You check your inbox one morning and see an email from Office Depot welcoming you to a free trial of something called “Business Select”. You scroll down further and see that after one month, you’ll be charged $49 unless you cancel.
The only problem? You never signed up for any free trial from Office Depot.
This exact scenario has been playing out for countless unsuspecting consumers in recent days. But is this Office Depot free trial offer legitimate or an outright scam designed to bilk people out of their hard-earned money?
In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore the background on this controversial Business Select promotion, unpack whether it’s fraudulent or simply an error, provide advice on what to do if you received the email, and outline how to cancel any unwanted trial membership.
Exposing Office Depot Business Select Free Trial Emails
The Business Select saga began on Sunday, February 5th, 2023 when numerous Office Depot customers started receiving emails like this:
Thank you for signing up for our Business Select Free Trial. As discussed, this gives you access to exclusive discounted pricing on office supplies and more for 30 days. On 03/07/2023, your credit card on file will be charged the standard $49 annual membership fee unless you cancel beforehand. To view your membership details or unenroll, please visit your Account page.
Those who dug deeper found confusing and contradictory information:
Some people could log into their Office Depot account and see no record of any Business Select enrollment or credit card being stored.
Others found their accounts were mysteriously registered for the free trial, often with payment details they didn’t recognize.
Some recipients didn’t even have Office Depot accounts, so they had no way to check if fraudulent charges were pending.
Unsurprisingly, customer frustration boiled over, especially when callers found themselves trapped in endless hold times trying to reach the company.
So what exactly caused this mess? Was it a scam designed to sneakily charge people? Or an innocent mistake? And most importantly, what’s the right way to respond?
Getting to the Bottom of the Office Depot Debacle
Based on the scale of the customer outcry and Office Depot’s eventual statements, experts believe this was likely a technical glitch rather than fraud.
Specifically, a Reddit user who claimed to be an Office Depot employee speculated that someone in IT accidentally triggered “Auto-Enroll” emails to all customers instead of a small test batch.
This seems plausible given Office Depot’s history of shoddy technical systems and emphasis on pushing paid memberships for sales growth. Still, it’s concerning they let such a monumental mistake occur.
And while the free trial emails themselves probably aren’t a scam, Office Depot does have a troubled track record when it comes to deceiving consumers.
In 2020, the FTC fined them $34 million for tricking people into buying unneeded computer repairs and services. They also have faced lawsuits over misleading pricing practices and sketchy subscription enrollments in stores.
So while this specific Business Select snafu appears accidental, Office Depot hasn’t done much lately to earn public trust.
What To Do If You Got the Dubious Office Depot Email
If that dubious free trial pitch landed in your inbox, here are smart steps to take:
1. Don’t Click Any Links or Call Numbers
Since you don’t know whether the email is 100% legitimate, avoid clicking any links or calling phone numbers it contains. Doing so could expose you to malware or tricks to hand over personal information.
2. Log Into Your Office Depot Account Safely
Go directly to officedepot.com in your browser and log into your account independently. This lets you spot any sketchy changes like new stored payment methods or unwanted trial enrollments.
If you don’t have an account, you don’t need to worry about surprise charges, though Office Depot still has your contact info from somewhere.
3. Change Your Password and Enable Two-Factor Authentication
If you do have an online account, change your password immediately. Enable two-factor authentication as well for extra security.
4. Remove Any Saved Payment Details
Check if Office Depot has a credit card or other payment source on file for your account. If so, delete it right away to prevent unwanted charges.
5. Contact Office Depot and Monitor Closely
Keep an eye out for any follow up emails from Office Depot explaining the situation and confirming no charges. Feel free to call their customer service as well to confirm your account status.
And of course, vigilantly monitor your credit card statements and Office Depot account over the next month in case rebilling attempts do (mistakenly) occur on March 7th.
6. Report Issues to the BBB, FTC, and Attorney General
If Office Depot ends up wrongly charging you or failing to secure your data, don’t hesitate to report them to oversight groups like the Better Business Bureau, Federal Trade Commission, and your state Attorney General.
The more complaints these regulators receive, the more motivation Office Depot will have to rectify issues and avoid similar catastrophes down the road.
How to Cancel an Office Depot Business Select Membership
If you determine your Office Depot account was incorrectly enrolled in a Business Select Trial, cancelling is thankfully straightforward:
- Visit officedepot.com and log into your account
- Click “My Account” and select “My Subscriptions”
- Find Business Select, click “Cancel”, and confirm
Cancel By Phone
- Call 1-888-313-4851 to reach Office Depot Member Services
- Provide your account details (name, email, phone number)
- Ask the representative to cancel your Business Select membership
And remember, if you act quickly and cancel within 30 days of “joining”, you should be eligible for a full refund of the $49 annual fee.
Key Takeaways on the Office Depot Business Select Debacle
While still unfolding, the Office Depot free trial membership controversy seems to boil down to the following key points:
Many consumers unexpectedly received emails promising they enrolled in a Business Select free trial that would soon cost money. This appears to be a technical glitch rather than outright scam on Office Depot’s part.
Still, recipients are rightfully concerned and frustrated given Office Depot’s history with shady subscriptions and lack of support.
Anyone receiving the email should take actions like changing their account password, checking for unwanted payment methods, and monitoring closely for erroneous charges.
Cancelling any accidental Business Select enrollment is thankfully simple through their website or customer service line.
The Office Depot saga showcases the immense power companies have over consumers in the digital economy – and the total havoc caused when incompetence rears its ugly head.
Let’s hope Office Depot learns from this unacceptable error, improves its systems, and regains some trust through contrition and restitution where due.
In the meantime, remain vigilant with your data and accounts whenever engaging with organizations that have access to your contact and payment information.
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