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On Mail-In Rebates: My Experiences

Discussion in 'Tech Talk' started by fastvfr, Sep 2, 2004.

  1. fastvfr

    fastvfr Ancient Tech

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    The thread posted by bountyhunter regarding his new EMachine's issues with theft via false advertisement got me thinking...perhaps this even more pervasive than I feared.

    Personally, I have totally sworn off buying anything in a retail store that is advertised as having a mail-in rebate of any kind whatsoever, be it from the manufacturer or the store.

    I bought a CD-RW/DVD-ROM a couple of months ago, as I couldn't wait for it to be delivered through my usual vendor. It was a Sony, bundled with Nero Express, and priced as $89.99 with a $20.00 mail-in rebate.Since my vendor's price was $65 after shipping, I figured $4 made little difference and bought it.

    I purchased this drive at Staples, where I had never seen a mail-in offer before; I will NEVER shop at Office-Max because of the $200+ in accumulated Mail-In Rebates they refused to make good on; that was simple thievery they committed! And I bought a monitor with a $100 rebate, an office chair with a $50, and several of those Free After Rebate disk spindles and whatnot from them. Never saw a cent of it.

    Anyhow, a few days ago I got this notice from the company Staples contracted to handle this rebate...mind you, I keep all paperwork, and always make copies of everything I ever send in to these screwball outfits. That did not help me this time, however...

    The letter declared that since, in their opinion, I had not completed the rebate form properly and/or had ommitted some necessary Proofs of Purchase from my package (RIIIIIGHT....then tell me where I got the CASH REGISTER-PRINTED REBATE FORM IF I DIDN'T BUY THIS THERE?!), they do not consider my claim worthy; hence it WILL NOT BE FORTHCOMING.

    Man, was I hopping! I grabbed the info I saved and jumped in the truck for the 20-mile drive into town, to ask the manager about his views on this.

    And when I got there, he told me that the Fulfillment Company was now the sole owner of my money, and that there wasn't a damn thing he or I could do about their refusal.

    He could see the array of crap I was forced to send in to the rebate address, apparently varied enough to allow nearly all claims for compensation to be refused, possibly to satisfy their twisted desire to see people get screwed out of money; he could also see that the date on the forms was the same as the date of purchase.

    So he decided to suggest that "Maybe not everything made it into the envelope or something" with a stupid smirk that told me he knew that this was not my fault, and also that he enjoys this part of his job far too much.

    I assured him that everything was indeed sent, and so he moved on to Phase II: "Well, Sir....perhaps you just mailed this too late. Happens all the time!" said he. So I told him that in that case his store was at fault for falsely advertising the sale dates, since I sent the stupid rebate in on that same day.

    The little *****hat then crossed his arms and said, and I quote, "Hmmmph! Prove it!!" I advised him to cease with the belligerence post-haste, and followed that up by showing him the $3.00 receipt I got from the P.O. when I paid to send this letter via Registered Mail! (I told you I had been robbed in the past...so I took steps.)

    Then he just shook his head and told me again that there was nothing either of us could do, that he "didn't work for some Fulfillment Company" and that I should "Just walk away, guy. Walk away. Nothing you can do about it. Is all this trouble really worth $20 to you?!" He said this last with an attitude that he would gladly pay $20 from his undeserved salary to be able to enjoy aggravating people as he had just done me.

    I considered asking him why Staples, Inc. thought that their claim of "Giving my funds to a Fufillment Agency" would in any way absolve them from complicity in this overt theft, but I knew the little freak would just get some additional jollies from that.

    At that point, I had to leave. I felt like puking after his pathetic display; I contented myself with the fact that several of the two dozen or so other shoppers watched the scene this imbecile was making and promptly left; most were looking at him in disgust as they did so. All his employees were looking at him with displeasure, that's for sure.

    As I said, this has happened before at other stores (well, the thefts, not the arrogance and idiocy), but it can never happen again.

    For not only will I never, ever shop at either of these two stores again (unless they pay me to take their stuff), but I will always figure the price before rebate as their actual, hyper-inflated price.

    Because I never see the rebate check. And that means I paid NINETY DOLLARS for a $65 optical drive because of it.

    Anyone else have this problem?! Most of my friends have had this happen, too, so perhaps there is an epidemic of retailer lawlessness going around?!

    Doesn't matter. I fix more PC's around here in a year than they SELL, and I have instituted a total boycott on both of these outlets and informed all my friends, families and customers. None of them will even buy floppy disks there anymore, even when the ads say "FREE!!! After rebate".

    That'll teach 'em!!

    Lots of luck,

    FastVFR
     
  2. Texas T

    Texas T TX expatriate CLM

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    Nice rant.

    However, I have an opposite position to post about. To date, I have never NOT received a rebate check on something where I had properly filled out the rebate form, attached all the required documents, and mailed to the right address within the specified time period.

    Never.

    Ever.

    So why is it that someone like me ALWAYS gets the check while you always seem to get hosed?

    As to getting in the manager's face about it... what purpose did that serve? He sells merchandise, he doesn't control the fulfillment center, he has no way to follow up on your rebate, no way to intercede on your behalf.

    We're always talking about personal responsiblity on this forum so why is it his fault that you didn't get your money?
     

  3. podwich

    podwich

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    I've read a few articles about mail-in rebates and how fulfillment centers will go out of their way to attempt to screw you. While I haven't had a problem getting rebates, I've heard and read enough about it to realize there is a problem.

    I understand fastvfr going to the store to complain-he bought the item there, they advertised and provided the info on the rebate, they took his money (hence would be giving him some back), etc. It's not like he's going to Office Depot to complain about a rebate from OfficeMax. As for the manager-I would expect him to be a bit more receptive and helpful. Once again, he represents the store that took fastvfr's money and promised him some back. If I were fastvfr I'd probably go up the chain and talk to someone who might be able or willing to help me.
     
  4. Jtemple

    Jtemple Geek

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    I absolutely hate mail-in rebates. They either (a) take way too long to get you your money back (3+ months in some cases) or (b) you never see the money at all.

    It seems as if more and more merchandise is being offered with a mail-in rebate. I don't understand why they can't just give you that discount on the spot and mail in the darn forms themselves.

    I'm to the point now that I avoid buying any merchandise with a mail-in rebate attached to it, just because I can't stand the hassle.
     
  5. jmatteau

    jmatteau

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    A couple months ago I bought a Laptop at best buy and a wireless router at Staples. Both had mail in rebates. I sent in all the forms within a week of purchase and got my Toshiba rebate in a couple weeks, and Linksys rebate from Staples in about a month. No probs there.
     
  6. David_G17

    David_G17 /\/\/\/\/\/\/\/

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  7. gudel

    gudel

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    staples are pretty good. i've gotten 3 rebates for the 3 networking products i bought from them. this is the fastest rebate ever.
    the only bad experience i got was from iomega. $50 rebates, took me 8 months, that's after phone calls i made. no typo here, it's really Months, not weeks.
    i'm glad they're not popular anymore, thanks to dvdr!
     
  8. saber41

    saber41 Guest

    The manufacturers are hoping that you forget to mail in the rebate. This way they get the fully inflated price for the item. Once you get the item installed and working, its easy to put off filling out the paper work to get the rebate.

    For the manufacturers, the rebate process is a good thing because they are getting the full price for their product with the potential of only refunding a percentage of that purchase price. For the consumer, the rebate process is a hassle and pretty much sucks !! Even if you follow all of the rebate instructions, there is still the potential of getting screwed....
     
  9. Texas T

    Texas T TX expatriate CLM

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    Sounds like you have identified the problem and developed the solution for it too. :)
     
  10. Texas T

    Texas T TX expatriate CLM

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    Let's disect this just a bit more. While some retailers do in fact have their own rebate programs, the majority of rebates on the market today are manufacturer's rebates. The retailers offers "X" for sale for $99.99 with a $50 manufacturer's rebate. If the customer purchases "X" for $99.99, and then fills out all the forms and jumps through all the hoops they will eventually receive a check for $50 from the manufacturer.

    The key to this is to do everything exactly as the instructions tell you to and to mail it before the deadline, and to keep copies of everything, and to send it certified or some other manner of mail that provides you with a proof of receipt.

    Therefore, the store would have taken the customer's money without the intention of giving any back if it was a mfg's rebate and thus has no obligation, moral or otherwise, to refund him any money if he doesn't receive his check.

    If it is a company rebate (best buy, office max, whomever), they all have a phone number or an address to contact to follow up on the status of your rebate. Again, the store has no access to this information and cannot do anything more for the customer than the customer can do themselves. The last rebate item I purchased from Best Buy even has a pin number printed on the receipt along with a web site address that will allow you to follow up on your rebate.

    I've been in retail for longer than I'd like to admit and can only remember Iomega as the only company that really dragged their feet on the rebate process. I cannot ever recall dealing with a rebate issue that was NOT the customer's fault; sending to the wrong address, not sending all the required documents, not sending the bar code, not sending on time, etc.
     
  11. jack19512

    jack19512

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    So far I haven't had a problem with rebates. The one thing I have to watch out for is the ones that say " No P.O. Boxes ". Well I get my mail at a P.O. Box so what I do is just put Box 400 instead of P.O. Box 400. Haven't had a problem yet.
     
  12. zaggie

    zaggie

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    I got plenty of rebates over the years without a problem. Until last year, TaxCut software sent mine back saying I left out the barcode. Funny, since it was in the damn envelope that sent back to me. Tried to plead with the president of the company by e-mail. No response. Guess I buy Turbo Tax from now on.
     
  13. Skyhook

    Skyhook

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    Last year I bought this machine, Dell 8250 online and there was a $200 rebate that was supposed to'happen' if i sent in all the required info. I sent in the required info and after several weeks lapsed, I phoned the 'contact' person for an update on the processing of the rebate. "You're too soon, we haven't received the company's info yet. Check back in a couple of weeks." Three weeks later I phone the same company number; this time I was informed "There's no record of your purchase or request for the rebate..." I placed the whole affair on the back burner and about five months later I found all my notes on the topic and phoned the company (it was in TX, BTW)... By the Indian accent and the willingness to assist in every way- I got my rebate- I got the feeling I was actually speaking to someone in India. Hit done matter, I got that rebate.;f ;a
     
  14. cannoncocker

    cannoncocker unknown race

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    I think these people are shrewed just think of the money they save by these rebates not being filled out right not sent in at all etc etc.I really pay close attention to the instructions and i still have made a mistake.
    just my 2 cents
    rod
     
  15. Texas T

    Texas T TX expatriate CLM

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    That's exactly the point. If EVERYONE sent in their rebate forms correctly and on time it would not be economically feasible for the manufacturers to continue with the program. Studies have shown that between 40-50% of rebate qualifed purchases are never submitted for.

    Those of us who do jump through the hoops correctly are being paid for by the others (possibly some in this thread :)) that either do not submit the rebate request or fail to submit it correctly. ;)
     
  16. m1911a1

    m1911a1

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    beastbuy , H&K , others too numerous to mention ...
    hate rebates , why not just give us the $$$$$ right at the cash register ?... oh no , nope ,can't do that , cause then they couldn't **** us out of our money...