back to article Best Buy calls copper on unsatisfied shopper

A Best Buy store in New Jersey foiled one man's treasonous plot to subvert a troubled US economy by discouraging the purchase of an overpriced headset. According to a report from The Consumerist, the prominent electronics merchant summoned police on a shopper identified as "Alex" because he shared an unfavorable impression of …


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  1. Lance

    Nothing new

    Best Buy doesn't live up to their name, provides crappy service and just doesn't care. Besy Buy ha sbeen in plenty of hot water for their business practices and deception.

  2. Anonymous Coward

    Sounds like an Own Goal to me.

    If the manager had kept quiet, only ONE customer would have known that the product wasn't up to scratch.

    Instead, they make a big scene about it, and ensure the whole world knows.

    Pity they're not in the UK. If they were, we could get the Advertising Standards Association to change the misleading "Best Buy" company name to something less dishonest.

  3. Anonymous Coward

    Just hold him

    The best solution to this mess would have been to hold Alex in the back room for ten days until Best Buy's crap return policy expired and then the cusomer that got the bad bluetooth would have been stuck with the defective equipment and the patriot act would have protected Best Buy because Alex was obviously a terrorist.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    in soviet America the Commerce purchases you!

  5. Grant Mitchell

    Next time

    He might realise he Best Buy something before the cops arrive...

  6. Dan Beshear

    Can't we just shoot Tom

    Either the Tom from the article or MySpace + one bullet in the head would be fine by me.

  7. Tam Lin

    Sharp as a marble

    I'm guessing Tom sometimes forgets and asks customers "You want fries wid dat?" instead of "You want extended warntea wid dat?"

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Best Buy

    Best Buy is one of the best places to shop. The staff is curtious and professional. I wish al lstores were run like Best Buy.

    Ahem hand me my coat. the one with a white envelop stuffed with cash and condoms

  9. e4tmyl33t


    As a US Best Buy employee, I can see where Tom might have been coming from, but calling the police was a ridiculous move. If the customer was getting violent or abusive, THEN I can see calling them in, but having him escorted out by officers just because he recommended against something? If I was the initial employee who overheard it, I probably would have just stepped in to help even out the problem and recommend a different product. I've done it in the past, and I work in both Geek Squad for repair and the Computer sales section.

    Mind you, I agree with the customer on this one. The Jawbone sucks royally. I stick with Motorola bluetooth headsets myself.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Bust Buy

    No, not that kind of bust, get your head out of the gutter!

    This Tom sounds like a former sales associate a friend used to work with. The associate's idea:

    Take all those rejected microwave ovens that have been returned and are rusting in a heap in the back room. Tear the doors off, defeat the interlocks, and presto! heat the humans and skip that inefficient step of heating the air! It is so wasteful, those pesky customers open the doors and hot air escapes!

    Thing is, he was serious about this idea....

  11. Anonymous Coward


    Best Buy is, hands-down, the second worst chain in the US. The very worst is Wal-Mart, but that's a different thread entirely.

    e4tmyl33t: Seriously, you have to tell me -- Do you people work on commission? (I know y'all don't, but go with me here for a second.) What other reason could y'all have to, and I exaggerate not, push the single-most expensive option on every single customer, regardless of the customer's actual *need* or budget? Add that to the fact that every time I am *stuck* going into one of those stores (always after-hours) to pick up a part, inevitably some slimy, creepy sales dork (no offense intended) spots me and then sniffs after me making lame and irritating small talk, effectively chasing me out of the store. Blend in the insane and unfair return policy. Finally, mix with Geek Squad's fine print allowing their "techs" to re-image at will because Management is too cheap to staff enough people to ethically complete the work for which the customer paid, and you end up with a poisoned cake. Have you read up, especially at, on the company that pays you?

    Best Buy exemplifies every single thing that is wrong with corporate America.

    [Note: I understand that a female with a G-cup chest walking around in khakis and a black polo with a hard drive enclosure in one hand and an 300-watt power supply in the other is easily mistaken by these guys as intentionally sending out a mating call. I also have sympathy for them, as their interpretation is just kid-on-Christmas giddiness. My sympathy does not extend to putting up with the behavior I described above. Seriously, I have negative patience for such behavior outside of a gaming or scifi convention.]


  12. Jacqui


    Being a ~6ft mousy blond, I get 'creep'ed in all of the above stores by some of the PFY sales droids.

    Another item of advice, if you go into these stores (alone) DO NOT give your address or phone number when asked - the last two bouts of creepy late night phone calls both occurred shortly after purchases...


  13. trackSuit
    IT Angle

    Soap Opera

    This article seemed like and episode from a soap opera series.

    'He did this and she did that, but it didn't matter anyway because the milkman got bitten by next door's dog, so he...'

  14. Mark

    Re: Seriously

    "[...female witha G cup chest ... hard drive in one hand and a 300-watt power supply..."

    <Brain fuses>

  15. Keith Laws

    ToysRUs use police to avoid exchanges

    A couple of years ago I was removed by the police from the Toys R Us in Basingstoke because I wanted to exchange a bent PSOne disk bought in the shop.

    The assistant manager said the copyright act said he couldnt make the exchange, but refused to show me where in the act it says that.

    He also refused to acknowledge the disk was bent, even when I put it on the counter and wobbled it.

    As I wouldnt stop complaining he called the police and had me removed

  16. tempemeaty

    You make them you can break them.

    Support your small neighborhood computer shops.

  17. T. Harrell
    Black Helicopters


    I thought it was common knowledge now, Best Buy sales drones are taught to classify customers as one of several archetypal customers and behave according to the prescribed corporate program. For example, a well-dressed middle aged man is going to be singled out and marketed expensive stereo equipment, while teenagers, who typically spend less money, are going to be ignored. My advice is to dress as poorly looking as possible to avoid harassment. :)

  18. Anonymous Coward

    I'm surprised

    I'm surprised Best Buy bothered with the cops. This is the same company that used sales staff to back a customer into a corner and hold him there for the crime of ... COMPARISON SHOPPING!

    Best Buy can burn in hell.

  19. Herbert Fruchtl

    They all do it

    About 10 years ago, I wrote down a few model numbers and prices for wireless phones at a Comet outlet in London (just as a first attempt on looking what's on the market, having no idea what to look out for). We were asked to leave the store. We had bought all our white goods from them a year earlier, but I have never entered a Comet since.

  20. e4tmyl33t

    @AC and anyone else who wants to know

    Honestly? I think you've got one of our bad stores in your area. Yes, I've read the Consumerist stories (and I have my own gripes about my company) but I find them horribly biased and half of them seem like setups designed just to get a negative reaction that can be posted.

    That being said, I'm going to let everyone in on a bit of Best Buy training that I'd bet half the employees that people complain about tend to ignore in favor of that "big sale".

    We aren't on commission. We advertise that a lot. Our job is not to sell you a computer because we sell computers, it's to sell you a computer that will do what YOU want it to do. Our training tells us that we need to find out what's going to be done with the machine, and by who, and make recommendations based on this. I'd bet that 99% of the Consumerist stories (that aren't based on targeting the Geek Squad agents who obviously shouldn't be Agents) have hit an employee who, like a lot of employees in our company, just don't give a rat's arse.

    As for the small talk, yes, we are actually encouraged to do this. Our management has this thing where we HAVE to contact EVERYONE who comes in our store/department, whether they need our help or not. It's partially an anti-theft thing (Hey, how you doin, I know you're here, don't try nothin), but it's partially a customer service thing (Hey, I know you're here, if you need help, let me know kinda thing).

    The thing is, it's retail. Half the employees don't care about the store or the company because they aren't getting paid enough to do so. Hell, I make more than most people on the sales floor because of my time in the Geek Squad, and I can't really afford to even live on my own (being a full-time sales associate who doesn't go to school). Just like any other retail job, you can't really live off it unless you're management.

    Which is where the other half of the problems in our company come up. Management is trained to hound the hell out of our employees to offer EVERYTHING that we can with EVERY sale. Whether we know you need it or not, we have to. Just to increase the chance of someone going "Oh, I didn't know I needed that, yeah, I'll get it." So we routinely offer hundreds, if not THOUSANDS, of dollars worth of stuff with ANY computer purchase (not to mention TVs and other departments) because either A) You really do need what we're talking about, and if you actually KNOW what we're talking about, so much the better, or B) Our managers have been on our asses the last few days and we're tired of getting yelled at.

    I see this all the time across the company, and even in my own store. I try my damndest to make sure that I only get what you need, not what I want you to get, but I also make sure I let you know what else you might not have known you would need with it (i.e. security software that properly works with Vista, proper cables, etc.). I try to play the good guy when it comes to companies like this. Unfortunately, I'm still stuck in retail hell.

  21. Brett Brennan

    Fair and balanced report

    OK, this WAS over-the-top, even for "Wurst Buy" as we call 'em. I often do the same thing when visiting the Wurst Buy near me (where ever I am - sometimes you just NEED a LAN cable at 20:30, and "Wally-World" is too much hassle...) and - USUALLY - the store geek is standing there with the customer asking questions as well.

    To be "fair and balanced": Best Buy has, in my experience, improved considerably over the past two years, at least at those stores I've visited in the midwest and south. While not "rocket scientists" by any stretch of the imagination, the floor geeks are usually conversant with their products, and, when I've gotten lost looking for something, have kindly escorted me to the correct department, located another reasonably competent associate and done a clean turn-over. Better than nearly any other store I've been to. And they're always willing to listen to my "real-world" experience with specific products, and usually ask intelligent questions indicating that they're at least somewhat interested in bettering their knowledge. I've often had one of the geeks I've talked to previously accost me at a later visit and thank me for pointing them to or another web site where they've learned more about a product and the open-market price.

    Now, they're not perfect. When I found a real deal on a new receiver at one store, I had to be firm with the manager about their price as posted versus what the web site and sale said it should be. But he gave me the item at the marked price after verifying that I wasn't making the mis-mark up, and took the time to ask me about how it was working the next time I was in the store.

    I realize that this isn't much - the type of knowledge and courtesy that I grew up with in the 1950's and 1960's - but in today's world, it's as good as you'll get at a big-box retailer.

    Now, if only Fry's - other than the store in Indianapolis - would get to this point...

  22. Simon

    So ...........

    Land of the free huh?

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    @ Best Buy

    If "Alex" was recommending a higher priced product, then I'd say that this was a great opportunity for Best Buy to offer the lad a job...

    That would leave all the cr*p on the shop floor, so it can be sold off cheap (i.e. at a price that is commensurate with it's "quality/performance" or send it back to the manufacturers for credit coz it's not "fit for purpose".

    This way, shops might actually end up selling only good kit.....coz the "in store" guys clearly don't know the difference and if they did, they might not be allowed to offer an opinion...!

    Too many times, the buyers of multiple outlets know next to nothing about the items and only look at the profit margins, without realising that they will only make the profit AFTER the item is sold - if it's rubbish, they make a loss....

    Paris coz she'd still make a profit on anything she sold....even if she gave freebies!

  24. Anonymous Coward

    I do hope that Jacqui is a blonde!, wherein it states that there is only one adjective that still needs to be changed depending on whether it is employed to describe a man or a woman.

    Yes, my coat is the one with the book "Pedantry for Dummies" in the pocket.

  25. Biinks

    Best Buy can be decent...

    If you completely ignore the sales people and go straight for what you want. I use them for most of my gaming purchases because they tend to be a little cheaper. Maybe I'm just lucky to have the reasonable Best Buy's near me, or maybe it's because I don't make eye contact, always say I don't need help, and am far taller than any of their employees, but I've never had, or seen any of these sorts of ordeals.

    Best Buy is a bad company in general, but so are most tech retail stores. At least the ones near me aren't half bad, guess I got very lucky there :P.

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Don't stand for such underhanded behaviour

    I like the way this Tom thinks. How dare the general public walk into your stores to slag of the merchandise. I only wish such policy could be extended to slagging of a product sold anywhere within a shopping centre or within 100 yards of any store. Time to restore some respect amongst the miserable masses. I've even heard of people going on to company forums such as the ones ran by microsoft to stick the knife in and openly refuse to accept official companys lines (e.g. the xbox 360 does not have a quality control problem).

    Sock it to them Best Buy.

  27. Anonymous Coward

    ha! any one is actuly suprised?

    i live not too far from that location so i have first hand knowladge on that store. personally i go in there and laugh at all the overpriced stuff they try to unload on stupid lazy people. as for the customer service side the policy seems to be be helpful with stuff people do not need or want and shove it down their throat.

    as for returns and exchanges? *roflD*....ummm what return and exchange service?

    few weeks back my buddy was trying to return his mp3/4 player after it cripled his machine. he spent 2 days fighting with the customer service desk at that store.(conversion software came with root kit and when it was removed it took almost all sound drivers).they finally gave in after implied lawsuit and even then they tried giving him a gift card( that can be only used in any best buy store) instead of cash tht he used.

  28. Paul Framhein
    Dead Vulture

    well, duh...

    Not only do I live close to this store, I used to work there. This sort of insanity is fairly common.

    In years past, before it was the GeekSquad, it was the Tech Bench. In fact, some of the phones in that building still have that extension labeled as the "techbench." At that time all of us were A+ certified and we even had a few Net+'s among us. Now, the GeekSquad in-store guys (or CIA's) are mostly just noobs straight out of high school who can follow the instructions to pack something up and ship it to the repair center, or reformat. We used to be allowed to use open source tools, but now techs may only use the crappy "MRI" (a stupid disk written by some dork in GeedSquad City that is total epic fail on all levels).

    The manager in question replaced one of the best and most talented guys I've ever known. The guy I knew was fired for marking down items. Sounds crazy right? It is. Managers are TOLD to mark down stuff thats being taken out of the system. They have to sell Closeout Items to make sure they don't take a catastrophic margin hit later on. The GM called HR on him for doing his job and they fired him. Real great company huh?

  29. Owen Ashcroft

    Not only bestbuy

    Got kicked out of Game in Chesterfield with a friend for telling him that the PS3 was ridiculously overpriced at £425 (with a crap game selection), and pointing out that they had a pre-owned copy of Call of Duty 2 (or 3 I don't recall) for more than a brand new one, we shared a bit of a chuckle over both things, apparently one of their delicate little employees heard us and we got kicked out for using abusive language to her, seeing as I all I said to her was Sweet FA not really sure how that worked.

    Anyway it's another reason never to buy from Game, because if you express your own opinions, to a friend (not some random stranger), in their store about "their" consoles (yes the manager said they were his consoles) they will kick you out, and threaten to call the police if you laugh at them.

  30. John H Woods Silver badge

    @AC: blond(e)s

    ", wherein it states that there is only one adjective that still needs to be changed depending on whether it is employed to describe a man or a woman."

    I think US usage varies. Also, as anyone knows, blonde is spelt "B... L... I don't know." (

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Who is Austin Modine?

    And other than summarising a blogsite article and adding a mild dose of anti-american sarcasm, how is this investigative reporting? Did he contact Alex to find out if he got the free gift card he was after, or even contact Best Buy to find out why they turfed him out?

    Paris because at least she provides video evidence

  32. Anonymous Coward

    Re: ha! any one is actuly suprised?

    @Anon coward - did you buy your keyboard from there? Looks like it has a faulty shift key. I think you should take it back and ask for a replacement.

    I wonder if they also sell spell checking software?

  33. Eric Olson

    Try shopping at Best Buy in Minnesota

    Well, this was NJ... not exactly the birthplace of courtesy.

    Minnesota is birthplace of the company. Same goes for Target. I only hear about these things happening outside of the Midwest. I walk into a Best Buy here, or any other retail store, and if I'm looking at things, I'll have a 5 second exchange with an associate, say, "I'm just looking," and I'm back on my way. This will happen in any department I go to, but only once. Total amount of wasted time, maybe 20 seconds. And I have often discussed the merits of products with other customers, and even with associates and supervisors, and never had a problem with giving a negative review.

    I know both Target and Best Buy were known for years as being the only places where non-commissioned associates even bothered to make eye contact. When the other big box retailers came to town, they had to learn that's what we expected: No-pressure associates who were there when you needed them, but no more. I guess that doesn't export well to the rest of the country.

    Now, I tend to get most of my gear online, but I still stroll around Best Buy to get an idea of what's out that I might have missed or how things look while working. But I still prefer the experience there to the other crap big box retailers... but what do you expect for retailers that are coming from places that require a whole city summed to get a 700 on the SAT? *cough*Wal-Mart*cough*

  34. Anonymous Coward

    Re: ha! any one is actuly suprised?

    hey i have an excuse few days back had a car accident so my arm is in a sling and other arm has shatered wrist and cracked ribs so want to give me a hard time?feel free

    next time have your friends smash that hand or two with tire iron see how much enjoyment that brings. i recommend it the pain is something to savour if you are a masochist

    and yes i had a misfortune of using a logitech product(keyboard) bought at that store by my friend as agift and some keys are stuck after the warranty ran out.

  35. Mike Crawshaw

    Re ToysRUs use police to avoid exchanges

    They also use security to avoid long-haired leather-wearing bikers running around the store shooting each other with Spiderman Web-Blasters (TM).

    So I've been told.... *ahem*

    <--the one with the silly-string all over it, thanks!

  36. Paul van der Lingen


    presumably 'Murcan's use different bra sizes to the rest of the world..

    we have some HUGE mamma's here in South Africa, and they're on DD cups..

    By our scale, a G-cup would require the, er, lass to probably have mechanised help to move.

  37. heystoopid

    Well there is always circuit city

    wekk there is always circuit city contract installer who caused USD$12K damage to a brand new Honda Civic when doing a custom install of a steroe player satellite nav and GPS system worth a mere USD$3K , using mostly gaffer tape and a hot melt plastic glue gun(curiously, the wiring loom adapter plugs are readily available at any car dealership over the counter) .

    Alas , when he took the Car to a Honda Dealer showed them the botched installation , they permanently impounded the car calling it a fire trap waiting to happen ! , The Circuit City reluctantly refunded him the USD$3K gave him the name and address of their insurance company told him to lodge a claim on their behalf and then threw him out the door saying they had done their part and washed their hands Pontius Pilate style !

    link =

  38. Anonymous Coward

    @Paul van der Lingen

    DD is bigger than G - thus TWO letters. Educate yourself at

  39. Maryland, USA

    Best Buy's warranty policy

    A day before its Best Buy extended warranty would expire, I took my vacuum cleaner in to Best Buy for repair. A week later, they informed us that we were too late...because THEY didn't examine it till AFTER the warranty expired. What kind of crazy policy is that???

  40. Doug Lynn

    Best Buy overreacted

    Hi, I agree Best Buy was out of line here, I have been advising customers of bad products while shopping myself. If a clerk overheard me they just gave me a bad look. I have also promoted a good products helping the store sell it if warranted. I was never confronted. On the other side of the coin, if you refuse to leave a store, remember its private property, not public and you have to leave under the law, and they can have you escorted out by police... same as if someone came to your house and they would not leave, you could have police remove them...especially if they were stealing...

  41. Grayson Berry

    hooray for Alex

    definitely an own goal by the shop policy police. I hope it makes national headlines in the US of A.

  42. Christopher E. Stith


    The sales associate was a dick for reporting a helpful consumer to management. The guy was helping a customer make a purchase he'd be happier with in the future (as opposed, apparently, to the one on which Best Buy made the higher margin).

    The store manager was a dick to ask the guy to leave.

    After the guy was asked to leave, though, he was trespassing by not leaving. The Best Buy store is not public property, and you are only allowed onto or into private property at the pleasure of the owner or leaseholder. In this case, the store manager was a representative of the owner or leaseholder.

    If the customer had left and come back the next day, the workers probably wouldn't have even noticed him. He could have called customer service after leaving the store. Now that he's been escorted by police out of the building, there's a good chance he'll not be allowed back in.

    Long story short, when you're asked to leave private property, you have a legal obligation to do so, even if the person asking you to leave is a first rate ass.

    The story here is that Best Buy employees are dicks when you call them on their crap products and point out that their "guaranteed lowest price " is a farce. It's not news that you can be escorted by police if you refuse to leave private property.

  43. Eduard Coli

    BB needs a mustache

    That's all really, If you are going to invoke the image at least make it right.

    Unless of course there is a copyright violation in there somewhere then please, press on and I'll see you all in room 101.

  44. Andy
    Jobs Horns

    Just don't get it

    Apparently previous posters fail to understand, or ignore, that Best Buy is a private corporation and they reserve the right to refuse service to anyone on their property (leased or owned) that they feel negatively affects their business. I do agree that calling the police was uncalled for, something I would not have done unless the customer was violent or using foul language.

    Right or wrong the customer was completely out of line, when a person representing the company asks you to leave the company's property, you leave.

  45. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Best Buy's warranty policy -- part deux

    I haven't shopped at Best Buy since they refused to honor their warranty on a vacuum cleaner 7 years ago. Despite the fact that the policy states that they cover damage due to normal wear and tear, the manager refused to look at the vacuum cleaner because I had already used it.

    After a zillion letters up the chain of command to the Best Buy prez, and to the Better Business Bureau and Governor's Office of Consumer Affairs in MA, I get a call from the prez's secretary, Katy, who told me that I should take the vaccum cleaner back to the store where they would "probably" replace it, unless it was defective because of something I had done. Like use it.

  46. Deth Veggie

    Re: Just don't get it

    Best buy is NOT private: from the website.


    Best Buy stores in Canada are a division of Burnaby, BC-based Best Buy Canada Ltd., a wholly owned subsidiary of Best Buy Co., Inc. (NYSE:BBY), who currently operates more than 600 Best Buy stores throughout the United States.


    Public company. Accountable to their shareholders, who are already mad enough at senior management for their less than stellar performance, with share price nearing 2005 lows.

  47. Anonymous Coward

    Best Buy Towson Maryland also has people arrested

    Of course the Baltimore County police where even dumber.

    The store pissed off a customer who decided to pay a several hundered charge with two dollar bills.

    The dumb clerk had never seen a two dollar bill, and called the manager who was just as dumb, who called the Baltimore County police who should have known better, who locked the man up for about fourteen hours until Secret Service agents showed up to say "yep those are two dollar bills" and sent him on his way.

    Artice in, but archived. Gotta pay for old articles or I would post link.

    There is information on the 'net. Google "best buy" towson maryland two dollar bill

    I have been in that store. It is about 5 miles from my house. My opinion is that the clerk and manager where probably among the brighter members of the staff.

    I have not been in a Best Buy since.

    Another anectdotal story. G Gordon Liddy of Watergate fame (who is a lawyer) was walking OUT of a Best Buy store in Bel Air , Maryland. It is about 20 miles from the Towson store. The sign at the EXIT of the store said all packages where subject to inspection.

    Maryland law says that the packages subject to inspection sign needs to be at the ENTRANCE to the store.

    G Gordon was leaving the store with merchandise he had paid for and the exit "security" clerk asked to see his reciept. G Gordon had his hands full and refused.

    The clerk pointed to the sign. G Gordon quoted Maryland law and said the sign needed to be at the entrance. The manager and "security" clerk detained G Gordon. He still would not give up the reciept. He accused them of detaining him in violation of the law (which they where) and called the "security" clerk a pussy. And did not give up the reciept.

    The Bel Air police where called and eventually G Gordon was allowed to leave.

    He never did give up the reciept.

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