Rebate-Processor Parago Caught In A Lie

Parago rejected Rob’s $18 rebate request because of a missing UPC. Rob had purchased Smith Micro’s Anonymizer Anonymous Surfing from Buy.com. He writes:

I sent everything in as requested, and when they posted my rebate, they claimed that I did not submit the UPC. Luckily, not only did I follow all the directions, but from an article I read on your site, I took photo pictures of my original submission.

We love photos. Especially photos that catch corporations blatantly lying to their customers.

Rob’s letter to Paragao, and his deliciously damning photographic proof of their lies, inside.


The product registration:
http://consumermediallc.files.wordpress.com/2007/03/the_product_registration-thumb.jpeg?w=500&h=400What is that box with the barcode? Is it a UPC? Let’s have a look:
http://consumermediallc.files.wordpress.com/2007/03/the_upc_code-thumb.jpeg?w=500&h=400Rob isn’t finished with Parago. He wrote them a letter.
Please be advised that it has been commonplace for companies offering rebates to lie about contents of the submissions and to deny rebates to customers who faithfully follow the instructions provided by the company.

[I] am put on suspicion that your company may be involved in this sort of fraudulent activity. If these rebates are not approved and received in a timely manner, I will be forced to file a complaint with the Better Business Bureau and to initiate a lawsuit. It is unacceptable for companies to not honor their rebate offers.

Rob has handled the situation perfectly. We’ll let you know when he hears from Parago. — CAREY GREENBERG-BERGER

Comments

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  1. rubberpants says:

    I had similar a experience when trying to get a rebate for a printer I bought at CompUSA. They said I didn’t include the UPC, which of course I did. When I told the rebate company I was going to take them to small claims court they caved and sent me a check. Dirty birds.

  2. The Bigger Unit says:

    Man, I dislike rebates…but I didn’t complain when HP sent me two $150 rebates (in lieu of one). That was a good day…

    *fondly remembers depositing second rebate check…*

  3. RandomHookup says:

    Check any of the bargain hunting sites and you’ll see Parago is notorious for doing this. The best one is the free after rebate Peachtree Software that is *always* denied until you call. It’s about $150 and undoubtedly lots of people just shrug their shoulders and forget about it.

    Most places will fix it if you call and sometimes fax in a copy of the submission.

  4. DrTweeker says:

    Seems this is the common practice nowadays for the companies that still use mail in rebates – Glad you took photo proof of the submission, now you have them head-on. Don’t let up until you get your rebate – and I’ll bet it’s gonna happen sooner than later now.

    Many companies like Best-Buy are eliminating paper rebates and giving them directly at the register. I believe they were going to be paper rebate free by 2008 – all companies need to follow their lead.

  5. holocron says:

    I’ve had this experience recently for a piece of crap router I bought at CompUSA. There were three rebates. 1) electronic from CompUSA, 2) from manufacturer w/original UPC, 3) from manufacturer w/copy of UPC.

    The #1 rebate went through, #2 rebate “disapeared”, #3 was rejected because it lacked the original UPC.

    After calling their support line and explaining how it was physically impossible for me to send the original in for 2 separate rebates they caved. Oddly, #2 never showed up on their website but #3 did when I went to check on the status. They had a record of all of them.

    Bah.

  6. SeattleGuy says:

    I’m so glad that Staples uses the on-line Easy Rebate (TM) system. Everything is tied to the transaction number on your receipt. I guess that some people do get denied, but I never have. Nor have I ever received a check from them that expires 3 days after I receive it! Thanks Fry’s :-(

  7. Optimistic Prime says:

    I would recommend bringing in the FTC and your state’s Attorney General rather than BBB. The BBB is not going to help unless the company is a paying member of the BBB.

  8. crayonshinobi says:

    Awesome letter to Parago, short, sweet and to the point! That’s a copy and paste for later use…that is, if you don’t mind Rob.

  9. acambras says:

    Yes, I agree that Rob’s letter is great — short, sweet, and to the point.

    The only thing that gives me pause is his threat to initiate a lawsuit. Does anyone really think someone will initiate a lawsuit over an $18 rebate?

    A more believable threat might be to file complaints with the FTC and the state Attorney General, like Optimistic Prime said.

  10. testkahuna says:

    These are the same tools that owe me $100! I sent them all my stuff for the Hanns-g monitor in November. They kept telling me my rebate was valid and I was “in the final stages…” My rebate date was in January, and is now sometime next month… I sent them another e-mail from their site but they must have overlooked it or something since I’ve gotten no response – maybe it was my tone or maybe it’s because they suck. I also sent an e-mail to buy.com where I bought the product from to see if they care – so far, not so much. Anyway, I sent the story in to the consumerist with the e-mail thread – maybe they can use my story to gang up on these weenies…

  11. Greasy Thumb Guzik says:

    I was told there wasn’t a UPC on a hard drive rebate. I sent in the UPC, that’s exactly what was required on the rebate form. Luckily I still had the box & sent the jerks at Best Buy yet another bar code with multiple bar codes under it back. I also told them I would contact the postal inspectors if I didn’t get the rebate. It came in about two weeks.

    I got the same BS from a $10 Pepsi rebate.
    When I called the 800 # on the denial letter, I was told the check would be sent out right away. Just as I was hanging up, the weasel on the other end said something about coupons for free 2 liter bottles, so I took those too.
    My guess is that some pinhead rejected everyone.

  12. Jean Naimard says:

    Ha! He won’t get anything. The BBB is just a front to make people believe someone cares, but in reality, as long as a business pays it’s dues, it’s not going to get a bad rap from the BBB.

  13. NeoteriX says:

    @acambras:

    Perhaps Rob is a lawyer :-D

  14. dugn says:

    As obavious as this sounds, I not only photocopy everything for rebates, but I set a reminder in my Outlook calendar to follow up on a specific day (usually 6-8 weeks after I sent in the forms).

    I have been gleefully surprised when rebate checks arrived before my scheduled reminder (Sears, Discount Tire). I would have otherwise forgotten the others and missed out on a substantial refund if my reminder hadn’t popped up for others (Sony, CompUSA).

  15. Hah.

    Dugn, glad to hear it. (I’m lead software developer for Discount Tire’s rebate provider.)

    We *always* push out rebates as quickly as we can, and air on the “benefit of a doubt” side of things. Mail-in rebates get a bad rap because of companies like Parago and, worse, CPG.

    Some companies really want you to receive their rebates, and Discount Tire is *definitely* one of those companies. (We aim for 3-4 weeks to fulfillment.)

  16. 5h17h34d says:

    I am going through this as we speak with a Logitech harmony remote rebate. Is small claims court a viable option? They have really pissed me off with their ridiculous email replies. They even request scanned copies of the rebate documents as an attachment then claim they cannot get the attachment.

  17. Giggles says:

    Good for you, Rob. Stick it to the man!! I love that you took the photos of your submission.

  18. Trick says:

    I use Quicken Home & Business and since it has the capability to create invoices, I just create an invoice for my rebates and set them due 10 weeks from the day I mail it in.

    I have yet to forget about one and most of the time the rebates are delivered around 10 weeks or more.

    Rarely are the delivered before the due date.

  19. Trick says:

    @Chris Cardinal:

    Some companies really want you to receive their rebates, and Discount Tire is *definitely* one of those companies. (We aim for 3-4 weeks to fulfillment.)

    Since you seem to be in the know about this… why does it take 3 to 4 weeks anyway? What is so hard about getting the correct rebate in the mail and sending out a check the very next day?

  20. daze says:

    that reminds me. i just received an email the other day from whoever handles ATI’s rebates that i should be receiving my $30 check in the mail in 1-2 weeks — for something i sent in August, 2006! this is why in 2007 i have decided to purchase nothing based on rebate price. screw rebates. i’m out.

  21. daze says:

    quick follow-up (should’ve checked my email before submitting) — the ATI rebate processor is web-rebates.com and it was for something i purchased on June 30th and mailed on July 12th, 2006, with an expiration date of August 30th. Good thing I completely forgot about it — “free” money is beer money.

  22. plugh001 says:

    I currently have a complaint filed with the BBB and my state’s attorney general against Staples/Parago. They claim to have “lost” an electronic “EasyRebate” submission and have stonewalled me at every turn. It takes a full week to turn around e-mail, only to receive canned responses to call the 800 number. Their telephone lines, when not simply disconnected, are staffed by powerless drones. A complete scam beyond any doubt.

  23. swvaboy says:

    As someone who has been a manager for over ten years I can tell you where letters from the BBB go….File 13. For us, it is only after someone is denied on the local level and national level that they decide to write to BBB.

    It is just that not that many people actually check with BBB until after they have had a problem, and it does take a lot of time to dig up the paperwork. Do you call or check with the BBB BEFORE you order or buy everything?

    Now I will clarify this one more step, we have only had 3 letters from BBB; they where all from whack jobs.

  24. ZonzoMaster says:

    You know what, consumerist needs a list about companies that DO or DON’T send the rebates, or at least make it hard for people, cause well taking rebates from the right companies could save a lot of money. And i would be lazy to check for the right companies =P (besides i won’t be using those because of my location).

  25. TedOnion says:

    Everyone makes a good point about the attorney general, but in this case the submitter should make sure that he contacts the attorney general of the state in which the rebate company’s business is based. If he makes his complaint to another state’s attorney general he should also contact his own state’s state department.

    I might also point out that the submitter should not threaten to complain to authorities, but he should make his complaints. This company has been caught defrauding consumers, and should pay the penalty no matter what resolution they give the submitter.

  26. coopjust says:

    Paragao is a horrible rebate company. They rejected an eVGA rebate as “missing reciept”. I knew that that was impossible because I had highlighted the particular item that I had purchased, and then scanned all documentation.

    If you want to get the rebate, complain to the company offering the rebate via the BBB- but also complain against the rebate house via your states attorney general. If they get enough complaints, they may take legal action against the company.

    Also, if you can find out where Parago is, complain against their states AG- they might have more of an ability to go against Parago.

  27. Grrrrrrr, now with two buns made of bacon. says:

    @ZonzoMaster: I think the good company/bad company rebate list is an excellent idea! The Consumerist could collect information from readers and see just who makes good and who are the deadbeats.

    Recently, I’ve had good luck with rebates. I don’t specifically buy a product because it has a rebate, but if it does, I’m certainly going to send it in. The only company that screwed me on a rebate was Zoom Telephonics; I have actually received rebates from Sears, Symantec, Sonicare, Home Depot, etc., although I too wonder why it takes 10 or 12 weeks to get a check back. (Well, I know…because it’s an interest-free loan of your money, that’s why).

    As far as the BBB goes, it seems like a paper tiger that has no teeth. Nobody checks with the BBB until it is too late, and even then, they have no legal authority to do anything. So by the time somebody has been screwed out of $500 or whatever, all they get from the BBB is “Oh, yes, we have received two other complaints”….which does absolutely no good whatsoever.

  28. lonelymaytagguy says:

    I had a T-Mobile rebate come back as UPC label missing.

    I had scans of everything so I called the number in the letter. I was surprised that after a couple holds and transfers that I ended up talking to a regular T-Mobile agent.

    She asked if I had clipped or stapled the bar code to the rebate form. I answered that I did. She then told me that if you attach it, it gets detached by the mail processing machinery and lost.

    Then she asked me for the phone’s serial number and said she’d get it back into process.

    Just 5 days later, I received the rebate on a T-Mobile check in an envelope.

    Put them on the good list.

  29. quail says:

    Rebates are such a scam for the most part. The hoops you usually have to jump through make them useless most of the times. When considering a price I never consider the brightly colored rebate tag on packaging.

    Some years ago I bought software that promised a $50.00 rebate, making the final cost $9.00. It wasn’t until I opened the package and discovered that the rebate form was the plasticized, half-dollar sized, sticker on the front of the box. It took the use of my Fisher Space Pen (it writes through grease, damnit)to get my name and address onto the form. They didn’t allow copies to be submitted and would not honor a rebate unless it came on their original, plastic coated form. To this day I can imagine the company only sent out rebates to a handful of ‘space pen’ users.

  30. @Trick: 3-4 weeks is our maximum guideline.

    During a large promotion, we receive thousands upon thousands of pieces of mail incoming. They have to be keyed into our system, which requires data entry folk (and if we’re not in a large promotion, scaling of the staff to accommodate) validated, queued for a check run, the checks are printed, they are boxed and presently shipped to a mailing house or mailed internally. The mailing house then takes several days to stuff the checks into envelopes, pre-sort, apply postage and mail them out.

    We generally don’t do more than one check run a week, per promotion, but things change from place to place, and frequencies change depending on where we are in the promotion, and volume.

    We offer online submissions (ala Staples Easy Rebates) that require nothing mailed in, and those not only expedite things, but ensure accuracy, since it’s you entering your address instead of us.

    You just have to remember that we work in volume, and that the rebates need to be accounted for properly. Everything has to come into the system, enter the queue and work its way through.

  31. sleepydumbdude says:

    I’ve mostly given up on rebates. My last one was Kohls for a 10 dollar gift card from purchasing a kitchen aid mixer that was almost 300 dollars. I didn’t purchase it for the free mail in gift card. I got a letter about a month ago from some agency saying I didn’t mail in the UPC.
    I took pictures before hand and went to Kohls. Asked to speak to a manager because when I called the phone number i got no help. The store manager here personally looked over it, said he was sorry, and gave me a 50 dollar gift card on the spot. That was nice so I’ll keep doing business with them.

    Before that my last rebate was 30 dollars on a PS2 from FYE. For some reason they kept telling me I didn’t meet the requirement for the 50 dollar rebate. The rebate wasn’t 50, it was for thrity after an hour on the phone with someone in India they told me I’d be getting my 30 dollars. Two weeks later I got a check for 50. Was strange because even my photocopies of the reciept said 30 and nowhere did it say 50.

  32. Sparky says:

    I’ve mostly given up on rebates, and have completely given up on Buy.com. Spread the word: Buy.com rebates are a scam, avoid Buy.com. I posted this review on Epinions over a year ago:

    http://www.epinions.com/content_215561309828

  33. We constantly have people surprised that our phone support is based here in the states.

    “Oh, you’re not Indian?”

    Occasionally, we’re tempted to snap into a faux Indian accent and say “Yes we are sir, but our english very very good.”

  34. joebar says:

    Just dealt with the same shit this morning.. SanDisk $20 rebate for a SD card..

    I know I sent the UPC b/c I photocopied the form with the UPC taped to it which I sent in.

    I called cust svce and said there’s a problem, I did send in the UPC and she was like “what’s your name and zipcode… ok it’s fixed heres your rebate tracking number”

    Fastest call ever.. Apparently she “found” my UPC in the 15 seconds the call lasted. BS…………..

  35. MaryAlice says:

    Rewards are merely to encourage the lazy to pay more, since rebates can be such a hassle. It’s criminal, in retrospect, to charge extra so that you can receive a discount after pulling teeth.

  36. ray210 says:

    I’m just avoiding all non-Staples or Costco rebates, period. D-Link and Circuit City? Forget about it. Parago’s pure evil.

  37. jdarbogast says:

    Ok… During the holiday shopping I bought over 57 items with rebates. From those 57 rebates ALL the parago rebates were denied for an assortment of reasons… I have a total of 22 post cards for denials! ALL for things that were not accurate from missing UPC to incorrect postmark date.

    All of them were “re=process” but it was an inconvinience without mentioning that a scam because I had documented every rebate on an excel sheet with scans of each submision. To make things even MORE upsetting 2 of the rebate checks were issued for less of the amount of that the rebate stated. I was told I could not make money on a rebate! I was clearly NOT making money as the items were over $50 and the rebates were for $30. After several calls, BBB complains and a call from my neighbor (which is a lawyer…) i finally got 2 checks for the remainder of the $50 I was missing on each rebate.

    Never had an issue with any other rebate company… Actually, there is some companies that must definetly should be rewarded for the honesty and responsability.

    PARAGO— definetly is the WORST out there!

  38. consumer4me says:

    Interesting mistakes that Smith Micro makes with a rebate submitted in September, 2007. They claim that they sent the rebate to the wrong address even though the address was written on the rebate form correctly and a printed return address label was affixed to the same rebate form. The first time they claimed that the check was sent without the apartment number and they would re-submit my rebate. Yes, we all make mistakes. Unfortunately, it would have to go through the same rebate waiting period. Today I called inquiring about the second check. Oh, No! Supposedly it was sent to the right apartment, wrong street this time. Again I was told that the check will be re-issued and cannot be expedited. Next time will it be right street, right apartment, wrong zip, wrong city or wrong state? Then it can be made out to the wrong name. This could go on for 32 to 50 more months if they work it right. Now I am wondering if we send our payments to the wrong address or name, can we keep our money in the bank longer so that we can also accrue more interest every day? No … that would not work for us, would it?

  39. kmlawn says:

    PARAGO! I am in the midst of trying to get two $50 rebates for the $3000 washer and dryer set I bought from LG in October 2006. I sent my submission via US Mail, Parago says they have no record of it. I resubmitted via fax per their instructions — and a month later, NO record of me. Sent it again via fax — months later, NO record of me. Re-faxed again to a supervisor after I started demanding his name and company name and address and superior’s names, etc, and he advised he would take care of it within 72 hours. Here I am 10 days after the fax to the supervisor, and they have no record of me in their system. I have fax logs verifying the faxes went through successfully. There is no way that four faxes did not get there, I use this fax machine daily for business and never have transmission problems. They are liars.
    The BBB is a joke. They make their money by charging businesses to be members, they really aren’t interested in consumer protection. I filed a complaint with the BBB and Parago responded that they have no record of me (what a surprise), so the BBB closed the complaint.
    I am going to continue to fax stuff to them via their toll-free fax line until they respond.
    It is not worth my time, but now it’s the principle and I refuse to let them get away with it.
    I am filing with the State Attorney General, the FTC and the USPS (mail fraud complaint). I also wrote letters to the President of LG and am considering filing complaints against them as they are the ones who offered the rebate in the first place.