BUSINESS

Fake Clay iPads: Best Buy, Future Shop Sorry After Shoppers Get Mud In Their Holiday Gifts

01/17/2012 12:09 EST | Updated 01/17/2012 12:09 EST

Retailers in Vancouver, British Columbia are red-faced with embarrassment after selling as many 10 customers Apple iPad 2 tablets that turned out to be made of clay.

According to an investigation by CTV News, scam artists purchased iPads during the holiday season at a number of Best Buy and Future Shop locations around Vancouver, paying for cash for the hot-selling tablet computers. They then replaced them with clay shaped to fit iPad 2 boxes, and returned the boxes to the stores, where they were evidently restocked without staff ensuring the boxes contained actual iPads.

Best Buy and Future Shop, which are different brands owned by the same company, are investigating the incidents.

But according to Vancouver resident Mark Sandhu, who found clay instead of a tablet computer in his holiday gifts, neither the retailer nor police were interested in the case until he contacted a consumers' rights program on CTV.

Sandhu said Future Shop staff didn't believe him when he returned to the store with his "clay iPad 2." Nor were police interested in the matter, Sandhu says.

"Maybe the way I was dressed, I don't know," Sandhu said. "[The store manager] made me feel like I'm trying to scam them out of $700. I was the one getting scammed."

The store changed its tune after CTV began investigating.

"Customers don't expect to receive this kind of product from Future Shop, so it's a very serious matter and something we are addressing right away for anyone who has been impacted," spokesperson Elliott Chun told the media.

Sandhu has received an apology and a full refund from Future Shop.

iPads and other Apple gadgets are popular targets for thieves, thanks to the products' popularity and often prohibitive prices. In Asia, scalpers selling sold-out Apple products are a common sight, and frustration with the high price of scalped goods recently spilled over into a riot in Beijing.

More than $100,000-worth of iPads were stolen from a Best Buy in Brooklyn last fall, and authorities in Denver last year were looking for "Ken and Barbie," two prolific iPad thieves.