That Time They Tried to Scam Me

I saw this headline at msn.com this morning:

Ex FBI agent: 2 things you need to know to avoid falling for a money scam

So I tucked in for a read.  The author – Ali Montag – shared the professional advice of FBI agents that could help the reader avoid scams.

This is interesting and timely to me because of an experience I had just last week.

After several days of reading CNET and PC Magazine blog reviews and changing my mind between Hulu and SlingTV (then Hulu ans SlingTV, again), I finally decided to get a Roku to stream Hulu.  Seriously, I believe I read everything there was to read online about these services before jumping in.  So, imagine my surprise when some voice over the phone was telling me I needed to pay $49 to activate the device. Basically it happened like this…

After Mirror Image read the instructions that came in the box, we hooked the cute little $29 Roku Express to the television after a longer than should have been game of find the HDMI plug. We went through the process of entering data on the screen and then got to the part where we we instructed to go to the activation website to enter a code.

I entered the web address on my phone and got a message saying the code wasn’t accepted and that I needed to call this number – 866-567-5581.  I did and a loud rushed male voice answered.  I wish I could remember what words he answered with but can’t.  I shared that I received a message to call this number about the activation error.  He told me that I can’t submit the activation code until I until I pay the activation fee.  I was shocked.

I told him I wasn’t aware of any such fee.  I told him I never saw any mention of a $49 fee on the web site.  He told me – get this – that the website was down.  All of the websites? Really?

By now I was teeth gnashing mad. I told him I would have to think about this before moving forward and hung up. I was perplexed.  How could no site, including all of the reviews and the Roku site itself, ever not mention a $49 activation fee? Maybe because there is not an activation fee. Then I asked Google “tell me about Roku scams”, and she did.

Apparently I was not the first (and probably wont be the last) to have an issue.  Those stories weren’t exactly the same as what happened to me but just similar enough that it was obvious that a scam was certainly a possibility here. In one post, I read that customers had actually returned their units to the stores because of the $49 charges and the confusion over having to pay for something that didn’t supposed to have an additional fee and trust me, it is likely I would have done the same thing.

So I tried it again with the Roku. I got a new code, typed in the activation website EXACTLY as was on the screen, entered the activation code, it was accepted with no issues that time and I merrily binged watched the rest of the evening.

It is frustrating that some people’s jobs is to steal money other people work hard for at their own jobs.  And this would have been a real blow to my finances as the scam likely wouldn’t have ended with a $49 charge but would have wreaked more havoc as my credit card would have been exploited. The whole reason I got Roku/Hulu in the first place was to lessen my financial burden.

I am glad I had researched the process before or I may have believed the grift.

Life – it is always something!

Thrifty Image