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CONSUMER ALERT

At impasse with Best Buy over purchase gone awry

Q. I bought a Samsung 46-inch TV from Best Buy Thanksgiving week. The TV was defective, and Samsung told me to bring it back to the store. We did, but Best Buy said company policy will not allow them to accept a defective TV in return for another TV or credit. A Samsung rep came to my house and agreed it was defective. He told me Samsung would not accept it either. I have spoken to the store manager, reported Best Buy to the Better Business Bureau, contacted the chief executive of Best Buy, and lodged a complaint with my credit card company. So far, no one seems to be able to help me. Do you have any suggestions?

ELAINE PISELLI, NEWTON

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A. Most often when you buy something that doesn’t work, you bring it back to the store and exchange it. In this situation, there’s clearly a problem no one wants to accept as their own.

When it gets to the point that frustrated consumers ask for my help, more often than not the company involved will make an effort to resolve the issue. But Best Buy says this isn’t its problem.

“After speaking with the customer care team, they informed me that the leadership at the local Best Buy store reported that the customer’s TV was ‘very visibly physically damaged, not defective,’ ” Best Buy spokeswoman Abbey Theiler said. “We encourage customers to inspect their products before they leave the store to ensure that these items meet their expectations.”

So, open the box of a 46-inch TV and plug it in to make sure it works? Or just look inside to see if all the packaging is intact? How many consumers would think to do that?

It seems we’re at a standoff. In Massachusetts, consumers are entitled to a repair, replacement, or repair of a defective product. Since Best Buy is maintaining the problem isn’t a defect, you need help to get a different resolution.

The state attorney general’s office arbitrates disputes like this, and should be the best place for a chance at a positive outcome — unless Best Buy changes course on its own.

Mitch Lipka has been helping consumers out of jams for the past two decades. He lives in Worcester and also writes the Consumer Alert blog on Boston.com. Mitch can be reached at ConsumerNews@aol.com. Follow him on Twitter @mitchlipka.
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