TigerDirect: 2GB Flash Drive For $1.99 After Rebates, $171.98 After Thirty Days

TigerDirect.com sold Chudacek a 2GB flash drive for $1.99, without warning that after thirty days, the price would skyrocket to an astounding $171.38. Included with the drive “[for] a limited-time only [the] opportunity to try [CA] Internet Security Suite 2007.” We have warned against rebates, but even we were caught off-guard by the note on TigerDirect’s packing slip. Limited-time, indeed.

At $2 (after rebates) for 2 GB, I thought it was a deal I couldn’t refuse. I would just format the flash drive to get rid of the pre-loaded software and I’d be in good shape.

Well, the drive came today and check out what was on the packing slip. A message telling me that the pre-loaded software was a 30-day trial and that my credit card would automatically be billed for $69.99 30 days after the shipping date.

Before rebates with taxes, shipping and handling, the flash drive is $101.39. After thirty days, the total price rises to an outrageous $171.38. For that price, you can have a 2GB iPod Nano.

Sure, some hardware comes bundled with software, but this is the first time we have seen it coupled as such an underhanded charge. — CAREY GREENBERG-BERGER

Previously: Why Rebates Suck: TigerDirect and OnRebate


Edit Your Comment

  1. medalian1 says:

    Tigerdirect/ecost are the same horrible company and should be avoided at all cost. I’ve seen several deals on fatwallet/slickdeals where they have these drives for the cheap after rebate including that privacy guard crap that this guy is talking about. It clearly states on their website that you’ll be charged, so he shouldn’t be surprised. I am surprised that tiger direct is still in business since they’re such a horrible company.

  2. orielbean says:

    Yeah, they sometimes might have a decent deal on equipment, but take your chances. Their house brand Ultra is spotty at best, and Newegg is usually more up-front about any potential wackiness – like a dead pixel policy on lcd monitors or weird rebate issues.

  3. joopiter says:

    Forgive me if I’m being dense, but if it’s a 30 day trial doesn’t that leave you the option of not liking it and therefore not getting charged for it? Otherwise, it’s not really a trial but more of a deferred billing. Very shady.

  4. r81984 says:

    Call the company and cancel the free trial. If they refuse, cancel that credit card and get a new one. This way they cannot charge you anything.
    Also document everything, maybe even record your phone conversation to cancel.
    This way if they try to ruin your credit down the road you can contest it with the credit bureau’s and win.

  5. yetiwisdom says:

    Wow – I almost bought this too – thanks for the tip! I now know to be VERY careful with these typse of “great deals!!!”

  6. cheesyfru says:

    TigerDirect sucks the big one. They have the most consumer-hostile rebate program I could ever imagine. It took hours to jump through the series of hoops they give you. Stay away at all costs.

  7. Scazza says:

    Well, I have their canadian flyer with the same deal in it, and NO WHERE does it mention you must pay for the full software price (which is odd because like the previous poster said, you can’t try something only to be forced to buy it). Also checking the site it also says nothing. If you got charged, call up your credit card company and drop the charges.

  8. KenyG says:

    they scammed me a couple years ago with some calling card scam – would up getting billed automatically if you didn’t cancel ahead of time.

    I canceled it – and have never ordered from Tigerdirect again, fyi their shipping charges suck – newegg.com all the way.

  9. mewyn dyner says:

    I’ve been seeing too many post-purchase charges these days. That’s it, for anything that doesn’t require a swipe of my card I’m gong to be generating a one-time use number.

  10. gorckat says:

    In many posts I’ve seen ‘cancel the card and get a new one’ recommended. From my experience at MBNA, that doesn’t always work (unless things are different from a few years ago).

    Visa and MC have certain charges that can bypass traditional authorization procedures (including the ones that blocks closed or even overlimit accounts) such as AOL charges. I saw an account get billed for AOL for over a year despite being closed- it still had a balance so the person was paying monthly but not bothering to read the statement.

    If there was a pre-authorization in place, it would transfer to new accounts when a card was reported as lost or stolen. The only way they were blocked or reversed was if the person signed an affidavit declaring fraud.

    The best bet, in my experience, is to determine the proper procedure for canceling this trial, getting that procedure in writing and having documentation detailing that you have followed it correctly, inlcuding any emails or letters from the company.

    Then if the charge appears on the credt card it can be disputed.

    Now the ‘throw-away’ numbers that many cards let you generate are a different beast, iirc- they will block charges after expiration or hitting the number’s limit because at that point the account isn’t considered to be valid.

  11. syndprod says:

    I have had the worst experiences with TigerDirect, as echoed above. Last March I purchased a monitor with three rebates: $30, $40, and $70. The $30 and $40 ones arrived in 3 months. The $70 didn’t arrive until December, after a followup letter and copies of all the documentation. Also, I dislike how they “offer” for the low price of $5 (or something like that) to send your rebate to a PayPal account in 3 days. The only good rebate experiences I have had are with Staples and buy.com.

  12. 5h17h34d says:

    I used my gmail address with extra periods in it when ordering from TD several months ago. Almost right away I start getting spam to the address I only used at Tiger Direct. I will never do business with them again.

  13. crayonshinobi says:

    Wow, I’ve never ordered anything from TD online, but they have a retail location right by my house that I frequent quite regularly. (I was just there yesterday in fact). I’ve had nothing but great experiences with them, but then, I’ve never bought anything with a rebate.

    I’m one of those people that thinks companies advertising prices after rebates should be sued for false advertising though.

    I did write a review on a product and now get their mailing spam though…that is obnoxious.

  14. spanky says:

    Ew. Tiger Direct is horrible.

    I just bought a cellphone for someone from Tiger Direct. I knew it was risky, but I took a chance. I’ve been lucky a few times, and hadn’t been screwed by them yet. (Plus, I’m rebate agnostic, so I’m not swayed by those.)

    Well, my luck ran out. Despite being very clearly labeled as unlocked, it came locked to Cingular. It had also pretty clearly been opened–it’s probably a return or something. And when I emailed them about it, they pretty obviously responded with BOILERPLATE addressing the specific issue of them selling provider locked phones as unlocked. Apparently, false advertising is some kind of official corporate policy or something.

    The person I got it for really doesn’t have the time to return this phone and wait for TD to send out another one, which will probably be wrong, too, so he’s just going to unlock it himself. I’m sure they depend on that kind of thing, too. It’s easier to just fix the broken product they send than to take our chances with returns, replacements, or refunds. (They don’t even offer to cover the extra SHIPPING, either!)

    Moral of this story: Redirect Tigerdirect.com to the resolve to the IP address of your least favorite shock site. This should help you better resist future temptation.

  15. 5h17h34d says:

    When I “unsubscribed” to their newsletter ads is when I got hit with the onslaught of viagra type spam.

  16. laurion says:

    Given that I recently got a 4GB Sandisk Cruzer Micro for about $80 shipped, with no rebates or hassles (check Froogle), is there any reason to put up with this crap? As always, if it sounds too good to be true, read the fine print. Spend a little more and get a better product. Ultra is a bad brand. Tiger as a company is even worse. Anyone else remember when they thought it was a good business move to sue Apple (Inc!) for calling the latest release of their OS ‘Tiger’?

  17. orielbean says:

    I like that idea about the one-use credit card numbers to protect against this. What is the deal with those? Has anyone used one and is it pretty painless?

  18. juri squared says:

    @crayonshinobi: I also shop at their retail/warehouse and have had no problems. I’ve returned things in-store with no problems at all.

    But then, I never buy things with rebates, either.

  19. vinco says:

    Personally, I’ve ordered a number of components from Tiger Direct, and have been completely satisfied with all of them. I’ve gotten all the rebates I was owed. Granted, the rebates take a while to return, but I never plan on having that money to spend in advance.

  20. Do2 says:

    I agree with the part about not relying on cancelling the card. Sprint, yes that lovely company, billed me for 18 months after cancelling their service and terminating my credit card account. Then I understood, American Express does much more business with Sprint than I do with American Express. Loyalty is one thing, the mighty dollar is another.

    Irony on irony, I had to get an American Express card again for Costco. Sucks to have no options.

    I hate those Sprint guys.

  21. i have several employees who buy from T.G. and swear by their cheap prices. I try to point out that zipzoomfly had similiar prices with free shipping (they used to not anymore).

    but sometimes i need a $20 pc cd burner and i don’t care the quality. where to go other than TG? newegg?

  22. pestie says:

    Tiger Direct sucks like nobody’s business. That’s all there is to it.

  23. gorckat says:

    @orielbean: MBNA used a piece of software called ‘ShopSafe’. You downloaded it to your computer and genereated a number on demand specifying a limit (up to your actual card limit, I think) and expiration date (1-12 months).

    Some people had a little trouble with it the first time or two, but it seemed to work really well after that.

    I have no idea how it handled CVC/CVV numbers (the three on the sig stripe that somehow match up the card number and expiration date) which some merchants now require to complete online sales.

  24. yetiwisdom says:

    I’m a huge fan of the one-use numbers. CITI offers it, as does Discover. I never use an actual card with a new online merchant – only the one-use cards.

  25. LintMan says:

    I bought a USB adapter kit ($30, free after rebate) from Tiger Direct a while ago. I found the whole OnRebate thing was a pain in the butt to deal with and was certain I’d get screwed, but I got an email it was OK’d, and eventually (2 months later) got the actual check.

    I’ve gotten screwed badly in the past with rebates, but lately I’ve had fairly good luck.
    -A big Staples rebate on a 1GB USB flash drive came without issues.
    -I got Newegg’s $30 Raptor rebate right away.
    -Cingular gave me both my $50 cell phone rebates despite a messed-up ordering situation where I activated the phones under a different numer than the account they were sold with.
    -Zodiac granted my $50 rebate for their G4 pool sweeper despite the fact that I mailed it in two days after the “30 days from purchase” deadline.
    -I don’t think I’ve gotten anything yet from the $30 Newegg X-Fi sound card rebate I sent in about a month or so ago.

    The biggest issue for me has been I procrastinate doing them until too late. I have two more small ones now that I’m in danger of blowing.

    From the above, it may sound like I’m a rebate-head, but I think they suck. I’ll generally only go for one if it’s something I would buy anyway, and if I do it, I go in with the expectation that I’m risking that I might get burned.

  26. ej00807 says:

    Here is my experience with TigerDirect. They are the first company to ever charge me for the privledge of returning faulty merchandise.

    That was six years ago and I’ve removed them from our corporate buyer approved list and warned everyone I can about that practice.

    If one merchant thinks it’s okay to charge a ‘restocking fee’ then they all will.

    I might add, this was the only single item I had ever returned to them; so it’s not a case of customer taking advantage of a poor merchant.

    Wake up people. Look at your TD catalogs for the small print!!!

  27. Randy_Rathbun says:

    Tiger Direct is a horrible, horrible company. I immediately cut them off from my list of shopping sites back in 1995/1996 when they were posting bogus reviews of Synchronys Sofware’s “SoftRAM” program. That little program did nothing at all, yet Tiger blatently lied in their ads about how they could “run more applications at greater speeds than with Windows 95 alone”.

    There used to be a really nice writeup of what SoftRAM did, along with the Tiger lies up at http://trumpet.uni-mannheim.de/info/OReilly/windows/win95…. but the site seems to be down or gone for good.

  28. wjtrocks says:

    Wow Thats bull Crap. I own my own online mall and would never do anything like that. Some people just no morals. Shop somewhere else.

  29. The review’s still in the Google cache.

    SoftRAM was also #3 in PC World’s list of the 25 Worst Tech Products of All Time :-).

  30. pestie says:

    OnRebate? Yeah, they still owe me $100. Like they thought I’d forget that fact just because they claimed it would be 8-10 weeks before I got a check. I’m patient, but last time I e-mailed them (and was ignored) it had been 17 weeks. Fuckers. But I knew it was a rebate, and therefore there was a chance I’d never see the money, so I took my risk and I guess I lost. But they’re still fuckers.

  31. STREAMrep says:

    Keep The Flash Drive, send in the rebate ASAP before the rebate expires…delete CA’s trial software and don’t use it. The additional billing after 30 days is for CA’s software only. CA is underwriting the rebate the billing is CA’s policy and Tiger Direct is the publisher of this advertising issuing you a warning as to the nature of the promotion. Open your eyes, lean forward, plug it in, turn it on and hit ENTER. Wake up and go conscious…

  32. PorkTornado1102 says:

    Sorry to hear about your troubles. Apparently I am the only person who has not had any problems with TigerDirect. I’ve been purchasing from them for at least 3 years now and have never had a problem with getting my rebates. Also, in my experience, they have shipped my goods damn quickly.

    If you have a problem with getting a rebate check in 8-12 weeks, then you shouldn’t rely on a rebate check. From what I’ve seen, rebates are SLOW, no matter what vendor you go with. Some slower than others, but yet all are slow. Nonetheless I have received all of the handfull of rebates I applied for at TigerDirect.

    Perhaps articles like this tend to bring out people that have had bad experiences with a company. Consider the fact that if you had a good/average experience with a company you would not be very likely to comment on a blog like this. Maybe you are just hearing the worst about them and not the average experience.

    If you had a bad experience with them, obviously act on that reaction. If you havent dealt with them and read stuff like above – beware. Just keep in mind the nature of commenters on blogs that suggest something like what was posted. Any post about someone getting apparently ripped off by a certain company is not likely to illicit positive reactions on a blog; thus the comments.

  33. boylan13 says:

    For what it’s worth, I bought a 2 GB Ultra SD card from TigerDirect a couple of months ago $54 with $45 in rebates. I had both rebate checks in my hand less than 30 days after I sent the forms in. My dad bought a 19″ Westinghouse TV from them, which self-destructed after about 4 weeks. They sent him a pre-paid return shipping slip and sent him a replacement unit pretty quickly.

    YMMV, of course, but my experience with Tiger has been very good.

    And I don’t think they have any afiliation with eCost, whose service (again in my experience) varies from OK to really shoddy. Just try to return something defective to eCost – not gonna happen.

  34. Bix says:

    @Moonshine Mike:

    Newegg all the way, they have some fine prices on CD writers:


  35. TinaM says:

    Tiger Direct does NOT honor their rebates

    For several years I shopped at Tiger Direct for all my office and personal PC needs. I spent thousands of dollars at Tiger Direct. I never purchased any equipment using rebates because I was afraid I would get hosed. I had not yet had any trouble with Tiger Direct but I had already had an issue with a Miscrosoft rebate and it left a bad taste in my mouth for some time. Granted the two have nothing to do with each other, except as I later found out, they use the same lame ploys to deny rebates.

    During the summer of 2005 I built two new computers for my staff. This time I did purchase equipment that had rebates attached. I thought since I have been a long-time customer, it will be fine. So after all the equipment arrived I had my assistant prepare to send in the rebate forms. If you have never used a rebate there are many requirements that must be followed to the T or you will be denied. I knew this, my assistant knew this and we prepared a perfect rebate package including all barcodes, forms, stickers, dated material and photocopies and sent them in. We were sure to send the material back within the allotted time period and to make sure we had proof we used a return-receipt from the US Postal Service.

    We were satisfied that we did everything perfectly and back to work we went. After a couple months I had not received any rebates. Both my assistant and I made the appropriate phone calls and we were told the rebate is in processing and we should get in in a few weeks. After another 2 weeks we called again. We were again told our rebate was received and is being processed and it would be 3-6 weeks this time.

    I was on-guard. I felt it coming during the first set of calls to Tiger Direct and after the second go around I was convinced. So I threw it into overdrive and began emailing and calling like crazy. My assistant called and emailed, I called and emailed and over and over we kept hearing the same thing; Your rebate is being processed, please be patient.

    Well, my patience ran out and so did my steam, temporarily. The company got busy and the rebate sat on the back burner for some time. Of course I had a secret hope that one day I would go to the mailbox and find a check for $165.00 but that never happened.

    Over the next 12 months or so my assistant and I continued to call or write in every so often to see if we were ever going to get the rebate. This is about the time that Tiger Direct began using their canned excuses as opposed to telling me “the rebate is being processed”. The first (and I’m sure the most abused) excuse Tiger Direct used on me was “You did not return your rebate form on time”. Hmmm, well USPS says I did and I have proof. I informed Tiger Direct that I have all the proof they will ever need to confirm my compliance and I would be happy to forward that information along. So we did.

    After another period of time we checked in again. This time Tiger Direct told us that our rebate was too old to honor and that we will not be getting any money. I was pretty angry at this point and I began demanding attention. Several months ago I started a correspondence with Mr. Salvador Pereira from the Tiger Direct Rebate Center. It took some time to find a phone number that would get me in but I did and I also got an email address. Mr. Sal was very nice and it almost seemed as though Tiger Direct gave a crap and that I may actually get my $165.00 in rebates. I was wrong. I see now that Mr. Salvador Pereira is simply a paid pawn in the big game of Rebate Rippoffs. He is the guy that keeps you dangling a little longer only to be told that “The Rebate Center” (which Tiger Direct tries to separate from but cannot because THEY ARE the rebate center) has denied your claim – again.

    I informed Sal that I have not and will not shop at Tiger Direct until I get my $165.00 in rebates. Again he claimed to have sent the information to management and again it was denied.

  36. donnasasse says:

    TigerDirect will take your money ASAP but appears to suffer from extreme paralysis when the customer is owed!

    There are a number of customer reviews on TigerDirect.com throughout the internet. While many customers have had their orders processed through this company without a hitch (good for them), the problems that abound with this company are ones where the customer has had a shipment problem and/or (heaven forbid) TigerDirect owes funds back to the customer (purchase refund, rebate, etc.) This company will take the customer’s money at rocket speed, but when the customer is owed, TigerDirect can’t seem to handle that part of the equation. My experience with TigerDirect has been deplorable.

    I ordered a refurbished PREMIUM X-Box for son’s intended birthday gift. What Tiger Direct shipped was an X-Box Core Console (without hard drive). Upon contacting them, they admitted their error and issued an RMA for merchandise return. Because time parameters were not feasible to wait for a replacement, we had to make last-minute arrangements to obtain the product elsewhere through a local store. Full credit to customer’s credit card account was requested. TigerDirect policy, as stated by their representatives, is to “allow 3 to 5 business days to process the return, and then allow another 3 to 5 days to process the refund.”

    As of the time of this report, TigerDirect received the return 32 days ago for which I have proof of UPS delivery and the name of the TigerDirect representative who signed for it. Each time I contacted them, I was informed only that the credit would be made and was “in process.” TigerDirect never did credit my credit card for that purchase. Yesterday, I finally had to go through my credit card issuer to dispute the charge and have my account credited. This is inexcusable, especially given the fact that the reason for having to make the return in the first place was due solely and completely to Tiger Direct error.

    This is not the first time that Tiger Direct shipped incorrect merchandise to this customer. It will be the last time since my family will never again trust them with our business. It is truly amazing how disreputably some merchants deal with their customers and how selective they are with how fast they do things.