Millions of Americans shopped this past Black Friday. Among the crowds of customers at Best Buy that night was Rob Trainor.
The next day, he says, he looked over his purchases and decided to return a couple of computer items.
But at the Best Buy return counter, he says, “the first transaction got a warning. The next return was denied, and the clerk couldn’t do anything about it.”
It appears he had been flagged as a serial returner, even though he had not even opened his purchases.
He was stunned. “These are items that were unopened, with receipts, that I had bought 24 hours earlier,” Trainor said.
National database keeps records of your returns
A manager told him Best Buy could not do anything about it, and that he had to call a company called “The Retail Equation,” which Trainor learned was a sort of credit bureau for returns.
The company provided him his report, which showed the problem: multiple Best Buy returns a year earlier.
“There was a return December 6th of 2016, and again on December 30th of 2016. And the ones I tried to make on November 24th of 2017,” he said, frustrated that returns from a 12 months earlier were now preventing him from making any more.
Stores ask for your driver’s license when making a return for several reasons. It’s not just to prevent theft, as most of us assume. It’s also because in many cases your name gets entered into a national system keeping track of your returns.
The Retail Equation of Irvine, CA, then collects and holds that data, according to an explainer on its website.
While the company won’t name clients, it says 12 of the top 50 US retailers subscribe to its service, and says its clients are in every major mall in America.
A recent USA Today report says clients include:
- Best Buy
- Home Depot
- JC Penney
- Victoria’s Secret
- Bath and Body Works
- Sephora (according to several other news reports and online complaints)
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