Tag Archives: consumer fraud

Chase Bank Fraudulent Notification Phishing Email

This week fraudulent phishing emails were being distributed with the intention of obtaining login credentials for Chase Bank.

In the example is below, the screenshot was taken at the moment when the mouse was hovering over the chase.com link which reveals the true destination for the link.

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SCAM ALERT: Caller from 619-555-0150, Windows Technical Department

At 3:34 PM Central Time on Wednesday, 22 July 2015, someone claiming to be with the Windows Technical Department was calling people in an attempt to gain access to computers presumably for the purpose of, installing malware, stealing passwords, and getting credit card information. The caller had a strong Indian accent, and claimed to be calling from California.

The caller claimed that they had been monitoring the user’s computer and that for two weeks some viruses were showing up.

If you receive a call from someone saying they are with Microsoft, or claiming to be with Windows, or with the Windows Technical Department, don’t interact with them. Hang up immediately.

Janet Wilson janetwilson18@yahoo.com 786-480-7658 SCAM FRAUD

Text SMS Message Exchange with Janet Wilson

On Friday, 17 October 2014 at 12:43 PM CT we received a text message from someone claiming to be Janet Wilson. Here are some excerpts from the exchange we had with this person. Our replies were brief, so they are not reposted here. However, as you can see by these messages, there are grammar errors and incomplete sentences.

  • I am hearing impaired you can only text me or email me, this is Janet wilson,can you handle website design for my new company? i will like you to get back to me via email address at janetwilson18@yahoo.com thanks, Janet
  • or can we talk more here pls
  • i have new company and the company based on importer and exporting of Agriculture products such as Kola Nut, Gacillia Nut and Coaco so i need a best of the best layout design for it. can i have anyone that you havd done so far for a company so that i could know where we start. i will like to hear from you asap.
  • sorry for the delay
  • sorry am currently in west africa to get some agricultural products and my photo grapher busy to snap some products which am going to use with the design so am
  • i send you email recently you can check your email and get back to me with the total estimate and hope we could start working before i would be back
  • okay i will like to know if you accept credit card for the payment and i would be expecting your qupotation any time from now
  • vefry urgent sir
  • if it possible by next week i would be happy
  • may i know your name and location?
  • i just wanna sure of
  • am very happy to know you and I hope you would put smile to my face after you finish up with my company’s website
  • i hope we could disscuse a little about my company website here?
  • i willl like to know how long it will take you to design and hosting bcus am need it very urgenly

After the comment about being in Africa, I asked what time it was there. This is the reply I got.

  • 12:40
  • i understand you sir ?

So, I asked:

Is that 12:40 AM
or
12:40 PM
(night/day)?

and got the reply:

  • are you not ready to finish up with me here
  • i have many assignment to do here cus i want to know the total cost and i will like to know if you accept cc for the payment ?
  • check this site for the quote anyway Http://eclipsetradingpost.com

Email Message from JanetWilson18@yahoo.com

I’d also sent an email message in response to the initial text message. This is the response I got from Janet Wilson:

From: janet wilson <janetwilson18@yahoo.com>
Date: Fri, Oct 17, 2014 at 5:47 PM
Subject: Re: Website Design

Thanks for your reply,

I am hearing impaired you can only text me or email to get all the info about my company website, that is the why i was texting to confirmed if you could Handle design for the website and i am happy to see your reply, i hope we could successful work together.

i have new company and the company based on importer and exporting of Agriculture products such as Kola Nut, Gacillia Nut and Cocoa so i need a best of the best layout design for it and can i have anyone that you have done so far for a company so that i could know where we start or check out this site but i need more perfect than this if its possible.

1) My company is FINGER SPEAKS AGROTECH

2) i WILL LIKE TO HAVE FACEBOOK PAGE FOR THE BUSINESS AFTER HOSTING

3) I DONT HAVE LOGO BUT NEED A CUSTOMIZED LOGO FROM YOU

4) I DON’T HAVE LINKED-IN BUT I WOULD NEED IT

5) I COULD ONLY SUPPLY THE TEXT CONTENT AND PHOTO ALL ARE WITH MY PROJECT CONSULTANT BUT THE ARTWORK WILL BE DESIGNED BY YOU

That all i can provide from my means and i hope you understand what i listed above or should use this sample below to give me the quote for the website;

Kindly checkout this sample and also use it to give me the estimate for the design and hosting; http://www.agroamerica.com/eng/index.php.

I will love to know your name and location, I hope to hear from u soon.

Thanks,

Janet

[There were 497 blank lines here that have been removed in reposting this.]

Janet Wilson
FINGER SPEAK TUTOR
Tel: 469 874 0016
Email: janetwilson18@yahoo.com

Feedback from Others

Here are some quotes from others who have apparently been contacted from the same person or people. In these examples the originating number was 502-822-6036 (a Louisville, Kentucky number). These comments are from a page on 800Notes.com, a site dedicated to identifying unsolicited telemarketing scams.

  • “This same Janet Wilson contacted us about a website and had a similar story about going out of the country to “Indian” and needed to pay a consultant, etc. She texted us numerous times and the by email using the janetwilson18@yahoo.com email too. Total scam!” (14 October 2014)
  • “BEWARE! I just received a text that says: ‘I am hearing impaired you can only text or email me and This is Janet Wilson, can you handle website design for my new company? i will like you to getbackto me asap. thanks Janet.’ Her email is: janetwilson18@yahoo.com.  Then she went on to explain that she is a music teacher and instructor for disabled kids. Which seems nice but many red flags are flying here. Her texts all have grammar errors, typos & her story has many inconsistencies. She also said later in the texts that she can hear but cant talk. And she lied about knowing one of my current customers. When I confirmed with the customer they do not know her. SO, I began searching for her online and did a phone number search. That is how I found these responses & felt it necessary to share my story too.” (11 August 2014)
  • “This person contacted me via text about a fake business proposition and said he would send me $5000 on a credit card if I could send him back $1,500 to pay a consultant. His name was obviously fake, he gave a fake referral name and said he couldn’t talk on the phone because he was hearing impaired.” (26 March 2014)
  • “I received the same sort of text message. He wanted a website and hosting urgently. He indicated that he was from Kentucky but presently in Africa “to get some agricultural product” and will be back to states in two weeks time. Gave a bogus name as a referral. Kinda creeps me out.” (2 April 2014)

XBOX ONE Review and Best Buy Consumer Advisory

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Summary

This article was intended to simply be a product review, but for reasons you’ll soon read about, the product was returned. So, the following article goes beyond simply a review of the product and includes the entire purchase, setup, usage, and return experience for the XBOX ONE. 

Current Status

  • 11 January 2013. This article was drafted and posted to document the problematic sales and service experience at Best Buy Store #21 in Coralville, Iowa. The General Manager was notified by email of this report, and an additional request for a refund was made.
    • RESOLUTION: The General Manager responded promptly by email stating, “I appologize for the situation that happened to you while in the store. Yes, normally we can not give refunds for software, however; I believe in your case, it seems only fit to ensure the refund is given back to you for the software, especially because you were led to believe this would and be the case.” A full refund was issued and the complaint filed with American Express has been closed.

Previous Notes

  • 10 January 2013. The initial complaint was made with store manager as described below. American Express was contacted immediately and a formal complaint was filed. An investigation is now underway to examine this case. That investigation will be dropped if a refund is issued by the store.

Purchase Experience

Having been inspired by the recent trend in fitness options for gaming systems, my wife and I decided to get an XBOX ONE. We liked what we heard about how the Kinect sensor system would track body movement making controllers unnecessary. We chose to purchase the system at Best Buy in Coralville, Iowa. Our frequent purchases at Best Buy have allowed us to attain Elite Membership, which has some advantages. Here are some highlights from the purchase experience:

  • Misrepresentation #1 – The Bundle Savings. The two sales people we were working with told us that we could save $300 if we purchased the Epic Gaming Package. At a cost of about $300, this would put the retail value of the bundle at $600. Adding the bundle to our purchase would put our total purchase price at around $800. The bundle would include the XBOX ONE, a second controller, two games, two years of XBOX LIVE, a two-year warranty, and membership in the Best Buy Gamer’s Club.
    • FACT: As we added up the cost of a controller, two games, and the other items included in the bundle, we couldn’t quite see how those extra items could be valued at $600. Yet, the sales people promised that the savings added up to about $300. It was only later that we checked the Best Buy website and discovered the published savings is only $109.93. That was an unpleasant surprise. Nobody likes to be lied to. We should have been suspicious when they didn’t give us any paperwork that actually documented what’s in the bundle.
  • Misrepresentation #2 – The Return Policy. Because the XBOX ONE is new, we were a little reluctant to make such a big purchase without the assurance that we could return it if we didn’t like it. I’d read some mixed reviews, but wanted to experience it first hand. The two sales people we were working with both promised that we could return the system within 15 days of purchase. As one always does, we asked again, multiple times, “So, we can bring everything back and get a full refund, right?” They both repeatedly affirmed that we could get a full refund.
    • FACT: When we later attempted to return a bundle and get a full refund we were told we couldn’t get our money back on the games. So, after being disatisfied with the XBOX ONE, we had the additional disappointment of losing about $90. More about that later.
  • Misrepresentation #3 – The XBOX ONE Experience. The sales people we were working with claimed to be experienced avid gamers. They described the XBOX ONE as a very advanced gaming experience, and really hyped up the product as being something amazing. Having had some experience with computer-based games, I figured this would be much better. They described the user interface as being similar to Windows 8, but instead of using a touch screen, hand gestures are used to navigate. Having been an early adopter of Windows 8, and generally being a tech geek immersed in a variety of user interfaces over the past 30+ years, I figured it wouldn’t take long to catch on to the XBOX ONE user interface.
    • FACT: I’m one of the few people who likes Windows 8 and regularly use various operating systems without a problem. The XBOX ONE was very confusing and non-intuitive to setup and use. More about that later.
  • Misrepresentation #4 – The Game Quality. We asked the sales people for some advice about what games to purchase. One of the games recommended was the Forza Motorsport 5 auto racing game. They said it would really show off the full capabilities of the XBOX ONE.
    • FACT: While the sales people can’t be responsible for the quality of the games, they should describe them as honestly as possible. The Forza 5 game had very noticeable video rendering issues, and to play the game, each player needed to wait through what seemed to be a lengthy advertisement for the auto manufacturers with flowery language. Having played other racing games before, I was very disappointed with the quality.
  • Incorrect Checkout. We got to the point in the setup of the XBOX ONE where we were asked for the XBOX LIVE activation code. We dug through all our paperwork, but couldn’t find the code. We called the store, and were made to feel like fools by a person who told us that the number would be on our receipt. We called back again after not finding the number, but were told that nobody in the store could help us and we’d need to wait until the game manager was working. The next day, we finally talked to a manager who, after a lengthy phone call, determined that our order was rung up incorrectly and the 2-year XBOX LIVE membership was left off the order. It would take that manager an additional 30 minutes to correct the problem, so they offered to call back. Eventually we got the phone call and were provided with the code. So, our setup of the XBOX was delayed by a day.

It was only later that the above misrepresentations and the error with our checkout were obvious.

Setup Experience

Here are some highlights from the setup experience:

  • Poor Input System. The initial setup of the XBOX ONE was guided, but tedious since it was necessary to use the joystick on the game controller to enter all of the required information letter by letter.
  • Non-Intuitive User Accounts. Then we got to the screen asking for an Outlook.com account. We figured this would be the account tied to the system for software purchases and cloud services. So, we setup a shared Outlook.com account. We soon found out that each account is intended for only one person, and this is the basis for the human recognition system (the system recognizes you visually). So, we deleted the shared account, and setup two separate user accounts.
  • Missing XBOX LIVE Membership. The setup was complicated by the fact that the sales person didn’t provide us with the XBOX LIVE membership code, which they acknowledged during the sale is required by many games.

User Experience

Here are some highlights from the user experience:

  • Kinect. Once the Kinect system was configured, hand gestures were available. Yet, the accuracy of the sensor was not very good, and despite moving slowly, the hand/pointer would sometimes move erratically. It simply wasn’t precise enough.
  • Noise. The main XBOX ONE and the Kinect have fans in them for cooling. These are somewhat noisy, and surprisingly, even when the unit is turned off, they continue to make noise.
  • Power On Requirement. If you want to take advantage of the recognition system, and have the XBOX recognize you when you come in the room, then you’ll want to leave it on. As mentioned above, this results in having additional noise all the time, as well as ongoing power consumption. If you turn off the unit, as we discovered, it requires that you put in your wireless password again. At least for us, it didn’t automatically reconnect, even after waiting a while.
  • Privacy. The Kinect module has a camera and microphones that are always on and monitoring you. This is something that most people will feel uncomfortable about, especially since we know that even when cameras and microphones are turned off they can be turned on and accessed by hackers. How much easier to do this if these are left on all the time.
  • Two Player Mode.  The Forza Motorsport 5 auto racing game is supposed to be the best available game to demonstrate the XBOX ONE capabilities and use. In most video games, you start the game and one of the first questions is whether you’re playing one or two player. With this game it was necessary to watch a lengthy intro video, and then being the process of racing in single user mode. There didn’t seem to be an obvious way to get to a main menu or switch into two player mode. Selecting Help from the menu resulted in a snapped split-screen with a help menu on the right, but no way to select from that help menu or switch over to it. So, the on-screen help was useless. It was almost impossible to figure out two player mode. Attempts to switch from the game to the help window didn’t work. Most google results produced stories of people not having any success with two-player mode. We somehow managed to discover two player mode by navigating to a difficult to find main menu and clicking on Free Game. The it was necessary to click specific buttons on each controller to start the game properly. If Forza 5 is really supposed to be the flagship optimal demonstration of the XBOX ONE experience, then it reveals how poor the interface and user experience were. There were also some odd graphic rendering anomalies which resulted in a poor visual experience.
  • Cost of Ownership. The ongoing cost of ownership might not become apparent until you get a chance to explore the menu of downloadable games and see the prices. Paying XBOX LIVE membership of about $50 per year, plus the Best Buy Gamers Club Unlocked membership at about $60 per year, plus about $50 or more per game, the cost of ownership can be high.
  • Emphasis on Violence-Centric Games. The games available are predominantly fighting games with violent themes.

Return Experience

You won’t be surprised to learn that after the above experiences, we decided to take the XBOX ONE back to the store for a refund. Here are some highlights from the return experience:

  1. The customer service employee kindly proceeded to process our entire return without any difficulty. We only had the unit four days, and had our receipt. So, we didn’t anticipate any difficulty. Yet, just before completing the return, the person told us that there would be a little problem with the return. We asked what the problem was, and we were told that he couldn’t give us a refund for the software. We explained that we were promised a full refund for the entire bundle if we were dissatisfied. He said he could only give us a partial refund for the games. We asked to see his manager.
  2. The sales manager came, and refused to give us any refund at all for the games. So, instead of getting a partial refund for the games (as was suggested by the first person), we were now told that we could get no refund for the games. We explained that we were repeatedly promised a full refund option at the time of sale. We asked to see her manager.
  3. Finally the store manager came and told us that Federal Law prohibits them from giving a refund on software and if he gave a refund he’d lose his job. Despite our obvious frustration, he was unwilling to “make things right” and refused to offer us any accommodation. He went on to say that people sometimes buy software, copy it, and then sell it on the black market after returning the originals to the store — essentially implying that we might have done that.

Such a policy clearly places consumers at a disadvantage in cases where software or games are not accurately portrayed by sales people or in marketing materials. As consumers, with every other product and service we buy, there’s an expectation that it’s possible to get a refund if we’re not satisfied. Otherwise, customers would be stuck with a poor quality product and have no remedy for getting their money back.

As fate would have it, in my role as a consumer advocacy consultant, I represented a client in a dispute with that same Best Buy store back in September of 2008. The dispute was with the manager of the store (I believe it was the same manager at that time) who claimed that a Federal Law prohibited them from providing a refund for software. In working with the Federal Trade Commission, I was able to prove that no such law existed, and we were able to get a full refund for the opened software. At that time, Best Buy representatives promised that they would no longer strong-arm customers with fear tactics and false statements as a way to avoid honoring legitimate returns. It seems like they are back to their old tactics.

So, as you might imagine, standing at the same customer service counter over five years later, being lied to again about a non-existent Federal Law governing software returns, I was very upset. I’m hopeful this will get resolved promptly and we’ll get the refund we were originally promised. The outcome of this situation will be posted at the top of this article.

Hacked Email Account Resulting in Fake Appeal From a Friend Asking for Money

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This is a fairly common scam, but some may still not be familiar with it so its worth mentioning.

You may receive a desperate email from a friend, someone you know, who claims they’ve been mugged or are in some other similar situation and need money from you. Below is an example.

You should use caution with such appeals and not reply to them directly. Instead, try contacting the person by phone or get in touch with their friends and family if you indeed feel the request is legitimate.

* * *

From: Your Friend <yourfriend@website.com>
Subject: SAD NEWS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Date: August 1, 2013 3:46:29 PM CDT
To: undisclosed recipients: ;
Reply-To: Your Friend <yourfriend@website.com>

Am so sorry that i didn’t inform you about my trip,I’m writing this with tears in my eyes,I came down here to Manilla Philippine for a short vacation unfortunately i was mugged at the park of the hotel where i stayed all cash,credit card and cell were stolen off me but luckily for me i still have my passports with me.

I ‘ve been to the embassy and the Police here but they’re not helping issues at all and my flight leaves in less than hours from now but having problems settling the hotel bills and the hotel manager won’t let us leave until i settle the bills,I’m freaked out at the moment.

Thanks.

Your Friend’s Full Name
Your Friend’s Address
Your Friend’s Phone Number

Software Return Policy for Opened, Defective, or Mismatched Products – No Federal Law or Regulation Prohibits Customer Return of Software

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Summary. According to the U.S. Government Federal Trade Commission, consumers have the legal right to return software for a full refund (or perhaps in-store credit) if it is defective, or does not work on their computer, or if it did not perform as advertised, or if they simply decide that for any reason they were not completely satisfied with the product. The validity of this fact is demonstrated by the prevalence of resellers and software manufacturers who offer a 100% money back satisfaction guarantee on their software.

The Software Sales Scam. It’s amazing how many companies have a software return policy that doesn’t permit refunds. What a racket to be in. To presume to have the ability to sell a product and offer zero customer satisfaction is quite offensive. What’s to prevent consumers from being mislead or sold defective products? This page explains your rights as a consumer.

Federal Trade Commission Statement. In a phone call on 11 September 2008, a Federal Trade Commission representative stated the following, “I’m not aware of any Federal law stating that software can’t be returned. I’ve just searched my database and can’t find anything. I’ve never heard of it before.” [Source: Cindy, last name withheld for privacy] Documents available on the Federal Trade Commission website include the following statements regarding software returns.

  • “… that the right to refund can be satisfied by a legal requirement, and that legal requirement is UCITA itself.  So, automatically it will say in mass market licensing you have a right to refund.  There is a right to refund under UCITA…” (Source: Symposium Transcript, 27 October 2000, page 308, lines 4-8) [PDF]
  • “…if you bought software as a consumer or as a small business under certain circumstances and the software doesn’t work, you can go back to the manufacturer or back to the retailer and demand a refund, just as you can get a refund for a tangible good that doesn’t work.” (Source: SymposiumTranscript, 27 October 2000, page 315, 11-16) [PDF]

What Retailers Need to Know. Some retailers misinform, deceive, and manipulate customers by telling them it is against federal law to offer a refund on software once the package has been opened. Retailers must be notified that they are providing false information about federal laws. If retailers have further questions, they can contact the Federal Trade Commission by calling 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357) or via the FTC website. Upper management must not threaten store managers and sales representatives by telling them they are breaking federal law by accommodating a legitimate customer return of software. Retailers have been known to lose the business, loyalty, and trust of many customers simply because they wouldn’t refund a $50 software program. What makes matters worse is that when consumers discover there is no such federal law regarding software returns, they feel lied to and deceived. As a retailer, you need to protect yourself by having the flexibility, discernment, and judgement to serve your loyal customers while reducing illegitimate returns from customers who are trying to take advantage of you. When customers are treated poorly and deceived, you loose them and many of their friends as customers, resulting in substantial losses to your business.

Non-Compliant Retailers. Some retailers are currently not in compliance with regard to offering refunds on software. They will either not offer a refund at all, or only offer a “refund” as part of an exchange for the exact same item. This doesn’t qualify as a refund. A few are perpetuating false information, stating that federal law prohibits them from offering a refund on returned (opened) software. This is simply a lie being told to consumers. If it were true, then how does one explain the many retailers and software vendors who offer 100% money back satisfaction guarantees on software? (see list below) Because these retailers are engaged in this kind of misinformation, and denial of basic consumer legal rights, they are at risk of fines, lost sales, sanctions, boycotts, individual lawsuits, government action, class-action suits, bad press, negative publicity, and increased customer dissatisfaction. We would strongly recommend that you NOT do business with these retailers until they change their return policies. Non-compliant retailers include:

  • Best Buy. “Opened computer software … can be exchanged for the identical item but cannot be returned for a refund.” [Source]
  • Circuit City. “Opened software, music, games, and movies may be exchanged for the same title only.” [Source] This is not in compliance because an exchange is not the same as a refund.
  • Power Max. “Due to regulations within the software industry as well as federal law, opened software may not be returned for a refund.” [Source] This statement is false.
  • West Music. “Federal regulations do not permit the return of opened computer software.” [Source] Elsewhere on their site is this statement, “federal law prohibits the return or exchange of any opened software for any reason.” [Source] These statements are so far beyond false that they are absurd. The statements are so false that a Google search on either of the statements produces only references to the West Music website.

Compliant Retailers. Most legitimate, honest, reputable, genuine, and responsible retailers of software will offer a 100% money-back satisfaction guarantee. No questions asked. In some cases in-store credit is offered. Below are a few examples, and there are many more like these, which is evidence of the fact that there is no Federal Law prohibiting a company from ensuring customer satisfaction and respecting consumer rights with regard to return of open (used) software.

  • Adobe. “Adobe will exchange or refund the purchase of a product or support contract that you purchased directly from Adobe if you contact Adobe to request the return within 30 days of receiving the product.” [Source]
  • Computer Discount Warehouse – “In order to expedite a return, please have the following information on hand when requesting an RMA number: Customer number, invoice number, serial number, reason for return, action to take (replacement/repair/credit) and whether the box has been opened or is manufacturer sealed. Please return all products 100% complete including all original manufacturer boxes with the UPC code and packing materials, all manuals, blank warranty cards, accessories and any other documentation included with the original shipment. RMA approval is contingent upon, among other things, the products being 100% complete.” [Source]
    This well established retailer has always offered a money back guarantee.
  • Interactive Tools. “Your satisfaction is guaranteed 100%. If for any reason you are not totally satisfied with your purchase from interactivetools.com, you are welcome to request a refund. … Refunds are not transferable and will be given to the original purchaser in the same form of payment that was originally made.” [Source]
  • McAfee. “We guarantee that McAfee Security subscriptions will make your computer more secure or your money back. If for any reason you are not 100% satisfied, just let us know within 30 days of purchase and get a full refund. Just send an email to us. That’s risk-free protection.” [Source]
  • SmithMicro. “Return Guarantee: There are no worries with our 30-day, ‘no questions asked’ return policy.” [Source: Advertising literature.]
  • Sunbelt Software. “100% Money Back Guarantee if Product is returned within 30 days of invoice date. … If Product was electronically delivered, a LOD (Letter Of Destruction) on company letterhead will be required.” [Source]

What Consumers Can Do Before You Buy. Although you have the right to return software, as a consumer there are a few things you can do to help avoid conflicts regarding software returns. Because there is some confusion about this issue, avoiding or reducing returns is the best practice.

  • Free Software. There are many free alternatives to commercial software such as AVG AntiVirus, Mozilla Firefox (for web browsing), Mozilla Thunderbird (for email), Open Office (spreadsheet, word processing, presentations, photo editing), and Picasa (for photo management). Look for reputable open source, freeware, and shareware alternatives.
  • Get Prior Approval. At the time of purchase, let the retailer know that because of the complexity of software, if it doesn’t work or causes problems, you want assurance that you can return it for a better product or full refund.
  • Read Reviews. Some software programs are just poorly designed, complicated to use, and have compatibility problems. Before trying a product on your own computer, do some research first to ensure (as best you can) that it will work. Ultimately, the only way to know for sure if a product will work on your computer is to buy it and install it. If it doesn’t work or it causes problems, it’s within your right to return it. If you believe the product is falsely advertised, contact the Federal Trade Commission by calling 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357) or via the FTC website.
  • Try Before You Buy. Whenever possible, customers should download demos of software before purchasing full versions from the store. Or, if no demo is available, but you know someone who uses the program, try using it on their computer.
  • Use Your Credit Card. When you have a legitimate complaint about a product, that can be verified by a third party (such as a computer consultant), then you can request a refund with your credit card company.

Understanding Return Policies. Because of wide-spread abuse (by consumers against retailers), retailers have had to be more strict about accepting returns. The following list describes some of the reasoning behind return policies.

  • Music. Music CDs can be easily copied and saved on a computer. If retailers were to widely accept returns of music CDs, there would most certainly be abuses of that situation where customers would buy a CD, take it home, copy it to their computer, and then return it for a full refund. In such cases, the retailer, the music label, and the recording artist lose out.
  • Movies. Whether you see a movie in a theater or purchase a DVD at the store and watch it at home, it has traditionally been understood that no refund is available afterward.
  • General Merchandise. There is a wide range of non-consumable products and merchandise used by consumers for parties and special events which later gets returned for a full refund. Rather than paying a rental fee, consumers buy products, use them, and then take them back. Examples include tools, hardware, home electronics, and clothing. Consumers who engage in this practice create problems for everyone.
  • Software. The problem with software is that most programs, once installed, continue working even after the software may have been returned to the store. With the high cost of software, some dishonest consumers would be motivated to purchase software, install it, and then return the media for a full refund while keeping the software. However, unlike music, software doesn’t always work as intended. There are complexities to software that may result in a specific program not working for a customer. Sometimes features listed on the box may not work as advertised (or as represented by a sales person). For these reasons, software is (and must be) returnable.
  • Video or Photography Equipment. Consumers have been known to purchase electronics equipment (such as a video camera or digital still camera), use it (at a wedding or while on vacation), and then return it when they are done. In such cases, the retailer takes a significant loss because the merchandise can no longer be sold as new at full price.

* * *

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Best Buy Management Misrepresent Federal Laws About Software Returns

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In September 2008, at Best Buy Store #21 in Coralville, Iowa, a customer was sold a computer system with McAfee antivirus software pre-installed by store employees as part of a software bundle sold with the system. Although the antivirus was installed, it had not yet been activated.

The customer tried to activate the software, but it wouldn’t activate. Upon contacting McAfee, it was determined that a shipment of defective software was send to Best Buy stores across the nation.

Despite being informed of this fact, the store manager emphatically stated that a Federal Law prohibited them from providing a refund for software, and he refused to provide a refund.

In working with the Federal Trade Commission, we were able to prove that no such law existed, and we were able to get a full refund for the opened software.

At that time, Best Buy representatives promised that they would no longer strong-arm customers with fear tactics and false statements as a way to avoid honoring legitimate returns.

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10 January 2014 – Update. We’re sorry to report that another incident almost identical to the one described above, has happened again at the same store with the store manager. Read More