How I Stopped Verizon From Swallowing My $100 Rebate

The Verizon computer nearly tricked Joshua out of a $100 rebate with some mathematical Three-Card Monte, but he made like a human calculator and stood firm, arguing his way into getting the fair price.

By keeping track of the rebates he had coming to him, as well as the adjusted prices of one of his devices after a $100 credit, he was able to snag two Android phones on the cheap. His story:

Today we picked up two Droids at the Verizon store; we’re longtime customers and I have a $100 credit for a new phone. The deal is buy a $300 Droid 2 and get a $100 mail in rebate and buy any other phone of the same value for free. So we picked a $300 Droid X ($200 after its own mail in rebate) as the free phone.

You would think that with this math, that would mean we would be given $200 in mail-in rebates, get charged $300 plus taxes (the $100 “free” Droid X, the $300 Droid 2 minus the $100 customer credit), but you’d be wrong. The Verizon system insisted I would be charged $400 plus taxes. Essentially, the Droid 2 with my $100 credit would put it below the price of the Droid X, which would then be considered of greater value and hence costing $200 and not “free”.

Basically, my $100 credit was being consumed and ignored.

I had to explain the correct math to the employee and after five minutes of back-and-forth number juggling he understood it and had to work through the system to fix the problem, but I really think the system should have handled this correctly in the first place.

If you’ve partaken in Verizon’s rebate promotions, did anything like this happen to you?


Edit Your Comment

  1. Alvis says:

    “he was able to snag two Android phones on the cheap”

    No he wasn’t. He got them on-contract, which means he’ll be overpaying on service for the next two years. Even a free phone is a bad deal if you have to sign on for $50+/month service.

    • failurate says:

      So if you pay full price for the phone you get a discount on service? Awesome!

    • Evil_Otto would rather pay taxes than make someone else rich says:

      I don’t know if you’re familiar with the concept of something being cheap RELATIVELY SPEAKING. He got two phones for a good price, even AFTER considering the contract. A better deal, probably, than another person might get.

      If you don’t like paying $50+ month for phone service, then DON’T. His money is not yours; he can spend it any way he likes. He went in knowing the deal he could get, and he got it.

      (Oh, and before anyone starts ranting about “my money isn’t mine because the guvmint says I gotta give it to crack whores blah blah blah”, just don’t. Go take a walk or something.)

    • faislebonchoix says:

      I have a Virgin Mobile phone with prepaid service. I have it set to auto top-up every three months; after tax this comes to $16.05 . That means my cell phone service costs me $5.35/month. And my phone only cost me $20 in the first place. Businesses hate me because I’m so cheap.

      • jaredwilliams says:

        It’s fine to be cheap, but I had a Virgin mobile phone with auto top up that cost that much. I like gadgets, so I bought a Droid. The difference is service is apples and oranges. Smart phones are more because you can talk to the fucking things, they have thermal touch screens nice cameras games, internet e-mails etc. I need a smart phone for my job, some people don’t. Some people feel they overpay, smart phone services cost 50+ no matter what carrier, you get what you pay for, just like you get what you pay for. Some people want a phone that’s more than a phone.

    • GearheadGeek says:

      Unless, of course, you were going to be using that service in any event. If you’re happy with your carrier and not planning to change, you’d be a fool to forgo the subsidized phone. It’s an iffy proposition if you’re trying out a NEW carrier and don’t know if you’ll want to stick with them, but the OP specified that they’re long-time VZW customers.

  2. gatewaytoheaven says:

    Not to hate, but a typical consumer that would’ve calculated this in the manner that Josh did, would’ve had no issue bringing up the point to the employee that they were being overcharged. It’s not like Verizon was scamming the guy out of his money…the systems were just set up in such a manner that (relatively) complicated transactions such as this need to be done in a precise manner to ensure that everything works as it should. Seems to be more of a training issue for the employee than anything else (ie. “this is our promotion…this is how you enter it in to the computer.”)

    • Dover says:

      That’s not a training issue, it’s a poorly designed computer system (perhaps on purpose) issue. Computers are great at dealing with complicated transactions if you set them up right.

  3. tr41nwr3ck says:

    Friends don’t let friends sign up for Verizon anything.

    • Mary says:

      I don’t know where you live, but where I live if you actually want reliable service, you sign up for Verizon. Most of the time I’m one of the only people in my group with good signal.

      • cara says:

        Same here with Verizon. Never had a problem with them or their service, and the plan we’re on is actually well priced considering we have two smart phones.

        The repair company that works for them is awesome too, replaced my Droid and didn’t charge the insurance fee of $80.

    • twiggr says:
    • jason in boston says:

      But what if you want to be able to have phone calls and Verizon is the most reliable in your locale?

  4. McRib wants to know if you've been saved by the Holy Clown says:

    I’m not surprised the software borked out here. Hell, I’m trying to follow it, and I’m not sure why he should pay $300 and get $200 in rebates.

    Shouldn’t he just pay $200+taxes? $300/Droid 2 – $100 credit + free phone?
    Or can you magically get rebates on free phones?

    Poorly explained situation.

    • Dover says:

      Yeah, I have no idea what’s going on in the story and my brain hurts trying to figure it out.

    • Bugley says:

      Phew – glad to see I’m not the only one.

    • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

      I was trying to explain it is a reply to you, only to realize that I, too, have no idea what the hell he was talking about.

      As I read it, he should be charged $400 minus a $100 credit (and then taxes) and then apply for $200 worth of mail-in rebates.

      He was correctly charged $400 plus taxes in my mind, but just didn’t have the $100 credit applied.

    • Hi_Hello says:

      your thinking is right but he also get another 100 rebate from the free phone. My guess it’s a manufacturer rebate so it doesn’t matter if verizon given him the phone free or not.

      Verizon was trying to charge him 400 bucks for the two phones instead of 300.

    • thanq says:

      Agreed. One of the numbers must be off, because if first sentence is true then the phone would be $200 ($300 – $100 discount) plus mail-in rebate and plus free phone.

    • Grungo says:

      “Poorly explained situation.”

      Welcome to every other article written by Phil.

      • coren says:

        Yes, but the stuff he quotes makes no sense either. Perhaps it shouldn’t have been posted at all without clarifying, but there’s some poor explanation happening here by the OP

    • AnthonyC says:

      I couldn’t follow it either. It looked even stranger to me:

      $300 phone – $100 credit = $200.
      Second phone free.
      $100 rebate from each phone
      $0 total

      Clearly I missed something important

      • jedifarfy says:

        Droid 2 – $300 – $100 credit – $100 MIR
        Droid X – $300 – $100 MIR

        After his credit, the Droid 2 would be cheaper, and would not qualify the free deal. I’m not getting is $300 + tax vs. $400 + tax, as the MIR won’t count that day anyway. He’d be paying $200 for the Droid 2 and the Droid X would be free, unless he’s also counting the activation fees.

        The Droid X doesn’t have the free deal so he couldn’t get the Droid 2 for free. So, he’d be at $500 ($300 for one phone, $200 for another), not $400. He’d still get $200 in MIR.

        This math is all screwy.

  5. Dover says:

    Okay, so the promotion is for a free phone of the same value (not lesser or equal as one might assume), so what it should have been:

    $300 Droid X
    Free Droid 2
    $-100 credit
    =$200 (and $100 back by MIR)

    What happened:
    $300 Droid X
    $200 Droid 2 after $100 credit
    =$500 (and $200 back by MIR)

    Where is OP getting $400 from? Arrrgggghh, this story doesn’t make sense. Who posted it?

    • Dover says:

      Okay, I’ve really got it this time:

      What it should have been:
      $300 Droid X
      $100 Droid 2 (free after rebate)
      $-100 credit
      =$300 (and $200 back by MIR)

      What they wanted:
      $300 Droid X
      $100 Droid 2 after $100 credit (free after rebate)
      =$400 (and $200 back by MIR)

      I can’t believe how hard I worked to understand this stupid story. I don’t even want to comment on Verizon now.

    • Hi_Hello says:

      the 400 cames from the verizon system all screwy.
      it seems like they applied the mail in rebate right away.

      300 for the driod 2. minus the 100 rebate. so it’s 200 bucks.
      since it’s 200 bucks, the driod X is 300 bucks, it doesn’t qualify as a free phone.
      so it’s 500 bucks, minus the 2nd rebate. = 400 bucks.

      The verizon system basically forgot about the 100 credit…

      op didn’t come up with 400, verizon did with their math

  6. aybara says:

    Well, we always knew Verizon was bad at math. I still remember the 0.002 cents issue.

  7. chemmy says:

    Verizon is terrible at math. They tried to charge me for 86 minutes overage when I used 636 minutes on a 650 minute plan. Then they tried to claim that our family share plan allocated certain minutes to one phone and certain minutes to the other.

    It took an hour on the phone and three different reps to get it fixed.

  8. michaelpbull says:

    Customer’s view:
    $300 Droid 2 + Free Droid X – $100 Credit = $200+taxes, plus two $100 MIR. Net $ spent = Taxes.

    Verizon’s view (like Dover mentioned):
    $300 Droid 2 – $100 Credit = $200 Droid 2. Verizon should have charged $500: $200 Droid 2 + $300 Droid X.

    This also brings up the definition of “value” since these deals commonly refer to items of equal or lesser value. Is that value before or after credits or rebates are applied?

  9. kataisa says:

    I gave up on rebates a while ago when too many companies pretended they never received my rebate and wouldn’t honor it, or the check would ‘get lost in the mail’.

    • Hi_Hello says:

      I”m bad with mail in rebates. Worse luck… on time, I swore it said copy of the UPC. I sent in a copy of the UPC months later, got a letter saying my rebate was invalid because I didn’t send in the original UPC…

      The last rebate I ever tried, I had my friend do it for me since I told him that I ussually don’t get my rebates back. A rebate check came…all ripped up… couldn’t cash it, had to send it back to the rebate company for them to send me a new check.. tooo much hassle.

    • Don't_rip_me_off_bro says:

      I agree – I never ever ever ever enter into an arrangement where a mail in rebate is concerned. Instant rebate, that’s another story.

  10. psm321 says:

    I had to argue with a Lowe’s manager on some math like this once… was trying to double-charge for something instead of giving the promised discount IIRC

  11. KarbonKopy says:

    Me? i’m going to wait till jan 6th when they announce the LTE phones. Huge mistake up even upgrade right now…..especially on Verizon with that launch right around the corner.

    • obits3 says:

      Maybe, maybe not. LTE prices will be higher. I don’t know if it would be worth waiting. I have Sprint’s 4G and that is fast enough on a phone.

  12. JohnDeere says:

    that right there is blatent theft.

  13. TooManyHobbies says:

    Verizon is famous for being utterly hopeless when it comes to math. Google “Verizon Math” if you haven’t seen this before. Verizon was quoting something for something like 0.005 cents when they actually meant 0.005 dollars (half a cent). The person wound up with a huge bill and it took many calls to find anyone, including managers, at Verizon that realized that 0.005 cents and 0.005 dollars were not the same thing.

  14. SG-Cleve says:

    This is the worst kind of rebate. Give Verizon $100 now, and in a few weeks they’ll send you back $100.

    It makes absolutely no sense and is a complete waste of time for me and for Verizon.

    Why can’t they just reduce the price by $100?

    • SG-Cleve says:

      I’ll tell you why. It’s because Verizon is playing you as a fool.

      They know that a certain number of people will fail to send in for the rebate.

      If you do send it in, the company that processes the rebate will do everything in their power to avoid paying you the rebate.

      It’s basically a scam, and by Verizon using the rebate system instead of just reducing the price they are showing that they believe you are a fool who is ripe for being scammed.

      Is that the kind of company you want to do business with?

  15. coren says:

    You would think that with this math, that would mean we would be given $200 in mail-in rebates, get charged $300 plus taxes (the $100 “free” Droid X, the $300 Droid 2 minus the $100 customer credit), but you’d be wrong. The Verizon system insisted I would be charged $400 plus taxes. Essentially, the Droid 2 with my $100 credit would put it below the price of the Droid X, which would then be considered of greater value and hence costing $200 and not “free”.

    …no. And your credit was not being “consumed, then ignored” – that makes no sense

    Why would you pay 100 for the free phone? Why would it not be free?

    The math here is mind boggling. I THINK what happened is they either quoted him the after rebate price and didn’t apply the BOGO/his credit at all, or that they just didn’t apply the BOGO and applied his credit twice. Neither makes sense, but it’s hard to tell what’s going on with these random price fluctuations in the story.

  16. dush says:

    Why would you get a $100 rebate on the Droid X that you got for free on promotion?
    That’s ludicrous to expect that.

  17. gnimsh says:

    The biggest rebate problem I had was when I just bought my new phone. I’m on a family plan and share it with my 3 others. I applied for the rebate, and verizon sent me the form for my brother’s form instead of my own. I did not notice this, and sent in the UPC and receipt as requested. I called the rebate center upon receipt of the message that my rebate was missing pieces and was told I should have made copies of the UPC. I tried explaining what happened, but no luck. I called customer service and was told to call the rebate center. Basically I sent the required documents but because they didn’t match with the phone I bought (because it was looking up my brother’s number instead of mine) it would not accept it. At that point I jumped on twitter and talked to the Verizon reps there, who then called me, kept me on the line, and called the rebate center. I listened as she very expertly explained the situation and got everything fixed. A few weeks later, I got my rebate!

  18. maynurd says:

    Do we really need these fancy phones anyway?? With the money you will be spending on your two year contract, they should be giving the phones to you for signing the contract. Just another way to seperate you from your money.