Friendly Reminder: Rebates Are Scams

Rebates are scams. Rebates are scams. We’d like to take this opportunity to remind everyone that rebates are scams.

David L. wrote us, looking for help. He ordered a Sirius Starmate Replay Radio from, lured by the promise of a $50 rebate. Needless to say, after 9 months of chasing that 50 bucks back, Sirius still hasn’t given it to him.

Unfortunately, we really don’t have much help to give. David, you are likely never going to see that rebate. Rebate houses are structured so purposely convoluted that getting a rebate back will almost always require Herculean endurance, even if (by random chance in the godless universe of customer service) you somehow manage to satisfy all of their arcane requirements.

This is a reminder: rebates should never be taken into account when you buy something, unless the rebate is either so absolutely amazing you just have to give it a shot and are willing to fight to the death for it. Otherwise, you need to treat rebates like lending money to a friend: don’t part with money you can’t afford to lose. Only, in this case, you’re lending money to your worst enemy.

David’s email, after the jump.

Last December, in preparation for the arrival of Howard Stern and a great rebate offer, I purchased a Sirius Starmate Replay radio from The wonderful folks on the FatWallet forums pointed me in the direction of a $50 rebate form (housed directly on servers) that very explicitly states that, although units purchased at Costco were not eligible for a rebate, units purchased on were indeed eligible for the $50. Please see the attached pdf of the rebate form.

I submitted it on December 24 (well ahead of the 1/31 deadline) and had the rebate rejected on 2/27 due to “Non compliance — offer good only at participating retailers). I was given a deadline of April 9 to resubmit the form. I resubmitted the form and heard nothing. A CSR in May informed me that I was still in non-compliance, because purchases at Costco were not eligible. When I patiently explained that I ordered it from, which was specifically permitted on the rebate form, he told me to send the materials to a special “resubmit address” and it would be taken care of.

Having heard nothing by mid June I called again, was told the same thing, then given a special fax number to send all my documents. I faxed the original rebate form and heard nothing again. August 9 rolled around and I sent a perturbed e-mail to Sirius and received a response that said, in part:

Please note receivers purchased from BJ’s, Costco, Sam’s Club, Target
and Wal-Mart are not eligible for this offer. This includes their
online counterparts.

I spoke with a CSR who said she had no record of receiving my fax and asked me to fax it again and e-mail it, which I did on August 9.

Finally, on August 23 I received another response informing me that receivers purchased at Costco were not eligible.

My last two e-mails (8/23 and 9/19) have received no response.

If only I could get through to Howard, I’m sure this would be resolved instantly.