Radio Shack Forced Me To Donate To Livestrong

Ryan says a Kentucky Radio Shack employee tacked on a $1 donation to Livestrong without his permission. This is the letter he sent to the company’s corporate office:

I am contacting you regarding the order filled on 11/14/09. I am choosing to contact your company directly before deciding whether to report what happened to the Kentucky Attorney General, the Better Business Bureau, and Consumerist/Consumer Reports.

This morning I went into the store in Murray, Kentucky to purchase a car charger for my new cell phone. While ringing up my order, the salesman/assistant manager (I believe named Dave) asked me if I would be interested in purchasing the service plan on the product, which I declined saying “It’s just a few resistors.” As he is ringing up my order, nothing else is discussed. I pay with my credit card, leave the store, look at my receipt and discover that this assistant manager has decided to add a $1 donation to Livestrong to my order without my knowledge or consent.

Is this some sort of new policy, or is this individual simply trying to inflate his/his store’s metrics by assuming that customers won’t look at their receipt and/or won’t complain about involuntarily donating money to charity?

I look forward to your response.

Ryan says corporate got back to him and said he’d get the $1 refunded, but a week has passed and Radio Shack still hasn’t parted with the pilfered Washington. It’s a frustrating story with frightening implications, but at least Ryan can take comfort that the alleged theft is going to a good cause.

The company sent us this statement to address the problem and solution:

Tens of thousands of customers have eagerly contributed to our point-of-sale collection for LIVESTRONG in just the first few weeks. As 100% of every $1 point-of-sale donation goes directly to LIVESTRONG, we believe it’s been tremendously successful so far. But RadioShack doesn’t intend for any customer to feel compelled to support the fight against cancer. It is a personal choice. We believe the directions are clear on the point-of-sale device, but we regret the few errors that apparently have occurred among the tens of thousands of contributions received so far. Customers who believe they’ve made the donation in error should simply contact us at or 1-800-THE-SHACK so that we can facilitate the refund process. And in the days ahead, we will use your feedback to remind our employees again about how to manage this process carefully and correctly. Thank you for bringing this to our attention.


Edit Your Comment

  1. krescendo says:

    Let Lance Armstrong know on twitter… @lancearmstrong

  2. temporaryscars says:

    Yeah, I’ve donated without consent on multiple occasions to the Arby’s fund. Whenever I order through the drive-through, they give me a large every time, even though I was never asked if I wanted the size upgraded.

  3. Fabuloso says:

    “As he is ringing up my order, nothing else is discussed. I pay with my credit card, leave the store, look at my receipt and discover that this assistant manager has decided to add a $1 donation to Livestrong to my order without my knowledge or consent.”

    Thats when you go back to the store and get your $1 back. problem solved for you. Glad i could help.

    • Erik_says_this says:

      @BB_User: I’d like to sign up for your Logic 101 please.

      • Fabuloso says:

        @Erik_says_this: Logic Classes require a $1 donation to attend lol

      • That's Consumer007 to you says:

        And I’d like you to explain your worthless slam please. BB-USer was correct, that is the quickest most efficient way to solve the problem, assuming one is lucky enough to spot it right away. What is illogical about that?

        Maybe you need Civility 101.

    • Woodside Park Bob says:

      @BB_User: No. That doesn’t solve the problem. The problem is that the store charged him for something he didn’t authorize. It is theft.

      • pecan 3.14159265 says:

        @Woodside Park Bob: He could have just gone back to the store, gotten his $1 back, then sent a letter to corporate.

        • JeffM says:

          @pecan 3.14159265: But honestly, it is a dollar- who cares? In this situation I wouldn’t have tried to get my dollar back, but would have most likely written corporate.

          • pecan 3.14159265 says:

            @JeffM: Money is money. He was literally, right outside the store. Yes, it’s only $1, but it’s $1 that the store took without permission. It’s not acceptable to be stolen from, regardless of what was stolen.

            • Eyebrows McGee (now with double the baby!) says:

              @pecan 3.14159265: The only downside is that he has to physically re-enter “The Shack.” Gives me the willies just contemplating it!

            • nybiker says:

              @pecan 3.14159265: You’re right. Good cause or not, no store should be stealing from customers. And let’s face it, you’re probably not going to get the tax deduction anyway (IANAL). And to pile on to the theme, how do we even know that RS (oh, sorry, The Shack) is going to give the entire buck to the charity? We don’t.

          • danno5-0 says:

            @JeffM: It’s only a dollar…
            Fool, its the principle of the matter. Money shouldn’t be taken w/o ones consent. On a corporate, that’s theft of a large sum of money.

        • wickedpixel says:

          @pecan 3.14159265: actually the correct solution would have been to go back to the store, get his $1 back, return the charger as well, take his business elsewhere, then send a letter to corporate.

      • t0ph says:

        @Woodside Park Bob: You are correct, Bob, the theft was the problem. The solution, as pecan said, was to immediately go back, get your buck back, send a letter to corporate and maybe cc the consumerist.

      • brain_grenade says:

        @Woodside Park Bob: Actually, he did authorize the purchase by signing the signature capture pad after paying with his credit card. An itemized product list of your purchase (with pricing included) is displayed above the sig capture box. Pay attention, I say.

      • bobloblawsblog says:

        @Woodside Park Bob: why arent cops being called?

    • katstermonster says:

      @BB_User: Sooooo how does this help the other hundreds of people who are being charged without their consent? Corporate wants to know when their stores are doing shit like this.

    • KyleOrton says:

      @BB_User: Since the $1 over charge was made to charity, I would return and request they leave the donation and discount the charger at least $1.

    • ZukeZuke says:

      @BB_User: Nicely played.

    • bravohotel01 says:

      @BB_User: I, for one, bow to the new LOGIC OVERLORD BB_User.

      Inconvenience level to turn around, go back into the store and get the matter fixed: no big deal.

      Inconvenience level to turn around, go back into the store to get the matter fixed, failing, then calling CC company and getting a chargeback: bit of a hassle.

      Inconvenience level to drive home steaming, toss and turn all night while eating pillow, then next day looking up address to Tandy Corp, drafting a letter/email to same, and x-posting to Consumerist: major–put life on hold, stop the presses! This is one dollar those fat cats won’t be getting! (“Don’t you hate pants?”)

      I understand that many people are not very good with…”confrontation,” but this is ridiculous.

    • cave12man says:

      Seriously, Ill be damned if I just walk away from the store after realizing that. Wouldn’t it have been easier to go right back into the store than to go home and write a corporate email for $1??

  4. spartie says:

    its 6 weeks til christmas, that means its 7 weeks til new years, which means the store owner needs as many customers as possible to make a tax-deductible donation on their behalf.

  5. JulesNoctambule says:

    I didn’t have my glasses on and read the title as ‘Radio Shack forced me to donate to livestock‘. That would have made an interesting read, I think.

  6. keith4298 says:

    I asked them last week what percentage of the dollar would be going to the charity and neither the cashier nor the manager had any clue. Forgetting about the fact that the law says they need to tell you if you ask, it’s just not worth it. Give all your money online to reputable sources and get a deduction the old fashioned way.

    • captadam says:

      @keith4298: I never donate at the register … I don’t really care if it makes me look heartless.

      • AstroPig7 says:

        @captadam: A cashier once tried to shame a friend of my wife’s into donating to a breast cancer research fund by asking how she would feel if her mother were dying of it. Sadly, her mother had just died of it during the previous month, and after snapping this information at the cashier, she broke down in tears and ran from her till.

      • nybiker says:

        @captadam: Well, if you’re heartless, then I’m heartless too. I don’t do it at movie theaters and I don’t do it in the nyc subways.

    • Traveshamockery says:

      @keith4298: +1000. Collecting donations like that is a convenient way for the company to get a big tax writeoff while screwing you out of your own. Plus, I don’t appreciate being put on the spot like that. I plan my charitable giving, thank you very much, I don’t have to be forced into it at the register in front of a bunch of strangers.

    • billy says:

      @keith4298: >>>I asked them last week what percentage of the dollar would be going to the charity and neither the cashier nor the manager had any clue.

      I’m sure that someone at Radio Shack corporate would know the answer. Besides, if I’m not mistaken, it’s Livestrong (the actual organization) that needs to disclose how much is charity and how much is overhead.

  7. tbax929 says:

    Although this isn’t what happened in this particular situation, I’m so over stores asking me to donate to this or that every time I check out. I know it’s not the employees’ fault, but it really bothers me.

    As if that isn’t bad enough, my local supermarket often has groups standing outside of it asking for donations to some cause or another. I just say no and move on, but I wish they’d stop that.

    • subtlefrog says:

      @tbax929: Yes. For a while, the stores here had banned all the people in the parking lots, with a very self-congratulatory bit about how shopping should be hassle free. Yet…they are back. The worst part is that they tend to be collecting signatures for petititions (& money, of course) for things that I would be willing to support – just not in a damned parking lot. Too sketchy.

      • failurate says:

        @subtlefrog: Where I live, it is usually well off kids with their well off parents selling candy or some other crap to fund an activity that they should probably be paying for themselves.

        That combined with the inevitable guy in the parking lot who is out of gas and needs to get his sick kid to the hospital in some other city (because the absolutely massive regional hospital just a block or so away doesn’t do this or that).
        Grocery shopping just sucks now days.

        • barb95 says:

          @failurate: I went to catholic elementary school and had to sell a certain amount of candy each semester. We didn’t have a choice, it was a requirement to fund certain things at the school. If we didn’t sell the chocolate, we had to pay for it. Now, my family was not rich. My parents worked two jobs to give me a good education and could not afford to buy the candy. So I was that kid outside a mall selling my chocolates : )

          • failurate says:

            Well, when you put it that way… I’ll buy a chocolate next time I see them. I do like chocolate and helping people.

      • BambiTLK says:

        @subtlefrog: Some of the charities have started handing out shopping lists for their charity/cause. The approach and ask you to buy a few things for them while you are in the store. The last one I saw was a bunch of teenage girls collecting things for unemployed single teenage moms. A woman was arguing with them about why condoms weren’t on the list.

    • looneytunes says:

      @tbax929: The groups of beggars outside the grocery store drive me insane. Every weekend there’s a different group of cheerleaders or dancers or football players looking for spare change so they can buy new uniforms. And there’s always a parent standing nearby to give me the stink eye when I say no thanks and walk away. Guess what, kid? When I was your age, I wore the same ratty uniform that the kids before me wore. Now get off of my lawn!

      • Kuchen says:

        @looneytunes: At one of my local grocery stores, there is a concession trailer right outside the exit that different groups sell things out of in the summer. There’s some sort of treat that’s sold, and a jar if you want to donate more. The Kiwanis always have hot dogs. $1.50 for a hot dog, chips, and a soda. They know how to get my donation dollars.

    • bah84 says:

      @tbax929: I once had an on-site interview for a “marketing” job with a company who sends people out to those parking lots and doorways on behalf of other companies (D.A.R.E., for example). I would be okay with this, except that the guy I was working with was telling people “Oh this is a Disney product but we have a deal with them to sell with our fundraiser,” etc. Obviously anything Disney will have the logo, familiar characters, etc. I couldn’t believe his nerve, and how many people got suckered into it.

      My point: if you want to donate to these charities or causes, find their website and make sure your money is actually going to the right place.

    • Billifer says:

      That’s why I like shopping at Target: they do not allow solicitors on their property “regardless of the cause.” If you read the sign as you walk in the front door, they tell you that basically because they don’t want you to be distracted while you’re buying their stuff, but hey, at least they’re honest… and it works!

  8. sweenitodd says:

    The touchpad that you pay from gives you the option of donating or not… guess is he hit the green accept button before reading the screen and did it himself…

    • mmmsoap says:

      @sweenitodd: This seems very likely, but I would expect that his response from RS Corporate would reference that the authorization was made at the terminal. Did they not mention that?

    • kerry says:

      @sweenitodd: That’s my guess, too. I know other retailers that do it (PetSmart and PetCo come to mind) and if you’re not paying attention it’s easy to hit “ok” thinking you’re approving the total when really you’re approving the donation to a charity.

    • Hogan1 says:


      This is the most plausible explanation. More then likely this was actually an error on the part of the OP then shennigans on the part of RS. It’s very easy to skim through the menus when making a purchase. For example Petco, IKEA, etc all have the $1 donation options. They’re clearly labeled but if you are in a hurry you might just hit yes without looking.

    • thewildboo says:

      @sweenitodd: I just saw this scheme for the first time yesterday at Stop & Shop. It came up asking if I wanted to donate $1 to whatever and the pretty green “accept” button was to agree to the donation. Thankfully I read things but it would be very easy for someone to click the green button, since it is on the credit/debit card machine, thinking they were just approving the sale. I think it’s very sneaky.

      • pecan 3.14159265 says:

        @je suis whore: I like them because it places the burden on the consumer. If you hit yes the first time, you made a mistake. If you keep hitting yes because you forget it’s there, it’s totally your fault for not learning from your mistake. I prefer to get the message on the screen rather than get asked by the cashier, who probably doesn’t even want to ask it, but has to.

  9. halcyondays says:

    RadioShack is kinda scammy anyway. I go in there about once a year and they always want my phone # even when I’m paying in cash. I always tell them that a) I don’t have one, or b) it’s the same as the store’s phone #.

    • Communist Pope says:

      @halcyondays: I’ve memorized my county’s sheriff’s non-emergency phone number and pass that out to number-demanding businesses. Man I love doing that.

    • kerry says:

      @halcyondays: I just say “no,” when they ask for it. Sometimes they get flustered, and then I tell them to enter all zeroes. Apparently on some systems you can’t bypass the phone number entry. I’ve never had the guts to say 588-2300 or 867-5309.
      Most places I shop ask for my zip code, for the same reason. I’ve noticed that the zip code places are better at taking “no” for an answer.

  10. tundey says:

    So let’s see: you got charge for something you didn’t buy and you feel writing a letter to corporate is the best way to handle it? Come on, people! At least give the local guys a chance to resolve problems before going to their bosses. How would you like if your co-workers too every little issue they have with you to the company CEO? I bet you’ll hate it.

    Now, if there’s a pattern that’s been established and the store refuses to refund the “donation”, feel free to use the corporate route.

  11. adamcz says:

    I’m also sick of stores asking me to donate. Why would I ever want to make my charitable donations $1 a time so that some corporation can take the credit for it, and so that the money goes to a bunch of random charities that I have not done my due dilligence on? The cashier at my grocer did not even know what percent of donations the charity in question wastes on administrative expenses before doing good deeds with the rest.

    That’s simply inappropriate – for someone to be requesting my money without knowing much at all about the group that it will go to. That’s like sending 18 year old missionaries out looking for converts to their religion before they know all of the history and rules that they are expected to believe in. Oh wait…

  12. MEoip says:

    Ask back. I frequently put on a serious face and attempt negotiate an in kind deal to get money donated to the human fund (money for people) by the person requesting my funds. Occasional I had one manager start getting information on the charity before I broke and told him to google it.

  13. GitEmSteveDave_HazEnvy says:

    I wonder if the OP just hit yes on the POS terminal thinking he was hitting yes for the credit amount. Some places, like PetSmart, do this when checking out.

  14. Outrun1986 says:

    First of all I think its inappropriate that stores have people at the exits because the beggers DO block the exit and get in your way when you are trying to get out of the store. Some have stood RIGHT in front of the doorway and actually attempt to block you from getting out if you don’t donate. I don’t think this is a good thing if there was a fire or emergency in the store and they could not get out of the way quick enough. They have to be breaking fire codes by doing this.

    Second every single stores asks me to donate at the register, if I donate a dollar every time I want to buy something in a store, I would be very broke. This does not include the beggers at the door or the candy bar salesperson that stands where the door greeter does in walmart. Yes we have had both here.

    I don’t care what store policy is, my policy is no donations at the register. I don’t know where that money is going and chances are some of it is going right into the managers pocket. If I want to donate its going to be given directly to the charity that I want it to go to.

  15. formergr says:

    I was *just* in Radio Shack on Saturday and made a purchase, and the donation screen is right before the screen where you sign on the credit card machine facing the customer.

    While I wouldn’t be at all surprised if a RS employee added the donation without his permission, it’s also possible he accidentally tapped the screen and approved the donation without realizing it– I in fact almost did it myself.

  16. liljimmynorton says:

    The ONLY way to donate is to hit accept on the signature capture device. It cannot be added on by the associate, unless it was one of the livestrong bracelets. Please pay attention before blaming people next time. KTHXBYE

  17. Tranquillado says:

    “Radio Shack still hasn’t parted with the pilfered Washington.”

    “Pilfered Washington”? My, aren’t you a hip blogger.

  18. SkokieGuy says:

    When cashiers ask you to donate to a charity, try smiling sweetly and say “That’s a wonderful charity, but I prefer to donate to it directly, so I get receive tax deduction for my money I give, not your employer”.

  19. egoods says:

    I worked at the shack with last years donation thing. It’s a simple “F1 for yes F2 for no” so it’s possible he accidentally pushed the wrong button.

  20. JimBoSlobish says:

    A movie theatre I went to was running their yearly Will Rogers charity donations. Instead of asking customers if they would like to donate their hard earned money, they decided it would be easier to force it on those buying large fountain drinks. They had these really crappy signs printed out stating that any large drink will cost $5.00, instead of the normal $4.50, with the additional charge being sent to the Will Rogers Charity. Pretty shaddy to me. I worked at a theatre back in the day and was forced to verbally moleste people into buying “stars”, with the proceeds going to Will Rogers.

    I wouldn’t go to that Cinemark any longer if they didn’t have $4 matinee and $6 adult evening tickets (and very good film presentation).

  21. theSuperman says:

    The only people that I donate to who ask are the Salvation Army people who stand around at the malls around Christmas time. They usually dont beg or ask for anything; they just stand there ringing their bell and saying Merry Christmas (or Happy Holidays, depending on how non-denominatoinal they want to be).

  22. QquegChristian says:

    This Thanksgiving has been a particularly vicious donation season at grocery store checkouts.

    Publix is asking us to buy a $10 brown bag of groceries for a needy family, but these are items that PUBLIX SELLS in the bag, so it seems profitable. It’s like a few cans of veggies and a canned ham.

    I’m sorry, but if I’m going to donate $10 to a needy family for Thanksgiving, there is better food than a canned ham that can be had with that money. I mean, Wal-Mart is selling $5 turkeys this year.

    They’d be better off buying $10 1/4lb Burger King double cheeseburgers for that $10 than eating a canned ham. BK isn’t real food either, but it does fall somewhere higher than canned ham on the real food meter (but probably below most everything else).

    Giving needy families canned food is lazy of these organizations, especially ones that skim money off for operating costs.

    • h3llc4t, breaker of office dress codes says:

      @QquegChristian: The CVS near me did this for a local women’s shelter. It was a plastic bag that contained a travel toothpaste, a few blocks of ramen noodles, a travel packet of tissues and some gum or some other tiny item for $5. I asked if there was any way to donate directly to the charity at that location and the clerk didn’t think there was. I know how much those items cost and it’s not $5, even if a small amount of that money went to covering the cost of labor to put those items in the bags (which it shouldn’t).

  23. StanTheManDean says:

    The IRS has limits as to the amounts that can be donated and legally deducted from your income tax

    (can’t deduct donations more than your income yada yada yada)

    So, just tell the clerk/jerkwad that you have reached your legally allowable charitable deductions for the year and that the IRS will disallow the donation as it exceeds the allowable limits.

  24. suburbancowboy says:

    I am not a big RadioShack fan, but they are the sonsor for Lance’s team this year, and I am glad that American Cycling at least has some high profile sponsorship.

  25. JohnDeere says:

    im all for charity, but stealing money to give it away is so robin hood.

  26. Trick says:

    I love companies that will take a donation on my behalf. They get all the credit and tax benefits for my generosity!

  27. hakka_lugi says:

    Just in case no one knows this…Radio Shack is the Title sponsor of Lance Armstrong’s (new) Pro Cycling Team….Team Radio Shack

  28. ellemm says:

    I really wish stores would just stop this crap. A Dollar Tree store that I no longer frequent makes their cashiers beg customers for “help for the homeless” which amounts to them selling you an extra item at the register which is then put in a big box to be donated to some nameless organization. The cashiers don’t know where the “donated” items go and I suspect they get put back into the regular stock at the end of the day. Not that it is any of the Dollar Tree’s business, but I donate a not unsubstantial percentage of my pay to the less fortunate without the cash register arm-twisting. Plus I am shopping at Dollar Tree (!) so really, how damn much money do they think I have?

  29. Silversmok3 says:

    Last time I worked at the shack,stores had a metric to meet for Livestrong donations.

    Yes, that’s right, stores were ranked on how many customers gave to charity as a sales metric, right up there in acessory attach rates, and battery sales.I never got around to investigating why they did so,since the staff wasn’t paid comission , so im curious what profit or tax benefit RS got for people donating to livestrong?

    To the OP, never leave an RS store without checking your recipt.Employees do sneak stuff on the receipt to get a loudmouth DM off their backs. Its not often, but ive seen it happen.

  30. JanFlushingMI says:

    Petsmart is notorius for doing this. I always make them refund it. I prefer giving to my local animal shelter on my own.

  31. RSMan says:

    I work at radioshack. We CANNOT force a $1 donation, that has to be selected on the credit card pad. All we can do on our register is clear the prompt, not accept it. I would like to hear from the Radioshack employees and to see your reciept. Also, resistors do not prompt a service plan offer. I believe the OP is lying.

  32. Mr. TheShack says:

    I work at RadioShack. We have no way of adding the $1 to your bill, only canceling the prompt. That means you hit “OK” before reading. Had you gone straight back, they would have voided said order and re-rang it up. I’m no apologist for RS, I hate it. But come on, admit fault where it is due.

  33. Zabi says:

    I work at RadioShack, and it is pretty much impossible for us to add that donation. The prompt pops up on the cc terminal, the only option we have available is for us to cancel the donation. If anything, the consumer saw the green “accept” button, and pressed it without bothering to read it. Granted, the employee should have recognized that the donation was going through and explained it to the customer. I had someone do this today actually, I wasn’t ready for them to run through the cc terminal, but they did anyways. The donation prompt auto popped up, and they ery quickly pressed the green key because they assumed it meant that they were confirming the purchase. Also, we don’t track the numbers for charitable donations…

  34. Billifer says:

    @failurate Wow, you must live across the street from me! Seriously… The joys of daily life. Oh, don’t forget the magazines. Teens selling magazines, my god they’re everywhere.

  35. Saphyre1960 says:

    You shouldn’t have to worry about pushing any extra buttons. Stores are supposed to be there for retail sales not charity sales.
    Rat Shack was wrong.
    As for mailing lists, I never give my email or my phone number out when they ask, if they push it on the phone number I give them a 888 number. There is no reason you should have to part with personal information to buy batteries.
    I donate what I can every year to the charities I know will use the whole amount of the donation. If stores think the consumer is too stupid to notice a missing extra dollar here or there they are very wrong.
    I bought something on line 3 years ago and I got signed up without my permission or without any extra keystrokes, to a place that sells ticket books and travel vouchers. Tickets like B1G1 free movies, dinners, mini golf etc. Buy one get 50% off on plane tickets to odd places during off peak times etc. I had $50 a month taken from my bank account to pay for the books and vouchers for a grand total of $800 by the time I got them to stop through the Better Business Bureau…and had to close my bank account. Unfortunately the bank I was with at the time said it was an approved “sale”. I told them it wasn’t and I closed my account.
    I know we live in a world where it is “caveat emptor” but doing things like this just assures that there will not be a second purchase made in a store that cannot be trusted.

  36. nycdesigner says:

    I forced them to refund my dollar; when they said they couldn’t because it was a credit card, I yelled some more and they finally took a buck, plus tax, out of the till.

  37. RSCustomerCare says:

    Thousands of customers have eagerly contributed to our point-of-sale collection for Livestrong in just the first few weeks. It’s been tremendously successful so far. But RadioShack doesn’t intend for any customer to feel compelled to support the fight against cancer. We regret the error that apparently occurred here; among the thousands of contributions received, these two mistakes certainly were not intended. We are contacting the customers mentioned here directly in an attempt to refund their $1 payments via over-night express as quickly as possible. And in the days ahead, we will remind our employees how to manage this point-of-sale process correctly.

    RadioShack Customer Care

  38. MastaVern says:

    As a radioshack regular, i can tell you that the option to donate to livestrong has always been the customers choice. you have to click yes, or select the donation ammount on the credit card machine before it can be added to the ticket. then every time i have donated another screen comes up asking you to confirm the donation. sounds like someone was just in a rush and just kept hitting yes with out looking to see what he was doing.