Returns Are Used Against You at Best Buy, Other Retailers

“Best Buy is among retailers that pay a third-party service to help track customers’ shopping behavior and limit the number of items they can bring back”

Every time shoppers return purchases to Best Buy Co., they are tracked by a company which has the power to override the store’s touted policy and refuse to refund their money.

The Retail Equation is a separate company that Best Buy, along with many other retailers, use to track individuals returns and exchanges. Because TRE is a separate company any appeals must be processed directly through them and not Best Buy. We have some information about how to contact TRE in a support article here.

During a recent discussion concerning this unusually unfair policy the company’s response to this customer was recorded: Again, I apologize for the inconvenience you have encountered through this process. I will ensure your feedback is logged here at our Corporate Office so we can continue trying to improve our return and exchange process.


But his statement wasn’t actually true. Any business is allowed to deny a return, exchange, or sale if they so choose. As long as the reasoning has nothing to do with the general race/age/religion/etc. caveats, service can always be denied.

These facts concerning return policies are very disturbing due to the fact that you as a consumer who purchased and item with your money and the business can refuse you a refund or return for a dissatisfied product brings me to a conclusion that I or you have the right not to purchase my products from your establishment.

Another response as to being angry at Best Buy for the ban, I was actually a manager at another huge retailer that utilizes TRE as well. Unfortunately no matter how honest or nice or for whatever the reason is, if you have been denied due to TRE no one (including the store manager) can circumvent the deny. TRE has the final say on returns and is a company that is utilized by many of the nation’s biggest retailers. Now he makes a great point that the only time TRE gets involved is when you are making a non-receipted return or you may have an expired receipt (dated outside of the retailer’s return policy length), but the retailer still allows you to return your item… some place allow that and some don’t.

If you had a valid receipt you can theoretically return or exchange 1,000 different purchases with no issues. In fact, that’s the whole point of having a receipt and I have personally seen the same person, due to the nature of their job, make at least over 100 returns with valid receipts and have ZERO issues. The problem comes into play when you have no receipt or your receipt is expired and at that point, you are required to hand over your ID for a “non-receipted return.” Your ID is then stored or checked against TREs database to determine if you are eligible for a return (which will usually just result in either a direct exchange for the same item or store credit valued at the last known selling price). None of the actual retail employees are privy to the exact determining factors used by TRE upon which they base their decision.

You can be denied for some of the following reasons: too many non-receipted returns (the exact amount of allowed returns is not public information), dollar value is too high, specific item SKU is flagged as a “high theft item”, along with a few more factors. What is interesting and part of the reason that TRE is used by many retailers, is that the database of IDs is actually the same across all individual retailers. Hypothetically, if the return limit was 5 items without a receipt and you have returned 4 items to Best Buy, the non-receipted return you’re about to make to Target will count as your 5th return. Then as you go to Home Depot to return an item without a receipt, it will automatically deny you, even if you’ve never returned an item to Home Depot without a receipt before.

The reasoning for that, is that shoplifters will steal items (and therefore not have a receipt) and try to return them later for cash. If there was not a system in place to verify the returned item, thieves could just go crazy and return an unlimited amount of things for an ungodly amount of money. “No receipt or no return,” “store credit only for non-receipted items,” and “limited amount of returns” are all policies built to stop shoplifting. The retailers all share a TRE database so that they can all be protected if a thief were to just try and switch stores to try all over again. Unfortunately, some honest customers do get caught up in the policies made mostly for shoplifters and they get denied at a retailer. As mentioned earlier though, there is nothing anyone in the store can do about it, no matter how nice or legitimate you and your return are. Though, for TRE to just ban you for a full year (most retailers is 6mo), it sounds like you have been making a lot of non-receipted returns across a places and we haven’t gotten the full story. At no point is TRE involved if you have a valid receipt.

I know that it can be frustrating when you can’t return things you’ve paid for as while I have been store management before to deeply understand policies, I am also a retail customer as well. I have had to make plenty of returns for numerous reasons. This is why a lot of retailers remind you to keep a hold of your receipt or push their membership card (which may or may not be a credit card as well). Also to note, many retailers can do receipt lookups if you happened to lose your receipt, but made the purchase with a credit/debit card. You can swipe your card, they scan the item, and the system will look back to see if a purchase was made using that particular card. You would then receive your refund back that way.

All the above comments by this concerned buyer seems to follow the policy of these stores who are restricting returns or exchanges. My opinion is still using your control as a buyer to regulate truly unrealistic policies, places your interest as consumers above those companies complete desire to take your hard earned money.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *