    “Cheers to Best Buy for handling their mistake like professionals and letting Ian off the hook- as the Cardinals refused to do for the Bears Sunday.”

    I’m trying to forget what happened. WHY WON’T YOU LET ME DO THAT?

  9. Kyin says:

    If he were really morally corrupt he would have brought the extra x-box back to best buy. Then asked for a refund.

  10. ganzhimself says:

    I’m still bothered by the fact that after he got his refund that he went and got the refurb from the store when they called him. He could have just said, no, you guys gave me a refund for my 360, and I’m planning on buying a new one when the MW2 bundle hits your shelves. Of course, at that point if they said, well, you have to come take it, we don’t have a way to return it into the system… Then, well, he’s off the hook. Even if BB said you can keep it, I still don’t think you did the right thing.

  11. justagigilo85 says:

    Wow. When did so many people mount a moral high horse?

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      @justagigilo85: I don’t perceive it to be a moral high horse. To many of us who are saying he should have given it back, it’s a case of intent. He intentionally took the second XBox, when he knew that he had already been issued a store credit.

      • ganzhimself says:

        @pecan 3.14159265:

        Exactly. I do not claim to have perfect morals, but in this case, it’s pretty hard for anyone to say he did the right thing by knowingly taking something he wasn’t rightfully entitled to. I don’t care what retailer he did it to, could have been the We Kill and Eat Babies and Puppies store for all I care, still not right.

  12. larrymac thinks testing should have occurred says:

    OK, I won’t judge your moral fiber. I will judge your math skills. There’s no number system in common use here 51% is “approximately two-thirds”.

    Although on second thought, maybe you should give the extra game system to charity.

  13. foodfeed says:

    why not do something nice with it. like donate it to a youth center of some type.

  14. Shadowman615 says:


  15. mackjaz says:

    While this seems “nice” on BB’s part, it’s actually an additional failure on their part. It shows incompetence just as clearly as if they had unjustly kept a customer’s xbox.

    And even though this is a very small-scale mistake, it’s a mistake that all BB customers will eventually have to pay for.

  16. Duke_Newcombe-Making children and adults as fat as pigs says:

    Sorry, Sir–you’re still reaching for validation for doing something that even you admit is wrong.

    Or did you forget posting this?

    This is the OP. I will admit that my first thought upon picking up the Xbox was, “Hey, sweet! A free Xbox!” to use as a back-up, because Best Buy is evil, etc. etc. I will also admit, that for someone like me who believes in morality and ethics, that even accepting the Xbox was something I should not have done. Hindsight is always 20/20. But the issue is now, if I try to return the Xbox, will some employee just end up driving off with it a the end of the day? I have already emailed Best Buy Customer Service through their normal channels, and am considering sending an EECB to ask what Corporate thinks I should do with the Xbox.

    If you’re gonna have situational ethics, at least be bold about it from the start instead of asking for “permission” from the crowd.

  17. gStein_*|bringing starpipe back|* says:

    i didn’t say that he was corrupt, but that he should at least try to return it. even if it’s only 1 attempt, or a single email. good faith effort is all i’m asking for here.

  18. Cant_stop_the_rock says:

    “I would just like to point out how you really shouldn’t judge my entire moral fiber based on one action.”

    That one action says a lot more about you than holding open doors. It tells us that the price of your integrity is at most $400. It’s great that Best Buy decided they didn’t care about the lost Xbox, but that doesn’t make your actions any more ethical.

  19. Telekinesis123 says:

    You hold doors open for people? Aw, thats cute.

  20. eXo says:

    Dont worry about what any of the posters on this site think. Most of them are holier than though ass-hats who hate you for getting something free and hate the company for giving you something free. They then run off and make sure to throw all their mail and newspapers in the guest room (junk paper will be the new commodity in 2012 after all) and then let all 30 cats inside.

    Creepy consumerist people.

    • h3llc4t, breaker of office dress codes says:

      @eXo: Uhhh, okay.
      As a few of us have mentioned, some of us are alright with Best Buy as a company because it’s never done us wrong (myself included). I don’t hate him for getting something free, and in fact don’t hate him at all. I just think he did something really sketchy and got something he should not have gotten, i.e. a second 360. He admitted what he was doing was probably not cool, but went ahead and picked the item up anyway. I can’t speak for everyone, but that sounds like the basis for most of our collective dislike for this story.

  21. GodDuckman says:

    He should donate the second one to Child’s Play. Hopefully, he already has.

  22. Tankueray says:

    A month or so ago, American Airlines ruined my brand new hard sided Samsonite. I went through the claims process and they sent me a new one. Then another one came the next day… I did not question it. I also think there’s some sort of rule about receiving something in the mail that you didn’t order where you get to keep it. I actually did call AA to tell them of their mistake, but sat on hold for 30 min and had CS reps that couldn’t tie their own shoes, so I gave up. Flew last week with my two shiny new suitcases and didn’t have a problem…

    Their mistake, it’s been over 90 days, I tried in good faith, yada yada.

    • Tankueray says:

      @Tankueray: Where do we draw the line? It costs me much more to try to legitimately correct their mistake than it costs them to. If I’ve got proof I called and tried, then what? Really – AA, BB, go to hell. Not my mistake, if you even come after me to fix it, I think you owe me for my time. I am not your bitch, and I will vote in small claims court and with my purchases…