November 15, 2007
Mr. Robert Feivor
Best Buy Customer Care
P.O. Box 9312
Minneapolis, MN 55440
Dear Mr. Feivor,
I am writing in response to your October 16 letter to [name ommitted] at the DC Attorney General’s Office. I regret that I have been unable to respond sooner due to overseas business travel from mid-October until earlier this month, followed by personal and work matters that had me preoccupied until now.
As I communicated to Ms. Carter on November 5, I cannot accept your offer of $1110.35 and a $500 GIFT CARD. Simply put, this fails to cover one-sixth of the direct expenses I have already and estimate that I will incur as a result of Best Buy’s actions, and I find it grossly inadequate and, quite frankly, disingenuous and insulting, particularly given Best Buy’s NEGLIGENCE, DECEPTION, INDIFFERENCE, AND INSULTS that have brought us to this point.
To review, I left a malfunctioning, 1-year-old laptop for repair at the Best Buy-Tenleytown DC store around May 25. Records indicate that the laptop was never shipped from the store, i.e., it was STOLEN FROM THE STORE shortly after it was received. (Based on indications from store employees who I spoke with on October 7 that proper procedure was not followed on May 25, I have concluded that the person responsible for the theft of that computer is likely a store employee.) After a follow-up visit on July 1, a Best Buy employee then apparently FALSIFIED THE SERVICE ORDER RECORD, creating the appearance that the missing computer had been duly processed for service. In response to subsequent follow-up calls, Best Buy and Geeksquad “Customer Service” reps then repeatedly LIED TO ME about the repair status of the computer, erroneously assuring me on numerous occasions that “it is at our Louisville repair facility” and that parts for the phantom computer had “just been ordered.” Only after multiple phone calls to elevate my inquiries to management in August did someone finally disclose the THEFT to me.
As if the initial NEGLIGENCE, THEFT, and DECEPTION were not appalling enough, Best Buy’s behavior since then -- INDIFFERENCE and INSULTS -- has been outright unconscionable. Best Buy “Customer Service” initially proposed compensation in the amount of $750 for the STOLEN computer and $150 for the contents lost with the computer. As this amount FAILED TO COVER THE PRICE of the originally purchased computer package ($1100.35), let alone actual cost of a comparable replacement computer or the value of the contents lost, I confirmed that I considered the offer inadequate. I also communicated that I did not want compensation in the form of a gift card, as I did not think it appropriate that I should be FORCED TO CONTINUE TO PATRONIZE BEST BUY after all that your company had put me through.
After NEITHER COMPENSATION NOR FOLLOW-UP CALLS MATERIALIZED FOR 2 WEEKS, I wrote a letter to Best Buy Tenleytown-DC’s computer customer service manager (Michael French) on August 24 detailing the background, and requesting confirmation of what type of investigation had been conducted into the THEFT OF MY COMPUTER AT THE TENLEYTOWN STORE and compensation in the very modest amount of $2110.35 to offset replacement costs for the STOLEN computer and its contents. This letter was IGNORED, as were a subsequent letter to Best Buy Tenleytown-DC’s General Manager, Robert Delissio, and other follow-up inquiries.
As I had indicated in my contacts with Bust Buy Tenleytown DC and Best Buy “Customer Service,” I then requested assistance from the DC Police Department, Attorney General’s Office, Better Business Bureau, and others. Indications are that Best Buy has been LESS THAN FORTHCOMING in response to the CRIMINAL INVESTIGATION, and, as stated above, your response to the DC Attorney General’s Office is, in my humble opinion, LESS THAN SINCERE.
To add insult to injury, Mr. Delissio (who, you’ll recall, never felt my inquiries merited responses) sent emails to friends of mine who wrote in response to an email appeal that I sent asking them to weigh in on the situation with Mr. Delissio and Best Buy “Customer Service”. In these emails, Mr. Delissio MISCHARACTERIZES ME AS A CUSTOMER who “can not [sic] be satisfied” and who “demanded unrealistic compensation.” He also states, “I will address each situation and give it the attention it requires” and “we strive to deliver the experience that every customer deserves to receive,” thus implying that I GOT THE SERVICE AND ATTENTION THAT I DESERVED. I am incredulous that Best Buy would condone such libel and open insults to its customers.
On October 24, I received a $500 gift card with no clear explanation from Best Buy “Customer Service.” I could not help but be yet again insulted, wondering “Are they actually responding with a reduction in their compensation offer?!? Do they think I’m getting stupider?!?”
I have since learned that the card had been sent, in the words of your October 16 letter to Ms. Carter, “to address other concerns and inconveniences.” I have repeatedly communicated to Best Buy that I do not desire compensation in the form of a gift card, because I no longer wish to support your business. I have no use for the card. If Best Buy supplies me with a postage-paid, self-addressed envelope by December 1, I will return it unused. Otherwise, I will donate it to the annual holiday fundraising campaign for a non-profit organization that I support, with the recommendation that they use it towards products that will not leave them exposed to the potential perils of follow-on customer service from Best Buy.
You also assert in your October 16 letter that a “refund of $1110.35 will go directly to the account used to purchase the product and warranty.” As of November 15 -- a full month after your offer -- I have RECEIVED NO SUCH REFUND* to offset the costs I have incurred, leaving me yet again to question Best Buy’s sincerity.
Weary of the inconvenience, expense, and pain (after a shoulder separation in late August) of transporting around an oversized laptop that I had borrowed from my office for FIVE MONTHS, on October 9 I shelled out $1237.25 of my own money to replace the laptop that Best Buy had allowed to be STOLEN and for which Best Buy had STILL NOT PROVIDED ANY COMPENSATION. I am just now slowly beginning the time-consuming and expensive process of restoring and rebuilding the replaceable contents of my stolen computer.
I have also spent several hours consulting with lawyers, who have confirmed that Best Buy is not only liable for expenses resulting from its NEGLIGENCE IN PREVENTING AND DISCLOSING THE THEFT of my computer, but also for LEAVING ME EXPOSED TO THE RISK OF IDENTITY THEFT, because the person who stole my computer now has access to tax documents and other personal and confidential information. At their advice, I have subscribed to a credit monitoring and identity theft protection service, a cost and a concern that, thanks to Best Buy, I will be forced to bear for many years to come.
Best Buy has had months and multiple opportunities to make good on the situation it created. Instead, it elected for deception, lowball offers, and insults. My efforts to resolve this alone -- and with the assistance of the DC police, other authorities, and friends -- have been unsuccessful. As such, I am filing a lawsuit in the amount of $54,592,146.54, including but not limited to:
- Compensatory damages of $24,146.54, covering over $9,000 in direct expenses related to the loss and replacement of the computer and its contents, compensation of about $9,000 for the estimated 150 hours of time that I have expended to date and will need to spend to as a result of the theft of my computer and consequent need to replace it and rebuild its contents, plus interest. For one unbiased perspective on the real value of a stolen computer, I will direct you to the DC Metropolitan Police Department’s website at: http://mpdc.dc.gov/mpdc/cwp/view,a,1237,q,543203,mpdcNav_GID,1548.asp, which suggests that "the cost of a stolen laptop is not just its replacement cost, but also the cost of peripherals such as modems and network cards, the installed software, the cost of configuring and loading replacement software, and the cost of lost time for the laptop owner while the computer is being replaced. An even greater cost (especially if your employer issued your laptop) is the potential exposure and liability that results from lost confidential corporate and client information."
- Approximately $500,000 in treble damages, calculated at $1500/day under DC consumer protection statutes for each of the following: 1) Best Buy Tenleytown-DC’s negligence in preventing the theft of my computer on or around May 25; disclosing that theft to me in a timely manner; fulfilling its legal and moral obligation to provide reasonable safeguards to protect my property, personal information, and me against exposure to the risk of identity theft; and providing fair financial compensation for replacement of the stolen computer and its contents and other expenses, and, 2) Best Buy “Customer Service”/corporate’s negligence in disclosing the theft of computer to me in a timely manner so that I could immediately safeguard myself against potential damages from identity theft, and failure to offer fair financial compensation, despite contact from me starting on July 11.
- Punitive damages: in the amount of $54,000,000.00. You will note that this is approximately the same amount requested in the now-infamous “Pants Suit Judge vs. Mom-and-Pop Drycleaners” case that played out this year in Washington, DC. I will be the first to admit that it is an absurd amount of money. However, I chose this amount for two reasons. First, I have no clue what amount of money might be sufficient to persuade Best Buy to reassess its ways and implement adequate policies and procedures to more effectively safeguard future customers’ property against theft and to make minimizing a customer’s chances of exposure to identity theft the priority it should be. All I know is that 6 months of my efforts have failed to produce any indication from Best Buy that it sees any error in its ways. I am happy to leave it to the courts to determine an appropriate amount to incentivize better behavior moving forward and disincentivize similar customer treatment in the future. Second, I have chosen this amount with the hope that it will generate interest among the media to share this story with the public, so that they can both add their voices to mine and those of my friends who weighed in via emails to Mr. Delissio and Best Buy “Customer Service” last month -- and hopefully generate enough pressure to motivate Best Buy to demonstrate due respect for its customers, their property, and their confidential information.
You claim in your October 16 letter that “Best Buy feels we have appropriately addressed this issue.” I guess we’ll let the courts, media, and public be the judge of that.
CC: [DC Attorney General's Office]
* I learned after sending this letter that Best Buy transferred $1110.35 into my credit card account in late October without consulting me. Thus, they have provided "compensation", but I take issue with the adequacy of the amount -- and the unilateral manner in which the transaction was done. I had checked my account for postings in mid-October before writing and sending my letter, but did not discover that the transfer had posted until I received my statement later in November.