I have filed a lawsuit against Best Buy and launched this blog in an effort to bring attention to the reprehensible state of consumer property and privacy protection practices at America's largest consumer electronics retailer, with the hope that it might motivate Best Buy to effect changes and spare future consumers the experience I have been subjected to -- or worse. The short story is that Best Buy and its representatives: 1) allowed my computer to be stolen from the Best Buy store in Tenleytown, Washington, DC, 2) fabricated records and tried to cover up the theft, 3) lied to me for weeks about the repair status of the stolen computer, 4) responded to repeated requests for a theft investigation and compensation with indifference and insults, and 5) demonstrated a company-wide disregard for legal obligations to immediately disclose the theft and notify me of potential exposure to identity theft over the course of the ordeal. Relevant documents and details follow the below timeline.
May 19, 2007: Shortly after I left a 1-year-old laptop with a malfunctioning on-off switch at Best Buy's Tenleytown DC store for repair under a service contract, the computer was stolen -- either by an employee or by someone who managed to abscond unchecked with the laptop from a "secure" area of the store.
June 2007: Efforts to track the computer were met with Geeksquad confirmation that the laptop was "not in the system".
July 2007: July 1, Best Buy's Tenleytown DC store informed me that the computer was "not in the system," provided a new reference number, and instructed me to contact Geeksquad again. July 4, a store employee created a false computer record, and the appearance that the laptop had been processed for repair on that day.
July 9 - August 9, 2007: In response to follow-up inquiries, Geeksquad and Best Buy "Customer Service" employees repeatedly lied about the repair status and location of the phantom computer. After disclosure that there was "no record that the computer ever shipped from the store," the laptop was finally confirmed "missing" on August 9.
August 9 - October 2007: Repeated requests for an investigation and fair compensation (<$5000) were ignored, then addressed with insults and lowball compensation offers. More importantly, Best Buy consistently failed to fulfill legal obligations to immediately advise of potential exposure to identity theft throughout the process.
November 2007: November 16, I filed a major lawsuit, seeking both fair compensation for replacement of the computer, its content, and expenses related to identity theft protection and the lawsuit, and the adoption of adequate measures to ensure customer privacy protection is given the priority it deserves in the future.
December 2007: December 19, I received a copy of a Best Buy lawyer's Motion to Quash Service and Dismiss Complaint. December 20, I sent a response, which was ignored. Independently, Best Buy's corporate counsel sent an offer for $2500 in compensation, with non-disclosure and non-liability provisions and no offer to address the systemic failure in Best Buy's practices, i.e., the main motivation for my lawsuit.
January 2008: January 3, I sent a response to Best Buy Associate Corporate Counsel's settlement "offer." January 4, I filed Opposition to Best Buy Lawyer's Motion to Quash Service and Dismiss Complaint with DC Court. At a pre-trial status hearing on January 25, the Court recommended trying informal negotiations to settle the matter. I advised Best Buy's lawyer that I would drop the suit if Best Buy would provide compensation for my expenses and time and address the shortcomings in its property and privacy protection practices. Best Buy refused. Apparently, Best Buy would rather pay its lawyers to fight me than address the issues raised in my claim.
*Funds received to date total $1110.35, which were unilaterally transferred into my credit card account by Best Buy in late October 2007 -- without my knowledge or consent. The amount does not even cover the full cost of replacing the laptop itself, let alone a fraction of the value of the music, pictures, software, and other contents that were on the stolen computer, legal and court expenses, the cost of identity theft protection services that I am forced to bear for years to come, or compensation for the estimated 200 hours I have spent since May 2007 dealing with Best Buy and its agents, the replacement of my computer and its contents, and pursuing the lawsuit because of Best Buy's indifference towards my initial requests. Best Buy also sent a $500 gift card to me in mid-October 2007 (with no explanation and despite repeated communications that I had no interest in a gift card that would force me to patronize their stores). I subsequently advised them that I would donate it to a non-profit organization unless they requested its return, and did so in December, after not receiving a response.
Posted by rcdc at 10:27 AM