I visited the Media Play store in Taylor, Michigan to purchase two music CDs I had ordered two weeks prior. The store hadn't processed my order. I happened to find one of the two CDs I wanted in the floor stock, so I (re)ordered the second one. This time, they required a deposit, and claimed that's why my original order hadn't been processed. The clerk who took my initial order hadn't obtained a deposit (2 bucks! They made me wait another two weeks because I hadn't 'reserved' my order with $2 the first time around!) I proceeded to the checkout to purchase the one I had been fortunate to find in stock and pay the deposit on the other one.
When the clerk asked me if I found everything I was looking for, I was honest and told her that in fact I hadn't, and I briefly complained about having to reorder one of my CDs due to their mistake, without the courtesy of a phone call to tell me that protocol had not been met on my order and they would not be placing the order until I made a deposit.
She proceeded to pitch an offer to me to join their shopper rewards program, or some hoax to that effect and I declined. They were lucky I was giving them a second chance to fill my order. I handed her my debit card (with a Mastercard logo)and politely urged her to just ring me up so I could be on my way.
While she was processing the payment, she launched into a rapid speal about a free magazine offer. She was talking as fast as a seasoned auctioneer. Asking her to repeat herself only accomplished spinning my head around twice. She implied that this was being offered to me as a special 'bonus'. I wasn't sure if it was to appease me for having my time wasted on the reorder, or as an incentive to see the benefits of joining the shopper rewards program she'd mentioned and I wasn't interested in. So again, I told her no thanks. She insisted that I was 'entitled' to this, and the only question is - which magazine (of three offered) do I want 8 free issues of. Entertainment Weekly, Time or Sports Illustrated were the options. She handed me a 'coupon' and I checked Entertainment Weekly. She detached the part I'd checked and stapled the 'fine print' portion to my sales receipt and slipped it in the bag with my CD.
When I got home and looked at the details of the 'free' offer, I was appalled! This had been neither to appease or entice me. I was 'entitled' to be a victim of this nonsense because I had paid for my purchase using my debit (aka to retailers - credit) card.
In checking the box to receive 8 free issues of Entertainment Weekly, I'd given them 'authorized access' to my bank account for automatic debits! I called Media Play the very next morning, asked for a manager and demanded that they not process that so called subscription. This manager rudely told me that he would not do so and my only recourse was to cancel with the publisher directly (that's what the toll free numbers on your disclosure is for, he said). I knew then and there that Media Play must get some kind of kick back for acting as the fly paper strip to catch unsuspecting victims on behalf of the publisher.
So I flat out made the accusation. I asked the manager what the hell was Media Play's interest in all this and was it worth it for me to never shop there again, or anyone else who will listen to me. He chastised me for cursing (boo h*o, I said 'hell') I encouraged him to recognize that we're both adults and just answer my question. He answered me with a dial tone.
I attempted, then, to use the toll free number to cancel and never did get a live person on the line then, only an automated system, asking me to enter my credit card number that had been used for the 'subscription' - then the message said that number is not in their system. This is how I knew it hadn't gone through yet, and the store could have reversed this process for me, as it was their responsibility to do in my view.
I continued to call the 800 numbers (thats plural - to the third power) for two weeks every day. Still not in their system. Then I started receiving postcards - from ALL THREE of the publications (Entertainment Weekly, Time and Sports Illustrated) not just the one I'd 'selected', informing me that my issues would be forthcoming soon. Come to find out, all three magazines have the same publisher, and being asked to 'check one' had meant nothing. All three intended to make 'automatic debits' from my account!
I reviewed the fine print again and sure enough, it specified that I can't cancel until I've received all 8 of the 'free' issues of each magazine, and after that 'trial period', my account will be automatically debited/charged $25 PER MAGAZINE. That's $75 they intended to take out of my account AT ONCE, planning to do so again and again for each 'renewal' period.
Since I couldn't get anywhere on the phone, I emailed each publication separately, even though they have essentially the same website, just different 'departments' for each magazine. I held no punches and complained plenty, short of cursing, about this scam. Sports Illustrated responded promptly to confirm cancellation.
No email reply from the other two. On the postcards, I noticed that they had assigned my subscriptions 'account' numbers, so I called the toll free lines AGAIN and entered those numbers and finally did get a live person. 'James' pulled up my account 'record' and I could tell immediately they HAD gotten my emails. He said they had made a 'note' of my concerns (big red flag - this one is onto us!) and were making an 'exception' to allow cancellation in 'advance' of the offers' 'terms'. How noble of them.
He assured me that I would not receive the magazines or be charged for them at all - and thus far, that has held true. Not without much aggravation to handle this close call.
How many people don't realize they've been duped and end up getting charged $75 a pop?? And for how long? I shudder to think. I was relieved to get this taken care of, because I had tried to enlist my bank's help in the meantime and they claimed to be unable to help until the money was taken from the account, and then I could 'appeal' for reimbursement, if I could 'prove' they weren't authorized.
I've been telling my family and friends about this, and they've informed me that other stores are doing the same thing! Best Buy pulled this on my cousin. She had to close her bank account to stop them, and never did get back any money that was taken before she resorted to doing so.
This is happenening all over. This is the modern scheme, it seems. I ordered some posters for my daughter online this week (Johnny Depp's poster image just isn't available at the mall. lol) and along with my 'receipt', there was an icon to click to 'redeem' a 'bonus gift' to 'thank' me for my purchase. I had paid with my card online, so again, they want to keep tapping that - and this 'bonus' would've have been more aptly dubbed 'bogus'. They want to 'enroll' me for some BS 'program' to 'automatically' debit me for 'purchase privleges'. I'm going to start paying cash everywhere - and online purchases can wait for a money order in the mail from me. What a racket!