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Businesses The Almighty Buck

Best Buy Scans Drivers License For Returns — No More Allowed For 90 Days 503

rullywowr writes "A customer with a defective Blu-Ray disc returns to the Best Buy store where he purchased it. After having his driver's license scanned into the system, he is now banned from returning/exchanging goods for 90 days. This is becoming one of the latest practices big-box stores are using to limit fraud and abuse of the return system — for example, the people who buy a giant TV before the big game and then return it on Monday. Opponents feel this return-limiting concept has this gone too far, including the harvesting of your personal data."
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Best Buy Scans Drivers License For Returns — No More Allowed For 90 Days

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 10, 2012 @05:30PM (#39636935)

    I remember buying things are stores before I could drive, sometimes without my parents even being there.

  • by kidgenius ( 704962 ) on Tuesday April 10, 2012 @05:38PM (#39637067)
    And do you have a copy of your receipt that shows that the store and you made the agreement to which you refer? No? Then too bad. Otherwise, they don't need your info, and they aren't saying they need it. For instance, Target only uses your DL when you don't have receipts.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 10, 2012 @05:41PM (#39637105)

    So if your second TV is also defective, you can't return it because this 90 day delay outlasts the defective product return time.

    There are situations where this is a bad idea, but I have nothing against trying to crack down on the 'free rental' or 'free replacement' scams that drive up prices for honest buyers. The proeblem is, I don't know if there is any solution that won't have a greater detrimental effect on honest buyers than on scammers. Repeat scammers should be relatively easy to recognize in some data mining, so you can give them restricted return rights, maybe that would be the best way to handle it.

    I'm also curious just how much product is stolen through swapped return scams, I've heard it discussed, but nothing resembling an official dollar value.

  • by magarity ( 164372 ) on Tuesday April 10, 2012 @05:43PM (#39637139)

    As someone who doesn't abuse that, I welcome the move so we honest people get things cheaper

    Are you someone who might honestly need to return two items at two different times in the course of three months?

    A number of less draconian methods come to mind: A) restocking fee for opened items that are not defective. B) Issuing a second (...nth) refund via check mailed from the refund processing center in Mongolia.

    But returns are only allowed for 30 days, so buy a second item within 59 days of your first return and you're stuck with it and that sounds rather nasty for a business in the US. Of course, it's all relative. I lived a couple of years in China and once purchased there, it's yours. Nobody takes returns in the first place.

  • by crazyjj ( 2598719 ) * on Tuesday April 10, 2012 @05:45PM (#39637173)

    for example, the people who buy a giant TV before the big game and then return it on Monday.

    I used to have a roommate that would pull shit like that all the time. He treated stores like his free rental services. It really pissed me off, not just because it was dishonest (and that was bad enough), but also because I always knew it would come back on the rest of us who DIDN'T do that--either with higher prices or stricter return policies. It sucks that the decent always end up paying the price for the pricks out there. But it seems almost a given that there are always bad apples looking to spoil the barrel for everyone.

    BTW, my roomate's favorite target was Walmart. They had a very liberal return policy. But eventually they caught on to him. One day he went to return something and they called the manager out, who told him that this would not only be his last return, but also his last visit to the store. He then had the audacity to come back home bitching about how it was this grave injustice (as if I hadn't noticed him repeatedly scamming them). What a guy.

  • by CoderExpert ( 2613949 ) on Tuesday April 10, 2012 @05:50PM (#39637259)
    Actually, I buy maybe one new item or two per year. And I do have the money to buy more, but I almost never have any need. What the hell are you buying if you need to buy new electronics all the time?
  • by badpool ( 1721056 ) on Tuesday April 10, 2012 @06:18PM (#39637547)
    I'm not sure what you're saying. At least for me, shipping an item back is much less convenient than driving to the store.
  • by bvimo ( 780026 ) on Tuesday April 10, 2012 @06:45PM (#39637865)

    >Bring your receipt or packing slip and a valid photo ID.
    How is that requirement interpreted?

    Bring your (receipt OR packing slip) AND (a valid photo ID).
    Bring your (receipt) OR (packing slip AND a valid photo ID).

  • by uncqual ( 836337 ) on Tuesday April 10, 2012 @06:51PM (#39637937)

    While Fry's is good about taking just about anything back for any reason, the process is a nuisance.

    Although always read the return policy carefully. Unfortunately the guy in front of me a couple years ago apparently hadn't done so before "renting" a portable air conditioner from Fry's for a couple days during a heat wave. He wasn't at all happy when Fry's refused to take it back.

    As a customer who doesn't do such things, I was happy to see them enforce their policy as every time a customer "rents" via buy/return, it raises prices for everyone else. (I think they would have exchanged it if it was defective which seems fair enough).

  • by Dahamma ( 304068 ) on Tuesday April 10, 2012 @08:19PM (#39638855)

    I meant to post the link as well, doh. From the CA Attorney General's office (is that official enough? ;)

    http://oag.ca.gov/consumers/general/refund_policies [ca.gov]

    Consumers have come to expect stores or catalog companies to offer a refund, credit or exchange when they return items. Sellers are not required by law to accept returned items unless they are defective. However, California law requires that retailers who have a policy of not providing a cash refund, credit or exchange when an item is returned with proof of purchase within 7 days of purchase must inform consumers about their refund policies by conspicuously placing a written notice about their policies, in language that consumers can understand, so that it can be easily seen and read.

    As I said in the other comment, it doesn't have to be as-is (which is a separate statue) - as long as it's not defective when purchased they don't have to take it back...

  • by hey! ( 33014 ) on Tuesday April 10, 2012 @08:30PM (#39638963) Homepage Journal

    I dunno. That doesn't sound like a lot of return activity, especially if it includes Christmas returns. What's he supposed to do with a three or four blu-ray disks he already owns? Also, it hardly makes sense to penalize someone for returning defective merchandise. And Retail Equation *clearly* takes into account returns of defective merchandise in labeling your customers as dishonest. What legitimate purpose could that serve?

    This sounds like one of those cases where managers are suckers for snake oil based on their wishful thinking and innumeracy. Retail Equation promises its magic software will identify people likely to engage in fraudulent returns in the future. It fingers a bunch of customers, and management is delighted; they said they'd finger crooks and by golly they did! The question is: where is the proof that those people will commit the future offense? Or that they've committed any past offenses.

    Suppose a vendor claims he can finger crooked customers with 99.9% accuracy. And suppose Best Buy has a million honest customers over the course of the year. That means one thousand people get incorrectly branded as dishonest. It'd be find if Best Buy refused to sell stuff to those customers, but it *doesn't do that*. It is happy to sell merchandise to those customers, but if the merchandise is defective it refuses to give the customer his money back. In that case the character of the customer has nothing to do with the transaction; he has a just claim to get his money back even if he is a crook.

  • by Jiro ( 131519 ) on Tuesday April 10, 2012 @09:18PM (#39639339)

    What if the people at the store don't understand the customer's complaint about the item?

    I once returned a CD/MP3 player (back when people still used such things instead of digital MP3 players) to Fry's because resuming an MP3 at greater than 256 seconds would resume it at (time mod 256). Anyone with even the slightest bit of computer training should have been able to figure out that the firmware was saving only one byte of resume data and that therefore every one of that model on the shelf would have the same problem. The customer service droids did not comprehend this and made me exchange it with another one anyway, which I had to then return (I did get a refund then).

    If that had been Best Buy, I'd have been out a restocking fee. And I can think of lots of other cases. (I've never tried asking a customer service droid which HDTVs accept 240P signals and therefore can show Playstation 1 games. But I doubt that if I returned a TV for being unable to do this they would do anything but hook it up to the store TV feed and say "see, it works fine".)

  • by NetNed ( 955141 ) on Tuesday April 10, 2012 @10:54PM (#39640021)
    What do you mean? The majority of stores are now re-taping products, certainly the bigger box items, and trying to float them off on unknowing consumers. And it's been going on AWHILE. You can tell when a person has re-taped a product because new items from the factory that are taped by machines are taped smooth with no bubbles, wrinkles or creases and will be perfect down the middle.

    I found this out from a circuit city that sold me broken speakers. I realized the tape was wrinkled and put on by a person. Upon trying to return they argued that it was new, then brought out another person taped box that I refused to take. Taking the speaker to another location (with apparently a more honest work force) reviled the speakers were listed as "in service" in the computer system, meaning they were supposed to be sent back. Did I pay less for the original speaker? No, they tried to pass off a defective one on me and I have seen this again and again from other retailers since. That's the reason they want all the manuals and equipment back with it. So they can try and pass it off to some other sap that will accept the broken product and either live with it or pay to have it fixed.

    It's unbelievable some times how a sales person will argue that something if just "taped that way at the factory" when I ask for a different unit that doesn't have wrinkled tape. Most times when they have a retaped unit, that is the one they will try to pass off first.

Our business in life is not to succeed but to continue to fail in high spirits. -- Robert Louis Stevenson