Why I wont shop at Best Buy anymore
It's been a while since I've bought a computer game. Mostly this is due to the fact that once I start working on something I tend to get hyper-focused on it and have trouble stopping until I've finished it. This is especially true for games. I tend to not sleep until I have either 1) complete the game, or 2) realize the sun has come up and I can no longer keep my eyes open without the use of some type of clockwork orange type device. Last night, after a nice dinner with a couple friends we headed to Best Buy so they could look at a new TV. I had been thinking about getting Civilization IV and just blowing the weekend on the game. It's been a long time since I've done that and I just wanted to get out of my own brain for a while. The Digital Opiate of Civ was most appealing. Making up my mind to geek out for the weekend I bought a copy. Productivity be damned. Apparently, it wasn't meant to be. Even though my machine is well above the requirements listed on the box, the game simply didn't work. As soon as you get past the first setup screens and into the game itself the video decides to try and imitate one of Jackson Pollock's abstracts. I was a little disappointed, but having worked with software I know there are about a zillion things that can go wrong and cause an application to try to eat itself. Thinking this is no big deal, I went back to Best Buy this morning to exchange the game for a different one. (I was thinking Star Wars - BattleFront II so I could spend my time running around and either shooting at or with Storm Troopers.) Here's where the problem escalates. Apparently, Best Buy has a policy where they won't let you return software once the box has been open. The reason that I was given amounted to the Best Buy folks stating that under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act it was illegal for them to accept returns of open software since I could, in theory, have made a copy of it and be in the process of sending it out to the world for free. So, here's one very large problem with that: even if I don't return software I can do the exact same thing. It wouldn't matter if I kept the software disks, returned them, or paid to have them sent into orbit on a Russian rocket. I would be just as capable of sending copies of the software out in any case. My guess is the real reason for the policy is Best Buy trying to protect itself from people buying games, copying them for themselves and returning them. Effectively getting a free copy. I can appreciate a company wanting to protect themselves from this, but I don't see where that gives them the right to sell me a defective product and then refuse to take it back. I did a little looking around on-line and discovered something called the "Uniform Commercial Code" that appears to provide protection for consumers in the event they purchase a faulty product. And, unlike the DMCA, it seems to me that this Florida Statute applies. Even taking bound copies of the various legal docs in and talking to the GM of the store I wasn't able to get satisfaction. So, what's the next step? Since I felt like I was just bullied by a big corporation that might have just broken the law, I decided on an e-mail to the Florida Attorney General. It's at the bottom of this post for anyone interested. I'm not really expecting anything, but I figure it couldn't hurt. I'm also going to talk with my credit card company and see if they can help out in any way. Regardless, I won't be shopping at Best Buy anymore. Caveat Emptor, indeed.
-- Hello, I'm not sure if I'm sending this to the right place, but I have a question about software and consumer protection. I purchased a piece of software last night from Best Buy and, after installing it, discovered that it didn't work even though my computer met all the requirements listed on the package. Today, I tried to return it to the store, but they would not allow me a refund or store credit even after I had explained the defect. Citing the Digital Millennium Copyright Act their statement was something to the effect of: "We can't accept returns of software once it's been open because of the Federal Copyright law." I did some research on-line and found Florida Statue Title XXXIX - Chapter 672 Uniform Commercial Code: Sales. Reading sections 672.513 (Buyer's right to inspection of goods) and 672.601 (Buyer's rights on improper delivery) of that document it appears to me that I should have been able to return the faulty software. I printed out copies of the Uniform Commercial Code, and overview of the DMCA, and the full DMCA itself and took them in to Best Buy this evening. I was directed to talk with the General Manager and after discussing the documents with him, the store was still unwilling to provide me with either a refund or store credit for the software. The options he offered were to either get a new copy of the same software, or to contact the software's manufacturer and take up the matter with them. A new copy of the software would not have alleviated my problem as the fault is with all copies of the software and not just the specific copy I had received. As for taking the matter up with the manufacturer, I feel that my business is with Best Buy and not with them. So, my question: Based on the Uniform Commercial Code, shouldn't Best Buy have had to accept my return and either refund my money or provide me with a store credit since they were the ones that sold me a defective product? In order to inspect the software which led to the determination that it was defective, I had to open the box and install it. Therefore, it seems to me that the fact that the box was opened can not be ground for refusing to allow me to return it. I appreciate any help that you can offer in this matter. If I have sent this to the wrong place, I would appreciate any assistance in directing me to the proper channels. Thank you, - Alan W. Smith P.S. Here are some links that will take you to items mentioned above. Full Version of the DMCA http://tinyurl.com/42pr Overview of the DMCA http://tinyurl.com/6u7hf Florida Uniform Commercial Code (for some reason this goes to 2004 instead of 2005, but the 2005 version is on the site as well) http://tinyurl.com/7mzt9 672.601 Buyer's rights on improper delivery http://tinyurl.com/99mkp 672.513 Buyer's right to inspection of goods http://tinyurl.com/7okjf