Why were orders from Best Buy canceled after man bought several iTunes gift cards?

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Con artists often trick consumers into buying gift cards. The bad guys steal the money off the cards and the victims are usually left with nothing but regret.

Bob Murdoch says he isn’t a scammer. He’s just a frequent shopper at Best Buy who, somehow, seems to have landed on something of a “do not sell” list.

Every purchase he’s tried to make from the retailer, whether online or in person, has been rejected since February.

“I have somehow been blackballed by Best Buy’s fraud department for no reason that I can determine,” the Brielle man said. “The only thing I can guess is that I made some digital gift card purchases last year on my account to refill my Apple iTunes account, and their algorithm thinks I am some Russian spammer or something.”

It started in February when he tried to buy a Roomba vacuum on the Best Buy website.

He said the order was canceled a few minutes after it was seemingly accepted.

“After multiple tries, I tried calling them up and spent hours on hold being bounced from department to department,” he said. “Finally, someone told me that it was sent to a `Resolution Department’ and someone would call me back in 24 to 96 hours. No one called.”

He let it go, until May, when he received a Best Buy email offering discounted Apple AirTags.

“So I try and buy them,” he said, hoping the past problems was caused by an overzealous computer glitch. “Same problem. Hour on hold. `24 to 96 hours.’ I tell them it didn’t work last time. They say that is all they can do.”

Again, he let it go.

Until June, when his TV projector, purchased from Best Buy in 2017, wouldn’t start up. He took it to the store hoping for a repair.

The techs said it couldn’t be fixed, so he decided to buy a new one. The past purchases that were rejected were with his American Express card, so he decided to apply for a Best Buy credit card, which was quickly approved.

Murdoch ordered the projector with a $199 installation service and headed home.

But 10 minutes later, he received an email saying his order was canceled.

“Since they don’t stock it at the store, it has to be brought in from a distribution facility, which I can’t do because they keep canceling my orders,” he said.

He went back to the store and worked with various supervisors, but no one could solve the problem.

“(The representative) was heroic as she tried every online and help line resource while I sat in front of her,” he said. “We tried making a new account with a new email, but the physical address must have been flagged in the system, as the system kept blocking the orders, even on the new email’s account.”

After more than three hours, it was time for the store to close.

“They tell the person helping me those dreaded words: `They will call him back in 24 to 96 hours,’” he said. “Sigh. I gave up and ordered the projector from Amazon.”

Murdoch said he does most of his Christmas shopping, some $2,000 or so worth per year, at Best Buy, so he wants to fix the account.

“Right now, my only option seems to be moving to a new address, so that’s off the table,” he said, and he asked Bamboozled for help.

WE’VE GOT A MYSTERY ON OUR HANDS

We asked Best Buy to dive deep to solve this mystery.

It tried to merge Murdoch’s old account with the new one created in the store, Murdoch said he was told. But that didn’t help.

A few days later, Murdoch received a text from Best Buy, saying it was working on the issue.

For kicks, he tried to place another order, but again, it was canceled without explanation.

A week later, another text message said: “After partnering with an internal support team regarding your canceled orders, it appears they do not follow the guidelines listed in our terms and conditions for BestBuy.com. For this reason, we are no longer able to accept online orders from you via BestBuy.com or in store ship to home orders.”

Murdoch said he was perplexed.

“I still have no idea what I did that triggered this. No returns, other than a broken vacuum cleaner under warranty a few years back. That’s it in 20 years,” he said, noting he’s a long-time member of its rewards club. “Not sure how buying items on their site got me in the doghouse.”

Finally, 21 days after it started investigating, Best Buy told us it had an answer.

“This is not the experience we want any of our customers to have, and we appreciate Mr. Murdoch’s patience as we worked to fix the issue with his account,” the company said.

It wouldn’t offer any more details on what happened, so the mystery remains.

At the same time, Murdoch received a text from Best Buy saying his account was corrected.

“There was an error made on your account prohibiting future orders,” the representative said. “I have gotten this corrected and you are welcome to continue to shop online and in store for ship to home orders. Due to the misinformation I will be sending you a $100 Best Buy Gift Card to your email.”

Dubious, Murdoch placed an order for an Apple AirTag online. It wasn’t immediately canceled, so that was a good sign.

“Never worked so hard in my life to buy something from a retailer,” he said, noting Best Buy is still his favorite. “And I promise I will never buy a digital gift card from them ever again.”

Thanks to Best Buy for fixing this, even if we will never know exactly what happened.

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Karin Price Mueller may be reached at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter at @KPMueller.

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