Thursday, October 11, 2012

Another new scam from Best Buy

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Another new scam from Best Buy
Best Buy is the worst buy. It's a place you sometimes have to go to, but a place you wish you could avoid. It's service is terrible -- although many of the employees are good people. But Best Buy is constantly trying to rip you off.
If it's not merchandise that doesn't work, it's a new one that Best Buy started to scam $9.99 a month from your cell phone. 
They text you from a phone number 951-662-9744 claiming"Your entry last month has won! Go to and enter your winning code 8372 to claim your free $1,000 Best Buy gift card within 24 hours."
The Best Buy statement is clear. "Claim" your free "$1,000 Best Buy gift card."
There is no gift card, of course. It's a scam to put a $9.99 charge on your monthly cell phone bill, to draw people in so they can fleece you of money and in return send you 3 worthless coupons you don't want.
Here's what you see.
First, they tell you to fill out their form. Then, they take you to a page where they force you to enter your cell phone number, twice.

Join the exclusive Couponz Mall Club today to get the latest coupon text alerts! ...and start saving today!  Print, download coupons or sign up for text coupons (3msgs/wk) Portal subscription $9.99/month for unlimited coupons.

At the bottom of the screen is this disclosure in small print, that is difficult to read:

Summary terms: You must be the account holder of this device or have permission from the account holder. AWCC and U.S. Cellular users cannot download coupons to their handset. Users on these carriers may only print or sign-up for text coupons. This is an auto renewing subscription service that will continue until cancelled anytime by texting STOP to short code 20834. Available to users over 18 for $9.99 per month charged on your wireless account or deducted from your prepaid balance for unlimited coupon subscription on AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon Wireless, Sprint, Virgin Mobile USA, Cincinnati Bell, AWCC and U.S. Cellular. Print coupons from portal: all carriers eligible. Text coupon services (3 messages per week): all carriers eligible. Download coupons to handset: AT&T, T-Mobile Sprint and Cincinnati Bell. For Couponz Mall support: text HELP to 20834 , email or call 1800 235 7105 for automated help or call 1800 416 6129 for a live operator. Message and data rates may apply. Product is not compatible with all cell phone models. Your phone must support ringtones and wallpapers, be Internet-enabled, and have text messaging capability. Call for your money back within first 30 days of service if you are not satisfied. By signing up for this service and entering your personal PIN Code delivered to the cell phone number supplied by you on this website, you acknowledge that you are agreeing to the Terms and Conditions. Click here for Terms & Conditions. For Privacy Policy Click here

Wow! What a scam.

So I didn't submit my cell number, but I am sure that won't matter. Scammers are always trying to get your cell number to add the $9.99 fee to your cell phone service.

If you notice on the top left of the screen above, the word "PASS" is published in small letters. They don't tell you, but if you click that it will take you to another screen where they ask you to take a survey.

Frankly, don't waste your time. When a retailer like Best Buy has to resort to scams to rope people in to steal $9.99 a month from their phone line -- forcing unsuspecting people who believe they have won -- WON -- $1,000 in a Best Buy card, it's pathetic. Really disgusting that Best Buy has to resort to this kind of scam.

When you try to go around the scam, they try to cell you a new cell phone, probably to add another $9.99 scam fee to your cell phone account, hoping you won't notice.

Really, Best Buy. You are so sleazy! Disgusting. Maybe you should shut down your stores and find something honest to do. You disgust me with your tactics.

When you resist, they take you to several screens, including one that reads:

Last Step

Tell us where to ship your $1000 BestBuy Gift Card.

Of course, when you hit SUBMIT, Best Buy takes you to yet another scam page where they ask you to purchase more worthless services. Sign up for the Disney Movie Club -- probably at some outrageous fee. Or, sign up for something stupid (typical Best Buy strategy) called Onlingo, which also costs an arm and a leg.

Beware folks. When you sign up for anything Best Buy, they won't give you anything free. But it could end up costing another $9.99 a month on your cell phone bill.

I bet the majority of people who get scammed don't even realize it, because after the first page, the scam fee of $9.99 is never mentioned again. The ability to STOP the fee is also no longer detailed or offered. (Just send the word STOP to short code 20834. Do it just in case, anyway, as a safety measure because you can't trust Best Buy to do the right thing. You should receive a message that either your susbcription has stopped, or you will get a message that reads "You are not subscribed to any services. Call 1-800-235-7105 or email 

Probably more scam nets to take your money!

-- Ray Hanania

Monday, October 8, 2012

Boy Scout Popcorn glut and traffic jams

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Boy Scout Popcorn glut and traffic jams

There's a real glut of Boy Scouts selling pop corn. You can't turn a corner or enter a store without running into the young men and their scout leaders at a table selling pop corn.

Carmel Corn. Super buttered corn. Cheese pop corn. And Chocolate covered pretzels. OK. How did chocolate covered pretzels get into the mix? That's not popcorn.

Aaron, who is in his second year of Boy Scouts, and I filled up the car with boxes of popcorn. Add the table. Add the flyer in the plastic stand up with the prices and the Boy Scout logo. Who doesn't love the Boy Scouts?

We went to the Walgreens where we were assigned and there was another troop there. We went to the Jewel to see if we could sell there -- Jewel has the highest traffic and if you have clout in the scouts, your kid can get assigned there. But it was packed with scouts at both doors.

The traffic flow impacts sales. The higher the traffic flow the better the sale. The lower the traffic flow, the harder the sales. And, weather impacts it too. People don't want to eat popcorn when under 40 degrees outside. Popcorn is a warm weather snack.

Everyplace is packed so where do we go? Well, we drove to the HHGregg technology store in the small mall on LaGrange Road and I went in and asked the manager if we could set up a table in front of his store. The place seemed busy. Comp USA was already taken down the other end of the mall so I figured this would be far enough from the other scouts. The manager at HHGregg was nice and said sure, but not in the foyer. Keep it outside.

Outside, in the cold. Well, he was courteous and we appreciated his permission.

Aaron and I were bundled up for the cold. We had the popcorn bags laid out neatly on the table. We had little tags marking the different costs. We had our plastic holder with the sheets of printed paper -- that I printed on my new WiFi printer (works like a charm). We had single dollar bills.

I even had my iPhone and my Square credit card reader, so we publicized the fact that we could take credit cards.

At today's prices, who carries that much cash around?

Popcorn is expensive. Caramel corn with almonds is $10 a bag. The Cheesy popcorn was $15. The chocolate covered pretzels were $25. And single bags of popcorn were $1. Who buys a single bag of popcorn, even from the scouts.

The first couple that walked by looked and snorted.

Customers may be always right but they are almost always rude, too. Aaron was polite saying hello to everyone and asking if they wanted to buy popcorn for the Scouts. After all, the money isn't for us. It goes to help the Scouts and Scout charities and efforts.

Two older ladies stopped looked and asked why we didn't have cookies. Cookies are for the Girl Scouts I wanted to scream, my fingers getting numb from the chilled air. But we smiled and shrugged. And they walked off.

You really don't know how bad the economy is until you have to buy food at the grocery store and choke when the total rings up. Or, when you are selling popcorn to the public, even in front of a high end technology store like HHGregg. Several customers came up and asked when they could buy for $4. No coincidence. They both asked, separately, what they could buy for $4. We didn't have anything for $4 but we could sell them 4 single packs of popcorn kernels they could take home and microwave, if they had a microwave which I think every family does. Right?

It got really windy so we had to move over on the other side of the bike rack that no one really uses. Carrying the table a few feet just to stay warm.

I could take credit cards "with the iPhone" I said to assure people it wasn't a scam. People don't like to hand their credit cards over to people standing behind tables even in Scout uniforms. "With the iPhone" I repeated to people to give them some assurance. That's where life is headed people, so get used to it. I'm no big Steve Jobs fan at all. His products are designed to squeeze money out of our pockets repeatedly. Over and over again forcing us to spend money to upgrade, "improve" and replace things we spent hundreds of dollars already to buy only to be told it's no longer good enough. The month after I bought the iPhone 4S they said the iPhone 5 was coming out. $499 down the drain if I "upgrade" and buy the new iPhone for $500.

All these things were going through my mind as we looked at the little cigar box -- those are antiques aren't they? We sold two bags of caramel corn, and 9 single bags of popcorn kernels that had to be microwaved.

$29 total. One guy came up and gave Aaron $2 as a donation. He thought we were panhandling for the poor, even though Aaron was in his Boy Scout Uniform, which I admit, has changed dramatically since when I wore the uniform back in the 1960s. More colors. More designs. Millions of patches for everything.

At the end of three hours, we repacked the product into the boxes and I carried them one at a time to the car. Aaron stayed by the table just in case there was a rush of customers. "Hey don't close. I just spent $800 on a 40 inch flatscreen TV. I need to buy some popcorn. No. Chocolate covered pretzels. Don't goooooooo!"

But we were gone.

Maybe the Scouts should start selling iPhones. People seem to be able to afford them. But popcorn at a few bucks. The economy sucks too badly.

Thanks to HHGregg for being so generous. They deserve it for supporting the Boy Scouts.

-- Ray Hanania