Reader Kicks T-Mobile's Butt Over Denied Rebate

Kathlene used her mad consumer skills to force T-Mobile into honoring the rebate they were supposed to give her. She slayed their bogus reasons for denying her rebate. She escalated, and escalated. Finally, she emailed an extremely well-crafted letter to CEO Robert Dotson (pictured, looking like a pile of badass).

Now she’s getting her rebate.

Check out the correspondence, inside…

Click to enlarge.

From: Executive Response (ECR)
To: Kathlene
Sent: Tuesday, March 27, 2007 1:05:16 PM
Subject: RE: T-Mobile Rebate Dispute; Request for Resolution

Ms. Kathlene,
In an effort to amicably resolve this matter, T-Mobile will be happy to apply a credit of $30.00 towards the pre-paid account which would total 300 minutes for the mail in rebate. Please let me know should you wish to accept this offer.

Please let me know should you have any further questions or concerns regarding this matter.

Thank you,

Brenda Shaw
Executive Customer Relations Specialist,
Office of the CEO.


From: kit
Sent: Wednesday, March 28, 2007 10:32 AM
To: Executive Response (ECR)
Subject: Re: T-Mobile Rebate Dispute; Request for Resolution


I’m sorry, but a $30 credit is not an acceptable resolution. I have satisfied all terms of the rebate contract, and I expect T-mobile to satisfy their obligations as well. Therefore, the only satisfactory resolution I would accept is a $30 rebate check, per the terms of T-mobile’s rebate contract.



From: Executive Response (ECR)
To: kit
Sent: Friday, March 30, 2007 3:18:46 PM
Subject: RE: T-Mobile Rebate Dispute; Request for Resolution

Ms. Kathlene,

Please provide the address to have the refund check sent to.

Thank you,


Nice one, Kathlene, that’s the way you work it. — BEN POPKEN


Edit Your Comment

  1. jordy777 says:

    (Standing ovation)

  2. acambras says:

    Awesome letter!

  3. silenuswise says:

    Nice work indeed–kudos to Kathlene. What exasperates me about this is how much time Kathlene had to spend calling people, re-calling people, writing emails, and crafting letters, all just to get a company to honor a frackin’ $30 rebate. I’m guessing Kathlene spent more than several hours on this, and that her time is worth more than $6-10 / hour. The sad simple fact is that individuals don’t have a staff of 10-20 employees who can write letters to work over companies to resolve disputes (whereas the inverse is not true), and so the vast majority of these battles are simply forfeit by the consumer.

    But then, I guess that’s one more reason why we need The Consumerist….

  4. cedarpointfan says:

    Wow, excellent job!

  5. brooklynbs says:

    Very nice job. Shows the power of documentation and a well-written and well-reasoned letter.

  6. TinaB says:

    I just got a little teary-eyed. Nicely done!

  7. tcabeen says:

    @silenuswise: Ditto. It’s utterly ridiculous and completely infuriating that this much effort needs to be put in to ensuring that the companies we patronize provide us with adequate service.

    I’m simultaneously outraged at t-mobile and thrilled with Kathlene.

  8. jgodsey says:

    Kathlene you are my god.

  9. LankanDude says:

    I’m currently shoppoing for a mobile and I thought T-Mobile is a consumer friendly company. Anyway I still think it’s less evil than others. Does anyone have any opinions on this?

    By the way nice work Kathlene !!!

  10. VicMatson says:

    I’m currently in rebate hell with Office Depot to a hundred dollar tune. After some banter with the rebate company I went to a Depot store and was told no problem bring the receipt in and I’ll give you credit.

    I think this rebate debacle may be coming to a head!

  11. formated4tv says:

    Amazing work, way to get what was owed to you, and not just give in to the first offer (the prepaid 300 minutes)

  12. jopari: stuck on P.2 says:

    I’ve never had a problem with T-Mobile. They have excellent customer service, even late at night; both times that I’ve called I’ve gotten very clear and friendly help. Regarding rebates: I sent in the $50 rebate for my PEBL a day late, and got a check in the mail a week later-despite 6-8 week estimate the form stated. I have nothing but good to say about T-Mobile, and I would (and have) recommend it to anyone I know.

  13. jopari: stuck on P.2 says:

    @jopari: Oops, this was supposed to be a reply to LankanDude. Oh well.

  14. LAGirl says:

    well done!! these companies are un-friggin-believable. i guess they count on most poor schmucks just giving up.

    i loved how they still tried to scam her by offering a credit on her bill, instead of just sending the rebate check.

  15. TPIRman says:

    Kathlene, you are an inspiration to rebate-seekers everywhere. Awesome letter.

  16. tgtT.M. says:

    I know everyone else has congratulated Kathlene, but I couldn’t pass this one up.I don’t know where to start! That letter was absolutely incredible, clearly stating what you want and how far you are willing to go.
    They even tried to get you to give in with a credit!?!?!? At least you didn’t take it! That’s right, show ’em who’s boss!!!

  17. Addison says:

    I’m right here in Tampa if you want me to TP their offices, but I doubt that would be as professional as the letter you have written.

  18. Snakeophelia says:

    Good on her! I’m waiting on a T Mobile rebate as we speak, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed. None of the issues she mentions arose during my activation call, but you never know.

  19. ThinkAboutItPlease says:

    T Mobile: Shame, shame, shame, shame on you.

    Let me guess: Your CSRs are incented to not honor rebates, for whatever reason you can invent, because it costs the company money.

    Also known as a scam.

    Kathlene – you’re a gem. Thanks for doing all this work, and sharing with Consumerist. I especially appreciated your refusing to take the $30 (as priced by T Mobile) in T Mobile phone minutes credit, which is absolutely not the same as $30 cash. (Scam again.) I am actually presently looking for a cell phone provider and will stay away from T Mobile.

    I am also waiting for rebates to leave this earth forever.

  20. Kathlene is my hero, too, and I’ll add my voice to those (and who wouldn’t?) who think it’s ABSURD that anyone would have to jump through these types of hoops to get what they are owed to begin with. Ug.

  21. ColoradoShark says:

    Cynicism alert:
    Let us know if the check actually ever arrives. After the pain you’ve been through, they’ll probably jerk you around some more.

  22. mantari says:

    Sadly, you made out like a bandit, if your time is worth nothing. :(

  23. Mauvaise says:


    “Let me guess: Your CSRs are incented to not honor rebates, for whatever reason you can invent, because it costs the company money.”

    I’ve been with T-Mobile for over four years and have had three phone upgrades with them that required rebates. I received two of them with zero hassle.

    The middle one I received half of what I was supposed to get (which I attribute to my returning the first model and getting an alternate model, which had a different rebate) and it took one phone call to a CSR to get another check in the mail to me. Which did arrive in a timely fashion, so I would consider that pretty near hassle-free as well.

    I would consider that direct evidence against your theory.

  24. G-Dog says:

    And that’s why I never get involved in the rebate scam.

  25. MommaJ says:

    Just wanted to post one feel-good story about a rebate: Last monnth, bought a new Verizon phone; mailed the $50 rebate material the next day; 2 days later got a pleasant email advising of receipt and containing a link to access status; checked link a few times over the next few days and saw actual progress, including notification that a check had been issued; received $50 check within 10 days of my original mailing; fell over in dead faint.

  26. jaewon223 says:

    After reading Kathlene’s letter demanding her money that was owed to her I felt an irresistible urge to comment that…

    * she deserves a standing ovation for handling the matter with such aplomb and dignity.
    * T-Mobile’s “Executive Customer Relations Specialist” isn’t very good at her job.
    * add another reason why I’ll never use T-Mobile again.

    Great job Kathlene

  27. Toof_75_75 says:

    Wow,look out T-Mobile! She just bent you over her knee…SLAM! Well played!

  28. alarmbottle says:

    Kathlene deserves every kudos above and more. Very organized, thorough, and to the point with every step. Wish I can hire her to work with us.

  29. Shorteh says:

    Good on you for documenting everything, and letting them know who’s boss.

  30. Okami says:

    I think we all know how difficult and time consuming rebates can be. Though there are a few that process cleanly I really wonder why there is so much hassle with a majority of them. It’s almost the the point of it being obvious that the company is going out of the way for you not to get a rebate. Has there ever been any investigation towards this?

  31. protest says:

    Kudos to Kathlene! I recently applied for my first rebate ever through Cingular for a new phone purchase. I recieved it on time, however, was surprised when it arrived in the form of a Visa gift card. On the included letter, I was informed that the card had to be used by the expiration date (only 3 months away) and for the exact amount to avoid finance charges and fees (no actual figures provided). No other info was given on the letter so I called Cingular to have these mysterious finance charges clarified only to discover that I could not speak to an actual person in their rebate card department. So I called again and spoke to a customer service woman who could do nothing more than tell me that “we’ve always used gift cards for rebates,” and “I’ve never heard of finance charges on our rebate cards.” I asked her repeatedly to cancel the card and send me a damn check. She absolutely wouldn’t help me and had me on hold for a supervisor for so long that I just gave it up. My feeling is that instead of being declined if you accidently charge over what is left on the balance, this “gift card” will turn into a credit card, “finance charges” and all. Why can’t they just send out checks? They’ve got to be cheaper than Visa cards.

  32. CustomersRevenge says:

    This is total BS. There should be a law or a way to sue if it was worth it to get back your time. Like Mantari said, you pretty much lost money on the time it took to write the letters. You think you won, but T-mobile spent about 2 minutes replying to you in the hopes of denying you.

    Okami asks if there is an investigation into whether companies try to get out of rebates? Yes there is; check out the link for proof that rebaters are basically thieves who count on denied of forgotten rebates. I have seen this same revelation, based on the text of patents for rebate systems, on a number of sites including Consumerist in the past I think.

    I really wish it would be possible to fine or severely punish companies who miss on rebates to prevent this sort of obvious lying. Maybe damages of 10X the rebate amount payable to the victim? I would fill out every rebate form in the hopes of the company making a mistake instead of them hoping I make a mistake.

  33. Amiga says:

    I am also struggling to get T-Mobile to honor rebates. We got a family plan with five phones. I carefully submitted the rebates. I got two out of the five rebates honored. I write a simple letter to Mr. Dotson. What I got in return is a voice mail at 7 a.m. while I was sleeping stating they will not honor the rebates. Oh, and no means to contact this party back. This fight is not over! If it means showing up at the Bellevue corporate office while in Washington, sobeit.

  34. Kathlene says:

    I had to post an update (this is Kathlene)…I received the $30 check from T-mobile yesterday, so they honored the above e-mail correspondence.

    In the end, I think this is really the fault of the horrible, unscrupulous “Young America Corp”. They are responsible for processing these rebates, and they should be taken to task for their asinine antics.

  35. AskForMore says:

    I’ve sent an email to Dotson today about a phone that was sent to T-Mobile’s National Returns Center that was misplaced. Let’s see how promptly they get back to me! Will keep you guys posted.

  36. hopentexas says:

    Hey Kathlene,
    Congrats girl…job well done…It doesn’t matter that u really put more than a $30 effort into getting the rebate, what counts is you didn’t quit and you won in the end. I’m currently in the same predicament as u, but waiting on 2 t-mobile rebates @ $50 each and I’ve gotten the same excuses from t-mobile. I’ve spoken with over 20 supervisors and have gotten nowhere. I’m beyond frustrated, so when Tuesday comes around I’m going to have a go at contacting the corporate office. I wonder how people go about getting a class action lawsuit filed against t-mobiles rebate center? I know that one was filed against wirefly/inphonic. All the hassle, time and effort put into trying to get what we are owed seems like we should be due more for all the stress we have to endure. Btw, any tips for me would be greatly appreciated.
    Hope (but feeling hopeless…lol)

  37. Anonymous says:

    Bravo Kathlene! I am going through a similar situation with my T-mobile rebate at the moment. The one thing that stood out for me in the correspondence from the CEO’s office was that there was no apology for your inconvenience and/or a thank you for being a customer. My rebate is long over-due because someone did not enter my apt number – where I live with 300 apts. – it’s no apt #, no mail. It was clearly printed on all my paperwork but T-Mobile failed to enter it in the computer. Both my rebate checks which the status claims to have been mailed 4 weeks ago have still not arrived and T-Mobile says I will have to wait another 30 days (it’s already been 6 weeks)for the checks to come back from the post office!!

  38. jewely1781 says:

    This is for those that are tired of getting stuck with charges that don’t belong to them. I noticed my T-Mobile bill going up in price each month, so today, being tired of paying more than what I signed on for, I started to do some research on our bills. Apparently T-Mobile raised the price of our text messaging WITHOUT informing us. We have kept every single piece of paper T-Mobile has sent to us over the last two years…we use one of the phones for business so we had to keep any and all documentation for expense reports and taxes. We never received any “insert”. On top of this, for the last year of our service, we have had dropped calls, static on the lines, no service, etc. We have called many times to get the technical problems resolved-even went as far as purchasing new phones (at full cost) for both lines and replacing sim cards-and still-the service is below par. As far as the texting goes-I did my research and then looked at our plan online…I signed in, clicked on “Plans”, went to the bottom of the window and clicked on “See Other Included Services”, went to the bottom of the next screen and clicked on “More Information About Services”, On the next page…First paragraph under the heading “ALL PLANS” If you read the first couple of lines-you will see that T-Mobile themselves say that text messages are only supposed to be 5 cents a text. This is for ALL PLANS-Not just for mine. Yet they are charging everyone more! As far as I am concerned-this is deplorable-and earns them MILLIONS of dollars a month!!!!! A month-not a year or more. Think on it-every one of their customers is paying more than what they say they actually are charging. I called T-mobile and explained that we were very unhappy with the service and now we find out that our Text cost went up. I spoke to a lady and explained what I found on their website and started to ask why they were charging me more than they themselves state the charge is supposed to be. And here I have been paying more for TWO YEARS!!! She said this was a tax, I said no it isn’t-read the paragraph. She put me on hold for a few minutes. When she came back, I asked what would they do for me since I have been paying more than required for 2 years. She didn’t know-so I asked for a supervisor. It took a few minutes-but I got one. . She came back and actually thanked me for finding the “typo”. She couldn’t believe that no one had found it before. She even confirmed the “typo” with her supervisor and then their business department. When I did get the supervisor, she was very defensive. I wasn’t-I was actually pretty nice. I explain everything again, and I ask her-what was T-Mobile going to do for me since I have been paying over their own rates for the last two years. She states that she has documentation that we received the insert explaining about the Text rate change. She stated that I HAD to have received the insert. I told her I was more than willing to send her every paper I had for the last two years, it isn’t here. Unless I signed it and gave it back (which if I had received it and they had asked me to at the time-I probably would have), she cannot say I received it. I am not a dishonest person-I would take a lie detector test to prove we never received it. She refused to give any-she only offered me a rate of .10 cents for our texts for the last month, but as of right now-I am officially notified that my rate of texts from here on out would be 15 cents per text. I couldn’t believe she said that-I repeated “So you are saying, as of right now-you are officially notifying me?” She said yes. If that is the case-I should be able to cancel my contract because I am just now officially informed of my text rate change, and since we are still having service problems after trying everything they suggested, we no longer want to keep the service. We especially don’t feel that we should have to pay even more for services that we are not happy with. She said no-and I said-but you stated yourself that people had 30 days from the time of discovery to cancel their contracts without an ETF if they did not approve of the rate change, and you just “OFFICIALLY” let me know of my rate change. She started to get a little more rude now and told me she could not waive the ETF. I explained that this didn’t make sense, from what she herself said in the beginning of the conversation. We keep going round in circles repeating the same points of view. I asked to speak to her supervisor. She told me they weren’t there but she would have them call me. I have “print screened” the page with the 5 cent text rate-with the date of 2-6-2008, so they can’t say it didn’t exist. If 5 cents per text was on their site and I saw it-they should honor it, and have it retro-active for the last 2 years. I just feel that they are cheating everyone, and they aren’t even letting anyone know about it. We shall see what happens.

  39. mattnjen says:

    Unfortunately, Cindy at T-Mobile Executive escalations is not as bright as Kathleen. After not contacting me for weeks and having to contact Public Relations to “light a fire” Cindy said her only obligation was to contact me once every 24-48 hours to contact me and if I was not available that was my own fault. More detailed notes and other information is forthcoming.

  40. coc898en says:

    2 days ago I looked all over the internet for the email address for Tmobile, and NO one had it. I looked through almost 100 pages, all to no avail. Then yesterday I found it and gave it to the bulletin board that I found, and today, lo and behold everyone from Adam and Eve to Superman seems to have found the Executive Response email address. Th letter above is doctored. How do I know? Because in 2007 this email address did not exist, LOL…it was before they became Tmobile….it did NOT go out in 2007, I can guarantee you that. There was NO mention of this email address until today, and I AM THE ONE who found it, BELIEVE me folks…….I have an actual email from the lady who has been there 4 years, and it is NOT Brenda Shaw, it is Renetta Clay….just letting everyone know the TRUTH…go ahead, email her……