Best Buy accepts store credit as payment and then rejects it 6 months later

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Feb 19, 2018
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#1
On 7/1 I opened a best buy credit card (citicorp - not a visa or mastercard but a bestbuy card) and purchased 2 mobile phones. They gave me 3 store credits ($200 each) at the time, apparently as part of the promotion.

On 7/26 I came back to Best Buy and used the store credits to purchase a computer.

A few days later I paid off the credit card and closed the credit card. I had only opened it because they were offering a significant percentage back on the first purchase and so I didn't want it anymore and closed it off. Zero balance. Closed. Done.

In late November (5 months after the store credit was issued) I was contacted by Best Buy credit card services saying that I owed $200 on the credit card that had previously been closed. I disputed this since I had fully paid it off before it was closed. They said that on 7/1 I should have received only 2 store credits, not 3. I explained that I didn't ask for anything - I just took what they gave me. And they didn't complain at all when I was buying the computer; they accepted my 3 store credits as a legitimate part of my payment method. If they had said something at the time of the first purchase (when I received it) or at the time of the 2nd purchase (when I used it) then we could have resolved it easily; by the time they informed me of the problem the merchandise was nearly 6 months old and non-returnable.

I have explained this to 2 representatives on the phone. In both cases they examined the transactions in great detail and agreed that since I was given the additional $200 as a store credit it was reasonable that I could expect to use it and so each representative opened a dispute. However, in the first case I later got a letter simply saying that the dispute had been rejected and in the second case apparently the representative never initiated the dispute on my behalf despite telling me that he would.

I am a bit mystified that a company like Best Buy would accept a payment and then months later reject it, but the more surprising thing is that even after disputing the charge they persist. And I'm starting to get to the point of realizing that I may not have a way out. Since the card and the retailer are one and the same I don't know to whom I can appeal this.

I don't want anything in reparations for the hours I have spent and stress. I just want what I legitimately purchased on 7/26 without having to pay an additional $200. I would not have bought that computer from Best Buy if I had known that they would later back out of accepting the payment that they accepted that day. If they will not let me keep the computer without paying an additional $200 then I would like them to accept the computer as a return with no restocking fee and full money back.
 
Jan 6, 2015
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#3
Your situation seems straightforward, at least to me. To appeal this, you can use the Company Contacts link at the top of this page to escalate your case to them.

Before you do, be sure to read and follow the instructions at the top of the first page.
 
Likes: Neil Maley
Sep 19, 2015
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#4
Was this the $200 per phone promotion that was run on the expensive phones like the Samsung S8? Were you only due two $200 credits, and one extra was given as a mistake and was found later likely due to an audit? That seems to be the promotion that was running at the time which clearly stated $200 per phone.
 

jsn55

Verified Member
Dec 26, 2014
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#5
The explanation of this issue is simple. You opened a CC account just to obtain a bonus. Then you closed it. CC issuers have been cracking down on this kind of thing over the past couple of years. People open CC accounts, obtain the bonus and cancel the card. These bonus promotions are not set up to give you a discount on a purchase or two. They are offered to entice people to open and USE a credit card. Had you kept and used the card at least through its anniversary date, there probably wouldn't have been an issue.

The situation we see today was brought about by greed. When CCs first started issuing affinity cards, they gave out bonuses to entice people to sign on Lots of people did, but they didn't want or need the card, they just wanted the bonus. Not what the CC issuers had in mind. So they started 'punishing' people who did this. American Express has always been a stickler for the number of their cards you can have, as well as the total number of CCs you own. Their rationale is that you obviously don't need this new card, you just want the bonus. Chase has chimed right in. These are the only two that I'm really familiar with, I'm sure it's the same everywhere.

While I understand a CC issuer not issuing you another card and bonus in the future, this 'clawing back' of the so-called erroneous bonus is a bit over the top. It was their error, not yours. BestBuy is being very short-sighted to annoy you about this. Stay off the phone, and follow VoR's guidance. It will require our 'three Ps': be polite, patient and persistent. Good luck and please let us know what happens ... I'll be very interested to know the outcome.
 
Likes: AMA and VoR61

Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
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www.promalvacations.com
#6
The explanation of this issue is simple. You opened a CC account just to obtain a bonus. Then you closed it. CC issuers have been cracking down on this kind of thing over the past couple of years. People open CC accounts, obtain the bonus and cancel the card. These bonus promotions are not set up to give you a discount on a purchase or two. They are offered to entice people to open and USE a credit card. Had you kept and used the card at least through its anniversary date, there probably wouldn't have been an issue.

The situation we see today was brought about by greed. When CCs first started issuing affinity cards, they gave out bonuses to entice people to sign on Lots of people did, but they didn't want or need the card, they just wanted the bonus. Not what the CC issuers had in mind. So they started 'punishing' people who did this. American Express has always been a stickler for the number of their cards you can have, as well as the total number of CCs you own. Their rationale is that you obviously don't need this new card, you just want the bonus. Chase has chimed right in. These are the only two that I'm really familiar with, I'm sure it's the same everywhere.

While I understand a CC issuer not issuing you another card and bonus in the future, this 'clawing back' of the so-called erroneous bonus is a bit over the top. It was their error, not yours. BestBuy is being very short-sighted to annoy you about this. Stay off the phone, and follow VoR's guidance. It will require our 'three Ps': be polite, patient and persistent. Good luck and please let us know what happens ... I'll be very interested to know the outcome.
I was wondeing myself if the third credit was for opening the card - and the card wasn't kept open for a certain time frame it was supposed to be kept open for.
 
Jan 6, 2015
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#7
One thing that confuses me: you said that you "purchased 2 mobile phones" and then "They gave me 3 store credits ($200 each) at the time". So, did they actually give you 3 credits for "each phone", or did you simply mean that "each credit" was for $200?

If it's the latter, then Best Buy should honor that, given that you've already used them to buy the computer. If, however, it's the former, then it clearly was a mistake (i.e., just 2 phones but 3 credits), and I can see where they might expect you to return the extra $200.

All that said, they waited 5 months, during which time you've used the computer, so I think you have at least a fighting chance for a successful appeal ...
 
Sep 19, 2015
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#8
It would be helpful if the OP would say what the promotion was. If it was $200 per phone, and there was an extra $200 given as an accident, is it fair for the OP to profit from the mistake.

There was a story in the news about a student who received an erroneous bank deposit, and rather than alert the bank, started spending the money.....
 
Feb 19, 2018
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#9
Yes, the promotion was $200 credit per phone. So the 3rd credit was in error. But when they gave it to me I pointed that out verbally and showed them that they had already given me 2 cards. There followed an extended conversation behind the counter and much gesticulating and muttering and clicking of keys. In the end the person told me that there must be some computer error and that I should "enjoy"! And he was not a trainee - a trainee was checking me out, but it was his supervisor that told me to enjoy it.

I could have taken it to a higher level manager at that point and (what?) insisted that they take it back. But at this point I had been waiting for 1.5 hours at that checkout (due to errors the trainee had made) and I was a bit frustrated and welcomed the error.

Was it an error? Yes. But was I responsible for the error? No. Did I try to rectify it? Yes. Did they have a chance to turn me down when I came back to use the store credit to buy the computer? Yes! And at that point, had they done that, I would have had the choice of whether to buy the computer or not knowing that I had $400 in store credit rather than $600 in store credit.

But the fact that they allowed me to complete the purchase of the computer, accepted the full $600 as a valid payment method, and didn't communicate for 6 months down the line leaves me in the lurch. I no longer have any choice related to whether or not to buy a computer - the computer is bought. It wasn't intentional on their part, but the end result is that it was a bait-and-switch. The purchase was made with the full understanding on my part that I had $600 store credit to spend and then they changed their end of the deal 6 months later...

If I had paid cash instead of using a credit card they would have had no choice but to eat the cost of their own error. As it is they are using the credit card as a "hook", reopening a CC that was already closed and threatening my credit record if I don't pay it. And since Best Buy is the issuer of the CC as well as the retailer I have no court of appeal...
 
Likes: LynnJ
Feb 19, 2018
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#10
I was wondeing myself if the third credit was for opening the card - and the card wasn't kept open for a certain time frame it was supposed to be kept open for.
No - there was a separate in-store credit associated with using the CC for an initial purchase. But that is not being called into question at all. I fulfilled all requirements of the card (I read the fine print carefully before opening it since I knew I was just going to have it open for a month or 2 and didn't want to find out later that they had some technicality to prevent that).
 
Feb 19, 2018
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#11
It would be helpful if the OP would say what the promotion was. If it was $200 per phone, and there was an extra $200 given as an accident, is it fair for the OP to profit from the mistake.

There was a story in the news about a student who received an erroneous bank deposit, and rather than alert the bank, started spending the money.....
Yes, I get this, but I did point it out to the cashier when they gave me the 3rd card. (Of course I cannot verify this - I could have verified it if they had told me about the error before 6 months had passed, but by the time they told me I had thrown away the records and when I went back to the store I was unable to find either the trainee or the trainer to validate.)

It seems to me that if the student pointed it out to the bank and was told to enjoy it that would change things.

And if the student somehow used that money from the bank to buy something from the bank and the bank accepted it and didn't say anything for 6 months...?

And, significantly, at least in my mind, this is a retailer. They sell. They offer promotions. They do things that make customers want to come back to them. In this case I had stood for 1.5 hours while they trained their trainee and I smiled and made small talk with them the whole time - it seemed reasonable that they were working within the system to obliquely (and generously!) say "sorry" to a customer who had been treated poorly. In fact, another manager came along partway through the sale and lowered the price on one of the smaller items I was purchasing, explicitly saying that she appreciated me waiting so patiently.

In any event I really thought I had done what all that could be reasonably expected by a customer by pointing out their error and allowing them the chance to fix it if they wanted to.

And, if they had blocked the sale of the computer a few weeks later on the basis of that erroneous store credit I would have understood - they made a mistake and they found it and they are now taking back what shouldn't have been given. But when they allowed the store credit to be used as a valid payment method that, in my mind, made it permanent and irrevocable. Obviously they didn't think so.
 
Feb 19, 2018
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#12
One thing that confuses me: you said that you "purchased 2 mobile phones" and then "They gave me 3 store credits ($200 each) at the time". So, did they actually give you 3 credits for "each phone", or did you simply mean that "each credit" was for $200?

If it's the latter, then Best Buy should honor that, given that you've already used them to buy the computer. If, however, it's the former, then it clearly was a mistake (i.e., just 2 phones but 3 credits), and I can see where they might expect you to return the extra $200.

All that said, they waited 5 months, during which time you've used the computer, so I think you have at least a fighting chance for a successful appeal ...
Each store credit was for $200. And they gave me 3 of them (mistakenly - should have been 2) and then accepted those as payment for the computer.
 
Jan 6, 2015
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#13
Thank you for the clarification pbowers. If you escalate the Best Buy using the Company Contacts, I would include the explanation you provided in Post #9 above.

I believe you made a reasonable effort that day to rectify their error ...
 
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Likes: Neil Maley

Neil Maley

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Dec 27, 2014
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www.promalvacations.com
#14
I agree with VoR- make sure you include the information you just have us about the store telling you to use the credit and “enjoy”. That makes a huge difference in how this panned out. You need to show them you brought it to the stores attention.
 
Jan 6, 2015
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#15
A few more notes about an appeal:
  • Leave out the closing of the card. It is not relevant
  • Leave out "they didn't complain at all when I was buying the computer; they accepted my 3 store credits". Again this is not relevant.
  • Include how long this has taken (i.e., how long you've had the computer)
  • Express (politely) that you have acted in good faith and that you ask them to do the same
  • Keep the details short (bulleted items are best)
Let us know how this turns out please ...
 
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Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
11,426
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New York
www.promalvacations.com
#16
A few more notes about an appeal:
  • Leave out the closing of the card. It is not relevant
  • Leave out "they didn't complain at all when I was buying the computer; they accepted my 3 store credits". Again this is not relevant.
  • Include how long this has taken (i.e., how long you;ve had the computer)
  • Express (politely) that you have acted in good faith and that you ask them to do the same
  • Keep the details short (bulleted items are best)
Let us know how this turns out please ...
If I could love this post I would. The less said in a letter the better - only give the pertinent facts - you questioned them at the register, they told you to enjoy.
 
Likes: VoR61

jsn55

Verified Member
Dec 26, 2014
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#17
Big retail is subject to so many glitches ... if the consumer makes an effort to make good and is told he doesn't need to, then the retailer cannot come back later ... especially six months later!

Friend of mine bought a bicycle online at WalMart to be delivered to the local store. When it arrived, she went down to pick it up in her SUV and I accompanied her. Concerned that the thing wouldn't fit in her truck, we went back into the warehouse to ask advice of the guy who was assembling it. He removed a couple of appendages, showed us how to reattach them, we 3 stuffed the thing in the SUV and off we went. The bike had been billed out at the time of the order.

Two weeks later she got a notice that she needed to pick up her bicycle. She emailed, she called, she finally went down to the store to explain that she already had the thing. A month later, they gave her a full credit on her Visa. Again, the emails, phone calls and another visit to the store. She finally gave up ... but still feels guilty riding that bike!
 
Likes: VoR61
Apr 3, 2016
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#18
And if you are not successful, I would not pay the $200.00. If it goes to collections/credit report, tell the credit bureaus that is in an illegal charge and want the incident removed from your credit report. You should win the appeal since Best Buy did not have your permission for the charge. They cannot just charge your card because they have the number without your authorization. If you had paid $600.00 store credit and the rest cash, they would not have a card to charge. I hope you still have the receipt from the computer to show the amount that you signed for. Hold on to it. You will need it if you need to appeal to a credit bureau.
 
Likes: jsn55
Apr 3, 2016
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#19
Fair Credit Bill Act, Electronic Funds Transfer Act and other laws cover unauthorized transactions and how to dispute them.
 
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Feb 19, 2018
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#20
So I've written to the first contact on the list on the Best Buy page here with the explanation as y'all suggested.

I also went to several Attorney General offices which offered consumer advocacy (VA because that's where the purchase occurred, MO because that's where the credit service is located, and I'm looking for MN because that's where Best Buy corporate HQ is located). I also found a few different federal or state consumer advocacy departments and have submitted documentation to each of them.