Making A Donation? Ask For Details First

This is the time of year when retailers like to give back to the community by getting you to do it for them when you’re buying stuff. It might feel nice to help out a good cause, but make sure you know exactly what you’re paying for before you hand over any cash. Dominick, for example, just bought a Jack in the Box antenna ball when he thought he was straight-up donating to a non-Jack charity.

From his email to us yesterday:

This morning, I purchased breakfast at the Jack in the Box drive through. They asked if I wanted to donate $1 to Big Brothers, and (feeling generous) I agreed. When I picked up my order, they gave me a cute little antenna ball for making a donation. Later, looking at my receipt, I noticed that my “donation” was listed as the purchase of an antenna ball, and that I’d been charged tax.

I thought I was donating money, not buying a trinket, and I didn’t expect to pay sales tax on a donation. So, does the charity get any money from this transaction or not?

Today he wrote back and said Jack in the Box responded to his complaint:

After I wrote to you and to Jack in the Box, they called me. Apparently, they consider this not to be a donation, but a purchase of an antenna ball, with 70% of the purchase price (not including tax) going to charity.

I checked and signs at the store do say that this is a purchase, but you can’t see those signs from the drive through, so when I was asked if I wanted to donate, I had no way to know this wasn’t a straight donation.

Maybe donating at the drive-through window isn’t a good idea in general, since it’s not the best place to see things like fine print.

(Photo: steevithak)