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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2008

    Default Coupon Fraud

    My question involves a consumer law issue in the State of: Washington

    On 1/26/07, my mother planned to buy a printer using a coupon ($40 off a $200 purchase) at the Olympia, WA Circuit City store. A sales associate verified the coupon on the store computer and told her that it could be used for that specific printer. However, when paying a few hours later, CC refused to honor it. No reason was given, and my mother was pressured to pay the extra $40 at the register. She was suspicious and did not buy the printer. I spoke to the manager, who not only refused to discuss what happened, but stormed off, muttering under his breath.

    Then began an extremely frustrating effort to get CC to explain their actions. I began with e-mails, which were all ignored. I sent a registered letter, which was met with a form letter that did not address my issue at all. After filing complaints with the BBB and the WA State Attorney General's office, I received a brief reply claiming that the coupon conflicted with an existing rebate. However, there is no evidence such a rebate existed, nor was this claimed by the manager at the time, who insisted that the coupon could not be used for anything. Again I wrote to CC, asking for details of the rebate. I received no reply. I re-sent the letter via registered mail weeks later and was ignored again. After a complaint to the Virginia AG, CC again claimed there was a conflicting rebate, but offered no details. The next round of letters resulted in a vague apology for the manager's behavior, but still no elaboration on the alleged rebate. I wrote the AG again, asking directly for proof, but CC did not respond.

    Finally, I posted my complaint on CC's support forum. While polite and apologetic, the representative still refused to explain why the coupon was not honored or provide details of the rebate. Repeated attempts to get a question answered with a simple "yes" or "no" failed.

    The forum posts can be viewed here:

    A scan of the coupon is here:

    I believe there never was any rebate, and the employees at this store were trying to cheat my mother, believing she was alone and vulnerable. By promising she could use the coupon, then revoking that promise at the register, did CC violate the law? Should they have to give details of the rebate, which they claimed existed in a written letter? Do I have any other options, or should I just let the issue go?

    Thank You,

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2006

    Default Re: Coupon Fraud?

    here's the deal;

    while all this may be true(I'll accept that it is), CC has no proof that it did happen for the pure reason you did not buy the printer so there is no proof any of it happened other than your word. Since you did not lose any money in the deal, it comes down to what can be done. You contacted the AG's office and apparently they did not see justification for legal action. I am sure this will go into their file so if this type of thing does become a regularly reported problem, they may institute an investigation and possible legal action.

    if you would try to take any legal action, you would most assuredly lose simply because you have no provable facts.

    Obviously if this is all true, CC has been less than forthcoming with a true explanation but at this point, it is a matter of bad service more than a legal issue that can be remedied.

    Since you did get the service you sought from Best Buy, I would simply suggest you continue to make your purchases there, or other stores other than CC. If you want, send a copy of all your purchases to CC and let them know that they lost the sale due to their poor customer service and let it be over.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Behind a Desk

    Default Re: Coupon Fraud?

    It sounds like your mother spoke to somebody who made a mistake - it sound like she asked, "Is this coupon good with this printer," and, without realizing that there was an additional rebate attached to the printer (or perhaps because there was none), the employee answered "yes". Then at the register when it was discovered that there was an additional rebate attached (or when the computer erroneously declined to process the coupon because it had incorrect data suggesting a rebate), such that the disclaimer (probably "Not combined with select Circuit City offers") language applied, she was told that the coupon could not be applied.

    As your mother did not purchase the printer, it's impossible to trace the purchase to find out what other rebate might have prevented the use of the coupon - it may even have been a programming error in the register, but we can't know and they can't trace a transaction that was not made.

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