What happens when an online merchant makes a mistake in your favor?


  • 500 Club

    An online merchant had a coupon available on its website.
    The coupon was for e.g. $10 off when you spend $50.
    When a customer had a purchase for > $50 and added the coupon code to their cart the coupon code deducted 100% of the cart total. Sometimes there was a balance due of ~ $1 but most times the balance due was $0.
    The orders shipped and were delivered.
    The merchant has now sent out emails basically requesting that the merchandise be returned.
    The unsolicited emails say “We’re happy to help you with your return request”.

    The purchase was paid for using a coupon which they hosted.
    A coupon is legal tender so payment was made.
    Am I correct that one is under no legal obligation to return the merchandise?

    The merchant has a Rewards program and Rewards were issued for the purchases.
    In many cases the Rewards have already been used so they can’t reclaim them.


  • administrators

    @my4mainecoons I’m pretty sure they can’t get the items back, but it doesn’t hurt to try.


  • 500 Club

    @dangeruss that’s my thought but now I have to decide if I feel guilty enough to return the merchandise.
    I’m sure that’s part of the intent of the “we’re happy to help you with your return request”.
    They are also letting us know that they caught the mistake.


  • administrators

    @my4mainecoons said in What happens when an online merchant makes a mistake in your favor?:

    @dangeruss that’s my thought but now I have to decide if I feel guilty enough to return the merchandise.
    I’m sure that’s part of the intent of the “we’re happy to help you with your return request”.
    They are also letting us know that they caught the mistake.

    Yea it’s mostly an ethics thing. Even if they’re in the right and can sue you and win, they won’t do it over $50. Karma can be a bitch though. If you are going to return it, I would ask what they’re willing to offer you for your time, perhaps you can score a better than $10 off $50 coupon.


  • 500 Club

    @dangeruss One earned $25-$45 in Rewards on an order and can buy prepaid gc with that so IDK if we need more compensation. I ordered some items as gifts and I don’t want to ask for those back. Maybe I’ll return half of my orders. Each order was on a different account and shipped to a different “person”. Even if one returns all the merchandise one is still ahead a few hundred in Rewards as people placed multiple orders. Most of what I ordered was for the bay.


  • 500 Club

    It looks like they caught the mistake earlier than I thought. My last order (yesterday AM) will probably be cancelled before it ships. I still received $45 in Rewards which I’ll cash out today.


  • 3K Club

    I see you discovered Rite Aid’s coupon mistake, too. Someone really screwed up over there at Rite Aid. I bet someone will lose their job over it.


  • 500 Club

    @mrvietnam It was kept pretty quiet so they may not have lost too much.


  • 3K Club

    @my4mainecoons said in What happens when an online merchant makes a mistake in your favor?:

    @mrvietnam It was kept pretty quiet so they may not have lost too much.

    People on SD were sharing it via private messaging, so I am sure the word got around and plenty of people found out and placed a boatload of orders the last several days. I could name at least one person who placed a whole lot of orders with the code, but I will keep their identity anonymous. The Web is a big place that reaches many people, so I’m sure the word got around. I am sure they lost at least tens of thousands of dollars, especially when you factor in the Bonus Cash earned on these illegitimate orders.


  • 500 Club

    Orders placed on 4/21 have been cancelled.


  • 3K Club

    @my4mainecoons said in What happens when an online merchant makes a mistake in your favor?:

    Orders placed on 4/21 have been cancelled.

    So it looks like the code only worked AND orders shipped for about three days of online shopping: Sunday, 4/18 through Tuesday, 4/20. Probably some from 4/21 will slip through too though.


  • 500 Club

    All my orders have shipped except the one I placed yesterday. It’s still Processing but I expect it will be cancelled. I’m fine with that. I ordered just for the $45 BC. I don’t need more dish soap and peroxide. Its heavy and more effort to return since it would have come via UPS. My earlier orders are lightweight. It’s not a lot of work to open the box, remove the return label and ship it back out. However knowing that individuals abused it more than me makes me feel less guilty so thank you for that. I only ordered once on each of my accounts and had a friend order for me on 1 of their accounts.


  • 500 Club

    I’ve been ordering from RA.com for months almost every week. For the first few months of 2021 we had to call to get BC earned on a purchase credited to our account. Every single order. We know all the CSR’s. Even now offers that should be online and in the stores are not appearing online.

    When we returned something that was paid for B&M with BC we used to get BC returned to our account. They can’t do that anymore. Now we get handed cash. They’ve never figured out how to reclaim BC on something that is returned. I wouldn’t be surprised if the reason for ending BC is because they lose too much money on it.

    One of the stores I shop in got a multi-million dollar facelift in 2020. They would help their bottom line more if they put that money into fixing their rewards program.


  • Global Moderator

    @dangeruss said in What happens when an online merchant makes a mistake in your favor?:

    @my4mainecoons said in What happens when an online merchant makes a mistake in your favor?:

    @dangeruss that’s my thought but now I have to decide if I feel guilty enough to return the merchandise.
    I’m sure that’s part of the intent of the “we’re happy to help you with your return request”.
    They are also letting us know that they caught the mistake.

    Yea it’s mostly an ethics thing. Even if they’re in the right and can sue you and win, they won’t do it over $50. Karma can be a bitch though. If you are going to return it, I would ask what they’re willing to offer you for your time, perhaps you can score a better than $10 off $50 coupon.

    Maybe not over fifty, but maybe over $700? also, one order you can claim innocence, but 10? no different than thinking you can keep money that accidentally spits out of ATM machines. Intent has a lot to do with it here, if your intent was to defraud knowingly, RA may have legs to stand on legally. It could also fall under wire fraud across interstate lines which is FBI stuff.


  • 500 Club

    @mistercheap So you’re talking about volume. If one person places one order its ok but if one person does it x 2 its not ok? Or is it the dollar value? Not arguing, just asking.

    I don’t feel a need to justify my actions. I wasn’t looking for an ethical discussion. I was looking for a technical and legal discussion. I’ve been ordering ~$40/week on each of my accounts from RA.com at a profit. This week I ordered $50 for a larger profit. I had the box checked for the system to use my existing BC. Even though there was >$25 in the account the system only took a few dollars at most. There’s a range of how the code was used and it depends on the individual both as to whether it was used and if so, how often and for how much.

    When Staples sold laminators for $29 with a $100 SER with limit of 6 you could buy them or not. For several months Sears and Kmart gave back $50 SYWR on $20 headphones and one could order as many as one wanted. You could buy them or not. Staples didn’t ask for the laminators back. Sears didn’t ask for the headphones back, nor for the SYWR points.


  • administrators

    @mistercheap said in What happens when an online merchant makes a mistake in your favor?:

    @dangeruss said in What happens when an online merchant makes a mistake in your favor?:

    @my4mainecoons said in What happens when an online merchant makes a mistake in your favor?:

    @dangeruss that’s my thought but now I have to decide if I feel guilty enough to return the merchandise.
    I’m sure that’s part of the intent of the “we’re happy to help you with your return request”.
    They are also letting us know that they caught the mistake.

    Yea it’s mostly an ethics thing. Even if they’re in the right and can sue you and win, they won’t do it over $50. Karma can be a bitch though. If you are going to return it, I would ask what they’re willing to offer you for your time, perhaps you can score a better than $10 off $50 coupon.

    Maybe not over fifty, but maybe over $700? also, one order you can claim innocence, but 10? no different than thinking you can keep money that accidentally spits out of ATM machines. Intent has a lot to do with it here, if your intent was to defraud knowingly, RA may have legs to stand on legally. It could also fall under wire fraud across interstate lines which is FBI stuff.

    I want to see FBI get involved over $700. No way they’re getting involved in something under $10K at least. I also don’t see them getting involved in this case as this was a mistake on RA’s part, not some hack from a third party.


  • Global Moderator

    @my4mainecoons said in What happens when an online merchant makes a mistake in your favor?:

    @mistercheap So you’re talking about volume. If one person places one order its ok but if one person does it x 2 its not ok? Or is it the dollar value? Not arguing, just asking.

    I don’t feel a need to justify my actions. I wasn’t looking for an ethical discussion. I was looking for a technical and legal discussion. I’ve been ordering ~$40/week on each of my accounts from RA.com at a profit. This week I ordered $50 for a larger profit. I had the box checked for the system to use my existing BC. Even though there was >$25 in the account the system only took a few dollars at most. There’s a range of how the code was used and it depends on the individual both as to whether it was used and if so, how often and for how much.

    When Staples sold laminators for $29 with a $100 SER with limit of 6 you could buy them or not. For several months Sears and Kmart gave back $50 SYWR on $20 headphones and one could order as many as one wanted. You could buy them or not. Staples didn’t ask for the laminators back. Sears didn’t ask for the headphones back, nor for the SYWR points.

    I’m talking about the law. small dollar value maybe considered petty theft, and won’t be worth RA’s time to persue, especially if a person says they used the coupon in good faith (all beauty items) and did it once. high dollar value starts falling into grand larceny (thin five hundred or more in many states) if RA is trying to recover lost revenue, much more worth their time to go after someone who games them for 700 than for fifty. Not saying makes the fifty ok, but their have a much stronger reason to put resources behind a large amount than a one time fifty dollar order. Plus if they can trace multiple orders back to one person/IP address, that may be able to go after the person legally with the intent aspect I talked about.

    If you’re familiar with the Staples coupon fraud cases years back, it’s like that. the people who abused the crap out of those bogus coupons were the ones who got lawyers letters and had to make restitution.


  • Global Moderator

    @my4mainecoons said in What happens when an online merchant makes a mistake in your favor?:

    @mistercheap So you’re talking about volume. If one person places one order its ok but if one person does it x 2 its not ok? Or is it the dollar value? Not arguing, just asking.

    I don’t feel a need to justify my actions. I wasn’t looking for an ethical discussion. I was looking for a technical and legal discussion. I’ve been ordering ~$40/week on each of my accounts from RA.com at a profit. This week I ordered $50 for a larger profit. I had the box checked for the system to use my existing BC. Even though there was >$25 in the account the system only took a few dollars at most. There’s a range of how the code was used and it depends on the individual both as to whether it was used and if so, how often and for how much.

    When Staples sold laminators for $29 with a $100 SER with limit of 6 you could buy them or not. For several months Sears and Kmart gave back $50 SYWR on $20 headphones and one could order as many as one wanted. You could buy them or not. Staples didn’t ask for the laminators back. Sears didn’t ask for the headphones back, nor for the SYWR points.

    Maine, the coupon was NOT advertised as a $$/$$ (add any amount, use coupon, pay zero), the other examples you give were. It staples loaded the sales price of $30 and gave a $100 rebate, remember the rebate was funded by the manufacturer, not Staples. Staples lost no money. You’re not comparing apples and apples.


  • Global Moderator

    @dangeruss said in What happens when an online merchant makes a mistake in your favor?:

    @mistercheap said in What happens when an online merchant makes a mistake in your favor?:

    @dangeruss said in What happens when an online merchant makes a mistake in your favor?:

    @my4mainecoons said in What happens when an online merchant makes a mistake in your favor?:

    @dangeruss that’s my thought but now I have to decide if I feel guilty enough to return the merchandise.
    I’m sure that’s part of the intent of the “we’re happy to help you with your return request”.
    They are also letting us know that they caught the mistake.

    Yea it’s mostly an ethics thing. Even if they’re in the right and can sue you and win, they won’t do it over $50. Karma can be a bitch though. If you are going to return it, I would ask what they’re willing to offer you for your time, perhaps you can score a better than $10 off $50 coupon.

    Maybe not over fifty, but maybe over $700? also, one order you can claim innocence, but 10? no different than thinking you can keep money that accidentally spits out of ATM machines. Intent has a lot to do with it here, if your intent was to defraud knowingly, RA may have legs to stand on legally. It could also fall under wire fraud across interstate lines which is FBI stuff.

    I want to see FBI get involved over $700. No way they’re getting involved in something under $10K at least. I also don’t see them getting involved in this case as this was a mistake on RA’s part, not some hack from a third party.

    Well, I’m sure RA has a legal department. and I for one wouldn’t want to be on the receiving end of a letter. I would not be surprised if someone did over a $1000 in orders total. not that hard to do.

    As I said, one order, I wouldn’t be hiding under my bed. Mega amounts (say over six) I wouldn’t be celebrating that I got 300 bucks of stuff for nothing. Pretty easy to trace all this crap back to people. And why do you think they’re sending out those emails? to cover their butts to say, we contacted the person, asked nicely to return the stuff and they ignored us. Now we’ll play hard ball.


  • administrators

    @mistercheap and that legal department gets paid a ton of money. And they don’t have time to go after every Tom, Dick and Harry. At the minimum it would make sense to have some CSRs call first, assuming they have a phone #. It would also not look good for the company - screwing up on a coupon and then suing their customers to get the items back? Their stock would tank. They would want to keep this quiet.


  • Global Moderator

    @dangeruss said in What happens when an online merchant makes a mistake in your favor?:

    @mistercheap and that legal department gets paid a ton of money. And they don’t have time to go after every Tom, Dick and Harry. At the minimum it would make sense to have some CSRs call first, assuming they have a phone #. It would also not look good for the company - screwing up on a coupon and then suing their customers to get the items back? Their stock would tank. They would want to keep this quiet.

    It’s all conjecture right now. But personally, I find it rather shameful that some people will milk a company’s mistake for all they can get away with and seem proud of it. People who did 10 orders or 20 or however many they put thru in 48*72 hours obviously took advantage to point that I simply would not have any sympathy for them if they did get in trouble. I doubt Rite Aid is afraid of losing customers who would scam them like that in the first place. Stock wouldn’t tank, that’s absurd.


  • 500 Club

    It looks like the unsolicited email about returning items was only for an order where items were out of stock.

    People do what they’re comfortable doing. When I placed my orders it occurred to me that I could order anything on the site for crazy high price. That was out of my comfort zone. Others have a wider zone.

    Anyway, its another week and I’m working on my RA.com orders.


 

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