When you place an order online — especially through a large national chain — you might expect that your sales tax would be calculated accurately. But, as demonstrated by the Cold Stone Creamery store that charges 25% tax, that isn’t always the case.
Consumerist reader Brent noticed the problem when he went to order a Cold Stone ice cream cake for pick-up at his local store in Pasadena.
When he added the $20.00 cake into his shopping cart, it suddenly read that the tax was $5.00.
The in-a-hurry customer might not notice this and just go ahead and place the order. But Brent put on the brakes and sent us the tip.
Trying to order through the same store, we also came up with a sales tax of 25%. Figuring it could be a hidden fee that was being listed as a “tax,” we tried more expensive cakes. Still 25%, which seems to hint at a glitch.
We also checked nearby Cold Stone stores and found they were charging the expected sales tax for the area of between 8-9%.
Cold Stone HQ has not yet replied to Consumerist’s request for an explanation. Nor has the company told us whether those customers who unwittingly paid the overblown tax would be reimbursed.
Regardless, let Brent’s adventure with Cold Stone be a reminder to everyone to always look at the taxes being collected when you place an online order.
UPDATE: Cold Stone reps have replied to Consumerist’s request for comment on the situation.
A company rep says the error appears to be an error made by the owner of this particular franchisee.
“Because we are a franchise system it is the responsibility of the franchisee to properly input the tax rate for their store,” explains the rep. “Unfortunately, this was keyed in incorrectly at this location.”
Cold Stone HQ says it is following up with the franchisee “to make sure this is rectified and to make sure any customer that was charged incorrectly will be reimbursed the difference.”