Buying Laptop At Best Buy Ends In Misery And Failure For All

All Rob wanted to do was buy a laptop at his local Best Buy for the price shown on the website. As we know, sometimes this can be a bit of a problem. What followed was a comedy of errors as the guys in the khaki pants try to foist off on him a display model laptop that doesn’t even have the right battery. When Rob gives up and orders one directly from Best Buy with in-store pickup, it turns out to be defective. The experience of then trying to get a straightforward refund is then equally defective. Go big blue!

Rob writes:

On 6/8/2011, I found a Lenovo P6200 laptop on Best Buy’s website for $350 and saw that it was in-stock at my local Best Buy for the same price. I printed off the website listing and went to the store to buy it. It was the most horrible experience I’ve ever had trying to buy something for the advertised price.

They first told me I had to pay $100 extra because the Geek Squad had already “set up” the laptop (uninstalled trial software, installed the Best Buy app, and ran the preinstalled program to burn the DVD recovery discs). All 3 laptops that were on the shelf had been opened (supposedly by the Geek Squad) and had this added surcharge.

When I complained, they said they could meet me halfway (i.e., I would only pay $50 extra for something I could have done myself). I continued to say that the person using it was on a tight budget, and I didn’t want to spend any more than what the website listed. The sales rep then recommended buying a closeout model (with a Lenovo Phenom X2 CPU) which was on display next to the P6200. That model was supposedly cheaper. I said fine.

He went to see if any of either laptop (without the extra Geek Squad surcharge) was in stock in the back. Neither one was.

He asked if I wanted to buy the Phenom X2 display model for 5% off, and I reluctantly agreed after confirming the return policy was the same.

He said he needed to get a disc to “uninstall” the demo program that was running. When he returned, he booted off the disc and said we just needed to wait for it to finish uninstalling. In reality, he was just re-imaging the machine with the original or Geek Squad factory image. It took probably 10-15 minutes.

He went to get the box, and eventually came back to tell me there was no box. I confirmed that the return policy was still the same, and again reluctantly agreed to buy it anyway. He went to get the keys to unlock it, which took perhaps another 15 minutes. After he had it unlocked, he went to get the battery.

He returned and said there was no battery, but said he could get the battery from the P6200 display model. When we looked at the bottoms of both laptops, it was obvious the P6200’s battery would not fit into the Phenom X2 [unless we pushed extremely hard].

He said he would look into what they could do since it didn’t have a battery, and returned several minutes later. The manager said they could knock $75 off the display price ($350) since it had no box or battery.
I asked how much a battery would cost, and he said $100-$150. (Nevermind the fact that we would now be paying an extra $25-$75 more than the posted price for the privilege of getting a battery that should have come with the laptop in the first place.) He started to look up whether he could order one from the warehouse, but I politely thanked him for all his running around and said I needed to leave. I had come into the store expecting to be on my way home with a laptop in hand in 5 minutes or less. Instead, I was now 45 minutes late for supper with my wife. We had planned to eat at the park while there was still daylight, but now it would be getting dark by the time we got to the park.

Later on at home, I ordered the Lenovo P6200 from and selected in-store pick-up.

I went to Best Buy today and picked up the laptop. The customer service rep said that it was one of the last ones and had already been set up by the Geek Squad. Fortunately, the receipt does not show an extra $100 charge…

Update 6/10/2011:

The supposedly new laptop crashed one time after going to sleep or waking up from sleep, then when I went to install Windows updates, some updates failed. From past experience, I know that this kind of behavior on a “new” Windows install indicates a hardware problem, often a defective hard drive.

I ran a non-destructive random read/write test on the hard drive, and 26 hours later it was only 59% complete but hadn’t reported any errors (though it’s possible it just hadn’t exhausted the spare sectors that are used when remapping bad sectors). So I tried rebooting it, but instead it came up with “Running startup repair…” and stayed that way for about an hour.

At that point I shut it off, boxed it up, and took it back to the store, where they kept trying to get me to exchange the laptop instead of getting a refund. The guy who was processing the return treated me like a criminal, and he didn’t believe me when I told him the laptop was defective. He demanded my driver’s license and put me on a “bad customers” list. (I know it’s a “bad customers” list because I asked why they needed my DL # and they said that some people keep buying and returning the same thing, so they don’t have to actually pay for it.)

I had to tell customer service rep at least 5 times that I didn’t want an exchange; I just wanted to return the laptop for a refund. He completely unpacked everything, and refused to process my return until he had run his own basic diagnostics on it right then and there. (As I mentioned earlier, I told him the laptop was defective but apparently he did not believe me.) We had to wait 3 minutes for him to confirm we hadn’t stolen anything from the box, and after waiting another 5-10 minutes for the laptop to boot up (which wasn’t going to happen, as I had already told him multiple times), I suggested that we leave while he sorted things out. It was only then that a second customer service rep stepped up to process the return on the cash register and asked us again if we wanted to exchange it for the same model or a different model. My coworker, who was accompanying me (and who was the one who originally wanted to use the laptop), had to repeat, “for the 8th time, we just want a refund.”

After the second customer service rep completed our return, the first one hurriedly boxed up the laptop and said they would have to send it back to the manufacturer.

Glad you got your money back finally. I’m surprised that after a miserable experience the first time you went back for seconds. Hopefully now with your cash restored you can buy directly from a manufacturer a real laptop, instead of a craptop.

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