After reading a tip yesterday (8/16/06) regarding Best Buy's false advertising practices, I thought I'd share what recently happened to us with their deceptive business practices.
While checking out at the checkstand with a debit card, the cashier asked my husband if he wanted eight free issues of Time magazine. He replied "No thank you." The sales clerk persisted and said that it was "absolutely free." My husband asked, "No strings attached?" The clerk responded "No strings." At that point, my husband accepted his offer.
The cash register receipt was for the amount of my husband's purchase, and was approximately a foot long indicating warranty information etc., in fine print. I do our banking online and approximately 8 weeks after the Best Buy purchase a charge of $24.99 was debited to our checking account out of Best Buy, New York. We live in Nevada and had not been to New York.
I pulled the original receipt from our files (it was the only purchase made at Best Buy this year) and found that after the warranty information, as part of the print out, we had agreed to receive eight free weeks of Time magazine. It appears that after the eight weeks of free magazines, we had entered into a six month subscription to Time magazine (at newsstand prices!) and the subscription was self renewing until canceled!
I have written a scathing letter to the C.O.O. of Best Buy demanding that this deceptive practice cease. Has anyone else had similar experiences? I am seriously considering reporting them to the FTC as their stock is publicly traded.
By ShellyE from Las Vegas
They do that at Best Buy here as well. I think the checkers get a bonus if they sell subscriptions so sometimes they are really annoying about it. They'll flatly ask, which free magazine subscription would you like? Never telling you that you are subscribing long term. It's definitely something they should stop, it makes me not want to shop there. Otherwise, I like their stores quite a bit. (08/21/2006)
Thanks for all your similar experiences. For those of you who asked, the Time Magazine subscription was apparently canceled in time, so we weren't financially hurt. I don't have a phone number, but I do have an address:
Mr. Brian Dunn
Chief Operating Officer
BEST BUY CO., INC.
7075 Flying Cloud Drive
Eden Prairie, Minnesota 55344-3438 (08/22/2006)
By ShellyE from Las Vegas
I did sign up for the same thing 2-years ago at a Best Buy in Akron, OH. However the check-out clerk was honest about the deal, that we had to cancel the subscription by a certain date or we would be charged. I did cancel by that date and was not charged.
Sounds like your husband didn't get an honest clerk. (08/22/2006)
My son used to work at Best Buy as a cashier. All of the cashiers are told that they must try to sell the magazines. Most of them are honest and will tell you to cancel it before the 3 or 6 months are up! My son hated trying to get customers to get the magazines and told the management that it was bad business. They wouldn't listen and told him that he had to get his quota or he would be out of a job. They are only doing their job and they aren't happy about doing it. Just wanted to give a former cashier's side of the story (09/05/2006)
Ever heard of the phrase 'Caveat Emptor'? If you haven't, it's Latin for "Let the buyer beware".
One would wonder how the author of this post, living in this day and age, would actually take someone at the word of 'no strings attached', and apply a signature to a document without first reading it. Amazing.
The only deceptive part of this whole story would be the information provided by a clearly ignorant cashier; likely a $7/hr employee, that wasn't completely familiar with the promotion.
Other retailers have done this TIME magazine promotion at least 3-4 separate times in the last few years. The last time I had seen it was about 1 year ago, in a different retail store. It is not a scam, and works the same way any other promotional offer works, i.e. AOL, credit monitoring services, website subscriptions; all have a free limited time offer up front, after which normal subscription rates apply.
The retail store earns a residual income for each of the subscriptions it sells, and the onus is on the buyer to decide to continue or cancel the subscription. As long as the cancellation process is concisely outlined in the documentation, the company promoting the 'free' deal is not violating any advertising practices.
Let this be a lesson to you. (10/08/2006)
I just noticed the charge on my debit card from US weekly after getting scammed from Best Buy. I called the number on my online statement and told them that i would like to cancel and get my money back. There was no problem and they said they would refund the money by next month. I wouldn't bother with Best Buy and go straight to the source. (02/15/2007)
My favorite part is "It appears that after the eight weeks of free magazines, we had entered into a six month subscription to Time Magazine (at newsstand prices!) and the subscription was self renewing until canceled!" - as if it is some big surprise or something.
Your husband signed his name directly below the words "DISCLAIMER: I AUTHORIZE Best Buy to charge my credit card $xx.xx", complete with the all-caps words. The disclaimer then went on to explain that a subscription would follow after the 8 free issues very clearly. If he seriously signed an agreement without reading any of it at all, that is not Best Buy's fault. Maybe next time he should pay attention to what he's doing. (07/21/2007)
The phone number to cancel this weekly magazine is 866-228-1183 (08/28/2007)
I am a worker at Best Buy and I half way agree that the magazine issue is a cheap shot at making money. Although, we are told to present to the customer that you have an 8 week trial offer and after the 8 weeks you will automatically be subscribed to 6 months. We give directions on how to cancel before your credit/debit card is billed. Your cashier must have been taught the incorrect approach. (01/23/2008)
First of all, not one of these magazines are FREE, they are RISK-FREE. That means that it is a trial offer and is not a scam by all means. Another thing, this has nothing to do with the Best Buy cashier. They could tell you that they are sliding your card to pay for the items or donating money to charity, it doesn't matter. Regardless of what your told, how could you not read the fine print; it requires a signature for a reason, it says you'll be charged on the receipt, and they send you a post card with every issue asking you if you wish to continue. Plus, it takes no more then five minutes of your time to cancel.
There are no financial rewards given to the employees based on how many mags they give out, so they have no reason to lie. So do your research before talking smack about Best Buy or any other retail store. I rest my case! (And no I am not an employee at Best Buy, I'm just one of the few that actually did research before expressing my opinions on this topic). (07/13/2008)
I work at Best Buy, as a cashier, and the magazines are Free. When signing you up for the 8 risk free issues, we make sure to tell you that you will get 2 notifications in the mail to remind you to cancel. If you do not cancel or forget to and are charged, you have 6 months after the 8 weeks to get your money reimbursed back. It is not a scam at all. People are just too lazy to call or go online to cancel. If you do want to buy it we give 75% off. All you have to do is cancel, it is not hard at all. (02/18/2009)
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