Today was a very interesting day. I find it completely ironic how a company will change it’s tune when they realize they have been nothing but complete and utter schmucks. I’m pretty sure the staff that insulted and berated my mother-in-law didn’t give their actions a second thought when they showed up for work today, but this evening I uncovered some things that put the ball is back in our court, and they are not going to be too happy about it.
Twenty-four hours ago my mother-in-law was called a liar, she was demeaned by Erica (a Best Buy staff member), the “manager” Nathaniel refused to engage her on the phone, and the corporate “customer relations” representative, Billy, told her there was nothing he could do about it. My mother-in-law endured Erica’s sarcasm and her rude and inconsiderate attitude. She tried to humiliate her over the phone and then Billy took the word of Nathaniel and Erica over the word of their customer, without knowing one way or the other, who might be telling the truth.
I’m pretty sure if asked, the corporate office will deny that ‘jackass’ training is included when they hire new employees, but Erica did her best to make my mother-in-law feel stupid for trying to pursue the matter, and after insulting her and getting very sarcastic with her on the phone, she told my mother-in-law to call the corporate office and hung up on her.
When my mother-in-law called the corporate office, Billy told her there was nothing they could do because the manager at the store informed him that the camera “appeared it had been dropped”.
Take a look at these photos and tell me where the visible damage is.
Here’s the front,
and here’s the back,
So, could you find it? Of course you couldn’t. There is a small “scratch”, if you can even call it that, on the bottom right on the front side, and there is a small “scuff” mark on the bottom left on the back. That’s it. That’s their argument for “appeared it had been dropped”. Of course, that scratch and the scuff mark could have been made while the camera was in someone’s pocket or in a camera bag. Either way, it appears to be normal use. Normal use of a camera that according to them had never been used before my mother-in-law purchased it.
When my father-in-law stood in the store with the camera in hand, Nathaniel informed him there were no longer any images on the camera. Well, duh, my mother-in-law already told him they had been deleted to make room for my son’s photographic masterpieces. Nathaniel also said that the photos I deleted were only “demo” photos placed on the camera by the nice folks at Casio.
You know it and I know it. Casio does not put demo photos on their cameras. If they did, I doubt they would use photos of a black woman sitting seductively on a bed with the camera box at the corner of the bed. Fuzzy photos of white shutters in the same bedroom won’t exactly sell any cameras either.
Anyway, have you ever heard of “PhotoRescue Expert”? It’s a really nice application that allows you to recover images you may have accidently deleted. Wouldn’t it be awesome if I was able to run that application and scan the camera to see if I could recover any of those “demo” photos?
Oh but wait, I did. Due to the fact we had taken a couple photos before we realized the camera wasn’t working right, the first couple images were not recoverable.
The first photo showed a young black woman sitting on a bed. The second shot showed the empty bed with the camera box sitting at the end of the bed. The third shot… Oh, here, you can see the third shot for yourself. You can see the woman and the headboard in this photo.
Here is the fourth photo, notice the bed and the camera box sitting on the bed. Those are some fuzzy looking blinds if you ask me. Nice demo.
The fifth image shows a close up of the camera box. You can clearly see the broken seal on the cd sitting on top of the camera box. Of course, this can’t be the box for this camera because Nathaniel and Erica both say the camera had never been used before it was purchased by my mother-in-law.
The three remaining images we recovered were taken by my son (when we first realized there was an issue with the camera). The image at the top of this post is one of those oddly exposed images.
In addition to recovering the photos, PhotoRescue Expert also reveals the date and time the photos were taken. That first photo was taken on February 8, 2009 at 3:24. Funny. My mother-in-law didn’t purchase the camera until February 25th.
As I said before, today was a very interesting day. Not only did I prove the camera had no signs of damage, I also proved that the camera had indeed been used before my mother-in-law purchased it. But that wasn’t all I found…
After recovering the images this evening, I called the Best Buy “customer relations” number again. TJ informed me that he could not help me from the corporate office and said I would have to take the camera back into the store with the “evidence” to show the store manager. I decided to call the store and ask a few questions.
It turns out Nathaniel is NOT the store manager. He is the service manager. My mother-in-law was under the impression he was the store manager, since that is who she had asked to speak to. The store managers name is Ryan and after hearing what I had to say, he was quick to offer his assistance. I told him that I wanted to file a formal complaint against Erica because she was way out of line treating my mother-in-law the way she did. Once I mentioned the “evidence” (which I will describe below) from the camera and the formal complaint, he asked me what I was doing on Thursday.
No, he wasn’t asking me out on a date, at least I don’t think he was, but he told me to come in on Thursday and ask for him. He stressed that I wasn’t to ask for anyone else, and that he personally would take care of everything at that time.
Now my question is, why is he being so quick to exchange the camera now? Sure, he knows his staff has done wrong, but they’ve done wrong in the past and that didn’t stop them. Sure, he knows the gig is up, but that never stopped employees from that location from being pinheads before. So what’s changed this time?
Maybe it has to do with the final two images on the camera. It could be that those two images hold the key to this whole debacle. The final two images I found on the camera were not recovered by the software because they had never been deleted. They were simply sitting in a separate folder and neither I, nor the employees at the store, noticed them. These two images are evidence that employees at the Best Buy location in Douglasville, Georgia knowingly sold a used camera as new.
Here is the image ‘CIMG0537.JPG’,
and here is ‘CIMG0538.JPG’.
Although the photos are a bit fuzzy, I think it’s very clear why Ryan is so willing to “take care of me” on Thursday. These last two photos show none other than a member of Best Buy’s own “Geek Squad”. There is no denying it now. Someone at that store knew this camera was used, and they knew is since January 1, 2008, which is the timestamp on those two photos. Notice the filenames. It’s also clear that this camera had taken hundred of photos before my mother-in-law purchased it last week.
Best Buy has a lot of explaining to do. First and foremost, they owe my mother-in-law an apology. The mother of all apologies. Disciplinary action should be taken against Nathaniel and Erica, at the very least, and someone from the corporate office needs to contact my mother-in-law and explain why Best Buy Store #519 in Douglasville, Georgia is selling used cameras as if they were brand new.
Isn’t there some sort of law or regulation that covers the deceptive business practice of packing used items and selling them as new? Are there any lawyers out there that could shed some light on this topic for me? Through my own experiences, I have noticed a consistent pattern at that local Best Buy store, but I never though deceptive business practices was part of their modus operandi.
It should be noted that the images used in this post are copies of the originals. I have the originals available on my computer, plus they’re still sitting on the camera waiting to be recovered again and again, if necessary.
This is no longer just about the camera. This is about doing the right thing. If we, as consumers, don’t stand up for what is right, corporations like Best Buy will never change their policies to prevent this kind of behavior from their staff, and they will never stop taking advantage of their customers.
The ball is in our court, and it’s up to Best Buy to make this right. Offering an apology to my mother-in-law and explaining how a used camera was sold as new would be a good start.
[Note (03/05/2009 00:43)]: I have posted an 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.