Rebate Ripoff
July 20, 2005 12:05 PM   Subscribe

Ever been screwed out of a rebate? Office Max/Brother owes me $50. Is this common? Any recourse?

I bought a Brother laser printer at Office Max because there were two rebates: $20 from Office Max and $50 from Brother. Since there is only one UPC on the box I asked and was told to "make a copy" of the UPC for the Brother rebate. Got a postcard saying it was refused because I hadn't sent the original. Any ideas?
posted by Mack Twain to Shopping (12 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Similar crap happened to me several times before. Since it's $50, you might want to fight for it--find a contact email and complain, and if that doesn't help, complain some more. Tell one side what the other told you until you find somebody responsible enough to say, ok fine. This has worked for me in the past.
posted by muckster at 12:17 PM on July 20, 2005

If all reasonable discourse fails, follow through with a complain to the Better Business Bureau. They take all complaints very seriously.
posted by gaelenh at 12:23 PM on July 20, 2005

For future reference, the retailers are usually more accepting of a photocopied UPC than the manufacturer will be, especially when accompanied by an explanation that there were multiple rebates. The retailers are also easier to deal with - you can go to the store and make a fuss until they refund you the amount of the rebate.

Of course, when you keep copies of everything you sent, make notes of the days you mailed them, etc. your case is much stronger.
posted by Coffeemate at 12:30 PM on July 20, 2005

I second the BBB on the rebate thing. Make sure you contact the appropriate state division. McAfee was giving me the runaround (You have to mail in the UPC code. I downloaded it, you idiots. You have to mail in the UPC code. etc.) and a complaint to the California BBB cleared that up right quick.
posted by gottabefunky at 12:40 PM on July 20, 2005

If all reasonable discourse fails, follow through with a complain to the Better Business Bureau. They take all complaints very seriously.

No, they don't. I speak from experience, though not with Brother or Office Max.
posted by scratch at 12:52 PM on July 20, 2005

You also might have luck contacting your state's Attorney General's office. I've heard several states Attorneys General have been reviewing rebate practices.
posted by reverendX at 12:59 PM on July 20, 2005

I finally got my Office Max rebate on my Palm Pilot, but it took months longer than they said it would. I dealt with them through their web customer service, and after wrangling with them, I received a $10 coupon (which I mistook for the rebate) and thought it was a done deal. And then a couple months later I got the actual rebate (hard plastic Gift Card) with a letter saying it was for the Palm Pilot.
posted by nancoix at 1:34 PM on July 20, 2005

I've been having very good luck with rebates recently. This is my current course of action:

- Keep a copy of everything submitted.

- Send rebate in a jiffy-mail bubble pack (something like this). This allows the post office to consider your mailing a package instead of an envelope which then allows you to send via first class mail with delivery confirmation (cheapest method of verifying date of delivery). Retain the delivery confirmation receipt.

- If the rebate form specifies a web site to check status of your rebate, do so

- If the rebate form states a copy of anything is acceptable, use a highlighter on that clause so it's obvious to the processor.

- If any of the following happens:

+ Rebate refused
+ Rebate held for "being incomplete" when you've already sent everything stated on rebate form
+ Rebate not sent within stated period

immediately write a letter to the rebate processor and cc the president of the company offering the rebate, the attorney general of the state the company is incorporated in and the attorney general of the state you live in.

Include copies of everything you submitted as well as a copy of the delivery confirmation receipt and a print out from the site showing the delivery confirmation info.

I have not had a rebate refused/delayed yet since I started using delivery confirmation. I believe that the delivery confirmation removes a large amount of "wiggle room" for the rebate processor.

The letter cc'd to everyone immediately resolved an $80 rebate on a Princeton monitor that was held for "being incomplete" for which I didn'tt mail with delivery confirmation.
posted by de void at 1:58 PM on July 20, 2005

This is the kind of thing that's driven me away from dealing with any sorts of rebates. My version of your woe came earlier this year when Plextor took about 8 weeks longer to send the rebate check than promised and when they did it had an expiration date only a week into the future. I deposited it and the bank emptied the deposit bin the date it expired and refused it while charging me a $8 "stale instrument" fee.

I'd suggest for future reference that if you find yourself in this situation in the future (why??) you send the UPC with the form for the notably larger rebate. If they're going to screw you, at least let it be for less.

In the near term, write them a short but clear note that makes clear you chose to purchase from them based on this price and you are very unhappy that you actually spent $50 more and that this is going to impact your choice of vendors in the future. Companies are high on rebates because it allows them to fiddle their revenue numbers and offer the appearance of low prices in a way that dodges price wars. None of that does them any good if you won't buy from them and that's what you have to trade on. They may or may not be able/willing to interceed for you with Brother.
posted by phearlez at 2:16 PM on July 20, 2005

I'm not sure about your exact situation, but I think a lot of companies "out source" their rebate offers to companies that deal specifically with rebates and nothing else.

I've dealt with one once - a horrible experience. They couldn't give less of a shit about my rebate - I wasn't really their customer. After calling and calling, one day they informed me they no longer had a record of what I sent in, because they delete any information that's older than 6 months!

I eventually got my $50 rebate through persistance, but I hope you don't have to deal with one of these sleazy companies.
posted by hellbient at 3:02 PM on July 20, 2005

I would suggest tracking down the name of the rebate processing company, and write a letter to the president of Brother and CC the president of the rebate processing company. Basically, the letter will be a complaint about the processing company to Brother, who is employing them. You'll want to phrase it to explain that Brother will lose business as a result of the actions of the rebate processor. I had a similar situation with a refused Sony rebate, and when I contacted Sony and Parago (the rebate processor), I had calls from VP's offices within a few weeks, and a check a week or so after that.

The real problem you may have is that if a rebate calls for an original UPC, you are kind of screwed if you send a copy unless you have some kind of waiver in writing (like a printout of an email from a customer service rep saying that you can use a copy).
posted by MegoSteve at 3:19 PM on July 20, 2005

I've always considered rebates to be found money for exactly this reason. If they wanted you to reliably get money back they'd lower the price (or, in the manufacturer's case, the retailer's cost); the reason they're doing it as a rebate is so they can advertise a lower price without all of the purchasers actually paying that lower price in the end.

If you wouldn't buy something at the price before the rebate, don't buy it just because of the rebate.
posted by mendel at 6:37 PM on July 20, 2005

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