Intel Needs Proof Of Your Citizenship To Give A $200 Refund

Ricardo is really confused He returned a product to Intel under warranty, and is due a refund. Unfortunately, he can’t obtain that relatively small refund until he gives Intel some information about his background, including his place of birth and citizenship.

Good morning, Consumerist! I write to you today to because I need your
help. I’m having a huge problem getting a refund from Intel.

So I bought an Intel NAS (Network Attached Storage)
last year; nice model – support for 4 drives,
FTP access, all those bells and whistles. I’m using it for about five
months when – BAM! – freak power surge fries the RAID controller chip.
The drives are okay, technically, but because the controller chip is
toast, all my files are lost. After spending several weeks with some
RAID recovery experts, the decision is made that the data is
unrecoverable, and the NAS is dead.

Because the machine was still under warranty, I contacted Intel in late
July, and arrangements were made for me to return the box to them, so
that they could inspect it and decide what to do. Several weeks later,
in mid-August, Intel informed me that they were going to go ahead and
process a refund. All they needed was my basic information – name,
address, phone number, stuff like that. Great, I think; Intel’s really
great! In fact, on August 20 I received an email informing me that I
would receive the check in 2 to 3 weeks.

I didn’t receive the check.

On October 12, I contacted Intel by email, inquiring as to the status of
the refund. What I received in reply was shady, to say the least. In
their reply (sent by “M.”), they requested my full name, address,
and date of birth. Okay, I already did that, but whatever. These were
then followed by requests for my place of birth, nationality,
citizenship, and purpose of payment. Wait, what?

I called Intel and asked to speak to M. Of course, there is no
Melissa, so I just had to talk to whoever answered the phone. After
getting nowhere, I finally speak to a “manager”, G. G. tells me
that she’s never seen anything like this in the four years she’s worked
there – Intel’s refund department is apparently based in the
Philippines, and someone at Intel routed my case through the wrong
department, and yadda yadda yadda – the Treasury Department is
requesting this information from Intel.

“So hang on a sec,” I say, “you mean to tell me that you, Intel, are
requesting this personal information from me, and that it’s for a third
party? And you never informed me of that?”

“Yes, it appears that way,” says G.

G. promised to get to the bottom of it, and promised to call me the
next day. Of course, I did not hear from her.

Yesterday (November 10,), I called Intel again. Mysteriously, G. no
longer works for Intel.

The story they’re telling me now is that someone called “OFAC” (that’s
what it sounded like) is requesting my personal information, and that
it’s out of Intel’s hands. If I don’t give them information regarding my
citizenship, nationality, and place of birth, I won’t get my refund. So,
at the end of my rope, I ask my new Intel liaison to send me some kind
of documentation from this third party, some kind of letterhead,
something official looking. It was like pulling teeth. I really don’t
know if she’s going to send me anything, given her tone.

What is going on here? I’d love to know if this is normal, or some kind
of weird fluke. Am I out the $220.00? Call me paranoid, but there’s no
way I’m emailing someone information that private, only to have them
pass that on to…I don’t know who. Please help! Is there a phone number
or email that will put me in touch with someone who’s not anonymous? I
would really appreciate your help…

Have you ever had an experience like this with a refund? Richardo needs help from Intel.

Want more consumer news? Visit our parent organization, Consumer Reports, for the latest on scams, recalls, and other consumer issues.