RSN Fundraising Banner
FB Share
Email This Page
add comment

Gibson writes: "Why is Best Buy selling 'protection plans' for customers' electronics that cost 15 percent to 20 percent of the product's price, but don't actually offer any protection?"

Best Buy store. (photo: Vincent J. Brown/Flickr)
Best Buy store. (photo: Vincent J. Brown/Flickr)

Carl Gibson | Dear Best Buy CEO Hubert Joly

By Carl Gibson, Reader Supported News

16 September 13


f you bought a home with an insurance plan that cost roughly 15 percent of your home, you would think it would cover your home from accidents and disasters, right? If you bought a car with an insurance plan that cost roughly 15 percent of your monthly payments, you would hope that insurance would cover damages to your car, whether it was a fender-bender or mangled beyond all recognition. So why is Best Buy selling "protection plans" for customers' electronics that cost 15 percent to 20 percent of the product's price, but don't actually offer any protection?

Three weeks ago, I bought a Samsung Galaxy S3 from Best Buy store #2914 at the East Towne Mall, in Madison, Wisconsin. The phone itself was $400, and Chase, the store manager who sold me the phone, offered me the protection plan. He said that for $60, if anything happened to my phone within a year, the protection plan would replace it. I agreed, and bought the protection plan. You can see a copy of my receipt here, with the phone and protection plan listed.

Around 1 in the morning on this past September 11, I lost everything I own in a fire in just under three minutes (you can see a video of the fire here). I was working on another story, had my headphones on and audio turned all the way up, when I noticed my neighbor Nathan standing in my doorway. I took off my headphones and raised my eyebrows inquisitively. Nathan shouted, "The house is on fire," pulled the fire alarm, and ran away. I looked out my window to see 12-foot flames engulfing the third-floor deck right next to my room. I slammed my laptop, grabbed it and my wallet, my keys and my cat while scrambling down the stairs and out of the house. By the time the fire department got there, I saw that the entirety of my room, including my new Samsung Galaxy S3, was already destroyed by the blaze. I was lucky to have escaped alive and uninjured, especially grabbing as much as I did before getting out. I wasn't too worried about my $400 phone burning to a crisp - after all, I paid $60 for a year-long protection plan, right?

The next morning, I brought my receipt from the sale of my phone back to the same store, and talked to Chase, the same store manager who sold me my phone. I announced that since I lost everything in a fire the night before, and had the receipt proving my purchase of the Samsung Galaxy S3 and the protection plan, I would like a new phone to replace the old one that was burned. Chase informed me that he needed "any pieces of the phone" to have something to send back to the manufacturer before my protection policy could get me a new one. I figured that was also fair, since there may need to be confirmation that a phone was destroyed before I could just get another one. It wasn't easy to get back into my building, but I managed to talk the city inspector down enough to let me come up there just to retrieve my phone.

My phone is usually charging on the office chair next to my bed at night. It had rained the morning after the fire, so everything in my room was sandwiched under layers of ash and mud (click here to see a picture of my bedroom the day after the fire). I had to retrieve a hatchet from our tool room in the basement to cut the phone wires melted into my chair cushion from the wall, and to remove the cushion from the chair. Here's a picture of me holding the melted chair cushion and the pool of white plastic that used to be my Samsung Galaxy S3. I brought the chair cushion with wires and phone melted to it into Best Buy Store #2914 to prove my phone was destroyed, so I could get a new one.

When I came back to the store, the manager informed me that the manufacturer needs a serial number from the phone so they can know precisely which phone it was. I informed him that clearly, the serial number was melted off, and that since I brought in remnants of the phone, and a receipt showing I had indeed bought the phone with the protection policy, them giving me a new phone would be the next logical step. But Chase held firm to Best Buy's corporate policy, handing me a ten-page document of legalese that is the "protection plan." On page 6 of this document, a very long list of exemptions is painstakingly detailed, and includes things like "war, terrorism, rats, acts of God, tornadoes, fire," and others. I asked them if they read all of these exemptions to customers buying the plan. Chase said they didn't, as that would be too time-consuming. I added that customers probably wouldn't give Best Buy their $60, if they knew Best Buy's protection plan was a total scam. To add insult to injury, Chase told me they could put my $60 protection plan into another purchase, and "see what we can do on pricing" for me to have a new phone. I eventually had to fork over another $30 to your company just so I could walk out of there with any kind of phone at all (view the receipt for this extortion/purchase here).

Mr. Joly, I don't know if you've ever experienced losing all of your sentimental belongings within three minutes while narrowly escaping with your life. But I do know that you recently went through an expensive divorce and dumped $16 million of your company's stock into paying for your ex-wife's settlement. Seeing as you still have millions of dollars invested in Best Buy, which has $16.7 billion in assets, I think you or your company could, at the very least, afford to give a paying customer a full refund on their $400 phone, or a new phone altogether. Especially after that customer bought that phone with a protection policy and the understanding that the phone would be covered if, say, a customer lost it and the rest of his belongings in a fire.

But until either of those things happen, I've reported your company and your company's "protection plan" scam to the Better Business Bureau, and I'll also write this letter in hopes that people think twice before giving your company any of their money. Here's to hoping your company's stock dips a few more points after this gets published.

Peace and Blessings,

Carl R. Gibson

Carl Gibson, 26, is co-founder of US Uncut, a nationwide creative direct-action movement that mobilized tens of thousands of activists against corporate tax avoidance and budget cuts in the months leading up to the Occupy Wall Street movement. Carl and other US Uncut activists are featured in the documentary "We're Not Broke," which premiered at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival. He currently lives in Madison, Wisconsin. You can contact him at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , and follow him on twitter at @uncutCG.

Reader Supported News is the Publication of Origin for this work. Permission to republish is freely granted with credit and a link back to Reader Supported News. your social media marketing partner
Email This Page


THE NEW STREAMLINED RSN LOGIN PROCESS: Register once, then login and you are ready to comment. All you need is a Username and a Password of your choosing and you are free to comment whenever you like! Welcome to the Reader Supported News community.