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October 27, 2011


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I hate Best Buy! Several years ago, I bought one of their "loss-leader" computer deals. Before I finalized the purchase, I asked, "if I get it home and hate it, what is the return policy?" Two weeks, with the receipt. After that, warranty service only. I got it home and it was pretty good, but it had several crashes, and the only reset was to unplug it. I officially hated it. I took it back 10 days after the purchase, and they took TWO HOURS to refund my money!

Ever since then, the only time I walk in to Best Buy is to use the restroom. Then I promptly leave. I have no need to give them any of my money! I have yet to see any retailer (Amazon, Game Stop, Target, or WalMart) that does not beat Best Buy hands down!

I just picked up printer ink I pre-purchased yesterday from BB. While they did look at my license I don't believe they entered my license number into their computer. My license appeared to only be used to verify my identity.

You know I am okay with giving them my name. I am okay with giving them my address and I am okay with giving them my phone number BUT I will never give any company my social or driver's license, there is no need to.

I heard it was so they can keep track of how many times you return items but the video game is a new one.

Thanks for the reminder

I do know that for some video games they have to verify your age. That should be simple enough and not require anything more than a cashier checking a box on his/her system.

It is amazing to me that in this age of rampant ID theft that merchants continue to gather this information and we continue to allow it. I once had a massive argument with a clerk at a grocery store that wanted my SSN to open a store frequent shopper card.

If they want to track me for marketing purposes I can understand. BUT, provide an opt out (or better an opt in) and assign a random number.

Wow; I didn't know Best Buy does that! We rarely pre-order games, but when we do I'll know who to avoid. I especially hate how they're so misleading with that. Federal law? That's ridiculous.

Better idea: avoid Best Buy altogether, even if it means sacrificing your 6% cash back from Amex. Amazon lists the game for $56; was getting $3.35 in cash-back rewards worth the aggravation and (in this case, anyway) the potential for identity theft?

There's a reason (many, really) BBY is a perennial contender for Consumerist's "Worst Company in America" award.

I have about $75 in gift cards for BB. Reading some of these comments, I should probably use them up before BB goes the way of Circuit City.

Jeffbone -

Amazon didn't have the Robin option.

A) This woman handled the situation the wrong way. Federal law? Come on now...

B) I usually agree with most things you post, but in this case, I think you are going a bit overboard.

My "aha" moment with Best Buy. Went to buy an electronic the week of Thanksgiving (Wednesday). Found the one I wanted, asked the clerk to get it. He disappears into the backroom and, upon returning, tells me they don't have any. Don't have any? Your ad for Black Friday (2 days hence) has this very item in it and you don't have any? Well, yeah, but we only have 12 and we have to keep them for the Black Friday sale. Huh? I need it and want it now, at the current (higher) price, and you won't sell it to me? Asked for a manager who backed up the clerk. Told me if I wanted it, to come back Friday. I pointed out that I didn't want to come hours before sunrise, wait in line and risk not getting what I wanted. Still wouldn't sell it to me. I guess getting more money, two days earlier, wasn't a better deal than less money, two days later. Whatever. We ended up going to a different store. I vowed to never shop at BB again, based on their pure stupidity.

They should be able to enter the last six digits of your drivers license or something like that, if their goal is really to have their associates check your identify upon pickup. That would give them everything they need and limit the amount of data in their system should they ever get hacked.

I pretty much avoid Best Buy like the plague.

I dunno... I would never give my SS number out. As for my drivers license, I've never thought of it as something I would need to protect. Could your Driver license be used to secure credit or anything like that? I'm not sure how much damage could be done by someone having my DL number.
That said, I think BB should back off the DL number if it bothers people. Lowes always ask for my phone number when I purchase something. I don't mind giving it to them. Maybe BB should go with the phone number.

You have to give your drivers' license number and have it recorded to buy cold medicine....and that doesn't make any sense either! Apparently, retailers can do what they want and if you don't like it, you can just not buy that thing.

I don't work for Best Buy, however, I have done a lot of business this year with them due to their renewed game sales initiative.
Best Buy has recently started to track returns much closer than they have in the past in an effort to reduce return fraud. In fact, I believe they are using a third-party to manage and analyze return behavior (perhaps another reason for you to be concerned).
Pre-orders are handled in such a way that the $5 deposit is in fact returned to the store for a $5 credit and then the game is purchased on the same transaction. This return is the reason the employee needed to log the identification (likely a requirement of the third party's tracking business).
On the plus side, the Robin DLC was included in the box of the first run, so if you are willing to eat the cost of the deposit, you could still get the Robin DLC and avoid providing your DL number.
Trade-ins also require various levels of authentication (based on pawn laws in your state). Illinois only requires standard information, though I've heard some states require fingerprints as well.

They certainly handled it poorly. You should have been told before she entered it into the system. I would have been tempted not to buy based on that alone. They used to use your social as your DL number but changed that for this reason. So I don't think them having your DL number is a HUGE deal, but you should have been told.

Seems to me that they have to track returns because they have higher prices than everyone else, buy at Walmart return at Best Buy.

@ MC: The cold medicine issue is to prevent people from buying large quantities of pseudoephedrine and using it to make methamphetamine (a dangerous drug with a hazardous manufacturing process). It actually is state and federal law and not just based on a retailer's whim. Since the laws went into effect around 2005/2006 or so, the number of domestic meth labs has decreased, at least here in Oklahoma The alternative is to make it prescription only, maybe that would be easier...

The clerk handled that awfully. I think that alone is worth complaining to management. Employees should not be lying to customers. Telling you its a law is a lie.

I'd assume that Bestbuy policy here is either due to fraud related to gift cards or enforcement of their policy for ESRB ratings. Gift cards are often stolen or used for laundering stolen credit cards and merchants probably want to be extra careful about accepting them to help stop theft/fraud. Retailers also have to be careful not to sell adult/mature games to little kids. Selling a rated M game to a child would get that clerk fired. Their computer system probably asks for ID for T (teen) or M (mature) games to verify they are being sold to someone of age. Its like showing your ID for a rated R movie or buying beer. THey shouldn't NEED to type in your driver # but that is probably Bestbuy's process to verify that the clerk actually checked the ID. I would bet that its probably the gift card that caused them to want the ID, cause they probably have a lot of theft/fraud related to gift cards.

YEs I agree its annoying and they shouldn't need to record your driver license #. I don't think theres special risk of ID theft any more than using a credit card to buy anything anywhere.

MC: Like RC pointed out, any version of Sudafed or generic versions has the base ingredients to make methamphetamine. It makes a lot of sense to control the sale of those drugs. It may be an inconvenience to us law abiding citizens but that is far better then letting meth production go unchecked. Meth is a HUGE problem in some areas of the country like where I live.

I might be even fuddy-duddier than FMF on this one. I give out the absolute bare minimum of information to companies. I've worked in IT for many, many years and witness the generally insecure nature of data. I definitely would not want my sensitive data to be viewable by some of the types of people I've worked with.

I bought a couple bucks worth of stuff from a retailer a couple months ago and was asked for my phone#. I asked the cashier if it was required (my standard query), and she told me that her boss would yell at her if she didn't get it. I told her, "I guess you're going to get yelled at then." I felt bad for her having to work for a boss/company that'd put her in that position, but I wasn't about to be guilted into giving my info.

It's (asking for personal info) no law at all, and the retailer can get sued behind it in certain states.

FYI... Federal law now requires states to link SSNs to DLs. Michigan finally started doing this. So yes, it's a big deal.

Simple solution to the "whats your phone #" question is "867-5309". Just don't sing it or it will be too obvious.

Robf, SSN's are required to get a drivers license. That doesn't increase your chances of having your identity stolen. The DMV will collect the SSN. They aren't going to hand out your SSN info to BestBuy clerks. You can't look up someones SSN based on a DL#.

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? - who will guard the guardians? sorry, too much opportunity for someone to do mischief and use your data for their ends....I've gotten several notices that my private data has been breached by the US govt, no less, or the credit card company or someone else. It's due to policies like supposed one at Best Buy that put the data at risk. What would you have given her if you didn't have a driver's license? Maybe you could have some type of ID made up with a number and tell her that's all you were right on - and as for phone numbers, 123-4567 - otherwise none of your business or make up a random one and tell me what you made.

I think they are doing this to reduce return fraud. If you do a search on the issue, Best Buy requires people returning items to provide Driver's License number or some other form of Govt ID number. Supposedly, they print out the policy on the bottom of some receipts. So I think they do this so they can see who the serial returners are. You can search via Google on this issue and see discussion on several blogs.

I guess they are starting to track at the purchase end also. The way I have heard the return fraud happens is someone purchases the item (such as electronic game) and gets a receipt. Then they go back to the store and shoplift the same item. If they get stopped, they can show the receipt and claim they already purchased it. Then they can return the stolen item using the receipt and get the refund cash. OR something like that. With the tracking data, they can see who is returning many identical items and perhaps match it up to see if that many identical items were even purchased by the person in the first place, I think. But I thought most places mark up your receipt when you return an item, so I don't know exactly how the fraud works.

That drives me nuts. I, too, don't want to be in any "systems." Just let me buy your stuff. I have what they call "money." If the advertised "price" is $25.00 then I'll give you $25.00.

If you demand that I give you more than $25.00 than put that on the pricetag (i.e. $25.00 plus the ability to record and store your social security number, drivers' license number, mother's maiden name and a lock of your hair...). Don't get me started....


*then put that on the pricetag (Ha! I was obviously pretty steamed reading this post...)

I used to work for best buy and I can tell you the reasoning on why they ask for your information. It is a safety precaution to returning items to much due to the fact they around the same time they implemented this policy, they also took out the restocking fees. People started to technically "borrow" electronics. So now if you return to much throughout the year or within a short amount of time, the system won't allow the return to go through.

Woah. Good to know on day's like today! (BlackFriday)

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