Radio Shack Nearly Livestronged Me

Even though Radio Shack has promised to tell its employees to manage its Livestrong donations “carefully and correctly,” people are still complaining that sneaky clerks are tricking them into donating.

This is from Melissa in Maryland:

Another Radio Shack donation story. Maybe they will get the message from another unhappy customer.

I visited the Radio Shack in [redacted], MD today to purchase a wireless mouse and a battery for a cordless phone. The employee helped me find the right battery.

Then I went to checkout.

The same employee offered me batteries and a warranty for the $25 mouse. I declined and pulled out my credit card. Before I swiped my card the credit card display asked me if I wanted to make a donation to the Lance Armstrong charity. I selected ‘decline.’ As I was reading the screen the employee said ‘just click accept.’ Assuming she was referring to my credit card (the usual ‘Is $25.00 ok?’ screen), I replied that I had not swiped it yet. It took a second to realize she was trying to get a donation. Then after the transaction she tried to sell me a cell phone.

I know that the Radio Shack employees are judged by their upsells and donations. But this was just silly.

If you’re not as crafty as Melissa at avoiding a Livestronging, hit up or 1-800-THE-SHACK for a refund.


Edit Your Comment

  1. temporaryscars says:

    Radio Shack is kind of like Robin Hood, but instead of stealing from the rich and giving to the poor, they steal from the stupid (stupid enough to set foot in their store) and give to the sick.

  2. pecan 3.14159265 says:

    Now we have confirmation of the screen appearing on POS units. This is an entirely new scenario from the people who paid cash and still got charged the $1, and the people who claimed they hit “decline” or “no” on the POS unit.

    What happened to Melissa is simply that the screen appeared, and the cashier was trying to get a donation – there was no trickery involved, just some unwanted pushing.

    The question remains for the other cases: Did people simply not pay attention and hit the “accept” button, or did they not get the screen at all? In which case the Radio Shack employee added the $1 charge to their bill. Furthermore, what about the people who paid in cash? They still got Livestrong’d, which seems to indicate that Radio Shack employees are adding the $1 charge whenever they think they can get away with it, and people don’t see it until they leave.

    • lukesdad says:

      In another life when I worked at Radio Shack, you had to sit down with their training manuals for a week before you got out on the floor. You had to learn things like what a resistor is, how voltage, amperage and impedance work, along with some basic sales techniques and customer service requirements.

      Judging by the folks I see working there today, that stuff doesn’t exist anymore. I know there are still some knowledgeable folks here and there, but these days they are a small minority.

      • lukesdad says:

        My above comment would make a little more sense — in a contextual sense — if I had replied to the correct comment. Sorry.

    • Rectilinear Propagation says:

      there was no trickery involved

      I’d argue that it’s fairly sketchy for the cashier to simply say, “Just hit accept” as if it was a normal part of the transaction instead of saying anything to indicate that screen was for a voluntary donation.

    • Rectilinear Propagation says:

      there was no trickery involved

      I’d argue that it’s fairly sketchy for the cashier to simply say, “Just hit accept” as if it was a normal part of the transaction instead of saying anything to indicate that screen was for a voluntary donation.

    • Jabes says:

      I’d say there was trickery in that she says she had already selected “decline.” If the clerk then tells her to press “accept,” that indicates to me that the LiveStrong donation screen is perhaps showing up twice or something. If she had just been reading the screen without having already pressed “decline,” then your scenario makes sense.

  3. Verucalise (Est.February2008) says:

    First off, I’d like to say that Radio Shack really needs to either vamp up it’s employee training OR a big ole cutout of Lance Armstrong at the door, holding up a note saying “DONATE TO ME DURING CHECKOUT!”

    In all honesty, whenever I read a screen for too long, at ANY store- the employee will get a bit antsy and answer your questions before you ask. Say, when your debit card automatically goes thru debit and you wanted credit. Most people know to press “cancel” and then select “credit” and so on, but I’ve had cashiers immediately jump to “Press cancel and then credit” before I’ve even asked. Or, like the OP- “Just press accept.”

    Also, at certain stores, the charge information doesn’t reach the cashier until you answer a question like “Are these charges correct?” or “Are you accepting these charges?” and you have to either press accept or yes before it moves to the cashier where he/she can finish the transaction.

    Now, I don’t shop at Radio Shack EVER and I could be completely off base but just reading the story at face value, for me, it’s hard to say without knowing the transaction question/answer system in RS.

    • pop top says:

      I wouldn’t say they get “antsy” if you stare at the screen too long. They’re probably just trying to hurry the transaction along because they’ve put up with hundreds of people staring at the screen for days before yelling at them about how it works., and they are forgetting the first screen is now for donations instead of OKing the payment method.

  4. aka_mich says:

    It’s the story that will never die, kill it, kill it with fire.

    Seriously though, I understand they’re probably pressured by upper management to be pushing these things and everything but at what point do you think someone at Radio Shack corporate gets the bright idea that maybe it’s time to take it down a notch. It’s really giving a black eye to something that should be a good thing.

  5. twophrasebark says:

    This is a shame.

    This is starting to make the Livestrong organization look bad through no fault of their own. I hope someone from their organization reads this and rethinks their affiliation with Radio Shack.

    • Amish Undercover says:

      By now Livestrong should be very aware of these scams, yet the organization hasn’t pulled the plug. Would it be appropriate to call them an accessory? I think so.

      • elangomatt says:

        Maybe The Shack is pulling in so much money for Livestrong that they don’t want to pull the plug. All these people getting “livestronged” is probably pulling in some decent $$$

  6. Nighthawke says:

    I think what is not being said here, is that there is some kind of competition between the stores as to who gets the most donations and prizes might be involved.
    So the pressure is on the salesjerks to make the cash come in.

    • Mr. TheShack says:

      They had an informal competition, but no prize was issued. It was pretty informal and just to try to get donations, but people are dumb.

  7. CompyPaq says:

    I think I figured out what is going on. Apparently, the CC display is asking whether the customer wants to donate BEFORE the customer swipes the card. It could be that unless the customer declines it by pressing no, by swiping the card, he is saying yes.

    • Flourless Algernon says:

      Something similar happened to me last week at Radio Shack but the cashier walked me through “how not” to donate. I swiped my card, she asked me if I wanted to donate and when I declined she had to cancel out my charge and start over. She reached across, hit cancel twice in a row and had me scan my card. I was donation free.

  8. psyop63b says:

    Pay with cash. Problem solved.

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      No, not problem solved. If it’s true that Radio Shack employees can simply tack on a $1 charge via their cash registers, you might end up walking out the door having paid an extra dollar.

      • psyop63b says:

        I’m going to develop a neurosis trying to look out for all the gotchas used by businesses everywhere. Sneaking in an extended warranty is one thing, but it’s a sad state of affairs that you have to sneak in a donation.

    • IphtashuFitz says:

      See the post from katia802 above. They tried to scam her during a cash transaction.

  9. mommiest says:

    All this so that some Big Cheese at Radio Shack can present Armstrong with a gigantic “check” for some huge amount. Big Cheese gets to attend a party, get picture taken, and pretend he/she is the humanitarian of the minute. Big Cheese will never acknowledge the fact that a small army of minions ripped off thousands of clueless consumers so that he/she could have that moment in the limelight. Then Radio Shack will spend five times as much as they raised for charity on ads telling even more clueless consumers how much they care.

    They are constantly raising money for some charity or another at my local grocery stores, and the cashiers are required to ask if we would like to donate. I have been told by one cashier how much they hate having to ask, but they are required to. Since I go often, either I say “no” a lot, or I lose track of my charity budget. It’s dehumanizing even when it’s done ethically.

  10. sp00nix says:

    i went there last night to grab a couple 5v positive regs and some solder, not only did i NOT get scammed for the donation, i even walked out with a free live strong bracelet thingy. Score.

  11. tsj9197 says:

    Everyone does understand the connection between Lance and Radio Shack?
    RS is the title sonsor of Lance’s cycling team for 2010.
    It’s just not a random charity that RS decided to give to.

  12. Mr. TheShack says:

    Yawn. Just ask to speak to the manager if it bugged you. Our employees know that is against protocol. They even released an internal “Donation Etiquette” memo the wed. before black friday. Remember a lot of these employees are mindless drones.

    • tbax929 says:

      …or just don’t shop at Radio Shack. I haven’t been Livestronged because I refuse to shop at “The Shack”.

    • pop top says:

      The employees are either well-trained because of the memo or they are “mindless drones”; you can’t have it both ways.

  13. katia802 says:

    Tried to get me on a cash sale last week. Total came up $1 more than it should have, I questioned it and was told flat out that it was a donation. I dropped everything on the counter and walked out. I have no problem with lance armstrong, etc. I do have a problem with people deciding for me that i’m donating my money. Probably wouldn’t have been paying such close attention had it not been for Consumerist.

    • sharkzfanz says:

      Funny thing is you paid well over $1.00 in gas and by just walking out you paid more when you eventually got your item.. You should have bought the item and the either simply complained or never come back.. Instead of wasting money yourself… Doesn’t really make all that much sense…

      • pecan 3.14159265 says:

        But wasting more than the donation’s worth in gas by leaving and going somewhere else actually contributes to the overall point – an individual gets to determine how to spend money, not Radio Shack. You decide whether you want to drive another 10 minutes somewhere else, and you decide whether you wants to pay for more gas to go somewhere else.

        If you don’t agree with their tactics, you make sure that they’re aware that those tactics will cost them a sale. It’s important to deny people gain because they want to achieve it through nefarious ways. It isn’t a waste of money if you refuse to cave to a company’s continued practice of swindling people – and let’s not forget Radio Shack’s insult to customers who wanted their $1 back.

        • Verdant Pine Trees says:

          I just have to say – Bravo. Pecan is right… Otherwise, every time a company tries to make it inconvenient for us to hold onto our money, we should just let ’em do it?

          No thanks.

      • vladthepaler says:

        “Then after the transaction she tried to sell me a cell phone.”

        Did I miss something? It sounds like she went through with the purchase. If she did walk out though, she likely saved money by making her purchase elsewhere. Radio Shack is obscenely overpriced.

      • katia802 says:

        Well, probably could have cept I stopped after work and arrived on the bus.

  14. gparlett says:

    Wow… nice work Radio Shack. A few weeks ago Livestrong was a highly respected charity, now were about a week from seeing this become a meme. My friends and I are already using ‘livestronged’ as a synonym for ‘screwed’.

  15. unpolloloco says:

    So, the employee wasn’t paying attention to the screen and thought OP was reading a different screen than she was? Definitely a vast conspiracy.

  16. GeorgeO says:

    Since no one has asked this question….I will….

    Exactly how much of that 1 dollar donation makes it to the Livestrong foundation? If the RS employees are so desperate to get you to donate, something tells me a juicy chunk of that dollar is being held for “processing fee’s”.

  17. Trai_Dep says:

    I’m going to hang out inside Radio Shack with my friends and we’ll all loudly refer to it as “The Radio“.
    Just to make the salespeople irate.
    Free batteries for whoever correctly guesses when the first one blows his top!

  18. Quatre707 says:

    “Hello, did you find everything you need today?
    Do you have a rewards card?
    Would you like a rewards card? The benefits of becoming a member include…
    Would like like to sign up for our premier rewards credit card? You’ll receive 10% off this purchase if you do.
    Would you like to donate a dollar to our charity of the month?
    May I please have your phone number and zip code?
    Will you be paying cash or credit?
    May I please see your credit card to verify the last 4 numbers because I believe your a thief, but not actually verify the signature like am I supposed to.
    No, no, you press cancel, than star-2 pressing very hard, than hit pound 5…. THAN wipe your card, geeze.”

    (Why I buy everything online now)

  19. TheRealSouth says:

    Because I haven’t seen it posted yet:

    The relationship between Radioshack and Livestrong is that Radioshack is the Team Sponsor of Lance Armstrong’s new start-up cycling team.

  20. jesusofcool says:

    Just curious….why does Consumerist often remove the location of the store on these types of posts?

    Also, in addition for this whole Livestrong thing being bad PR for “The Shack”, it’s drags Livestrong’s name down. And if you’re a charity, IMO, your good reputation is worth more than anything. If I were their PR team, I’d be on the phone with the company telling them to fix the situation or else.

    • LadySiren is murdering her kids with HFCS and processed cheese says:

      Totally agreed. The negative PR is dragging down LIVESTRONG’s brand and their rep as a decent organization. Shame that they hooked up with the wrong corporate partner.

  21. LiveCheap says:

    This is a shame. I have donated to LiveStrong before but only when I had a friend riding in one of their events. I’d rather give $50 straight to the charity than use one of these middle men. You never know how much of your money is actually going to the charity. That’s why I have a problem ever giving a donation over the phone when I get a telemarketer calling up. Some of these things result in less than 35% of the money actually making it to the charity. RS may be different but if the clerks are pushing it, you know something is up.

    The charity at the checkout has gotten out of hand, all these $1 donations end up holding up the line and have gotten to the point where they have a really low conversion ratio. Bug 10 people in line to get $1 donation. Its for good causes but the method is annoying. Its comical that stores will complain about people soliciting outside their store but they push their cashiers to do the same thing inside the store.

  22. Amish Undercover says:

    Why continue with the purchase if they just tried to scam you?

  23. Andrew360 says:

    Seems like people should just stop shopping at Radio Shack.

  24. cptkincaid says:


  25. mixmeupone says:

    Companies are now fixated on metrics that don’t matter to anyone but those whose advancement could be aided by them. I guarantee an email went out to the district and/or regional mangers bemoaning the lack of donations. Some “yes man” made donations a metric and began tracking them. I bet that those store managers who fail to meet the assigned goal have to be on a conference call. I also bet those same store managers have not been on as many calls for fail to make sales goal. Incredible? Yes, but I speak from experience. There will be some store managers that blow away sales but will be looked down upon because they did not make a Livestrong metric.

  26. BillyDeeCT says:

    After hearing all these horror stories I have decided to never shop at Crap Shack again! Even if I have to wait days to order something online and have it mailed to me I will not be subjected to the underhanded techniques the sales staff attempts to pass on to unsuspecting customers.

  27. palms99 says:

    Here is a little help for all of you….

    1. The sales person could not care less about if you donate or not. actually it is an annoyance it takes us longer to get you (the customer) out of the store.
    2. The sales associate has NO WAY of adding the donation to the ticket unless you the customer hit accept on that very confusing, very frustrating, funny small screen where you swipe your credit card.
    3. The sales associate would not have to lead you throught the amaziong simple job of swiping your credit card if the customers would not stare blankly at a screen that say 25.00 is this price ok?
    How many minutes should someone stare at that confusing screen before someone helps them answer the questions, or hell just makes sure they didnt have some kind of brain anurism

  28. RSemployee88 says:

    I work at Radio Shack, have for about a year ( I am acctually there right now) I hate my job, this company sucks, but some of the ideas you guys have in your head are wrong.

    Employees CAN NOT add a live strong donation, and we do not make ANY commision on that, and it is not tracked. You have to add that from the card pad. All that pops up on our screen is a prompt to tell you about it.

    We only need your information if you are doing a return, or paying with a check, or you have us ordering you something from our website.

    We are tracked on how many e mails we take, and we do get yelled at for that, so please just say (I rather not give it) you dont have to be mad at us just cause we are trying to make a living and got stuck working here.

    Yes, we are not electrians, so we do not no much at all about that stuff, we make minium wage, do you really expect us to know that much about electrical commponets?

    I’m sorry if you think our stuff is crap, no one asked you to come in here. I would rather you didn’t, so I could go back to doing what I was already doing.

  29. brawlermein says:

    radioshack associates are commision salesmen. there is 0 commision on donations. there is 0 profit on donations. there is 0 prizes for getting the most donations. there is 0 motivation from bosses to get donations. its clearly a small issue with some dumb employees or also likely a small issue with dumb customers ( no offense). ud be surprised how little people read those screens even after starring at it. while im not pinning every instance on customers i am saying i bet alot of them did it without realizing it. and its surprising how many people dont pay attention to the cost of items they buy, yet still cry about it being over priced. we are actually cheaper for alot of things.