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Microsoft, Best Buy Face Racketeering Suit

kdawson posted more than 7 years ago | from the one-way-to-sign-up-customers dept.

The Courts 153

15 judges of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals have unanimously reversed dismissal of a RICO class action suit against Microsoft and Best Buy, which claims the companies engaged in fraud in promoting Microsoft's MSN online service. (RICO is a statute originally intended to help prosecutors go after organized crime.) Quoting: "The case started after James Odom bought a PC-based laptop at a Contra Costa County Best Buy store. Data about the purchase was sent to Microsoft as part of a joint marketing agreement between the companies. Microsoft then signed Mr. Odom up for its MSN Internet service and, after a free trial period, began billing him for it." Howard Bashman's How Appealing blog has more details on the reversal, including a paraphrase from one of the appellate judges that "all blame rests with the U.S. Supreme Court for allowing the 'outlandish' result that a claim such as this can be pursued under RICO."

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153 comments

Good (4, Insightful)

Darundal (891860) | more than 7 years ago | (#19003315)

If the accusations of signing people up without their consent is true, both companies should be judicially raped for it.

Re:Good (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19003357)

If the accusations of signing people up without their consent is true, both companies should be judicially raped for it.


Too bad Washington is just a small department inside Microsoft.

Re:Good (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19003431)

I've always said Redmond was the fifth branch of government, after the media, but your formulation is superior.

Re:Good (3, Insightful)

Sorthum (123064) | more than 7 years ago | (#19003375)

No kidding. I get pissed when companies do it to their product e-mailing lists (spam is about consent, not content), actually charging my credit card (provided to ANOTHER COMPANY) is inexcusable.

Re:Good (2, Interesting)

Original Replica (908688) | more than 7 years ago | (#19003719)

actually charging my credit card (provided to ANOTHER COMPANY) is inexcusable.

How does that actually work as far as your credit card contract, I wonder? if I am the only one authorized to make a purchase with my card, how can BestBuy make a purchase for me?

Re:Good (5, Informative)

arth1 (260657) | more than 7 years ago | (#19003797)

The customer actually signs up for the service, starting after the "free" trial period ends. The problem is that they don't give the customer time to read through the small print before they sign, nor explain that this will happen. "You need to sign here, here, and down here. You need help carrying that to the car?"

Re:Good (1)

Duhavid (677874) | more than 7 years ago | (#19003875)

See, they put a clause in the bill of sale ( 5th page,
helvetical .00005 point font, color light yellow )
about how taking the computer out the front door is
acceptance of a contract allowing the charging of
your credit card by the third party.

Here is one for you... There is some collections
agency after some woman. My work number is in their
database as the number for this person. So, every
couple days, I get a call, rolled over from my work
account to my personal cell phone. They say something
like

"this call is for ."

I always hung up at this point. One of my clients
has an office in Houston, which is where this collection
agency is out of. I was having phone trouble one
morning when the call came, and I happened to be in
the office. I sent the call to voice mail, as
the phone problem kept me from answering the call.
I listend to the call, it was not my client, it
was the collection agency again. So, I listened to
more of the message. It went on to say

"by accepting this call, you are acknowledgeing
that you are .". I think
it went on to say that accepting the call implied
ownership of the debt. So, now, is my work's VM
system the person the caller claimed? And does
my work's VM system now owe someone money?

Re:Good (1)

laughingcoyote (762272) | more than 7 years ago | (#19004267)

By reading this post, you agree to pay me one million dollars.

Such a statement on a call is just as much (or as little) enforceable as that. It's a trick for the gullible, it carries no real weight.

Re:Good (1)

Duhavid (677874) | more than 7 years ago | (#19004513)

I suspected as much, but it is interesting how they work.

No Great Surprise (1)

Marcion (876801) | more than 7 years ago | (#19003979)

It is Microsoft's business model to force you to buy crap you don't want and have no choice in, so business as usual.

Re:No Great Surprise (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 7 years ago | (#19004565)

Of course, this is probably due to individual Best Buy stores working to meet corporate sales goals and finding it easy to cheat, not some insidious plot between high level executives at Microsoft and Best Buy.

Re:Good (2, Insightful)

taniwha (70410) | more than 7 years ago | (#19004057)

while I agree with your sentiment your words offend me .... rape should never be a punishment - that way lies Abu Gharib and a medieval world view

Re:Good (3, Funny)

osu-neko (2604) | more than 7 years ago | (#19004137)

He's right. We should just slowly torture these guys instead...

Re:Good (1)

Darundal (891860) | more than 7 years ago | (#19004349)

I was speaking metaphorically. Replace the word "raping" in my post with the words "tied to a post, forced to admit what they have done, fully reimburse all affected by it, pay all costs associated with the case, each pay a hefty fine (not an odd sum, but a percentage of of all money taken in by the companies while committing these despicable acts), and have some type of temporary restriction on their ability to conduct business placed on them." The use of the word "raping" was a very poor choice of words, and I apologize, however, I do believe that anybody or thing that commits fraud should have more than just "the book" thrown at them (I think more along the lines of the whole library).

Re:Good (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19004345)

One, they didn't rape anyone, just made them do humiliating things.

Two, you can't even spell the damn name of it right.

Three, guess you don't like muslim/arab punishments?

Re:Good (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19004885)

One, your knowledge of Muslim and Arab culture wouldn't fill a gnat's ass.

Two, forcing people to perform sexual acts against their will is rape.

Three, what is your point exactly?

Re:Good (3, Informative)

ray-auch (454705) | more than 7 years ago | (#19005267)

One, they didn't rape anyone, just made them do humiliating things.


Rape has been alleged, and given the other things carried out it doesn't seem too far fetched. Sodomy and torture (including torturing to death) is documented.

Whilst being sodomized or hung from your wrists (behind your back - strappado) until dead almost certainly do qualify as "humiliating things", I don't think many people would regard them as "_just_ ... humiliating".

Three, guess you don't like muslim/arab punishments?


Not really, although I note that sharia law seems to typically specify a trial first...

Re:Good (4, Insightful)

taniwha (70410) | more than 7 years ago | (#19005483)

as other have pointed out rape did occur there - I must admit that I was aiming at more than the recent actions of the US military though (that was just a particularly bad and public example everyone is familiar with) but rather more the common attitude I often hear expressed in the US "you'll get what you deserve in prison" as if rape is acceptable anywhere - which of course it is not.

If you do think it's an appropriate punishment, then you need to change the law so that judges can include it in a sentence, otherwise it's a basic human rights violation

In there a connection.... (1)

choudesh (880042) | more than 7 years ago | (#19003329)

Re:In there a connection.... (1)

Sorthum (123064) | more than 7 years ago | (#19003399)

Doubtful. While MS's offerings are sometimes bulgey, I don't think Bulger's the guy who got shafted by them. Murder's not really their style...

Figures... (4, Informative)

Sorthum (123064) | more than 7 years ago | (#19003351)

While it wasn't prosecuted under RICO, there have been similar issues with a number of adult website memberships. "Sign up for this for free, the credit card is for age verification only." Three days later, they bill you for a "recurring membership" for their affiliate sites that are just this side of impossible to opt out of. (This happened to a client-- I don't pay for my porn.)

In fairness, you kinda expect this from the seedier side of the web.

You don't expect it from Best Buy and the largest software company on the planet.

Re:Figures... (1, Funny)

Frosty Piss (770223) | more than 7 years ago | (#19003761)

(This happened to a client-- I don't pay for my porn.)

Riiiiiiiight...

Re:Figures... (2, Informative)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | more than 7 years ago | (#19004265)

(This happened to a client-- I don't pay for my porn.)
Riiiiiiiight...
What, you didn't know the internet contains more free porn than it does for-pay porn? Sucker -- and not in a good way.

Re:Figures... (4, Informative)

Frosty Piss (770223) | more than 7 years ago | (#19006023)

www.SublimeDirectory.com

Check out the Big List.

Re:Figures... (4, Insightful)

aichpvee (631243) | more than 7 years ago | (#19003775)

Why wouldn't you expect it from microsoft? Seems right in line with fucking over anyone and everyone necessary to push their products, regardless of how few people want it.

"Sign up for this for free, (1)

falconwolf (725481) | more than 7 years ago | (#19003941)

the credit card is for age verification only."

Yeap, that's the hook, the cc is for verification only. But only for the three free days. Read such free offers and they'll say if you don't cancel at the end of the 3 days then they'll bill your cc. However many won't cancel. What some may not know though is that the cc holder can dispute the charges. And some merchant bankers or credit card verifiers will drop a client who has too many chargebacks.

Falcon

Re:Figures... (4, Informative)

The One and Only (691315) | more than 7 years ago | (#19003965)

Three days later, they bill you for a "recurring membership" for their affiliate sites that are just this side of impossible to opt out of.

That's when you call your credit card company and do a chargeback. Of course, porn sites know this is an awkward thing for some credit card customers to do.

Re:Figures... (1)

pipingguy (566974) | more than 7 years ago | (#19005621)

"They apparently assumed that most consumers would be too embarrassed [consumeraffairs.com] to contest the charges when they learned they were from an adult-oriented site. [...] And where did the defendants, all of Malibu, CA, get the names and credit card numbers of their victims, many of whom the FTC said do not even own computers? They bought them from a bank."

Re:Figures... (3, Insightful)

slickwillie (34689) | more than 7 years ago | (#19004025)

"You don't expect it from Best Buy and the largest software company on the planet."

I guess you've never heard of the "Microsoft Tax". You know, the one where the manufacturer must charge you for a copy of Windows whether you want it or not. Otherwise M$FT will cut off the manufacturer from being able to sell Windows at all.

Outlandish result (1)

Black Parrot (19622) | more than 7 years ago | (#19003355)

Howard Bashman's How Appealing blog has more details on the reversal, including a paraphrase from one of the appellate judges that "all blame rests with the U.S. Supreme Court for allowing the 'outlandish' result that a claim such as this can be pursued under RICO."
The blog calls it a "concurring opinion", but it sounds like a dissenting opinion.

Since Bashman is talking about that subset of those 15 judges that originally dismissed the case, maybe it's a concurring opinion from the original hearing, rather than from the current reversal?

Re:Outlandish result (1)

MillionthMonkey (240664) | more than 7 years ago | (#19003441)

The blog says it's from one of 2 judges to issue a minority opinion out of 15 judges on the panel. Frankly I think a lot of people are going to scoff at RICO being relevant here because "respectable" corporations like Microsoft and Best Buy should not be accountable to a law meant for Italians.

Re:Outlandish result (1)

king-manic (409855) | more than 7 years ago | (#19003515)

Frankly I think a lot of people are going to scoff at RICO being relevant here because "respectable" corporations like Microsoft and Best Buy should not be accountable to a law meant for Italians.

Don't forget the Irish and other not as white white people.

Re:Outlandish result (2, Funny)

MillionthMonkey (240664) | more than 7 years ago | (#19003639)

You forgot Poland!

Re:Outlandish result (1)

krbvroc1 (725200) | more than 7 years ago | (#19003847)

Frankly I think a lot of people are going to scoff at RICO being relevant here because "respectable" corporations like Microsoft and Best Buy should not be accountable to a law meant for Italians.
I thought Rico Suave was some type of Spanglish Rapper? He was an Italian? Who knew! I learn something everyday here on /.

Re:Outlandish result (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19003881)

The blog calls it a "concurring opinion", but it sounds like a dissenting opinion.

No it doesn't. The quote from him is very clear that he thinks that following Supreme Court precedents requires him to reach the conclusion that the claim can be pursued under RICO. So that's his ruling; the claim can be pursued under RICO, concurring with the others. He and one other judge just wanted to make it absolutely clear that they think this is fucked up. They're allowed to do that.

Re:Outlandish result (3, Interesting)

Darundal (891860) | more than 7 years ago | (#19004409)

A dissenting opinion would be written by one or all of the justices who disagreed with the majority opinion. A concurring opinion states is from a justice(s) who voted with the majority of the other justices (and hence, voted for the ruling that is final) stating that yes, they do agree with the majority on what should happen, but disagree on why. Sometimes, the person who ends up writing the concurring opinion actually ended up having the same idea about what and why, but the person who wrote the majority opinion (by default the Chief Justice) or whoever is assigned to write the opinion (who is assigned by the Chief Justice) wrote it in such a way that everyone else disagrees with large pieces or all of it. Sometimes, a justices will vote the opposite way that they feel, with the sole goal of getting to write the majority opinion, because then they can water it down so that the opinion leaves broad room for interpretation.

what about AOL? (1)

ILuvRamen (1026668) | more than 7 years ago | (#19003359)

AOL's been pulling that exact kind of crap for years, why haven't they gotten criminal charges? They've sure had enough civil cases over it!

Re:what about AOL? (1)

Sorthum (123064) | more than 7 years ago | (#19003457)

It may have something to do with the fact that you're knowingly providing your credit card information to AOL when you sign up. By doing business with BestBuy, you don't expect to be entering into a business relationship with Microsoft.

Text "RINGTONE" to 35576 (3, Interesting)

Original Replica (908688) | more than 7 years ago | (#19003809)

I wonder if this will be able to traslate into companies that "trick" people into buying ringtones and other crap for their phones, by charging them through their phone bills. If you give you credit card info to Sprint you don't expect to paying out to BlingFone inc.

were it some other court... (3, Informative)

MollyB (162595) | more than 7 years ago | (#19003361)

I have no idea how this particular issue will play out, but this court [wikipedia.org] has had many decisions overturned, for reasons spelled out in the Wiki reference.

Re:were it some other court... (2, Informative)

FooAtWFU (699187) | more than 7 years ago | (#19003413)

First of all, you broke your link - I fixed it. [wikipedia.org] Secondly: according to that article, the bulk of the gripes against the court seem to be that they're out of step with Supreme Court precedent; in this case, they claim to be following it, and blame the Supreme Court for any resulting silliness. Perhaps this means it's less likely to be overturned?

Re:were it some other court... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19003421)

FYI: the link worked in Preview mode. Now it sends you on a three-click detour to the article. No clue why this is...

Insurance... (0, Offtopic)

AchiIIe (974900) | more than 7 years ago | (#19003377)

Dear kdawson, arbitraryaardvark We sure hope you have health insurance... and that it covers broken legs. - The slashdot community

this says alot about the companies involved (2, Interesting)

3seas (184403) | more than 7 years ago | (#19003405)

.... what to expect of their lifespan.

When you have to resort to dishonest tactics as stealing, you don't have much time left.

I went into a best buy just yesterday and noted the prices for computer related products was a good bit higher than Micro Center and that their DVD movies are also higher priced than I can find elsewhere locally.

Best buy isn't a best buy anymore and Microsoft, long known to be aggressive marketing with stepping over the legal and moral fence in a calculated manner should never steal in such a manner as this article indicates... unless they really are hurting. So they did it in at least two different ways.....but where else are they proping themselves up in a financial paperwork appearance?

Ever wonder what assets vs. debt would be if MS had to liquidate? A million on paper can convert to a penny in liquidated into hard cash. Oh but you have stock holders...... and that is the real point.

Track records creating a perfect storm? (1)

SierraPete (834755) | more than 7 years ago | (#19003409)

Neither Microsoft nor Best Buy has the best of track records with treating their customers with honesty. Best Buy's alleged bait and switch internal website [lawyersand...ements.com] and the multitude of Microsoft failings with their customers (Windows Genuine "Advantage" and the Vista/IPod issues come to mind immediately) put both corporations at a definite disadvantage as far as character goes. The fact that they have now been accused of working together to try to boost their respective profits through questionable and/or possibly illegal practices should not surprise anybody. Innocent until proven guilty, but talk about starting with one strike against them...

Re:Track records creating a perfect storm? (1)

FishWithAHammer (957772) | more than 7 years ago | (#19003713)

In their defense, Vista/iPod problems are Apple's fault. There had been Vista betas for developers for months and Apple neglected to fix the incompatibilities with their software.

I'm no fan of the Microsloth, but must we stoop to bullshit?

RICO was created to cover violent acts (1, Informative)

iamacat (583406) | more than 7 years ago | (#19003477)

Not to punish promotion of multi-colored butterflies. Microsoft should be broken up into several companies and barred from anti-competitive practices. But this doesn't make any more sense than punishing P2P downloaders under laws passed to fight actual maritime pirates.

RICO was created to combat Organized Crime (5, Insightful)

Vellmont (569020) | more than 7 years ago | (#19003877)

It really has little to do with violent crime. Violence is just a technique used by organized crime.

RICO actually stands for:

Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act

according to Wikipedia Racketeering is:

The term racket comes from the Italian word ricatto (blackmail) and is also used as a pejorative term for legitimate businesses. Typically, this usage is based on the example of the "protection racket" and indicates that the speaker believes that the business is making money by selling a solution to a problem that it created (or that it intentionally allows to continue to exist), specifically so that continuous purchases of the solution are always needed.

(no, I'm not making that up)

Sound like any large software company we might all be familiar with?

I never thought of Bill Gates as just a non-violent, really smart version of Tony Soprano.. but damned if it doesn't fit.

Re:RICO was created to combat Organized Crime (1)

legirons (809082) | more than 7 years ago | (#19004763)

"making money by selling a solution to a problem that it created (or that it intentionally allows to continue to exist)"

Haha, 0wned, microsoft... ;)

actually that text sounds like it was word-for-word designed to apply to microsoft's security practises

Re:RICO was created to combat Organized Crime (0, Troll)

eonlabs (921625) | more than 7 years ago | (#19004903)

What problem are you paying Microsoft to fix that it created?

It's OS has free updates.

Office has free updates.

Their powertoys are free, and that remedies a large number of complaints about their software.

You pay your employees to write better code that supports IE7 and the actual HTML standard.

I'm sorry, I just don't seem to see where they are "making money by selling a solution to a problem that [they] created (or that [they] intentionally [allow] to continue to exist),"...

Re:RICO was created to cover violent acts (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19004003)

It's unfortunate that white collar crime gets a pass even though violent crime is prosecuted. Crime is crime, no matter how it is carried out.

Slashdot signed me up without my knowledge (4, Funny)

Timesprout (579035) | more than 7 years ago | (#19003507)

And then took all my karma.

The time to worry is when ... (-1, Troll)

John Jorsett (171560) | more than 7 years ago | (#19003535)

... the 9th rules in your favor. More of its rulings are reversed than upheld.

Re:The time to worry is when ... (5, Insightful)

bikerider7 (1085357) | more than 7 years ago | (#19003693)

... the 9th rules in your favor. More of its rulings are reversed than upheld.
Thanks for the right-wing talking point. In fact, virtually all of their decisions are upheld. While the total number of cases overturned is greater than the other courts, that is due to their much bigger caseload (the 9th covers the entire West Coast).

Sign-ups (2, Interesting)

king-manic (409855) | more than 7 years ago | (#19003553)

I work at a Canadian telecom. I am aware that some portions of the company (door-to-door and Telemarketing, all contractors) will blatantly misrepresent our products and deals to fill their pockets. I think the guys isn't a victim so much of big business as he is of a sales guy who misrepresented things. In the big picture neither MS nor Best Buy would benefit from the pittance the guy would have paid for the service but the sales guy probably got 5 bucks and does it a lot.

Re:Sign-ups (2)

Belial6 (794905) | more than 7 years ago | (#19004141)

Here in the US, it is very common for big businesses to steal in small amounts. When you are talking about millions of customers, and reoccurring small amounts, $5 really starts to add up. Think about how much money McDonalds makes. I don't think they have a single item on their menu that costs more than $5. Maybe some of the meal packages, but no single item. I have caught businesses stealing in small amounts many times. Just a few years ago, I caught PacBell (now SBC) running a scheme where they stole $6.95 from each customer when they disconnected their phone. They would send out a 'Final Bill' for $6.95 to every customer when they would cancel their phone service. They would claim that the bill was from their long distance carrier for for their final month. Well, I knew for a fact that I had not made any long distance calls for over a month because six weeks prior to the date they claimed they were billing for, the phone company had disconnected my phone line from the junction box located across the street, as well as the date being after I had canceled with the local phone company. Given that it was physically impossible for me to have made any long distance calls, I called the long distance carrier directly. They told me they did not show me as owning anything, and they had no idea why PacBell would be trying to charge me. After this, I started to ask around, and found that most people I knew who had disconnected their phone, did also get this mysterious charge, but just assumed that it was legit. Now, you might think that it isn't worth bothering to steal $6.95 from some guy, but when you figure the hundreds of thousands of disconnects they get a year, and that this kind of scam might happen in other less obvious ways, it starts to make more sense.

Re:Sign-ups (2, Interesting)

slackmaster2000 (820067) | more than 7 years ago | (#19004173)

Yeah, but when the corporation doesn't explicitly tell their employees to make sure that customers understand what they're signing up for, and that corporation goes so far as to make it an incentive for employees to hard sell, then the problem is corporate policy, not a rogue employee.

You're right, a single guy getting charged for a month of MSN isn't going to raise the stock price of Microsoft or Best buy. This is a class action lawsuit which means there are many guys (and gals) who got charged for a service they didn't know they were signing up for. Add it all up, and the companies may very well have made a great deal of money from the way their employees are trained. And it's pretty easy to speculate that this problem isn't limited to being sneaky about MSN subscriptions. I think it's pretty clear that these companies, like many others, use all sorts of methods to extract money unnecessarily from customers. (service contract anyone?)

The name AOL has come up a lot on Slashdot today, and they're a great example of using underhanded tactics like this to generate revenue. Either their billing computer was perpetually broken, or I just happen to know a whole lot of people who had a whole lot of trouble canceling their service with the company in such a way that they would actually stop being billed (all automatic bill pay customers too, go figure).

I myself have fallen victim to a similar scheme by Discover card. Somehow I was enrolled in some kind of insurance program "trial", and then after a year I started getting billed for it. I have no idea how they did it, but I'd be willing to bet that they have me on record somewhere as saying "yeah, ok" to *something* that had this insurance program tagged on. And I probably got myself into the mess by calling them for a completely unrelated customer service issue, during which they always try to sell something and I don't want to be rude to them because, hey, my finances are at their mercy. So I got them to cancel the program from my account and refund the money that they'd been charging for several months (I don't carry a balance on the card so don't check the bill like I should). Getting them to do so was no picnic though. I was told for several minutes that I needed the service or my life would eventually deteriorate into a hellish nightmare. Then I was told that they would cancel the service, but not refund any of my money. After all, they provided the service that I didn't know that I was getting. I was literally told that they couldn't do it. So I kept asking and asking and eventually the person I was talking to gave in and reset my card balance back to zero and then gave me a little mini-lecture about responsibility. (credit card companies are the worst when it comes to these kinds of scams. they know that a certain percentage of people aren't going to notice or complain when they do things like arbitrarily raise an interest rate, and they take it to the bank...that they own)

Make no mistake. When employees of large corporations act like this, it's very rarely the problem of a single bad egg. These people are trained to get money from you above all else. Hell, they know you'll be back anyhow. We're all suckers. Even if a company hides behind an excuse like, "we don't tell them to be dishonest, we simply offer a sales incentive", it's total bullshit.

Everyone knows that everyone knows, but nobody can seem to figure out how to fix it.

This is definitely true, Revelations inside (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19003571)

Yep, I worked for Best Buy for quite a long time and I know this was never a corporate policy (hardly anything the stores do is corporate policy. This protects corporate from being blamed on our horrendous practices while allowing us to meet their unrealistic expectations).

First, they expected us to sign up approximately 50-75% of all PC purchases with MSN accounts. My store trended about 15-20%... So our management took some advice they heard on a higher level... It's free, it comes with the PC. We were able to boost our numbers to about 50% attachment by not explaining what was happening during the process. We didn't explain it was a free trial, we didn't explain they had to cancel, we helped speed them through the process and I even witnessed some people using the touchpad for the customers to accept the agreements.

This was an INCREDIBLY dirty practice and why have such animosity towards Best Buy.

The last time I forced customers to setup with this was a memorable occasion. A semi-intelligent customer realizes I had just set him up with something that he did not want. I confused him by rushing him through the process, what I was shown and instructed to do. After the transaction was over, he saw the agreement on the receipt and was furious. He requested a manager, which I went and got. As I explained the situation to the manager, they were like 'oh crap' and then told me what I'm about to do I have to do infront of the customer but no this is just a front for the customer. The manager gets to the GeekSquad area, the customer explains the situation, the manager begins to apologize and blame the entire thing on me and not being experience, ignorant, etc. So basically the customer thought I was an idiot and I tried to screw him over. So the company saved face on my expense. After the customer left, the manager apologized again for what he had to do, but it couldn't be revealed this was actually what we were supposed to do. From that point forward, I never pressured anybody into any contracts and management did not like that. However, they let it slide because I would explain what had happened before and my sales were so strong on everything else, they couldn't really fault me. I received the store MVP award for approximately 2 years straight (every month, every quarter).

So yea, fook best buy and their dirty as practices. It's never corporate, but the managers that don't meant their goals will likely be fired within a few months. So stores do everything they can to keep their management employed. Fooked up system right? Oh and did I tell you that the stores compete against each other on goals, so half of the company is always in the dog house. Half of the management is always on alert that they could be fired or replaced shortly. They pull out all the tricks to stay in the top half.

Re:This is definitely true, Revelations inside (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19003737)

The last time I forced customers to setup with this was a memorable occasion. A semi-intelligent customer realizes I had just set him up with something that he did not want. I confused him by rushing him through the process

So... How's it feel to be a Corporate Whore ?

Re:This is definitely true, Revelations inside (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19003869)

lol in American society, you are somebody's whore somewhere. And who do you think drives these corporate whore's? The stock market... IF you aren't growing, increasing profitability, you aren't doing what they expect you to do.

America is all about taking advantage of others. I really don't like this country sometimes, because it's not just corporate America and their flexible morals. It's the entire damn country. Everybody wants to get paid, and they do it by screwing over their fellow American. It's how life seems to work.

Re:This is definitely true, Revelations inside (1)

Dr_Barnowl (709838) | more than 7 years ago | (#19004697)

I wish I had a million modpoints. And I could give them all to you, so this post would be the first thing you saw on slashdot for the rest of time.

Re:This is definitely true, Revelations inside (1)

SaDan (81097) | more than 7 years ago | (#19005945)

You'd think we were all Ferengi around here, or something.

Re:This is definitely true, Revelations inside (1)

IllForgetMyNickSoonA (748496) | more than 7 years ago | (#19003985)

You, sir, are a twit.

The parent gave us a good and interesting on-topic read on how the things are run in Best Buy. He admits to have adhered to that policy. He also tells us how bad he felt about it and how wrong it was.

I applaud him for his article.

Re:This is definitely true, Revelations inside (1)

Stewie241 (1035724) | more than 7 years ago | (#19005301)

Well, no offense to those working at Best Buy, but if you are working there it probably isn't because you have lots of other options and really want to. Reality of life is people have to work and bills have to get paid. I give credit to this guy though because even though management tried to force him to use dirty sales tactics, at least after the incident he didn't just keep on doing what he was doing. He had the guts to stand up to it.

Give the guy a break - do you depend on a job in a retail big box store to make a living?

Re:This is definitely true, Revelations inside (1)

someone1234 (830754) | more than 7 years ago | (#19003929)

Would you testify this stuff under oath? Maybe it worths something.

Re:This is definitely true, Revelations inside (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19003975)

I worked at Best Buy, and one time they made me try to summon the devil. But I quit, because I like Linux and free software and stuff.

See? It's easy to make up some story, post it anonymously and pretend it's true.

Re:This is definitely true, Revelations inside (4, Funny)

gEvil (beta) (945888) | more than 7 years ago | (#19004063)

I worked at Best Buy, and one time they made me try to summon the devil. But I quit, because I like Linux and free software and stuff.

You should have just installed FreeBSD. Free software AND the devil's included.

Re:This is definitely true, Revelations inside (1)

eclectro (227083) | more than 7 years ago | (#19004283)

See? It's easy to make up some story, post it anonymously and pretend it's true.

The problem is that Best Buy has managed to successfully summon the devil on multiple occasions beforehand, giving credence to parent post.

Re:This is definitely true, Revelations inside (4, Informative)

KingOfBLASH (620432) | more than 7 years ago | (#19005473)

My girlfriend bought her laptop at Best Buy.

They tried to do this exact thing with AOL. They also tried to make my girlfriend pay to get service pack 2 installed, and pay to get an antivirus and firewall installed.

So she declined. And they told her they were getting her computer out of the back, and had us wait by the geek squad area. Checking her reciept, she's got the "Geek Squad Service Pack 2 & Antivirus Package Install" on it.

So she asked where her computer was. They told her they couldn't interrupt the installation.

So we had to DEMAND to see a manager, and we basically had to tell them they could either get us a new untouched computer out of the back, finish the install for free, or refund her money.

After losing a half hour of our life arguing with the assholes, we finally got our way.

We've had similar experiences trying to get her computer serviced at 3 seperate stores in 3 seperate cities.

Avoid Best Buy like the plague.

Re:This is definitely true, Revelations inside (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19004013)

I, as a (former) Best Buy customer who considers myself quite intelligent, got swindled into a magazine subscription I didn't want by one of you guys. He told me there was a free magazine and I just had to pick which one I wanted, so I picked one. He then rushed through some process which appeared to be collecting info for return policy on the item I was purchasing, and then when I paid the machine apparently didn't read the credit card properly and asked me to swipe it again.

When I asked where the magazine is, he said it would be arriving at my home address and I got infuriated as I realized what he had done and they refused to void the transaction saying I'd have to do it through the magazine company.

Re:This is definitely true, Revelations inside (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19004123)

*coughs*
sounds exactly like the same thing at gamestop.
If we didn't sign up a certian percentage of all our transactions up for the ad magazine and gamecard we would get a corrective action. After three corrective actions we would get fired. It was up to our boss however for the time of it though. If they were having a bad day and wanted to look better to the district manager they would write everyone up that day for poor performance. If the price of the magazine was small we were urged to sign them up without them knowing what they are fully getting into. Its not quite as bad as the MSN thing since thats all recurring, but its still pretty messed up. Though its probably just normal retail-like stuff, harass the customer until they give in just to have you shutup.

Re:This is definitely true, Revelations inside (1)

noidentity (188756) | more than 7 years ago | (#19004197)

"So yea, fook best buy and their dirty as practices."

And "fook" you for going along with them (but thanks for speaking up).

Squeeze blood from stones (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19004205)

Newsflash: Greedy people try to squeeze blood from stones

Heh, it's like that a lot of places, such as gas stations with car washes (they expect you to push the car wash tickets and lotteries), with restaurants (super size), and these are international chains... doesn't surprise me that others are doing this as well. There is actually a lot of coersion used on the managers of these places and there's not much you can do about it unless you own the outlet independantly, and even then you can get cut off of distributor chains, etc.

Re:This is definitely true, Revelations inside (4, Informative)

pipingguy (566974) | more than 7 years ago | (#19005969)

After the customer left, the manager apologized again for what he had to do, but it couldn't be revealed this was actually what we were supposed to do.

The New Yorker, 8 March 1930, p. 12.
THE TALK OF THE TOWN
There is no telling about ladies when they are disturbed, or ruffled. One of the things ladies demand, when something goes wrong with their shopping, is that the store discharge the employee whose fault it was. A store uptown has learned how very mollifying it is to ladies to witness a dismissal, and they have assigned one of their employees to be the goat in all cases. It is his job to be discharged. Whenever an aggrieved patron of the store demands the scalp of an employee, this young man is summoned, the blame is at once traced to his negligence, he is given a severe talking to and told to get his hat and leave. Sometimes he is fired as many as twenty times in a week, always to the immense relief of the customer and never with any particular injury to himself. In fact, he rather likes it -- gives him time to go across to Schrafft's for a soda.

Leewin B. Williams, ed., *Encyclopedia of Wit, Humor, and Wisdom*. New York & Nashville: Abingdon-Cokesbury Press, 1949, p. 96.
No. 666. A customer of a big New York department store complained of bad service. The manager called an employee, blamed him for the negligence, and fired him in the customer's presence. A few weeks later the same customer again had cause for complaint and again the same employee was called and fired for his carelessness. Probably you've guessed it. The store employed and "O.F.M." or "Official Fired Man" just to soothe the ruffled feelings of peeved customers. Often sympathetic customers plead with the manager not to dismiss the offending employee. Then the "O.F.M." is recalled and the manager explains to him that only the customer's pleading saved him. It is the "O.F.M.'s" duty to grasp the customer's hand in gratitude while brushing away a stage tear.

This is BS (0)

AmigaHeretic (991368) | more than 7 years ago | (#19003595)

Something doesn't sound right about this.

BestBuy doesn't even sign people up for MSN AFAIK. They'll sign you up for AOL, PeoplePC, NetZero, etc. They can only sign you up through the registers and only for the services with the "free" discs that are available in the store and that have a UPC. They scan the UPC and enter in your information & at some point you have to swipe the credit you want to bill.

I don't believe they even have MSN CDs or at least not that I have ever seen. I'd call some BestBuy's and find out. I'm certainly not "pro" BestBuy, but this is far fetched. Sounds like some confused customers to me.

Re:This is BS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19003755)

No this is going back to the days of the 3 years 400 dollar of days. When that didn't pan out, we went to 3 month free, 6 month free type plans. This is something that was going on about 3-4 years ago.

Re:This is BS (1)

AmigaHeretic (991368) | more than 7 years ago | (#19004749)

>>This is something that was going on about 3-4 years ago.

Ok, that makes more sense then.

Re:This is BS (1)

falconwolf (725481) | more than 7 years ago | (#19004121)

I don't believe they even have MSN CDs or at least not that I have ever seen

I've seen AOL, MSN, and even Compuserve disks at Best Buy.

Falcon

This is *not* BS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19004459)

I know for a fact I was at Best Buy a few years back, and they did have MSN signs all over, and were selling computers with "free*" MSN subscriptions. I wouldn't buy a PC at Best Buy, and I pay cash for stuff (good luck getting extra cash out of someone making a cash purchase 8-), but I have heard before about Best Buy's policy of basically setting such high sales requirements that people have to cheat to meet them.

*costs a bunch of cash

Re:This is BS (1)

Whuffo (1043790) | more than 7 years ago | (#19004613)

I've seen this going on at a local Best Buy. I was trying to check out with a new TV but the lines were incredibly long and slow moving due to each and every customer being run through the FREE MSN signup at the register.

I'm VERY confused (1)

Wabbit Wabbit (828630) | more than 7 years ago | (#19003667)

Supreme Court rejects case.

Appeals court reinstates case.

Reason? Quote: "all blame rests with the U.S. Supreme Court for allowing the 'outlandish' result that a claim such as this CAN be pursued under RICO." (emphasis mine)

Shouldn't that be CAN'T? If not, the sentence would mean that the Supreme Court AGREES that it can be pursued under RICO, so...

Could someone please tell a confused Wabbit Wabbit what he's missing here???

Re:I'm VERY confused (1)

Ambidisastrous (964023) | more than 7 years ago | (#19003931)

Nope, he supreme court hasn't touched this case yet. The district court tossed the case out, Odom took it to the appeals court, the appeals court reinstated the case, and bloggers started writing in Latin.

The blame on the Supreme Court is presumably a reference to an earlier decision (on another case) that set a precedent, making it legally feasible to pursue this case under RICO. I haven't yet decoded which previous case they're referring to, though.

Re:I'm VERY confused (1)

falconwolf (725481) | more than 7 years ago | (#19004147)

Supreme Court rejects case.

I'm confused too. I read a few articles on this case and not one said anything about the Supreme Court rejecting the case.

' Falcon

Obligatory (5, Funny)

acercanto (930670) | more than 7 years ago | (#19003823)

In Soviet Russia, you sign up for servi.... waait. Suddenly, Russia isn't looking too bad. ;-)

More companies to boycott (1)

javacowboy (222023) | more than 7 years ago | (#19003891)

*Sigh* I'm already boycotting Microsoft (Mac user), Sony (rootkit), and Wal-Mart. Now I have to add another company to the list. What sucks is that they own futureshop.ca, where I go to buy a lot of electronics, video games, etc. I can't do business with either anymore.

Re:More companies to boycott (1)

Ravatar (891374) | more than 7 years ago | (#19004299)

Thanks for your input. We care.

- Everyone on the planet.

Contra Costa County Best Buy (4, Funny)

Spooon69 (758526) | more than 7 years ago | (#19003969)

He took it to court? He should have handled it in the Contra Best Buy store itself, all it would have taken is... UP UP DOWN DOWN LEFT RIGHT LEFT RIGHT B A

Silverman has his head up his keister (3, Interesting)

Excelcia (906188) | more than 7 years ago | (#19004087)

Silverman and his group (Rymer, Tallman, Rawlinson, and Bea) have their collective heads up their arses. They suggest that they can't see any sort of enterprise in the complaint. In the complaint, it is alleged that one partner would get the credit card info and send it to the other to process and bill. If two corprorations working together to this end - and even memorializing the arrangement contractually- doesn't comprise an "enterprise", good heavens what does? With these guys making decisions, it's no wonder the ninth circuit has so many of their decisions reversed. I'm just glad that enough other justices were on the panel with heads on their shoulders to make the correct decision. If this had been remanded solely because the complainants should have been able to amend to "correct" his mistake, it would have been substantially harder for them to prove their case. I mean, how much more evidence of an enterprise can you actually get? If these were solely criminal organizations, they wouldn't even have had contracts to memorialize their arrangements (at least not contracts like the legal system thinks of the term). What was Silverman thinking?

Poor Bybee was sour grapes too.

RICO is a Bad Law (5, Informative)

SirBruce (679714) | more than 7 years ago | (#19004111)

RICO was originally designed to deal with organized crime ala the Mafia. The problem is it has many times been abused to attack corporations who run afoul of the law. Many companies are completely unprepared for the realities of RICO because it's not something that would normally apply to them. RICO had a noble purpose, but the language of it is so broad, and supported by SCOTUS, that it's a danger to any company.

Here's a quick example. Let's suppose a small conservative town in Texas decides that something like FHM magazine is "obscene" and inappropriate for kids. They pass an ordinance saying so. The next day, the cops come in and close down a local 7-11 for selling FHM, takes 'em to court, and they're found guilty. Southland Corporation decides not to fight on free speech grounds and pays the fine or whatever. They make sure not to sell the magazine in that town anymore. Remember, SCOTUS says obscenity is defined by local community standards, so this is entirely legal.

Then a small town in, say, Oklahoma does the same thing to another 7-11. Ding! RICO kicks in. Suddenly, Southland is engaged in a racketeering pattern of behavior. The fact that the two violations were unintnetional or unrelated doesn't matter. Okay, so what's the big deal? The big deal is that under RICO, the entire assets of the Southland corporation can be seized. And sold. BEFORE TRIAL. WITHOUT ANY RECOURSE. Every 7-11 in America can literally cease operation overnight because two small towns in Bumfuck, Nowhere decided they didn't like a particular magazine. The only other alternative is that 7-11 would have to stop selling the magazine everywhere, because it can't take the risk of having a second violation that would qualify for RICO.

Anyone who thinks the PATRIOT ACT goes too far should really be far more worried about RICO. It can do far greater damage. There are parts of RICO that are probably a good thing; it certainly makes it easier to take down criminal organizations. But the law needs to be changed if we are going to preserve our freedoms.

Mod this up (1)

mark99 (459508) | more than 7 years ago | (#19004157)

Very interesting. Didn't realize that RICO was so draconian.

Another case of lawmakers throwing out the baby with the bathwater, SARBOX comes to mind as well.

Sounds good to me... (1, Insightful)

moosehooey (953907) | more than 7 years ago | (#19004313)

Once a few of these huge mega-corps get a good fucking-over, maybe they'll start to behave a bit. As it is now, the government lets them do whatever they want. I'd love to see them seize all the assets of Microsoft.

Re:RICO is a Bad Law (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19004471)

The thing about your scenario is that the laws defining the so-called "obscenities" contained in FHM would have to be so well defined to single out just FHM alone would go far enough to have the law thrown out. However, if the law were to stand, all magazine distributors would have to do in order to not be sued would be to ask the "community" what they think the recommended age to view FHM should be and simply have the magazine behind the counter like other small, easy to steal, age-restricted merchandise.

Back to the article. RICO may be a bad law and overly broad in its wording, but in this context, it works. Microsoft and Best Buy are working in collusion to obfuscate the terms of a service. It wouldn't be as bad if it were just one of the company's legalese that had to be hacked through; instead, you have to navigate both in order to ascertain exactly what is going on when you purchase the computer. Furthermore, the guy in the article allegedly didn't even agree to their terms and he was charged anyway! That's just ridiculous.

RICO may be overly broad and need refining, but something more than a "slap on the wrist" should be done to stop Microsoft and Best Buy from signing people up for an unwanted service and obfuscating the terms of said service in order to generate fraudulent revenue.

Re:RICO is a Bad Law (0, Flamebait)

jellie (949898) | more than 7 years ago | (#19005419)

RICO may be an overly broad law. But I remember when it was used by the Clinton DOJ to sue the tobacco industry, asking for a disgorgement of "ill gotten" gains. I remember reading, at the time, that quite a few legal scholars found it to be a brilliant tactic because it allowed the government to essentially try and bankrupt the tobacco industry.

But alas, Bush became president. I believe they watered down the monetary penalties so much that it became a joke. And we all know how incapable the DOJ is now.

MS Violating Data Privacy? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19004127)

I know that employees of the evil empire (the MS one) have to take an online course (with cool animation) where they learn how you are never never ever supposed to do stuff with data unless the customer has explicitly agreed to it. Everyone at MS has to take the course this year.

Obviously if they didn't have trouble with their people doing this kind of thing, there would be no such course. Apparently there are even "Privacy Officers" where one can do the appropriate whistle blowing, I doubt many people would bother though.

Setting up an apparatus like that to enforce behavior makes subverting the process that much cooler.

obligatory (2, Funny)

justinlee37 (993373) | more than 7 years ago | (#19004207)

In soviet U.S., service signs up for you!

Was Microsoft Aware? (1, Insightful)

DavidD_CA (750156) | more than 7 years ago | (#19004837)

From reading so far, and especially from a prior post from a Best Buy employee, it doesn't appear that Microsoft knew that these customers were being signed up without concent.

It sounds more like Best Buy had an overly agressive internal campaign to refer as many sales as possible to MSN, and did whatever they could to make it happen.

Is Microsoft guilty if it had no knowledge of this? Further, did Microsoft make it easy for people to cancel the service?

If Microsoft played fair when someone asked to cancel, and if they honestly didn't know how aggressive Best Buy was, then I can't fault them for this.

in my experience.. (3, Informative)

agent0range_ (472103) | more than 7 years ago | (#19004917)

I worked in a call center that did support for MSNIA. That was horrible in itself, but I had to deal with people who had anywhere from 2-8 extra accounts that were created each time they went to best buy. Some of the people didn't even have a computer! In one case an elderly lady bought a microwave, which didn't work, then returned for a new one and ended up with 2 dial-up accounts... which she didn't notice for a year! Now that last part is her fault, but I arranged for a full refund because I hate microsoft and their scummy ways.

I'm not trying to play this down any, but... (1)

rob1980 (941751) | more than 7 years ago | (#19004925)

A similar incident happened to the buyer of a cell phone at a Reno Best Buy store, the case says. Microsoft withdrew monthly MSN payments from her debit card account for 17 months without her knowledge or permission, the allegations say.

How do you not know that you're missing $20 every month for a year and a half? Seriously, look at your bank statements every now and then.

Outlandish? Only that we're just now hearing it (1)

kavalec (1072894) | more than 7 years ago | (#19005165)

Outlandish?
NO
In my humble opinion this WAS petty crime, it was organized, and it was "interstate". RICO applies.
At best the practice was a case of willfull disregard of consumers' rights.
In cases of death, willful disregard is called second-desgree manslaughter. Why should 'willful-disregard-theft' NOT be a crime?

This has been going on forever (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19005899)

I bought an HP Pavilion in summer 2000 at Best Buy and a year later I saw a $15 charge for MSN dial-up on my cc statement. At least back then it was charged against a credit card and not withdrawn from your bank account.

Ah, the good old days
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