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You Can Be Banned from Making Returns at Best Buy

by on February 04, 2021
in Shopping, News, Blog :: 32 comments

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Best Buy's return policy says most products can be returned within 15 days for a refund or exchange, but the company doesn't always follow its own policy. The problem is return fraud, where a customer might return a used or even stolen item for a refund, abusing a retailer's return policies — a problem that affects 5.9% of all returns, according to the National Retail Federation's "Consumer Returns in the Retail Industry 2020" report.

A few years ago, Best Buy found an answer to return fraud in a third party company called The Retail Equation, which analyzes return behavior to detect fraud. Whenever you returned an item, TRE's algorithms went to work to see if it was likely that you were abusing the return program. If the algorithm thought you were a risk, your return might have been denied — or you could have been barred from returning items in the future, no matter what the return policy says.

As of May 20, 2019, Best Buy social media specialists were still sending unsatisfied customers to The Retail Equation for more information on why their return was denied. Fast forward to February 2, 2020, and a Best Buy senior social media specialist states that Best Buy is no longer working with The Retail Equation. And then, on July 7, 2020, Best Buy was named in a lawsuit, along with The Retail Equation and 11 other retailers, alleging invasion of privacy and violations of the California Consumer Privacy Act, among other claims.

Just because Best Buy isn't using The Retail Equation, that doesn't mean that Best Buy isn't still tracking your shopping behavior and flagging suspicious returns. We reached out to Best Buy about their current practices regarding return fraud (including whether they’re using another third party like The Retail Equation), but as of publication, they had not responded.

The Wall Street Journal identified seven things that could impact your chances of being flagged for a fraudulent return:

  1. making too many returns in a short timeframe
  2. returning items without a receipt
  3. returning items that are often stolen
  4. returning items after a certain period of time
  5. returning items at store closing time
  6. returning high-value items
  7. returning a large percentage of your total purchases

Before you buy, be sure you're familiar with Best Buy's return policy. Most products are subject to a 15-day return window, with cell phones, cellular tablets, and cellular wearables having a 14-day window.

For opened items, Best Buy tacks on a return fee of $45 for cell phones, cellular tablets, and cellular wearables (like smartwatches). Drones, DSLR cameras and lenses, mirrorless cameras and lenses, leg and body recovery systems, premium camcorders, projectors, projector screens, and special-order products all have a return fee equal to 15 percent of the item purchase price.

Finally, keep in mind that Best Buy's return policy is under constant evaluation. As the Best Buy site states, "Best Buy may run tests of the Return and Exchange Promise in select locations and may amend these terms at any time."

[Editor's note: Certain credit cards, such as many from American Express, offer return protection plans. If the retailer refuses to take a product back, American Express will refund the purchase price, up to $300 per item (with some restrictions). If you've already made a purchase from Best Buy and has a return refused, you may want to see what protections your credit card offers. And if it doesn't offer protection, you may want to consider Amex for future purchases from Best Buy.]

Updated on 2/4/2021 with current Best Buy return policy information.

[Image credit: Best Buy store via BigStockPhoto]

Discussion loading

Makes sense to me

From Mike on March 19, 2018 :: 11:46 am

If you’re going to something like Mr. California did and buy a bunch of stuff you KNOW you’re going to return - KEEP THE RECIEPT.  If you have the receipt, the company SHOULD allow a full refund - except for the last item on the WSJ list - appears to be just sound business sense.


No much of a hassle

From John W on March 19, 2018 :: 1:44 pm

I think I will just avoid the mess and shop elsewhere.


Shop Where?

From Sandy on October 07, 2019 :: 6:26 am

Where will you shop, though? You don’t know which stores use TRE and which don’t. We only know of some.



From Danial Hrominchuk on July 29, 2021 :: 7:39 am


The fraud exists

From Nancy on March 22, 2018 :: 1:21 pm

I purchased a bulk shipment of returns and closeouts to sell on eBay a year ago. One thing that was included was about 20 sticks of RAM that had been returned to Staples as defective. However, when I looked at them, it was apparent that their return clerks don’t know anything about RAM. The packages were mostly for well-known brands of RAM, but what was actually in the package did not match… People were upgrading their RAM and then returning their castoffs, e.g., an off-brand 256mb stick was in a good brand 1gb package. So the people were getting free RAM because the clerks don’t know how to catch the fraud.  Maybe that’s one reason Staples has financial issues and closed a bunch of stores.


Staples screed me on a return.

From Randy Kight on August 07, 2020 :: 7:51 pm

I wanted to return a $20 item at Staples one day after the return period had ended. The item had never been opened. I thought the manager would make an exception for me since I had been in the hospital for over a week. This was only a $20 item. The manager told me that No One in the entire company had the authority to make an exception! Can’t believe that’s true.  I told the cashier that he should probably start looking for another job because I didn’t think that store would be in business much longer by treating customers that way. I was actually surprised when I drove by that shopping center about 2 months later and it was closed! Needless to say I felt vindicated. When I told friends the story I found out that I was not alone in having had a bad experience with Best Buy.



From Theateran on March 23, 2018 :: 4:55 am

You will certainly be need to enter your id and  fill all the information in the enrollment kind and also you have actually done.


It's a hoax how Best Buy pretends to wash its hands

From Old Poor Richard on May 27, 2018 :: 11:35 pm

These rules are set by Best Buy.  TRE isn’t some shadowy and independent company that Best Buy has no control over.  Best Buy writes the rules and TRE is simply a subcontractor that implements them.  None of those seven triggers listed is any indication of fraud.  The only “abusive” practice is return of expensive items which you’ve already used.  This can be cured by simply charging a restocking fee for all electronics that are opened.


Why are you making things up?

From Sandy on October 07, 2019 :: 6:29 am

Best Buy has zero control. TRE itself has very limited control. This is an automated program that flags returns without a human ordering it to do that. Once TRE realizes there was a mistake, it can go and edit the code but that would only apply to future returns.


Why are you making things up then contradicting yourself?.

From Chris Whitley on August 02, 2021 :: 3:51 pm

Simply put, computers don’t program themselves. A living human being had to program the system to flag on conditional input and implement the algorithm that is screwing other human beings. You yourself state that a human then goes and ‘edits the code’ acknowledging human control of the system! Your argument is entirely self-defeating and gives support to the opposite effect. yes, it’s automated, but a human had to code the flags before cutting it loose on society, therefore placing responsibility squarely on the human being who ordered it to be so. Honestly, I can’t believe you would submit such a statement, nor I would respond to such, but on the off chance that there are other not-so-attentive humans out there, I thought it best to respond and point out the obvious.


Small Claims Court

From Donald L. Parrot on August 16, 2018 :: 5:12 pm

I had purchased four laptop/tablet computers and each one had a fatal flaw.  When I tried to return the last one, it was denied.  I am now filing a claim in small claims court.  Part of my argument is that this flagging practice is not described anywhere on the Best Buy website or the receipt.  We’ll see what happens in court.  Wish me luck!


Good luck!

From Josh Kirschner on August 17, 2018 :: 9:34 am

If everyone who was denied a legitimate claim took Best Buy to court, maybe these poorly/undisclosed return policies would go away. Let us know how it goes.


What happened?

From Barbie on March 21, 2020 :: 9:41 am

So what happened? Did you follow through with it? If so, what was the outcome?


OK Josh. I am

From Donald L. Parrot on August 17, 2018 :: 2:43 pm

OK Josh.  I am filing on Monday.  It will probably be scheduled for mid-September.  The court requires a pre-hearing arbitration and 75% of the time, it is resolved at that level.



From Jean on October 22, 2018 :: 3:38 pm

Bought ipad never opened tried to return within 14 day time period with receipt they refused gave the tpc phone last bought item in JAn 2018.
any corporate phones to call


Best Buy Update

From Donald L Parrot on October 25, 2018 :: 10:00 am

Yesterday, I had my small claims court date for my case against Best Buy.  The judge asked us to mediate and we tried.  I asked for full reimbursement of the computer cost plus tax and reimbursement for the $132 in filing/service fees I incurred.  The Best Buy rep was the sales manager for the Parker, CO store.  He refused to include the $132 reimbursement, so we went back before the judge.

A number of interesting comments/questions ensued.  But it can best be summed up when the judge said, ” So let me get this straight.  If I buy three items over a month or so and return them, I will get blacklisted and cannot return any future items?”  The Best Buy rep responded that the decision is beyond Best Buy’s control since it is made by a third party.  The judge wasn’t buying that.  The judge also noted that Best Buy’s published return policies do not describe this 3 strikes and out policy and the Best Buy rep agreed.

The judge then found in my favor and ordered Best Buy to fully reimburse me (including legal costs) within 5 days.  I will then return the computer.

Please spread the word any way you can (email, facebook, twitter, etc.) about Best Buy’s 3 strikes policy.  The only way for customers to protect themselves is to pay cash and remain anonymous.


That's great news

From Josh Kirschner on October 25, 2018 :: 2:02 pm

Glad you were able to get a refund AND get your legal costs covered. Would love to hear from other readers who have gone this route and how they fared.


good to know

From rich lewis on October 26, 2018 :: 1:28 pm

I was banned after 3 returns too with a receipt on my last return saying that you will not be able to return anything after this. i wonder how long this ban lasts for though


Can we ban together

From Jan on December 19, 2018 :: 12:36 pm

Can we all ban together and sue the company? What for keeping our information in a data base and using it against us. TRE should be out of business for following people and keeping their personal information without consent. And the big corporations should be sued for participating in a form of discrimination. Since it is hidden as to why you are denied. It’s not like a credit report that you are able to see. No checks and balances. And even if they say we consent a report should be given and knowledge how to get that and why should be given with denials. Otherwise all forms of discrimination could be used against you and never know. Why. You won this case but it would be nice to stop this all together.


According to Elizabeth Harper's

From Donald L Parrot on October 26, 2018 :: 2:03 pm

According to Elizabeth Harper’s article (above, quoting from the Wall Street Journal), one year.


Different Companies

From Julius on March 08, 2019 :: 3:03 am

Hey, there what about others? If they do so as it has been described are they really gone ban them too? Making return is not an easy process it is a process like done form long-term investment. You will certainly like to read more by visiting me at


TRE Best Buy

From Karen on March 09, 2019 :: 10:55 pm

This is absolutely wrong. Over the past two weeks I have purchased items to make my home a smart home an a mesh system. Best Buy came out to my home to access my home and my needs. I then went to BB to purchase my products. When the Geek Squad came to my home to install my mesh router (eero) said it was overkill and to buy the google mesh. He sold it to me from his truck and told me to return the eero system. In our conversation we went over the ring doorbell and the Chamberlain garage door opener.  He recommended the ring pro doorbell and the smart garage door opener.  So I purchased those as well. Then I went back to the store for a mounting kit for the doorbell and the lady told me to get the ring two because the kit was in the box and if it was hard wired I would not need to worry about the battery. So, I exchanged it again. I had to go to Home Depot to buy a light bulb for my Wemo that I also purchased from Best Buy.  They told me they did not sell the bracket and I needed the pro doorbell. I then called Ring to get all the cirrrct answers. I brought the rung two back to get the original door bell that I purchased. 
The moral to my story is their employees need to be more informed on products they sell. I would not have had ALL these returns if they knew what they were doing. Now I’m not allowed to return the garage door opener because I was FLAGGED. I called the number on my receipt. They were rude. Told me someone would call back in 24/48 hours. Called Corp, they sent me back to the same number. Finally got the RM email and sent him a piece of my mind. No response from anyone. Now I’m stuck with things I do not need. These were all done on my BB credit card and I am and elite member.
I will never buy from them again.  Small claims court might be the way to go or even a class action towards TRE or BB and the lies.


I stopped purchasing items at

From Vrolla Russo on March 21, 2019 :: 12:07 pm

I stopped purchasing items at Best Buy years ago because of defective products. Three different occasions something eventually would breakdown not long after purchase. Fast forward 15 years later I am now painfully reminded of why I discontinued being a consumer at this retailer. I was shopping for headphones to use with my tv and heavily relied on the employees’ expertise as I am not as tech. literate as I would like to be. That was my first mistake. I was told if something I purchased did not work out I could just exchange/return it as long as it was within 15 days per their store policy. Apparently, trying to find a pair of wired headphones with volume control was like asking the impossible. I ended up with no options. Although I had receipts with each return and all merchandise intact, I was denied my last return and told to contact TRE. BB manager claimed he had no power to approve my return at this point. Well, calling TRE just angered me more. Evidently, they are located in another country as there was a language barrier. And when I asked If I could speak with someone who spoke English I was told there was no one I could be transferred to. He only kept repeating the same policy script over and over when I tried to explain my situation. I would have never even considered spending my money here in the first place if this policy was fully disclosed. What did I expect coming from a store that sells inferior merchandise in the first place? Fool me twice…............


The Fraud Continues...

From Chris Whitley on August 02, 2021 :: 6:15 pm

I have had so many similar experiences in the past, almost to an item Best Buy sells items that are over one year old. As a matter of fact the last purchase I made and didn’t even bother trying to return was a Bluetooth micro adapter. I get it home plug it in and nothing happens. Written clearly on the package it says, “plug in and windows 10 will install the drivers and your adapter is ready to use.” Windows 10 did no such thing, and after looking all over the internet for two days found nothing. Even the Insignia website where the item is still for sale today, there is a tab for support and drivers. You click it and there is nothing, it’s a blank box, not even a single word! After a little research, I found this adapter was used in many laptops, well the same Broadcom Chip which is basically the same adapter just a different interface, and the year was 2012 when this chip was being produced for use in computers. Nine years old and the reason it didn’t work, well I should say the reason Nobody can use this adapter is because the technology which bluetooth uses has since changed drastically, most notably in the area of security. These adapters are working, they just can’t recognize the protocols and ANY of the devices produced today!!!  It utterly staggers my mind to think of some national company selling such old networking equipment as new and putting at risk any poor soul who happens to have a slightly older bluetooth device that may function and be recognized by this adapter as their entire computer will then be severely security compromised, leading to loss of anything that’s currently on their computer. Do you think Best Buy will take responsibility for this gaping hole in a persons or businesses security and the consequential losses? They won’t even accept a legitimate return of their own faulty products so my assumption is a huge resounding NO! This is a company running rogue within the borders of our country, following none of the laws and guidelines for such doing business here. It’s high time they are put out of business and most decidedly contributing to the chaos our country is facing today from such rogue elements.THEY CANNOT BE ALLOWED TO CONTINUE TO PERPETRATE THESE OFFENSES AGAINST THE GOOD PEOPLE OF THIS GREAT COUNTRY WHO OTHERWISE TRUST THEM TO NOT COMPROMISE THEIR VERY SAFETY AND SECURITY! WE ARE BEING COMPROMISED ON SO MANY DIFFERENT FRONTS TODAY, THE GOVERNMENT IS NEARLY OVERWHELMED. AS CITIZENS OF THIS GREAT COUNTRY IT IS UP TO US TO DO WHAT WE MUST TO SUPPORT OUR GOVERNMENT AND OURSELVES BY STOPPING THESE ILLEGAL AND OFFENSIVE BAD ACTORS WHO WOULD COMPROMISE OUR VERY SAFETY!


This is my experience

From Anonymous on April 01, 2019 :: 4:56 pm

I purchased $4500 worth of electronics over the last 6 months, none being returned. My last two purchases valued at $70 and $35 were returned.

I was given a warning note at the time of my second return saying my future returns may be rejected. No one knows why.

I am scared to buy from them because they can say they warned me and just reject a return.


Buy from Amazon

From Josh Kirschner on April 01, 2019 :: 5:04 pm

I don’t blame you for being scared - I would be, too. Buy from, instead. They have a huge selection of electronics and often better prices than Best Buy. Or, see our note above about getting return protection with your credit card.


Just got "the warning" today. I spend $1k/month, and they don't want my business?

From Zanthexter on April 02, 2019 :: 10:18 pm

I’m Elite+, I’d Elite+++ if they had it, I spent $10k last year and was on track to hit $12-15K this year at Best Buy.

Got “Future Returns May Be Declined” today. I’m reading that as, “We do not want your future business.”

So far this year, $2,500 spent, and a minimum of another $2,100 in already planned smart thermostat purchases. (We’re opening 7 new locations) Another $5k+ is pretty likely just to replace a dead laptop hear, a broken TV there, etc.

And I can buy it all elsewhere if I can’t feel safe shopping at Best Buy.

Bye Bye Best Buy.


You've been warned!

From Dave Bryant on June 25, 2019 :: 11:39 pm

I too have been the unlucky recipient of the Best Buy / TRE “too many returns” warning, one of them fairly recently.  One way to get around it: if you purchase online and pick up at the store, you will have the option to return it via UPS or a similar carrier.  I’ve done this several times (all legitimate returns, mind you) and never had any problems. 

You shouldn’t HAVE to do this, but if you find yourself stuck with an item, it might help.



From Zanthexter on June 28, 2019 :: 5:22 pm

I was offended enough to spend time on this and eventually got someone at corporate willing to listen. They supposedly “unbanned” me.

But I still feel like returns are a gamble, so I’ve shifted what I can elsewhere. Slightly less convenient, sometimes a day delay before Amazon or Staples can deliver, but I’d rather wait a day than get stuck.

I do get that return abuse/fraud is a problem. Seems like there are better ways to handle it, including investigating why someone might have several returns BEFORE kicking them to the curb.


Shit liars at Bestbuy

From Jamie Lastra on July 28, 2021 :: 12:45 am

Bestbuy return policy is that they blame the customer for defective products they sell.

I bought a MacBook pro M1 chip version and the screen stopped working.  It has a V-shaped pixekated crack inside the lcd.

That new laptop never left my desk. They told me it’s my fault and refused an exchange

Don’t shop there. They sell defective products and operate in bad faith on 1300 dollar laptops. Outrageously criminal business practices



From Chris Whitley on August 02, 2021 :: 3:37 pm

I recently bought a very expensive Asus WiFi-6 router and upon getting it home found that it powered up but would do nothing else. Was able to access the firmware enough to logon, but it would not do anything further, including allow me to logon. I took it back to the store I bought it at and tried to return it. I’ve only ever returned one time as I don’t really care for Best Buy and so avoid them like the plague. Having recently moved to a smaller city, they are the only retailer in this city who sells technology to my utter disbelief.So, I take the router in and am immediately told it’s got a seven (7) day return policy and it being day eight, I was out of luck and a return option. I pointed out the I had purchased it at night and technically was within the seven day period by a couple hours. I argued, then argued with the store manager, but no return was allowed. I was then told if I didn’t leave the police would be called and i would be arrested for trespassing. I told them in some very choice words beginning with F predominantly and then even had to threaten the manager when he tried to grab my arm and throw me out. This is at the Fresno, Ca. store off of Blackstone in North Fresno. I was told to get a hold of the mfg. Asus to inquire about a return. I now go online without exception to buy the things I want or need and couldn’t be happier. Their inability to deal with fraud is not our problem as they are making it. To anyone out there who would like to initiate a nationwide class action suite please feel free to contact me, attorneys included, at csw 333 at live dot com. Please put Best Buy Sucks in the subject field. Thanks for listening and let’s do something about this!


best company to buy electronics and appliances

From jessica nguyen on October 08, 2021 :: 5:38 am

I got Sony Head Phones as a gift from a Best Buy. The ear protection came off one side. I took them into Colonial Heights, VA Best Buy and Lexi took them into the Geek Squad and they had them fixed in minutes. I have shopped here for years and their service and Manager Austin is super.


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