About a year ago I had to get a USB A to USB mini connector on short notice. The San Diego Office Max wanted around $60, but the FYE store had it for $10. While I was checking out, the clerk tried to sell me on their "VIP" program. I thanked him, but didn't sign up. And that was the last of it, or so I thought.
The last couple of months I noticed charges appearing on my credit card that I hadn't authorized. Some googling on "fye vip" revealed the culprit - apparently FYE has been signing up people for this program either without disclosing the monthly charges, or (my case) signing them up without their knowledge and hoping they don't notice the charges appearing on their statements. I fall into the later category - didn't check all my statements as closely as I should have. My bad.
The most intriguing aspect of this scam is the 'prove a negative' aspect. I called them to try and cancel the membership. After refusing several times, the rep eventually agreed to close the account. But wait - having never signed up, I have no membership card. So I can't close the account. Nice scam - if they sign you up using your credit card information you only have one option - report the card as missing so that the number is changed. That's what I'm doing now. Time will tell if they sign me up again. I'm also having the bank contest the charges, but I don't have much expectation of that leading anywhere.
You can find quite a few negative stories about the FYE VIP pass on Google. Examples:
TLG*FYE VIP: Refuse to stop charging me: "My granddaughter apparently agreed to pay this company for "what she doesn't know" as part of some "contest" on the internet during July. We have called and cancelled the contract twice. They continue charging her the monthly fee."
F.Y.E. VIP Pass Complaints: I was offered a VIP pass for no monthly fees and received a book of coupons.Couple months later I find there is a $9.99 per month and the associate in the store told me, " Well, I don't know why she told you that, so call headquarters and they may or may not refund your money back." All this with an attitude of too bad so sad, we don't know how to apologize.
FYE VIP Backstage Pass: Won't cancel/Keeps charging after cancellation "After about a month or so, I check my credit card online statement (which should have been a balance of 0.00$, I had just made a payment) only to find that a product marked as FYE VIP Pass had charged me a total of 11.99$. I am beside myself with rage..."
If you've had an experience (good or bad) with this program, please share it in the comments.
Mark Frauenfelder is the founder of Boing Boing and the editor-in-chief of MAKE and Cool Tools. Twitter: @frauenfelder. Come and hear Mark speak at the ALA conference in Chicago on July 1.