It wasn’t too long ago that our own Nicholas Deleon was detained and manhandled at a Best Buy. Today, we hear reports of someone who, for the crime of having some trouble with gift cards, was handcuffed, frisked, and put in a holding cell at the station. The bright side of this story is that the person this happened to should feel free to sue the hell out of Best Buy and the NYPD. I kind of expect this sort of behavior in a suburban mall where the rent-a-cops get bored, but on Broadway in Manhattan?
You can read the full situation over at Consumerist, but the gist is this: there were some technical difficulties with some American Express gift cards with which this person was trying to pay for a Blu-ray player. There was some confusion about the numbers on the cards, and the customer was apparently assumed to be a master thief, detained by Best Buy, and then taken to the police station, where she was held until they figured it out. Outrageous, Best Buy.
Here’s what should have happened: any trouble with the cards, even if they are supposed with good reason to be counterfeit, should be referred to a manager. This isn’t a floor staff issue. The manager can spend 15 minutes figuring it out, and if that doesn’t bear fruit, he could apologize to the customer for the inconvenience and ask them to come again tomorrow when they’ve got it all figured out. A ten-dollar gift certificate would probably make the customer forget anything bad had happened. To do anything otherwise, and assume the problem is with the customer, should not even be considered.
Best Buy, in this case, is liable, and although I would not say that litigation was wise in Nicholas’ case, in this person’s case it seems necessary. This was a serious breach of civil rights and needs to be addressed. Best Buy needs to get this problem under control.