Steve Atlas buys a three-month membership to Sam’s Club. But he thinks he’s purchased an annual membership. Can he get a refund?

Q: 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 it was only for 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? — Steve Atlas, Merritt Island, Florida

A: If your Groupon was for a one-year membership, you should have received a one-year membership. But it wasn’t. A closer examination of the coupon shows it’s only valid for three months. 

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

I think the lesson is to carefully read the offer before you buy it. You waited until after redeeming the coupon to carefully check the terms. It’s an easy mistake — I’ve done it countless times. You tried to use the Groupon contacts we list on my consumer advocacy site. 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 screen shot you provided says 12 months but the coupon says 3 months. I’m not sure what Groupon did or didn’t disclose before your purchase, but I think we can all agree that your membership only lasts three months.

My researchers found new contacts for Groupon and updated them. 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.

Christopher Elliott is the chief advocacy officer for Elliott Advocacy. Email him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or get help with any consumer problem by contacting him at elliott.org/help. © 2021 Christopher Elliott

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