Peeter Joot's Blog.

Math, physics, perl, and programming obscurity.

(Markham) Markville Mall Sony store: an interesting variation of warranty fraud.

Posted by Peeter Joot on December 18, 2013

I mailed the following response to the Markville mall’s Sony store, where one of their employees attempted a new variety of warranty fraud:

I discovered when I attempted to exchange the headphones that you completely misrepresented yourself when I made the purchase. The item that you scanned showed up at a lower price than the sticker price. Instead of offering me a chance to buy that item at that price you padded the price back up to the sticker price (or rather close to it, short a few dollars), by adding in an extended warranty.

You did this despite the fact that I said I would never voluntarily purchase one of these extended warranties. Since you portrayed this as something that was “for free”, I did not object. However, you completely missed your chance at honesty, because I should have been offered the sale price. You stated that you lowered the price “so that you could offer me the warranty without costing me anything”, however, that lowered price was already the listed sale price in your system. This was something that you did not disclose.

That is, in my opinion, undeniably fraud.

Since you were so careful to make sure that both you and your colleague were represented on the bill, I can only assume that you are on commission. It would be very hard to argue that this was not a blatant attempt to pad your commission, at my expense. I shudder to consider how many other customers have been exploited in this way.

I’ll never shop at the Sony Store again. You have lost my patronage, and I’ll not hesitate to tell anybody who is considering a Sony Store purchase to be very careful at your store, to avoid this new interesting variation of warranty fraud.

The mechanism of the fraud attempt used here was that I was sold a pair of headphones that were on sale, but the salesman padded the price up to the sticker price including a “free” extended warranty.  He blatantly told me that he was reducing the price for me so that he could include the extended warranty for free.  In the end this made it appear that I got $5 off the sticker price, and got an extended warranty to boot.

I only discovered this because as well as attempting to defraud me, they also gave me the wrong headphones (I’d asked for a noise cancelling model).  I had not yet noticed this, however, the Sony Store now provides a service (a rather nice innovation) where they will provide you with a soft copy of your receipt if you provide them your email address.  Because of this, they had my contact info to proactively inform me about the incorrect boxe of headphones that I’d been given.  When I attempted the exchange, it was at a point when the staff member who did this transaction was not there, so I was able to discover what actually occurred.

At the point of return, I was offered a reduction in price for the warranty should I desire it, but it still would have meant paying for it.  This new “cheaper warranty” that I never wanted in the first place would still have cost me (not saving me money in a too good to be true fashion as it originally appeared), so I turned that down.  I then discovered that I’d also have to pay more for the correct headphones.  It was only $5 more, but by this time I was completely fed up.  Reflecting now, I was also very annoyed at myself for having fallen for this trick.  I just returned them completely.

It is always interesting to learn of new fraud techniques. This is a new one that I had not seen before. Taking advantage of an unlisted sales price to sell additional undesired content, so that commissions could be padded. Because the sales price was on their system, the salesman did not require any management approval to override the system with a lower price, and was able to make it appear that he had “lowered the price” for me so that I could get something for free.  It’s actually very clever.

Could this have been an honest mistake?  I doubt it very much.

EDIT:

The Sony salesman who I had dealt with contacted me after this, stating:

I am sorry for whatever misunderstanding happened yesterday.  Can I please call you & explain you the situation & see how can I make your experience with us more conferrable.  Please let me know on what phone number I can reach you on. I am sorry once again & I believe you will give me a chance to explain & I will do my best to solve this issue.

My response was that he needed to resolve that with his management, not me. If that was done, then I’d be willing to talk to them (not him).

They (management through him) eventually offered me a deal on the item that I’d returned. It wasn’t really my intent to be fishing for a deal, and I’d continued shopping after all this for an alternate set of phones to buy from somewhere else. However, the timing and the offer were both good since I hadn’t yet found a replacement item I was happy with, and I ended up accepting that offer.

Picking up the set they’d set aside for me provided a chance to talk to his manager, who hadn’t been given the complete story. Despite that, after talking to the manager, I’m no longer certain that the salesman understood exactly why I objected to the transaction. This may not have been an instance of fraud as it initially seemed to be, instead it could have been a blunder by a fairly new staff member, confused by the wrong price showing up after the scan, and tried to “fix it” in a way that he naively thought would be satisfactory. I don’t think I’ll ever know for sure.

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One Response to “(Markham) Markville Mall Sony store: an interesting variation of warranty fraud.”

  1. rtalcott said

    Damn near every transaction has become adversarial and if this is not driven by the corporate or government execs then the line people are attempting it (like this). You can not assume even a minimal level of honesty/integrity in almost any transaction and certainly with any transaction where you do not personally know the other party…sad…unfortunate but true…I do not know what management does these daze…but from my contacts in our federal government I hear that it is no better there. I recently spent 6 hours on the phone with Comcast trying to get some nonsense straightened out…damn near impossible…they make it extremely difficult and they lie every step of the way.

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