Consumers Speak: 9 Month Wait For Amazon Phone Rebate

We rarely link to the Amazon phone rebates, but we have from time to time, and lots of other sites flog the hell out them. For good reason, apparently. Reader John R. — who in an amazing coincidence has the same first name and middle initial as myself — wrote in to admit his foolishness in buying a rebated phone through Amazon.com. A rebate, it should be mentioned, that doesn’t turn around for 9 months.

John R. spins a cautionary tale of his folly, warning us all to read the fine print carefully in Amazon.com rebates… after the jump:

I have a story of interest to anyone thinking of buying a cell phone and service via Amazon.

First, I admit that the failure to do all the research is 100% my own fault. But I feel that the details were hidden well enough and the process shady enough that I should warn others so that they can make better decisions with the information in plain sight.

Just before Christmas I decided to take advantage of the sales that are occurring everywhere for cell phones. Since I was unhappy with Verizon’s coverage in the Pacific Northwest, I chose to switch to T-Mobile who is the only provider to have reliable coverage at the ski area I frequent. Amazon had a $150 rebate promotion going on, and they usually have some sort of promotion all the time so this was nothing unusual.

On the Amazon shopping page with the phones listed, and the rebate factored in the price, there was the normal legalese down at the bottom. The text down at the bottom stated that the $150 rebate was contingent upon activating a plan at $39.99 a month or higher with a minimum 1 year contract. There was a link to a “terms of service” which popped up a small window with the same text and added verbiage along the lines of “subject to verification”.

After 6 weeks, I call to check on the status of my rebate, and they tell me that I have to wait 180 days, after which they will verify that I am still maintaining a T-Mobile account and then begin processing the rebate. Additionally, I am to wait 12 weeks AFTER that for the rebate to be processed.

When I state that I never saw the 180 day requirement, they direct me to their REBATE ARCHIVE!!! And sure enough, in there, on the .pdf document from the date period I purchased the phones, buried in the middle of lots of small print is the 180 day requirement and the 12 week processing timeline after the 180 days.

So my warning to Amazon cell phone shoppers – the actual terms of the rebates may not be accurately reflected in the product pages, and may actually involve a bit of sleuthing to discover. In my case I need to wait 9 months to get my rebate.

I am not sure I understand the 180 day requirement as after 15 days I am contractually locked in to T-Mobile and Amazon is no longer involved, and should be able to process the rebate. Any default after that point is legally between T-Mobile and me. But I digress…

Make sure that you know if the text you are reading in the product pages is the *full* and *actual* rebate agreement.

Comments

Edit Your Comment

  1. beelerspace says:

    Doesn’t matter if you jumped through all the right hoops. I signed up in June of last year for two phones. Followed the steps exactly and they sent one check but not the other. They admitted fault, but kept telling me 4-8 weeks. Finally I spoke with someone who promised I wouldd receive a check in 1-2 weeks. I didn’t.

    This post inspired me to call again. I spoke with a supervisor who promised to just refund the $150 to the card.

    We’ll see.

  2. AberSparky says:

    The reason behind Amazon’s 180 day wait period beyond the 15 day return is commission related. Even though the customer is locked into a contract, they can still cancel and walk away (granted with having to pay a termination fee) but most carriers will take back the commission they give a dealer (i.e. Amazon) if the customer cancels before a certain time period, in this case, 6 months. The rebate offered by Amazon is held for that period so that just in case the customer cancels and they lose the commission, they don’t walk away with nothing. It’s unfortunate that they hide the 180 waiting period, but if they said up front that you had to wait 9+ months for the money back, not many people would be buying the product.