Best Buy/US Weekly Complaint - Magazine Subscription Scam
OKLAHOMA CITY, OKLAHOMA -- I recently purchased a new set of headphones for my iPod at one of the local Best Buy stores here in Oklahoma City. Upon checking out, the cashier informed me that this purchase came with a "free" magazine subscription. He gestured toward a display on the counter that listed several publications, including US Weekly, Rolling Stone and a few others that I don't recall. I already receive more magazines than I normally have time to read, but since it was supposedly free, I thought my elderly mother, who lives with me, might enjoy US Weekly, so I said, "What the heck? Give me that one."
A few weeks later, after receiving only one or two issues of the magazine, a very small postcard came in the mail from US Weekly, saying "we hope you are enjoying your 12 week TRIAL subscription" and stating that if I did not call the number provided on the card before the end of the "trial" period to cancel, then the subscription would automatically renew for a full year and my credit card (the one I had used to pay for my Best Buy purchase) would be billed for the regular annual subscription rate of $66.00! First of all, this card was so tiny and innocuous looking that it's a wonder I didn't just toss it out as junk mail without even reading it. I immediately called the number to cancel, but it was an automated system that did not even provide any sort of confirmation, so I was somewhat skeptical as to whether the cancellation would even be processed properly.
I was furious with Best Buy for engaging in such a sneaky and deceptive tactic, and particularly for sharing my credit card information with another company without my knowledge or consent. When I called the local store to complain, I was connected with a so-called "manager" who sounded like he was barely past puberty, and he very rudely stated that I WAS informed of these terms, and that they were also clearly spelled out on the screen I signed at checkout. Well, I certainly know what I was (or was NOT) told. The cashier specifically used the word "free." At no time was the word "trial" ever uttered, nor was there any mention of possible future charges to my credit card. As for what I signed -- I can barely read those little electronic screens, especially when I'm wearing my polarized sunglasses, and I naturally assumed that I was simply signing for my store purchase and nothing more. A subsequent call to Best Buy's toll-free "customer care" number was no better. After holding for more than 20 minutes to speak to a supervisor, she basically told me the same thing -- "You WERE informed" -- pretty much flat out implying that I was either an idiot or a liar or BOTH.
Luckily, the magazines did stop coming and no charge has appeared on my credit card, so apparently the cancellation did go through, but that is not the real issue here. I don't know how much Best Buy was being paid by the magazine publishers to participate in this little scam, but it will surely end up costing them a lot more in customer goodwill and lost business. I will NEVER set foot in another Best Buy store because of this experience, and more importantly, because of the way I was treated when I tried to complain about it. At the time this happened, I was just about to purchase a new LCD TV for my kitchen. Well, guess what? That business went to Circuit City!