Buy.com Doesn't Honor Rebates Like Newegg

Yesterday’s post about Newegg honoring a failed rebate request prompted this email from another reader, who had a similar situation with Buy.com but with a very different outcome. If you’ve ever dealt with Buy.com—known for having some of the worst customer service in the industry—this won’t surprise you.

This story is very similar to an unfortunate experience I had with buy.com, dating back to January 2007 when I purchased a Connect 3D 2GB USB Drive. The price was $50 with a $50 mail-in-rebate. It was certainly expensive (probably twice the price it should have been), but I am always diligent about sending in rebates, so I went ahead and purchased the drive. After receiving the product on 1/31/2007, I mailed the rebate out on 2/1/2007. A number of weeks later, I received an e-mail from Connect 3D stating that the rebate processing had been handed over to an independent company, as Connect 3D could not handle the volume of rebates. I should have received my $50 rebate by 4/15/2007 but did not. After visiting the rebate processing site, I decided to allow one month more and checked again on 5/20/2007. Still no rebate.

At this point, I became very suspicious – I had never gotten burned on a rebate before (clearly I’m not a frequent Best Buy shopper). A quick Google search on the issue revealed that Connect 3D had gone under and was not paying out these rebates. Many people had purchased free after rebate items from Connect 3D through buy.com and did not receive payment. Attempts to contact their US office were unsuccessful. Well, after months of stewing over this, I decided to call buy.com to see what they had to say about it. I feel like retailers have an obligation to themselves and their customers to verify the stability of the companies they do business with, so I was hoping for a positive result from buy.com. Anyway, I called general customer support and was quickly told (clearly they had encountered this issue before) that a $10 buy.com gift card would be issued to me, but that buy.com was currently legally pursuing Connect 3D and a full rebate would not be issued. This was very frustrating to say the least, and I felt (and still feel) that buy.com is partially culpable and should have been more sympathetic. I then called CEO Neil Grover’s office (thanks for the phone number, Consumerist!) and spoke with a nice assistant who unfortunately spat back the same generic line. So much for executive customer service. . .

So, it’s been a good 5 months since I called buy.com, and over one year has passed since my Connect 3D purchase. I have not made another purchase at buy.com, despite their “generous” offer of a $10 gift card, and I can’t say I intend to. They have lost my trust; who is to say that this won’t happen again? If they don’t care to protect and retain their customers, I don’t need to offer them any further business.

What do you suggest I do? Is there another avenue I can pursue with buy.com?

Buy.com wants it both ways: they want to entice shoppers to make purchases by discounting 3rd-party rebates from the “final” sales price, but when the rebates fall through they claim the rebates are outside their responsibility. But Buy.com hasn’t honored the terms of the sale. You should point this out to them and demand a full refund of the purchase price upon return of the drive. You may also want to look into whether you can still file a chargeback for the purchase, although since a year has passed it may be too late.

(Thanks to David!)

RELATED
“Newegg Honors Rebate For Out-Of-Business Company”
“Buy.com Doesn’t Care If You Want To Cancel An Order”
“Don’t Buy From Buy.com”
“Contact Buy.Com CEO Neel Grover”

Comments

Edit Your Comment

  1. dimensionaltrend says:

    personally i’ve never had a problem with buy.com… or tiger direct for that matter. of course, when i buy things, i factor out the rebate savings since i forget about filling it out half the time.

    i think that action should have been taken sooner with connect 3D/ buy.com and agree that there is nothing to do now since it has been over one year.

    what i do to save money online is find promo codes and use those instead of a rebate.

  2. Hawk07 says:

    [forums.slickdeals.net]

    I’m surprised the Consumerist never picked up on this topic over at SD.

    There’s pretty much nothing you can do to get Buy.com to pay the rebate. I think there was a class action lawsuit filed against Buy.com, but I’m not sure what the latest details are.

    Fortunately, I was not involved in the Connect 3D rebate scam. However, I won’t do business with buy.com anymore because of it. There are plenty of other internet retailers that would have paid out the rebate, but buy.com is sticking to its guns that it’s in no way, shape or form their fault. Who wants to do business with a company like that?

  3. hanalei says:

    I completely agree that buy.com has some awful customer satisfaction policies. However, it doesn’t just end at rebates, the sales they have posted at slickdeals are not updated AND the shipping policies are misleading.

    While I did receive a reply from customer service, they just insisted that shipping for a $12 DVD cost $10. That is ridiculous.

    What are the most reliable sites to purchase tech items? If you have a reliable source, please share!

  4. shenanigrams says:

    i got burned on this issue. but, unlike previous poster, i do factor in rebates. one should. but i recognize who should honor them — the company who’s contract is behind it. when symantec gyp me over and stay in business, that’s one thing and i will fight for that rebate. connect3D went out of business and i knew it was a connect3D rebate. honestly don’t understand why any consumer (who has a job in a company that has partners) expects buy.com to foot the bill. my company doesn’t foot the bill when a partner goes out of business for any of their creditors.

    also — maybe it’s a west coast thing and i’m up late but BC tech support has NEVER been poor for me. it’s always been stellar actually. i will say i buy A LOT from Buy.com — so maybe they treat the bottom-feeders worse just like BestBuy. have had f’ed up orders but it always was resolved in my favor. just my tuppence.

  5. shenanigrams says:

    @Hawk07: “but buy.com is sticking to its guns that it’s in no way, shape or form their fault. Who wants to do business with a company like that?”

    me! i understand what a rebate is and who is offering it. let’s say you set a female friend up on a date with a buddy. he slaps her on the date. you didn’t slap her! he slapped her.

    do you see the difference? i do. it’s sort of obvious.

    BUT… i don’t do rebates from non-public companies. a public company will, ultimately, always honor a rebate.

    Buy.com still has better prices than most retailers and is better site to shop with that most. With Newegg and Amazon, they get my business.

  6. shenanigrams says:

    clarification — i don’t do rebates from non-public companies ANY MORE.

  7. MickeyMoo says:

    @shenanigrams:
    Lets modify your example: Imagine you set your friend up on a date with another (Buy.com offering a product for sale on their website) and one of your friends slaps the other (rebate denied due to bankruptcy) you aren’t at fault unless you knew that the slapper had a prior history of slapping around other blind dates (Buy.com is aware that a business partner is having financial issues – perhaps not paying invoices or is impossible to reach or you have many other reports of unpaid rebates) yet in order to offload that friend (dump your inventory while you can) you tell the potential datee that dater is a great person and they’re a match made in heaven (continue to advertise the product for sale quoting the after rebate cost when you have a pretty good idea that the rebate will never be paid)

    slightly different now?

  8. ekoshyun says:

    Oh Buy.com. I’ll never buy anything from them ever again. I bought a couple wireless pci cards for my PC, each totaling up around $20 in rebates. Both times I’ve been declined because they said I didn’t include the correct “receipt.” Apparently, their definition of receipt does not include confirmation receipt e-mails, nor the printout from their own bloody web-site.

  9. charodon says:

    I use Buy.com a lot, I’ve returned one product and used several rebates without a hitch.

  10. dorksandlosers says:

    You should always be careful about buying products with rebates that make them free.

  11. krunk4ever says:

    @MickeyMoo: I’m not sure how you can assert Buy.com knew of Connect 3D’s financial situation. If they did, I would definitely agree with you that Buy.com is partially to blame in this situation. But even if Buy.com knew they might be in some financial trouble, that also doesn’t mean they’ll be going under.

    I completely agree with shenanigrams that this is matter of Connect 3D failing and Buy.com as a way to TRY to keep customers, offers customers who got burned by Connect 3D a $10 GC, which may not be much in individuals’ eyes, but imagine having to pay $10 x all the Connect 3D sales they made. You know they got a bunch for those “free after rebate” sales.

    EVEN If you can prove that Buy.com knew Connect 3D was in some sort of financial trouble, your analogy would actually work like this. Instead of knowing your friend had a history of slapping others (Connect 3D did NOT have a history of going bankrupt), you really only knew that he/she was having some problems/stress, something that one may or may not overcome (just like a company may or may not overcome some financial trouble).

  12. usmcmoran says:

    Same thing happened to me, bought a 1gb connect 3d sd card for $30 with a $30 MIB, no rebate and when i found out they went under and called buy.com thye told me they were aware of the problem and to call back in 3 weeks. I called and called with no answer and no resolution.

  13. MEoip says:

    Call and call again, write a few letters, post the story on the consumerist.com, those sorts of things work.

  14. chiieddy says:

    I was burned by that Connect 3D rebate. Never got my money and felt ripped off. Hence, although not their fault, I don’t bother with buy.com anymore.

  15. joemama321 says:

    Keep after it. I ran into a similar issue with Woot and a $100 rebate on a Hanns-G monitor around Thanksgiving 2006. I believe it was the only rebate Woot ever offered. I’m not sure of the business relationships but the party responsible for the rebate was Wintergreen Systems, not Woot. This was never revealed on the rebate form or Woot’s website.

    Wintergreen stopped funding the rebates so the rebate processor stopped paying them. After a grassroots effort formed on the woot forums, the attorney generals of Texas (Woot) and Indiana (Wintergreen). It turned out that Wintergreen was a repeat offender in this rebate non-payment arena and I don’t think Woot did their due diligence.

    The good news was that Woot worked with the rebate processor to verify claims and credited Wooters $100 back to their credit cards. That was $360,000 Woot potentially had to eat if everyone sent theirs in. Probably a hard pill to swallow, but I’ll be a Wooter forever. Buy.com can suck it.

  16. nightshade74 says:

    Fatwallet has had a thread about this for a year or so…

    [www.fatwallet.com]

  17. ms3e says:

    >>> “I feel like retailers have an obligation to themselves and their customers to verify the stability of the companies they do business”

    They (buy.com in this case) legally DO have an obligation to make good and pay out the rebate themselves. The Federal Trade Commission has previously ruled that sellers are obligated to pay out the rebate if the manufacturer/rebate-fulfiller doesn’t.

    Google on “FTC rebate CompUSA” and you’ll find a wealth of references showing retailers are obligated to pay out. For example in([www.ftc.gov]) CompUSA was obligated to pay out rebates when the fulfiller QPC went bankrupt. Stick that to Buy.com and complain to the FTC (and copy Buy.com executives) if they don’t pay out. Also file a Better Business Bureau complaint.

  18. Boberto says:

    I do a lot of complaining on this site. Buy.com is NOT one that has ever given me reason to. Thy have honored every rebate and responded to every issue.

    They have worked VERY hard to earn my trust.

  19. jwrose says:

    I had a major run in with Buy.com last year. I finally got it resolved by contacting the Better Business Bureau. I’ll keep this short- but what happened was the site had a full version of some Adobe CS2 programs for a very cheap price. I ordered it and received the upgrade. I was afraid this was the situation- but I already decided I’d just return it and get my money back if this happened. They were offering a special price through Google checkout-which I did- but I was also instructed to contact customer service through Google Checkout. After doing so, I received an email days later asking for some information from me. I replied- only the get a reply back stating that I was past the 21 day return period (or whatever the # of days was). I checked, and I had sent the message through Google Checkout about 19 days after- not 21. I spent the next 2 months emailing back and forth various customer service reps. Every time I explained the situation to enough to get one of them to understand- The next reply would be the canned “you’re over the 21 days” message. Back to square 1. I tried calling customer care- but that was equally useless. I finally realized that the Buy.com systems only tracked my reply to their 1st reply to me- which WAS past the 21 days- they had no record of my initial message through Google Checkout. Anyway, I the BBB finally resolved it because their customer service couldn’t.

  20. brandyfelix says:

    Buy.com SUCKS! Try calling their support number. You’ll get a call center in India. If you ask for a higher-up, or for an American call center, you’ll sit on hold until your hair turns gray. I tried to call one night about a rebate. “Please, sir, to let me transfer you,” I was told. 47 minutes later, I was still on the phone. Just awful. Then I tried to contact the CEO to complain, only to be negated by his assistants multiple times. Then I call back last week to try again, and the number is disconnected. Mr. Grover (CEO), your company sucks, and I’ll never buy from your crappy website again.

  21. selectman says:

    @Hawk07: Did you miss the Newegg love fest a few posts back?

  22. selectman says:

    @selectman: Woops, should be @hanalei

  23. christoj879 says:

    BBB complaint. That’s what it took to get my $150 Connect3D rebate last year.

  24. Truthie says:

    This is why I just bought something from Newegg despite the price being about $10 bucks higher than Buy.com. As usual, everything was 100% fine and the item came the next day despite my getting just the basic shipping.

    The last time I bought something from buy.com it was for Christmas — and the item came on Dec. 30 despite guaranteed Christmas delivery.

    Also, I do not support any company that supports Howie Mandel and his creepy soul patch.

  25. snead says:

    I also lost $50 in the Buy.com / Connect3D rebate scam around the same time, on an SD card. It is the only time I’ve ever experienced a rebate that was not honored. After several calls to the rebate center and Buy.com I gave up, because at that point I was wasting more than $50 of my time. Good news is that the SD card still works, so I did get something for my money. However, I have never bought anything from Buy.com since, nor will I ever again.

  26. failurate says:

    I am just shocked that Buy.com is still around. Seems their business plan has been done 10,000 fold better by about a dozen other companies.

  27. Monster Rain says:

    I’m currently trying to figure out what to do about a $50 rebate for the D-Link wireless media player.
    I’m really good about fulfilling rebate requirements and keep good records (short of take photos of me filling the envelope with the upc code, which I will do from now on).

    Out of curiosity (and a little bit of the OCD planner/record-keeper in me) I recently checked my rebate status. They reported that my rebate was invalid because I didn’t submit an original UPC code.
    I most certainly did, and calls to the rebate processor were completely fruitless; they completely refused to honor the rebate.
    I checked my rebate records folder to make sure that I didn’t accidentally not send it (though I am sure I did), and I was correct.

    I’m not sure what my recourse is at this point, but I’ll probably just write it off and chalk it up to experience.

  28. pibbsman0 says:

    I only purchase from Newegg for anything computer related, and I try to avoid rebates as often as possible. Fortunately I haven’t been burned in a long time on a rebate, the last time being during those craptacular Compusa free-after-impossible-to-redeem-rebates. Also, Best Buy does not have mail-in rebates anymore. Haven’t for almost 2 years, everything is an instant rebate. Unless of course it is a special manufacturer’s rebate, but it usually isn’t even offered in the store.

  29. LorneReams says:

    I’ve only been burned two times by rebates and both times I disputed with my credit card and got the money back. I argue that I’m buying the item plus a check for a certain amount to be delivered at a later date. They didn’t send the check, so I disputed that portion of the charge. The credit card company thought it was a good argument, and processed the charge-back with no issue.

  30. mzs says:

    I’ve used buy.com twice. The submitter actually had a good experience with them. First time I bought a RF modulator for an old TV DVD player hookup. It was broken but Buy.com wanted an insane turn-around time on he return shipment. They started counting from the date that it left their warehouse. Plus I was going to have to cover shipping on my end. They said they would waive a restocking fee, whoopie. ended-up not sending it back because the item cost less then $15.

    The second time I ordered two copies of a video game and they only sent one. Wow was that a pain in the butt to get straightened-out. They simply would not believe me for the longest time convinced I was trying to scam them. Finally I was able to get a refund for the one game I did not get.

  31. AD8BC says:

    You know, I have ordered lots of stuff from Buy.com and have never, ever had any problems with them. Even returning items that I was not satisfied with was always a joy.

  32. Hawk07 says:

    @shenanigrams:

    You better hope then that the next time you do business with buy.com, everything goes right.

    I know I’ve posted this before here, but they sent me a generic product when the webpage clearly stated it was the genuine OEM from the manufacturer. I was out of town when the product was received. By the time I discovered the error of their ways (17 days after the order date), they said, SOL b/c I was 3 days past their 14 day time frame. I cut my ties with this company then.

    I support companies that support their customers. At least with Amazon and Newegg, I’ve heard good stories about them righting their wrongs. There are plenty of stories like it on the Consumerist. However, Buy.com is just a negative experience after negative experience. I’ve NEVER heard of buy.com ever righting a wrong on anything.

  33. Hawk07 says:

    @AD8BC:

    I had several good experience with them too, until they decided to send me a generic product. As I mentioned before, I caught it 3 days past their abysmally low 14 day return period.

    I was well in the time frame to do a charge back, but it was for a $20 item and wasn’t worth the hassle of going through the bank procedures. Plus, I would have had to ship the item back and that would have easily cost $10-$15.

  34. Mobius says:

    Do not EVER buy a cell phone through Buy.com. They go through InphonicsWirefly.com. Just google Inphonics and you’ll see what happens if you do. I got two rebates for my phone. One for the phone and the other for the data plan. It took months of me calling them after I should have gotten the rebates to find out that they had apparently lost one of my rebates, but since it was past the submission deadline, I couldn’t resubmit my form. Not only was I out the money, but all the time I spent trying to follow up about the issue. So not worth it.

  35. strider_mt2k says:

    I’m another one that has dealt with both Buy.com and NewEgg on multiple occasions, (even with rebates, returns and defective product exchanges) and I have never gotten anything other than great service from both of them.

    Lately I haven’t used either however, but that’s just because I found what I was looking for elsewhere cheaper.

  36. ludwigk says:

    @brandyfelix: That assistant was doing their job blocking you from the CEO, and you had absolutely no business to discuss with him. Really, they set up entire divisions, Customer Support, Consumer Affairs, Customer Relations, to handle your complaints.

    If you can’t get a resolution from the proper channels, contact your attorney general, better business bureau, or the FCC (because this was ecommerce).

    Yes, the CEO should be concerned with customer satisfaction, but he has much larger concerns like company strategy and top-level management that are his actual responsibilities. Way to force escalation in a completely absurd fashion. Did you try escalating to Buddha, or asking the Sun and Moon for the rest of your rebate yet? Do you call the President to dispute a parking ticket?

    Getting screwed out of rebates totally sucks, but being childish about it doesn’t help. Posting direct lines to CEO’s is just part of the problem. Maybe 1 or 2 people get what they want from it, but when 20,000 people call the next day, they change the line.

  37. CyBuzz says:

    I was burned by the Connect3D rebate also. I have had good luck in the past with Buy.com but have not ordered anything from them since then. I still am optimistic about rebates and continue to do my best to follow up. I still use rebates and will continue to. I think I have only been burned on 2 rebates, one of which is the connect3d one.

  38. nutbastard says:

    i simply NEVER do mail in rebates. they’re a total scam, time and time again, and there is absolutely no legitimate reason for a customer to have to put extra money up front.

  39. rolla says:

    eh, i dont deal with mail in rebates. I dont keep track of them so why bother. I just look for the instant-savings items.

  40. create says:

    I have never had a problem with buy.com, of course i don’t ever use mail in rebates, i feel they are a scam in general…

    i just bought a sandisk 4gb titanium usb flash drive today from buy.com for $24.99 with free ship today, and i am very happy :)

  41. jdmba says:

    There are so many things which can go wrong with a rebate, including the absolutely clearly stated policy that if you fail to fill out every box, and include every item and piece of information, it is rejected. Add onto that “lost” rebates and rebates which were sent but never actually received.

    You MUST assume the price you are paying is the price you will pay, and be pleasantly suprised if they honor the rebate.

  42. ChrisGriswold says:

    I bought a Kingston SD card from Buy.com, expecting to get the Google Checkout $10 discount, but when I needed to sign up for it, I was apparently shunted offsite to register for Google Checkout, making me ineligible for the discount. Buy.com refused to do anything about it but told me just to cancel the order, which I did, well within the time limit. Google was kind enough to offer me a $15 discount the next time I used Google Checkout, so I re-ordered the SD card.

    I got the second SD card within about a week, but a days later, I was surprised to find that despite my notifying them to cancel the order, I still received the first SD card.

    Buy.com refuses to do anything about it, and I can’t send it back in. I don’t understand why they couldn’t cancel my order and refund my money since I followed their directions.

    I have about $150 worth of items that I really want in my Buy.com shopping cart, but I won’t buy anything from them anymore because of this.