January 3rd, 2007

Pensive Kevin

When Did Oregon Secede?

I am very unhappy with Circuit City. I bought a computer game from them last week in Salem, but couldn't get it to run on either of my computers without it generating warning messages that "your video driver is out of date." (I checked, and both of the Dell Inspiron 600m machines have the latest Radeon 9000 drivers from Dell's support site.) This, along with other ways in which the game behaves when I try to install it, make me think that the game is under-specified; that is, the system requirements on the box are insufficient, and it really needs a more powerful machine than I have, probably a gaming-optimized powerhouse. Had I known this up front, of course I would not have bought the software.

On Monday afternoon, I took the software back to Circuit City to ask for a refund (ideally) or credit (which at least I could spend on something that would actually run on my computer). The clerk called her supervisor; the supervisor informed me that "Oregon Copyright Law forbids us from exchanging software for anything but another copy of the same software if the box is opened."

Excuse me? Oregon Copyright Law? Since when did Oregon withdraw from the USA and set up its own copyright laws? I told her, "There's no such thing as Oregon Copyright Law."

She insisted that there was. I became angry, and said, "So there's nothing you can do. Fine! Give me back my useless software then!" and snatched the box (and receipt) out of the hands of the startled clerk, who had been standing there while her supervisor (in my opinion) lied to me.

As I turned to storm out of the store, the supervisor called out, "Sir! You're not welcome in this store again!"

I turned around, looked daggers in her face, and said, "I don't think you have to worry about me spending any money in this store again."

She turned to the clerk and said, "Call Security!"

I left the store, so I don't know what happened after that. If they did summon security guards, they didn't follow me. Okay, so maybe I shouldn't have lost my temper, but they shouldn't have lied to me, either. It's not that they refused to make good on this purchase that angered me. The fine print buried deep in their refund policy (which I studied later) says that they won't exchange opened software. Had she simply pointed this out to me, I would have been disappointed, but would have just grumbled and taken it (and complained to the game's publisher). But when someone appears to be making up new laws out of their own imagination to justify their actions, then I get angry, as I don't like being lied to. I'm not sure this distinction is clear enough.

I've written to Circuit City through their web site to complain about this. I've searched the Oregon Revised Statutes, and can find no reference to an "Oregon Copyright Law," and Google searches find nothing useful on the subject of a specific set of Oregon-only copyright statutes. I've told Circuit City that I apologize for startling the young clerk, who knew nothing, but challenged them to cite this "Oregon Copyright Law" that I think the supervisor made up (or else her management made up and told her; the fault is the same anyway).

On the other hand, I don't even know if the message got through. Circuit City's web site, when I submitted the message, closed the form and took me back to their main web page without a confirmation and without sending me a copy of my own e-mail.

Edits, 13:07 and 13:34: Corrected typos noted in comments.

Edit, 17:05: Minor change to add when I went to the store. Re-reading it, I realized that if you read my journal entries sequentially, you might wonder how I returned an item in Oregon when I had said on Tuesday morning that I'd returned to California.
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