Circuit City Calls The Cops On Customer Who Tried To Redeem $40 DTV Coupon

Circuit City wouldn’t let Larry redeem his $40 digital transition converter box coupon unless he signed a credit slip agreeing to pay $40. Larry refused, and asked to cancel the transaction. Circuit City’s manager responded by calling the police before following Larry into the parking lot to write down his license plate number.

Larry writes:

I just attempted to buy, at Circuit City, using my charge card, and one of the $40.00 government-provided coupons, a TV converter box. After swiping both cards, the sales clerk presented me with two printouts to sign. One was for $21.19 and the other was for $40.00. Of course the $21.19 was the one for the difference between the purchase price minus the government coupon (plus the sales tax). Both printouts ended with this statement:

“The cardholder agrees to the credit card amount shown hereon and agrees to perform the obligations set forth in the cardholder agreement with the issuer.”

I refused to sign the one for $40.00. I spoke with the manager, Kim, (whose last name is “the only Kim in the store”) to cancel the transaction. She said she couldn’t and insisted that I sign both printouts. I could see this was going to turn into an issue so I quickly pocketed both unsigned receipts, the government coupon card, and my credit card and left while Kim was threatening to call the police. NOTE: I removed no merchandise from the store.

As I was driving away, Kim was standing outside writing down my license number and talking on her cell.

The government is distributing $40 coupons to subsidize converter boxes that will allow people to watch television over-the-air after February 17, 2009, when all broadcast signals switch from analog to digital.

Retailers are required to accept the coupons, and customers are required to sign a slip so the coupon can be redeemed. For some mindless reason, Circuit City is using a credit card agreement as their signature slip, and making it appear as if the customer is about to pay an extra $40.

Circuit City already called Larry to tell him that his $21 charge would be reversed. As for his $40 coupon, apparently, it will be “refunded to the government.”

Want more consumer news? Visit our parent organization, Consumer Reports, for the latest on scams, recalls, and other consumer issues.