Amazon Offers Mail-In "Instant Rebate"

Two days ago, Shawn bought a video card from Amazon and was surprised when the advertised “Instant Rebate” con_tinyamazoninstantrebatebadge.gif wasn’t applied to his shopping cart. Turns out, it’s a mail-in rebate, sorry for the confusion. Unfortunately Amazon still hasn’t corrected the error as of the timestamp on this post, despite assuring him two days ago that they’d remove the icon. Remember to always click the “Rebate” link to see the actual details of the offer—it’s not listed on the main product page, and mistakes happen.

When Shawn wrote in to point out the problem, the CSR response was “We’re sorry for the misunderstanding.” Yesterday, Shawn wrote back:

There is no misunderstanding. You have a very misleading graphic on the page with the item that clearly states “Instant Rebate” to the left above the price on this page.

The actual graphic URL is http://g-ecx.images-amazon.com/images/G/01/promotions/sticker/instant_rebate._V46918736_.gif

I called last night to inquire why the “Instant Rebate” was not taken off in my shopping cart. I was informed that the graphic is a mistake and it is a “Mail In Rebate” as you have explained again. I was assured repeatedly that the graphical error would be fixed by the marketing department as soon as possible to not mislead any more customers.

Now over 24 hours later I see sadly that this is not the case. I am dissatisfied by the lack of attention Amazon has paid to this matter.

It now seems possible this could be a deliberate misrepresentation, as all of the competing stores clearly state “Mail In Rebate” for this same item. People of course will be more compelled to purchase an item here on Amazon that states” Instant Rebate” to avoid the trouble of a “Mail In Rebate”. They of course will find out though that they still have the trouble of a mail in rebate.

Amazon has really dropped the ball on this on. I am highly disappointed.

Now before any Amazon fanboys/stockholders start crying foul—we like Amazon too, but an uncorrected mistake is the same no matter where it appears, and we hope Amazon addresses this quickly. If Buy.com pulled this stunt, they’d be rightfully raked over the coals. Amazon has a lot more credibility on fair deals and customer service, but that’s because things like this don’t happen very often and are quickly resolved.

Comments

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  1. sam says:

    I don’t think it was intentionally placed on the product page and am surprised that Amazon didn’t just give the guy $50. I’m not saying that it’s what they should have done, but it’s what I would expect with Amazon’s reputation.

  2. smitty1123 says:

    Yea, the Instant Rebate graphic is misleading, but the card is also priced at $219 (the price listed without the rebate) the entire time it is in the shopping cart. Why would you complete the order at $219 when you are expecting to spend $189?

  3. strangeffect says:

    There is no misunderstanding.

    Touche.

  4. ? graffiksguru says:

    Its gone already! the power of consumerist.com

  5. ? graffiksguru says:

    Oh wait, I’m blind, its not

  6. TPK says:

    I must not have a very good understanding of the word “misleading”. It seems to me this is more like “lie”.

    Do I need to buy a new dictionary?

  7. Gorky says:

    Of course it’s just a misunderstanding because it’s Amazon.com. If this was Bestbuy.com or Circuitcity.com or Walmart.com there would be 200 posts screaming how they suck and noone should shop there

  8. Beerad says:

    @Gorky: Well, doesn’t that tell you something about most people’s perception of the customer service differential among those companies?

  9. notallcompaniesareevil says:

    I don’t see how Amazon can claim this. Look at this page on their own site:[www.amazon.com]
    When you purchase this product new from Amazon.com, the price already includes an instant rebate. That means the manufacturer has created a special incentive offer and has passed the savings directly to you in the form of a lower purchase price, without your having to fill out a coupon and wait for a check to arrive in the mail. Just add the item to your Shopping Cart and enjoy the savings, instantly.

    Used products and products from partners or third-party merchants (for example, J&R, Office Depot, or Target; or sellers in Amazon Marketplace, Auctions, or zShops) are not included this promotion, although other merchants’ prices may reflect savings offers of their own.

  10. smitty1123 says:

    @TPK: You can mislead by accident or error (like the above mail-in rebate that functions exactly like a mail-rebate but is tagged as an instant rebate). A lie requires intent.

  11. rlee says:

    I’m not surprised they didn’t fix the error in 24 hrs or even 48. Wheels grind slowly in such a big operation. I made a purchase on cooking.com for a “Covered Saute Pan” (so identified on the web page and in the order confirmation) which turned out not to be covered. When I called they said they’d correct it on the page, but it took over a week as I recall.

  12. Matt says:

    Uh this isn’t an error. The list price is $269.99. The instant rebate from Amazon is the $50 off, putting the price down to $219.99. In addition to that there is a $30 manufacturer mail in rebate. Each of these discounts comes from a different source. So the Instant Rebate icon is still valid, even though there is an additional Mail In Rebate. This is how Amazon has always done things.

  13. TPK says:

    @smitty1123: A lie requires intent.

    Ah, that makes sense… unless you are a Democrat! ;-)

  14. Chris Walters says:

    @mblank: It doesn’t work that way in other Amazon departments. Here are two randomly selected links — one from books and one from housewares. Same type of discounting, no mention of it being a “rebate.”

    If they’re calling these discounts “instant rebates” for electronics, this is particularly confusing when there is a mail-in rebate listed as well.

    sample discounted book (not labeled a rebate)

    sample discounted mixer (not labeled a rebate)

    sample discounted processor (labeled a rebate?)

  15. Gorky says:

    @Beerad:

    No it tells me its ok for small business to make mistakes but this blog seems to be very anti-big business as I read every day and NEVER seen a positive article on ANY big business

  16. lukobe says:

    @mblank: You’re right. It’s confusing: there are two rebates–an instant one and a mail-in one. They’re not trying to mislead; it’s just that the detail pages can be confusing….

  17. Chris Walters says:

    @Gorky: Here are some recent headlines from posts that highlight good business behavior:
    “Apple Replaces Lemon Laptop As Promised”
    “Bank Of America Refunds $325 In Overdraft Fees To Customer Who Was On Cruise”
    “Pleasant Customer Service From Moleskine”
    “Lutron Brightens Up Your Day With Good Customer Service”
    “Comcast Apologizes For $2 Charge, Says It Will Make Sure CSRs Don’t Do That Anymore”

    And this is a recent post that highlighted a particularly egregious act from a small business owner:
    “‘Tiny Details’ Owner Sends Miniature Threats To Former Customer”

    Or check out these tag searches:
    happy endings
    above and beyond

    This is from our FAQ if you’re still confused about the editorial slant of this blog:
    “We’re biased towards the consumer. We favor bad company stories over happy customer tales.”

    Perhaps you should read us even more frequently so that you start catching the occasional “happy” story–or maybe you should start your own pro-business (i.e., marketing or pr) blog.

  18. mgy says:

    @Chris Walters: Nailed ‘em.

  19. settsu says:

    Wait, there was a discrepancy in an image on one item in a massive database-driven E-commerce site for a discretionary purchase which the customer caught prior to purchase!!!

    LAWSUIT!!!

  20. jmschn says:

    Let’s play blame the victim in a homage to the previous Consumerist article! So here it comes: On the order confirmation page, OP should have not played dumb and thought “hey ill order first, that way i can complain to CSR about the false advertisement and then presto, instant rebate AND mail in rebate for me! Double dip bliss! And wait, if CSR refuses to honor said instant rebate, I’ll march right over to Consumerist and maybe someone within Amazon will take heed and give me the credit just like how that XBox 360 guy got a brand spankin new one for bringing that to Consumerist’s attention!”

    Yea, if you took what i said above seriously, then i am sorry you did.

  21. Aetatis says:

    @sam123boo: I agree. I’ve routinely had great service from them. Why not give the guy the $50?

    I would love someone to do a study about how much money companies save with “mail-in-rebates” as opposed to “instant rebates”. I mean really how many of us have thrown money away because we didn’t fill out those forms in time…

  22. sam says:

    @Aetatis: It would be interesting…

  23. @Chris Walters: Wow, nailed indeed. I never knew about the FAQ. I guess I have to strike the “too many negative stories” complaint off my list since it’s official policy.

    Isn’t there some extant pro-business blog like “The Businessist” we can send detractors to? A quick Google search leads me to nominate Customers Suck. We just need an algorithm to match up Consumerist stories with their counterparts on Customers Suck.

  24. notallcompaniesareevil says:

    @Chris Walters: I don’t think anyone has a problem with the editorial slant of the blog. There’s always a consumer’s side to a story. The problem many people have (including myself) is that at times, you stretch, if not break, the boundaries of reality when trying to show the consumer in the best possible light. Regardless of one’s opinions and predispositions, a false presentation is wrong and should be remedied.

    For instance, I wouldn’t go to the RNC’s site for great news about Obama and Clinton, but I also would complain if it started calling them terrorists.

    I think that’s as clear a representation I can come up with. I hope it makes sense. :-)

  25. smash says:

    as a former amazon lead (not fired, graduated from college and moved on to better things), i can say that it does take quite a while for things to be fixed on the website. you have to send the request over to the tech dept. and usually, the tech dept is working on 4,000 other things that are more important than this. i realize that this is important as well, but the tech dept focuses more effort on billing errors and things like that.