Are Best Buy employees misrepresenting the Product Replacement Plan?
March 3, 2006 2:48 PM   Subscribe

Has anyone ever been told by a Best Buy employee that the Product Replacement Plan will cover accidental physical damage to a product purchased at the store?

I’ve noticed some boards that people have mentioned having purchased a Best Buy product replacement plan for their iPod and feeling as if they are fully covered if anything goes wrong. And, by fully covered, I mean including physical damage. In the Best Buy warranty, it clearly states that you cannot return an item because of physical damage. Do most people understand this to be true?

I ask this because back in September, my girlfriend bought me a 2 GB Nano for my birthday from Best Buy. She also purchased the product replacement plan because the cashier she purchased it from told her that it would cover any damage. He said if anything breaks on it, just bring it in and get a new one. Fast forward to two weeks ago and my Nano’s screen cracks while I have it in my pocket. I did not have it in a case, the scratches never bothered me, and I assumed the it could handle the pressure of a loose fitting pair of jeans. I was wrong. I took it back to BB and was disappointed when the Geek Squad informed me that the broken screen was not covered under the product replacement plan. He said they only cover defects with the software, etc.

Afterwards, I went into BB to purchase a PS2 and was offered the PR plan. When I said I wasn’t interested, the cashier told me that it was great to have because if I spilled anything on it or it fell off a shelf and broke I could get a new one. That disturbed me. It is the same thing they told my girlfriend, and it’s a complete lie.

My questions are this:

1) Has anyone else been told by a Best Buy employee that the Product Replacement Plan would cover physical damage

2) Wouldn’t you assume that something labeled the “Product Replacement Plan” would do just that, replace a product that is no longer working for whatever reason?

Please understand I know I should have read the fine print. But, when a representative of the company tells you physical damage is covered, wouldn’t you believe them? I’m not put off by the fact that the plan doesn’t cover physical damage, I’m angry because I’ve been told twice by employees that it does.
posted by studentbaker to Shopping (28 answers total)
Everyone in Best Buy except the person responsible for fulfilling warranty claims will tell you that their warranty covers everything. Here's their description:

"What is a Product Replacement Plan (PRP)?
Your Best Buy Product Replacement Plan (PRP) provides comprehensive coverage and easy fulfillment from day one. You'll get full replacement of covered products, with no deductibles or other hidden charges. Learn about benefits of a PRP. ...

Full Replacement
You get comprehensive coverage, with no deductibles or other hidden charges. If your product is found defective under normal usage, we will provide for a replacement."

adj 1: including all or everything; "comprehensive coverage"; "a comprehensive history of the revolution"; "a comprehensive survey"; "a comprehensive education" [ant: noncomprehensive}]

Comprehensive coverage on an automobile - you run it into a moose - insurance pays.
Best Buy's comprehensive insurance - you run it into a moose - Best Buy doesn't pay.

As far as I can tell it's just their way of scamming you for a service they provide anyway - if a product I bought ceased to function "under normal usage", I'd take it back, with or without this bogus coverage. Yes, Best Buy is scamming people. Yes, they need a class-action lawsuit. Haven't they been sued about this already? Or am I just imagining it?
posted by jellicle at 3:02 PM on March 3, 2006

When we bought our TV, they did the same thing.

They said quote "anything short of throwing a hammer through the screen, and you can get it completely replaced."

I highly doubt they'd be happy with us if we poured milk into it.

Call and bitch more, and speak to manager types.
posted by disillusioned at 3:07 PM on March 3, 2006

When I worked at another major electronics retailer, we would tell people that they could drop the product off their garage and the extra warranty would pay for it. This is because the salesperson gets a large percentage of the price of that warranty, and the store got an even bigger slice, so we were encouraged to do anything to sell it.

Our store manager would usually find a way around it in the rare cases when that customer would actually drop it off their garage. He'd give them a new one and send the old one in for repair as a store model, or simply give them a new one and eat the replacement cost. So few cases came up where the extra warranty wouldn't actually cover the problem that it was worth it to his bottom line to encourage us to exaggerate its benefits.
posted by goatdog at 3:11 PM on March 3, 2006

I work at Circuit City, and we actually DO have accidental damage plans.

On laptops, cameras, game systems, and MP3 players, you have the choice of two different plans: City Advantage (extended warranty) and CA with Accidental Damage. It's usually a little more, but almost always worth it. The easiest way to tell which you have is look at how long your plan is. The extended warranty is sold in whole years (24 months, 48 months, etc.), accidental damage is in whole years + 1 month (25 months, etc.).

I always get it when I can. Because I have a feeling my iPod will "accidentally" fall in the toilet 5 or 6 times about 23, 24 months into my plan. Instant upgrade to the, by then, iPod with blender or whatever.

HOWEVER, to answer your question, I DON'T believe Best Buy offers the same.
posted by BiffSlamkovich at 3:11 PM on March 3, 2006

1) Has anyone else been told by a Best Buy employee that the Product Replacement Plan would cover physical damage

Yes. And unless you routinely record conversations with those employees, you'll also come back and find managers denying that such a thing was ever said.
posted by holgate at 3:25 PM on March 3, 2006

So go and record a conversation now, since the statement seems to be a regular occurence. (Of course, make sure to keep it nice and legal!) If you talk to the store manager and he won't cooperate, bring it out.

If that doesn't work, then, I don't know, can you take a multibazillion dollar company to small claims court? Anyone ever done it?
posted by SuperNova at 3:34 PM on March 3, 2006

Yes. I was told once when buying a TV that it would be completely covered, under any circumstance. He then proceeded to give me an example: If I threw the remote in the trash upon returning home with the TV, I could walk back in the store and request a new remote.

When I read the fine print, I learned that the remote isn't even covered *at all* by the Best Buy plan.

Another thing they don't tell you (and might give you a few dollars back, at least) is that you can cancel the extended warranty at any time and either receive a full refund of the price of the warranty (if under 30 days) or a pro-rated amount (after 30 days). So if you know someone who got pressured into buying the extended warranty and regrets it, tell them to return it!
posted by helios at 3:40 PM on March 3, 2006

When i bought my iPod from BB the guy told me that if it performed in any way different than the way it performed the day i took it out of the box then they would replace it for free.

I asked this specific question: "So, like if the battery lasts for 11 hours instead of 12, you'll replace it?" He said, "Yup."

So, I bought the coverage.

I purchased the Apple Care plan with my first iPod, but never ended up using it. With this new one that I bought from BB, judging from the comments above, I got suckered again.
posted by crapples at 3:45 PM on March 3, 2006

I bought a car stereo from Best Buy, and they upsold me on the warranty, etc. I generally think of extended warranties as scams and avoid them, but I think there is a direct corollary between the physical attractiveness of the salesperson and the likelihood that I will walk out with a warranty.

When I bought my ipod at Circuit City, I was told I would be able to return it when the battery starts to die and it will be replaced free of charge, or that I can even upgrade to iPod Pico or whatever slick thing Apple with have out in two years. I hope they weren't lying, those lying liars.

My experience is that BB salespeoples are more attractive and more pushy than CC salespeoples.
posted by Zendogg at 3:59 PM on March 3, 2006

Yeah, about the only thing I'd buy a PSP/PRP (PSP in this case being Performance Service Plan, for computers) for is a laptop -- as you can get a battery replacement with basically no questions asked near the end of the term. Even then, realize that for most laptop repairs, the item must be shipped to the manufacturer, which take take several weeks for the back-and-forth. They offer a Platinum plan for laptops, which "guarantees" 7-day turnaround, but the fine print notes that, should they not provide 7-day service, your only remedy will be a refund of the price difference between the Platinum plan and the regular.

Basically, the PSP/PRP only covers manufacturing defects. For most products, any defect will reveal itself well within the manufacturer's warranty that comes with your product. There is "normal wear and tear" coverage, but I imagine they get pretty creative in adjudicating those claims.

And for reference: Product Replacement Plans
posted by Rock Steady at 4:03 PM on March 3, 2006

1a) No. Every employee in the store is trained on the coverage offered by PRPs and PSPs and encouraged to study the documents themselves. Misleading a customer would be grounds for disciplinary action.

1b) I know it sucks, but read the fine print. You can only get so far by taking the word of someone who works 20 hours a week for $8.75 an hour and encourages his friends to commit fraud. PSP and PRP pamphlets are available on the sales floor. Also, any PSP or PRP has at least a 14 day return policy.

2) Frankly, no. There is no such thing as an unlimited warranty. Best Buy offers a PSP with accidental damage coverage on notebooks, but the scope is well defined. No immersion in fluids, for one thing.
posted by Ptrin at 4:18 PM on March 3, 2006

So if you know someone who got pressured into buying the extended warranty and regrets it, tell them to return it!

That's the best piece of news EVER. I always hesitate to tell people that bought the warranty "you made a mistake", because I've always assumed they were stuck anyway. Great news!
posted by davejay at 4:26 PM on March 3, 2006

Misleading a customer would be grounds for disciplinary action, ha, funny. You've clearly never worked in sales.

It's not coincidence that every customer who goes into Best Buy is pressured to buy the warranty plan and is told that said plan covers everything. BB management is obviously pushing those plans quite hard, since they are 100% pure profit. The only offense a salesperson can commit is do something that decreases sales.
posted by jellicle at 4:32 PM on March 3, 2006

Call Apple and tell them about the cracked screen.

The rumor is that they know about this problem with the iPod Nano and will fix your screen for free.
posted by Laen at 4:49 PM on March 3, 2006

this problem with the iPod Nano

I am unclear on the OP's method of damage. Are they saying that they sat on their mp3 player? In this case I'm not surprised the screen broke. Or are they saying they put it in a pocket and applied no strain, and it just broke? In that case, it seems like a "problem"
posted by meehawl at 5:51 PM on March 3, 2006

Best Buy Sucks
posted by charmston at 6:31 PM on March 3, 2006

charmston -- I can't believe nobody's posted that yet, either. (My bad.) It seems, unfortunately, that we've been giving that site a ton of traffic lately. Like at least one mention a week.

Best Buy Corporate, are you listening yet?
posted by SuperNova at 7:19 PM on March 3, 2006

So we have people saying (effectively) "Best Buy employees lie about this all the time," and people saying, "Best Buy employees are trained not to do this, and it would be grounds for disciplinary action."

The truth is somewhere in the middle. (I worked for Best Buy for four years, across three stores in two states, so I do know what I'm talking about.)

They're both right, of course. Best Buy does train its employees not to do these things. The problem is that the same managers who do this training -- and whose bonuses ride on things like PRP attachment rates -- don't generally care how those attachment rates are achieved until there's a problem.

Personally, I never once mislead a customer about what the PSP or PRP offers. I found that an honest discussion about its benefits tended to lead to enough sales just fine (it helps that I was selling laptops and big-screen TVs). But there are definitely those who decide to do whatever it takes to sell more of them.

What motivates them is beyond me. Salesmen at Best Buy are exclusively non-commission. The company does try to create a "culture" of getting hyped about the "numbers." It's tempting to call those who fall into it "weak." (And if you've seen some of the managers and salespeople I've worked with/under, you'd know why.)

The people in the corporate offices get pissed when things like this come to light. But they've set up an environment that encourages the abuses. The only way to get ahead in the company is to have the best numbers, above and beyond the expected goals. But even meeting the goals they set takes a lot of determination, and they keep raising the bar.

So the stores that lie and cheat are the stores that perform the best, and because those "numbers" are the only things that the managers and corporate can see, those stores are the ones that are rewarded.

When I left, they were starting this push towards "Customer Centricity." The ideas are noble, and if they can execute their plans as written, they'll do extremely well. But the company's been this way so long, I wouldn't hold my breath.
posted by CrayDrygu at 8:00 PM on March 3, 2006

I went to Best Buy a few months ago to get a prorated refund on the extended warranty on some speakers and an amp I had purchased. The girl at the counter categorically refused to refund any part of my extended warranty. Categorically. After repeated requests.

So, is there anywhere in writing that it says they'll do the prorated refund? Cause I'd like to know.

Best Buy Sucks.
posted by Jonasio at 8:59 PM on March 3, 2006

Best Buy Corporate, are you listening yet?

They can't hear you. All that cash you guys keep giving them is soaking up the sound.

--Stopped being a Best Buy customer many years ago.
posted by I Love Tacos at 10:21 PM on March 3, 2006

Jonasio: The best place to look for that information would be in the printed Service Plan brochure you were given. If you weren't given one and didn't ask for one, shame on you for buying into a service plan without seeing it in writing.

If you have a replacement plan, I don't believe you can get a refund after the return period is over (generally 30 days). If you have a service plan, look for this language in the brochure:
Cancellation: [...] If the Plan is cancelled: (a) within thirty (30) days of the receipt of this Plan, you shall receive a full refund of the price paid for the Plan provided no service has been performed, or (b) after thirty (30) days, you will receive a pro rata refund, less the cost of any service received.
Arizona, Wisconsin, and Nevada don't allow service costs to be deducted from the refund. Georgia has some section of the Georgia Code that applies to cancellations of the plan (Section 33-24-44).

This is according to a two-year-old brochure, but I was working for the company as recently as six months ago, and I don't believe any of that language had changed.

So the short story is, assuming you have a service (and not replacement) plan, they owe you at least a pro rata refund, minus the cost of any service already performed.
posted by CrayDrygu at 10:33 PM on March 3, 2006

They've lied to me like that too.

You can get your money back for the service plan and scream at the manager if it'll make you feel better. It's actually really, really fun... because they deserve it.

Anyway, CompUSA's plan is legit. While I'm not some kind of raving fan or anything, they've actually been just fine when it comes to their replacement plan actually replacing stuff.
posted by ph00dz at 6:27 AM on March 4, 2006

I try not to shop at Best Buy or Circuit City because I've been lied to by both of them about these warranties.

At both places I was told that if I had a problem I could come back to the store and get a replacement. But if you actually read the contract, it said that you had to call a toll free number and they would mail you a shipping label. Then you would have to ship the item to them and they would repair or replace it, which would take 6 to 8 weeks. There's a pretty big difference between getting a replacement on the spot and having to wait up to two months.
posted by jefeweiss at 6:51 AM on March 4, 2006

I bought a digital camera from BestBuy, which quit working in about 5 weeks. When I took it in, the person behind the counter told me that they would send it in to Kodak, and if I was interested in buying a 4 year extended warranty, which would cover ANYTHING that the manufacturer didn't. I paid $60 and let them send it off.

After an inordinate amount of time, and a number of calls from me, I was told that the camera was coming back and would be working, under this extended warranty. Then I got a call saying that if I wanted the camera back, the charge for repair would be about 20% over what I originally paid for it, and unfortunately the extended warranty would not cover it. .

I went in and talked to everyone in the store, and was very angry and frustrated, relating what i had been told previously. . .they would never tell me what was wrong with the camera, only that if I wanted it to work I would need to pay a lot more than what I bought it for.

I finally was able to get my $60 back for the meaningless extended warranty, but only after this woman behind the counter pointed out that I was lucky to get the whole amount back without it being pro-rated.

In short, I would never ever even enter a BestBuy store again, and it has become (perhaps too much) a personal mission for me to dissuade others from patronizing them.

But to answer your question, the warranty is worth about as much as the paper it is printed out on. And their word is worth less.
posted by Danf at 8:11 AM on March 4, 2006

The BEST BUY company puts incredible pressure on their employees to sell warranties.

They absolutely have quotas of warranty sales to fill and those who dont fill them are punished.

The punishment is usually inconvienent work schedule hours and constant nagging by the supervisers to sell more warranties. This is because the supervisers are constantly threatened by the higher ups to keep warranty sales higher.

BEST BUY is the absolute worst electronic retail company regarding the way they treat their employees and in effect the customers.

I will never purchase even a pack of bubblegum from the check-out line of a BEST BUY store.
posted by SwingingJohnson1968 at 11:00 AM on March 4, 2006

The general rule of thumb is: Never buy an extended warranty for anything other than a laptop. Laptops break frequently, and companies will actually fix them, regardless of how they broke. An extended warranty on any other product is just throwing money away. The cost of the warranty is much higher than the expected value of repair.
posted by yeolcoatl at 12:59 PM on March 4, 2006

'When i bought my iPod from BB the guy told me that if it performed in any way different than the way it performed the day i took it out of the box then they would replace it for free.

I asked this specific question: "So, like if the battery lasts for 11 hours instead of 12, you'll replace it?" He said, "Yup."'

Well, this much is true, because I just went in a few months ago and told BB my battery life was unacceptable, and they said 'OK', took the ipod, and returned it a few weeks later with a new battery.

However, they lied to us about how the iPod would be returned to us. (The guy swore up and down that they'd mail it to us directly -- my husband and I both heard him say this. And of course, it wasn't true.)
posted by litlnemo at 3:04 PM on March 4, 2006

Anyone up for a class action on this?

I'm disgusted, after waiting 3 months for my laptop that WORKED with the battery in it before taking it to the store the store manager all of a sudden tells me today March 8th/06:

a. You have water damage in the computer.
b. I know we tell people that we cover a host of issues including if you leave it out in your car and moisture gets in the computer, Outside of physical damage we'll cover the product. But please call our CR people and deal with them.
c. go back to the store and mention the person you bougt it from 3 years ago and get him to tell you that.
d. (laugh) We wont make you pay the 100 dollar diagnostic fee.

The "comprehensive" means "comprehensive" and some contracts etc state that along with their Best Buy staff. I'm thinking about reading the small pring and taking them to small claims and having them spend more money on this product than what it's work.

BTW: UPS does the same exact thing
posted by erh7771 at 8:48 PM on March 8, 2006

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