Deals The Basics

A Very Bad Open-Box Experience – With A Great Ending

best buy open-box
Written by Charlie

You can get great deals with Best Buy open-box items, but sometimes there can be a big problem. Find out how to protect yourself & what Best Buy did to go way above and beyond!

I wrote a few months ago about my first Best Buy open-box experience that was negative and Best Buy did the right thing and accepted the return without ever acting like I was the culprit. However, I had another bad open-box experience with Best Buy with an item that cost much more than the last one. However, Best Buy really stepped up and did a great thing!

A Best Buy Open-Box Experience That Started Very Bad and Ended Great

Why Buy Open-Box

The great thing about open-box electronics is that you can get an item that may have been just opened and then returned for a significant discount. Depending on the store representative that accepted the return, the discount could be as high as 20% off for some items, plus (depending on the store) it still may be eligible for the manufacturer warranty! With the discounts and warranty, there is almost no reason to not look for open-box items when shopping for something!

In all the years of my open-box shopping, I have had almost a perfect record in regards to quality of the items. But, that took a big twist with a recent purchase. I am a bit of a tech guy and love getting gear open-box, using it for a while, selling it at cost or for profit, and getting something else.

What Happened with this Best Buy Open-Box Purchase

I bought a lens that I needed for something. It had a high retail price (over $2,000) but was discounted over 25% by Best Buy. Not only did I need it for something but it was also the purchase that put me over the $3,500 spending required for my Best Buy elite status to continue in 2017.

I bought it on Best Buy’s website (there were only a few of these lenses offered open-box nationwide) before the end of 2016 and it allowed me to easily clear the $3,500 requirement for Best Buy’s Elite Plus level. That level is very important to me as it allows for 1.25 points per dollar earning on spending which equals a 2.5% reward for future Best Buy purchases. Also, and probably more important for a variety of reasons, it gives me an awesome 45 day return period! In the world of electronics, having that long to return something can be hugely helpful!

It was shipped to my family’s home and I was able to pick it up the next time I was through there. The problem (and I should have followed my own advice) appeared when I opened it. I saw the lens case and though that it felt pretty light for the size lens that I bought. When I opened the bag, I found that someone had substituted the high-end zoom lens with its slower, much cheaper sibling. Yes, I had just been cheated by someone with a lens that cost over $1,000 less than what I should have received.

What To Do Next With This Best Buy Open-Box Problem?

I knew from my previous experience that I shouldn’t have any problem returning it, especially with my history and consistently high (at least according to their elite program) spending year after year. The problem was that I really needed that lens and there was not another open-box version in the country! The even bigger problem? Returning it would cause my spending for 2016 to drop under the $3,500 level and it was already 2017 – no chance to make it up.

What Best Buy Did

They did something that just really surprised me since they were not obligated to do this at all. The manager said that if they had this model in-stock, they would give me the brand new model in exchange! That does not typically happen with retailers and their open-box stock! I mean, they were going to take a loss already since I was returning a product that they could no longer sell for the price I had paid but now they were giving me a brand-new model that cost over $600 more than what I had paid for it.

The store manager kept checking with the sales rep I was with to ensure it was going well and then had them find out which store shipped that wrong model in the first place. Then, he made it a point to stop by and see me on my way out to apologize again for the mistake and to let me know they were thankful for my business.

Well done, Best Buy! They did an awesome job in making this customer very happy with the open-box process! I don’t know whether it was a customer or maybe even an employee that made the swap (most likely the customer since most people processing the returns may not have caught the difference since the lenses shared the same focal length) but Best Buy certainly made it right. I got a brand new item and got to keep my spending intact for my Best Buy elite status for 2017. Win-win!

Tips For Buying Best Buy Open-Box Items

best buy open-box

Consider paying a bit more for certified

I remember hearing stories of how people used to buy iPads, replace the iPad in the box with paper notebooks, shrink wrap it and return it for a refund. That is difficult for the end-user since they are buying a “new” item and they would have a hard time proving that it was not their fault.

In-Store: What you should do if buying an open-box item is to open it right in the store and check it out. This is good even if this had not happened to me. Whenever I buy an open-box item in the store, I always open it in front of store personnel in case there are problems with it.

Online: If you purchase it online, it makes it a little more difficult. If it is a high dollar item, I would suggest grabbing your smartphone (or some other camera) and video the whole experience of opening the box (which would be sealed with their tamper-proof tape). This way, if there is something wrong with it, you have video proof that it was not on you. Fortunately, I am able to return this but I should have thought of that myself beforehand (and I should have done it this most recent time since I had written about this the last time!).

Another thing you could do is to pay a few dollars more (if available) for a Geek Squad-certified open-box as that has been checked over by their tech team and any different item would be spotted. This way, you are still able to get a good deal but have the extra assurance that your item will be what you ordered and in good shape.

Credit Card: Depending on the credit card you use, there could also be some buyer’s protection if something goes really bad as well. If you have proof and the store will not believe you, you could always take it up with the credit card company and let them deal with it. Credit card protection is just one more reason to use a credit card instead of cash when making purchases!


I have had nothing but great experiences with Best Buy and buying open-box items. It has saved me thousands of dollars over the years and even allowed me to continually trade up each year without paying anything extra! Will I keep buying open-box? Absolutely! But, I will take some extra measures to make sure something like this does not stick me with a big problem and a loss of money. Hopefully, this will help you as well!

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About the author


Charlie has been an avid traveler and runner for many years. He has run in marathons around the world for less than it would cost to travel to the next town - all as a result of collecting and using miles and points. Over the years, he has flown hundreds of thousands of miles and collected millions of miles and points.
Now he uses this experience and knowledge to help others through Running with Miles.


  • I think you’re full of *.
    I recently bought something from best buy that did not do what the salesperson said it would and the they wouldn’t take it back.
    So now I’m stuck with something that doesn’t work. And out my money.

    • Without knowing what it is, I cannot tell you for sure, but there are a few things that have different policies with Best Buy for returns. Either it is one of those or you did not speak with a manager. I have never had a problem returning a bad item to Best Buy.

    • A lot of people, myself included, buy things like this for resale to earn those miles and points. If you do it often enough, you will come across a problem like this and it could help someone that has this happen. In this case, I could have gone from earning a lot of miles on this particular deal and profit to losing a ton of money.
      Oh, and “Jimmy”, you have made it clear in your comments that you do not like anything on my blog so you would probably be able to better enjoy your time if you stopped visiting to just post negative comments.