News Article

Best Buy Employee On A Mission To Save R.O.B.

Posted by Martin Watts

Battling corporate policy for the sake of gaming history

An employee at Best Buy is currently at risk of losing his job in a desperate bid to prevent a Nintendo Entertainment System Deluxe Set from being recycled.

Sharing his story on Reddit, a customer recently brought the set into the store to have it recycled as part of Best Buy's "Renew Blue" sustainability initiative. The bundle includes a NES, Zapper light gun and perhaps most importantly of all, a Robotic Operating Buddy (R.O.B.). The latter is considered to be fairly rare today.

The original R.O.B. accessory worked with two NES titles in the "Robot Series": Gyromite and Stack-Up. Although it was only on the market for a short time, R.O.B. actually played a pretty crucial role in Nintendo's success in North America after the video game crash of 1983. It was pitched as a toy, thus making the system seem much more appealing to retailers. The rest, as we now know, is history.

The anonymous Best Buy employee had asked the store's manager if he could take the set home, but was quickly informed that he would be fired, as it was strictly against company policy.

He is now considering risking his job so as to ensure R.O.B. doesn't meet an unfitting end:

I tried everything I could at a store level to get the ok to take it...but to no avail...So now the gloves are off. I'm not letting him pull the plug on my Nintendo baby that is on life support, hidden from bad corporate policy.

The set has now been hidden in the store's warehouse, so that he has a couple of days to devise a plan to get R.O.B. out of there.

At this point this mission is a must. I'm doing it for everyone that's ever had a R.O.B.

We'll be sure to let you know if everyone's favourite Robotic Operating Buddy does eventually escape the corporate clutches of Best Buy's recycling initiative.


From the web

User Comments (102)



Tasuki said:

He should call the A-Team. It sounds like that would be right up their alley.



SuperKMx said:

You know what he should do? Tell everyone on the Internet about it, so that when the manager sees it online and remembers being asked about it by the guy behind the story, he'll fire him before he has a chance to take it out of the store.

Steal it first. Brag later.



Peach64 said:

You can't advertise some kind of recycling initiative, take people's things on that condition, and then not go through with it. Pretty poor behaviour by this guy that could land his employers in big trouble.



MegaWatts said:

@Peach64 You could argue that this is recycling; the R.O.B. unit would essentially be being used. I would just hope that this chap isn't planning on nabbing it just so he could resell it!



MrWalkieTalkie said:

Robots are an endangered species, we must protect them, especially ancient models like the R.O.B.



LztheQuack said:

Or he could have just taken it without asking anyone or I dunno...NOT MENTION IT ON THE FREAKING INTERNET!!



theblackdragon said:

i'm with Peach64 — him taking it could absolutely land the company in hot water if the local newshound whistleblowers catch wind of Best Buy taking these items under the impression that their components will honestly be recycled and that's not what's done with them at all. If he feels the theft of this set is worth his job, by all means let him make good on his epic plans and deal with the legal repercussions afterward, but I for one can absolutely understand where his manager is coming from on this one, as well as the corporate policy he thinks is 'bad'.

also, if he really intended to steal the damn thing, telling the internet before that plan was enacted (or hell, even afterward when he could absolutely still be fired for having done it)? what a dumb thing to do.



Nareva said:

I have no doubt that these recycling programs are outsourced to other companies and that these companies "recycle" these products in more ways than one. I imagine somewhere along the line someone will salvage ROB and save him from a most terrible fate. I hope this guy doesn't have to commit a crime to accomplish his goal. That would suck for him.



TheHunter said:

Part of recycling is reusing so if someone wants it who can make better use of it, what's the problem with that?



Void said:

Getting word out about this everywhere he can would probably be what I would do instead.



Mattiator said:

I fully understand Best Buy's position on this. A customer who brings in something, anything, to be recycled, expects it to be destroyed and made into something new in a manner that would not jeprodize their personal information on, say, a laptop. While this is a bit different (since I highly doubt an R.O.B would have your visa number), no doubt it's company policy to protect consumers.



Yanchamaru said:

What idiot would let a NES, Zapper and ROB get recycled? Sell this on ebay instead of having it destroyed by Best Buy



C7_ said:

A friend of mine showed this story to me last night. I guess the best plan random reddit comments came up with was having a friend come in and say "oh, my father came in the other day and turned it in by mistake" but that plan and anything similar is out the window since it's on the internet.

Also, Best Buy's mostly in the right to have the policy; while ROB isn't going to have personal information, other electronics that people bring in might, and while I feel for this guy because I have this entire set and the box myself, he just needs to let it go.



theblackdragon said:

@Void: How would that help him at all? If anything it's already put his store's LP on him with an eagle eye, just waiting for him to try and steal it — or worse yet, they're on the hunt for the thing that's been hidden in their warehouse now so that they can put it into the proper receptacle for these to-be-recycled items.

@sonicfan1373: actually, it was kinda already the basis for Toy Story 2, lol — dude from toy store steals Woody, dude from best buy steals R.O.B. :3



darkgamer001 said:

It's an NES Deluxe Set with R.O.B the Robot. Any sense of what's legally right or wrong should go out of the window here.
I assume recycling incentives are there know, help the environment. How about...I dunno...selling the thing to the highest bidder and donating the proceeds to an environmental organisation? Everyone's happy, catastrophe evaded.
Moral of the story: you got to be able to flex the rules a bit in extraordinary situations. This is one of them.



WesCash said:

Yeah, saw this on Reddit yesterday. I hope he manages to save it. As someone pointed out in the Reddit comments, reusing an item is the best form of "recycling".



SCAR said:

I would just take R.O.B., and get fired, but he should try to do what he can first. If there's no other way, I advise getting fired, but that's just me.



zoroarkrules25 said:

I hope he can save R.O.B, he is awesome and this is a rare item that should be reserved since it played a big role in nintendo's career. What if nintendo brought the NES from the best buy? Then it would be safe and preserved. He will need quite the plan to pull this off. He will need phineas and ferb they can make an invention to save the system and R.O.B. I do hope hope he succeeds.



GazPlant said:

Telling the world before committing a crime is probably the worst thing to do
Although saving a ROB is a worthy cause...



SCAR said:

You can get another job, but you can't get another R.O.B. Well, both are kinda hard to get right now, but finding another job is probably easier than R.O.B.



Intrepid said:

I usually am a huge rule lawyer when it comes to things, but even I see the stupidity of recycling this. I fully support this guy in preserving a piece of Nintendo history, especially onne that is extremely rare and not being made anymore.I'm not sure I would have the guts to go through with it, but I'm glad he's willing.

I'm more worried that, no matter how covertly he does this, he will still get caught. There are cameras all over the store, and anything that was recorded in inventory that suddenly goes missing is a red flag. What's worse is, if he gets caught, it isn't a simple matter of him keeping the thing in exchange for his job. Best Buy legaly reclaims it, so in the end he will end up jobless, in jail, and the thing will be recycled anyway. He best chance was to not spread this story on the internet and draw aattention to himself, but he already botched that.

I still wish him luck regardless.



WingedSnagret said:

At least we know there will be at least one R.O.B. left in the distant future, after mankind mysteriously disappears, to be found by tiny humanoid aliens leading a group of mobile plant creatures.

Overcome by a heavy sense of nostalgia, the aliens will name their find, "Remembered Old Buddy."

Whoever gets the reference receives a virtual cookie.



irken004 said:

So if I was him, someone could bring in a generation old iPad, call it his baby and possibly take it home so it isn't destroyed for recycling. It could technically be considered recycling but it's also Best Buy's job to get rid of it for proper recycling.



SCAR said:

I just can't even imagine who the heck would even bring a R.O.B. to Best Buy to get it recycled in the first place.



NESguy94 said:

I don't care about policy, there is an exception to some rules. Place it on display in the store.



Void said:

@KenB @TBD I would guess it would have a chance of little to none of helping save the R.O.B, but who knows? It might get a lot of people caring about it, and force Best Buy to do something, and change their policy, probably wouldn't, and he might lose his job anyways due to the ruckus caused.
I should rephrase my post into saying it's not a better idea, just what I would do.
If I did try anything in the first place that is, personally, I probably wouldn't do anything, just sigh and keep my job.

Although I don't know why having someone else use it can't be considering recycling, you know "One man's trash is another man's treasure."



OdnetninAges said:

I'm sorry, but what kind of idiot gives a rare, sought-after piece of gaming history to Best Buy to destroy?



NintyMan said:

@Intrepid: Good for R.O.B.! I can understand Best Buy's policy, but this is just a video game robot, not a cell phone. It's funny to see that he now has a home at Best Buy's headquarters.

The employee certainly appreciated R.O.B. more than his original owner. Why recycle something so iconic when you could at least sell it and get some money? It shows why he so easily gave R.O.B. and the NES set away.



Burning_Spear said:

@AbeVigoda said:
The manager of this particular Best Buy? You guessed it....Phil Fish

Wait a minute. Abe Vigoda WAS Phil Fish. In the Barney Miller series.



Zombie_Barioth said:

I'm glad that this was resolved peacefully, and without taking drastic measures like stealing. Really disappointed in whoever dropped it off being unable to think of any other option than sending it off to be destroyed, like donating it to the Goodwill or something.



Tasuki said:

@Intrepid: I doubt its going to be a happy ending for Best Buy I can just now see the cans of worms that will be opened cause of this guy. For one thing Best Buy can now be sued for misleading people with that program and not only that but whats going to keep other employess from saving other stuff from the program that isnt even a rare item. I mean someone can try to do the same thing with an Ipod and if they recycle it in the end they could sue for having double standards. Yeah great job put it out there on the web for everyone to see Best Buy. I have a feeling this program will come to an end soon.



SheldonRandoms said:

R.O.B will live on, but maybe Best Buy could use R.O.B in their commercials, that would be awesome, swell and fantastic.



SMW said:

Glad to see ROB get a new home in the HQ! I almost shed a tear as I read about the fate of the little robot! Chibi-Robo would be proud.



Adam said:

Whatever the problems with this plan, it's R.O.B. I hope he succeeds.

If public perception is the sole problem, they could just sell it to him. I think they generally get away with selling stuff, though I never go there myself to verify it.



Intrepid said:

@WesCash No problem. Rest assured I am also relieved it was saved.

@Tasuki I considered that, and you're right: people will feel misled. I have no answer for how Best Buy will handle this, but I predict that the average customer will not even know about it.

I would hope both customers and employees recognize that it was a one time deal to save a valuable artifact. Remember that the employee did not get to keep the collection, so other employees will have to understand that if they raise an issue about an item, even if it is saved they will not get to own it, hopefully reducing incentive to even try doing something underhanded.

So we will have to see how this plays out, but I predict that Best Buy will emerge with no backlash, with no change to its recycling program, and hardly anyone will notice (outside of reddit of course). Business as usual.



theblackdragon said:

@Intrepid: And what happens when someone else comes and trades in something that a random employee really, really wants for their own purposes and thinks should be saved from being broken down and recycled? I think I'd like to be aware of the fact that my items might actually not wind up recycled as planned (on display in an office somewhere) before I participate in such a program. :/



Pj1 said:

Yeah why can't they let him sell it on ebay then donate half the money to the companies favourite charity & to his or just let the guy take it but ask him to make a small donation. I don't believe his job is under if he 'takes' rob but they the store could say its theft & he's out on gross misconduct. All the best to him & to rob...



Undead_terror said:

@Intrepid Im glad that this piece of gaming history is now saved, it would be nice if they made a rob that could your wii u game pad or 3ds, it's not needed but it's nice to look at.



Intrepid said:

@tbd As I was telling Tasuki, I have no idea what will happen from here regarding Best Buy or its recycling program. I'm only predicting that this will be a non issue for the most part because they average lay person will not have heard about this story. If this does escalate...well, they may just have to be stricter in the future or cancel the recycling program.



Tasuki said:

@Intrepid: sigh You naive child. I would be nice if people were like that but yeah all you need is one jackass to screw it up. I am will to bet dollars to donuts this wont be the last we hear of it. How can we the consumer take Best Buy's word now on what happens with what we recycle? How will I know that that 50 inch plasma I give in to recycle wont end up in the board room of Best Buy so all the CEOs can watch football?



GreenDream said:

No, this is definitely a fine example of horrid corporate policy. The argument that it would set a precedent for currently sold items being used by and given away to corporate employees, or is poor behavior by the employee, is total bullocks and a cop-out. It's not the same issue at all.

I've volunteered for a computer recycling and refurbishing outfit for a little over 3 years now, and our policy has always been that if a donation or something we scrounge from the local recycling center is not useful to us in our operations, as long as a volunteer who's been with us for a while asks the director if they can take it, and the director approves, you're in the clear. Which is usually the case, for items we cannot use in our operations.

We work with the local county government on this matter. Their own policy is that once someone else's property is given to them to be recycled, and is then subsequently recovered by us in our partnership, they no longer have a say in what particular electronic items we take, or what we do with the products we take, so long as we keep producing a good, sustainable service for our clients.

Best Buy obviously has no appreciable use for the product in question. Their rigid adherence to unbending corporate behavior is what is deplorable here. If there were a significant amount of gold pins and whatnot in the goods, that might be another matter, but that's simply not the case here. If you consider the components, that is the determining factor for usefulness and value. This NES and ROB set does not have that, even compared to a common PC these days.

Recycling processes and identification between various electronic devices are not created equally. Best Buy would most likely just send the thing out into the garbage, to either be sent to the dump, or to a local recycling center. They wouldn't necessarily send this NES set to their own refurbishing and recycling centers, because it would not be of appreciable value to their operations. Even if they did, it would just be stripped for almost no useful parts, and most of it would just be trashed, not recycled properly.

So yeah. Also, the hot water thing is also a cop-out. Recycling facilities don't have the inspection rates of other types of technology facilities; at least not in the United States. Our worker safety standards are on par with third world countries in some places.



GreenDream said:

In short, people really overestimate the level of accountability corporate entities truly take upon themselves when it comes to "green jobs" and responsible recycling procedures. I wonder how many people here realize how many literal tons of WORKING stuff people just toss into the trash EVERY DAY; and also how many literal tons of broken junk gets sent overseas from the United States, into foreign nations without those nations' consent, IN UNFILTERED PILES, and certainly not being recycled properly.

The real can of worms here is the ugly side of what happens when the junk we Americans "recycle" doesn't necessarily get recycled... Here's a hint: It's more profitable to sell junk to dumping services, to have them dump the junk in an economically poor nation, than to actually recycle nonvaluable parts!

For all we know, the remains of that NES set would have just been dumped on a poor village in Africa... the employee is doing a good thing. It's unfortunate that a MUCH bigger issue lies behind the one he reported, and he's going to become a victim because of it.



McGruber said:

If I was him I would ask them if he could sell it on eBay for charity or something. I can see them having a problem with him taking it home, since the lady was trying to recycle it (IE help the planet), not give to some body to make $$...



Kaeobais said:

If the unit was to be recycled for some water bottles or some crap, what harm would it do if someone took it and used it? The reason recycling exists is so that things aren't left in landfills that could be used for other purposes. If it's being used for it's initial purpose and not filling a landfill, what's the problem?



ianmage1 said:

This employee should be given a friggin' medal from Nintendo. Miyamoto should knock on his door and honor him.



Intrepid said:

@Tasuki For all you know, they were watching TV on your 50" plasma long before this happened. If you are that concerned about it, do some research on a recycling center you believe is legitimate and use them instead of Best Buy for now on.

As for my predicting that nothing will come of this, it is just that: a guess. I honestly do feel that either no one will have heard about it or no one will care.

It's fine if you don't agree with me, but you don't need to insult me by calling me a child. I would think that those that resort to name-calling are more childish.



Ren said:

I would say it's not worth it, but if it means getting out of a best buy job than go for it..alas, he didn't get it for himself and he's still stuck at best buy, can we take up a collection for this guy?



FluttershyGuy said:

This set was the one I originally got my NES with! I have my R.O.B. to the right of my TV, behind my NES.

Sad thing to me about this is the people who took it in for recycling. Some people don't know what they have. Nor do they have emotional attachments to anything. I don't believe in hording, but you can also apply some value to things like this that deserve it.

As for Best Buy, these big corporations are a load of laughs. They have these various "help the community" programs for no reason except helping their public image and attracting customers. If we knew the crooked crap BB and other corporations have pulled behind closed doors, people would riot in the streets and call for heads to roll.



Tasuki said:

@Intrepid: Who's insulting you? I sure as well wasn't and honestly its childish for you to think so. But you are right on that account they could have been doing that before this story came about but the problem is people will be looking for that kind of thing. I mean honestly how many people now are going to think twice before donating something to the Best Buy program. I am sure that alot of people will have second doubts now. And who knows other recycling programs may pull this kind of thing but the spotlight is on Best Buy now and how they handled this. As I said it will cause people to doubt now and I am sure that somewhere some lawyer is looking into using this against Best Buy as misinterpretation.

@DkFluttershyGuy: I work for Goodwill and I can tell you about things that people don't know what they have. In fact this week along a complete NES with Zapper, cords, controllers and even the Super Mario/Duckhunt came in C.I.B. I sware the person who donated it must have used it once and repackaged it. They could have easily got alot more for it on eBay or even Craigslist but instead they donated it to Goodwill. But yeah I see that sort of thing everyday.



kurtasbestos said:

Man, losing your job at Best Buy would be...... uh......... what's the exact opposite of "terrible"?



Zombie_Barioth said:

I think its worth pointing something out. Do the majority of people honestly care about what happens to the 'junk' they drop off? Most people are well aware that the stuff they drop off will be either used for parts or disposed of, and don't seem to care as long as they no longer have to deal with it.

In my opinion the only person that would have a problem here is the previous owner who realizes his/her mistake, but willingly gave the NES and R.O.B to Bestbuy most likely assuming it was junk.



SneakyStyle said:

Lol screw the BestBuy crappy job, I woulda just grabbed it and ran as soon as I seen it... xD



Intrepid said:

@Tasuki Usually, when you call someone a "Naive Child", it is meant as an insult. I don't know if it holds different meaning to you, but it is commonly accepted to be an insult.

I will agree that some lawyer is probably already on this; those people are like sharks hunting for their next meal.

Zombie_Barioth has pointed out the reason why nobady cares: It is junk to them. As long as it is out of their hands they are happy. I really don't think people hold recycling centers in such high esteem in the first place, and I don't think people feel betrayed because they don't bother to care about the wherabouts of their item anyway. They have a "I did my part, its out of my hands" personality anyway.

Let me ask you: If you worked at a company that recycles old paper, and you saw some money that was mixed in, and it happened to be a lot (at least $100), would you salvage it? Or an expensive ring at a scrapyard? If it wasn't recycled, that company would mis-represent itself, but at the same time, no one in their right mind would let it be recycled. That's just common sense.

I honestly don't think Best Buy was being deceitful here. They would have proceeded to destroy that R.O.B on schedule had the employee not complained, and then they decided to preserve it, partly because of its value, and partly out of respect for the employee that was so passionate about it. If Best Buy was to be untrustworthy, they would have sold it to line their pockets, and then covered it up, not put it on display for everyone to see.

You obviously have a strong sense of moral justice and hold people accountible for their actions, and that is to be respected. Truthfully, I feel the same way most of the time as well, but I was told once that it depends on the situation. I scoffed that people feel there are exceptions to the rule, but now I see that this is a perfect example of that. This ariticle is essentially a story of morality vs. doing what one feels is right, and that can be very decisive.

This is Best Buy's problem now, and they will have to deal with the consequences of the decision they made. It will be interesting to see what happens, but I don't see any reason to discuss this any longer. We have differing opinions, but we need to accept that and move on.



SKTTR said:

I'm all with GreenDream #69 & #70 and DkFluttershyGuy #80.

Personally I'd rescue the R.O.B., as that's the right thing to do, especially when, like in this case, stupids are ruling over you. We are not meant to obey the brainless. I wouldn't think twice risking losing my dumb job as I'd be happy envisioning not having to waste my limited lifetime with these suckers anymore.
Anyway, if people were really interested to see their plastic/electronics stuff recycled, they wouldn't go to Best Buy (as they don't recycle, they just send them to the nearest dump station that piles it up and burns it down). Instead they would educate themselves, hammer and separate the plastics from the electronics and, well, dip them in hot sauce and eat em up...



McHaggis said:

@theblackdragon 'him taking it could absolutely land the company in hot water if the local newshound whistleblowers catch wind of Best Buy taking these items under the impression that their components will honestly be recycled and that's not what's done with them at all.'

But reuse is a form of recycling, arguably a greener one than conversion. They could possibly sell that to the public/press if they had to. Looking at the condition that system is in, though, I can't help but wonder if the employee's interest is actually less heroic than this article implies. The box looks to be in perfect condition, so it could be worth more than the NES itself (which looks like it has a bit yellowing going on), but the whole kit together will be worth a fair bit in a few years.



delt75 said:

Take the NES system home, get fired, collect unemployment, get a new job at Gamestop = win, win, win, win



XCWarrior said:

That thing is in like perfect condition! Please let him save it!

Why are there idiots out there that would just recycle that?! Friends don't let friends throw out valuable things!



SetupDisk said:

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. It's all about not ending up in a dump site. Plus the person who took it there was a fool. Thousands of people will would love this thing, I could make profit on it and even when it gets recycled some harmful stuff will be created. Better take it to best buy.



WesCash said:

If I donate something to be recycled, I would much rather have someone be able to take it and use it for themselves than have the item turned into scrap.



bezerker99 said:

Getting fired for stealing from a company doesn't look good on your resume. Even if you don't think you are stealing, to BestBuy you are so I would just let ROB go.



Tasuki said:

I love how people say just take the ROB and screw Best Buy or that if they were in the same position they would risk their job are just stupid. Yeah with this economy you are luck to have a job if you have one. Seriously I know people who have been looking for a job for 3+ years so its not that easy as oh take the ROB get fired from Best Buy and find a new job. Not only that but with a firing on your record getting a job would be even harder than it already is.



Prof_Elvin_Gadd said:

I said it before when I read this article earlier; I would have just bought it straight from the person who brought it in. How much can Best Buy be giving people for recycling these types of things? Not much if anything. Obviously the person wanted to get rid of it, so they would gladly take a little cold hard cash for it. Best Buy wouldn't even have known it was brought in if I was that employee. This employee doesn't sound like the sharpest knife in the drawer. Who goes on the web and tells people they are going to steal something before doing it? I'm sure all the best thief's in the world join message boards to share their future aspirations.



theblackdragon said:

@McHaggis: they're advertising what sorts of facilities these products are going to be recycled at, though, not that your products have the potential to wind up in the hands of employees or on display in an office somewhere. they're also claiming that they can recycle technology of any age without a problem — and obviously there was a 'problem' here, they felt it necessary to keep an item from being recycled. Who's to say they won't do it again in the future when something else like this comes along? How long will these items be preserved, or will they wind up in a dump a few years from now? It's not recycling, it's not reusing, it's prolonging the life of an item intended by its owner to be remade into something else.

There are programs that will take old laptops, cell phones, etc. and so forth, refurbish them, and sell them or give them away in third-world countries. That doesn't bother me, because they're being straight-up regarding what's happening to the stuff I'm potentially giving them. With Best Buy, now I'm being potentially lied to when they're telling me my stuff will go to an R2 or e-Stewards certified recycling facility. It's false advertisement.

That said, I absolutely agree with you regarding the employee's interest. Anyone who knows the worth of that set would go nuts if they thought they could get it for free. I'm glad at least it's been kept by corporate, not him. :3

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