Buyers Beware

Written by a friend, John, here’s a REALLY interesting story about his recent purchase of Grant Theft Auto: San Andreas. Pictures to come soon.

So, I bought a game at Best Buy here in Gainesville, Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, that I reserved some months ago for $5. I got one from the shelf (which had the hard clear plastic “don’t even try to steal this game” case) and took it up to Customer Service. Jantzen, the guy who was helping me there, took the one in the hard plastic case over to the counter and got a different game out of the stock that they were holding for all of the people who reserved the game (apparently, they don’t put new releases of games out on the floor). I also went and picked up a cd for my wife, Jana (maybe not essential information, but I wanted to include everything I could). I had my daughter, Tori who is 7, with me and we met Jana for dinner at the Texas Roadhouse. While waiting for Jana to arrive, I wanted to check out the manual for the game, so I opened the package. Granted, I did not look for any tampering with this package – mainly because, well, who the hell does that? I bought it from a reputable store and the game was given to me by the guy in customer service.

When I opened the package, it contained an AOL 9.0 cd where the game disc would be and in place of the manual, there were Gainesville Regional Transit System bus schedules.

Now, at this point, I was surprised. I was curious if Rockstar Games was playing a trick on everyone that bought the game, but then I realized that they wouldn’t have included the RTS schedule in place of the manual. So, I did what anyone would do, I called Best Buy. I talked to Britany in customer service who said, “well, that’s weird – just bring it back to the store and we’ll replace your game”. Now, I’m a cautious person, so I made sure that’s what she said and had her repeat that she would replace the game. I also asked her if I needed to come back right away (since I had only been out of the store approximately ten minutes), and she said “No, just come back when you can – we’re open until 9:00”. Okay. Plans all set. I ate a very nice dinner and showed the package to Jana who was just as surprised as I was. I even showed it to the waitress as she was there when I opened the package and she was just as shocked as me. Jana took Tori home and I returned to Best Buy.

When I got there, I talked to the General Manager of the store, Darren Ramsey. I explained the situation to him, then he went to talk to Jantzen. Jantzen (I assume he said this – I wasn’t within earshot) probably told him that he got the package from the holding stock. He came back and told me that there was no way that his holding stock could be infiltrated with a game in this fashion – that this stock came directly from the factory. He then said that he would need the packaging to verify whether it came from the factory or was re-packaged there in the store. I had to drive back over to the Roadhouse at this point and got plastic bag (including all the other trash) that had the packaging in it. I took it back over to Best Buy at which point Darren told me there’s no way that that packaging could have been reproduced in the store – that it *was* the original factory packaging – and thus, I was out of luck. Since he couldn’t know what happened from the moment I left the store until I returned, he “couldn’t do anything” for me. I agreed that it did look like I could trying to be pulling a fast one, but I also pointed out “why?” Why would I, a customer of the store since it opened and a Best Buy credit card holder of at least five years, want to do this? I explained that I was 35 years old, have a great job, a wonderful wife and a beautiful daughter so why would I want to potentially set myself up for this kind of humiliation?

I was so distressed at this point that I decided that I needed to talk to someone, so I called the local police and agreed to meet them outside the store. The Deputy Sheriff was great – he listened to me very intently and verified that it seemed pretty obvious that someone was trying to pull a fast one. He also informed me that this was a civil matter and there wasn’t anything he could do for me. Another Deputy showed up and he was equally surprised that this happened when I explained it to him. I even found out that one of them lives in my neighborhood out in Newberry. I was defeated. I was drained. I was astounded that this was happening to me. I asked the Deputies to come inside with me so that I could apologize to Darren for my seemingly irrational behavior and they agreed.

When I went back in to talk to Darren, escorted by the Deputies, I spoke first and apologized if I seemed unruly, but if he’d just see it from my position, that if I were *actually* telling the truth, he might understand that I was perfectly within my rights to be upset about the situation. I also explained that I could see it from his perspective – that someone was possibly trying to take Best Buy for a ride and that he didn’t want to let that happen. But, I wanted to stress the point that I’ve been a most loyal customer over the years and that I couldn’t believe that he wouldn’t take my word for the whole situation. I told him that I was still going to buy the game from somewhere and that up until this point in time I had already invested a lot in Best Buy, so I might as well go ahead and buy another one from him (I know, I know – at this point you’re probably all saying to yourselves, “are you kidding?!?”, but I had calmed down by this time and really wanted this game). He said that he appreciated me seeing his point of view. The Deputy (from my neighborhood) said “I just wanted to say that all John wanted to do was come and apologize, he didn’t say that he was going to buy another game or anything, he just wanted you to know that he didn’t mean to get as upset as he was”. Darren and I thanked them and they left.

At this point, Darren said that he would do the best that he could and give me a “deep discount” on the second game that I was purchasing. He gave me a $40 discount, so I ended up only spending $10.00 this time. He also mentioned that he was glad that I was willing to meet him halfway on this. I was happy that I wasn’t spending the whole $50 on this, but I am still kinda steamed that I had to pay *anything at all* for the second copy.

After ruminating about this last night until the wee hours because I couldn’t believe it still, I tried to think up all possible scenarios and what I came up with was this: It must have been an employee at that particular Best Buy that had access to the holding stock. Since the papers inside were local bus route papers, there’s no way that this particular packaged game could have come directly from Rockstar. Since the packaging looked like the original packaging, I’m guessing that they used an exacto knife or something like that to open one end of the plastic shrink-wrap and left the other end intact. I also noticed (and pointed out to Darren after the Deputies left) that there were only two of the security stickers – one on top and one on the side (on the second game that I bought, there were three security stickers – top, side and bottom). If they were able to get into the package by just removing the bottom sticker through the bottom of the case, they may have been able to take out the disc and manual and replace them, but I’m guessing that they very carefully took at least the bottom and the side stickers off and only replaced the side sticker after they put in the AOL cd and bus routes. Then they replaced the factory shrink-wrap and glued the end back up so it would look factory fresh, and put the package back in with the others in the holding stock.

Needless to say, *if* I ever go back to Best Buy for anything ever again, I will be the most discriminating customer after the sale. You can count on the fact that I will open all packages in the presence of an employee or a manager to verify the existence of whatever is in the box. I have lost faith in their store management/customer service regarding their (in)ability to give the benefit of the doubt to a customer who *verifiably* has spent at least $5000.00 with their company over the last few years (movies, games, appliances, tvs and most recently a big-screen tv). I am also distressed that Mr. Ramsey could not even fathom the possiblity that one of his employees got the better of him (and me). I’m hoping that whomever did this did it to more than one game. That way, when irate customer number two goes to visit Darren, he’ll immediately know that I was indeed telling the truth.


  1. I used to work at best buy. The have a shrink wrap machine in the back. You can open and reshrink wrap anything and it will look like it came from the factory. Workers at bestbuy always take crap and reshrink it. thats why everyone gets fired every 6 months. including the managers. Best buy is a good store, but many employees are shady.

  2. I’ll reiterate once more. The shrink wrapping machine that the Best Buy employees have access to in the back is *not* the same as the shrinkwrapping that comes from the factory. The plastic with the folded corners is what comes from the factory. The heated wrapping device is what is in the back. There’s a clear difference. The wrapping on the SA game in question here was the folded corner variety.

  3. Three phrases should be among the most common in our daily usage. They are: Thank you, I am grateful and I appreciate.

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