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Many Unhappy Returns

Claim:   Best Buy's U.S. stores charge a 15% restocking fee on returns of some non-defective merchandise.

OUTDATED

Example:   [Collected via e-mail, May 2008]

BEST BUY, MY FOOT

Best Buy has some bad policies....

Normally, I would not share this with others, However, since this could happen to you or your friends , I decided to share it. If you purchase something from, Wal-Mart, Sam's Club, JC Penny, Sears etc. If you return the item with the receipt. They will give you your money back if you paid cash, or credit your account if paid by plastic.

Well, I purchased a GPS for my car, a Tom Tom XL.S from "Best Buy". They have a policy that it must be returned within 14 days for a refund! So after 4 days I returned it in the original box with all the items in the box, with paper work and cords all wrapped in the e plastic. Just as I received it, including the receipt.

I explained to the lady at the return desk I did like the way it could not find store names. The lady at the refund desk said, there is a 15% restock fee, for items returned. I said no one told me that. I said how much would that be. She said it goes by the price of the item. It will be $45.00 Dollars for you. I said, all your going to do is walk over and place it back on the self! Then charge me $45.00 of my money for restocking!! She said that's the store policy. I said if more people were aware of it they would not buy anything here! If I bought a $2000.00 computer or TV and returned it I would be charged $300.00 dollars restock fee!! She said yes, 15%.

I said OK, just give me my money minus the restock fee.

She said, since the item is over 200.00 dollars, she cant give me my money back!!! Corporate has to and they will mail you a check in 7 to ten days.!!

I said "WHAT?!" It's my money!! I paid in cash ! I want to buy a different brand..Now I have to wait 7 to 10 days. She said well, our policy is on the back of your receipt.

I said, do you read the front or back of your receipt? She said well, the front! I said so do I, I want to talk to the Manager!.

So the manager comes over, I explained everything to him, and he said, well, sir they should ld of told you about the policy when you got the item. I said, No one, has ever told me about the check refund or restock fee, when ever I bought items from computers to TVs from Best Buy. The only thing they ever discussed was the worthless extended warranty program. He said Well, I can give you corporate phone number.

I called corporate. The guy said, well, I'm not supposed to do this but I can give you a 45.00 dollar gift card and you can use it at Best Buy. I told him if I bought something and returned it, you would charge me a restock fee on the item and then send me a check for the remaining 3 dollars. You can keep your gift card, I'm never shopping in Best Buy ever again, and If I would of been smart, I would of charged the whole thing on my credit card! Then I would of canceled the transaction. I would of gotten all my money back including your stupid Fees! He didn't say a word!

I informed him that I was going to e-mail my friends and give them a heads up on this stores policy, as they don't tell you about all there little caveats

So please pass this on. It may save your friends from having a bad experience of shopping at Best Buy.
 

Origins:   This e-mail about the return policies of the Best Buy chain of retail electronics stores began making the rounds in early April 2008, with many of its earliest copies signed with the name "Dave Dillon."

A the time this item began circulating, the Best Buy chain did indeed deduct a 15% restocking fee from refunds made to U.S. customers who had purchased and returned certain non-defective items. However, as of 18 December 2010 the electronics retailer changed that policy and now only applies a restocking fee (of 25%) to special order products. (Returns of damaged or defective merchandise are handled differently; no restocking fee applies to them.)

It is still Best Buy's stated policy to issue refunds via corporate check for cash and debit card purchases over $500, and check purchases over $250:
Refunds for Best Buy Store Purchases
Your refund will generally be in the same form as the original payment. However, when the item was purchased with cash or with a debit card without a major credit card logo for more than $500, or with a check for more than $250 the refund will be in the form of a check mailed to you within 10 business days. If the item was purchased using debit and the debit card has a major credit card logo, refunds under $250 will be issued as cash; refunds over $250 will be credited back to the card.
Some retailers charge restocking fees on the return of non-defective merchandise, and some don't. Those retailers who choose to apply such fees even when there's nothing obviously physically wrong with the items being returned do so because such vendibles often can no longer be sold as new once the packages containing them have clearly been opened, thus causing other potential buyers to avoid them like the plague. (For example, any device which stores data in memory might potentially retain personal or offensive information left behind by a previous user, and even seemingly intact and unused equipment returned in its original packaging might still be lacking a user manual, a remote control, a cartridge, or some other small component removed by a previous purchaser.) Absent a restocking fee, those retailers would therefore be left holding the bag for merchandise that was returned on little more than consumer whim. A restocking fee passes along some of this loss to the person who caused it (that is, the buyer who changed his mind about owning the item).

Also, restocking fees work to discourage those intent upon using retailers as merchandise lending libraries. Absent such fees, someone looking to have the use of a camcorder for a wedding, for instance, could buy the item on Friday, use it on Saturday, retrieve images from it on Sunday, return it on Monday, and get all of his
money back. A close examination of the items Best Buy applies restocking fees to (notebook computers, projectors, camcorders, digital cameras, radar detectors, GPS/navigation and in-car video systems) reveals that each of these items is of the "would like to have the use of for the weekend or for the length of the annual vacation" ilk. Imagine a family heading off for a two-week road trip — absent the imposition of restocking fees on these items, they could load up their SUV with a notebook computer, camcorder, digital camera, radar detector, GPS navigation system, and in-car video system on their way out of town, then hand back the whole lot on their return for a full refund, thereby making the retailer the trip's unwitting subsidizer.

Another purpose for restocking fees is to discourage customers from engaging in after-the-fact comparison shopping — buying an item, using it, and then (after discovering they could have purchased it more cheaply elsewhere) repackaging it and returning it in order to buy the same thing at a lower price from a different seller. Some retailers advertise that if a buyer can find the same item elsewhere for a lower price, they'll refund the difference, but others expect their customers to do their comparison shopping in advance of purchase.

All of this, you might think, would be merely the retailers' headache. Yet that is a naive view: Retailers don't altruistically absorb such losses; they pass them along. To you.

While at first blush it might seem the better course to patronize stores that do not charge restocking fees on items purchasers return merely because they change their minds, it could well be that the opposite is the more prudent choice. Retailers who don't impose restocking fees on frivolous returns pass along their losses to consumers through higher prices. Should you not be someone who buys and returns things on whim, you might find your pocketbook better served by business entities that stick the inconstant with at least some of the costs associated with their capricious behavior.

Barbara "restock in trade" Mikkelson

Last updated:   17 December 2010

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Sources:

    Kutz, Erin.   "Retailers Less Grinchy on Returns."
    USA Today.   27 December 2010   (p. A1).