Office Depot Falsely Denies Man's Rebate

You know what this is? This is a picture of Dan’s rebate form and UPC code, the very UPC code that whoever does Office Depot’s rebate processing says wasn’t attached to his rebate form. Yes, Daniel is the kind of person who takes pictures of all his rebate materials before sending them in, just in case something like this should occur. Companies love rebates because they can get you to buy something thinking you’re going to get a deal, and then if you fail the rebate process, they still get to keep all your money. Even if you do everything right, they still might deny it. Why? Because the rebate company has a certain quota, their contractually agreed upon “redemption rate” of rebates to deny that they have to meet. If too many legitimate rebates get in, guess they have to “figure out” ways to meet their numbers. Inside, the correspondence between Office Depot and Dan and a full-sized pic of his rebate and UPC code…

brotherrebatebig.jpg

Thank you for visiting the Office Depot Mail In Savings Center. Our records indicate that the submission we received was missing one or more of the required items. We want to ensure that you receive your rebate so we’ve placed your file on hold and we mailed you a notice on 3/28/2008 indicating: Your submission did not include a UPC bar code from a valid Brother Product.

To ensure that you have ample opportunity to send in the missing information, we’re holding your file open. Would you please forward the copy of the UPC barcode to the special handling address below? Please be sure to keep a copy for your records.

Office Depot Mail-In Savings Center
Attention: Resubmit Department
PO Box 317006
El Paso, TX 88531-7006

Or by fax to:

Office Depot Mail-In Savings Center
Attention: Resubmit Department
#1-866-238-3145

Upon receipt, we will apply the missing documents to your file, and re-attempt to process your rebate. Please feel free to check the status online in approximately 2-3 weeks after you send the information back to us. If you have any questions, or do not see a change in status within that tie frame, please do not hesitate to contact us by telephone at 866-541-0284.

Sincerely,

Natalie O.

Customer Care

Dan replied:

Please review the originally submitted paperwork again. The card I received from you states that I did not include the UPC code. This is not true. The code was physically attached to the upper right hand corner of the rebate form. I have pictures of the form and the UPC code attached to it, taken before mailing. If you’d like to review them I can forward them to you through e-mail.

I feel that you need to bring into compliance whoever you contract your rebate processing to. What is being done to your customers is ILLEGAL. While I took pictures and have documentation, I’m sure that many people do not, to them your lies cost money.

I will forward a copy of this letter to http://www.consumerist.com to be placed on the site as a warning to other shoppers who are considering making a purchase at Office Depot.

Sincerely,

Dan V.

Instead of calling it a rebate they should just call it a lottery game.

Comments

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  1. DomZ says:

    Office Depot rebates have been notoriously hard to get over these past few years. I avoid OD and TigerDirect like the plague for that very reason.

  2. gwong says:

    This is why I avoid all rebates like the plague.

  3. radio1 says:

    Why no picture of the attached and redacted receipt also?

  4. Pylon83 says:

    The OP may be right here, but his letter was horribly inappropriate for the situation. You don’t get yourself anywhere claiming things are “illegal” without saying what law is being violated. This guy’s tone and content will lose him any credibility he might have had. He should have addressed the problems stated in the letter specifically. 1) The UPC was attached, and 2) it was a UPC off of a qualifying product. Responding with a childish, unprofessional letter is not the way to solve your problems.

  5. zsouthboy says:

    I never ever buy stuff with rebates, on principle alone. I refuse to reward douchebag companies that do this crap (technically their fulfillment house does it, but guess who is paying the bills?).

    Why the hell aren’t they illegal, again?

  6. chuloallen says:

    I always scan everyone of my rebates and make sure they have a delivery confirmation. Rebates is just another way for the company to steal from people – the expect a certain amount not to send it in, which is fine, but after people send it in, they still find ways to cheat them out.
    P.S thats why i hate Black Fridays now, the past 2 or 3 years has been all rebate stuff- i make it a point not to go to those stores on blackfriday

  7. PacSun says:

    I also agree that Dan’s reply was out of line. I know a lot of rebate companies that deny your claim completely and do not give your the opportunity to resubmit.

  8. aphexbr says:

    Why jump straight to the legal threats? Surely he could have sent a copy of the photo and given them the chance to respond to that? The most likely explanation is that the barcode fell off and whoever opened the envelope didn’t look inside for the barcode. In that case, most companies would accept the photo as proof.

    If they still refused, that would be the time for threats.

  9. bravo369 says:

    I have had amazing luck getting my rebates over the years. Maybe I’m lucky but I make sure to read the rebate forms first before making any purchase. If there’s anything sketchy or unclear then I just buy something else. I also keep copies, photographs and mark dates on my calendar if referenced in the rebate.

    It really is a shame though that you have to feel like you’re jumping through hoops and have to take extra precautions to make sure you won’t get screwed. I completely understand why some people think it’s not worth it.

  10. Psqunq says:

    I had a similar problem getting hhGregg to redeem a rebate for delivery of my new refrigerator. They claimed that the original receipt copy that I sent in was “too light to read” after THEY SCANNED IT.

    A promise to send this to the state AG’s office for investigation of possible fraud changed their tune in a hurry and I got my check within a couple weeks.

  11. Mayor McRib says:

    Why didn’t the poster just re-submit it by fax? They may have actually lost it in the shuffle. I think it’s a rash to immediately go off and make all sorts of accusations. I had something similar like this happen to me with a Verizon rebate, a quick phone call and they took my word for it and I got my rebate. If you read the exclusions that you scanned you can see that they can pull away this rebate at any time, thats why I never bank on them or count them towards the actual savings. Rebates are gravy at best and I avoid them any way I can.

  12. annelise13 says:

    I went through this exact same situation with Apple last year. I called the number on the email and told them I thought their denial was quite interesting since I was holding a photocopy of the UPC in my hand right that second. The very nice Apple lady immediately said she could see it too, that a scan of it was attached to my file, and that sometimes “the computer” just goes through the rebate files and recodes them as missing pieces for no reason. I found that rather mysterious (nefarious computers recoding things for…fun?) but none of the other nice Apple ladies I ended up speaking to over the next couple weeks had any other answer for why my rebate kept getting coded that way again and again.

    I eventually got my rebate, but I have to say I was disappointed in Apple for denying it in the first place by keeping a sneaky, possibly evil computer under its employ.

  13. InThrees says:

    If I don’t like the point-of-sale price of an item, I will not buy it. I absolutely do not trust mail in rebates and I fundamentally disagree with them from an ethical standpoint, for precisely this reason.

  14. cmdrsass says:

    A perfect example of how NOT to write a complaint letter. There are three simple rules to writing a complaint letter that gets results:
    1. State facts concisely,
    2. State your desired outcome clearly, and
    3. Leave your emotions out of it.

  15. I would also suggest getting a proof of mailing too; one time I was denied a $100 rebate on a laptop because supposedly my materials were postmarked too late, which just wasn’t possible unless a postal employee dropped it behind the water cooler and then found it a month later and mailed it.

  16. ChuckECheese says:

    @Pylon83: Yeah, his letter wasn’t the most polite, yet I wonder why it’s against the rules to point out the obvious when somebody is trying to commit fraud.

  17. rawsteak says:

    i think in the future, i’m going to scan and make a copy of my rebate form with the UPC code, and then include a copy of the rebate form with the UPC code in the envelope, so when they open it, they can at least see what i mailed them and i have a copy of.

    come to think of it, i’m also going to hand cuff the letter to someone who will deliver it personally and ensure that it doesn’t get “mishandled.” yea… that’ll work…

  18. ChuckECheese says:

    @Mayor McRib: Brother sez he didn’t include a UPC code. They want the original UPC code off the box. He already sent it and therefore doesn’t have it. They don’t want a faxed copy. The cleverness of the rebate center’s ruse is in that they request something he cannot possibly produce.

  19. hi says:

    His letter was fine IMO. I’d also file a complaint with the FTC, BBB and states attory generals office.

    [www.ftc.gov]

  20. AMetamorphosis says:

    About 10 years ago I used to date someone that owned one of these rebate processing companies.
    The stories I heard !

    - Employees regularly throwing out rebates for items as simple as misspellings.

    - Some companies that contracted for their rebate processing actually had terms in their contract that only 40% of all rebates were to be processed !

    It is a known fact that most companies EXPECT less than half of all rebates to be processed.

    I make it a point to tell merchants that I will only purchase the product if I am given the rebate immediately. Some smaller merchants and indepedent businesses will actully do this and send the rebate paperwork in themselves.

  21. thirdbase says:

    The OP is right. Come out firing, who needs a prolonged argument. Fire the first shot to kill. In rebates and war you don’t load the gun with blanks.

  22. ousterj says:

    I always read the rebate form carefully… twice. Then I mark the required items on the form with a pink highlighter. When I send in the form I believe that seeing the highlighted spots will give them a clue that I am very careful about this. And, of course I make copies of everything, write the mailing date on the copy and file it. My success rate is about 98%.

  23. EBounding says:

    I’ve never had a problem with rebates, but I always assume that I’ll never see the money when I buy the product.

  24. SuffolkHouse says:

    @Pylon83:
    Oh shut up you didactic ass. It is one thing to tell someone how to improve their communication, it is another thing to call your ally “childish.” Shut up.

  25. mmcnary says:

    I bought a motherboard, memory and a new video card last fall from Microcenter, got all of the duplicate receipts, cut out all of the barcodes, filled out the forms with Adobe so they’d be legible, printed the envelopes on the printer, with barcodes for delivery, then forgot to include the receipts.

    They sent me a couple of emails, which I responded to apologetically, and offered to send in the receipts. They never responded, but a few weeks later I got all of my rebates (total of about $120).

    However, like the Consumerist, I treat all rebates as ‘found money’ and don’t count them in my evaluation of prices.

  26. humphrmi says:

    Did I miss the part where Office Depot’s e-mail denies anything?

  27. SuffolkHouse says:

    I am always careful when I complete rebate forms. I rarely get them honored. The last rebate I complete – and it will be THE LAST – was for a Sirius radio purchased through Radio Shack. Though three adults reviewed each piece of material closely before mailing, it was denied because certain things were missing. It was bullshit, and we all know it. I canceled my Sirius subscription, and surprisingly, they keep begging me to come back.

    F them

  28. AMetamorphosis says:

    @Pylon83:

    His letter was spot on & to the point.
    Bet he gets a satisfactory resolution too.

  29. vermontwriter says:

    Of the last half dozen rebates I sent out for, only ONE was actually accepted the first time. Each time I kept copies of the forms and UPCs I’d sent and every time they rejected them. Companies that rejected my rebate – Best Buy, Listerine Mouth Wash, Trend Micro, Sears, and Proctor and Gamble (for one of the shampoos). Oddly enough it was a beer company, Molson, that didn’t reject it first time around.

  30. Mayor McRib says:

    @ChuckECheese:

    Would you please forward the copy of the UPC barcode to the special handling address below? Please be sure to keep a copy for your records.

    Office Depot Mail-In Savings Center
    Attention: Resubmit Department
    PO Box 317006
    El Paso, TX 88531-7006

    Or by fax to:

    Office Depot Mail-In Savings Center
    Attention: Resubmit Department
    #1-866-238-3145

    How about you read that again. They asked for a COPY of the UPC barcode to the address below OR by fax. Doesn’t sound all that impossible to me, although it’s a pain in the ass. But usually rebates are. I am not saying that Brother is right in all of this, but at least give them a shot to make it right before you blow your chances.

  31. Brunette Bookworm says:

    I filled out a rebate from Kitchen Aid and didn’t get it by the time I should. I called them and they had all my info but didn’t have the rebate. How do you have info from someone who never purchased an item from you but don’t have the rebate? Fortunately, I always make copies of all the stuff I send in for rebates, just in case. They were nice enough to give me another address to send the info to and I received my rebate after that. I don’t know if some of the people who they have processing rebates are just that incompetent or if they really try to not pay people their rebates.

  32. RandoX says:

    Is there a way to add specific commenters to an “ignore” list?

  33. polyeaster says:

    FALSELY…not FASLELY

  34. Saboth says:

    I had a rebate rejected recently by Kitchenaid. Submitted everything exactly as stated, and on time. I received my envelope back, and it merely had a rejection stamped on it. No note or letter attached, it was like “return to sender”. Umm…ok?

  35. Saboth says:

    @mjane79: Hah I didnt even see your post…funny. I guess their scummy rebate department just decided to stop processing them.

  36. Applekid ┬──┬ ノ( ゜-゜ノ) says:

    D-Link does it too. I bought a router and was happy to discover a week later that it qualified for a rebate. Why turn down a free $25?

    I submitted the form, UPC and receipt and a few days ago I get a letter that I didn’t include the UPC.

    I wish I had the forsight to photograph it before I sent it like this guy. Nothing meaner than dangling a little present only to steal it away. I’d rather have not been offerred the rebate then!

  37. castlecraver says:

    Why do people online scribble out the numbers on barcodes, but not the actual barcodes? Do they not realize the numbers are encoded, in their entirety, by the barcode?

  38. ChuckECheese says:

    @Mayor McRib: Mayor McRib, please don’t eat me! I’m sorry!

  39. Mayor McRib says:

    @ChuckECheese:
    You are forgiven, now give me your lunch money.

  40. uberbucket says:

    I’m 0 for 8 on mail-in rebates and I am meticulous when it comes to the procedure. Office Depot, Staples, and Circuit City all gave the same “UPC symbol not included” line when denying my rebates. Maybe gluing them on so they can’t possibly fall off was a bad idea?

    I never heard anything from the other 5 rebates I sent in.

    Rebates are obviously no longer a factor in my purchasing decisions, unless they are instant.

  41. chaz7979 says:

    @SuffolkHouse:

    I had the same exact thing happen to me with a Sirius rebate. It took days of complaining to actually get the $50 sent out after they told me that I did not attach….what else?…the UPC code. The worst part of it all is that I actually run [siriusbuzz.com] and they told me that they didn’t care.

  42. uberbucket says:

    [EDIT]
    I meant the products I bought from Office Depot, Staples and Circuit City.

  43. GenXCub says:

    @gwong:

    I’ve always had good luck with the Fry’s Electronics rebates (which are typically just manufacturer rebates). They take much longer than stated on the documentation, but I’ve never failed to receive one. The 4-6 weeks, is usually about 10 weeks.

  44. Amelie says:

    The people who are siding with the rebate company, obviously haven’t dealt with that many. No, they can’t use “the upc fell out” excuse, because so many rebates specifically tell you not to staple or tape the upc to the form.

    The letter does not say “you were missing the upc,” but that you didn’t include it from a valid product. This could mean they rejected the UPC for some such b.s., as:

    ~your model had a special promo – hence a different code.
    ~your model was included, but the clearinghouse didn’t have it listed.
    ~or the quota problem.

    Rebates have become a scam, which is why I’ve basically avoided them. I used to make a lot of money doing them in the past, though.

  45. BrentNewland says:

    Something seems fishy here… the scanned form and UPC are for a rebate to Brother (with Brother’s mailing address), but he was denied directly by Office Depot? Seems to me like there’s a second rebate he screwed up on.

  46. nerdbert says:

    I’ve had good luck with rebates when I started scanning the rebate form before sending it in. There has been about a 5% “missing item” bounce rate, but I’ve never had a problem “correcting” the issue by sending/faxing the image of the scan.

    I also use Google Calendar to remind myself of when a rebate should have been sent; I remove the reminder when the rebate appears, and get an email if it hasn’t.

  47. oneswellfoop says:

    ~coughcough~ smalls claims court plus extra for your time and trouble.

  48. FightOnTrojans says:

    Hmm… this makes me wonder… are rebate processing centers and medical insurance claim processing centers one and the same? They seem to operate under the same set of rules: deny all claims (rebates/medical) up front and make people jump through all sorts of hoops before paying out.

  49. Buran says:

    @Pylon83: Whining about someone’s letter doesn’t mean they aren’t right and that they don’t deserve to get what is owed to them. If you agree to do something, and someone writes you a nastygram saying you haven’t done what you agreed to do, you don’t get to throw out the letter and whine about the tone; you get to do what you agreed to or face a lawsuit.

  50. mariospants says:

    lately my Office Depot rebates have been 100% conducted via filling forms on a web site. Takes the same amount of time to receive confirmation and your money, but since the process validates each entry and you can’t complete the transaction without entering the multitude of data correctly, the odds of getting rejected must be zero.

  51. ldavis480 says:

    I’ve had really bad luck getting my rebate back from Sprint for the purchase of two cell phones with mail-in rebates. Luckily I had purchased the mobile phones from Fry’s Electronics, and their customer services folks were surprisingly helpful checking on your rebate for you. I think it’s a good strategy to try and get the store of original purchase on your side; using their relations as a vendor of the manufacturer’s products is more likely to result in action in your favor (IMHO at least).

    Cheers,
    -L

  52. dragonfire81 says:

    I used to work at Sprint, although their customer service is bad enough, their rebate department was an absolute joke.

    I routinely took 3 or 4 calls a DAY from folks who had a valid rebate denied and couldn’t figure out why. Rebates are EVIL. Buyer beware.

  53. ninjatales says:

    I always try to avoid rebates because of crap like that.

  54. parabola101 says:

    Me too… I never received my $200 rebate from “optoma projector” purchased from MicroCenter in St. Davids, PA. After having to comply with senseless rules, cutting up a very difficult box, filling out an extremely long form, purchasing unusual sized envelopes to mail all of this crap … i was refused. I will NEVER believe a REBATE promotion again!! NEVER. In the end they just do whatever they want and the consumer is SOL.

  55. MonkeyMonk says:

    I’ve had great rebate experiences with GE & Apple. Every step of the process was documented and I received e-mail updates at regular intervals. If all rebates were handled this way I don’t think rebates would have such a bad reputation.

    On the other hand, after two failed rebate attempts with the computer store MicroCenter I vowed to never shop there again (and they used to make about $2000-$3000 annually from me). For the greed of saving a few hundred bucks Microcenter lost a once-loyal customer who had been shopping with them for nearly a decade.

  56. MonkeyMonk says:

    @parabola101: Ha! I guess I’m not only one with MicroCenter complaints. I guess I’m glad to hear I’m not the only one.

    I’m in the Chicago area, btw.

    Why don’t companies just completely eliminate rebates and lower their prices instead?

  57. mike says:

    I agree that rebates are more like lotteries these days than rebates.

    I wonder what it will take to make a law against them…

    Does any state or local ordinance ban mail-in rebates?

  58. mike says:

    @MonkeyMonk: Why don’t companies just completely eliminate rebates and lower their prices instead?

    Because they bank on the fact that people won’t send them in or will forget something. In other words, if everyone claimed a rebate, they would probably end up losing money.

  59. SecureLocation says:

    Had the same problem with these clowns. They owed me 100 clams on a computer rebate. Went to the state’s Attorney General’s website and filled out a quick online complaint. A couple of weeks later someone from office depot called to personally to say my rebate was on the way. Shook them so much they sent me two $200 checks.

  60. crichton007 says:

    I always had the same problem when I would submit OfficeMax rebates (a practice they were later taken to court for by the Illinois AG). My solution was to take my copies into the store and speak to the manager. They would go off, make a call and come back promising the rebate had been approved, which would then arrive in a week or two. Not a legal practice but my choice would result in the resolution I wanted.

  61. BugMeNot2 says:

    There are also issues of miscommunication. A few years back I bought a Samsung WS monitor from Circuit City on black friday. It was a great deal, 22”for 250 USD after 150 USD in rebates. The 100 USD was from CC and with their online easy-rebate system that was no problem. However the Samsung needed to be sent in. I forgot about it for acouple weeks (bad thing) but sent it in 2 days before post mark expiration date. Well, after acouple weeks I get rejection letter saying I was past exp limit. Problem was CC had printed the wrong date on the receipt, just mirroring their own. Thankfully I didn’t have to fight too hard, I spoke to 1-2 people and they corrected issue and I got my 50 USD check.

  62. BugMeNot2 says:

    Oh, I also forgot what I originally wanted to say. I would only get rebates if they’re directly from reputable manufactures or someplace like CC who has easy rebate. Its like dancing with the devil if you try to get anything from OD, TigerDirect, Fry’s.

  63. warf0x0r says:

    ATI did that to me once… No UPC they claimed. What they didn’t know was that I worked at a rebate processing center for 1.5 years and I called them on it. They were unwilling to do anything and said I wouldn’t get any money. So for ATI if you see this that was for a 9800pro. I have since then purchased:

    a 6800GT,
    a 7800GT,
    and now an 8800 GTS

    I’m not going to total it up but needless to say I will not be spending any more money on your video cards… ever.

  64. MrEvil says:

    I don’t buy anything because of a rebate either. Why can’t the d-bags just offer me the better price to begin with?

    Last rebate I did was on a cell phone and it was $100, it was worth the $5 spent on Certified mail with return receipt. When the scumbag rebate processor claimed they never got my rebate form and UPC code and receipt…I said “well, then you need to talk to the person who signed for the envelope and signed the return receipt. The Post office says you got it.”

    If the law says that valid rebate requests have to be honored. Then it should be ILLEGAL for a merchant or manufacturer to quota their rebate processor for X amount of rejections.

    Hell, I think rebates should be illegal period.

  65. benjamintm says:

    I’ve only had one problem with a rebate and that was with a company that was going out of business, and even then I still got the money.

    A couple things I note about the above photo:
    A. The photo could have been taken at any time.
    B. The UPC doesn’t look attached, just sitting there.
    C. The UPC code is blacked out on the UPC, but the valid code is listed in the rebate terms. Why black out the UPC?

    As for filing rebates, I suggest the following:
    1. Store electronic copies of everything related to a rebate in a directory (including scans of reciepts, UPCs, etc.). Keep each rebate separate.
    2. If possible, find an electronic copy of the rebate form. Many offers are made available in electronic form on the sellers website.
    3. Read the instructions for filling out the rebate all the way through. I’ve had a rebate or two that have additional requirements buried in the fine text.
    4. Print in clean block letters in black pen.
    5. Better yet, with electronic copies see if you can type in the text.
    6. Print the envelop, don’t write it down. Copy and paste the address from the electronic rebate form, if available.
    7. Keep a spreadsheet with the date the rebate was sent along with the estimated turn over time. Also note if they offer an online rebate status site.
    8. Every couple weeks check the spreadsheet and note if any rebates are past due.
    9. Many rebates look like junk mail, so actually pay attention to your mail. I almost tossed a $50 rebate because it looked like a junk mail postcard.

    Of the 100+ rebates I’ve submitted in my life, I’ve only had an issue with the one I mentioned before.

    Ben

  66. benjamintm says:

    @MonkeyMonk: Why don’t companies just completely eliminate rebates and lower their prices instead?

    Pure profit. The general rule is that the amount of the rebate is equal to the percentage of people who will file for a rebate, up to a point. So that $5.00 rebate will have about 5% of the buyers submitting rebates. This is trend continues up into the $75-$80 range. That’s why you see a lot of $5 and $10 dollar rebates and not as many high ones.

    Ben

  67. madanthony says:

    I’ve been doing rebates heavily for the last 5 years, and at the last count had recieved around $21,000 in rebates over that period of time.

    I seldom have rebates rejected, and when I do I can usually fix it with a quick call to the rebate center. I do keep PDF copies of all my upc’s and rebate forms just in case, but in general a phone call is all it takes.

    I don’t really buy the theory that this is all a brilliant plot – I don’t ascribe to malice what can be explained by simple incompetence. rebate centers are often offshore and are staffed by the cheapest labor possible – so they make lots of mistakes, lose stuff, ect.

    There are certain companies that I avoid rebates for – usually anything that goes to an address in California. These companies usually process their own rebates instead of paying a third-party company, and they often never come.

    If you have trouble with a rebate, the rebate forum on fw is a great resource – it includes a thread with contact info for most rebate centers – and often a quick call will turn a rejected rebate into an approval because “you are such a valuable customer” (and they know they screwed the pooch).

  68. doctor_cos wants you to remain calm says:

    Had a similar problem with an OD rebate, but it was fixed by talking to “Beeel” at their rebate center, who said he didn’t know why I didn’t get my rebate, but would take care of it, and DID (gave me a new tracking #, and I got my $150 in a week, although the check said ‘Customer satisfaction rebate’ instead of ‘HP Notebook Rebate’ ….hmmm.

  69. jeff303 says:

    I think to be completely safe you need to videotape yourself filling out the form, sealing the envelope, and dropping it in the mailbox.

  70. bben46 says:

    He misspelled Rebate. The correct spelling is Rip Off. As long as suckers keep falling for the scam, the manufacturers will keep doing it.

  71. whuffo says:

    I’ve had almost no success with rebates on technology purchases. Even after reading their instructions carefully and filling out the forms, attaching proof, etc. as per their wish, they’ve been denied for such things as “no receipt attached”, “wrong UPC code”, and my favorite “not purchased from an approved vendor”.
    That one was a Netgear router purchased at CompUSA. I never got the rebate – nor was I ever able to find the elusive list of approved vendors.
    The best experience was with Sony. They did eventually fulfill the rebate but instead of 4 to 6 weeks it was 8 months.

    I’ve done some research into what goes on and it’s like this: Most companies contract with a outside fulfillment house to handle the rebates. That contract commonly contains a “maximum redemption” clause which is under 50%; sometimes well under. The fulfillment house knows that they can just reject everything and only a small percentage of applicants will follow up on it. They also understand that they’re in a different state than you are; good luck taking them to court to collect your rebate. You’ll find that often the fulfillment house will have multiple divisions in multiple states just to make sure you’re never dealing with a division located in your state.

    Here’s the current “winner” for fulfillment houses: hold the rebate applications until 4 or 5 days before the rebate deadline then reject them for missing information. Even if you’ve got copies of those documents you won’t be able to get them to the fulfillment house until after the rebate offer has expired.

    Those of you who went the extra mile and got your rebate check: congratulations! That makes you one of the 15% that actually got the rebate. They were expecting you; overall, they still meet their targets with room to spare and pick up a nice bonus besides.

    The cure for this perennial problem is to eliminate rebates; make them illegal. If they want to give you $50 off, they can do so at the point of purchase by simply lowering the price on the item. Any incentive cash from the manufacturer can go to the retailer to offset the loss in profit.

    Consumer rebates are a scam. They’re specifically designed not to pay the promised rebate. Just say no.

  72. krunk4ever says:

    Too bad there’s no thumbs down for article on Consumerist. There are many reasons why the UPC could’ve been missed (i.e. it was loose and fell out, csr didn’t check the envelope too thorougly). That’s why I typically staple all my stuff together.

    That being said, I still once in awhile get the we did not find your UPC, but they always provide a recourse allowing you to fax in a copy of it to them, which then usually solves the problem.

    Most new rebates TELL you to keep records of all your rebate materials in such events.

  73. 3drage says:

    I have stopped looking at rebates as a savings tool for purchases and merely look at lowest priced non-rebated items when I shop. The reason being that it’s too much of a hassle to get companies to cough up the money, even when you do get it back it wasn’t worth the wait, and I save all my UPC codes in case a place needs PoP for warranty repair.

  74. bairdwallace says:

    @gwong: Staples rebates are always pretty painless. Otherwise, yes. Rebates suck.

  75. rten says:

    A legal threat and announcement of a consumerist.com posting is perfectly in line with what the rebate sponsors need. I’ve been duped too many times by rebates.

    Staples online rebates close the loop of messing something up, so there is a clear way to get it right. But if making free money off someone else’s frustration raises quarterly profits, why not… It’s this shoddy rebate system that has moved $2000 per year to Staples (sorry office depot). Staples even sends you email reminders to fill out their online rebate form if you bought a rebate item once you have an account set up with them.

  76. BrentNewland says:

    @MonkeyMonk:

    On the other hand, after two failed rebate attempts with the computer store MicroCenter I vowed to never shop there again (and they used to make about $2000-$3000 annually from me).

    So you used to spend $40,000 to $60,000 a year there? Damn, that’s three times my annual income!

    That’s based on an average 5% markup (which is much less on electronics on sale). It pisses me off when people come in saying “Do you have any idea how much money you make from me!?” Well, retail stores DON’T make a lot of money from individuals.

  77. sauceistheboss says:

    @krunk4ever: Did you read his letter? The code was “physically attached”.

  78. joebloe says:

    I just received my brother printer $40 rebate without any problem.

  79. tdatl says:

    I’m going thru a similar situtation with my girlfriend’s $10 Sonicare rebate. I photocopy everything, including the dated postmarked envelope, before sending in any rebates.

    Sonicare’s card asked only for the receipt, not the UPC. I mailed it in Dec. 17th. They rejected it because there was no UPC. I called and spoke to a gentleman, then faxed him proof that they didn’t request the UPC. He said he’d send it to the rebate department again… and they rejected it a 2nd because of no UPC. So I called and spoke to some woman, who said she’d take care of it. Well, two weeks later, still no rebate, so I call to find out it was rejected a 3rd time! This latest woman said she is forwarding to the corporate headquarters to bypass the rebate group… we’ll see. It’s only $10, but I will be a pebble in their shoe until we get it.

  80. tdatl says:

    @SecureLocation: BellSouth inadvertently sent me two $50 rebates about 4 years ago after I wrote to their CEO and copied the state’s Office of Consumer Protection about their bogus rejections. I had online billing, which at the time consisted of PDFs consisting entirely of a 12-point courier font with no graphics, no bold, not even italics. The rebate required I send a copy of my bill, but the rebate house (Parago) said that didn’t qualify since anyone could’ve typed that on an IBM Selectric — in other words, it was impossible for me to qualify!

  81. rdunlap says:

    I have to make a pitch for the much-maligned BBB here. Like many posters, I take a scan of all materials I submit; when a rebate disappears or a rejection comes back, I immediately file a complaint with the local BBB, many of which have web-based complaint submission. The typical pattern is that the original complaint is ignored by the company; but 30 days later, when the BBB sends the notification that the complaint is about to be marked as not resolved to consumer’s satisfaction, the company springs into action. I’ve seen some amusing email chains result from this, and I get my rebate without a resubmission.

  82. rekoil says:

    How’s this:

    I ordered a laptop from PCMall in January that had several rebates attached to it (free memory upgrade after rebate, free shipping, etc). When I received the laptop, they had obviously shipped me a returned item – not only had the box been opened, the laptop booted (I could tell because first-boot “welcome” scripts didn’t run), but the UPC label had been cut out of the box.

    So I called PCMall in a righteous fury, and agreed to send me a new model and a shipping label for the original. To their credit, I had a replacement laptop the next day.

    However, they had processed the exchange as a return and a new order for the same item, not a defective item exchange, so when I submitted the rebates, they were rejected because their system showed I had returned the item. Cue steam from ears and another angry call to PCMall.

    Good news is, I was able to explain their stupidity to them, and eventually managed to get the rebates. However, it was way too much effort than it should have been. (I still would like to know how a company manages to restock used product as new, without even noticing that the UPC has been removed).

  83. Anonymous says:

    I have the same problem with Office Depot in Israel. I bought a Samsung laser printer and I’m still waiting to receive my $40 mail-in rebate… over 1 month later. Luckily, I made copies of everything before I mailed in the rebate form. Furthermore, the telephone number I’m supposed to call for “rebate related inquiries” goes to an answering service in which none of my calls are returned. Looks like I’ll have to visit Office Depot and sort this out. I suggest all of you avoid mail-in rebates whenever possible.