Best Buy Scanning Driver’s Licenses to Curb Returns Fraud

    April 11, 2012
    Mike Fossum
    Comments are off for this post.

Best Buy, the big box electronics retailer, has been looking for all the help it can get as of late, and has been scanning customer driver’s licenses while making decisions on whether to honor certain merchandise returns. The company has been struggling a bit – Best Buy plans to close 50 stores in the U.S., laying off 400 employees in the process, and it’s recently been revealed that CEO Brian Dunn has resigned.

To better curb merchandise returns fraud, Best Buy has been using the services of The Retail Equation, a California company that processes return authorizations by logging consumers’ return/exchange behavior at stores in its network. And, it’s legal, if not a bit invasive. Best Buy spokeswoman Kelly Groehler states, “Our system is compliant with all state and federal laws regarding the security and privacy of the information, and provides far greater security than more traditional retail return practices, such as collecting consumer information on hard-copy return slips or saving consumer information on paper logs.” The Retail Equation also accepts U.S. passports. Yeah, I’m going to give some kid my passport to return an ethernet cable.

Still, Best Buy isn’t cutting any corners. The company loses money over consumers using their stores to check products out in-person, only to go home and buy them elsewhere for cheaper online. Also, all sorts of petty fraud can be achieved using the returns policies of retail chains. People can essentially “rent” items from big box retailers – a customer can purchase surround sound for the Superbowl, and then return everything the next day. Best Buy seeks to cut down on this sort of thing.

The Retail Equation, who tracks 20,000 U.S. stores, says that returns fraud accounts for $14.3 billion to $18.4 billion annually. This includes price switching, returning of stolen items, receipt counterfeiting, etc. Though, the company asserts that 99% of return requests in tis network go through. As for the 1% that do not – customers who are flagged for having displayed possible fraudulent behavior are put on Best Buy’s no-returns-or-exchanges-for-90-days list. And, it doesn’t matter if a shopper has a valid receipt – the only thing a blacklisted customer can do is request an activity report from The Retail Equation, and wait. Or shop/defraud elsewhere.

  • Mark J Smith

    And Best Buy wonders why they are going out of business? We haven’t shopped there in years. They are the sleaziest retailer in the business. Their slimy practices and attitude drive customers away in droves.

  • Jeremy

    I cant stand best buy. I`m a clean cut white boy. I went to best buy one day with my clean cut black friend. Both of us were around 20 years old, But we didn’t look shady, Or ghetto. I was looking to spend $800 on a new stereo system for my car. The best buy employees followed us around like we were criminals. It was soooo annoying. I complained to the manager. The manager said some young guys matching our description were in there the week before stealing. I laughed at him, And went else where to get my stereo. I found it hilarious. How much do most those people make? $16 a hour at the very most? They were harassing me? That was 3 years ago. Never been back to a best buy anywhere since.

  • mark j cocksuck

    “And Best Buy wonders why they are going out of business? We haven’t shopped there in years. They are the sleaziest retailer in the business. Their slimy practices and attitude drive customers away in droves”
    NO one cares, best buy isn’t going out of business go suck a knob.

  • Christine

    You can get black listed for even what I did. My hubby works a ton, so I bought 3 laptops from Best Buy. I went home and asked him to choose one. We ended up keeping one, and did not even open the box of the other computers. The other 2 I returned, again, box UNOPENED. I went to buy some DVDs and a jam box the next few weeks after. Daughter had Sleeping Beauty so I took that DVD back. They told me I couldn’t return for 90 days… So I never returned the DVD, and I also have never been back to shop at Best Buy again. It’s been 5 years.

    (I kept the 2K laptop that I bought, and they should have a notes section like, “guest returned product unopened”, and have a key to hit for non-flagged return/ non-fraudulent or something. Sigh.)

    Shop at Fry’s Instead!! :)