Waiting for a rebate from TigerDirect? Good luck with that. In a suit filed last Friday, Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum is charging the company with, among other things, promising customers that rebates would arrive in about 8-10 weeks of submission, when in fact “a vast number of customers experienced delays ranging from one to more than eight months, before receiving their promised rebates, if at all.” The suit also charges TigerDirect with engaging in “deceptive and unfair trade practices.”
The suit goes on to quote a former employee as confirming that:
…control of rebate processing ws so poor, that many UPC bar codes ended up on the floor to be later discarded “in the garbage” and the consumer’s rebate “denied.” This resulted in the Defendants’ computer systems frequently indicating that “no supporting documentation” had been received with the rebate application.
The AG complaint also says that “at times, batches of checks numbering in the thousands were never printed and/or mailed.”
TigerDirect and its sister companies under the Systemax umbrella (you know, the reanimated CircuitCity.com and what’s left of CompUSA) are no strangers to problems sending out rebates. In its earlier incarnation, the FTC handed CompUSA the dubious honor of becoming the first retailer to be required by law to actually fulfill manufacturer-promised rebates.
TigerDirect clearly learned from that experience, though the lesson it took away isn’t the one we’d recommend. McCollum’s complaint charges that the company’s “rebate program was convoluted and designed to wear down the customer to the point that the consumer would finally give up their right to the rebate, thereby resulting in an improper windfall to the Defendant.”
If TigerDirect loses the case, it could be forced to hand over some of that windfall to the customers it burned, but don’t count on it. Most rebate suits end with settlements that give customers a pittance, require some of the same documentation that was needed to apply for the rebate in the first place, and, yeah, take a lot more than 8-10 weeks to process.
Attorney General Sues Company for Cheating Consumers Out of Rebates [Office of the Florida Attorney General]
Complaint for Injunctive Relief, Damages, Civil Penalties and Other Equitable Relief [Office of the Florida Attorney General]