Any lawyers in the house? Credit card abuse by a retailer.

Discussion in 'After Hours Lounge (Off Topic)' started by Jason_H, Jan 7, 2004.

  1. Jason_H

    Jason_H Second Unit

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    So here's the situation. If you take a peak over in the "Coupons and Bargains" forum you will see a thread about buying Xbox Platinum Hits titles on sale for $5 at Bestbuy.com, these games are usually priced around $20. This deal appeared on Sunday night, and was all over the web. Many speculated that this was some sort of pricing error (as has happened on many DVD sites) and like many, I took my chances and ordered some games. I opted for "In-Store Pickup" instead of mail order, since I figured I wouldn't have much of a chance of getting the games that way if everybody was ordering. Lo and behold, I get the notice on Monday to come by and pick up my games. I do so and come home with a receipt where each game is listed for $5 (which I signed in the store) and the games themselves. Everything is peachy, right?

    WRONG. Today I look at my order history. I notice that sometime in the last two days Best Buy took the liberty to "return" my games on the same day at the $5 price and then "repurchase" them at the $20 price. In a nutshell, Best Buy decided without ANY authorization from me, and well after the transaction, to fix the prices and charge the difference to my credit card. AND, they out and out lied about me returning the merchandise as the means to do it. As I understand it, this isn't just unethical or borderline, this is highly illegal (extra charges with no authorization). Imagine the next time you went to buy something, that after you walked out the door the store decided that they hadn't charged you enough and re-charged your credit card.

    I basically called my credit card company and explained the situation, and they were happy to reverse the extra charge. My question is, do I have any legal recourse beyond this? I am wondering if Best Buy will try to fight this, even though they are clearly in the wrong, did something I think is very illegal, and I have all the evidence on my side. Other people out there are having similar problems. Just wondering if anyone with legal knowledge would like to weigh in on this. I was thinking small claims court might be enough to set them straight if I needed to.
     
  2. Carl Johnson

    Carl Johnson Cinematographer

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    It's definately unethical but I don't know about highly illegal. They probably have it in writing somewhere on their site that by placing an order you give them the right to correct billing errors. Even if that's not the case what would you hope to gain in small claims court? The credit card company gave you your money back so you haven't lost anything.
    Just email Best Buy and let them know that you're filing a complaint with the Better Business Bureau.
     
  3. chris_everett

    chris_everett Second Unit

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    I don't think they could cover themselves under the "billing error" clause in the contract. That's for if you authorized a 5.00 charge and they only charged you 1.00, or somthing like that. You purchased somthing that was advertized at 5.00, and approved a purchase for 5.00. To change the charge is fraud, pure and simple. If they had cancelled the order, they would have been in the clear, but they didn't. The CC company will take Best Buy to task for the charge, and seeing as there are probably going to be a lot of them, Best Buy will probably lose. Because there was no harm done to you, you are probably out of luck in terms of suing them yourself. E-mail Best Buy, cc: their legal department and the Better Business Bureau.

    fyi, I'm not a lawyer, but I do work with a bunch of them all day....
     
  4. Win Joy Jr

    Win Joy Jr Stunt Coordinator

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    Forget the BBB - Contact your State Attorney General. Your credit card company made it right for you, so you have no damages, but the Attorney General will be very interested.

    Me? I would contact their in-house legal staff and make them an offer of say $1000 not to go to your State Attorney. I believe that what was done in this case is Fraud. I would also contact the legal staff of the credit card people and let them know.
     
  5. John Spencer

    John Spencer Supporting Actor

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    [​IMG]

    So, blackmail is ok, as long as the first guy broke the law? That's classy.
     
  6. Kyle McKnight

    Kyle McKnight Cinematographer

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    Win Joy Jr, you may wanna take a look at this. (/.)
     
  7. Win Joy Jr

    Win Joy Jr Stunt Coordinator

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    Not blackmail. Not even close...

    Best Buy was the bad actor in this case. Settlement in lieu of prosecution is the concept. Same concept as if someone's kid broke out your window with a rock. There are damages, but the criminal act of vandalism remains. the parent of the kid may pay you for the actual cost of the window, plus some extra so you choose not to pursue the criminal complaint.

    Best Buy could also be charged with Credit Card Fraud, since they did a bogus return and charged for goods not delivered...
     
  8. Win Joy Jr

    Win Joy Jr Stunt Coordinator

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    Kyle - Apples and Oranges.

    The OP entered into a transaction with Best Buy. Best Buy (according to the OP) altered the transaction after it closed.

    In your example, there was someone who discovered a flaw in security, and tried to extort money by threatening to make that flaw public.

    Different law, different concepts.
     
  9. Jason_H

    Jason_H Second Unit

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    Yeah, I don't know that I would try to get any damages or anything, I'm just curious. Though it has taken a lot of time clearing this junk up with my credit card company. I basically was just wondering about small claims court as a backup plan in case the charges on my card get re-instated and I need to go after Best Buy directly for the money.

    This was definitely not a billing error, this was a deliberate act by their credit department. I think I will file a complaint with the State Attorney General so they at least know what is going on.
     
  10. Win Joy Jr

    Win Joy Jr Stunt Coordinator

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    Jason -

    Good Luck. Let us know if this gets any traction or if the bogus charges become widespread with the people who got the deal.
     
  11. Don Black

    Don Black Screenwriter

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    I did my store pickup today for three games I ordered a few days ago. Even though they billed my card (correct amounts), they had deleted the order from the system.

    The manager just filled out a receipt on a form (pen) though and I was on my way.
     
  12. MikeAlletto

    MikeAlletto Cinematographer

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    So the situation was fixed yet you still want to go after best buy? Uhhh why besides the "i see a way to get some extra bucks" motive?
     
  13. Bill MacAdoo

    Bill MacAdoo Stunt Coordinator

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    Someone steals your stuff, you catch them in the act, and they give it back.

    Do you just let it go, since you got your stuff back?
     
  14. MikeAlletto

    MikeAlletto Cinematographer

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    Actually yeah, since its no longer your problem. Its now between the credit card company and best buy. Or if it was material things stolen it would be up to the judge or jury to decide punishment.
     
  15. bruce townley

    bruce townley Stunt Coordinator

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    That is correct. In Michigan, it is not blackmail, it is extortion, a 20-year felony!! To propose accepting money in lieu of reporting a crime is extortion. I don't suggest it.

    From what Jason_H described, again in Michigan, sounds like a violation of the consumer protection act. Sue Best Buy, (they have lawyers on retention, so expect a protracted fight) go to court, have a trial and win.....$250.00!![​IMG]

    Good luck with that. (Note I am not licensed in Texas, so I obviously have NO IDEA of Texas Law.)
     
  16. Bill MacAdoo

    Bill MacAdoo Stunt Coordinator

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    Wait, so you're saying you DO call the authorities, even if you immediately get your stuff back? Or do the cops just know you've been ripped off via osmosis?
     
  17. MikeAlletto

    MikeAlletto Cinematographer

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    The point of the main post was, he got screwed by best buy. He complained to his credit card company like he should have, his credit card company reversed the charges. Thats it. It is done. Its now between the credit card company and best buy, not between the buyer and best buy. To ask a question if I can sue over this after the problem already has been solved is just trying to gouge money out of best buy now. Basically doing to them what they did to the poster.

    If your house gets broken into the only way you'll even try to get your stuff back is to report it to the cops. Then file insurance claim. If you get your stuff back then great, if not you'll get insurance money. You don't then turn around and hunt down the person who broke into your house seeking some kind of revenge on them.

    Not my problem if someone can't tell the difference.
     
  18. chris_everett

    chris_everett Second Unit

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    Whoaaa there.......
    Jason said he only would go after them for the money if the charges were reinstated. He's not trying to "screw" BB at all. He want's to stress to BB that what they did was wrong, and illegal. If I catch someone robbing me, and they give me my stuff back, or insurance covers my losses, I'll still report it to the cops, it's called "attemped robbery" for a reason. That's what Jason is doing, notifying the appropriate people about a crime that was commited/attempted. Also, if BB reinstates the charge, having a documented report of a complaint to the AG's office would help his case.
     
  19. Leila Dougan

    Leila Dougan Screenwriter

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    Thanks, Chris, for bringing sanity back into this disucssion. [​IMG]
     
  20. Chris_Morris

    Chris_Morris Screenwriter

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    Agreed Chris, the main point should be to make sure BB doesn't get by with pulling this on others.

    It's two roads you can take, either say "Well, they didn't get me" or say "Well, they didn't get me, and I'm going to alert the authorities so they won't get anyone else".

    And in that it is a personal decision as to the course of action. Me, I'll take door #2.


    Chris
     

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