Intel Needs Proof Of Your Citizenship To Give A $200 Refund

Ricardo is really confused He returned a product to Intel under warranty, and is due a refund. Unfortunately, he can’t obtain that relatively small refund until he gives Intel some information about his background, including his place of birth and citizenship.

Good morning, Consumerist! I write to you today to because I need your
help. I’m having a huge problem getting a refund from Intel.

So I bought an Intel NAS (Network Attached Storage)
last year; nice model – support for 4 drives,
FTP access, all those bells and whistles. I’m using it for about five
months when – BAM! – freak power surge fries the RAID controller chip.
The drives are okay, technically, but because the controller chip is
toast, all my files are lost. After spending several weeks with some
RAID recovery experts, the decision is made that the data is
unrecoverable, and the NAS is dead.

Because the machine was still under warranty, I contacted Intel in late
July, and arrangements were made for me to return the box to them, so
that they could inspect it and decide what to do. Several weeks later,
in mid-August, Intel informed me that they were going to go ahead and
process a refund. All they needed was my basic information – name,
address, phone number, stuff like that. Great, I think; Intel’s really
great! In fact, on August 20 I received an email informing me that I
would receive the check in 2 to 3 weeks.

I didn’t receive the check.

On October 12, I contacted Intel by email, inquiring as to the status of
the refund. What I received in reply was shady, to say the least. In
their reply (sent by “M.”), they requested my full name, address,
and date of birth. Okay, I already did that, but whatever. These were
then followed by requests for my place of birth, nationality,
citizenship, and purpose of payment. Wait, what?

I called Intel and asked to speak to M. Of course, there is no
Melissa, so I just had to talk to whoever answered the phone. After
getting nowhere, I finally speak to a “manager”, G. G. tells me
that she’s never seen anything like this in the four years she’s worked
there – Intel’s refund department is apparently based in the
Philippines, and someone at Intel routed my case through the wrong
department, and yadda yadda yadda – the Treasury Department is
requesting this information from Intel.

“So hang on a sec,” I say, “you mean to tell me that you, Intel, are
requesting this personal information from me, and that it’s for a third
party? And you never informed me of that?”

“Yes, it appears that way,” says G.

G. promised to get to the bottom of it, and promised to call me the
next day. Of course, I did not hear from her.

Yesterday (November 10,), I called Intel again. Mysteriously, G. no
longer works for Intel.

The story they’re telling me now is that someone called “OFAC” (that’s
what it sounded like) is requesting my personal information, and that
it’s out of Intel’s hands. If I don’t give them information regarding my
citizenship, nationality, and place of birth, I won’t get my refund. So,
at the end of my rope, I ask my new Intel liaison to send me some kind
of documentation from this third party, some kind of letterhead,
something official looking. It was like pulling teeth. I really don’t
know if she’s going to send me anything, given her tone.

What is going on here? I’d love to know if this is normal, or some kind
of weird fluke. Am I out the $220.00? Call me paranoid, but there’s no
way I’m emailing someone information that private, only to have them
pass that on to…I don’t know who. Please help! Is there a phone number
or email that will put me in touch with someone who’s not anonymous? I
would really appreciate your help…

Have you ever had an experience like this with a refund? Richardo needs help from Intel.

Comments

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  1. BradenR says:

    Of course they need that information. He might be a Palestinian whose existence supports the boycott of all Intel products.

    • freelunch says:

      nevermind concerns of the fact that HP may have forwarded on personal information to an unauthorized third party by mistake.
      Small claims sounds like a decent resolution for this, if the customer is willing to stick his neck out. The court won’t ask for information regarding his nationality.

  2. humphrmi says:

    OFAC – US Treasury Office of Foreign Assets Control

    “The Office of Foreign Assets Control (“OFAC”) of the US Department of the Treasury administers and enforces economic and trade sanctions based on US foreign policy and national security goals against targeted foreign countries and regimes, terrorists, international narcotics traffickers, those engaged in activities related to the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and other threats to the national security, foreign policy or economy of the United States”

    http://www.ustreas.gov/offices/enforcement/ofac/

    • Difdi says:

      How exactly does a warranty replacement of what amounts to a fancy hard drive require the involvement of an agency dedicated to combating international drug trafficking, weapons of mass destruction, terrorism and other threats to national security?

      Suddenly, I’m terrified about who else Intel warranty services might have on speed dial…

      • MeOhMy says:

        How to launder money in 4 easy steps:
        1. Buy lots of relatively inexpensive electornic components
        2. Zap them with a power surge
        3. Have individuals return them piecemeal to the manufacturer for a refund.
        4. Goto step 1

        Of course I am not saying this is what the poster is up to, but I can see situations where OFAC might be involved in what may ostensibly appear to be a simple warranty transaction.

      • hypochondriac says:

        I guessing they guy has a Muslim sounding name. If you ever read the stuff that comes with most electronic products. Your agreeing not to export them to certain countries. So OFAC is no worried that it was exported and want to know who the guy requesting the refund is so they can annoy him more in the future

        • Brunette Bookworm says:

          Ricardo sounds Muslim?

        • mythago says:

          I’m guessing they pulled “OFAC needs this” out of their asses.

        • goodfellow_puck says:

          How can you export something you returned?

        • stormbird says:

          That makes government sense. On the one hand, the person returned an item and is getting a refund, not a replacement item, and he’s in the US. On the other hand, the TSA subjects you to a scrotum screening if you trip the metal detector but policy explicitly states not to use the metal-detecting wands to find what sent the alarm off. I can see how someone might type something wrong processing the refund and the government gets notice and screws everything up.

  3. DewBerry says:

    Are you sure you have the right “Intel” ?

  4. IssaGoodDay says:

    It sounds from the article like there was a power surge that fried stuff to begin with, and unless Intel’s warranty is WAAAAAAAAAY outside the norm, warranties don’t usually cover things other than hardware failure due to manufacturing defect or failure during “normal” usage conditions – freak power surges certainly do not fall within the realm of “normal” usage conditions. Makes me wonder if there’s something else going on on Intel’s end.

    That having been said, it’s awesome that Intel stepped up and decided to cover this for you. I certainly hope you’re able to get your monies back!

    • sipsake says:

      Amazing piece of deduction there, Sherlock. Now, can you discover the point of the article?

    • jimmyhl says:

      I wouldn’t say Intel has stepped up in any meaningful way. In fact it seems that Intel has stepped down by demanding information from a customer for use by the government. What’s worse, an EECB is not likely to help: no one at Dell is likely to say “well that’s okay this one time” now that it’s documented in the files that the OFAC requirement is in place.

  5. Marlin says:

    Is Ricardo in the US and a US citizen?

    OFAC I thought was for outside the US shipments and usage issues?

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      Does it apply to sending things outside the country? I thought Intel would do all of its repair work inside the US, but sometime in the past, all customer service calls were also US-based, so now I’m just not sure.

  6. HoJu says:

    I worked for Intel for 8 years. Intel does not sell direct to consumers. Why would they be processing a refund for a product that they didn’t sell?
    Nothing is this post makes sense. Nobody covers power surges under warranty and if they did they’d offer a replacement product.

    Don’t make me use the S word here!

  7. Southern says:

    OK, It’s a little weird that Intel would be doing an OFAC Verification check on a simple refund..

    Basically, an OFAC Verification check is an online tool that determines whether or not an entity or individual is permitted to do business with the United States.

    It’s primarily used by banks, when you attempt to open an account, although some banks will do an OFAC Verification check with you purchase things like Cashiers Checks (especially in large amounts).

    This isn’t something that should be required of Intel to perform a refund.

    *Shrug*.. No idea.

    • guspaz says:

      For a bit more info, OFAC verification checks produce a score, which if over a certain threshold, generate an OFAC violation and require manual intervention.

      I suspect what happened here is some wire got crossed and an OFAC check was run when it didn’t need to, and something about Ricardo’s name or address produced an OFAC score above Intel’s configured threshold, causing the manual verification to happen.

      Only Intel can resolve this issue, so Ricardo should keep on trying to escalate.

  8. Tim says:

    This sounds suspicious. Intel should, at the very least, be able to answer Ricardo’s questions about who wants his citizenship information and what the purpose is. Intel has no right to demand that information, and if it’s some government agency, Ricardo should be assured that the information will only go to such agency.

    Even so, though, what reason would someone have to inquire about his citizenship? Is it because he has a Spanish-sounding name?

    • Southern says:

      That’s what I was saying – if they’re doing an OFAC Verification, that’s an Online Tool – all they do is plug in the information into the program, and it checks to make sure that the individual is “authorized” to perform financial transactions in the U.S.

      Unless he’s living outside the US – that might trigger an OFAC Verification, especially depending on the country he may be in. If he’s in the U.S.A. though, this verification should be completely unnecessary, unless something has changed recently.

    • jbandsma says:

      I’ll bet he lives in Arizona.

  9. shepd says:

    This sounds like the sort of thing that small claims court would get to the heart of.

  10. pecan 3.14159265 says:

    Ricardo should call someone at the US Treasury’s OFAC and see if anyone there can explain to him why Intel said OFAC needed his citizenship information. At least if he knew what OFAC entitled, he could determine why Intel might be asking for the information.

  11. elkosteve says:

    Makes me wonder what they found on that hard drive…

  12. jeffbone says:

    Just shut up and show your papers/receipt, citizen, and move along quietly…

  13. physics2010 says:

    That pretty much sucks that the drives cannot be moved to a similar RAID box and the data recovered. Way to go intel (who does make motherboards etc and sells under their name) covering a power surge.

  14. patrickpkt says:

    I don’t have any experience with Intel directly, but I suspect I have the same NAS — an SS4200-E. It’s an OEM unit that Intel manufacturers, but is usually sold rebranded and running Windows Home Server. That’s all done by Intel’s enterprise division, as I understand, which could be the reason they’re asking for OFAC data.

    As an aside, if that is the model of NAS Ricardo has, it actually doesn’t have a RAID chip and he can probably recover the data fairly easily. The SS4200-E runs a flavor of Linux using normal software RAID. If he can attach the four drives to another computer and boot it with a live CD, there’s a very good chance he’ll be able to get to his files, possibly automatically or manually via the “mdadm” command.

  15. Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

    “I called Intel and asked to speak to M. Of course, there is no
    Melissa”

    Whoops!

  16. Nick says:

    I hope Obama never needs a refund from Intel.

  17. sirwired says:

    Intel isn’t trying to steal your ID…

    For whatever reason, you have likely been flagged as possibly being on the “Denied Parties List”, which is a list of all the people, governments, companies, and organizations with which a US entity is not permitted to do business. They need to have this information on hand to give to the govt. in case they are audited. (or, they are being audited right now, and require this information.) I also work for a major US tech company, and each employee is required to acknowledge we understand these rules once a year.

    OFAC is the US Office of Foreign Asset Control, which enforces the DPL.

    Please note that nothing they are asking for is not available in public records. If you are registered to vote, all this information is available for the asking.

    • TooManyHobbies says:

      Even if he is on the denied parties list – he already HAS the item. Is he being denied cash money?

      • NeverLetMeDown says:

        Yup. If he is on the DPL, then Intel can’t send him a check. It wouldn’t be Intel’s fault that another retailer sold him the item (beyond their control with a retail product like this), but a direct transaction would be a different issue.

  18. Cheap Sniveler: Sponsored by JustAnswer.comâ„¢ says:

    Warranty for Intel: Are you a citizen? Show us your papers. No papers, no refund.

    Public assistance: Medicaid, WIC, Public school, food stamps? Are you a citizen? Never mind. It’s all free, Compliments of the US taxpayers. You’re welcome, no need to thank us.

    • Brunette Bookworm says:

      Um, actually, you do have to have proof of citizenship to get Medicaid and everyone pays some form of taxes. If you work you HAVE to contribute to social security and medicare and if you shop, you’re paying sales tax. Many illegal immigrants are actually paying taxes, filing returns, etc. Is illegal immigration a problem? Yes, but they aren’t here sponging off services and not contributing anything. Most came here to work.

      http://www.usatoday.com/money/perfi/taxes/2008-04-10-immigrantstaxes_N.htm

      http://www.palmbeachpost.com/news/illegal-immigrants-paying-taxes-621300.html

      • Cheap Sniveler: Sponsored by JustAnswer.comâ„¢ says:

        I didn’t SAY they didn’t pay taxes. I do say theat if you’re here illegally, chances are you are taking more than you give back. I know they come to work, but that don’t make it legal. A large share of the money they make is under the table and gets shipped out of the country. I’ve sponsored 3 people to come to this country, so I know something about it. Legal is not easy or cheap, and sometimes downright impossible. Cheating the system just makes it that much harder for those who do the right – and legal – thing.

        Medicare, whether or not you have to prove citizenship, is a moot point: If you walk into an American hospital, you WILL be treated. When you are a non-person, or have stolen someone’s identity, paying the bill is not your concern. I will pay it, it’s just figured into my hospital bill and insurance.

        That said, my point was – Intels asks for proof of citizenship, yet the govenment doesn’t. WTF?

        • Ouze says:

          And that person’s point was – indeed, the first thing they said was – yes, by and large, the government DOES require positive identification for all the things you stated. But, don’t let facts/reality get in the way of your ignorant-ass derpfest.

          • Cheap Sniveler: Sponsored by JustAnswer.comâ„¢ says:

            Not all. Per your statement, “…by and large, the government DOES require positive identification…” By and large…

            Certainly, if you were to take a family of five, with 2 parents here ilegally, they would qualify – for their children – for all these services as they, the children, are legal citizens if they were born here; whether or not their birth on American soil was the result of ilegally entering the country. Do you REALLY believe that when the parents get the food stamps they will ONLY feed the children with them? Same for all benefits derived from the citizenship of their children.

            Also WIC:
            “WIC does not require proof of citizenship or alien status
            In accordance with Federal law and U.S. Department of Agriculture policy, this institution is prohibited from discriminating on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, age, or disability.”

            Perhaps I added Medicaid in haste, but as I said: Moot point.

            And now I will point out that we are getting far off topic and leave the matter. So, please refrain from calling me ignorant, and I will not insult your intellegence or breeding in return. If you have a valid point to make please do so without name calling.

            • RvLeshrac says:

              So, then, the children should starve to death.

              That’s a fantastic idea, when do we start?

              • Cheap Sniveler: Sponsored by JustAnswer.comâ„¢ says:

                I didn’t say that either. I said, well, dammit, read it.

                Maybe we need to change the 14th amendment. But I never said starve the children.

        • Brunette Bookworm says:

          I would say MOST people in the country use more than they give. Use police, firefighters, roads? Did you pay entirely for ALL of those? I doubt it. That’s the whole point of government, it provides for everyone regardless of how much they contribute. Anyone who uses public assistance is, by default, getting more out than they pay in. If they weren’t, they wouldn’t need the public assistance in the first place.

          And it’s impossible to know if illegal immigrants pay more into they system than whatever they get through WIC or public schools, the only two items you mentioned which you don’t have to prove citizenship for (though school is debatable since the children of some illegal immigrants are citzens so whether it’s used by illegal immigrants depends on how you look at it).

      • ClaudeKabobbing says:

        Actually your wroing (along with most politicans) Illigal immigrants can and do receive medicaid benefits. Texas medicaid provides emergency medicaid to undocumented aliens. Usually pregnant women, then some providers dont get paid because giving birth is not considered an emergency.

        But that has nothing to do with this conversation.

        • Cheap Sniveler: Sponsored by JustAnswer.comâ„¢ says:

          Thank you.
          But lets get back on topic:
          Why Intel? Just explain.

        • Brunette Bookworm says:

          I looked up the requirements for medicaid for a few states and they list proof of citizenship. Also, Texas hospitals have to provide emergency care to pregnant women, even if they aren’t citizens. Part of this is because that baby being born in the US is a citizen but citizenship or legal immigrant status is still listed as a requirement for medicaid. If you look at the eligibility requirements for Texas its listed here:

          http://info.sos.state.tx.us/pls/pub/readtac$ext.ViewTAC?tac_view=4&ti=1&pt=15&ch=366

  19. jbandsma says:

    You’re out the money but it looks like you’re going to get a nice vacation. Hope you like Cuba.

  20. wikka says:

    Probably related: The last time I called Seagate to process a hard drive warranty replacement, they had me swear on the phone that i was not a member of Al-Qaeda or support any terrorists and “blah blah blah..” (about a 30 second spiel).

  21. evnmorlo says:

    The classic way of fabricating an identity is to use a dead person’s certificate. And birth certificates can be revised and reissued. So they don’t prove much, though citizenship is of little meaning nowadays anyway.

  22. xipander says:

    I’m not quite sure what RAID recovery experts you consulted with, but RAID metadata is stored on disk, not the controller, if you but them in a similar setup in _the_correct_order_ you should be able to import the foreign config to the new controller and be right back where you started… if like you say, nothing happened to the disks.

    • ThomFabian says:

      I’m wondering if he meant the on-disk controllers got fried. Maybe the physical platters are still OK (which may have been what he meant by the HD’s being fine), but the on-disk electronics got hosed.

      In which case, the data recovery is still possible, though considerably more costly as you would need a clean room and some know-how as to rebuilding/repairing the disks.

  23. Donathius says:

    Wait…$220 for a NAS? Dude! What model and where do I find it on Intel’s website?

  24. Eyeout says:

    why do people think it’s “Richardo”??? It’s like they went for a hybrid of Richard and Ricardo and it happens ALL the time! Obviously I carry a bit of baggage into the discussion….

  25. RosevilleWgn says:

    Almost sounds to me like that NAS was originally sold for a cheaper price to an overseas company, and resold back in the states with a markup. They may be wanting to make sure the OP isn’t trying to scam them.

  26. tycho1974 says:

    OP here. Some follow-up details:

    I’ve lived in the continental United States for 32 years.
    The NAS that I sent back did not include any hard drives – those were purchased separately by me elsewhere.
    Intel has had the NAS for almost three months now.
    I have email correspondence wherein Intel tells me that they have approved my refund, and that I should expect a check soon.
    In a follow-up conversation, I was told that Intel had made a mistake with my “case”, and it got sent to the wrong department, which is why this is all borked now.

    That last bit is key, I think. They approved me for a refund, but then they changed their mind? Now, they have both the device and my money! Kinda douchey, no?

    -Ricardo

  27. zombie70433 says:

    What’s so bad about saying where you were born? It’s not like theyre asking for your SSN. As far as asking for your nationality, etc, etc – it could have something to do with the Patriot Act. It would be a rather unassuming way to launder money for terrorist activity.

  28. homehome says:

    This sounds like a DPL issue. And if you want your check you probably should just buckle down and give the info. Because if they give it to you without the info they asked for, then they’ll get into a lot of trouble with the government. And if they have to choose to go to court with you or the government, that’s an easy choice. And no amounting of bitchin on consumerist will do anything for you.

  29. stevied says:

    Huh? What aren’t we being told?

  30. gman863 says:

    I’ll gladly provide Intel with documentation I’m a US Citizen — just as soon as every employeee in their overseas call centers does the same.

  31. EcPercy says:

    Personally… I would just eat the $220 rather than provide information to someone who can’t even tell me what they want the information for and who exactly the information will be sent to….