Was Purchaser Entitled to Refund From Store # 1448?
In the trial of a New York City Civil Court small claim action against Best Buy 1448, Rodolfo Zanetti alleged that he returned an Apple Mac Book and exchanged it for a Hewlett Packard laptop but that he was charged twice for the HP. Zanetti sought damages for the cost of the second HP, and the accrued interest on his Best Buy credit card. He previously rejected Best Buy’s offer to settle the matter for $1905.35, the cost of the computer, because it did not cover the interest accrued on the credit card. Zanetti provided a receipt dated September 18, 2020 at 17:11 for the exchange, investigation letters sent by Best Buy and credit card account statements as evidence.
Zanetti testified, with the assistance of a Spanish interpreter that on September 10, 2020 he purchased an Apple Mac Book online for $1,360.93. However, he returned it in-store on September 18 because it did not meet his needs. He sought to exchange the Apple for a HP priced at $1,905.35. After the tax, $250 discount and price difference were applied, claimant expected to pay $574.36 exchange fee. However, his October Best Buy credit card statement showed the exchange price of $574.36 and another charge of $1905.30 for a second HP computer that Zanetti asserted he did not purchase.
Jorge Alvarez, a Best Buy store manager, testified that the receipts showed that claimant purchased a HP at 17:00 (5pm) on September 18 for $1,905.30. A second receipt for the same day shows at 17:11 (5:11pm) that Zanetti exchanged his Apple Mac Book for another HP. As a result, Zanetti purchased two HP computers that day, eleven minutes apart. Best Buy provided receipts dated September 18, 2020 at 17:00 and receipt for 17:11 for the exchange, emails with Citibank, order form and return policy as exhibits.
During trial, Alvarez stated that Best Buy’s name was incorrect. Best Buy #1448 was the store number. However, the stores legal name was Best Buy Co. Inc.
Wide latitude is given to all litigants before the Small Claims Court and small claims’ cases are informal and simplified procedures in which the court seeks to do substantial justice between the parties according to the rules of substantive law. In this case, Best Buy’s receipt taken at 17:00 (5:00pm) reads a HP with Stock Keeping Unit (SKU) #6406696 was purchased. Best Buy’s receipt taken at 17:11 (5:11pm) (the exchange) shows that Zanetti returned his Apple Mac Book in exchange for HP with SKU #6406696, the same SKU number registered just eleven minutes earlier. Therefore, Zanetti was charged twice for the HP having the same SKU number #6406696. In addition, Zanetti’s credit card statement reads in part that the credit card interest was deferred unless the bill was paid in full by October 9, 2022. Zanetti did not pay the bill by the date due because he disputed the charge. As a result, his 2022 Totals Year-to-Date credit card statement showed the total interest charged was $999.76.
The Court found that Zanetti was charged twice for the HP computer having the same SKU #6406696, eleven minutes apart. He was also charged with accrued interest in 2022 for the unpaid credit card bill for a computer he did not purchase. Therefore, Zanetti was entitled to be reimbursed for the HP and the accrued interest.
In addition, the Court recognized that Best Buy 1448 was not defendant’s legal name. The Court in a small claim action has the authority to correct a faulty designation of a party defendant, even after rendition of a judgement, to reflect the defendant’s proper name, so as to assist a prevailing plaintiff in enforcing the judgement. The standard was whether there was anything at all about the way Best Buy had referred to itself in conducting its business which could reasonably have led Zanetti to name Best Buy as it was in fact named in the initial Small Claims papers. In this case, 1448 represented the store number where the transactions occurred—so Zanetti reasonably named defendant as Best Buy 1448. And Court amend the name to reflect the store’s legal name Best Buy Co. Inc.
Zanetti was awarded $2,500.00, together with costs and interest.