Sprint Magically Approves Rejected Rebate Application

Sprint may not be known for decent customer service, but one CSR made reader Andrew’s day by salvaging his previously rejected rebate application. Andrew had agreed to a two-year contract extension in exchange for a $100 rebate on a HTC Mogul smartphone, but Sprint rejected his rebate application “because it was mailed on the wrong day or somesuch.” Andrew, a ten-year customer, called Sprint and demanded an explanation.

He writes:

I’ve been a Sprint customer for around ten years, and in early February decided to upgrade to a new HTC Mogul smartphone under Sprint’s “New For You” rebate program which gives existing customers the same price on new phones that new customers get, as long as the existing customers agree to extend their contracts. To get a $100 rebate, I agreed to extend for two years–not really a problem, as I have no plans to leave Sprint. I received the phone and mailed in the rebate form.

Much to my surprise (not really) when I checked SprintRebates.com today, my rebate had been rejected, apparently because it was mailed on the wrong day or somesuch. I called *2 talk and was routed to someone in the rebate fulfilment department, who informed me that the CSR I’d purchased the phone from last month had only extended my contract by *one* year instead of two, and so my rebate application was rejected. He offered to immediately extend the contract and approve the rebate and I agreed, and when I refreshed the SprintRebates.com page it now shows that my rebate has been approved and I should receive it in 30 days.

This may seem mundane, but it has a couple of “Success Story” elements. I was able to quickly reach the right person; the CSR immediately understood the problem and explained it in terms I could understand; he proposed an immediate solution; the problem was resolved in one call.

Keep up the great work on Consumerist!

This is the first we’ve heard of rebates returning from rejection neverland, made all the more surprising because the situation was resolved with a single call. Still, we remain firm believers that rebates are scams that should be treated only as an added bonus, and never a deciding factor.


Edit Your Comment

  1. coan_net says:

    Sorry, but I got to blame the customer.

    It is all the customers fault for calling and getting this fix. What do they expect?????

  2. darkclawsofchaos says:

    @coan_net: they exected nothing but got something. its like finding a twenty in your pocket when doing you own laundry. You don’t expect anything in there but when you do get it, you feel really warm inside

  3. scoobydoo says:

    Sprint rebates rock. Wy wife and I purchased the Mogul last year and sent our rebates in ($50 each). When Sprint approved our rebate someone decided we should get $300 each instead.

  4. missdona says:

    This is standard Sprint practice. A simple phone call switches your rebate from declined to accepted. They’re just hoping you wont be bothered to call.

  5. youbastid says:

    Yep, they did the same thing with me. Their reason was because I didn’t sign a 2 year contract. Which, of course, I did. I got the same result.

  6. PinkBox says:

    And same here too. They told me that all “applicable rebates” had been applied at the time of purchase.

    NO, they had NOT been. :P

    Of course their rebate email center was down, but I was persistant enough in mailing their care center that they finally agreed to give me the promised $100 rebate.

  7. cwlodarczyk says:

    I just went through this same process about 5 minutes ago. My rebate status proclaimed that all applicable rebates had been applied at the time of purchase.

    I spent several minutes talking to one of their regular CSRs, who unfortunately wasn’t much help, but once I convinced him to transfer me to the correct department the next CSR cleared things up immediately.

    Apparently this is a widespread problem – somebody at Sprint should take notice.

  8. LINIS says:

    When I signed up a few months ago for the first time, my $100 rebate was also denied because I supposedly cancelled my service durng the trial month. I called in and waited on hold. After about 30 minutes I had the whole thing resolved.

    I think this is definitely an intentional and common practice by Sprint, which is quite shitty. Sprint customer service is exceptionally horrible, but I do get an amazing deal from them – 500 minutes, unlimited data, unlimited text, free nights and weekends at 7PM, and more all for about $36 after all taxes and fees. Poor customer service is worth it to this extent, I almost feel like I am robbing them.

    And I love my HTC Touch.

  9. PinkBox says:

    @cwlodarczyk: Same problem as me, then!

    They even said this to me:
    “Please let me inform you that we offer the mail in rebate only for the new line of activation.”

    Which is ridiculous, since they still have the same offer online if you upgrade your phone and agree to a two year extension to your contract, which is what I did in the first place.

  10. Pro-Pain says:

    I think this is a common practice to deny a rebate. It has happend to me on the two occasions I was eligable for them. I ended up getting my account credited the first time and a FREE PHONE the second time, because that time I threw a fit on the phone. Good times w/Sprint.

  11. christoj879 says:

    I have to disagree with ya, Consumerist. In all my years of rebating, I think I’ve only missed one rebate because I didn’t send it in (technically I won’t even count it because it was way before I got into hardcore rebating).

    There’s too much accountability to not get paid. You have the manufacturer, the rebate processor, the retailer, and in some cases your credit card. Somewhere you’ll get paid, and if not, you then have the BBB, the FTC and the AG of the state of each of the involved parties. Surpassing that, you have small claims court. If someone had to go through all that and still didn’t get paid, I’d consider buying a plane ticket to visit the affected party and take them on a trip to visit the offender.

  12. nursetim says:

    Sounds like they are turning the corner on their customer service, but now they need to figure what is going on with their rebate system.

  13. irfan says:

    i had this happen. i just emailed a CSR and the next day they apologized and fixed it. that was back in october. i was surprised the email worked, id imagine calling in probably would have resulted in more frustration tho.

  14. jogr1980 says:

    I have had several good experiences with Sprint/Nextel’s customer service, the most recent just this week. I wanted to transfer our existing Nextel service to Sprint and get a better phone. When I first spoke to the Rep, she told me that I only qualified for a $75 discount since I was still under contract. The total price of the phone, then, is $204.99.

    I explained that I was not satisfied with the quality of the Nextel Network, with spotty service and dropped calls, but several friends had very good things to say about Sprint. She again told me that I only qualified for the $75 off. I explained that I had been a Nextel customer for over 9 years and always paid on time, and that I had always found Sprint/Nextel to be responsive to customer needs. I told her that for $200, I could pay the ETF and transfer to AT&T or Verizon who would give a better deal for a new customer.

    After a few more minutes of haggling, she was able to approve a $75 credit to my account, plus give the $75 discount and $50 mail-in rebate, in exchange for a 2 year contract.

    Although they don’t willingly offer the best deals, this is the third or fourth time I’ve been able to get “new customer” rates even while under contract. My best deal so far was the phone that I dropped in the toilet two weeks after I got it – I didn’t have insurance for it, so I would have had to pay full price for a replacement. I spoke with Sprint/Nextel for over an hour, but they replaced the phone for free.

    As with any of the Consumerist stories, a little determination, persistence, and unwaivering politeness with the Reps goes a long way.

  15. youbastid says:

    @cwlodarczyk: Oh they’ve taken notice, and believe me, they’re taking it seriously.

  16. Aladdyn says:

    @christoj879: Ive also never had a rebate denied, id guess ive done about 10? I think people dont pay attention to the part where it says to write clearly and fill in all the information.

  17. PinkBox says:

    @Aladdyn: Personally speaking, I know I filled out everything correctly, and was eligible. Their reason for denying me was completely false.

  18. youbastid says:

    @Aladdyn: Yeah, I wouldn’t be on the high horse quite yet. At least in my case, Sprint acknowledged that all the information had been filled out correctly, and the error was on their end. And I’m guessing that everyone else’s situation here was similar. Don’t be a jackass.

  19. PølάrβǽЯ says:

    @LINIS: “500 minutes, unlimited data, unlimited text, free nights and weekends at 7PM, and more all for about $36 after all taxes and fees.”

    Wow! No offense, but who’s male genitalia are you performing fellatio on? KIDDING! ;) Seriously, that’s a great deal. How did you get it?

  20. ryatziv says:

    @aaron8301: it’s the SERO plan. Not uncommon.

  21. cronomorph says:

    I had a rebate return from rebate pergatory back when I had Cingular.

    I had purchased a new Samsung phone that had a $50 rebate. The rejection of the rebate was totally my fault, I hadn’t sent one of the required documents, but when i called up the CSR listened to me, and then gave me a $50 credit on my next bill. So while I didn’t get cash back I did essentially get a fre emonth of service.

  22. Cary says:

    Too bad their poor customer service and even worse voice quality chased me to Verizon.

    Just to make sure I’d never return they tried to squeeze a 13th month out of me because my contract started on Monday even though I had bought the phone and my months started on Saturday. Since they don’t bill partial months that meant I had to pay for the 13th month.

    Their legal department finally saw it my way and I’m happily paying Verizon’s higher rates.

  23. PinkBox says:

    @ryatziv: I wanted to get on that plan, but didn’t want to lose my current phone number to get it. :/ (it spells out something fun, and I want to keep it!)

  24. sprocket79 says:

    I had a great experience with Sprint just a couple of months ago. I got my 2 line family plan switched to 2 SERO accounts (keeping my old numbers!) and got 2 new phones that ended up being free after rebates. My rebate was denied, so I emailed the address on the Sprint rebate web site. This was on a Thursday, and my account was being converted so there was nothing they could do until Monday. Monday I get an email and they approved my rebate. Minus the rebate hiccup, I was pretty pleased.

  25. humphrmi says:

    Wow, a lot of commenters seem happy with Sprint/Nextel service only after they have to fight to get it.

  26. Terek Kincaid says:

    My parents signed up for Sprint, and got that “all applicable discounts have been made” postcard rejection. I called the number, and it was just a voice message, saying too bad, so sad, if you want to appeal, fax us your proof (like receipt or whatever). They never got around to it. A couple of weeks later, the check showed up.

    My wife and I recently signed up for SERO. We put our main contact number (the one that explicitly states will be used to generate the new cell number) as a 412 area code. They required a secondary contact number, but our all we had was our then current cell phones with 704 area codes, so we put that down. Despite having the 412 number down in about 3 different places on the app, and the 704 number in only one place, guess what we got when the phones showed up. *sigh*. 704 numbers.

    So, we had to call in to Sprint and get them to change our numbers from 704 to 412 like we had asked them to in the application (using Skype, since we don’t have a landline at home). They fix that surprisingly well. When its time to fill out the rebate, I figure I’d better put our current numbers (412) on the form; it says if you are porting a number, put the number you are porting on the form, not your temp number. I guessed that look at the number you have a the time of rebate submission instead of the first number you got. Of course, wrong again. We get a postcard a few weeks later saying call us your rebate is screwed because you put the wrong number. *sigh*

    Ok, well, I’m lazy like my folks and haven’t gotten around to it (about 2 weeks ago). Thanks to this story, I decide to check the Sprint rebate site and voila!, it’s at 100% and says the check is in the mail. The odd thing is the rebate was supposed to be for about $170 total, and this says the check is for $500, which would be the total purchase price of our phones. Their computers are jacked, no wonder they are losing money. Well, I post a follow up if the check really comes. Maybe I can call them and see if I can get two checks :P (and no, I won’t really; I love my phone and I don’t want Sprint to go bust)

  27. dweebster says:

    I’ve been with Sprint since they had only a few towers in my huge metro area, so I feel your pain. They have repeatedly pull this sort of shit with me and other Sprint customers over the past 10 years, but I’m used to it and I just prepare myself for constant fucking around for hours on the phone with them *ANY* time one of their CSRs touches my account. It’s part of the game, and I avoid interacting with Sprint as much as I can. Even some of their store employees act quite hoodlum-ish, but after visiting a few AT&T stores I’ve come to the realization that thugs tend to gravitate to cell phone sales – it’s creepy. Just the type of guys I want to share my identity-theft fodder with….

    Of course, Sprint could just knock off the rebate bullshit and simply credit the “rebate” to the account after the contract is “secure” – but that would make far too much sense. Instead these phone companies want to throw the “mail-in” game into the mix, and anyone that’s played the mail-in rebate system knows that it’s set up to fail a lot. Now if you’re buying an 8-pack of soap with a $5 rebate, they can get away with screwing you and you may buy that soap again figuring it’s an oversight. But when you commit to a 730-day contract to pay for expensive cell service in exchange for a $100.00 break on a handset – they better damn well return your money. Operating and endorsing a “rebate” system that provides excuses like the OP wrote is just foolish on any company’s part that wants to retain good relations with customers.

  28. humphrmi says:

    Wow, even more stories of people working too hard to get what should happen automatically for them. So the steps to getting service with Sprint/Nextel seem to be:

    1. Decide to switch
    2. Buy a phone
    3. Apply for rebate
    4. Get broken service
    5. Fix service
    6. Get rebate denied
    7. Fix rebate
    8. Have crappy service

    How about I skip steps 1 through 7 and stick with my current, albeit still evil, mobile phone carrier? Because it doesn’t seem like I have enough hours in my day to chase up with Sprint/Nextel.

  29. youbastid says:

    @humphrmi: Because sometimes, you only have to jump through three hoops to get unlimited data/text and nights/weekends starting at 7PM for $30 a month. That was worth a switch from Verizon, which would have charged me $99 for the pleasure, and I actually get better service.

  30. Pro-Pain says:

    Sprint service rocks in my area and after my corp. discount and mvp discount I pay sprint 69.99 for unlimited EVERYTHING plan. Can’t beat that anywhere.

  31. PinkBox says:

    Their service is actually good in my area too.

  32. LINIS says:

    @aaron8301: Yes, this is the SERO plan. I signed up at [www.sprint.com] and used the email address savings@sprintemi.com (I don’t know if that still works or not). Definitely worth it in my opinion.

    For all those saying how bad Sprint service is, I have to disagree. In the DC metro area I have had no problems (I even get full service on the Metro because I roam onto Verizon service for free). Free auto roaming onto other provider’s service? How can you possibly get better service? At least this is the case with SERO…

  33. raskolnik says:

    I’ve only been using Sprint for 6 months or so (also on SERO), but the couple times I’ve had to call Customer Serivce (once was because they had me signed up for the wrong plan, the second ’cause my phone wasn’t shipped to me with the proper internet set-up) were handled very well and the problems were fixed immediately. Granted the issues were pretty bush-league, but at least they fixed them.

    Too bad the OP went through all this to get a Mogul. That’s what I use and it’s pretty much junk.

  34. dweebster says:

    @youbastid: Yeah, in my metro area I had occasion to communicate with a bunch of mobile workers that used phones from Cingular (AT&T), Verizon and Sprint. All of them worked nearly everywhere, and each of them had a few dead spots where their competitors’ worked. At this point, to me coverage is basically a commodity, it’s the sales drones and CSR quality that really makes or breaks a company’s reputation. Verizon drastically cripples their phones so they can sell “add-ons” on top of their rates which (when all was said and done) were quoted to me last year at about SIXTY PERCENT (60%) above my rates with Sprint. Plus, even though identical CDMA I’d have to repurchase my 5 phones with the crippled Verizon ROM and logo at an additional expense of over $3000.00 (minus any rebates if they ever come).

    I don’t care if that “can you hear me now” idiot sits in my bathroom for two years repeating his phrase – I’ll grudgingly deal with the known idiots at Sprint when I need to in exchange for the $2400.00 that I save over Verizon because I’ve heard enough bad stories about Verizon C.S. to know it’s not all rainbows and roses over there either. $2400.00 will buy a lot of liquor to numb the pain of dealing with Sprint CSRs. AND – they’ve been (miraculously) getting a little better the past few years.

  35. XianZhuXuande says:

    First time you’ve heard of this happening, eh? Clearly anyone who believes such a thing does not follow deal sites like FatWallet. I was under the impression that rejecting rebates for silly or incorrect reasons was SOP, and in most cases I am able to reverse the rejection with a simple phone call. No explanation as to why it was rejected, no haggle, it is just approved. I think it is just one more hurdle for the general population to jump past to receive their rebate — a hurdle a large chunk of them won’t bother with.

  36. sharki3232 says:

    I had a nearly identical experience with Sprint last week. I upgraded my phone to an LG Rumor with the promise of $180.00 instant rebate. My bill arrived last week and I was charged full price for the phone, I immediatly called Sprint. The first apologized for the problem and said the refund would be in my account in 48 hours. 48 hours pass and no refund. I call back. The second CSR tells me to call the rebate department and gives me a phone number that doesn’t work. The third CSR, after being on hold for 20 plus minutes, tells me that because my monthly plan is less than a certain amount I don’t qualify for the rebate and there is nothing she can do. No one had told me this before and I would never have agreed to the upgrade without the refund. My call was than escilated to an account specialist who tells me no such policy exists and instantly credits my account.

    It may have taken an escilation but I got my rebate. Hats off to Sprint!

  37. onesta says:

    I just received a rebate denial in the mail from Sprint, and I was floored. I bought a new phone for Christmas and sent everything in by the proper deadline. I actually made a copy of what I sent because I have had trouble with Sprint over-billing me.
    Their reason for denying the rebate was totally bogus.

    I would like to know if others have had this happen to them recently. I assume all the rebates customers were promised for buying new phones or upgrading service during Christmas shopping are being denied…..

    Contact me if the same thing has happend to you.