In Which I Manage To Confront & Defeat Best Buy’s 15% Restocking Fee Monster

Last Sunday (April 11) I went to the local Apple store in need of a laptop only to find them sold out of both the 13″ MacBook ($999) and MacBook Pro ($1199) models. I had initially wanted just the MacBook but the MackBook Pro had its advantages despite the $200 higher price tag.

Looking around the greater L.A. area, the closest place that carried them and — purportedly — had them in stock was the Pasadena Best Buy, so Susan and I trekked out there only to find the MacBook available. So I bought it knowing it would fulfill my needs, although a MacBook Pro and its firewire port (absent on the MacBook) would’ve been better.

Sure enough Apple comes out with a new-and-improved 13″ MacBook Pro basically the very next damn day, with its more powerful processor, longer battery life, larger hard drive, better graphics card, all at the same $1199 price point and so I decided to repack up my week-old MacBook and take it back, with fingers crossed that I could get them to waive the dreaded and hated 15% restocking fee.

The first trouble came when I called their toll free number juuuuust to make sure I could return the thing to the Atwater Village store instead of the Pasadena store where I bought it. I ask this to the person who gets on the line wanting to know how they can help me.

“Can I get your phone number?” the customer service rep asked.

“Why do you need my phone number?” I asked back.

“Well, we need to set up a case.”

“You need to set up a case in order to tell me whether or not I can take an item purchased at one Best Buy and return it to a different one?”




“Well what personal information would I have to provide if I called you up and asked what time it was?”


“It seems kind of silly to have to go to so much invasive trouble just to answer a simple policy question.

“I’m sorry sir, but that’s the process.”

“Fine, I’ll give you a phone number but I guarantee you it won’t be mine.”

There was a few moments silence, wherein I’m sure the rep considered telling me any number of my orifices that would accommodate the return, but instead she just said:

“Well  sir, you can make the return at any Best Buy, but there will be a 50 percent restocking fee.

“Did you say five-oh percent?!”

“No sir. One-Five. 15 percent.”

“Whew. Very good. Thank you!” And I hung up. It was very good I didn’t have to drive all the way out to Pasadena, but the restocking fee wasn’t very good in the least, amounting to about $150.

So I decided on my plan to avoid paying that rip-off. Now all I had to do was hope it would succeed without me having  to climb up too many rungs of the ladder at the Atwater Village store’s returns and exchanges section.

Turned out only to be the third rung.

The first was the young lady behind the register who listened patiently when I told her the following:

“I purchased the MacBook the previous Sunday. The next day Apple released a new version of its MacBook Pro. So what I’d like to do is exchange this computer for the new MacBook Pro.”

“You understand there’s a 15 percent restocking fee?” she asked.

“Yes,” I said, “but I’m hoping it can be waived since I want to buy the more expensive laptop from Best Buy.”

“Well,” she said, “I’m not able to make that decision but I can check with a supervisor.”

And I said fine and waited while she got on the phone and was told no I would have to be charged the restocking fee.

So I asked to speak with the supervisor in person and some big unpleasant bouncer looking dude in a Geek Squad shirt shows up a few minutes later, and I tell him the story.

He tells me he still can’t waive the restocking fee, because the laptop’s not defective.

I avoid suggesting he look the other way while I slam the computer hard a couple defective-making times upside my head and instead thank him for nothing except for showing me that the company he deigns to represent clearly wouldn’t know customer service if it showed up at his door with a sign and back-up singers and tell him to enjoy my $150 bucks because it’ll not only be the last money I ever let Best Buy take from me, but I’ll also strongly urge not only my friends but all of my 14 pals out in the various quarters of Internetsville to take their money anywhere but here. We’re talking YouTube videos, tweets, scathing Yelp reviews, blog posts, picketing, letters to editors and CEOs, water balloons filled with pee. You know: Tactical Angry Consumer-driven Armageddon.

And the unimpressed assbag just shrugs and walks away.

I surprise myself by lasting a full 20 seconds before I ask to no one in particular in my very best outside voice what the hell do I have to do to get my money so I can get out of this wasteland, and one of the young ladies tentatively asks if “it was settled?”

“Settled? If you call walking away from me without even saying so much as go to hell settled then yes: we’re settled.”

She says, “I’m sorry sir, I’ll be right with you.”

And I say: “Without putting too fine a point on it, it will be to your benefit to get me the hell out of here as quickly as possible… unless you think there’s someone else besides that guy I could talk to.”

“Would you like to speak to another supervisor?”

“Why not? But if he’s sporting a Geek Squad shirt and an attitude similar to the last supervisor, keep it.”

“No sir, I’ll get the manager.”

And a few minutes later a guy shows up wearing a tie and sporting a clip board and the young lady tries to explain, but I cut in.

“It’s simple, you can take $150 from me in the restocking fee or $200 and change in an unpenalized swap. I don’t want something for nothing. I want to exchange this and buy a more expensive laptop from you. But I’m not going to do it, nor will I ever buy anything from Best Buy ever ever ever again, if someone somewhere in this building can’t waive the 15 percent restocking fee.”

And without missing a beat the guy looks at the young lady and tells her to issue me a store credit for the full amount of the purchase.

“Done,” he says and he thrusts his arm toward me. “See how easy that was?” and we both chuckle as I shake his hand and shake my head, thanking him.

Then I went into the store and got the new MacBook Pro (that they thankfully had in stock!), came back to the counter, paid the difference and a few minutes later myself, my new computer and my $150 that would’ve been the restocking fee was out the door and on our way. Happily ever after.

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Will Campbell arrived in town via the maternity ward at Good Sam Hospital way back in OneNineSixFour and has never stopped calling Los Angeles home. Presently he lives in Silver Lake with his wife Susan, their cat Rocky, dogs Terra and Hazel, and a red-eared slider turtle named Mater. Blogging since 2001, Will's web endeavors extend back to 1995 with, a comprehensive theater site that was well received but ever-short on capital (or a business model). The pinnacle of his online success (which speaks volumes) arrived in 1997, when much to his surprise, a hobby site he'd built called VisuaL.A. was named "best website" in Los Angeles magazine's annual "Best of L.A." issue. He enjoys experiencing (and writing about) pretty much anything creative, explorational and/or adventurous, loves his ebike, is a better tennis player than he is horr golfer, and a lover of all creatures great and small -- emphasis on "all."