Best Buy Needs Your Personal Info To Sell An XM Radio Receiver, Can’t Tell You Why

Here’s what Ted wanted. He already has an XM Radio subscription, and he wanted to buy a replacement radio. His was broken, but Best Buy carries them, and Best Buy stores are everywhere. It couldn’t be that bad, could it? Just stop in, exchange money for radio, leave, walk out. Not so fast, there, Ted: Best Buy needs your name, address, and phone number before they can sell you a radio. And they have no idea why.

I have now tried twice to buy an XM Radio Onyx unit at Best Buy, and
they are unable to sell it to me without my giving a phone number,
name and address. I am an existing XM subscriber but my radio is
broken, so I just wanted to buy some new hardware. BB couldn’t handle
that simple proposition.

The first time I brought the hardware unit to the counter, the clerk
asked for a phone number, and I just said, I don’t want to give one.
The clerk tried to skip the screen asking for the info, and couldn’t.
He told me he couldn’t do it without a number. I asked why they need
it, and he said he thought to check if I was in a rewards program. I
said that I wasn’t, and that I didn’t want to give one. He shrugged
like there was nothing he could do and said the machine won’t check me
out without one, to which I said, “Fine, I’ll buy it somewhere else.”

A few weeks later, I was passing a different BB, and I thought I would
try again and this time just tell them to use all ones.The clerk did
so, which moved to the next screen that asked for my name and address.
I said I didn’t want to give Best Buy all that info, and the clerk
said Best Buy wouldn’t sell it without it. He said I could talk to a
manager, I said sure and went to customer service.

I explained that I just wanted to buy the hardware, and that I already
have an XM account. I didn’t want to sign up for anything through BB;
I just wanted to give them money and walk out with the box in my hand.
She said it was just the XM stuff that the registers demand info for.
I asked who was asking for it, Best Buy or XM? She asked her manager
via headset, and the manager said XM.

Based on what the manager said. I decided to give my phone number
(which XM should have), but when that didn’t
pull up my other info as an existing customer, I again said forget it,
I’ll buy directly through XM online, and walked again. It was obvious
that no one there actually knew who the info was for or why their
machine wouldn’t let me buy this product.

Seems like Best Buy is doing everything possible to make itself
irrelevant in the face of online shopping. One of the real advantages
to a retail store is being able to buy something and leave with
minimal form-filling-out. Not anymore, apparently.

You could always give a fake address, but 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue probably already gets too much junk mail from Best Buy.


Edit Your Comment

  1. HomerSimpson says:

    How else are they going to subscribe you to all those magazines and other crap?

    • limbodog says:

      They’ve got a new scanner which can read your fingerprints at 30 feet. They’ll figure out who you are one way or another.

  2. Extended-Warranty says:

    You do realize that if you purchase it online, they still have your information? So, what is your point?

    • geargutz says:

      I think his point was moreso that since XM/Sirius already has his information, he would get it through them.

      Unfortunately, once they have your information, they never forget it. Cancelled my subscription 2 years ago, I still get mail from them offering to re-activate the radio I threw out a year and a half ago.

      • Extended-Warranty says:


        Sounds like XM does this to ensure the unit is registered to someone and/or preventing resellers. The point is no matter where you buy it, your information will be captured. This is not a Best Buy story.

        • zandar says:

          It is a Best Buy story. Best Buy staff do not understand why they have to ask for all this information. Best Buy seem incapable of selling a customer a product without asking for this information. In the pursuit of the profit over customer service, Best Buy has FAILED at BOTH for this customer.

          • regis-s says:

            That’s BS. I’ve stood next to people that don’t have Rewards Cards and they aren’t asked for any of this information.

        • Jawaka says:

          So the OP made two trips to Best Buy and wasted how much time and still never purchased the item he wanted because he doesn’t want anyone to have his address? Seems like a lot of time and effort to waste on something so petty.

          • shea6408 says:

            “Seems like a lot of time and effort to waste on something so petty.”

            Obviously you don’t have a problem with everybody and their brother knowing your personal information. Not all of us feel the same way, and the issue is NOT a “petty” one.

        • jennymae2009 says:

          It seems to me that if I buy a radio and want to resell it later that’s my right as the owner of the radio. They shouldn’t be allowed to do things to prevent that.

    • Delicious Spam is delicious says:

      but xm already has his information so no loss there.

      • Lyn Torden says:

        But BB doesn’t. How’s he going to know that BB won’t keep a copy and also send him more crap? And maybe the sale will go through programs that cause him to get double crap from XM.

  3. CurrentGeekSquadEmployee says:

    I have never rang one of these out, so I don’t know if maybe the POS terminals require certain information when you scan it. I’ll try and check this on my next shift. As long as that is not the case, you shouldn’t be required to give your information if you don’t choose to.

    • darthsid12 says:

      The only way it would ask for information is if you were 1: buying a protection plan on the unit which most likely there was, 2: if you were applying for a BBY credit card, 3: buying tech support for it.

      • darthsid12 says:

        Oh forgot about the reward zone. The employee should have been able to skip past that part.

    • Raziya says:

      4 year BBY employee. I believe they require it because it’s part of our agreement with XM/Sirius. Check it on your POS – even if you try to hit F2 to quit out it will just void the entire sale. You can put in a fakie address/phone number though if the customer is throwing a tantrum (we’ve had to a few times).

  4. geargutz says:

    Just tell them your address is 1060 W. Addison, Chicago IL. It worked pretty good for Elwood. :D

    • Blueskylaw says:

      Mrs. Murphy: May I help you boys?
      Elwood: You got any white bread?
      Mrs. Murphy: Yes.
      Elwood: I’ll have some toasted white bread please.
      Mrs. Murphy: You want butter or jam on that toast, honey?
      Elwood: No ma’am, dry.
      [Mrs. Murphy gives him a look, then turns to Jake]
      Jake: Got any fried chicken?
      Mrs. Murphy: Best damn chicken in the state.
      Jake: Bring me four fried chickens and a Coke.
      Mrs. Murphy: You want chicken wings or chicken legs?
      Jake: Four fried chickens and a Coke.
      Elwood: And some dry white toast please.
      Mrs. Murphy: Y’all want anything to drink with that?
      Elwood: No ma’am.
      Jake: A Coke.
      Mrs. Murphy: Be up in a minute

    • norska says:

      darn, I wanted to say that! +1

    • Derek Balling says:

      I do that shit all. the. time. It’s important to remember the ZIP code (60613).

    • skrolnik says:

      And your phone number is 867-5309.

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

    I dislike this practice in general. If I’m purchasing a legal item, with cash, there’s no reason for me to have to provide my phone number, name, address, email address, etc. to the vendor. I understand why I have to give my driver’s license when I buy pseudoephedrine (thanks, meth people), but I can’t see any reason why someone wanting to buy a replacement radio needs to hand over anything except money or a credit card.

    This just leads to more junk email, junk mail, and in the case of phone#, more telemarketing calls since you now have a “previous business relationship” to the vendor. This is one of the many reasons I avoid Radio Shack.

    • Steevo says:

      Sounds like Best Buy gets a spiff for activations from XM. So they want your info so they can claim it.

    • ChuckECheese says:

      “Meth people.” It’s so much more humane a phrase than tweek or chickenhead.

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

        I just bought lye for my soapmaking project at the mom and pop hardware store in town. I went in, asked for lye, as in sodium hydroxide, not drain cleaner, and the clerk said “what do you want lye for?” I told him I was going to make home made soap, and he paused a second and said “OK, it’s right over here”. I was really surprised I didn’t have to sign for it, as it’s an ingredient in meth, too, but I guess I don’t look like the meth cooker type.

        • Cacao says:

          Oh wow. You’re replying to my reply, but it’s appearing on the wrong article. What’s going on here, Consumerist??

  6. jvanbrecht says:

    My guess is that this is a legacy requirement that XM made BB comply with when they were selling subsidized satellite radio units.

    Buying a Tivo requires similar information when you purchase the units at the subsidized price. I am sure there are other devices that require this as well.

    • darthsid12 says:

      If only to register with the company. I don’t see any other reason why it would ask for the information.

  7. Blueskylaw says:

    I will go so far as giving them my ZIP code, but I will not give them any other information; there is no need for it other than to sell my information and overload me with spam. I once created a junk e-mail account and went to Best Buy to buy a thumb drive I needed badly; within a day or two I was already getting spammed to high heaven.

    This is how a business is supposed to work:

    1). I go to a store
    2). I like something
    3). I give you money
    4). You give me product

    • JJFIII says:

      It may be a requirement of SiriusXM. Best Buy does not do that on all products, so that would lead anybody with a brain to realize the company selling the units has put certain data as being required to sell the unit. If you do not like that, take it up with SiriusXM, it is certainly not a BEST BUY issue. Why you think asking a cashier why this is required would do anything is just stupidity.
      Of course, it seems if it has any connection to Best Buy, the bitches in this place will blame it all on them

  8. Back to waiting, but I did get a cute dragon ear cuff says:

    Nah, use 1600 New York Avenue NW instead. Look at a map and think about powerful politics in 1770-1800.

  9. MaxH42 thinks RecordStoreToughGuy got a raw deal says:

    This is why I stopped shopping at Radio Shack; they wouldn’t sell me batteries if I didn’t give them my phone number.

    Of course, that was before Google Voice (or even Grand Central), so now I could go back….but why would I?

    • GaijenSoft says:

      I shop at The Source all the time. I always provide fake information unless i’m buying a warranty (No longer need to have a receipt to claim warranty there, just postal code). My friend rings me in all the time and knows I don’t live at the address i’m giving him anymore, but doesn’t care.

      • JenK says:

        I’m the same way, but I give them my real address. I just bought a cell phone at the Source the other day and was surprised when I had to give my info (I paid full price, no contract). The guy though said they collected it on every cell phone they sold. It didn’t actually bother me, I don’t get junk mail or phone calls from them ever and it makes warranty a snap. Because they collect the information, you don’t have to show a reciept. It’s actually fantastic.

  10. Phred says:

    Several years ago I walked into a Pizza Hut to place a take-out order. The employee behind the counter took the order then asked for my phone number. I asked why he needed it, and he said the system wouldn’t take the order unless I provided it. I asked if all of the customers seated in the dining room 10 feet away had been asked for their phone numbers, and he admitted they had not. So I again asked why I had to provide one. At that point he got frustrated and called for a manager who had to enter some sort of code to allow the order to be processed sans phone number. Weird.

    • Costner says:

      I just respond with [area code] 867-5309. Years ago cashiers would chuckle… it seems these days a lot of them don’t even know it isn’t my real number.

    • JJFIII says:

      So treating the cashier like shit is what gets you off? How about saying, I prefer not to give that information out, could I see a manager? But instead you pull out being a douche bag to a person who has ZERO control over what management at Pizza Hut does. Good job

      • Phred says:

        I don’t treat the cashier badly. I merely asked why my phone number was required to order a pizza. It’s not an illogical question, and I wasn’t at all rude when I asked it. The frustration was on the part of the cashier because he didn’t know the answer to my question, which was not my fault. If you’re going to demand personal information, you should at least know what to tell customers when they ask why you want it.

      • bd2008 says:

        Does treating the other commenters on this site get you off?

        You are a complete hypocrite. Every single one of your posts are inflammatory and rude.

    • Lyn Torden says:

      So just make up a phone number. But don’t use mine: 234-567-8900

  11. Costner says:

    Hey it could be a lot worse…. he could have went to Radio Shack where they ask for name, address, phone, a DNA sample, the names of your children, and whether you have ever needed any type of medication to assist you with those intimate moments.

  12. makingcentsofit says:

    I worked retail in high school. We were required to ask for a phone number, but if someone refused we were instructed to enter 999-999-9999. It was all for marketing. The area code and first three numbers tell the neighborhood (ever notice most of your neighbor’s numbers start the same). Some stores have switched and now just ask for a zip code. Again, 99999 if a person refuses.

    • elangomatt says:

      The store I used to work at had a lot of people enter 90210 for the ZIP code, the store is in IL.

    • Phred says:

      The area code and three numbers after that are no longer valid indicators of where someone lives, not in the age of cell phones and number portability. My daughter has a Chicago area code but lives in San Francisco.

  13. yankinwaoz says:

    I just use 420 Stoh Nyer Ave.

  14. SkokieGuy says:

    Ted, why isn’t your anger directed at XM Radio, since they are the ones requiring BB to capture this info?

    You can:
    A. Answer the questions with real info
    B. Answer the questions with fake info
    C. Walk out, then go to another store and attempt the same thing
    D. Buy online and have to provide your real info
    E. Write a lengthy diatribe to Consumerist slamming Best Buy for XM Radio’s policy BB is enforcing.

    Which option requires the least amount of time, effort and hassle?

    • Lyn Torden says:

      F. Write a lengthy diatribe to Consumerist slamming Best Buy for going along with XM Radio’s abusive marketing campaign.

      • CarlS says:

        And if he hadn’t done so, then we wouldn’t be having this discussion, now would we? And if such a discussion never took place, no one would know it’s a problem, and it would never get taken care of.

        Now here’s an idea . . . why doesn’t someone take this conversation and send it to XM Radio’s marketing department? If the problem starts there, that’s also where it can be ended.

        That’s what I did, the last time this happened to me. Squeaky wheels, ya know?

  15. jefftaylor says:

    Reminds me of when I was doing a lot of audio tinkering and had to go to Radio Shack a lot (this is way before RS became a cell phone front) and for every purchase they wanted your name, address, phone (this is back when RS mailers would clog your mail box for days on end).

    So after another $1.27 cash transaction was turned into a running interrogation I started having fun. I was Syd Barrett, Roger Waters, Doug Henning, etc my address a Kellogg PO Box in Battle Creek I remembered from a back of cereal box or maybe 2 doors down from the RS store itself, phones could be anything with the right area code, but I did succeed in using the old 555-1212 info line several times.

    I am continually amazed RS is still in business.

  16. Garry Bentwick says:

    Why not simply reply with:
    John Smith
    101 Main Str
    Anywhere USA

  17. belsonc says:

    Why not just give them the address of the store if they need your address? And yeah – 867-5309 just because you can. Or, if you want to make sure they don’t understand the reference, 736-5000.

    • Dave on bass says:

      Wow, bravo for the 736-5000 reference!!

      I’m only 35 but I get it =0)

      • belsonc says:

        I do what I can – and I’m happy someone got it. ;-)

        • bbb111 says:

          the problem with 736-5000 is that it is an assigned number in most area codes. In New York it is the number for the Hotel Pennsylvania.

          [According to Snopes, 867-5309 is unassigned in some area codes, but is assigned in some.]

  18. Ed says:

    Never has this 2 second video been more appropriate.

  19. GaijenSoft says:

    People, especially managers, get mad at me when I ask all sorts of questions related to systems I am being trained on, because I ask so many, but my hypotheticals aren’t far-reaching.

    During my call center years, all my training questions ended up saving on-floor supervisors plenty of time, as I remembered the answers to my many questions in class.

    For instance, when working for a cell phone cell center for a MAJOR cell phone provider, we were going through on how to add a cell phone to the account, and add a SIM card to it. I asked how we could add it if either the customer didn’t have the IMEI on them, or if it was an unlocked phone and our carrier doesn’t carry that model. I was told to put in all 9’s, but only after the trainer got all huffy. I ended up using that knowledge on quite a few occasions, and saved my supervisors time but not asking questions I should have been asking in class, and saved the customer time and aggravation by not placing them on hold.

    If i was being trained at best buy cash, and we came to this part, I would ask how to skip it OR if I could put in a “555” number instead, and just put in false information if the customer is adamant in refusing to provide it.

    • Lyn Torden says:

      You don’t need an IMEI to add a SIM number. The customer may not even have a new phone to put the SIM in, yet. And they might have 2 phones to switch it between like I do. The system will record the IMEI as soon as they use that phone on the carrier network, anyway.

  20. SirWired says:

    I’m guessing that XM wants the info so they can follow up with you about getting the subscription set up.

    That said, there should be a way to bypass it.

  21. mbd says:

    In situations like this, I usually give 777-3456 (movie showtimes) for a phone, and 666 Mockingbird Lane (the Munster’s address) for an address.

    • TerpBE says:

      You’re on the wrong block. Theirs was 1313 Mockingbird Lane. They were creepy, but not satanic.

      • Joseph S Ragman says:

        I just use 9764 Jeopardy Lane, Chicago, IL 60666.

        Al Bundy is not one to complain …

  22. Overheal says:

    So let me get this straight OP:

    You didn’t want to reveal your personal information (eg. Name, Phone Number, Email address) to a retailer in order to buy a product.

    So instead, you went online and purchased it from Sirius, who already has your name, phone number, billing and email addresses, and your payment information on file

    And – heres the kicker – you think Best Buy is flailing in an online retail world against online retailers which ask you to create accounts using your name, address, email, phone number, and in many cases store your billing information for 1-click buying?

    I wager Best Buy requires the information for the same reason anyone else requires it, retailers the world over like to profile their shoppers to target them with things they are more likely to buy. Pretty simple, really.

    The other aspect is if you are doing returns or exchanges, the reason a drivers license is increasingly required is to track returns and exchanges behaviors and ultimately to stamp on returns fraud and “product renters” – that special breed of people who buy a $3000 TV for the superbowl and return it a few days later, forcing the retailer to sell it at a loss as an open item.

    The Other Other reason retailers ask for your info is so its handy for the next purchase: Say you want to buy some software off the shelf. Maybe that software requires POS activation and to be tied to a customer email address. Rather than have to reenter the same string og information every time you buy its easier to just pull the whole range of it up by your phone number.

    I just dont understand OP how you think with the way the world is trending how any of that information is considered sacrosanct? You can keep trying to hang on to it a little longer but ultimately this is just information we will all have to get comfortable divulging in order to do business with people.

    • Lyn Torden says:

      There was no profiling in this case. No questions were asked about favorites and things Ted likes. With the information asked, the best they could do is market everything or anything to Ted.

      At least with email I can give a different email address everywhere that asks for it (though I always refuse claiming I left that at home). If they ask for a phone number I say I don’t have one. If they ask for an address I make one up that’s beyond the end of the road I no longer live at.

      • jumbojeepman says:

        It sets up a database of purchase activity. Once you purchase a few items they can see what you tend to actually buy, rather than asking you what you might buy.

  23. SegamanXero says:

    XM Satellite radios require an unruly amount of info to sell. XM wants Associates in Best Buy to collect info so XM can make an account with them, and also sell the customer a membership plan. I know they can opt for a plan later though. The initial information collection is unavoidable, XM wants that info. The same thing would happen at any other retailer, or even if purchasing the unit online through XM.

  24. sp4rxx says:

    OP error – order online and get in-store pickup – simple, end of story.

  25. evilpete says:

    Home phone: 212.555-1234
    Address: 123 Mail St.

  26. incident_man says:

    Whenever I have to give out phone number and address info, unless something is being shipped directly to me, I use the Fake Name Generator:

  27. ZachPA says:

    This SAME sequence of events happened to me with XM and Best Buy, also. I stopped at a BB to buy an XM radio, didn’t want to give up the info and was denied sale. Stopped by a different BB several weeks later and same deal as the OP.

    So, I got wise. I had the radio in hand, put it down for the cashier to scan it, then plunked down the 105.99 in cash on the cashier’s table, picked up the unit and walked right past the checker and left. Never heard from them since. Sure, I don’t have a receipt to show for it, but I definitely own this unit and they have no idea who I am.

    • CurrentGeekSquadEmployee says:

      Actually, they probably do. Maybe not your name, but I’m sure they know you. We had someone do the same thing one day. So we grabbed video of him, and proceeded to forward it to other stores. That way, if he tried to return his item without a receipt, we will kindly ask him to leave.

  28. jeffbone says:

    “I’ll buy directly through XM online.”

    Obvious solution is obvious…

  29. norska says:

    588-2300 :)

  30. gman863 says:

    Phone: 212-867-5309

    Name: Alotta Fagina
    Address: 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
    City: Springfield, OR

    A single shout out that covers Tommy Tutone, Austin Powers, Obama and The Simpsons.

  31. jumbojeepman says:

    The clerk probably doesn’t know or care why they want the information. The manager may or may not know why, but in the end, it’s because the higher-ups at Best Buy or XM want the info. I work in retail, and when people ask silly questions like why, I normally respond with, “Because my boss said so.” I don’t get paid enough to put a bunch of thought into the why.

  32. makoto says:

    Keep in mind the POS systems prompt for this information automatically, often without informing managers or other associates that it has occurred or if it is possible to bypass or why (and for whom) it is being requested.

    For example, my registers ask for zip codes. Randomly. It’s very annoying. No one really asks customers because frankly, we don’t care. However, we are supposed to. They don’t send mailings based on it. No one knows why. It’s just how it’s done.

  33. spamtasticus says:

    Next time give them the name of the clerk you are dealing with and the phone and address of the best buy.

  34. Rhinoguy says:

    Best Buy won’t sell you a radio without all your personal information but Dick’s Sporting Goods sells me .44 Magnum rounds for cash no questions asked.

  35. mattwillis4 says:

    It’s because of the contract they have with SiriusXM. The information is required by SiriusXM, not Best Buy. The POS system prompts for the information and it must be put in. Too much stupidity from the person who wrote the letter for a non-issue.

  36. Kyle V says:

    It’s required by XM to activate the radio’s ID number, much like a cell phone. Not to activate service, but to let XM know it’s been purchased and who by. Best Buy doesn’t keep that info as it’s sent right to XM. This is done so XM knows it isn’t a stolen product. Without this activation, the radio is unusable, even with your existing subscription. Keep in mind that online retailers including XM direct will still collect this information. Even if it doesn’t ask for it separately, it’ll take it from your shipping and billing info.