To whom it may concern,

On the 11th of Aug 99 I purchased a DVD player and a few accessories at The Maryland Parkway Branch of Best Buy in Las Vegas, NV. I wrote a check to cover the total purchase amount of $482.55. On the following day I returned to purchase several movies for my new DVD player. Because your stores still don't have ATM's at the counter, I again wrote a check to cover the purchase amount of $69.

The cashier without authorization or even acknowledgement of my presence immediately made a phone call and began to volunteer a great deal of my personal information to the party on the phone, including the bank routing number on my check, my home address, and my drivers license number.

This was a serious breach of protocol. The cashier broadcast this confidential information to anyone in earshot. Armed with this information a thief could make wire transfers from my checking account. Again, this was done without my authorization. It was then explained to me that your check guarantor, Equifax, had disqualified my check. When queried, the manager on hand implied that the reason for disqualification was probably due to a history of bad check writing. This is certainly not the case. Further more, the manager replied that he had no way of telling why my check had been disqualified. He did provide me with a number for Equifax so that I may clear up the problem myself. The attitude of both the manager and the cashier were both very poor. I was offered only the most routine and unenthusiastic apology for my inconvenience.

After communicating with Equifax I was vindicated in discovering that my check was not denied because of a poor history of check writing. Rather it was disqualified because I had made a large purchase at your establishment on the previous day. Unknowingly, I had surpassed some unholy amount of statistically verified purchases and my checks were now suspect. Further more, Equifax assures me that the reason for my denial was made evident to the merchant, namely Best Buy, at the time of denial. Had the manger told me at the time of purchase for the reason of my denial, I would not have been so upset. Instead he chose to vilify me and treat me with a considerable amount of distaste, almost as if I was a common criminal. His actions were inexcusable.

I used to like spending money at Best Buy. Your store offered a variety of products at low prices. I have been a customer for many years and in several states. However, over the last couple of years the quality and friendliness of service has declined rapidly. Now I find that my integrity is being questioned because I spend too much money in your establishment. I have been criminalized for being a good customer. Your long checkout lines and unhelpful staff were bad enough, but I have received the final insult. Perhaps someone else wouldn't mind so much if I spent lots of money at their store.
I may never shop at Best Buy again.

I will use all of my considerable influence to prevent my acquaintances from shopping at Best Buy.

Sincerely,
Former Customer

Update:

  • no comply: My chief complaint in this issue was the extremely poor customer service I recieved. You had to be there to witness the manager. His attitude made it clear to me and several other people in the store that he held me in complete contempt. My other concern wasn't that Equifax denied my check or that the cashier verified my information. She very loudly announced my routing number and account number. These two pieces of information allow anyone to make wire transfers over the phone.
  • mat catastrophe: I e-mailed this letter to every customer service address on Best Buys web page. I received one response. The CS Agent who contacted me asked that I help him in identifying the problem and stated that he hoped I changed my mind about shopping at Best Buy. I issued an equally polite response. I never heard from him again.
  • hatless: your right. My supposedly private information is constantly broadcast and left unsecured. They could have at least had the decency to pretend that it was private. It does make me feel a little better when merchants assist in the illusion of my privacy.
  • Quizro: The line was very long. It was the only one. My letter only touched on the edge of my fury. I was trembling with rage by the time I left the store. My room mate was in line behind me. After I left, the cashier apologised to him. His reply, "Don't apologise to me, you just better hope he doesn't come back." He reported that security appeared nervous as he left.
Just a little information about Equifax procedures. While not telling you in advance that she was going to give this information out to the Equifax representitive was not polite, the cashier has full right under the law to do this. Equifax, which is an agency that tracks your credit, requires this information to be given over the phone to verify the check. You were shopping at a private buisness. They have the right to establish any procedure they want before allowing you to use a check. If they wanted to they could require a birth certificate and Social Security card. There is nothing you could do about it.

Secondly Best Buy did NOT know why you were rejected. Equifax wil not give an employee ANY information except a failure code or an acceptance code. That is all. They are not allowed to discuss your credit with an employee. Even the manager couldn't get them to tell you. You have to call the number they gave you to get the credit history department and find out why you were declined.

More for mat: there profits are going up because they mark up products by around say 100% to offset losses. This is graciously passed along to us, the consumer.
Equifax is to blame in this, not Best Buy. It is Equifax's policy to deny two purchases at the same store in two consecutive days. Best Buy has nothing to do with the check approval or denial that is controlled by Equifax.

I am not saying Best Buy is a good store, i think that for the most part they suck, but don't put blame on the store for something that they didn't do.

mat catastrophe - Equifax is a federaly sanctioned credit company they are to my knowledge the only credit company the federal government uses to keep track of people's credit. There is an amazing amount of check fraud so these companies have to use a credit checker. Even with a credit checker these companies lose hundreds of thousands of dollars every year to fake checks. Also if you rememebr the days when checks didn't need to be verified you remember the days that people used CASH.
Speaking from a service perspective, I would say that if the customer is this pissed off, something has gone terribly wrong. While it's hard to keep your cool in a high-pressure situation like this (angry and bewildered customer, probably a long line of people waiting behind him if I know Best Buy), the clerk and manager could have defused things considerably.

"The cashier broadcast this confidential information to anyone in earshot. Armed with this information a thief could make wire transfers from my checking account. Again, this was done without my authorization."

"I'm very sorry about that, sir. There was a problem with the check and the check guarantor needs that information in order to clear it up. I didn't want to keep you waiting any longer than necessary so I used the phone at my station. My apologies."

"It was then explained to me that your check guarantor, Equifax, had disqualified my check. When queried, the manager on hand implied that the reason for disqualification was probably due to a history of bad check writing."

Stupid, stupid, stupid. I winced when I read this because in my cashier days there were times when I got flustered and said equally dumb things to customers. The ONLY thing this statement can do is make the customer angry. It is NOT helpful information.

"Further more, the manager replied that he had no way of telling why my check had been disqualified."

"I'm very sorry, but the company just doesn't give us that information. They keep it confidential in order to protect you."

"I was offered only the most routine and unenthusiastic apology for my inconvenience."

Unacceptable. He should have left Roninspoon with the impression that he was so incredibly sorry for this inconvenience that there was a danger he would disembowel himself in the break room later.

As for there being an "amazing amount of check fraud" in the retail industry, I'd have to disagree. Being in the point of sale business, we have MANY customers who choose not to use a check verification service, such as Equifax, Checkcare, Telecheck, etc.

When the costs are calculated, most businesses find that the cost of processing checks (the money they pay Equifax or whoever) outweighs the losses they would normally encounter by taking bad checks.

There are still some retail companies, however, that are convinced that these services are absolutely necessary. Some retailers believe that these verification services wouldn't exist if the need for such services weren't a reality. Personally, I subscribe to the theory that these companies exist because they scare retailers into believing their services are needed.

We do have a very few customers who actually get more bad checks in a year than they pay in check verification fees. This is generally the exception, not the rule. And don't even get me started on check guarantor services.

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