Best Buy customer-screwing recourse?

I know we have at least one Best-Buy employee here, so here’s a story for you.

I purchased an HP desktop from Best Buy in Marin City, California.

After installing RAM, I noticed that it no longer ran at DDR400 (the speed was reduced to DDR333 if I used all four memory slots). Either removing the RAM or using just the expanded RAM restored DDR400 operation. Put four sticks in and slowdown-city.

I’d already decided to live with a hobbled no-overclock-BIOS on an otherwise standard motherboard by choosing an HP, but having it crippled below advertised performance is something I hadn’t been expecting. I made a mental note of this and grudgingly continued using the system.

After a few days, it lost the ability to shut down successfully (which is apparently a typical Xpress200 problem). You’d select shutdown, and even an hour later “windows is shutting down” is still on the screen. Great.

So finally I decided to take it back. I bought components from Fry’s and upgraded my original machine, transferred everything that was important over from the HP, and then tried to do a clean restoration, the HP way, by hitting F10 on bootup. That process failed, leaving the machine unbootable (missing or corrupt ntoskernl.sys or whatever). Wonderful. Well it’s going back anyway, right?

Long story short, no it isn’t. Apparently in step 1, where I added RAM to the machine, I gave Best Buy the right of refusal on any subsequent return. They refused to accept it. Not “charge a restocking fee”, or anything – they just refused to accept a return within the 14 day return period.

Mind you, they couldn’t show me anything in writing that gave them this authority. The best they could do was point vaguely at a sign on the wall claiming they could refuse anything in “unsalable condition”. Which of course nothing on the wall actually said… what it said was that items with missing or damaged components could be assessed a missing-or-damaged-item fee. But they weren’t doing that. In fact when pressed they refused to do that, either. They just would not accept the return, period. This was the manager on duty at this point.

So I asked the manager to put it in writing that he was refusing my return, and why. And he did.

Customer was refused a refund because of the fact that there were internal adjustments (ie memory install Done) that could have caused some malfunction.

They did, though, offer to return my Geek Squad Service Plan (which I bought in the apparently mistaken assumption that you were less likely to be screwed over by “use of this product voids the warranty” claims). I’m on my own with the machine, according to that store.

Call the district manager.

Isn’t that how pretty much every retailer works in regards to PCs you buy from them? You tinker, you lose your ability to return the product. Mind you, I’m the last person to defend Best Buy and I haven’t bought electronics from them since having a few too many unpleasant customer service experiences there, but what’s going on here doesn’t seem all that out of the ordinary for them.

Still, contact the district manager. I understand why they’d want to refuse things that have been “altered” from their brand new state since there’s so many different ways for even tech savvy people to screw up a computer, but it’s just bad customer service to say “Hah, you’re screwed!” and end it there. Stuff like this is just one more reason to do some research and build your own PC. Or you could just reformat and reinstall Windows and buy larger sticks of RAM that give you the amount of memory you want without filling all the slots. Some motherboards just don’t like to have all the slots full for various stupid reasons.

Just another reason why BB is one of the worst stores out there. Go here for many more reasons.

Try talking to HP directly. I’ve heard people calling HP and finding out that replacing the PSU doesn’t void the warranty. If RAM is considered “user servicable” it shouldn’t be a problem.

I’d suggest calling Carly Fiorina personally and telling her she’s a ding-dong for screwing up HP. It’s a pretty big fuckup to take a company known for making great printers and turning it into a company known for making shitty PCs.

Read the papers, Spoofy! Carly was ousted in February.

You bought it with a credit card, right? Go into the store, talk to the manager, and call your credit card company in front of him to reverse the charge. I bet he’ll roll when he sees what you’re doing - every chargeback I get totally ruins my day, and our most expensive product is $8.75. If I was about to be chargebacked $1,500, I’d be rolling the red carpet and hiring maids to serve the customer in question.

Don’t worry about the credit card company vetting or otherwise scrutinizing your claim. The bastards love to screw merchants, and will probably want to mail you some leaflet about “your rights” which will make it easier to do it again in future.

I know. That’s why he should call her…just to rub it in. Just because she got fired doesn’t mean it’s not her fault anymore.

Compaq quality at HP prices. How could it not succeed!!!

Why even bother doing the chargeback in front of them? just do the chargeback, they gave you the refusal in writing, you are done with the store. Plus, then you have the HP for (shitty) parts.

Remember the sticker you cut when you opened the case that said doing so would void your warrenty? That’s what gives Best Buy the right to refuse the return.

No, there is no such sticker on HP Pavilion computers. Instructions for upgrading the RAM are in the owners manual, and they go out of their way to make upgrades easy (it’s a single thumbscrew). The warranty is intact through all normal hardware upgrades.

Best Buy even advertises their upgradability while selling the RAM to do so, and nothing – anywhere – gives them the right to refuse return for normal use, nor does anything they publish prohibit hardware installations undertaken as instructed by the manufacturer. Sorry, you can’t sell something and then punish customers for using it normally.

The money will be back in my account tomorrow. The printed return policy (from the receipt), along with the manager’s written statement refusing to honor the policy (and of course my BBB complaint, faint hope though they seem to provide for actually doing anything) will be sent to the bank when their affidavit forms arrive. I wonder who else these people are beholden to for their right to do business in the state. California Department of Corporations can sure as heck get people’s attention… and BB does have a credit branch… hmm.

Go git 'em! :lol:

You have an AMD64? It’s supposed to drop to 166/333 when you put in four sticks.

I’m assuming you said you took the windows hard drive from a system into another system with different hardware - this usually does not work, especially if you’re changing motherboards. You can have luck by transfering hard drive and then running a repair procedure from windows disc. (But unless you really don’t want to reinstall your applications best to reinstall from scratch. only way to really clean out hidden nasties anyway.)

what i would do to fix it:

download and run memtest86. you can get a cd version if you don’t have a floppy. isolate the sticks and try to find the bad stick. If you can isolate a bad stick, then return that stick.

So you’re just doing a chargeback and that’s it? Did you take no further steps than the manager with Best Buy? Was it the store manager that you spoke with or just “a manager”? They have like 100 managers at any one store. It’s great you’re getting your money back, but I think you should go higher up with your complaint instead of just a general BBB complaint.

Why should he? He wanted his money back, they refused, so he’s laying the awesome power of Visa on their asses. Good for him, bad for them.

No reason to suck up to ever higher levels of managers when you’re the one with the power.

Does the Athlon 64 X2 drop back with 4 sticks as well?

I’m upgrading two motherboards, and I was planning on transplanting the RAM from my other system to the Athlon to go to 2GB, but I don’t want to do that if it’ll hurt perf.

Hmm, looks like I’ll need to sell the RAM with the old mb/cpu.

Yes, it’s supposed to. My home computer has four 256MB sticks in it running at 200Mhz. It depends on the motherboard more than anything. Also note that memory speed doesn’t matter very much on the a64 platform.

I spoke with several department managers, the store manager, and BB corporate (who just called the store and said sorry, the manager has final say and he won’t budge). They became almost vindictive, and even refused a separate return on an unopened item (the service manager saw me in line, called the agent who was helping me and said do not accept returns from him).

It gets even more surreal, with the manager slandering me in front of other customers, but that’s a longer story. It was disturbing and I’m still freaked out about it all.