Supreme Court Lets Class Action Racketeering Suit Against Best Buy & Microsoft Move Forward

from the the-not-so-free-paid-trial dept

Way back in 2003, we wrote about accusations that Microsoft and Best Buy were scamming customers into signing up for Microsoft's ISP MSN. The accusation was that Best Buy employees would scan the "free trial" MSN CD-ROMs that were at the store when customers would make a purchase. Customers wouldn't realize it, but the scan would then charge that customer's credit card once the free trial ended, signing them up as fully paying customers. While we wondered how widespread this practice was, some Best Buy employees have come forward to confirm that it was done at times. Both Best Buy and Microsoft have been fighting the case, and an appeal went all the way up to the Supreme Court, trying to get the case thrown out, but the Supreme Court has refused to review it, meaning the case can move forward. Of course, what's left out of much of the coverage is that lawyers working for Best Buy have already admitted to altering some of the documents he handed over in the case, which certainly doesn't bode well for Best Buy. While it's still unclear just how big a "class" this covers, if the two companies really were involved in such an activity, it does seem quite sleazy.
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Filed Under: class action, free trial, racketeering
Companies: best buy, microsoft

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  1. identicon
    BBY-X, 16 Oct 2007 @ 11:04am

    I worked at Best Buy during the MSN push. The company put an insane amount of pressure on employees to sign people up for MSN. You would get written up if you didn't try to test a customer gag reflex by shoving in down their throat for at least 15 minutes. They offered 3 year contracts, which allowed you to get $400 off instantly of any product, or 2 year contracts for $200 off. And despite the level of pressure behind selling these, signing someone up for MSN was a lengthy process. If you rang out the MSN CD, it told the system to initiate a special signup process. The cashier would then have to fill out your name, address, phone number, swipe a real credit card (no best buy cards, visas/amex/etc..), choose a unique master account name (which would ask for the customer to verify the name on the LCD signature screen, and if it was already taken they'd have to reconfirm their approval of the new name each time), and then they'd have to sign the LCD agreeing to the 2 line contract. It literally took 10-30 minutes depending on how busy the network was to sign someone up to MSN. Plus, they'd have to swipe their credit card a second time and do another signature for their actual purchase.

    Of course, all you need in order to sign someone up is their credit card info, the rest you can BS. And since you instantly got $400 worth of merchandise, I'm sure there were a lot of dishonest employees who retained some credit card info, or looked through the cards left at the store and signed them up in order to get free stuff.

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