1,300 Unopened Rebate Applications Found In Dumpster

This is a picture of the 1,300 unopened rebate forms a Mercury News reporter found in a dumpster near Vastech, a rebate processor for Fry’s Electronics.

When confronted, the company’s owner blamed it on a lazy employee who no longer works for Vastech and offered to process and sign checks for all of the envelopes in front of the reporter.

Stories like this make Matt’s “as organized as a Swiss train system” rebate tracking methodology seem less and less insane.

Tech Talk: Unopened rebate requests found in San Jose dumpster [MercuryNews]

Comments

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  1. fooled me, I thought it was for Tiger Direct XD

  2. Evil J, Prince of Half Truths and Lord of Low-Light Environments says:

    Wow, I always thought that they figured that people wouldn’t take the time to redeem rebates… not count on keeping the money by just automatically round-filing it.

  3. gatopeligroso says:

    The good thing is that anytime I’ve had a problem with a rebate at Fry’s, I just take all my photo copies to one of their stores and they cut me a check. I guess they must charge the vendor later on.

  4. beyond says:

    “When confronted, the company’s owner blamed it on a lazy employee who no longer works for Vastech”

    Yeah, he was promoted to CEO of their parent company.

  5. yahonza says:

    I never take rebates into account when shopping. If they wanted to give you a discount, they would just give you the discount and not make you jump through the ridiculous hoops and wait months for the check. They are counting on most people deciding not to bother or screwing up somehow so they don’t have to give them the rebate.

  6. @gatopeligroso: WHOA. I gotta remember that one.

    How long did you have to wait on line to get that to happen?

  7. Egakino says:

    Mercury News article reprinted inside so you don’t have to register to see it…


    Having to register with a newspaper is stupid IMO, news should be accessible to all. That being said is reprinting an article like this (as a whole) a copyright violation? I know copyright law decently well (as an photographer one has to deal with it all the time) but this one kinda stumps me. One might think so because it cuts off the authors ad revenue from the site, and there are laws against scanning/copying written works but I am not sure about this in particular.

  8. 82300sd says:

    This is why I send every rebate back (greater than $15) with certified mail (no return receipt). They can’t claim that they never got it.

  9. Having been general counsel to a now-bankrupt rebate-driven online retailer, I learned a lot about the rebate world. Yes, retailers depend on what they call “slippage,” the tendency for customers *not* to bother sending in the rebate forms. Slippage varies; although it averaged (at that time) around 80-90% of eligible purchases, the higher the rebate, the more likely the forms would be filled out and sent in, lowering the slippage rate. Expiring gift cards operate on the same theories of slippage.

    At the same time, enforcement actions have led to both easier rebate submissions and many retailers stopping the use of rebates. On the flip side, I once visited our returns warehouse, and found that at least 90% of the returned items (for which credit was probably granted) were missing UPCs, meaning that customers were attempting to doubledip (rebates and refunds).

    For myself, while I don’t send them certified, I do scan every UPC and other piece of documentation, so that if a retailer claims I didn’t send in some required piece of info., I can reply with a copy. I have had great success with rebates from the major retailers, as well as online companies like Buy.com, but there are definitely potential problems out there. {Prof. Jonathan}

  10. stonefry says:

    Um, paper shredder?

  11. warf0x0r says:

    I worked at a rebate processing center for 1.5 years. I did data entry. Nothing against the people who opened the mail and sorted them, but for peoples sake who send in the big rebates $100+ staple your UPCs to a 8.5×11 sheet of paper, unless it says not to. I was amazed at the number of UPCs there were on the ground.

  12. Buran says:

    … in other words, Fry’s knows they’re a scam but doesn’t give a damn about it.

    I nearly never buy anything with a rebate on it due to bullshit like this. The last time I did, everyone in every state other than CT would have to mail in a rebate form. CT buyers would get an instant discount at the register.

    WHY IS SOMEONE FROM CT TREATED FAIRLY AND SOMEONE WHO IS NOT IS EXPOSED TO BEING SCAMMED?

  13. harumph says:

    i will almost always try to get the rebate amount taken off at the time i buy something. granted this has usually been with cell phones but they will give you the rebate amount right away a lot of times. those things are a total ripoff. tell me anyone believes that a large majority of those companies don’t throw away x percentage of the forms they do receive and just shrug their shoulders when people try to check up on their rebates. total bullshit ripoff.

  14. RandomHookup says:

    @Egakino:

    shhhhhh….Consumerist laughs in the face of copyright law. Ask the folks at Flickr.

  15. iHuman says:

    It’s a long shot, but perhaps… just perhaps… the rebates in the dumpster were not postmarked by the required date.

  16. Schminteresting says:

    Blame it on my naiveté, but geez, I am just dumbfounded. I’ve known for a long time about the gross inefficiency of rebate processing centers and their general lack of concern about their “customers”, but damn… this just beats all. Weizhen Tan should be held accountable for this–an “oops we goofed” doesn’t cut it here.

  17. macinjosh says:

    @82300sd: But they can claim that all you sent them was a bunch of cookie recipes. :)

  18. supra606 says:

    This is why I never buy anything with a mail in rebate offer (although I like Harumph’s idea about trying to get them to give you an instant rebate instead, I may have to give that a shot next time). I’m not going to spend fifteen minutes reading all the fine print, making copies of everything, putting it all together, and mailing it. My time is just worth more than that to me, especially considering I will probably waste more later trying to prove I did indeed send everything in correctly when they deny me later. What a scam!

  19. deadhouseplants says:

    I’m sorry, but am I the only one who thinks that blaming a lazy employee for throwing away 1300 rebates is just insane. That guy should have been arrested right then and there for even thinking up such a stupid fraudulent lie like that. Yes, the employee was lazy, but not lazy enough to take 200 to 300 pounds worth of mail to the trash, and apparently try and hide it so no one would catch him or her.

    In a perfect world, our government would outlaw rebates and just force retailers to offer the rebated price right then and there.

  20. gatopeligroso says:

    @CaliforniaCajun: I’ve shopped at the Frys in Downers Grove, IL. They will usually get me a response within two weeks. The amount was only $30.00 but hey, money is money.

  21. harumph says:

    @deadhouseplants: true, if a company offered to handle the rebate rigamarole for me instead of farming it out to a third party in an obvious attempt to duck responsibility, i would definitely throw my business their way.

  22. telliott says:

    The point of rebates from a marketers stand point is to prey on human optimism and laziness simultaneously. The marketer knows that the rebate will help motivate people to buy the product with intentions of cashing it in, but few will actually get all the necessary materials mailed on time. When they get large returns on a rebate, it is considered a failure. I had a marketer relate a story to me once that used to work for Buena Vista distribution. For the movie “Hook” she included a rebate form that was stamped with the signature of Dustin Hoffman and Robin Williams, numbered as a limited edition, and designed to appear to be on old parchment paper, the idea to make it appear collectible. You should have seen her face beam as she boasted of a miniscule 10% return on that rebate!

  23. bravo369 says:

    I’ve had surprisingly good luck with rebates over the last year. I’ve received about $90-$100 back total from 3 or 4 rebates. I haven’t even had to call to complain either. I just make sure everything is photocopied and I fill out the forms and mail out the envelope before I fully start using the product.

  24. cde says:

    @harumph: I did that recently with TMobile. Got the RIZR Z3 for 30 no rebate instead of 79 with 50 rebate and even 50 with no rebate. Helps when you bullshit about sports for a while with the guy (I was all set on the 50 no rebate when he told me, after having placed the order, that he reduced it to 30 instead :D

  25. cde says:

    @deadhouseplants: 1300 letters would not be 200 pounds. Each letter would be under 1 ounce to qualify for the 41 cent stamp, and at 1300 letters at exactly 1 ounce, it would only be 1300 ounces, or 81.25 pounds, if 1 ounce each.

  26. AnnieGetYourFun says:

    @RandomHookup: Bwahaha. Seriously, dude.

    I like what we read here, but you guys honestly need to be more careful about that. Especially with the Flickr stuff.

  27. mandarin says:

    I really hate rebates. Waste of paper, time and energy.
    Instead of wasting all that paper, why not just go direct and process rebates at the retailer?

  28. not_seth_brundle says:

    @telliott: “For the movie “Hook” she included a rebate form that was stamped with the signature of Dustin Hoffman and Robin Williams, numbered as a limited edition, and designed to appear to be on old parchment paper, the idea to make it appear collectible. You should have seen her face beam as she boasted of a miniscule 10% return on that rebate!

    That is brilliant!

  29. RandomHookup says:

    @AnnieGetYourFun:

    I think they went legit with Flickr…people have to tag their photos for Consumerist and they get attribution. But it was ugly for a few days when the photogs threatened an insurrection.

  30. dohtem says:

    @RandomHookup: Yeah and the consumerist insulted them on top of it. That was pretty ugly.

  31. PhxRising says:

    This is more than a one time problem with Vastech. The CEO is flat out lying. I purchased a Vastech product from Fry’s Electronics in October 2006 and immediately sent in the $7 rebate form. I then called and emailed Vastech in January 2007. The emails went unanswered and the voice mailbox was full. So then I contacted Fry’s electronics and they eventually sent me the rebate check. The bottom line is that Vastech has a long record of not paying out rebates and Fry’s knows this, but still sells their products.

  32. Egakino says:

    @RandomHookup: Huh, missed all that, guess I am out of the loop. Sounds like pure “Todd Goldman fun”. Puts this place in a little different light, well still an interesting place here at least ><:

  33. thundt says:

    The reason manufacturers do rebates is because the store may (or may not) pass on a discount to the consumer. For example, a 10% discount to the store may result in a 5% discount to us… and 5% more in the store’s pocket. With a rebate, the store cannot capture the discount.

    Having said that, manufacturers then play the odds game, and make
    it a big difficult for us to actually get the rebate. After all, if they REALLY wanted us to have it, they’d just include a check in every box. Or a $5 bill.

  34. drjayphd says:

    @Buran: Because Dickie B is better than your favorite state attorney general?

  35. shades_of_blue says:

    I bet mine is in there, never received shit for purchasing an Antec P10 case [with rebate] from them. After that, I won’t buy from them again.

  36. Greasy Thumb Guzik says:

    @iHuman:
    You’re totally wrong!
    When rebates are sent in after the required date, reputable companies just close the PO box, causing the rebate envelope to be returned to the sender with a stamp on it saying the box has been closed.

  37. GreyGander says:

    Shopped at Fry’s this week. Walked out empty handed.

    Dear Fry’s: Get rid of the rebates and I’ll buy from you again.

  38. Buran says:

    @telliott: Disgusting.

  39. stonefry says:

    I don’t know if I am just lucky or maybe I just do it right, but I have never been shafted on a rebate. I have probably sent in about 30 or so rebates in my life. I just take the receipt and UPC with me to work the morning after I make my purchase and photocopy each item and follow the directions on the rebate form. I save the copies in a file folder with the date sent on the tab, send the forms out (regular good ol’ USPS) and wait. I have never had to follow up a single one of them. Some of them have been a couple of weeks late, but if I really needed the money that badly, I wouldn’t have made the purchase in the first place. I have bought hard drives, routers, video cards, mice, etc. at Circuit City, Best Buy, Comp USA, Office Max, Staples, Office Depot etc. just to name a few. Never at Fry’s though.

  40. di5ad says:

    There are a couple of points that have not been addressed.

    Companies never sell at a loss, unless:

    a. They are trying to move outdated or poorly designed inventory out of the warehouse.

    b. They will make the money back in some other way (i.e. service contracts or or selling the address lists. (Unless there is a privacy statement on the rebate form, it is highly likely that you will be getting more mail after you send in a rebate form.)

    A third way to make a profit is to count on slippage, and even aggressively create slippage by falsely claiming that the bar code was not included or that the form was filled out incorrectly.

    This puts the burden of proof on the customer and, since the vast majority of them do not retain careful records of the transactions, the customer is very nearly ALWAYS wrong and ends up paying full price for his bargain.

    The rules of the game are to make it so hard for the customer to prove their claim, that they will give up.

    But, as I said, companies seldom sell at a loss, EVEN WHEN THE REBATE IS PAID.

    Think for a moment about how retail works. The manufacturing company sells a gizmo to a distributor for a profitable increase over the cost to make the thing. The distributor sells that gizmo to the retailer at another profitable mark-up. The retailer sells the gizmo to you at yet another profitable mark-up.

    You pay $100 and get a $30 rebate from the manufacturer … and a miracle happens. Everybody makes a profit.

    So you should ask yourself. If they can afford to give thousands of people a deep discount like this, and if they are still making a profit … HOW THE HECK MUCH WERE THEY OVERCHARGING ME TO BEGIN WITH!?

  41. yahonza says:

    Answer: $0.

    If you voluntarily paid the agreed upon price, you weren’t “Over Charged” no matter how much profit was made or how much anyone else paid.

  42. ThinkAboutItPlease says:

    Still another reason rebates are evil/anti-consumer: You get pegged for all eternity on myriad private databases as an owner of product x…and as a sucker who will jump through hoops. (And then watch your mailbox get stuffed with trash.)

  43. MagicJewball says:

    @professorjonathan

    Was it CyberRebate? I always wondered what happened with that whole fiasco.

  44. Parting says:

    @telliott:
    Wow, a great example for my marketing class :)
    A rebate coupon, that people collect.

  45. rickhamilton620 says:

    Seriously though, When I go browsing for stuff at a store, namely Circuit City, the thing that turns me off the most are mail-in rebates. I mean they lure you in with a low price but then say in fine print “including mail in rebate”. What’s worse is when they not only have a manufacturer’s rebate but also a store one, forcing you to keep track of two! This story only deepens my skepticism.

  46. swalve says:

    @82300sd: I’ll have to remember that.

    I was just in Fry’s today. That place is spiraling the drain. Why can’t I get a goddamn pack of NORMAL Duracell batteries? And why was EVERY pack of batteries scuffed around the edges?

  47. MikeFM says:

    I’m a long time customer of Fry’s and I buy thousands of dollars of computer equipment from them every year. I’ve stopped buying products that are advertised as having a rebate because out of the dozens I’ve sent in over the years I’ve received my rebate checks for only a couple items. They make you send in UPCs and a copy of your receipt and nothing ever comes back. Now and then I’d get a notice that my receipt didn’t have the product listed so I started circling the items. Still I never get my rebates. These companies must owe me thousands of dollars in rebates by now.

    It’s not just no-name companies either. I’ve had quite a few rebates from big name companies that product hard drives, printers, and so on and none of them has ever sent me a check. The only company offering a rebate of more than a couple dollars that has ever actually sent me my rebate check is Apple. They did give me my rebate for an iPod with the purchase of an iMac. My response? I bought another iMac. Thanks Apple.

  48. Syberz says:

    Another problem with rebates is that the cheque (if ever you receive it) is in US funds. For all your Americans it’s not a problem but for me in Canada, I learned the hard way that when I cash it in I have to pay fees to convert to $CDN and fees to make the deposit at the teller and not at the ATM. For example, the last rebate cheque I received was for 12$US, by the time I was done I deposited about 3$CDN.

    We can’t blame the stores for offering mail-in rebates because it’s the manufacturers to actually offer them and if the store doesn’t follow then another will. So if stores don’t want to lose business they have to offer the “deal”. Pressure should be made on the manufacturers to offer instant rebates instead of mail-in.

  49. ricegf says:

    I built a new computer last Christmas with parts purchased from Fry’s – parts that included 4 rebate forms.

    Three were processed and returned within 12 weeks. (Of course, if I paid *my* bills 12 weeks after receiving them, I’d be writing this at the library.)

    One was rejected with a postcard for a “missing proof of purchase”. I took my photocopies to Fry’s, who denied any responsibility whatsoever for the rebate. They called the vendor for me, who repeated as if (ahem) reading from a script: “You did not submit the proper proof of purchase.”

    The one who refused to pay was Memorex – and no, I will *not* forget!

  50. steinwaytony says:

    I keep copies of everything I send in, but if you don’t send it certified, there’s nothing to stop unscrupulous retailers/rebate processing companies from claiming you didn’t postmark it by the required date.

    And that’s exactly the notice I received in the mail a couple days ago for a $10 D-Link rebate.

    Someone’s gotta know that you can’t photocopy a postmark. Certified — what is it, $3? $4? — would have cut too big a chunk out of my cash back, not to mention I would have had to go out of my way to stand in line at a PO.

  51. LionelEHutz says:

    I had trouble with a MacMall rebate but once I actually called them to dispute the rejection letter, since it made absolutely no sense whatsoever, the person I spoke to overrode the rejection. I received my checks in less than 2 weeks.

  52. INTPLibrarian says:

    @Egakino: Yes, it is definitely a copyright violation UNLESS he asked for and was given permission to reprint it. (Or if there was an indication on the site that all its stories were free to reprint or redistribute, but I doubt that there was.) A lot of news sites have a form available for that, though I have no idea how often permission is granted.

  53. Trackback says:

    As if shopping at Fry’s wasn’t  already such pure joy, now you can figure in a decent likelihood that those rebate offers behind most of the good-looking deals may end up as unprocessed landfill.

  54. Trackback says:

    Here’s a look at some of the happenings this week from the MoneyBlogNetwork and beyond: FMF asks do you pay cash for your cars? – FMF’s post highlights a Bankrate study that found that 12% of thier respondents paid cash for their cars.

  55. Blueskylaw says:

    All this story will do will make them burn the envelopes now or throw them in their neighbors dumpster.

  56. Blueskylaw says:

    By the way, how did he know it was the lazy employee who threw them away? If he did know that the employee threw them away, why didn’t the owner take them out of the dumpster????

  57. Bay State Darren says:

    @yahonza: That’s exactly the point, they don’t wan’t to save you money. The last thing they want is for the advertised savings to become real. This is why I can’t stand it when companies claim they’re devoted to satisfying us and that it’s prority numero uno. Behavior like rebates that they’ll do anything to deny you makes this sound like bull to me.

  58. nffcnnr says:

    So that’s what happened to my 20 bux!

  59. XTC46 says:

    Yes, the point of using rebates is to advertise a really low price, but in most cases the customer wont even bother filling out the forms.

    Also, most customers who do fill out the forms, don’t read the instructions and fill it out wrong or don’t include the proper paperwork (they send copies of receipts when the original is needed, or don’t include the model number, etc etc etc) And most rebates are from manufacturers, not the stores, so the store really has little control over if the rebate gets filled.

  60. misterbill says:

    So as usual, you post an article with questionable details. You claim they are “a rebate processor for Fry’s Electronics” but that is not true (and the article does not say that). They were a company processing their own rebates for items sold at Fry’s. Your “article” makes it seem like Fry’s dumped them. The original article doesn’t even mention Fry’s in the title (and Fry’s does not offer their own rebates — they are always from the manufacturer). If you do not understand rebates then you may say “what’s the difference”? If you do, it’s everything. I would expect a consumer website to know the difference and attempt to educate.

    Common sense says you do not buy stuff with rebates from unknown companies who process them themselves. That’s the lesson from the original article.

    By the way, given that the majority of rebate fraud I see comes from California (stuff that goes to City of Industry, IO Magic, etc.), why hasn’t the California AG done anything to stop it???

  61. misterbill says:

    @82300sd: You waste ~$3 on certified mail for a rebate of $20? That is ridiculous. Maybe on a $100 rebate. As someone else said showing that they received it is no proof that they won’t claim that the form was not in the envelope. And this story is a rare case of dumped rebates. The bigger problem is bogus rejections where they claim it is missing the UPC, etc. Certified Mail does NOTHING to prevent that.

  62. epiccollision says:

    as a former customer service employee of a major(think **&*) wireless company, a major computer/printer manf.(put two really popular letters together) and a nation wide office supply store(the one with that button)…there is a thing called “thresholds” now if a rebate becomes too popular/or a large amount(+$50) then a certain amount(%) of these rebates are “lost in transit” the company really has no intention of honoring these and with the requirements of sending in and only accepting originals(how do you resubmit an “original” when you had to send them in the first place)…I had many interactions with the 3rd party processing centres and in the cases where a file exsisted, even though they could confirm that the customer had fulfilled the requirements the reap would tell me the rebate issuer(att, motorola , hp/compaq, belkin, toshiba, sony, nokia) had denied the rebate and there was nothing that could be done(sorry miss RAZR owner) denials are sent to customers most of the time completely without cause…as the cs agent i was able to confirm all eligibility reqs. yet the company i worked for stated the customer was ineligible for no apparent reason..i luckily have never been denied a rebate because i know how to threaten a company properly(each is different) realize you are but a small voice and they don’t need u as a customer…hit em where it hurts, they’re policies…they have no wiggle room if you know what you are entitled to.

  63. Wow, how stupid can you be… you could at least shred the damned things.

  64. lmantwell says:

    It has come to attention the past year that customer service has been replaced with an a definate sense of apathy. Seems everytime I turn around there is some kind of frustration associated with a product or service I have purchased. Seems there are many corporations that want to sell you their products and are always your best friend until, they get that buck then it’s as if they never knew you!

    Just like the GM Corporation, my husband and I purchased a 2004 Chevy Silverado 2500HD Duramax Diesel.with the Allison Transmission

    My husband had been a fireman for over 22 years and was very familiar with the Allison Transmission and was convinced this was the truck we had to have, many fire engines he had driven have the Allison Trans and it is a great Trans.

    So after purchasing this truck we have had to replace the fuel injectors 3 times, not a minor repair, each time the bill was in excess of $4000.00, fortunately we had purchased the extended warranty so we only had to pay the deductible. So 4 sets of injectors and a truck that is rapidly approaching 100,00 miles we are faced with the dilema of what to do, normally any person will tell you that at this mileage a diesel is just broke in, in the case this truck has had major problems since the very beginning!

    The local Chevy dealer has not even offered us enough to pay off the existing loan, and I cannot legally or in good conscience sell this truck to a private owner because I knnow they are going to have major problems and I would rather not see the inside of a courtroom for selling them a pile of, well you know!

    And after all this General Motors stand point has always been “we feel the truck has performed to it’s expectations!”

    Four sets of injectors, leaving me and my family stranded in the desert for 3 days, the engine shutting down abruptly on the freeway pulling a 32′ trailer and dieself fuel filling the crank case AGAIN! HOW MUCH DAMAGE DOES THIS DO? Having to wait 2 hours for a tow truck on the side of the road in 103 tempbeing out of a truck for my busines for dayson end, shall I go on, WAS THIS PART OF YOUR EXPECTATIONS GENERAL MOTORS?????

    General Motors has said they have no responsibilty to my husband and I or this truck! they have offered up no suggestions except WE’RE SORRY THAT YOU’RE NOT HAPPY WITH THIS TRUCK?

    Like I said earlier in this blog customer service has become a thing of the past, all I have wanted through this entire ordeal is for General Motors to step up to the plate and stand behind their product.

    We have been treated very poorly in all this, and as far as these consumers feel we prefer to take our hard earned $$$$$ and spend them elsewhere and will encourage anyone who will listen to do the same!

    This situation could have been taken care very simple if they weren’t adhering to dunderhead policies!

    Lawrie Mantwell

    o2beclean@aol.com

  65. aikoto says:

    Rebates should be illegal. I had a much more witty comment before, but it didn’t stick. Maybe because of the link I put in?

    Anyway, here’s the link to my page about rebates:

    http://www.jeremyduffy.com/retailers/product-rebates/

    Without the http this time.

  66. Trackback says:

    Wonder why you haven’t received your rebate? I might be because they just threw it away. Above are 1,300 rebate forms that were dug out of a dumpster by a San Jose Mercury reporter.

  67. Trackback says:

    Stuck in rebate hell? Wonder why? Mercury News uncovers what many of us have suspected, at least on occasion: I am staring at more than 1,300 rebate requests sent to Vastech [for Fry’s Electronics sales] on Bonaventura Drive in San Jose.

  68. catita says:

    I’ve submitted about 4 or 5 rebate forms over the past few years, and I haven’t had trouble with any of them. In total, I’ve received approximately $200 back, which is definitely worth it for me. :)

  69. consumerman says:

    In a responsible society, the office of consumer affairs would send out secret shoppers on a regular basis to make sure the rebate system was honest. If a company denied a rebate without proper cause, then they are fined 1000x the rebate amount. It would not take many occurrances for them to realize that it is cheaper for them to pay the rebates honestly.

  70. WetWilly says:

    As a rather active rebater and first-time visitor here, I’ve got to jump in here with a couple of comments. For 2007 so far, I’ve submitted 23 rebates with a value of $553.99 (OK, so I’m moderately anal-retentive about rebate tracking). Of those, 15 were paid on time and 8 are pending. Online tracking shows those 8 were received and most show an estimated check mailing date. I’ve called about two rebates this year; one didn’t show up on the online tracking but was confirmed to be in the rebate system. The second I knew I would have to call about – it was a backordered item that shipped after the rebate submission period. The company said they would override and approve the rebate if it was rejected. It was rejected by the rebate processor and when I called it was quickly approved; I had a check in 2 weeks.

    I’ve been rebating for several years and I follow the basic rules in the post about Matt except I’d add a few:
    1) Skip rebates (and don’t buy products) with convoluted rebate instructions;
    1a) If you frequent deals forums, you’ll quickly find out which brands/companies stink at rebate fulfillment and should be avoided;
    2) Staple the UPC code to the rebate submission (unless the instructions explicitly say tape it to a spot on the form); note the comment above about the UPC codes on the floor, something I’ve been told by a customer service rep at a rebate house as well.
    3) Print the right address – specifically the promotion code and zip code – on the envelope. In fact, I cut’n’paste the address from the PDF directly into my tracking sheet and print the address so there’s zero chance of a typo.
    Ideally one should also keep track of their submissions, but from my experience “The Rules” work 95%+ of the time with no other action required but watching the mail for a check. That’s another thing – some companies still mail postcard checks that can be mistaken for junk mail so check your mail carefully.

    As for the time required, it takes me less than 10 minutes to download a rebate form, fill it out, cut out the UPC, scan the form/receipt/UPC, enter the info in my spreadsheet, and print an envelope. Online rebates usually take less than 5 minutes. My average rebate over the last 8 years is $21.29; if I deduct for postage and the cost of envelopes that works out to an hourly rate of at least $120/hr, which is more than what I made at work.

    The final thing is that the bad guys get a lot of press, but companies that do a great job with rebates get almost no recognition at all. This year, Costco paid an online rebate in 19 days; my record is KitchenAid whose check I received 16 days after I dropped the envelope in the mail. Microsoft rebates have never taken more than 21 days for me to receive, and Staples’ Easy Rebates pretty consistly arrive at the 35-day mark for me.

  71. marcus_brutus says:

    Fry’s is actually complicit in the rebate denial scandal. For example, Fry’s provides two receipts, an Original Receipt and a Rebate Receipt, with a mail-in rebate form that must be completed for each product purchased with an active mail-in rebate program.

    The Fry’s Rebate Receipt has “Submit For Rebate” just below the boldface “Rebate Receipt”. This directive is inconsistent with the directions on the accompanying mail-in rebate form. Item 3 on that form invariably states “Include the original receipt or gift receipt”. Now, it is easy for the consumer who reads this instruction to consider the Rebate Receipt an “original” and return it. After all, the receipt itself says “Submit for Rebate”.

    This is faulty reasoning. In fact, the Redemption Company will reject the claim BECAUSE the submitter failed to submit the “Original Receipt”. By the time the consumer determines that the claim has been denied, usually by waiting the required 12 weeks and receiving no check, it is usually too late to correct the error since the program is over.

    The error of submitting the Rebate Receipt in lieu of the Original Receipt is so common that the drones who process submissions frequently miss the fact that an Original Receipt was, in fact, submitted. In the two cases where my claims were improperly denied by Allrewards, the four months of the rebate program duration were trumped by the wait of 12 weeks to determine that I had been denied. And, “no” I was not notified of the denial proactively by Allrewards. I had to determine it after calling in and talking to their customer service drones.

    The service drone script followed the same process for both claims:
    1. Our records show your claim was denied because you didn’t submit an original receipt.
    2. You did? Well you probably submitted the rebate receipt. It isn’t the same as the original receipt.
    3. Oh, you DID submit the Original and have photocopies?? Please hold.
    4. wait — wait
    5. New person arrives: Mr Camp? You are making a claim after the rebate program has expired. There is nothing we can do because the program is closed.
    6. Wailing and gnashing of teeth aside, you’ve been screwed with Fry’s as the major contributor of misinformation abetted by Allrewards (or insert the Redemption Management company of choice).

  72. Gail Passaretti says:

    I just got done telling my husband he needs to stop buying merchandise that have rebates from Fry’s Electronics because half of them we never receive. When you confront Fry’s they say oh we’ll research it and get back to you but never hear from them again. I think all rebates are a scam and if a company offers a rebate it should first be rung up as a sale and then credited immediately at the register. Stores created rebates to make more sales but the government is allowing them to scam people because I would say that maybe 20% of the people that mail in rebates actually receive the money. This is another way for companies to up their profits and just act like they didn’t receive the rebates. It’s about time the government stepped and regulated this dishonesty. I think it happens all the time but because most people can’t be bothered tracking their rebates they never receive them.

  73. Anonymous says:

    Hi