04-13-2021 11:33 AM
I am writing this as a reaction to the way in which I was humilated & very publicly accused of a crime by the Assistant Manager of the Signal Hill store yesterday for trying to return an open-box Macbook they sold me, in which the software specs listed in the "About this Mac" menu, and the software specs listed on the physical device & the box, ended up not matching. Geek squad clearly did not appraise this item adequately, and let an improperly labeled & apparently tampered item onto the floor, and I am being blamed for it with no recourse.
So, yesterday morning (April 12,2021) I drove down to the Best Buy near me in Signal Hill, CA between classes because I noticed the battery on my 2015 is starting to bulge and I can't close the laptop (yikes!). I waited in line to consult with a floor salesperson who looked around for one of the new Macbooks since I already knew what I wanted to buy. She said they had one left in stock, but that she couldn't find it in the back. She said there was one in the Torrance store, or that they had an open-box option for me to look at (I know, I know...).
I had online classes to get back and teach, so I figured what's the harm in getting an open-box unit? I always inspect serial numbers before I buy, and I should be safe right?. She pulls out the box, and the first thing I do is open the box. Screen boots up, so we're good there. I take the Macbook out of the box and flip it to the bottom to look at the serial number stamped on it. Serial number matches up w/ the packaging, and there didn't appear to be any surface damage. Looking good, right? The new Macbooks have a slightly different design, so I don't really know what I would be looking for in the first place, but things seemed fine apart from some smudges & fingerprints. Open-box condition was marked "satisfactory" so I shrugged and figured some disinfecting wipes would do the trick.
Here's the kicker, I couldn't pull up/check the software information on the computer's actual software. As far as I know, you need to set up the computer's login account itself before you can log in to see any software information. You have to go through the 'find my mac' screen, set up iCloud, click through all those menus, etc. So, I take it home & set it up & I immediately noticed a few things: The Mac was loud. And I mean the fans kicked on even more than my bulging 2015 model. The M1's are known for being quiet, so immediately after class I ran a CPU benchmark that paled in comparison to what I've seen M1's do online.
Now things get even more sketchy: After classes were over, I pull up the "About This Mac" window, and I see that not only is what the store gave me NOT an M1 MacBook, it's not even the right hard drive capacity (it says 256, supposed to be 512), the right processor (it has an intel processor), and the serial number shown on that screen is NOT what is on the box, or stamped onto the physical device. Okay, what the heck? I thought Geek Squad had to actually turn devices on and verify all of this information on any open-box items. Are they only checking the stamped serial numbers?
I took the computer into the store after classes (around 3:30-4 PM) to see if they could explain to me what had happened, and why the information on that screen did not match what was displayed on the packaging. I figured, maybe the store labeled the unit wrong, or maybe Apple did a botched refurbish. I don't know how these things work. I just buy the computer and teach the classes. But, I knew I wanted an M1 processor. It's what I was paying the "apple premium" for. The floor employees were just as confused as I was as to how it was even possible to have conflicting serial numbers, but said that they couldn't return the item or give me my money back since the serial number on the box was linked to an icloud account. I explained to them that my finances & time were dire, and that there was clearly an issue that needed to be investigated here, whether via the store itself, or via Geek Squad & the tech who appraised the item & approved for it to be placed on the floor in that condition. The employees had me wait for 20 minutes or so while they spoke with an assistant manager and I figured they'd come back with some more info about the Geek Squad appraisal process and the paper trail/history behind this specific computer.
Instead, the assistant manager Orlando comes up and quietly asks me to step up to the counter. Immediately his voice raises in volume to a near-shout and he starts talking in a very condescending tone in front of various other customers and employees about how "this isn't the first time [he's] seen this before, [they] check every item for factory parts when it is returned, so there's no way this item would be approved to be out on our floor in this condition". I asked what he meant, because I genuinely didn't understand at first. The laptop worked, it just wasn't what I was sold or what I paid for. Furthermore, I obviously bought it right off their floor just a couple of hours ago, so whether or not it "should" have been approved is neither here nor there. I bought it here, it's not what was advertised, so I'm bringing it back.
Another employee jumped in and said that the device had seemingly been tampered with, that the "screws were stripped" (I thought Apple screws were proprietary??), & the casing had been "pried at". They went back & saw me on camera checking the serial number on the bottom of the Macbook in-store and insisted that "there's no way [I] would not have have noticed these" things. I didn't appreciate the slight at my perceptual ability, but okay, let's put that aside. What was most confusing to me is, how would I have noticed? I;m not Geek Squad, I don't appraise devices, I was simply trying to get home and teach my classes (you can literally see me on camera call up a sub to take over my 3rd period while I wait for the girl to look...), and in my "inspection" I only turned on the screen, checked that the trackpad functioned, looked at the ports, and looked at the serial number stamped on the bottom of the device. What else should I have checked? I wasn't about to sit there and set it up in store while she waited (Which I will now be doing EVERY SINGLE time I buy any products from today until my death) Furthermore, it's a new design & color of Macbook from my old 2015, I wouldn't even know what I was looking for in terms of "stripped screws" or case prying. I assumed Best Buy would never put an item with those issues on the floor, so I didn't really look that hard. It just looked like a Macbook to me. Again, I couldn't log in and check any software, but the printed serial numbers lined up so I thought everything was good. I was always told Apple products were tamper proof which made them safe bets on the used market. I was told you can't open and tweak them without bricking them. That's one reason I buy Macbook products, they are marketed as tamper-proof. As a teacher, I love and need tamper-proof things in my life. Anyways the assistant manager told me they wouldn't return it, wouldn't give me my money back, and told me to keep the sketchy lie of a Macbook that they sold me this AM. Then came the accusation.
I should note here, that aside from the patently aggressive tone The Assistant Manager had decided to take with me right off the bat, the moment that I realized I was actually being accused of something was when he said (and I quote him directly because I thought it was such a strange way to phrase this. I actually wrote it down in the car because it stuck with me) "So, I've seen this before, and I'm honestly surprised you brought this in. If you would like to bring the Macbook back the way you bought it off the floor, we could maybe return it".
I responded, obviously confused, that this was the Macbook I purchased in store, in the same state which it was purchased just a few hours before, and he shook his head and repeated himself, saying that I need to go back and "restore it to the way you bought it", as if I had done something to alter it from the state I purchased it in. I started to realize what was happening. The coded way he was talking to me honestly felt like a Mafia movie or something.
I don't even fully understand exactly what this manager was accusing me of tampering with, because I still don't even know what specifically happened to this device. I don't even know if they know, because they definitely didn't want to investigate it further. They were more concerned with accusing me of criminal activity. So what happened here? Did someone swap the entire outer case? Did someone swap the internal parts and return it? Doesn't Geek Squad check software too? I don't understand, I only know enough about tech to teach my classes. I don't modify computers, and the fact that Best Buy sold me a Macbook that says one serial number on its case, but is a completely different product on the inside, is their issue. Someone must have failed a quality check somewhere, and I'm being accused of fraud for it. I don't want this sketchy laptop, I want my money and my dignity back. I want an apology from the store and from that manager for accusing me of criminal activity when they sold me a mislabeled item. To be openly and aggressively accused of somehow physically tampering with this product to the level that was implied. To the Assistant Manager, it's apparently more reasonable for him to believe I am scamming him in my own name (I paid with my personal debit card...)
How or why this manager thought that in a timespan of just a couple of hours, a high school teacher up to his nose in work to grade somehow bought an open-box macbook, swapped out the internals for an entirely different model, and then attempted to return it to the store:
on the same day,
with conflicting serial numbers,
with my debit card (in my own name...)
after teaching high school classes from the moment I got home w/ the laptop until the moment I first opened the "About this Mac" screen after classes completed and then went to the store to return. (I have detailed records of my actions at work during this timespan that I would be happy to provide store management as evidence)
Indeed, after 10+ years of solid purchasing history, zero high-value item returns, establishing strong credit w/ the company, and paying for this product with my debit card (because THAT'S what fraudsters do...okay), I will never shop at a Best Buy store again in my life.
Maybe I sound like somebody's grandpa, but maybe grandpa had a point! This was an absolutely humiliating experience. I feel like Best Buy should acknowledge that the way this store handled this was completely out of line, or admit that there is potential for abuse in the way Geek Squad appraises open-box items that have been returned.
04-13-2021 11:49 AM
I should note that apart from this truly bizarre interaction, I asked him why he thinks I would run a scam using my personal debit card, and he responded "I don't know man, there's a first time for everything. I've seen it all." At that point it sank in what he was actually accusing me of. I asked for his General Manager's name, and informed Orlando of my intent to contact corporate & begin the process of exploring my options to hold the store accountable. I'm aware customers have pulled sketchy return swap scams before, I've worked in retail. But it should be very obvious that is not what happened here to all parties involved. I asked them to keep the laptop and investigate further, and they refused, saying they'd simply recycle it if I left it in the store. The abject refusal of management to investigate any culpability on their part, opting instead to double down and openly and baselessly accuse a customer of criminal activity in this way, to me speaks to a crisis of leadership and a lack of ethics within this particular store. When you're openly accusing long-time customers of fraud rather than properly and thoroughly investigating the situation, you've completely lost the plot. I hate Jeff Bezos but it's really no wonder Amazon eats BB's lunch. Their literal bots are more compassionate than actual human Best Buy managers are. Amazon doesn't accuse people of fraud when they as a company mess up and ship a wrong item. They investigate, interview the people who handled my product, and find out what went wrong. Best Buy did not even do the bare minimum to try to solve this situation for me, and I'm left feeling humiliated and in debt for an apparently tampered item that I never would have purchased if I knew how lacking Open-Box QA is at this store.
04-13-2021 01:17 PM
Thanks for taking the time to reach out to us about this interaction, and welcome to the Best Buy Forums. I'm sorry to hear about this experience, and I can understand your frustration and concern here. We certainly don't want to be accusing our customer's of fraud, or be using coded language to confuse and concern our customer's further. This doesn't sound like the service we strive for.
I'd like to document this experience, as well as reach out to this Best Buy location to get some more information. So that I can get started, please send me a private message with your full name, email address, phone number, and the customer PIN located on your receipt.