How An Attempt To Return TV To Best Buy Left Man With No TV And No Refund

Eli thought he could just walk into a Best Buy with a TV and a gift receipt and walk out with a refund or store credit. But this is Best Buy, where nothing ever ends up the way it’s supposed to.

According to Eli’s post on his Google+ page, when the Best Buy staffer went to process the return, they somehow made the mistake of crediting the money back to the original person who had purchased the gift, meaning he was left empty-handed.

“They admit it was a mistake and they meant to give me store credit, but refuse to do anything to fix it,” he writes. “If I make a $240 mistake, I’m out $240. If BestBuy makes a $240 mistake, I’m out $240.”

Eli claims that when he insisted he shouldn’t have to leave the store without either the TV or a refund of some sort, Best Buy staff threatened to call the police. Instead, he beat them to the punch, calling in the cops to talk some sense into the store. Unfortunately, the officers ultimately sided with the store on this one.

“The cops agreed with me at first,” says Eli, but after they talked to store management for half an hour, the officers changed their mind and stood by guarding the TV “because apparently I look like as gonna run out with it.”

The only resolution for that Best Buy could come up with for this situation was for Eli to contact the original gift giver and get the money from them. But why should he have to endure that awkwardness for a store’s error? What if that gift giver is either reluctant or refuses to hand over the money Eli should have received?

“The Best Buy employees were not jerks, and the cops were not either,” writes Eli. “Everyone who is at fault is nowhere near the situation but in some… office somewhere and thus makes it easy for them to make broad policies that defy logic.”


Edit Your Comment

  1. Wonderweasel says:

    Aaaaaaand Best Buy is shitty again and all is right with the universe.

  2. AlteredBeast (blaming the OP one article at a time.) says:

    “Hey, um, I tried to return that TV you bought me, and Best Buy refunded your credit card. Crazy right? So, um, yeah, can I have that $250.”

    “I have no idea what you are talking about. I hope you are enjoying that TV.”

    • AustinTXProgrammer says:

      The OP was given a gift receipt. That is implicit permission to return said gift. The OP needs to politely ask the giver… BUT if the giver is going paycheck to paycheck and hasn’t paid off the credit card they may not be in a position to do anything.

  3. missy070203 says:

    maybe he should have just kept the TV

    • little stripes says:

      Seriously? This isn’t the OP’s fault.

      • ShruggingGalt says:

        Ummm the OP doesn’t want to tell the gifter about it at all. Which is in itself, awkward.

        In a way, the OP is out NOTHING. It was, by definition, a gift. And you don’t look a gift horse in the mouth. The OP did so, in a way, by trying to exchange the gift given.

        Yes, Worst Buy messed up by reinvolving the original purchaser BUT again, no one has lost anything of value. You can’t legally force someone to give you a gift…. The OP could be made whole by recontacting the gift giver, and that’s not going to happen.

        • little stripes says:

          He lost a TV that was HIS. He did indeed lose something of value. The fact that people are defending Best Buy here (and yes, you are) is pretty awful.

          He should just tell the gift buyer that hew as trying to make an exchange due to a faulty TV and Best Buy fucked up and instead initiated a return. Best Buy sucks so much the gift giver probably won’t even ask questions.

        • cheviot says:

          What happened before the owner of the TV went to Best Buy is immaterial.

          The owner wanted to return the television to Best Buy. Best Buy took the television from the owner and gave the money to someone else.

          Best Buy’s relationship with the original purchaser is not the television owner’s concern. Best Buy chose to give someone other than the owner the money. They still owe the TV owner and small claims court will quickly affirm this is true.

        • Thyme for an edit button says:

          Uh, you can’t force someone to give you a gift, but once they’ve given it to you and you’ve accepted it, it’s your property. It belongs to you, not the person who gave it to you and not the store that sold it to the person who gave it to you.

          You think property has no monetary value because it was received as a gift?

        • regis-s says:

          Yeah, I don’t see what the big deal is. It’s not like BestBuy took the tv back and kept the money too.

          So Eli doesn’t want the gift giver to know he returned the tv. What’s he going to tell buddy when he presumably comes over someday and notices the tv is nowhere in sight?

          • spf1971 says:

            I think the gift giver will know something is up when they get the money credited back. The Op might as well bite the bullet and make that phone call.

        • Charmander says:

          So if someone gives you something, say a gift of any sort (a lawnmower, a camera, a blender, a scarf, etc. – take your pick) WHO owns it?

          Your comment seems to imply that the person who gave you the gift owns it. What is your reasoning?

          If someone gives me something, it belongs to me and I’m free to do whatever I want with it.

        • Tyanna says:

          Sorry, but if you give a gift to someone and provide them with the gift receipt as well, you are basically saying ‘if it’s not for you, please get something that works.’ If the original gift giver didn’t want him to exchange the tv, he wouldn’t have given the gift receipt.

          Just sayin’.

  4. bender123 says:

    Would it have been that hard to resell the TV on the original card and then re-return it? Or, just give the guy a gift card for “service recovery”.

    Used to do this all the time, when i was in retail. An error we caused that was not reversible? Give the guy a gift card for the amount and write it off as “service recovery” to make the person come back. How hard is it to do something so common sense?

    • Citizen says:

      Yes it would be that hard to sell it on the original card. All most all receipts do not have the credit card information on them. They also make it hard to go into the register system to find the credit card information, because no one wants the 16 year old’s working there to get a customers credit card numbers.
      Even if they then did get the info and recharge the TV tomorrow we would be reading a story Best Buy charged a TV on my credit card with out my permission what should I do?

    • asten77 says:

      What they easily could have done is just void the return transaction.

    • teamplur says:

      You can’t put a charge on someone’s card without their consent. Charging for the TV again, even after the first charge was refunded would almost certainly be a fraud of some sort.

  5. DJ Charlie says:

    “The cops agreed with me at first,” says Eli, but after they talked to store management for half an hour, the officers changed their mind and stood by guarding the TV “because apparently I look like as gonna run out with it.”

    Translation: Free DVDs for the cops.

    • GuyGuidoEyesSteveDave‚Ñ¢ says:

      Hrmmm, Losing my job and pension or a free copy of The Love Guru, Drumline, and Star Wars:Episodes 1-3. Well, it’s not even a choice!

      • samonela says:

        “Throw in the Bring it On boxed set and I’ll go rough up the panhandler at the end of the parking lot for you too!”

    • azmountaintroll says:

      While the police can and will attempt informal conflict resolution, if one or the other parties to the dispute refuse to cooperate there’s really not much more they can do about it since no obvious crime has been committed. Best Buy’s ownership of the TV is not in dispute, and BB paid SOMEONE for it. Determining whether the right someone was paid is a job for small claims court, not the officer on patrol.

      • longdvsn says:

        So you’re suggesting that if the OP went into Best Buy and picked out a bunch of stuff, but when he got to the cashier with his purchases he just decided to give someone else (not an employee) cash and walk out the door telling BB to ask the other guy for the money…all Best Buy could do is sue in small claims court. In fact, the OP might win in court by referring to Best Buy’s own policy from the interaction detailed in the OP.

        The police certainly did NOT do their duty when they allowed the company to take possession of the item without compensation. Compensation to someone else is not compensation to the owner.

  6. SabrToothSqrl says:

    LOL, have you heard of ‘the internet’ buy things there.

    sell your worst buy gift card and use the ca$h to buy things elsewhere.

  7. little stripes says:

    Tell the buyer’s of the TV that there was a problem with the TV, and that’s why you were attempting an exchange. Probably your best tactic, here.

    Still sucks. You suck, Best Buy.

    • samonela says:

      Agreed…considering the current situation.

      Side Note: I thought your avatar was one huge, fat, black and white cat…but upon further inspection…haha…

    • regis-s says:

      The tv was a Dynex. So it wouldn’t be much of a stretch.

      • LanMan04 says:

        Hey, I bought a 32″ Dynex (720p) back in 2008 and it’s still kicking ass and working perfectly.

        I recently bought a 46″ RCA LCD from Best Buy and returned it THREE TIMES for defects before I got an Insignia (another Best Buy house brand) that is perfect.

        RCA #1: Dead pixel near center of screen + horrible “flashlighting” (uneven backlight in dark scenes)
        RCA #2: Stuck blue pixel near center of screen (yes, I tried to fix it using various methods)
        RCA #3: Strange several-inch-side halo in upper half center of screen around a point about the size of a pencil eraser, like something had impacted the screen.

        Insignia #1: Perfect.

        • regis-s says:

          I had a Dynex power supply in my computer burn out just after the warranty expired.

          I’m not saying none of their stuff is any good. I just don’t think on the whole the quality is great.

          Kind of like BestBuy. Some people hate them and claim they’re terrible. I’ve never had a problem with them. At least no problems bad enough to get too upset about. Neither have a lot other people apparently.

  8. samonela says:

    Let’s get one thing straight and not blame the OP here…he didn’t go to Best Buy, his Gifter did.

    Booyah! Stuffed!

    • AlteredBeast (blaming the OP one article at a time.) says:

      OP should have educated his friends.

      • Maltboy wanders aimlessly through the Uncanny Valley says:

        +1 “Thanks for the free TV. Oh, and and NEVER buy ANYTHING from BB you fumbduck”

        • AlteredBeast (blaming the OP one article at a time.) says:

          “Here you go!”
          “Wow! This is EXACTLY! The TV I wanted! This is…wait, is this a Best Buy tag on it?”
          “Yep, I saw they had it for…”
          “NO! I this gift is GARBAGE!”
          *throws TV against the wall*

  9. PsychoRaven says:

    Talk about awkward. I’d just leave it be and learn from this that if it’s a gift through Best Buy, you’re better off reselling it instead of dealing with those idiots.

  10. lovemypets00 - You'll need to forgive me, my social filter has cracked. says:

    Unless I’m missing something, he doesn’t say why he wanted to return the TV to Best Buy. Was it defective? Or did he want to return it and use the returned $$ toward a more expensive TV? Apparently he’s embarrassed to tell the gift-giver that he tried to return the TV.

    Maybe the gift giver will notice the credit on their credit card account & call Eli to find out what’s up. That should be an interesting conversation.

  11. hansolo247 says:

    I blame the OP for…I really don’t know

  12. DWMILLER says:

    …”Everyone who is at fault is nowhere near the situation but in some… office somewhere and thus makes it easy for them to make broad policies that defy logic.”
    Welcome to corporate America where policies are made by lawyers for the benefit of the shareholder. Customer and front line employee be damned!

  13. Such an Interesting Monster says:

    I don’t really understand the problem here. The original credit card was credited. BB can’t legally charge that card again without the owner’s permission, so expecting such a thing is foolish.

    And I don’t understand why contacting the gifter is awkward? Unless you didn’t want them to know you didn’t like their $240 TV set and tried to turn it in for something else. If so, then whoopsies. But that’s not really BB’s problem now is it?

    • little stripes says:

      BB admits to fucking up but won’t fix THEIR fuck up which they admit, yet you defend them. No wonder they get away with this crap.

      • SkyRattlers says:

        It isn’t about defending BB, it’s simply that there is absolutely nothing that BB can do to get that money back. They made a mistake, they admit, but their hands are tied.

        What would you suggest they do?

        • little stripes says:

          POST VOID.

          POST VOID

          That’s what they should have done.

          If they didn’t do that, they should give the OP a new TV, or a $250 gift card. Period.

          BB fucked up. They admit to fucking up. The OP shouldn’t be responsible for a mistake that BB made. BB should rectify the situation. It should not be up to the OP, since BB is the one that made the mistake.

          • Such an Interesting Monster says:

            Will a POST VOID POST VOID POST VOID POST VOID undue the credit back to the original card?

            If not, then a POST VOID POST VOID POST VOID POST VOID won’t do any good.

            • little stripes says:

              Someone made a comment below, someone who used to work for Best Buy, and he implies that, yes, it would have fixed the problem.

              And even if not, BB still has a responsibility to make it right. They should give the guy a new TV or $250 and eat it. It’s their fault, not the OP’s. The OP should not be responsible for a mistake that BB made. PERIOD.

              • Such an Interesting Monster says:

                Actually, they are not. The original purchaser was their customer, not the gift recipient. They owe him absolutely nothing.

                I’m sorry, but your sense of entitlement is a bit disturbing. Suggesting that BB eat $240 is ridiculous. And I would say the exact same thing regardless of the merchant.

                • little stripes says:

                  I have a sense of entitlement because I expect BB to fix a mistake that they made?

                  The owner of the TV was NO LONGER the original purchaser. The item belonged to the OP, who was not correctly refunded. BB messed up, not the OP. There is no entitlement issue. BB should fix the mistake they made. The OP made no mistake. The OP should not be punished for a mistake that he did not make.

                  I bet small claims court would agree with me. Since, you know, the OP was the actual owner of the property, not the gift giver.

                • Thyme for an edit button says:

                  You have a fundamental lack of understanding about how property rights work.

                • Murph1908 says:

                  The fact that you keep missing is that the original purchaser was not the owner of the television that was returned.

                  The TV belonged to the person who brought it in for an exchange. Best Buy took the TV from its owner and gave the money to someone else.

                  If your uncle gave you his old car when you graduated college, and you later traded it in for another car at a dealership, if that dealership gave the trade-in money to your uncle, you’d be pissed. You wouldn’t be happy with their suggestion of, “Go get the money from your uncle.” The only difference in this case is a car has an ownership title.

                • LanMan04 says:

                  Bullshit. The person who HOLD the product and the receipt are the party that Best Buy has to deal with. Original purchaser shouldn’t matter in the slightest.

                  Otherwise, what the fuck is a receipt for, anyway? Are you saying that Best Buy should be able to prohibit the transfer of ownership of goods between two private individuals?

                • ChuckECheese says:

                  Your points miss the point for the simple reason that BB has a policy of issuing credits and exchanges to the giftee who has a gift receipt. And in this case BB did not follow its own policy. If BB had a policy of “no exchanges or returns on gift items” or “in the event of a return of a gift item, the refund is issued to the original purchaser,” then you’d have a case. They went against their own returns policy here.

                • Charmander says:

                  He owns the TV, NOT the original purchaser. Do you not get that fundamental concept?

              • Dallas_shopper says:


                I can’t believe anyone would defend BB’s position here which IMHO is THEFT and is therefore indefensible. It’s RIDICULOUS.

        • Thyme for an edit button says:

          Cash money to the OP.

          Why does he have to pay for their fuck up? THEY should pay for their fuck up. If they need to get the money back from the person they credited. That is for them to deal with, not the OP.

          • Such an Interesting Monster says:

            While an interesting suggestion, it doesn’t really work that way in the real world. There is no way for BB to “get the money” from the original purchaser, and there is no way they (or any other store) is going to eat $240 on something like this.

            • Thyme for an edit button says:

              They’ll eat more than $240 dealing with small claims court.

              And they’ll lose in small claims court.

              If I take your TV from you and pay someone else for it, you really think that flies without consequence in the real world?

            • tsukiotoshi says:

              But they should. The TV did not belong to the purchaser anymore. Once a person is gifted something it is theirs, end of story. By crediting back the purchaser of the item they pretty much stole this guys TV. If they can’t get back the money from the person whose card the store wrongly credited, then yes they need to eat that $240 and give him either cash or store credit in that amount.

        • Costner says:

          What they should have done is offer to contact the original purchaser and explain the situation.

          That said, Eli is probably unwilling to offer contact information because he doesn’t want to get ratted out for returning a gift for cash. Considering the cost of the television it was proably a close family member (parent etc) who bought him the TV, so you would think it wouldn’t be that hard to man up and tell them the truth, but it doesn’t sound as if he wants that horrible burden.

          So yes Best Buy messed up, but without some participation from Eli it makes it difficult for them to resolve the issue. Calling the police rather than the original purchaser doesn’t seem like the most civil way to handle things. Perhaps he should stop looking at Best Buy as some large evil corporation and work towards a mutually beneficial solution that doesn’t result in someone being taken advantage of.

          Besides – what does Eli think is going to happen when the purchaser finds a $240 credit on their statement? They will probably figure it out anyway, so why not skip ahead and get it resolved sooner rather than later?

    • TheMansfieldMauler says:

      Not only can they not legally charge the card, they have no way to do it. They don’t keep the card number. They credited the amount against a unique transaction number (the original charge). They can’t then re-charge that transaction number because the transaction is closed.

    • George4478 says:

      So, in your world, it is a good thing when a person with a gift receipt returns a gift to Best Buy:
      a) the gift-givers credit card is credited AND
      B) the gift is taken by Best Buy AND
      c) the gift receiver is told to go pound sand.

      You “don’t really understand the problem”, do you?

      • Such an Interesting Monster says:

        Um, no, I really don’t. I’m open as to (legal) suggestions for fixing the problem if you can think of any tho.

        TV was returned, credit was issued to original card. Transaction done. While unfortunate there isn’t much BB can do at this point.

        Sometimes mistakes simply can’t get fixed no matter how hard the hive mind concentrates.

        • Thyme for an edit button says:

          Legal Solutions:

          Best Buy can hand over the cash money now to the owner of the televion.

          Or Best Buy can hand over the cash money to the owner of the televsion after getting hauled into small claims court by the owner of the television.

          • Such an Interesting Monster says:

            A.) Not going to happen.

            B.) Well he could try, but I wouldn’t hold my breath.

          • regis-s says:

            Actually, I’d like to see what would happen.

            Not that it would do much good if the judge found in favour of BestBuy. The internet lawyers here would just say he was wrong.

        • daynight says:

          The owner of the TV was not the original purchaser. The money was returned to the wrong person. That is fundamentally wrong! Do you understand this?

          • Such an Interesting Monster says:

            The money was returned to the person that purchased it. It’s not “fundamentally wrong”, it’s a small error.

            As the original purchaser/gift giver is free to give the OP the cash or another gift, yes, I don’t understand the problem.

            • cf27 says:

              Doesn’t matter if the gifter was “free to” give it back to Eli. Best Buy could have given it to anybody and that person would be “free to” give it back to Eli. Best Buy had no right to do anything with Eli’s money other than give it to Eli.

            • cruster says:

              By that logic, when I buy a used car that’s been traded in at a dealership, it would make perfect sense for me to write a check to the person that traded it in, rather than the dealership. I mean, they bought it, right?

              The history of the thing doesn’t matter – regardless of what came before, the OP owned the TV. The person who owned the TV walked into Best Buy; Best Buy took that person’s TV and didn’t give them anything in return. That’s the only part of the story that matters.

          • Max Headroom says:

            No, the money was returned to the right person. The owner (the giftee) never paid for it at all, the purchaser did.

            • cf27 says:

              Doesn’t matter. The gift recipient was the lawful owner of the television, not the person to whom they refunded the money. Best Buy had two options: (1) “Sorry, we won’t give you store credit for the TV,” and let him keep the TV, or (2) “We will give you store credit for the TV” and give him store credit. The fact that they decided to give money back to the person who originally purchased the television is irrelevant — once that person gave the TV to the recipient, he had no further right to any refund.

              Here’s what Best Buy should have done; “Shucks, we screwed up and gave a $240 credit to somebody else. Well, here’s your $240 credit. We’ll have to figure out how to get the $240 back from that other guy, but that doesn’t concern you.”

            • ovalseven says:

              Then what’s the purpose of a gift receipt?

            • LanMan04 says:

              I’m sorry, who had the TV and the receipt? The OP did.

              The TV was *HIS*, the original purchaser shouldn’t matter in the slightest.

            • stevenpdx says:

              It doesn’t matter. The person who purchased the television is no longer the owner of the television. That’s what happens when you give someone a gift. You are transferring ownership of the gift to the receiver.

        • Kimaroo - 100% Pure Natural Kitteh says:

          Why isn’t there a way to void a transaction like this if a mistake is made? I’ve had retailers void transactions before, is Best Buy’s system not capable of this?

        • cf27 says:

          In my view, Best Buy’s actions here were illegal. Eli walked in with a television that he owned and was forced (under penalty of arrest) to leave it there, walking out with nothing. Sounds like a great small-claims case.

          It’s not relevant that the original gifter got the money back — he had as much right to that money as if Best Buy had just given it to the homeless guy living in a box in Best Buy’s parking lot, and then told Eli “Oh, we gave your money to the homeless guy. You’ll have to try to get it back from him.” Sorry. If BB wants to give $240 to somebody, that’s their business and shouldn’t impact Eli.

          This should just be a case of “Best Buy screws up, ends up paying $480 for a television worth $240.”

        • LanMan04 says:

          TV was returned, credit was issued to original card. Transaction done. While unfortunate there isn’t much BB can do at this point.
          Sure there is: Credit the money AGAIN to the OP and Best Buy eats the cost.

        • Charmander says:

          But the $$ wasn’t credited to the owner of the tv.

          The person who bought it for them, whose card was credited, doesn’t own the tv. The OP is the owner of the tv. Once the gift – and gift receipt – was given, the original purchaser has nothing more to do with the tv.

          So it is extremely problematic, from my point of view, that Best Buy took the OP’s property and essentially gave it (in the form of a credit) to someone else.

        • lakecountrydave says:

          This is a simple issue that is covered in every entry level business law class. Once a gift is given the full ownership of the item gifted becomes that of the gift recipient. The gift giver has no claim to the item. The most often used example is that of an engagement ring. If the engagement is broken the ring does not have to be returned.

          In this instance Best Buy issuing a credit to the gift giver is a completely separate issue between Best Buy and the original purchaser. Their error does not affect the current ownership in anyway.

    • CoachTabe says:

      Man, you really don’t get the concept of a gift receipt, do you? Their whole purpose is to allow the recipient to do exchanges and refunds. C’mon, this ain’t that hard, people.

    • rlmiller007 says:

      BB was right. I worked as a manager in retail. You can’t legally charge the card again BUT big deal. charge the card 1/2 the amount anyway. Give the other guy a gift card for the other. Send a letter explaining the snafu to the card holder. If they complain then credit their half. Legal smeagal.

  14. brinks says:

    It’s called a post void, Best Buy.

    Void the transaction in which the error occurred, ring it again correctly, and you’re done.

    • Happy Tinfoil Cat says:

      That’s just crazy talk. Why do what every other sane person would do?

      • Ryan says:

        Knowing Best Buy actually performing a “post void” probably would have required personal approval from the store manager, a call into headquarters, fifty pages of forms, sworn affidavits, resulted in some sort of disciplinary action for the staffer responsible, and the sacrifice of a small animal or the staffer responsible. It is quite possible the staffer had little motivation to fix this situation properly, even if it was the result of inadvertently pressing the wrong button.

        However, before the police were called, the manager should have done a “post void”. Granted, performing a post void at any point could have potentially still appeared worse for the managers to those in corporate than an irate customer handled by the police. If this were true, the standards used for evaluating staffers and managers at Best Buy would seem to be a bit off.

        Granted, there have been businesses with worse standards for evaluations, but such businesses have refined or drilled for oil. I wouldn’t expect any incidents involving customer injuries, but plenty of cases like the case above.

  15. dush says:

    I received a gift card and am almost tearfully shaking in fearfulness at the thought of trying to use it. My whole body is just wracked with convulsions of trepidation. I just know they’re going to screw me over somehow.

    • grendyll says:

      Sell it, seriously. Better to take a nominal hit in value than have to deal with a company like this.

    • Greg Ohio says:

      Buy iTunes cards with it.

      • Greg Ohio says:

        Also, if you don’t mind actually going into the store, you can buy Amazon cards (they’re marketed as Kindle cards, but are actually good for anything at Amazon).

    • ajlei says:

      I got a Best Buy gift card from work and I went in to buy a streaming box, thinking that I’d be lucky to get in and out without some sort of annoyance. However, an employee saw what I was looking at, made some recommendations, allowed me to open the package in-store to look at it, and I checked out with no incident. I’m still a little shocked by it. :D

  16. cheviot says:

    It doesn’t matter to whom Best Buy gave the refund. They didn’t give it to the owner of the television. The television still belongs to him. The relationship between the original purchaser and Best Buy is just that. Between the original purchaser and Best Buy. It has nothing to do with the person doing the return.

    $12 for a small claims court filing will be money well spent.

    • nearly_blind says:

      A key principal of civil law is the responsibility of all parties to mitigate damages. A court will not award damages to the OP if he refused, for no good reason, to ask the gift-giver to resolve this by regiving the gift. Also a the defendent (best buy) and/or a small claims judge, would also want evidence that the original gift-giver did not regive the gift already (to prove you really had damages) which would require asking the gift-giver to testify and/or provide a signed statement (which is more trouble than regiving the gift).

      An analogous situation would be that someone bumbs you and your phone falls on the (soft) ground, and out of principal you demand that the bumber picks it up and both of you refuse to do so and you end up leaving it where it fell out of principle then try suing for the value of the phone.

      It doesn’t matter if the bumber or Best Buy is the causes the problem, you have to take reasonable action to reduce/eliminate actual damages to be successful in a suit, as well as prove actual damages (that the gift was not regifted).

  17. Straspey says:

    And tune in tomorrow for the next chapter in this story:

    “Best Buy mysteriously returns $240 to a gift card I don’t have – says I can’t spend the money without showing it to them.”

  18. Maltboy wanders aimlessly through the Uncanny Valley says:

    Anybody dumb enough to do business at Bust Bye deserves the punishment they will inevitably receive.

  19. TheMansfieldMauler says:

    Most people here appear to have a fundamental misunderstanding about how credit card transactions work.

    Best buy did not credit the card itself because they were not storing the credit card number. What they did was sent the credit card processor a credit against the original charge via a unique transaction number.

    They cannot just re-charge the credit card because they DO NOT have the credit card number. They cannot re-charge against the original transaction because it doesn’t work that way – the credit card processor has no facility in place to do that.

    Granted it was a mistake to reverse the transaction, but once that is done there is nothing they can do without the original credit card, or at least the card information (number, expiration, etc.).

    • cheviot says:

      But none of this is the television owner’s problem. Whether or not Best Buy gave the money back to the original purchaser is immaterial. They still owe the television owner his property or a refund.

      • TheMansfieldMauler says:

        I don’t disagree, but the assumption that someone could just “void” the credited transaction and thus instantly fix the problem is simply wrong.

    • little stripes says:

      Except they could POST VOID the transaction and do it again.

      Seriously, folks, this is not hard.

      • TheMansfieldMauler says:

        I don’t think you understand. You can’t “post void” a closed transaction. Once the refund is credited against the original transaction via unique identifier, that entire transaction has been reversed and closed. You cannot then re-open it with some kind of void transaction.

        What you describe might be able to be done if the transactions have not been posted to the credit card processor or by some other means. That is not what was done when the refund was processed.

        What I’m saying is that the method used by the cashier is one that is not reverseable or voidable. It permanently closed the transaction on the credit card processor’s end. Yes, it was the wrong method to use, but additional actions on that transaction are not possible.

        • little stripes says:

          Then BB should give OP $250. The end. Fixed. BB made the mistake, not the OP. This is on BB. They should fix the problem. It is NOT the OP’s problem. It is BB’s problem.

        • kayfouroh says:

          You can reverse a previously batched out refund or reversal.

          /works in CC processing software development

        • Captain Obvious says:

          I can, but my system doesnt batch out but once per day. If i make such a mistake, I can void the transaction and it will never appear on the statement of the credit card in question, it just disappears. Dont know if BB might have something moer high tech than that.

    • Cat says:

      Maybe, ummmm, VOID THE TRANSACTION??

    • checkcard2009 says:

      Actually, they do. Not at the store, but in their computer system, they store it for 120 days (the timeframe in which the bank can request a signed receipt).

    • rooben says:

      and that fact makes no difference to this topic. Just because best buy has no way to recoup their mistake, should the OP be required to recoup the money on Best Buys behalf.

      Best buy owes OP 250 for the TV. Now, the fact that they credited another customer for 250, well, the manager should be making the phone call asking themto come in with their credit card, because Bust Buy accidentially returned their money. They are still legally obligated to either provide the TV, or the money, to the owner.

      The gift receipt proves chain of ownership. This is like a previous owner of your car being given the sales money, because they were listed before you on the title.

  20. mrm514 says:

    I don’t know if I can believe this… whenever it happened when I worked there, I would just post void the return and do it again.

  21. ganzhimself says:

    I think the most surprising thing about this story is that Eli was actively using Google+.


  22. finbar says:

    Pretty lame that the cops sided with the store; it was clearly Best Buy’s mistake.

  23. Shtetl G says:

    I know the OP doesn’t want to contact the gift giver but he really should to make sure Best Buy credited the gifter and didn’t pull a straight gank.

    Also in the comments of the original article the OP seems to think that the cops and BB thought he was pulling some type of scam with a stolen gift and that’s why he wouldn’t contact the gift giver. Just thought I would throw that out there for whatever its worth in case people missed it.

  24. PSUSkier says:

    I’m not usually one to go out on police bashing sprees, but how were the cops not jerks if they decided he looked like he was going to run out with it?

    “OK, new proposal cop. You put the TV in the warehouse, and I get my money. Everybody wins.”

  25. balderdashed says:

    I’d have left with the TV and, if need be, allowed myself to be arrested. The fact is, it was your property (and unless Best Buy or someone else wants to purchase it from you, and you agree to sell it), it is still. You had every right to leave Best Buy with your TV, just as you had every right to leave with the shirt on your back, your shoes, and any other property you own. The fact that Best Buy choose to issue a credit to another customer for the purchase price of the TV is not your problem.

    • ahecht says:

      Did you not see the part where he had his 4-year-old daughter with him? The $240 TV is not worth having your child spend the afternoon with CPS while daddy is arrested for shoplifting.

      • balderdashed says:

        No, didn’t see that — but I’d still have pressed the issue further. Best Buy stole the guy’s TV; they unlawfully took what was clearly his property. And, depending on the risks involved, if it were my TV I’d be inclined to put up a fight — just as I would if a mugger in the alley behind Best Buy was trying to steal my wallet or wristwatch. I suspect Best Buy might not have really wanted to persist as matters and potential liability escalated. But if I gambled wrong and Best Buy had done something legally stupid, you’re right, having Daddy falsely detained and/or arrested could be very traumatizing for a little girl — and put a whole lot more money in my pocket when I was done suing Best Buy.

  26. Bionic Data Drop says:

    Once Best Buy hits the button to refund the original credit card, there was nothing they could do to reverse it. That refund takes a few days to go through, so it’s not like they could charge the card again. It was a mistake, but one that couldn’t be reversed. He should have gotten a gift card for $25 or so, but that’s it.

    In the end, this guy got inconvenienced. Not ripped off.

    • little stripes says:

      Uh, he was ripped off, since he was the owner of the TV, and BB did not give him HIS money. I bet small claims would agree with me, here.

    • Charmander says:

      How do you figure that? They took his property, and gave someone else some money, not him.

      I wouldn’t find that a minor inconvenience to lose $240 of my own property.

  27. Difdi says:

    Were I the OP, I’d have simply picked up my TV, and walked out. The cops might protest, but honestly, either the man is owed his money or he’s owed his TV. What can the cops charge him with, shoplifting? Shoplifting is an act of theft, and the OP taking his TV home isn’t theft.

    If Best Buy wants their money, they can correct their mistake by voiding the return transaction, or they can sue the person they accidentally credited the money to. Either way, it’s not the OP’s problem, it’s Best Buy’s problem.

  28. Pete the Geek says:

    “I’m sorry, Sir, we accidentally gave your refund to the customer in line ahead of you. That person has already left the store, so there is nothing we can do”.

    “Unfortunately, we delivered your TV to the wrong address. You will have to contact that person to get your TV”.

    Best Buy owes Eli his money and it is up to them to deal with the mistaken refund to the gift-giver.

  29. Extended-Warranty says:

    I’m calling BS here. Any large retailer can “post void” a transaction that would cancel a charge or a refund. I would also bet that the customer had the original receipt instead of the gift receipt if this indeed did go down the way they claim.

  30. homehome says:

    Should BB do something because they made the mistake? Yes. But I understand why they didn’t do the post void. I’ve done post voids when I worked there before, but the difference is it was the actually person who bought it’s card. If it was soemone else, I wouldn’t have been able to do that. You cant just charge and post void someones card if they’re not there. BB should have done something, but honestly nothing they could have reasonably done to make him happy. Sorry, mistakes happen.

    • pulsar0510 says:

      It is completely reasonable to expect Best Buy to eat the loss and give the op store credit equal to the amount of the television. It was THEIR mistake. That he has a relationship with the original purchaser doesn’t absolve Best Buy of their responsibility to the op as he OWNED the TV. How are you not getting that?

  31. HalOfBorg says:

    He was given the TV along with a GIFT RECEIPT – that is for returns/exchanges. So no difficulty there, the gift giver had this possibility sensibly in mind. Go with the defective product or maybe wanted a slightly bigger one – “didn’t fit” is an OK reason. Tell them BB screwed up and returned it, see what they want to do.

  32. ThinkingBrian says:

    Eli updated the article, its been resolved by the gift giver. The gift giver insisted on giving Eli a gift card to another electronic store. But it shouldn’t have taken the gift giver to resolve this, but that’s how Best Buy operates. Now Best Buy looks stupid again and they are out $250, while the gift giver and Eli have both learned a very valuable lesson, don’t both with Best Buy. Way to make a 4 year old girl cry and loss two more customers Best Buy.

  33. 5seconds says:

    So Best Buy took Eli’s television and then gave the money owed to him to n uninvolved 3rd party? It’s not Eli’s job to track down a faulty transaction on Best Buy’s behalf.

  34. BradC says:

    Simple solution: “Officer, the man behind the counter just stole my TV and I want to press charges”

    • ahecht says:

      Simpler solution: Actually read the article.

      “Instead, he beat them to the punch, calling in the cops to talk some sense into the store. Unfortunately, the officers ultimately sided with the store on this one.”

  35. jono_0101 says:

    the OP should ask for the phone and that store personnel dial the executive service line for him, i had a dispute over a replacement plan for my PS3 that bit the dust, and they wanted to even exchange it out for a $200 cheaper model with fewer features and call it a day, i argued until i got on the phone with excutive customer service and spoke to the girl for a minute or so. she wondered aloud why the store couldnt handle this problem themselves and then reamed out the managers and i left with the cheaper model and a $200 gift card like i should have in the first place

  36. j2.718ff says:

    This is a weird situation, and I’m now curious of the legality…

    Let’s say Person A bought the product at BB, and then sold it to Person B. As far as I know, Person B has no right to return the product to BB. If something is wrong with it, his only hope is to talk to Person A. Right?

    With a gift, the same transfer of ownership happens, as did in the example above. But the whole “gift receipt” thing changes things. I’m assuming that the gift receipt means that Person B still is the new owner of the product, but with the transfer of ownership came transfer of right to return, or so I would assume.

    What BB did in this article is essentially take the product, owned by Person B, and transfer its value to Person A. I have trouble seeing how that can be acceptable without some fine print on the gift receipt. Otherwise, it fees to me like BB gave the gift of money to Person A, and stole a product owned by Person B.

    I really would like to see the legal interpretation of this. As I see it, BB stole from one person and gave to another. (It’s a shame their uniforms aren’t green – they seem to be trying to play the role of Robbin Hood here.)

    • Scoobatz says:

      You are making some incorrect assumptions.

      First of all, Person A did not sell anything to Person B. Person A “made a purchase” and gave the item to Person B as a gift. There is no sale between Person A and Person B. The only sale that was made is between Person A and the merchant.

      A gift receipt is not a contract. It doesn’t magically make anyone an owner from a legal pespective. A gift receipt (or any receipt) shows proof of purchase…that’s it. From a legal perspective, gift receipts do not transfer ownership to anyone.

      And, finally, there’s no stealing! What was stolen? Person B simply returned the item to the store. The key term is “return”. Person B did not SELL the item back to the store. If he did, that would be a completely different situation. Person B returned the item which resulted in a situation where no product was sold and no one paid anything. Several people were inconvenienced, but no one was robbed.

      • j2.718ff says:

        > You are making some incorrect assumptions.

        As are you.

        > First of all, Person A did not sell anything to Person B.

        He did in the example I gave. I was describing what I considered to be a similar, but not identical scenario.

        > From a legal perspective, gift receipts do not transfer ownership to anyone.

        I do not believe anybody is claiming they do.

        > And, finally, there’s no stealing! What was stolen?
        > Person B simply returned the item to the store. The key term is “return”.

        At that point in time (while Person B was walking into the store, product in hand), who was the owner of the product? I believe it was Person B. Did Person B freely give the product to the store, or did he give it on condition that he receive compensation for it? He was not compensated, thus it seems to me that he was stolen from.

  37. DanGarion says:

    Sucks because the store screwed up, but I can see why the store is now sort of stuck. They already gave the money back to someone, if they give him money as well the store is out $480 bucks instead of just the $240 for the tv that was returned.

    • Kaleey says:

      Ummm, not quite.
      BB starts with $0, and 1 TV.

      Person A buys the TV. BB is +$240, 0 TVs.
      Person B returns the TV. BB is now +$240, +1 TV
      BB gives Person A the refund (incorrectly): BB is now +$0, +1 TV (notice how we are back where we started)
      So, if BB gives Person B a gift card for $240: BB is now -$240, +1 TV

      Assume at this point that BB replaces the first TV with a new one that Person B wants.
      Person B buys the TV: BB is +$0, 0 TVs

      So BB is out the value of 1 TV ($240), not $480. Granted, that’s not what they wanted, and if the refund had been processed correctly, then they would be +$240, 0 TVs. (And, if Person A gives the money to Person B and Person B spend sit at Best Buy, then Best Buy is exactly where they want to be.)

      But they messed up, so now they are back where they started (+$0, +1 TV that may or may not be defective), and Person B will spend the money Person A gave him elsewhere.

  38. merc78 says:

    Hence just one of the reasons I have stopped shopping at Bad Buys after being a loyal customer for years.

  39. Legit Crypt says:

    I feel like Best Buy is on here all the time.

  40. kingdom2000 says:

    There is only one way to fix this – re-charge the price of the TV to the credit card and then do the return properly. In this case that means putting another charge on the credit card without the credit card owners permission.

    So while Best Buy employee dared to error like a normal human being (how dare he!), there isn’t a clean solution to this. Imagine you are on the other end of this and best buy refunded something to your credit card and then charged you again (without your permission). I doubt anyone here would be pleased if that occured regardless if it was to fix a gift mistake. Consumerist would probably waste not time in running an article on “Best Buy charges credit card without permission” (but more creative title of course) story.

    Giving a choice between doing a re-charging a credit card without permission (which may be illegal) vs. telling the guy he is SOL, I would err on the side of not potentially breaking the law.

    • Thyme for an edit button says:

      So given the choice of breaking the law vs. breaking the law, you’d go with breaking the law. Got it.

  41. red says:

    actually, the best buy employees and the cops were jerks.

  42. CurrentGeekSquadEmployee says:

    This reeks of post void. However, the guy is getting all out of wack about this. What’s up with not wanting to talk to the gift giver? Seems fishy to me. They could be talked to and explained the situation, then things could work out.

    That’s how the story should have went. Consumerist seems to sensationalize this stuff too much, rather than maybe focus on a solution.

  43. Charmander says:

    I totally agree.

    I mean, the whole point of the gift receipt is that the receiver of the gift has a valid receipt in case they need to exchange or get a refund.

    It’s a gift receipt, not an original buyer receipt.

  44. SuperBK says:

    I recevied a monitor as a gift, but I didn’t want it and I didn’t want Best Buy to have to sale. When I returned it, they would only put it back on the purchaser’s credit card. I had to contact my wife’s brother in law and ask him to send me the money.

  45. skakh says:

    How does Best Buy remain in business? Couldn’t the Geek Squad come to the customer’s rescue?

  46. pantherx says:

    Hey All,

    I know this Eli cat. In fact… I work with him and I got a TV as well. I returned it too, but the person handling mine (different store) knew how to fix the problem and/or didn’t think I was trying to scam the store in some way. I think the difference was I had the conversation with the store rep about why I was returning it right away… plus I had another coworker standing directly behind me, with his TV.

    These TVs were a Christmas bonus from work. Honestly we all would have preferred a gift card. Which is what I ended up with… so unfortunately I have to make another trip to Best Buy at some point.

    Most of us didn’t have a need for a TV, especially one that size. It’s too big for a small kitchen/bedroom unit, but it was too small to replace existing televisions, etc. Sure, it’s a gift horse/mouth situation, but that’s not at issue.

    If a person walks into a store with $250 worth of merchandise, that they rightfully own, they shouldn’t have to leave with nothing, especially at gunpoint. It’s called theft. Even if the value of that merchandise was given to someone else. Tis the season; Robbing Peter to pay Paul. (note: I don’t really blame the store or the cops, I blame the Best Buy culture [read: the management] with spreading FUD and generally not trusting anyone)

    This is one of the reasons I don’t like Best Buy… they treat their customers (and employees) like criminals. Luckily the ones in the Omaha area are generally lax about checking receipts. When I lived in the Chicago area it was awful.

    Anyway, locally we won’t be using Best Buy anymore at our place of business and the 50 or so people who work here aren’t going to be going there again either… except to spend these gift cards… which I wish were for Amazon instead.

    • CurrentGeekSquadEmployee says:

      Well, regardless of whether you know him or not, in reading his tale, it comes off differently than I’m sure it went. He says he stayed calm, but I’ve seen too many situations like this to know once you put both sides together you get the truth. He probably got loud or demanding, and if that was the case and I was handling it, he has a choice to calm down, leave, or I call the cops for him.

      2 weeks ago a lady came in trying to return a special package that included a copy of Battlefield 3 in it. She wanted everything else in the package, just a different game. I told her we could return it for her no problem, but the package price was set for those sku’s. She would not be able to switch out the game. However, she could get a full refund if she wanted. She decided to get loud and not listen, so the conversation ended badly for her.

  47. nearly_blind says:

    One of the best pieces of advice I can give readers of this blog, is if you’re in a situation at a store like this and you feel you need to call the police, don’t do it. For many reasons, it’s far more likely that you will get arrested than the police would help resolve the situation to your satisfaction (yes, the world is not fair). If you feel must contact the police out of principle, then go to the station afterwards and file a complaint/report.

  48. IntheKnow says:

    With all other retailers i worked for, a Manager was able to Post Void (cancel) the transaction. The throughput, though, may not go through the credit processing system till the registers are polled at close of business. Nevertheless, something else is up here. As most posters say for the sake of peace of mind: Stay clear of BBY!!!!

  49. karlmarx says:

    I only shop at Costco. Even when I worked for Best Buy I only bought certain things there even with my discount.

    All they had to do at Best Buy was a Post Void on the return and re do the return. It’s a very simple transaction and one that is done everyday. I don’t understand why they made such a scene. It was a simple solution that could have been taken care of in the store by anyone from the Supervisor on Duty over Customer Service to the Store Manager. Corporrate does not need to be involved with a Post Void.

  50. merkidemis says:

    Wow, really? He got the cops involved because BB returned the money to the purchaser and he felt awkward tell them about it? Note to self: do not buy this guy any gifts.

  51. nikalseyn says:

    Just another sad example of why you should not buy anything at BestBuy. They have gone downhill and are no longer on my list of stores from which to buy anything ever again.