TiVo E-Mails Me Coupon Code, Reserves Right To Remove Discounts After Order


Seemed like a good idea at the time.

When TiVo was offering a great price on their Roamio DVRs, reader Victor thought that his mother-in-law could use one. He thought about it, put one in his virtual cart, and then took some time to decide. Like many retailers will do, TiVo sent him an e-mail with a $50 off coupon to entice him back. How could he resist? He placed the order, and that’s where things started to go wrong.

The total was supposed to be $594.98. Fabulous deal.


All seemed well until he received the shipping notification. His total order for the DVR and a TiVo service subscription for the life of the device came to $594.98. A few days later, the order shipped, and he received a notification that his card had been charged for $794.98. Wait, what? That was $200 more than he thought he had spent.



Naturally, he called up TiVo to find out what was going on. Their explanation was that they had some problems in the past with customers stacking coupon codes on top of each other, and reserved the right to change orders after the fact if they used ill-gotten coupons. This is spelled out in the company’s terms:

We reserve the right (without liability) to (1) accept or decline your order for any reason (including if we suspect you are ordering products for resale), (2) supply less than the quantity you ordered of any item, (3) change prices for products displayed on tivo.com at any time, (4) correct inadvertent pricing or product/service information errors, and (5) charge your credit card on file a 15% restocking fee for orders that are refused at the shipping address designated for your account at the time of purchase.

Well, fine. We would accept this explanation from TiVo if Victor had been gathering coupon codes he wasn’t entitled to and trying them together to find out what happened. It would make sense if the $50 offer they e-mailed him had been incompatible with the current sale on the Roamio. The trouble is, that isn’t what he was doing.

“This wasn’t some code I scrounged the internet for that accidentally worked,” he wrote to Consumerist. “This was a targeted promotion for TiVo’s own special that was already in my cart that TiVo shouldn’t have sent me if they didn’t want to give it to me.” Right. If you don’t want people to use coupons, don’t send them those coupons. Simple.

If he didn’t want this to happen, he should have read all of the company’s terms and conditions before going through with the purchase. Everyone probably should do that, but admit it: hardly anyone ever does.

Victor contacted us, and we turned around and asked TiVo what was up with this deal. They told us that they can’t discuss specific customers’ accounts, but the company’s executive customer service team did follow up with Victor. He told us that TiVo’s offer was that “they would honor the promotion since they sent it to me directly with no message or indication that it couldn’t be combined,” he explained. Yay!

Still, Victor wonders what would have happened to a more meek consumer. “I’m afraid that others not tenacious enough just ended up eating the $50 thinking there was nothing else to be done once customer service denied them,” he observed.

It’s fair to limit promotions, but not to e-mail customers with false hope.

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