I was helping a lady friend of mine, J, buy a computer yesterday from Best Buy. She took a long time to test a lot of laptops and finally settled on a Samsung NP-R580-JSB1US. She told the salesman which one she wanted.
“That one there is the last one we have,” he told us.
“Do you really want to get the floor model,” I asked J. She looked at me puzzled, and I said, “I wouldn’t.”
“I just got this one out of the box. It’s brand new,” assured the salesman.
“What do you think?” I asked. J isn’t very good at buying computers and was scared of the whole process.
“I just put it out,” he promised us again.
I turned to J and asked her quietly if she had seen him put it out. She whispered back that she saw him put another computer out, but not this one. She wasn’t sure, but he could have.
“Well, do you want to take a chance?” I asked.
“I don’t know.”
“Since it’s a floor model I can ask if they will give you more off,” said the salesman.
“How much?” she replied, J was anxious to save money.
The salesman went off and brought back a saleswoman and she said they could let that machine go for $699, down for $746, which was a clearance price, even though it was a new Intel i5 machine.
J agreed to this and they started taking the display table apart to get to the power cords and the cable lock. It was a fair bit of work. I asked, “And you have the box and all the contents that go with this laptop?”
When they got the computer out they took us to a sales station next to where people were bringing in machines to be fixed. The salesman told a young guy at the counter that the saleswoman said the machine would be $699. The young guy said that was more than what they normally took off for floor models and they’d need to get another person to approve it. We waited. When the other people did show up I asked about the box and was told they didn’t keep the boxes on the floor model.
“The salesman told us he just took it out of the box, so look around, it should be nearby,” I said.
Buy then we had three people helping us, discussing the discount for floor model and I could tell they didn’t have the box, and that machine wasn’t just put out. One of the new comers said something about the machine being out since the store was open three weeks ago not knowing we were told something different. Then another girl came up said the same thing.
“We were told this laptop was brand new.” I said. J was dazed by the whole process. The last three people finally admitted they had no box and they were sure the machine had been out on the floor since the store opened.
“Do you have a new one in the box at another store?”
I turned to J, “Do you want to drive to another store to get a new one?” She said she would if it was the same price on the sale sign by the computer which advertised a clearance price. I was starting to wonder if they had a batch of refurbished machines they were passing off at new. However, the sales lady assured us the other store had 5 new ones in the box. J agreed.
They rang up the computer and added $2.99 for something and $17.00 for anti-spyware, and I told the salesclerk we didn’t want those things. She assured us they were free. The ticket had a lower price for the computer, so when it was totaled it came to $746. It made me wonder if this was another lie.
J paid and headed off to the other store.
I told her I would meet her at her house and help her set up the new laptop later that night. When I got there the first thing I noticed was the Samsung seal was broken and a clear tape covered the Samsung seal with a noticed that it had been inspected by the Geek Squad.
“This machine has been opened.” I couldn’t believe she’d drive all the way to another story and not inspected the box.
“What!” she explained both puzzled and surprised.
“Yes. Now that doesn’t mean anything is wrong with it, and it might not even be a floor model, but companies like Apple and Dell will inspect and put returned machines back in new packaging so it looks completely new and call them refurbished, or something like that. They are completely upfront about selling you a returned machine. Best Buy isn’t doing that. This machine is probably one that’s been returned, and maybe not a floor model.”
“What should I do?”
“It’s up to you, but they lied to you again. I’d take it back, complain that you were lied to and either get your money back or a new machine in the box.” She said she would the next day.
J called me back tonight and told me she had called Best Buy and they had given her some line about Geek Squad opening the machines, removing the crapware, optimizing them, and then resealing the box. “Is that possible?”
“That might be a service they offer, but I would think they would only do it on a machine someone had just bought. I doubt they would open all their new machines. That would make all their computers look like used machines. I think they are lying to you yet again. I think someone brought this machine back. That doesn’t mean it’s bad, but they were lying to you.”
“Who can I trust?”
“I always ask for new in the box when I buy anything, and I’ve had other stores pass returned merchandise as new. It pisses me off. But I also know people feel they can take anything back. And I’ve often seen people write on the net about intentionally buying three different models of something and taking two back.
“This is your Karma,” I told her. “You’re always taking stuff back.”
“What should I do?”
“Me, I take it back and get my money back. But if you really like this machine, then take it back and get one new in the box. They shouldn’t lie. Best Buy should tell people up front they are selling them a returned machine and reduce the price.”
She went on for a bit about how frustrating all this was.
“You could keep this machine and it might work for years and you’ll never know anything different from one that was completely new. But you don’t know what people might have installed on it before they took it back.”
She finally decided to return it. I don’t know how long this story will take to finish, but I’ll submit a sequel if anything exciting happens. And I haven’t even gone into the lies they told J trying to sell her an extended warranty. They essentially said the manufacturer warranty did very little and offered no support.
I still buy lots of stuff from Best Buy, even after all their shenanigans, but I’m a wary consumer.
I remember once me and a friend each taking a laptop up to the checkout to buy and the Best Buy people given us such a hard sell on the extended warranty that I turned to Mike and said, “You ready to go?” and he said “Yes” and we walked out leaving the computers on the counter. We went immediately to Circuit City and bought two laptops. They asked once if we wanted the extended warranty and when we said no, they never said another word.
When I bought my netbook at Office Depot and they got it from the back I asked the guy if it was new in the box and he assured me with an honest face that it was. I got home and it wasn’t. Everything was open and all the parts were just thrown back in the box not even pretending to wrap things up neatly. I went back and told the manager that his salesman had lied to me. I don’t think he cared, but he politely got me another machine new in the box and apologized.
I actually feel sorry for these retail places because people are too quick to return stuff. They think nothing about the merchandise having to be sold again. I only take things back when merchandise is broken or when I’ve been lied to and sold something as new in the box. Makes me want to mail order everything from NewEgg or Amazon.