Originally Posted by Tulpa
I'm sure they inspect it to make sure someone didn't remove the guts of the thing or something. Or at least making sure it powers on.
Their policy says they should do this, but they don't always. But it can be for a variety of reasons that aren't malicious.
I bought a receiver from Best Buy about 5 years ago, using their same day in-store pickup. So the item comes from the store's stock. I pick it up, it looks sealed, and take it home to find out that it was a "swap and return" that someone had used to scam the store. Looks like the person who did it had retaped the box and the employees for whatever reason put it back up on the shelf unopened. The manager didn't know about the same day pickup or how it worked, and so I had to argue with her to get an exchange.
But the reality is that stores have increasingly moved to opening returned merchandise, even if it was returned sealed to ensure this type of fraud isn't happening. In such a case, they will reseal with the BB tape and sell it as an open box, depending on the item and reason for return.
Not everything can easily be returned to the manufacturer. It varies depending on the arrangement they have with that manufacturer. In those cases they may sell it as open box. If the policies make returns easier, and they can ship it back cheaply, they will return it to the manufacturer.
But buyers have a stigma against open-box stuff. Not a bad one, but they are less likely to buy something that's open box because they question why it was returned. This stigma encourages the retailers to try to return all they can back to the manufacturer, and let the manufacturer figure out how to inspect and resell it as refurbished.