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Man Arrested At Best Buy For Paying With $2 Bills

Best Buy has a long history of treating it's customers like dog shit when the think they can. In 1997 they had Reston, Virginia customer Ronald Kahlow arrested for comparison shopping, and CEO Brad Anderson told the Wall Street Journal (summary) last November they wanted to "fire" up to 20% of their customers - the ones who they don't make enough money on.

This story popped up all over the internet this weekend, based on the Micheal Olesker's Baltimore Sun news story (Registration required - text below) from last month,

Put yourself in Mike Bolesta's place. On the morning of Feb. 20, he buys a new radio-CD player for his 17-year-old son Christopher's car. He pays the $114 installation charge with 57 crisp new $2 bills, which, when last observed, were still considered legitimate currency in the United States proper. The $2 bills are Bolesta's idea of payment, and his little comic protest, too.

For this, Bolesta, Baltimore County resident, innocent citizen, owner of Capital City Student Tours, finds himself under arrest.

Finds himself, in front of a store full of customers at the Best Buy on York Road in Lutherville, locked into handcuffs and leg irons.

Finds himself transported to the Baltimore County lockup in Cockeysville, where he's handcuffed to a pole for three hours while the U.S. Secret Service is called into the case.

Have a nice day, Mike.

The full story is shown below. The story hit Slashdot and has generated lengthy discussion. If you're outraged there are only two viable courses of action:

1) Avoid shopping at Best Buy
2) If you must shop at Best Buy, pay in $2 bills

In fact scratch option #1, just stock up on $2 bills and shop at Best Buy. Keep the number of a really good civil attorney in your wallet - you could be in for a payday!

Full Story:

A tale of customer service, justice and currency as funny as a $2 bill
Michael Olesker

Originally published Mar 8, 2005

PUT YOURSELF in Mike Bolesta's place. On the morning of Feb. 20, he buys a new radio-CD player for his 17-year-old son Christopher's car. He pays the $114 installation charge with 57 crisp new $2 bills, which, when last observed, were still considered legitimate currency in the United States proper. The $2 bills are Bolesta's idea of payment, and his little comic protest, too.
For this, Bolesta, Baltimore County resident, innocent citizen, owner of Capital City Student Tours, finds himself under arrest.

Finds himself, in front of a store full of customers at the Best Buy on York Road in Lutherville, locked into handcuffs and leg irons.

Finds himself transported to the Baltimore County lockup in Cockeysville, where he's handcuffed to a pole for three hours while the U.S. Secret Service is called into the case.

Have a nice day, Mike.

"Humiliating," the 57-year old Bolesta was saying now. "I am 6 feet 5 inches tall, and I felt like 8 inches high. To be handcuffed, to have all those people looking on, to be cuffed to a pole -- and to know you haven't done anything wrong. And me, with a brother, Joe, who spent 33 years on the city police force. It was humiliating."

What we have here, besides humiliation, is a sense of caution resulting in screw-ups all around.

"When I bought the stereo player," Bolesta explains, "the technician said it'd fit perfectly into my son's dashboard. But it didn't. So they called back and said they had another model that would fit perfectly, and it was cheaper. We got a $67 refund, which was fine. As long as it fit, that's all.

"So we go back and pay for it, and they tell us to go around front with our receipt and pick up the difference in the cost. I ask about installation charges. They said, 'No installation charge, because of the mix-up. Our mistake, no charge.' Swell.

"But then, the next day, I get a call at home. They're telling me, 'If you don't come in and pay the installation fee, we're calling the police.' Jeez, where did we go from them admitting a mistake to suddenly calling the police? So I say, 'Fine, I'll be in tomorrow.' But, overnight, I'm starting to steam a little. It's not the money -- it's the threat. So I thought, I'll count out a few $2 bills."

He has lots and lots of them.

With his Capital City Student Tours, he arranges class trips for school kids around the country traveling to large East Coast cities, including Baltimore. He's been doing this for the last 18 years. He makes all the arrangements: hotels, meals, entertainment. And it's part of his schtick that, when Bolesta hands out meal money to students, he does it in $2 bills, which he picks up from his regular bank, Sun Trust.

"The kids don't see that many $2 bills, so they think this is the greatest thing in the world," Bolesta says. "They don't want to spend 'em. They want to save 'em. I've been doing this since I started the company. So I'm thinking, 'I'll stage my little comic protest. I'll pay the $114 with $2 bills.'"

At Best Buy, they may have perceived the protest -- but did not sense the comic aspect of 57 $2 bills.

"I'm just here to pay the bill," Bolesta says he told a cashier. "She looked at the $2 bills and told me, 'I don't have to take these if I don't want to.' I said, 'If you don't, I'm leaving. I've tried to pay my bill twice. You don't want these bills, you can sue me.' So she took the money. Like she's doing me a favor."

He remembers the cashier marking each bill with a pen. Then other store personnel began to gather, a few of them asking, "Are these real?"

"Of course they are," Bolesta said. "They're legal tender."

A Best Buy manager refused comment last week. But, according to a Baltimore County police arrest report, suspicions were roused when an employee noticed some smearing of ink. So the cops were called in. One officer noticed the bills ran in sequential order.

"I told them, 'I'm a tour operator. I've got thousands of these bills. I get them from my bank. You got a problem, call the bank,'" Bolesta says. "I'm sitting there in a chair. The store's full of people watching this. All of a sudden, he's standing me up and handcuffing me behind my back, telling me, 'We have to do this until we get it straightened out.'

"Meanwhile, everybody's looking at me. I've lived here 18 years. I'm hoping my kids don't walk in and see this. And I'm saying, 'I can't believe you're doing this. I'm paying with legal American money.'"

Bolesta was then taken to the county police lockup in Cockeysville, where he sat handcuffed to a pole and in leg irons while the Secret Service was called in.

"At this point," he says, "I'm a mass murderer."

Finally, Secret Service agent Leigh Turner arrived, examined the bills and said they were legitimate, adding, according to the police report, "Sometimes ink on money can smear."

This will be important news to all concerned.

For Baltimore County police, said spokesman Bill Toohey, "It's a sign that we're all a little nervous in the post-9/11 world."

The other day, one of Bolesta's sons needed a few bucks. Bolesta pulled out his wallet and "whipped out a couple of $2 bills. But my son turned away. He said he doesn't want 'em any more."

He's seen where such money can lead.


Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Man Arrested At Best Buy For Paying With $2 Bills:

» Kapitalismo linked with The $2 Caper

» Catscape linked with Best Buy Customer Service

» Customer Service Nightmares linked with Customer Service Nightmare - Best Buy

Comments (67)

I'll have to stop by and bu... (Below threshold)

I'll have to stop by and buy a game or two with a bunch of $2 bills, see if they've picked up on this important lesson on "How Not to Be a Dumbass".

Sounds like Mr. Bolesta sho... (Below threshold)

Sounds like Mr. Bolesta should speak with his lawyer. And I predict he'll permit Best Buy to pay the settlement in $2 bills.

Man, guilty until proven in... (Below threshold)

Man, guilty until proven innocent, I guess. And my sister works at Best Buy, too. *sigh*

That story is disgustingly ... (Below threshold)

That story is disgustingly one-sided. I don't believe for a split second that a guy was placed in handcuffs solely on suspicion of passing counterfeit money. There's obviously an important side of this story that didn't get recorded by the reporter who wrote that article.

My bet? The reporter omitted the part where Bolesta became belligerent or threatening — he's a big guy, remember — or where he in some other way pushed the person in charge at the store up against the wall.

Situations just don't escalate from zero to handcuffs. I don't believe that's what happened for a second.

Situations just don't es... (Below threshold)

Situations just don't escalate from zero to handcuffs.

You've obviously never been to a public school lately, Jeff.

Counterfeiters around the w... (Below threshold)

Counterfeiters around the world probably have that article pinned to the wall of their room now just for a good laugh (after a hard day of cranking out $20, $50 and $100 dollar bills). What counterfeiter in his right mind would try to duplicate a $2 bill? And then risk 100 years in prison by taking them to a store to purchase an installation service HE ALREADY HAS HAD DONE. Yeah I know criminals are stupid but counterfeiters, probably not a dumb bunch.

Also, it doesn't suprise he was told there was no charge just to be called back later that night and told he had to pay up. Ask three Best Buy employees the same policy question and you'll get four different answers.

Please tell me he is suing them. I'm not sue-happy myself but good grief, Best Buy is gagging for a lawsuit here.

... where he in some oth... (Below threshold)

... where he in some other way pushed the person in charge at the store up against the wall.

That would probably be some sort of felony assault. Was he charged with that, my bet is no. We're talking about a guy who goes through the trouble of going to the bank to pickup $2 bills because he gets a kick out of seeing the kids react to them when he hands them out. Doesn't sound like someone who gets belligerant and assaults store managers.

Dan, the phrase you're grop... (Below threshold)

Dan, the phrase you're groping for here is "figure of speech." As in, "'Pushed up against the wall' is a very common figure of speech."

This story is a wee bit fis... (Below threshold)

This story is a wee bit fishy.

Why did the police arrest him? They know $2 bills are legit. They would see the smeared ink was from the clerk's marking unless there were other ink smears. Still, they shd be able to tell it's only an ink smear. Because they were in sequential order? Well, you would have to believe that counterfeiters are passing $2 bills. Ha Ha Ha. The police would know this guy doesn't have a rap and has lived in the community for years and is not going on the lam. So assuming the arresting officer made a mistake, once down at the station there would be a more senior and experienced officer.

I'm not buying the story OR a bridesmaid dress.

I'm THINKING about buying a... (Below threshold)

I'm THINKING about buying a PSP from Best Buy (only because they still have the "promo pack" with the Spiderman 2 movie included), but I think I'll be going to my bank to get $2 bills to pay with, now that I've seen this. Who knows, I could get my school (including law school) paid for, right?

how about you buy the prom ... (Below threshold)

how about you buy the prom dress instead julie ;)

Prom dress? I didn't see an... (Below threshold)

Prom dress? I didn't see any prom dresses, Henry. Oh, you mean *that* prom dress. ;-)

Having been abused by the m... (Below threshold)

Having been abused by the morons at Best Buy south of Boston, I have no trouble whatsoever believing any aspect of the story relating to their store personnel. I'm little surprised that the cop on site would handcuff the guy "until this thing gets straightened out."

What does this guy sue Best Buy for? Let's see...Nothing in the story suggests that Best Buy initiated his arrrest or accused him of a crime, so there's no malicious prosecution, abuse of process or slander...Doesn't seem to be any false imprisonment (unless he insisted on leaving and was prevented from doing so)...How about intentional infliction of severe emotional distress? Do we characterize Best Buy's conduct as extreme and outrageous?

I don't see a tort here against Best Buy that's a clear winner. There's sure room for a significant nuisance value settlement though.

We need to see some more of the facts fleshed out --- Best Buy really is horrific.

Jeff, if being "pushed agai... (Below threshold)

Jeff, if being "pushed against the wall" is a figure of speech, then exactly what kind of non-physical behavior justifies both handcuffs and leg irons?

The Baltimore PD is the mod... (Below threshold)

The Baltimore PD is the model used for the Keystone Cops. The actors had to tone it down to make their role believable. I was pulled over, arrested, and taken to jail for driving a car with US Government plates. He thought they were fakes because I wasn't in uniform at the time.

Jeff's "figure of speech" w... (Below threshold)

Jeff's "figure of speech" was usd in the context of the man being "belligerent or threatening -- he's a big guy, remember?"

Gee, that would be in the police report, wouldn't it?

Regardless of whether this ... (Below threshold)

Regardless of whether this story is real or not, I have boycotted Best Buy since they made the stupid decision to not allow Salvation Army bell-ringers by the front door.

It wasn;t the $2 bills that offended them, it was the phrase "In God We Trust."

I have to agree that we are... (Below threshold)
Steve L.:

I have to agree that we are hearing only one small part of the story here. Jeff was right to question why the man was handcuffed and shackled if the only thing he did was "pass" a $2 bill. As always happens in these stories, there's something we don't know.

For example, a few years ago, a nurse in Memphis was fired because she brought a monkey into the ER and treated it despite the hospital's policy that no animals could be brought in. She then proceeded to whip the story up into a national story, appearing on all the morning talk shows. It appeared that she was just an animal lover who wanted to save these people's "baby" and the ER was the only place to do it. There began to be public outrage directed at the hospital. She was entitled to an appeal of her firing and demanded that it be an open hearing despite rules to the contrary. The hospital immediately agreed but pointed out that certain details about her work history would then become public (there had been hints that the monkey incident was not the only reason she had been fired.) The woman immediately dropped her appeal and disappeared into the sunset.

Apparently her hope had been that the hospital would not agree to an open hearing, and she would forever be a martyr. Needless, to say, it didn't work out for her.

I do ahve to take exception to Kevin's comment about Best Buy and the Salvation Army. While I agree that it is sad that companies have chosen the route they have in this area, I can't blame them. More and more organizations hav resorted to "begging" as a way to raise money. At some point, you have to draw the line. Unfortunately, to save themselves grief, companies are forced to adopt a "no" policy. Once you let one organization solicit in front of your store, you are almost forced to allow all organizations to solicit in front. If you don't, you risk lawsuits and even more negative publicity.

He'll take them to court, w... (Below threshold)

He'll take them to court, win an emotional distress civil case, and Best Buy will pay him his millions in $2 bills :)

Mohammed Atta had a huge wa... (Below threshold)

Mohammed Atta had a huge wad of $2 bills. He had them in case the boxcutter wasn't sharp enough to cut the crew's throats.

I think that Best Buy could... (Below threshold)
Jim in Texas:

I think that Best Buy could have refused to accept the payment because he was making a point by doing so.

Where is the point where a business can refuse an obvious protest? If he'd tried to make a payment with penny, nickles, dimes or quarters, Best Buy would have been justified to refuse the payment.

What about dollar coins or dollar bills?

Of course BB's react was over the top and I would think that there ae several legal avenues of redress open to him.

Best Buy's attitude isn't r... (Below threshold)

Best Buy's attitude isn't rude. It's "Minnesota Nice". ;-)

I think CollegePundit is on... (Below threshold)

I think CollegePundit is on to something here.

We should all go to our local Best Buy and buy something really cheap (so they don't make too much profit) and pay with $2.00 bills.

This would send a pretty serious message to Best Buy, and would be a nice show of support for Mr. Bolesta, and anyone else who's been terrorized by these people.


Jim in Texas:Busin... (Below threshold)

Jim in Texas:

Businesses can refuse to accept payment in coins or small bills as a matter of policy, oddly enough. Heck, they don't have to take cash at all.

...but, in this case, it wasn't the fact that he had a bunch of $2 bills, it was the fact that they had a bunch of dumb folks at the counter who didn't know what a $2 bill was. I've had this problem before in some restaurants. It's a recurring problem nationally at a lot of fast food joints.

Jim, I can't point you to a... (Below threshold)

Jim, I can't point you to anything to support this (translation: I'm talking out my ass), but I've always heard that the only limitation that businesses can place on the form of cash received for payment is coinage. But you can pay for a new car with a stack of $1 if you so desire. They're legal tender.

But, as I said, I have no proof that this is true. I'm just contributing to the pool of urban myths, for all I know.

I am an attorney, but I don... (Below threshold)

I am an attorney, but I don't play one on tv. Here is what Best Buy corporate counsel should be doing, if they're not: crapping themselves in their rush to throw a high 4 figure amount of any denomination at the customer, before his butt got warm in the seat after getting home from jail, plus giving him a truckload of dvd's, cds, etc., and then taking out a full page ad in the local paper, aplogizng profusely and accepting all blame.

But if I know corporate/liability counsel (and I do) they're, at best, circling the wagons and hoping the bad man goes away. At worst they've sent a score of their sleaze PI's to do a tsunami on the guy's reputation in the community. Like asking his minster: "Do you know whether or not he has stopped the child-sacriifce part of his Baal-worship?" Asking his childhood YMCA coach: "Did his pedophile tendecnies ever show when you coached him in the 3rd grade?" Or asking his neighbors: "Do you ever have to clean up any used condoms off your lawn after he and his wife's swing parties?"

I hope their management is as ignorant as their employees, and that this winds up costing the #@%&*! at Best Buy about a zillion dollars.

I have no problem if after ... (Below threshold)

I have no problem if after he was arrested he was handcuffed for transportation to the co. jail. It's for officer safety.

He says at the station he was handcuffed and leg ironed. Which again, may not be against acceptable procedures if they did not have a holding cell for him. Personally, I would rather be chained in the hallway where all the cops are in and out and doing the paper work then in a holding cell with Bubba.

I wouldn't be surprised if this guy had a traffic warrant or two and that is why he was arrested and transported to the station. It wd allow them to detain him long enough for the feds to check the bills. Whether it would let Best Buy off the hook civilly for calling the police initially, I don't know. Best Buy may also say they called the police b/c the guy was creating a disturbance. So, don't all go rushing down to BB with your $2 bills just yet. :-)

I actually did something li... (Below threshold)

I actually did something like this at a bank once, I now remember.

They weren't interested in depositing my paycheck as cash, so I took the thing to the bank where it was drawn and came back with a bunch of $1.00 bills. I took one out so that it would be wrong when they machine counted it twice (and hand-counted it once).

I laughed all the way home, and I was NOT arrested.


When one side of a story re... (Below threshold)

When one side of a story refuses to comment, it's to be expected the other side is going to get more play.

Best Buy's best response to this incident (from their point of view) is, in fact, to refuse comment. Better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak (without a lawyer's hand up your @$$) and remove all doubt.

Cirby and Boyd, D'UH, I sho... (Below threshold)
Jim in Texas:

Cirby and Boyd, D'UH, I should have realized that the idiot at BB didn't realized the $2 bill was legal tender.

I ran into a lesser, more comical incident when I paid for lunch with a bunch of Sacajawea dollars and the lady looked at the coins for several seconds and then called over another lady who recognized them.

I am a corporate security manager, but I don't play one on tv and I didn't stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night.

Corporate security departments have one overriding rule; protect the (security department’s employer) from liability.

Hiring sleazy P.I.s fall into that category of risky behavior that most companies will avoid at any cost. Besides as you are probably aware, if the lawsuit gets anywhere then the discovery process is much more suited to dragging out the dirt in a legal fashion.

I think BBs corporate attorneys are probably already trying out some various remedies in the low - mid 5 digit numbers on his lawyer now.

Trust me on this, this will eventually fall off the screen when the settlement with BB includes a gag order.

So, if the gentleman begins driving a new Lexus and declines to be interview, you can be pretty sure that a deal has been struck.

It's actually cheaper to throw some money at most problems to get them to go away rather than risk a court settlement.

A few points:1. My... (Below threshold)

A few points:

1. My grand-parents (God rest their souls) used to give me a $2 bill every week for "fun money", and I never thought twice about it. When I got a little older, they bumped it to $10 (a "pad" of 5 $2 bills) every now and then, still never had a problem.

2. Yes, business can refuse to accept payment in coins because of the problem that occurs with storage and transport to the bank. Can you imagine trying to carry hundreds of dollars in coins to the bank (even if they were all quarters or larger)? But, they are not saying the coins aren't valid money, just a nuisance to store and take to the bank, but paper money is a different story.

3. While this man may not have too many options other than a "nuisance" charge, he could try slander (or libel if they wrote about it) because to call the FBI to "check the bills" implies he is a counterfeit money printer, which could damage his reputation. People could stop using his tour company because they think he'll give the kids fake $2.00 bills. Although the question still comes up, if you're going to print your own money, why do it with a TWO DOLLAR bill and not a twenty or higher?

4. I am a little perterbed that Best Buy would say no to the Salvation Army, as they have been doing what they do for A VERY LONG TIME and haven't had any complaints thus far. I've never even been asked to donate when I walk by them, they just say "Merry Christmas" and ring their little bell. I don't know the specifics of this decision, but if I am remembering this right, they actually did this because some customer(s) were "offended" because the Salvation Army is a Christian group, and that means they aren't saying "no soliciting" but rather saying they would rather say "no Christians" because a few people said they were offended.

Finally, I am still planning on buying my PSP at BB (if they still have the promo pack with Spiderman 2) and I'm pretty sure I'll pay with 2 $100 bills and the rest in $2 bills, just to see what happens. You can bet that within hours (or less) of this happening, they have notified ALL of their stores to "educate" their cashiers about the $2 bill, but I guess we'll see won't we?

skybird: Because B... (Below threshold)


Because Best Buy may have thought they were counterfeit for other reasons than the fact that they were $2 bills.

IANAL but I did study U.S. ... (Below threshold)

IANAL but I did study U.S. currency laws quite extensively in the mid '80s. IIRC, pennys are legal tender for debts up to 25 cents; nickles, dimes, quarters, and halfs are legal tender for debts up to five dollars; coins valued at one dollar and greater and all federal reserve notes, silver certicates and gold certificates are legal tender for all debts of any amount.

Whether the form of currency you are using is to make a protest or not does not enter into it -- refusal to accept payment results in loss of any claim on the debt.

This sounds a whole lot lik... (Below threshold)

This sounds a whole lot like urban legend -
(2 dollar taco).


Wasn't there a situation a ... (Below threshold)

Wasn't there a situation a few years ago where a guy was arrested in the southwest for having a West Virginia lisence plate? The arresting officer said there was no such state as West Virginia.

I honestly hope the WV lice... (Below threshold)

I honestly hope the WV license thing was just a joke, because anyone who obviously couldn't pass elementary geography should NOT be a police officer, or even allowed out without supervision!

This sounds a whole lot ... (Below threshold)

This sounds a whole lot like urban legend -
(2 dollar taco).

I've had issues with $2 bills at fast food joints, including Taco Bell, up to having the clerk call the manager and the manager ask a policeman in the restaurant to come over.

A lot of people don't know that $2 bills are real money, and those are the sorts of folks who end up at the counter of fast food joints and Best Buys.

Look on the upper left of a... (Below threshold)

Look on the upper left of any US currency in your wallet: "This note is legal tender for all debts public and private." That's a federal law. If the story is correct, BB has screwed up bigtime and should pay now to avoid facing a jury.

I used to live near a horse... (Below threshold)

I used to live near a horse-track (I still do, but the track is gone), and the $2 bill was very common. Atlantic City is nearby, and the light rail in and around Philadelpia has ticket machines that return SBA and SG dollars as change. So around here, the 'weird' tender is fairly common. But if you go an hour west, north or south... (Balt. being just under 2 hours), God help you if you have any of this stuff in your pocket.
When I had a non-photo license from NJ (only got a photo last year), I had the cops called on me in PA, DE and IL when bar staff thought I had fake ID. And PA/DE are only seperated from NJ by a river :)

To any of the people here t... (Below threshold)

To any of the people here that don't believe this man got cuffed for not doing anything and that he MUST have been physically or at least verbally abusive, are any of you FROM Baltimore? Have you ever BEEN there? Do you know a DAMNED THING about the Baltimore Police? I've lived in Baltimore for 12 years, and let me tell you something, you are all DEAD WRONG.

A lot of people don't kn... (Below threshold)
Steve L.:

A lot of people don't know that $2 bills are real money, and those are the sorts of folks who end up at the counter of fast food joints and Best Buys.

The government has issued $2 bills three times in the last 30 years: 2003, 1995, and 1976. Since those bills were never really accepted by the masses, they remain in banks for the most part. You have to specifically ask for them to get them.

As such, I can't really fault anyone under the age of 25 for not knowing what one was. How can you expect them to know that they are real if they have never seen one?

The police are another matter. That's what makes me believe that there is more to this story than meets the eye. We already know that the guy was mad that he had to pay for the installation when he thought it was free. Most people would be angry. That's the normal reaction. We also know that he got the $2 bills to make a point. It isn't a stretch to imagine him becoming angry when the validity of his currency was questioned. It is entirely possible that he was wanting to provoke a confrontation, hoping that the management would placate him by offering to not charge him for the installation.

We will likely never know all that actually happened.

D-Hoggs..........A... (Below threshold)


Are you saying that it's more probable that he WAS arrested just paying with $2 bills, or that it's more probable that he was verbally and/or physically abusive?

Just not completely clear on your comment.

... the phrase you're gr... (Below threshold)

... the phrase you're groping for here is "figure of speech." As in, "'Pushed up against the wall' is a very common figure of speech.

Jeff, and he would have been arrested for figuratively pushing the manager against a figurative Best Buy wall because ...

To those who are certain th... (Below threshold)

To those who are certain that the guy must have done something physical or threatening: It's not in the story, or any account I've seen so far. The only persons accusing the guy of any sort of violence are a couple of imaginative posters on this thread.

On the other hand, police tend to get very serious about accusations of counterfeiting (it being a Federal felony and all), and will certainly cuff you and haul you off to jail if they even think you might be passing fake cash.

An unfounded accusation from the manager of a major business like a Best Buy is the sort of thing they tend to trust, unfortunately. When the smoke clears, I'm betting that's what really happened, and BB is going to pay even more...

Bob said: "Whether the for... (Below threshold)

Bob said: "Whether the form of currency you are using is to make a protest or not does not enter into it -- refusal to accept payment results in loss of any claim on the debt."

This is interesting -- is the basis of this federal common law, or is it UCC-related? I'd love to know the black letter law on it (same with 'legal tender in denominations' fact).

As a rule personal injury law (and the lawyers that do it) turns my stomach, but could Jim in Texas explain how he thinks this case would be worth mid FIVE FIGURES?

Perhaps we should start a B... (Below threshold)

Perhaps we should start a BESTBUYSUCKS blog, record all the customer service nightmares we've been through, and threaten to bury them in a hideous publicity nightmare unless they pay us $50,000 each!

Wavemaker, I just created a... (Below threshold)

Wavemaker, I just created a blog that (almost) fits your idea to a "T". I didn't title it the same, as I don't want any company to be left out on the fisking. The new blog is linked to from my main blog, and the URL is "http://customerservicenightmares.blogspot.com/". I'm not sure if this blog will go the way of my others, but this one is not as "regional" as my other attempt at a second blog. So, e-mail me your stories, and they will be posted.

Brother Sword of Compassion... (Below threshold)

Brother Sword of Compassion:

I believe the police called the FBI. Best Buy called the police. I don't' think you could sue for libel/slander for reporting what you believe is a crime or for the police consulting with the FBI. One, it's against public policy, and two, I would think the police have some immunity. Plus, the one who went public is the guy. He can't complain sue over it later.

I also think the WV story is urban legend. Partly because they review some of the traffic laws of other states in training and they carry cheat sheets regarding traffic offenses in other states. Maybe, no such state was really no such plate.

*shudder* After one purchas... (Below threshold)

*shudder* After one purchase at Best Buy, I will never, ever do that again! There are too many terrific stores to choose from to ever subject myself to that place again!

I started getting Sacagawea... (Below threshold)

I started getting Sacagawea dollars so that I could teach my autistic son to buy things at the store. He tears paper so I can't give him paper money. I usually get 20 at a time.

The third time that I went to the bank for the coins, I gave the teller my check for $20 to get 20 dollar coins. The teller told me that she only had six in her drawer, and that if I wanted more than six I would have to buy a whole roll of $25.

I told her I had already done this several times, and she repeated that I could either get the six in her drawer or get a whole roll for $25. She insisted that her manager would not allow her to break a roll of Sacagawea dollars "because nobody ever uses them."

I really, really, really did not want $25 in coins. However, I did want more than six, so I tore up my check and wrote a new check for $25.

She went to the manager and got the roll of dollar coins and gave it to me.

I broke it open, and handed her the deposit slip I had written while she was getting the roll, and deposited five of them back into my checking account.

All the way home, I savored the dumbfounded "that's cheating" look on her face. To this day it still makes me smile.

I LOVE IT when people find ... (Below threshold)

I LOVE IT when people find out they AREN'T all powerful. I know the manager at my local grocery store, Blockbuster, and CVS PERSONALLY and I've had more than my share of SNOT NOSED PUNKS try to give me that "I'm running the register and you're not, so you'll do it my way" attitude only to learn that they aren't as high and mighty as they think.

Wasn't there a news story t... (Below threshold)

Wasn't there a news story that was linked here not to long ago about a guy who got a ticket. He was so pissed off he sent his money in but smeared it with, well you can use your immagination, first. The city clerk was not amused. He was arrested for felony assault. Had to do some jail time and, get this, lost his license as a psychiatrist!

"Why did the police arrest ... (Below threshold)
John S.:

"Why did the police arrest him?"

You've obviously never lived in the People's Republic of Maryland. Hopefully Best Buy will settle out of court for about $50 million.

You've obviously never l... (Below threshold)

You've obviously never lived in the People's Republic of Maryland.

I have. Montgomery County, in fact, a D.C. suburb chock-full of federal workers. The ratio of assholes-to-the-general-population is about 5 times higher than anywhere else I have lived.

$50 million for what? The s... (Below threshold)

$50 million for what? The same people who decry excessive jury awards are the same people who demand that some guy get $50 million for losing 3 hours of his time.

And don't tell me his reputation was damaged. He has to prove damages. He also is the one who went to the media. So that ain't gonna fly.

Those of you who doubt this... (Below threshold)
Tim in PA:

Those of you who doubt this story obviously have never been screwed over by either Best Buy or the Police. If Bolesta had been belligerent, the police spokesman would be jumping all over that instead of grovelling and apologizing.

Both the cops and the store employees should be fired.

Hey! I've been screwed by e... (Below threshold)

Hey! I've been screwed by everybody.

As to the police spokesman, I see one sentence taken out of context. It doesn't say what question he was asked. I see no groveling and no apologizing. If I overlooked something, please let me know.

Intersting... I've seen thi... (Below threshold)
Cousin Dave:

Intersting... I've seen this story here and on several other blogs, and one thing that runs as a constant thread is how bad Best Buy's customer service is. The odd thing is, I shop at a Best Buy (Huntsville, AL) frequently and I've never had a problem with service there. Are the tales of Best Buy's bad service exaggerated, or did this particualr one not get the David Spade memo?

As for the odd currency: Part of the problem is that cash register drawers don't have slots for $2 bills or $1 coins. And, since customers don't want them in their change, they usually wind up in the bottom of the drawer mixed in with the paperwork. Also, the SBA and SC dollar coins are just too similar to quarters. However, back in my fast-food days (Pizza Hut, 1979/80), at one of the Huts I worked at, I had the nickel cup partitioned to allow a place for Susie B's. When customers checked out, i would offer to take any Susie B's that they had and give them dollar bills as change if they wanted. At the end of the shift, I bought all the ones that had collected in the register. I used them in pinball machines. In those days, many pinball machines had their coin acceptors arranged to give extra plays if you paid with a Susie B.

A few years ago, I was traveling to Canada a lot. I got a bit of a kick out of their $1 and $2 coins. It was kind of weird to reach into your pocket and realize that you were walking around with $20 in coins.

Brother Sword, I am saying ... (Below threshold)

Brother Sword, I am saying that his story is most definitely right on. The Baltimore Police Dept. is rife with corruption and twenty-something meatheads looking to crack skulls. Unfortunately I know from experience. My dog also found out the hard way, he was a labrador retriever, sweet as anything, and was shot to death, IN MY FENCED IN YARD, by the big bad Baltimore Police, who are apparently afraid of puppies. Oh yeah, he was the sixth LABRADOR in a month to be SHOT be a Baltimore Police Officer, who knows how many other breeds suffered the same fate. And yes, he had all shots, tags and licenses.

Cousin Dave - I don't think... (Below threshold)

Cousin Dave - I don't think this is necessarily a company wide problem, but all too often you get these kids running a register, or worse some 19 year old punk who is NOT qualified, being allowed to run the whole store (and I know there are 19 year olds out there who are, but most of them aren't, and those who are, probably are in school), and they figure that they can MAKE you do it their way. The concept of "the customer is always right" is long gone. When I worked in retail (all through HS and a few years after), I was told POINT BLANK that I was there to provide our customers with the BEST possible shopping experience, and that my job depended on it, but I was also raised to treat my elders with respect, show up on time, do the best I could, and so on. Today kids are taught in school that it doesn't matter if you get 1 question or all of them right on a test, everyone is just as good, and therefore they figure that when a customer asks them to (gasp) provide a service, that they can say I don't want to, and you don't have the right to ask me to, and that's fine. Therefore, I feel this was a "semi-isolated" incident, but that only goes for BB, it's all too common today, because the younger generation is being taught that "feeling good" is a RIGHT and that no one is allowed to "hurt their feelings" (no red pens, everyone who tries out makes the team, and so on). The "PC" craze will be our downfall if we don't stop it RIGHT HERE AND NOW!

And DH, please tell me you're sueing for your monetary losses from your pets, as well as anything else you can from these PIGS shooting a weapon into your yard. What if you, or a family member had been back there? And if they can say for certain that no one was, that means they STALKED and HUNTED your dogs (waited for the right time/shot), and that my friend is a FELONY (meaning they are off the force, can't vote again, and can't own ANY fire-arms ever again)!

wow smoke eater, you're sou... (Below threshold)

wow smoke eater, you're sounding a lot like rob hackney, hah

Smoke, this was about five ... (Below threshold)

Smoke, this was about five years ago. To give you an idea of how nice and behaved this dog was, I took him to EVERY class I went to in college, full time, he slept next to my desk, sat on the bench with the team during our hockey games, and was even on my school ID picture with me at the allowance of the campus police. Needles to say I was pretty distraught at what happend and though the Animal Legal Defense group contacted me and wanted to support me, it was easier at the time for me to let it go. Besides, I have dealt with enough bull in the city of Baltimore over the last 12 years to know that absolutely nothing would have come of it. I love the city and enjoy calling it my home, but it has SERIOUS problems, not just with their Police Department but just their "Government Services" in general. Case in point, the two officers who arrived at my home were part of an animal control unit, one white officer and one black officer. The black officer shot my dog from approximately 30 yards away, and later tried to apologize to me telling me he was afraid of dogs, at the same time the othe officer told me that he wouldn't have "dealt" with it that way. The whole scenario begs three serious questions: 1) Why doesn't a Baltimore Police animal control unit carry tranquilizers? 2) Why is an officer who is admittedly afraid of dogs even ON an animal control unit? and of course the obvious, why the hell did they need to shoot a harmless lab sitting on my own property with full tags? A-holes.

I'm not sure who that is, s... (Below threshold)

I'm not sure who that is, so I don't know if that's a compliment or an insult. Which would that be for a Republican, blogger, pre-law student?

Small nit to pick in one of... (Below threshold)

Small nit to pick in one of Julie's posts - it was the USSS the police would've called and did call, not the FBI.

Re: $2 bills.

Clemson football fans use $2 bills when they go to a bowl game out of a tradition that began when Georgia Tech tried to end a series with Clemson (when GT was not in the ACC) because of the supposed financial loss the game brought them. Clemson fans paid for everything in Atlanta with $2 bills to demonstrate the financial impact of the game. The same thing happened again at a Gator Bowl a few years later and a tradition was born.

Every year they go to a bowl game, some fans come back with stories of service employees (restaurants, bars, convenience stores, strippers, etc.) who don't know what a $2 bill is and have to check with their manager or somebody else to confirm that it's real. I don't doubt this story in the least bit and it's (along with other issues) making me have 2nd thoughts about moving to Baltimore when I get married next year - I may try to get my fiancee to move here now.

A friend of mine has an experiment he tries ocasionally that he may not want to ever try at Best Buy. He goes into a fast food place or other place to pay and asks before getting his wallet out if they take Federal Reserve Notes. There are about equal numbers of people who say "no" or "what are those?" Both of those categories lead the "yes" responses by a good bit.

Top this off with the fact that a guy they thought had bombs was ignorant enough to show up at the Capitol building (and not the WH) and ask to see the President, and I mourn for the youth of America.

He was arrested by the Balt... (Below threshold)
James Johnston:

He was arrested by the Baltimore COUNTY Police NOT the Baltimore City Police. Baltimore County and Baltimore City are seperate polical subdivisions.

i think that was something ... (Below threshold)

i think that was something that was'y right so as my personal advise i think that next time yoy should trick for somebody todo the following trade those $2.00 dollar bills with somebody that has a $1.00 dollar bill in that way you will never get arrested

I remember the WV case abou... (Below threshold)

I remember the WV case about the "no such state". That is not an urban legend, it actually happened. I could be mistaken, but I believe that the arresting officer was a woman, and I even remember Jay Leno making jokes about it on the Tonight Show. It was in one of the western or southwestern states, but I am unable to recall which one.






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