Best Buy's Policy Snares Customer With New TV

Shoppers who carry home their own products are responsible for any damage.

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Earlier this week, I heard from Jennifer, a Best Buy customer who bought a new, 40-inch, flat-screen television for $1,100 at a store in Wheaton, Md. When she brought it home in its sealed box, she found that the entire screen had been smashed. So, as irritating as that would be, you would think that at least the store would exchange it for an undamaged one, right?

Wrong. When Jennifer took the television back to the store, customer service representatives told her the store could not replace it, because the company can't be responsible for what happens after products leave the store. Eventually, the store offered to pay for half of the repairs on the damaged television—which still leaves her out $500 and without the brand-new set she paid for.

I asked Best Buy about this policy. Senior executive resolution specialist Jill Nezworski says that if customers transport a television themselves, then Best Buy can't verify what happens to it once it leaves the store. That's why Best Buy doesn't allow returns or exchanges on damaged units that were transported by customers. But if Best Buy delivers the television, then the company guarantees the condition of the product until it's in the customer's home.

The lesson: Open the box and check to make sure nothing is damaged before leaving the store. Or have the store deliver pricey products so the company is responsible for any damage you find upon opening the box.