The Best Buy Sometimes Isn’t

snowday-truck.jpgYou’d think, with the economy the way it is, that companies would make a little effort to do right by their customers. That’s obviously not the case with Best Buy.

I am so angry with them right now I could scream, but since that won’t do any good, I’ll start at the beginning and tell you all about my mother-in-law’s experience with them this past week.

First, some background. My mother-in-law is 73 years old. She has spent the better part of her life busting her ass to provide for her children, and make life better for everyone who knows her.

Fifty years ago next month she gave birth to a little girl who was severely mentally handicapped. Her doctors told her that the little girl would not live to see her third birthday, then, when she did, they tried to convince her that her little girl, April, would not make it to eight. They were wrong again. April outlived three of those doctors and will turn 50 years old next month. My mother-in-law’s faith in God and her sheer determination are a formidable force to be reckoned with. Anyone who knows her, knows that.

Last year, on top of everything else going on in her life, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. They caught it early, but she has had a bit of a rough time with surgery and then treatment. After removing 2 lymph nodes, then going back in and removing 10 more, she developed lymphoedema. She has been undergoing radiation treatments every day, and she’s just a little more than half way through that treatment. Two weeks ago she took our three sons to the doctor with her, so they could meet her radiologist and see the equipment they use during her treatment. Their adventure with her that day proved valuable because they seem to understand better what she’s going through.

At the end of each weekday she is exhausted. Between working, taking care of April, and traveling all the way into Atlanta for the radiation treatment, she is completely worn out by the time she gets home.

Early last week, on her way home from treatment, she stopped by Best Buy to look at their selection of digital cameras. If she knew then, what she knows now, she never would have stepped foot in that store.

She had promised our youngest son that she would help him find a digital camera. Apparently, grandmothers do that sort of thing. She picked out a Casio Exilim EX-Z80 camera. Our youngest son liked the design and because of it’s slim design she thought it would be perfect for him. Without another word (or reason for hesitation) she purchased the camera. The sales person at Best Buy completed the sale and my mother-in-law took the camera home.

She gave the camera to our son that same day and he brought it home before opening it. As we opened the bag we noticed a few things. First of all, the box had already been opened. We are all familiar with Best Buys famous 14-day return policy sticker they place on their boxes. That seal was already broken. That was my first clue something was wrong.

We opened the camera and our youngest was beyond ecstatic. He took two pictures of our dog, but then the camera was full. I thought it was odd the camera could be full already, so I started hunting for an extra SD card I knew I had laying around. Meanwhile, I looked at the pictures on his camera.

As I pulled up the first photo, I was stunned. It was a photo of a black woman sitting on a bed, with white shutters behind her. The Casio box was sitting on the bed in the corner of the photo. The second photo was a close up of the same woman, and the remaining photos were awesome shots of the bedroom.

I realized the camera had been used, so I called the mother-in-law to tell her what was going on. At the time, we figured, well, the camera was used, which sucked, but our 7 year old really liked it so we figured it wasn’t worth the hassle of returning it solely for that reason. Then I did the stupidest thing I have done in a really long time. I deleted the “used” photos to make room for our little guy’s soon to be taken photographic masterpieces.

That’s when I saw his photos of our dog. They were hazy. Real hazy. Something wasn’t right, so I tried taking a couple photos myself, and they sucked. There was a definite problem with the shutter or the flash or a combination of both.

My mother-in-law called the Best Buy store and spoke to Nathaniel. When he found out the camera had been used he apologized and told my mother-in-law to bring the camera back into the store and he would exchange it and also refund 10% off the total for her inconvenience.

It took her a couple days because of her fatigue but today she asked my father-in-law to take the camera over to the store and exchange it. That’s when the fecal matter hit the proverbial fan.

They refused to exchange the camera. They informed my father-in-law that the camera was damaged, that it appeared it had been dropped, therefore they could not exchange it. They also tried to convince him that the photos we deleted were nothing but “demo” photos placed on the camera. If those were “demo” photos, I shutter to think what the “real” photos would have included. It was clear those photos were a demonstration of a twenty-something black woman’s body, not a camera’s ability to take photos.

My father-in-law returned home with the camera in hand, and my mother-in-law spent the rest of the afternoon and part of this evening on the phone with Erica at the Best Buy store and Billy who answered the 1-888-Best-Buy number when she called to talk to them.

After discussing the issue with Erica, because Nathaniel would not speak to her on the phone, she was told to call the toll free number and they hung up on her. She talked to Billy for quite a while with no resolution. The store is claiming that the camera was not used, the photos we saw were demo photos, and that my mother-in-law had damaged the camera.

We know better, but it’s her (our) word, against theirs, and they have no intention of being honorable in this matter. If they did, they wouldn’t have shown such disrespect to my mother-in-law today.

So that’s where we are tonight. My mother-in-law is sitting at her house, completely exhausted, with a useless camera sitting on her table.

Nathaniel is a coward. He immediately agreed to exchange the camera, but then refused to and couldn’t even man up enough to speak to my mother-in-law in person on the phone. Best Buy needs to make this right, because my 73 year-old mother-in-law doesn’t need the hassle they are giving her. She works everyday to be able to spend the little money she has, and she doesn’t deserve the treatment she received today from Best Buy.

Tomorrow I will be calling Best Buy, at 1-888-Best-Buy to see if I can get a resolution to this matter. She has enough going on with her cancer treatment, so I am going to do what I can to make sure this doesn’t weigh on her mind.

If you know someone at Best Buy who can help, drop me a line, it would be greatly appreciated.

[Note (03/03/2009 03:00)]: I have posted an update to this entry titled, It’s Time For An Apology.

[Note (03/05/2009 00:43)]: I have posted another update to this entry titled, Holding Those Accountable.

[Note (03/05/2009 23:25)]: I have posted another update to this entry titled, An Optimistic Outlook.

[Note (03/06/2009 23:38)]: This matter has been resolved with Best Buy. Read my post titled, Above And Beyond, for the details.

11 thoughts on “The Best Buy Sometimes Isn’t

  1. I hope you get this sorted out, I hate best buy with a passion! but no matter who it is I would suggest opening those kind of purchases at the counter or in front of an employee to prevent this in the future.
    good luck!
    -Sage (PopNFre$h)

  2. Actually, I was in a Best Buy store just last week (probably your neck of the woods–Alpharetta).

    I was exchanging out a printer. The Poor guy next to me was finding out about their “Re-Stocking FEE”–as I stood there waiting on my transaction.

    I hope they don’t do the same to you! (Pretty sure he was returning a camera–as I heard the lady say something about Stocking FEE’s and camera’s, computers and such.

    Well, if you need help protesting the Store, I’ll help.
    We’ll get picket signs and everything!

    God speed to your Mother!

  3. The bestbuy folks did the same to me.
    I went to return a new camera that had been pretty abused.
    They offered an exchange, so I accepted.
    After a 30 minute wait the guy comes with a cheap cannon (mine was a sony with a zeiss lens) and says “straight exchange”. I said ‘hold on, this camera is worth $100 less than mine, I will take a refund instead.
    They refused.

    Then I discover that the serial number on the camera was different than the phone’s. They said “oh we mix up the boxes with the cameras all the time, but no, your camera is still new.

    I took a picture and showed them blurry dirt on the inside of the lens and screws missing from the casing. I told them they had tried fixing a camera in store, put it in a new box and sold it to me.
    They said ‘oh, then you have to submit it for warrantee repair’.

    I left the store, sent the camera in, and they refused repair because the camera case had been ‘opened’.
    After 4 months of arguing and finally presenting them with small claims court papers, I got my camera back “fixed” – they had cleaned the fingerprints from inside the lens, did not replace the scratched case nor replace the screws.
    The camera takes pictures if I hold it very very still…… but it just isn’t what I expected for $600.


  4. I work at a Best Buy in South Dakota. I’m quite appauled at the service you’ve received . . . I know this happens to good customers sometimes. I can’t promise that this wont happen to you again at another Best Buy. I can promise it wont happen at my BBY.

    Also as a side not . . . in these shady times I hate to see things like this happen to good people. I may not know you, but obviously you are not in the wrong. Let me know if there’s anything I can do for you and your family.

    FYI – restocking fees are being removed in test markets as we speak.

  5. So I feel your pain, but let’s take a look at this from both perspectives. Retail is one of those jobs like being a waiter. You have to experience it to see how it feels to be in that role. Each and every day customers come in and try to deceive retailers for various reasons. This costs them money. Even Walmart of all people have changed their return policy because of this. Several things could have caused the experience:
    -How did they act towards the employees?
    -Was the store consistent or did it change?
    -If you bought the camera “new” then why wait so long to try and return it?
    -A 1/1/08 date is the default date on new cameras
    -Maybe those pictures of the agent were from where they tested the camera when it was brought in to see if it was working
    -Mistakes happen – maybe it was not intentional. I actually doubt it was.
    -Maybe a customer bought it, opened it, used it, and resealed it and they had no idea.
    -Maybe the manager was busy and could not get to you at that exact second.

    Be realistic before you go mud-slinging at people just because they make you mad one time. Think about all of the times you shoped there and got something good. Why do people never spend time writing about the good service they receive.

    This is ridiculous.

    • Hi Mike,

      You’re kidding right?

      We bought the camera on 2/25 and tried to return it on 3/1.

      If the 1/1/08 time stamp was the “default” date, then the date of the photos taken on 2/7/09 and 2/25/09 would not have matched the dates they were taken (we know the photos timestamps from the metadata, and the ones we took were dated 2/25/09. Granted the 1/1/08 could have been the default, but those photos had to be taken BEFORE my son took any photos.

      Mistakes happen? They called my mother-in-law a liar, there is no mistake about that.

      I have been very realistic about this whole issue and I have not been “mud slinging” as you call it because they made me mad. I am trying to get this issue resolved because they lied to us and they refused to even listen to what we had to say until they learned we recovered the photos, then their entire story changed, very quickly.

  6. I work at Best Buy and I can honestly say I would rather help out the customers than make my managers happy. Yes, I understand that the company needs to make money; however when it comes to customer service I care more about saving YOU money than I care about making Best Buy happy. For years I have seen managers at this company make stupid decisions when it comes to managing customers and keeping them satisfied. I think they have always had a mentality that a customer that is buying is a friend, and a customer returning a product is an enemy. Idk, I do not want to bash the company that puts money in my pocket. . . The store I am at now is amazing and I love the managers but I agree with a lot of what you said and I understand your frustration. Please understand that there are some employees are not out there to screw you over. If you would have dealt with me your opinions about Best Buy would be much more positive.

  7. Wow.. Well the fact that the camera was resold was definately a mistake…but anyone who read the article can see that the author is not very smart at all. The author claimed the camera was malfuntioning, yet the pictures that were “recovered” of both the previous user and geek squad came out with perfect quality. Which begs the question: What happened to the camera in between then? Was it dropped? Out of frustration did someone hit it? And can as far as evidence, I believe the camera can be dropped on a carpeted surface and leave no evidence and still be defective. In fact, if it were dropped on carpet, wouldn’t it only leave minor scratches?

    Best Buy reselling the camera as new was definately a wrong move, but don’t be so quick to judge the rest of the story until you look at the big picture.

  8. Is it just me, or does it sound a lot like Mike and “LOL” work for Best Buy? What’s the matter Nathaniel? Can’t climb down gracefully?

  9. You don’t have to judge the rest of the story. Best Buy selling a camera as new that was used is illegal. They have no ethical ground to stand on. The story ends there, what happened afterwards is a consequences of best buys unethical, immoral and illegal behavior. They lied from before they even met the customer and intentionally arranged matters to cheat the customer.

    Get my point, they simply have no rights left once they started down this crooked road.

  10. LOL (#8) ‘perfect quality’? really. if none of your pictures turn out better than that, you need to return your camera.

    what a set of bad photos (and those are) can’t really convey is the impossibility of getting anything better from the camera. Sure, any camera/operator combination may come out fuzzy, but generally, a change in setting, esp. to autofocus; or a change in operator fixes the problem. Evidently, those solutions didn’t help, therefore, camera is defective.

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