Can my annual Sam’s Club membership really expire after just three months?

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By Christopher Elliott

 How is it possible that an annual Sam’s Club membership could expire after just three months? That’s what Steve Atlas wants to know. Can we help?

Question

I recently bought a Groupon for a one-year Sam’s Club membership. The offer was misleading. I thought it was for a year, but this Sam’s Club membership is set to expire in three months. I pressed cancel less than 15 minutes after I made the purchase, and I expected the refund to be applied to my credit card.

Unfortunately, the only refund I received was for $35 in Groupon Bucks. I don’t even know how to use them. I care less about the $35 than about being treated with honesty, integrity, and a willingness to find a solution that is fair to me. Can you help me get my money back for this annual Sam’s Club membership with the unusual expiration date? — Steve Atlas, Merritt Island, Fla.

Answer

If your Groupon was for a one-year plan, you should not have received a Sam’s Club membership that would expire in three months. But… A closer examination of the Groupon deal shows it is only valid for three months.

Is that worth it? I pay about that much, on a prorated basis, for my Sam’s Club membership online.

And let me tell you if you have to feed three hungry teenagers, Sam’s Club is great! We buy most of our food in bulk. Some of the groceries are eaten in the car and don’t make it all the way home. Kids are like hummingbirds. When I say they consume twice their body weight in a day, I’m only half kidding.

So when does your Sam’s Club membership expire?

I think the lesson in your case is to carefully read any offer before you buy it. You waited until after redeeming the coupon to carefully check the terms. It’s an easy mistake — I’ve made it countless times. You tried to use the Groupon executive contacts we list in our database to fix your problem. Initially, you didn’t get a response. That’s a long story. Until recently, we’ve had difficulty finding reliable executive contacts for Groupon.

I reviewed the terms of the offer. The screenshot you provided says 12 months but the coupon says your Sam’s Club membership will expire in 3 months. I’m not sure what Groupon did or didn’t disclose before your purchase, but I think we can all agree that this Sam’s Club membership will expire in three months. (Here’s how to fix your own consumer problems.)

Southwest Airlines is dedicated to the highest quality of customer service delivered with a sense of warmth, friendliness, individual pride, and Company Spirit. We are committed to providing our employees with a stable work environment with equal opportunity for learning and personal growth.

Incidentally, Groupon cases are never easy. But we’ve resolved quite a few here at Elliott Advocacy including this one: Why is this $252 Groupon mistake my problem?

So you weren’t up against the impossible.

And soon there was good news for you, too. You finally were able to get through to the company and negotiated a refund, which you used to purchase a one-year Sam’s Club membership that doesn’t expire in three months!

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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 three nationally syndicated columns. He also publishes the Elliott Report, a news site for consumers, and 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 X, Facebook, and LinkedIn, or sign up for his daily newsletter. He is based in Rio de Janeiro.

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