GameStop Being Investigated by NY AG’s Office
In what could be seen as yet another step down the road towards complete digital distribution, GameStop is being investigated by the New York Attorney General‘s office on charges of linking its customers to shady discount people.
GameStop is only one of almost two dozen online retailers on the AG’s list, alongside such hallowed edifices as Barnes & Noble, Buy.com, and… Pizza Hut? Specifically, the AG’s office is worried that these retailers are misleading customers into signing up for monthly fees or giving their credit card information to a third party without ever realizing it. That is, until the fees show up on their statement.
[Andrew] Cuomo’s investigation has found that when consumers shop online from familiar retailers, they are often presented with a discount or cash-back incentive offer as they complete their purchase. When consumers click on the discount or incentive banner, they are unknowingly directed to a membership program seller’s Web page that is separate from the online retailer’s site. The consumer is then instructed through large, colorful print and voice prompts to accept the discount or incentive. Information about joining the membership program and its ramifications, including the fact that the consumer is agreeing to transfer his or her credit or debit card account information, is buried in fine print and cluttered text. Small and recurring charges then begin to appear on consumers’ credit or debit card bills from unfamiliar companies. Because of the low dollar amount, the charges may go unnoticed for some time.
Ticket retailer Fandango.com has already taken steps to end its cooperation with discount program sellers, including a payment of $400,000 to a consumer redress fund.
The AG’s article on the subject can be found here.
Pizza Hut? So… the AG’s office is saying that once you’re done ordering your pizza, some third party offers you nebulous pizza discounts? Huh. Well, watch out for that. No such thing as a free lunch, and all that.
Office of the New York Attorney General via Joystiq
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