Why Does Best Buy Need My ID To Return A Purchase?

A number of readers have written to us expressing concern over Best Buy’s recently implemented policy to require a photo ID when returning all in-store purchases. The readers noted that the store wasn’t just glancing at their IDs to check against the receipt but that they were inputting data into their system. Curious what was going on, we decided to ask Best Buy about their new policy.

“At Best Buy, we strive to deliver great experiences for our customers — and to keep our prices low,” a rep for the company told Consumerist. “One way we can do this is to deter fraudulent product returns at our U.S. stores, a practice that incurs millions in expense each year and affects the prices of the products we sell.”

The company says the new ID checking policy is a compromise that ensures “the best possible experience for our customers while we work to reduce fraudulent returns in an informed, reasonable manner.”

Here’s the rest of the statement:

The new system, now operating in all of our U.S. Best Buy stores, requires the customer to present a valid photo ID card at the time of the return. If a customer does not have a valid ID card at the time of a return, our store employees will politely ask the customer to return to the store at a later time with their ID card, or, if the person is a minor, with someone who has a valid form of ID. All information is captured in accordance with state and federal laws regarding consumer privacy; while the information captured varies from state-to-state, it includes ID card identification number, name and date of birth.

The information scanned from the ID card is stored in a secure third-party database (managed by The Retail Equation, or TRE) that is used only to authorize returns; the data will never be sold or used for marketing purposes. TRE complies with all state and federal laws regarding the security of the information, and the system provides far greater security than more traditional retail return practices, such as collecting consumer information on hardcopy return slips or saving consumer information on paper logs.

We encourage customers with questions about this new system to contact us at 1-888-BEST BUY or at http://www.forums.bestbuy.com.

However, when we asked the Best Buy rep to explain how its system actually prevents or deters fraudulent returns, she would only say that the system is proprietary to TRE and we would have to ask them.

What do you think about this policy? If you’re not always required to show ID when making a purchase, should you be required to show ID when returning that same item?

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