AutoZone Cashier Made Me Donate To Charity Against My Will

Stuart was shopping at Autozone, and stubbornly insisted on reading everything on the credit card reader screen before agreeing to it. The chain was doing a St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital fundraising push at the time, and when the screen asked whether he would like to donate a dollar, the cashier reached over and pressed “yes” for him. There was some confusion, but ultimately when Stuart complained, the store employees didn’t see why he was being so stubborn. After all, it was for charity, and only a dollar: why did he care that the store was charging him money he specifically didn’t give them permission to charge?

He sets the scene:

I made a purchase at an AutoZone store in [redacted] and saw the option to donate $1 to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital appear on the credit card machine.

While I was reading it, the cashier impatiently instructed me to “just press YES”. I was still unclear if this was YES for approving my purchase or YES for the donation. The employee reached over and pressed YES without my approval and with me specifically telling him NO.
He made it seem like a mistake, which it may well have been. He then re-ran my order and another employee (maybe a manager, not sure) stepped in to help and she did the exact same thing, pressing YES for me.

I complained when I saw that they had just approved the donation and it charged an additional dollar to my credit card. In response, the staff was derisive and criticized me with “It’s only a dollar and it is for charity.” I continued to complain about this tactic until they offered to refund it, but they got impatient with the refund process and again said “are you going to go through this for one dollar?” When I insisted, one of them grudgingly paid me $1 out of their pocket.

I respect St. Jude very much and would have normally been happy to contribute, but charging money to my credit card without my approval and when I explicitly tell them not to is just unacceptable.

I have no idea if this whole situation was a misunderstanding or just an inadvertent press of the wrong button, but if the staff are motivated financially for each donation or if the store is rewarded for it, they have incentive to be deceptive or fraudulent.

What surprises me even more, I wrote to both St. Jude and to AutoZone about this issue. AutoZone Customer service sent form email that this would be forwarded to regional management for review. I have never heard anything from AutoZone or St. Jude since then.

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