Apple Ships Computer Late, Denies "Expired" Rebate

Karl writes:

My girlfriend is a college student. She purchased a brand new iMac on Apple’s website on August 7, the day the new iMacs came out, and got the free iPod Nano (after rebate) along with the deal. The rebate required both the UPC codes — which you would need to have received the products, right?

Well, she had the Nano in time — but the computer didn’t ship until September 14th. We actually got it in our grubby paws on the 22nd of September.

The catch? Apple customer service told her that since it was more than 30 days since she had made the purchase, she was ineligible to receive the rebate.

So let’s get this straight — she would’ve had to have had the UPC code of the computer we received on September 22nd by September 7th in order to get the rebate.

Thanks, Apple! Guess you really have gone to the dark side.

Taking a momentary break from our usual droning mantra about how rebates are designed to produce this exact result…. That’s rude as hell.

We suggest you escalate this to Apple’s Executive Customer Service team by way of If that fails you can always return the laptop. computer (that does not sit on laps.) We hear they’re doing lovely things with Linux these days.



Edit Your Comment

  1. ViperBorg says:

    Mmmmmm… Linux. It tastes better every day!

  2. Buran says:

    Ugh. I got the rebate with no problem, but I bought the laptop and the iPod from a retail store in Delaware (no sales tax!) and so I didn’t have to wait for the shipment.

    But why do we need to send the UPC in even when we ordered directly from the same company that is providing the rebate?

    And why do buyers in CT get an instant rebate AT THE REGISTER when no one else does? That proves that Apple is capable of offering instant rebates. So why not just do it everywhere?

  3. Buran says:

    @ViperBorg: Better, lots better than it once was, but it still can’t do a lot of the things people need to do. Plus, many colleges specify what types of computers students can use for various classes, and I’d guess Linux isn’t on the list. Or, they require specific apps — that don’t run on Linux.

  4. or, you know, instead of jumping the line, they could just, oh, maybe call the rebate service number? but nah, let’s just pile in the “evil” company and shurtcut all the normal steps becuase we’re lazy.

    oh yeah, and an iMac isn’t a laptop.

  5. jordy777 says:

    I’m reading more and more about Apple treating their loyal supporters like sh*t. From their treatment of the iBook G4 logic board issues, to their treatment of iPhone unlockers (it’s their property to do whatever the hell they want to do with), to consistently melting and sparking notebook chargers, and now this. The old adage of “you get what you pay for,” doesn’t seem to be at work here. Apple certainly charges top dollar for their products, but they are slipping on both the product quality and customer service that we are paying those high prices for.

  6. duckduckem says:

    Not that it really matters, but we have a bit of a typo going on here. iMacs aren’t laptops. :)

  7. kskatzke says:


    “Karl” here.

    Actually, she did call rebate service. That’s who told her she was ineligable after the online system spit her out. Obviously, we wouldn’t be complaining unless we’d already exhausted all of the options — including ‘escalating’ with rebate service — before pitching a fit.

    And I didn’t call it a laptop, that’s the Consumerist editor’s fault. ;)

  8. kskatzke says:

    P.S. – We BCC’d our email to the Consumerist to the sjobs address, as suggested by reading the Macrumors forums. So why post here? My girlfriend is a doctoral student in a very challenging program. Rebate service wasted an hour of her time to tell her “No, kthxbye” — an hour she needed to spend studying. So now I’m handling it. She’s a nice southern girl. I’m a rude yankee that thinks companies need to raise the bar higher.

  9. zentec says:


    Apple didn’t say they can’t do what ever it is they want with the hardware, Apple just warned them that installing updates after they’ve modified their phones might cause their phones to brick. And since they’re modified, no warranty. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

    With that said, I have to agree that Apple seems to be suffering from pretty profound sense of disconnect between the real world and its marketing department. Was the computer purchased with a credit card? If so, write a letter disputing the charge for the exact amount of the rebate due to you with an explanation that you’re owed this money. Provide copies of documentation showing that Apple’s actions caused you to miss the redemption period on the rebate, not your own inability or inaction.

    That will get their attention.

  10. Amelie says:

    More than likely, Apple farms out their rebates to a clearinghouses. Most clearinghouses are douches. You need to take the issue to Apple directly.

  11. hubris says:

    @zentec: It’s a case of growing pains. Apple is a LOT bigger than it was 5-6 years ago. And they’re starting to run into the same problems that Dell and other major retailers run in to. With a larger customer base, and when you’re fielding a ton more complaints/calls/problems, the issue of having great customer service becomes much more immediate.

    Hopefully, Apple, being the hippies that they are, will sort it out and get more in line with their older philosophy. If not, they’re going to run into much larger PR problems, and the billions in free advertising that the iPhone got will be a distant memory.

  12. humphrmi says:

    I hate rebates for this very reason. I would have thought Apple would do it smarter, alas I guess nobody is immune from either (A) stupidity or (B) trying to keep more of your customer’s money than you promised.

  13. horibu says:

    Just a little FYI on the rebate. Its 30 days as of the last product shipped. Not purchased. [] is the actual rebate form. In part 5 it states the 30days from last product shipped. So there ya go. The person you talked to on the phone didn’t know their stuff. Pretty sad.

  14. Meg Marco says:

    Whoops. Sorry. Not a laptop. My bad.

  15. annelise13 says:

    I had some issues with an Apple rebate a couple months back, where it was denied using the olde “didn’t get your UPC” trick. Once I told them I found that interesting since I was holding copies of the UPCs in my hand right that moment, they perked up and became more helpful telling me a “computer error” mistakenly coded my rebate that way. I did end up have to escalate to a supervisor to finally get the “computer error” all fixed. So I recommend giving the rebate center a call back and going up another level.

    Also, on a side note, I’ve been told by an Apple employee that they don’t farm out their rebate center. These are all Apple folks that we talk directly to.

  16. paleck says:

    Something similar happened to my mom when she bought a computer for my sister at school. It was an iMac and was ordered just before they updated the specs. Because of the change of the order it officially was no longer part of the back to school rebate where you got a free ipod nano. Initially they denied the rebate because the changed SKU didn’t match the rebate, but after 2 phone calls and explaining the situation they gave the rebate.

  17. Buran says:

    @ars_workerbee: I’m not the original complainant — this rebate was good on any mac and ipod (up to $199 back) if you were an edu individual (not institutional) buyer. I bought a Macbook Pro and an iPod nano 2GB at the end of June.

  18. SpaceCowgirl01 says:

    I was pretty sure that Apple rebates get sent out elsewhere. The rebates are mailed to South Bend, IN I believe.

    But did you try calling Apple Care, instead of the rebate people? Or the 1-800-MY-APPLE store line? I would think they might be able to fudge something because of the shipping delay…

  19. Buran says:

    @zentec: “And since they’re modified, no warranty. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.”

    The Magnusson-Moss Warranty Act of 1975 may have an issue with that.

  20. Buran says:

    @horibu: What it actually says, for anyone who wants to know, is:

    “Send the completed coupon, UPC labels, and proof of purchase, postmarked within 30 days of the purchase date. For orders from the online Apple Store or Apple Telesales, postmark must be within 30 days of the last product shipment date.”

    So, I think you’re right since if something was shipped this must have been an online order and should still be eligible. I think whoever claimed the rebate was invalid was thinking of in-store purchases.

    Yup. Call back and escalate it.

    But what’s odd is that this seems to be a different offer than the one I used. I searched my transaction history and my deposited check was indeed for $199.00. Yet I don’t see this $199 offer listed on the Apple site. Very strange. Was the offer changed?

    … oh wait, never mind. Here it is: “If your qualified iPod was purchased and invoiced prior to September 5, 2007, you are eligible for a $199 mail-in rebate. See complete terms and
    conditions for details.”


  21. trygve says:

    Happened to me when I preordered the first Macbook Pro’s. I took advantage of a $100 a printer offer, but wasn’t able to redeem it because it had “expired” by the time the Macbook Pro shipped (though it regularly gets replaced with a nearly identical offer).

  22. Buran says:

    @Buran: 8GB. oops.

  23. univision says:

    This happens quite often, and most times than not, all you have to do is call and get it resolved. The times it doesn’t work, is when you have a inexperienced/rude/idiot phone person. And it that case, either escalate (“May I speak to your manager, please?”) or call back later.

  24. Trai_Dep says:

    This is a screw up that can easily be resolved by escalation. No one is perfect and there’s OBVIOUSLY an idiot drawing an Apple paycheck in customer support.

  25. NickRB says:

    You know, I’m getting a little sick of the Consumerists’ crusade to badmouth Apple! How about you go off on a rant telling us what assholes Microsoft’s board is for pushing Vista out on the public? Or you could mention how Linux still hasn’t gotten it’s act together after all these years and no one wants it? Or you could continue your obviously biased reporting.

    Also, the rebate center is probably the one that denied the rebate. Generally companies hire a 3rd party to process rebates. They did their job of course. It is now unfortunately up to the customer to contact Apple to get this rectified as I’m sure they will.

  26. humphrmi says:

    @NickRB: As someone already pointed out, Apple does their own rebate work. But clearly there are further escalation points.

    I’m no Meghann or Ben here, but tell ya what, how about you submit some stories about how Microsoft or “Linux” (whoever they are) ripped you off, and maybe they’ll get published?

  27. mightysloth says:

    “I purchased a product that will not ship until after the promotion. Do I still qualify for the rebate?

    Yes, if you purchased or preordered the eligible products within the promotion period and on the same receipt. In the event that a qualifying product is ordered during the promotion dates and shipped after the end of the promotion, Apple offers an additional fifteen (15) day grace period for postmark of the claim provided that you submit proof of order acknowledgement demonstrating that you placed the order during the promotion period.

    If the extended ship date falls outside the 15-day grace period, the rebate will be honored if you provide proof that the order was placed during the promotional period and you submit your claim within 30 days of the ship date.”

    That’s right off the apple promo faq section ([])

    The way I read that indicates that she does qualify.

  28. ldnyc says:

    Why is that when one incompetent customer service rep makes a mistake or handles a situation poorly, the big, bad company is assumed to be evil? Find me a single company that has not a single incompetent person working for them, I challenge you. Or highly comeptent people who make no mistakes, ever. Is there no such thing as an isolated problem anymore? Must every problem become a global conspiracy? Is personal responsibility to read an comprehend the terms of ones own rebate not required anymore?

    Your girlfriend wanted the iPod more than she cared about the refund. Nothing wrong with that, really. But if she’d bothered to read the terms of her own rebate, she’d have known that the rebate rep she was talking to was simply wrong or mistaken – rather than assuming that Apple as a whole was out to screw her out of her rebate. And she would have read the relevant part of the rebate form to a supervisor or just hung up and called back and probably gotten someone more competent on the phone and not had to explain a thing because that person would have realized the error themselves.

    Seriously folks, stop finding ways to blame everyone but yourselves for every little problem that comes along. Empower yourself and you’ll find that you run into a lot fewer problems. The world will still not be perfect, for sure, but you’ll sleep better at night anyway.

  29. RvLeshrac says:

    Funny how the stories about bad Apple customer service bring out the Apple fanboys… but the same people aren’t championing any of the other companies.

    And this comes from me, your friendly neighborhood devil’s advocate.

  30. @Buran:

    us in CT pay the exact same thing as you, before and after rebates. By law, retailers have to show what you pay at the register, and what you pay after rebates. if a product costs $150, has a $20 instant rebate and $30 mail-in rebate, a CT retailer has to show the $130 after IR and and the $30 MIR also available. in every other state, they can show either $130 after IR and a $30 MIR rebate available, or $100 after rebates

    sounds weird, but we pay the exact same thing as everyone else at the register, as well as after mail-in rebates. CT Law just helps the consumer from getting screwed by shoddy pricing schemes

  31. STrRedWolf says:

    Just to chime in as a Linux user here — iMacs may be laptop-like but they’re solidly desktop. Apple’s laptop line is the MacBook and MacBook Pro.

    And Linux? Yep, they’ll run. Macs use Intel chips, like in most Dells anyway. Infact, I’m running one flavor of Linux called Gentoo Linux (aka almost-hard core compile everything possible) on an Inspiron E1505, but the easier, more user friendly Ubuntu Linux can be put on there at the Dell factory.

  32. ndonahue says:

    @Buran: two reasons Apple doesn’t give instant rebates unless is has to (as it does in CT):

    1) Time value of money — they make money using your money between the time of your purchase and the time you eventually deposit that refund check

    2) Non participation rate — they have an anticipated rate of non-compliance/non-participation based on the difficulty of filing and the characteristics of the consumer segment. When someone doesn’t claim their rebate, it’s free money to the company.

  33. cryrevolution says:

    Uhhh…except they did just that. If you read the comments carefully, Karl explains that they have already escalated this with rebate service. And buddy, you’re on the Consumerist. That means that there are going to be POSTS about COMPANIES for CONSUMERS. If ya don’t like that, then umm…yeah, don’t come here. It’s that simple.

  34. grrrarrrg says:

    think different? hell no.
    if you can’t beat ’em…. join ’em