TiVo E-Mails Me Coupon Code, Reserves Right To Remove Discounts After Order

TiVo_Roamio_Offer

Seemed like a good idea at the time.

When TiVo was offering a great price on their Roamio DVRs, reader Victor thought that his mother-in-law could use one. He thought about it, put one in his virtual cart, and then took some time to decide. Like many retailers will do, TiVo sent him an e-mail with a $50 off coupon to entice him back. How could he resist? He placed the order, and that’s where things started to go wrong.

The total was supposed to be $594.98. Fabulous deal.

TiVo-Roamio-Promo_Checkout

All seemed well until he received the shipping notification. His total order for the DVR and a TiVo service subscription for the life of the device came to $594.98. A few days later, the order shipped, and he received a notification that his card had been charged for $794.98. Wait, what? That was $200 more than he thought he had spent.

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Naturally, he called up TiVo to find out what was going on. Their explanation was that they had some problems in the past with customers stacking coupon codes on top of each other, and reserved the right to change orders after the fact if they used ill-gotten coupons. This is spelled out in the company’s terms:

We reserve the right (without liability) to (1) accept or decline your order for any reason (including if we suspect you are ordering products for resale), (2) supply less than the quantity you ordered of any item, (3) change prices for products displayed on tivo.com at any time, (4) correct inadvertent pricing or product/service information errors, and (5) charge your credit card on file a 15% restocking fee for orders that are refused at the shipping address designated for your account at the time of purchase.

Well, fine. We would accept this explanation from TiVo if Victor had been gathering coupon codes he wasn’t entitled to and trying them together to find out what happened. It would make sense if the $50 offer they e-mailed him had been incompatible with the current sale on the Roamio. The trouble is, that isn’t what he was doing.

“This wasn’t some code I scrounged the internet for that accidentally worked,” he wrote to Consumerist. “This was a targeted promotion for TiVo’s own special that was already in my cart that TiVo shouldn’t have sent me if they didn’t want to give it to me.” Right. If you don’t want people to use coupons, don’t send them those coupons. Simple.

If he didn’t want this to happen, he should have read all of the company’s terms and conditions before going through with the purchase. Everyone probably should do that, but admit it: hardly anyone ever does.

Victor contacted us, and we turned around and asked TiVo what was up with this deal. They told us that they can’t discuss specific customers’ accounts, but the company’s executive customer service team did follow up with Victor. He told us that TiVo’s offer was that “they would honor the promotion since they sent it to me directly with no message or indication that it couldn’t be combined,” he explained. Yay!

Still, Victor wonders what would have happened to a more meek consumer. “I’m afraid that others not tenacious enough just ended up eating the $50 thinking there was nothing else to be done once customer service denied them,” he observed.

It’s fair to limit promotions, but not to e-mail customers with false hope.

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  1. Liberal says:

    they should have double that coupon. companies pulling crap like that needed to be fined or something, its the dough that they understand.

  2. SingleMaltGeek says:

    Those TOS don’t say anything about changing the price of an order after it’s been submitted and accepted, probably because (although IANAL) they can’t do that. They probably knew that, with the order confirmation in hand at the correct price, Victor could have at best initiated a chargeback, at worst contacted his state AG to complain about fraud, as TiVo agreed upon one price with him and then tried to charge him more.

    But the interesting part of this deal is the $199 lifetime service. It is supposed to be $499, or $399 if you have more than one TiVo DVR (which Victor does), and the new total is increased by $200. I wonder if the $199 lifetime service was just an outright error, and they decided to eat it instead of trying to charge him the correct amount of $399. I’m pretty sure that’s where the error was, not with the $50 off, because the tax amount didn’t change, and usually only goods are taxed, not services.

    It seems like there was actually some sort of error with the service subscription, and Victor just got lucky.

    • Yes, if that was an advertised sale, then they had no right to go back and change his order. If it was a pricing error, then Victor had no right to demand that price.

      • SingleMaltGeek says:

        Right, they don’t have to give it to him at that price, but they also shouldn’t have increased the amount they charged him without giving him the chance to cancel the order if he didn’t want to pay the higher amount. He’d be under no obligation to pay an amount higher than what was agreed upon at checkout, he could just return it instead (in which case they shouldn’t charge him for shipping either).

        • Victor isn’t in the beta, but just e-mailed me about this thread. He says that the $199 price for lifetime service was a “summer sale” that TiVo promoted and not a pricing error.