Jamarious Andrews walked into Best Buy in 2007 to buy a laptop for college and walked out with a credit card offering free financing for 18 months. But that wasn’t all. The Glenwood man had also unknowingly signed up for a debt protection plan that cost him hundreds of dollars in deceptive charges.
Andrews said the cashier pitched the offer, asked for his signature on an electronic key pad and handed him a receipt.
“He asked me a few security questions, and boom, after that they said you're approved. Congratulations you got a credit card,” Andrews recalled. "I didn't like get an actual physical application or anything. Nothing besides the receipt they gave me."
Fast-forward to a visit home from school, when Andrews first looked at the Best Buy bills his mom was paying while he was away, and noticed something strange.
"I see a debt cancellation fee and I'm like, ‘What's this?’ And that's when they told me, ‘Oh, you enrolled in a debt protection plan.’ I had no clue what a debt protection plan is," Andrews said.
In theory, a debt protection plan is a type of insurance for unseen circumstances, like unemployment or death. For Andrews, it cost about $8 a month, depending on the balance of his account, a service he says he would never sign up for.
"I wouldn't purchase that,” he said. “I didn't have a job. It was only a $600 laptop.”
These financial products have been at the center of state investigations and lawsuits. NBC 5 Responds found dozens of frustrated Best Buy customers saying they too were blindsided by the charges, with messages like “Best Buy & Debt Protection: Scam!!! Watch out!” and “Beware of Best Buy debt protection.”
When Andrews first complained to Best Buy in 2010, he said the retailer agreed to refund him but only gave back a fraction of the money and continued billing him. Now, nine years later, Andrews has paid $858 in fees, plus interest.
"I'm really upset because I feel like I'm being scammed in a way because I did not sign up for this,” Andrews said. “I want my money back."
Andrews is now getting that money back – all $858 plus interest.
When NBC 5 Responds reached out to Best Buy, the retailer directed us to talk to Citi, the bank that manages Best Buy branded cards. It’s the same bank that was ordered by the feds last year to pay $700 million back to consumers for deceptive marketing of products, including debt protection plans. Citi would only tell us that Andrews’ complaint is resolved.