I wanted to use my Bed Bath & Beyond coupon. What is the problem?

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Christopher Elliott

When Theresa O’Connor isn’t allowed to use a Bed Bath & Beyond coupon and her Beyond+ discount on a tea kettle, she wants her membership fee back. But the retailer won’t budge. Why?

Question

I recently bought a glass tea kettle on the Bed Bath & Beyond website. I found a coupon for the item, which brought its price down to $119. Then I signed up for Beyond+, Bed Bath and Beyond’s loyalty program, which would have saved me an additional 20 percent.

When I bought the kettle, I received an error message that said I had already applied a discount. Bed Bath & Beyond wouldn’t allow more discounts because it considered that “stacking” coupons, which is against its terms.

I tried to get a refund for my membership, but the company refused because it said I had already used my membership. I used the Bed Bath & Beyond coupon, not the membership. Can you help me get a refund for my Beyond+ membership? — Theresa O’Connor, San Antonio, Tex.

Answer

It looks like you used your Bed Bath & Beyond coupon, not the Beyond+ membership. So if someone suggested that you could get a refund if you didn’t use your membership, you should qualify.

Here are a few things you need to know about Beyond+. For your $29 annual membership, Beyond + offers members 20 percent off their entire purchase and “free” shipping. The membership fee is nonrefundable, according to its terms and conditions. “Membership Program benefits cannot be used in conjunction with any coupons or with any other prearranged discounts unless specifically stated otherwise in the applicable coupon or discount,” it notes.

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In other words, Bed Bath & Beyond is correct. Except that if someone suggested the company would return the membership fee, then that means the company is willing to bend a rule for you. That’s the gray zone of consumer advocacy in which we find ourselves today.

You can only use one Bed Bath & Beyond coupon or discount per order

I publish the names, numbers, and email addresses of the Bed Bath & Beyond executive customer service contacts on my site. A brief, polite email to them might have cleared this up. I mean, no one wants you to be stuck with an annual membership you don’t want and won’t use.

As a side note, I’m skeptical of loyalty programs and deeply skeptical of loyalty programs you have to pay for. A company should reward you for your business — you shouldn’t be rewarding the company for giving it your business. Paid loyalty programs are not this consumer advocate’s favorite thing in the world.

I contacted Bed Bath & Beyond on your behalf. A representative responded, saying that the company was sorry to hear about your experience. “At Bed Bath & Beyond, we have an unparalleled commitment to customer service and work hard to ensure that our customers are fully satisfied,” she said. The company refunded your Beyond+ membership.

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Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is the founder of Elliott Advocacy, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that empowers consumers to solve their problems and helps those who can't. He's the author of numerous books on consumer advocacy and writes weekly columns for King Features Syndicate, USA Today, Forbes and the Washington Post. He also publishes Elliott Confidential, a critically acclaimed newsletter about customer service. If you have a consumer problem you can't solve, contact him directly through his advocacy website. You can also follow him on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn, or sign up for his daily newsletter. Read more of Christopher's articles here.

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