Hey people with Medicare, you’re about to become a little more attractive to scammers. That’s because this week the government will start sending out its one-time tax free rebate checks to those of you who have already hit the donut hole gap in your Medicare coverage. The main thing to know, advises Medicare, is that you don’t need to provide any information to anyone to get the rebate–it’s automatic.
Mail in rebates are a sneaky way to make things look cheaper than they actually are at the point of sale, since many consumers never actually get any cash back. Now New Jersey’s state Assembly is considering legislation that would require retailers to charge shoppers the after-rebate price on goods, instead of forcing them to mail in or submit online requests. If the retailer still wants to take advantage of the rebate, that’s no problem; he’ll just have to mail it in himself.
When Massachusetts announced their cash-for-clunker appliance rebate program, Consumerist bet it would last one day before the rebate cash ran dry. We were wrong — it took less than three hours.
My advice on mail-in-rebates is to ignore them when you’re trying to decide on a purchase. They take too long to receive, during which time you’ve paid a higher amount on the product. Even worse, it’s easy for a company to deny a claim and refuse to cooperate with you, and it’s hard for consumers to get misbehaving companies to play fairly.
Jonathan says Comcast disappointed him by giving him a rebate in the form of a Comcast-branded Visa debit card pockmarked with a maintenance fee for inactivity.
The chocolate box/flowers promotion seemed like a great idea. On certain boxes of Harry London candy sold in chain drugstores, there was a peel-off coupon offering up to $20 off an order from 1-800-Flowers. The problem is that some unscrupulous shoppers went into stores, peeled all of the coupons off, sold some codes on the Internet, and ruined the promotion for everyone. Now 1-800-Flowers has put a stop to the promotion, and is canceling already placed flower orders out from under customers. Not cool.
On Black Friday, Sears offered free installation on select Kenmore dishwashers in the form of a rebate coupon. The coupon is pretty simple to understand as far as these things go–buy one of the listed models, and Sears will pay for the installation. According to William, however, the listed model that he wanted remained out of stock only for the duration of the coupon. When he asked Sears to honor it the next day, they agreed to–but then after he bought the dishwasher they told him he had broken a nonexistent rule and therefore had voided the coupon.
So you’ve fought the mighty rebaterus and won, prying your hard-won mail-in rebate money from its claws. If your rebate isn’t in the form of a prepaid debit card, it’s probably a postcard-sized check—cheap to mail, simple, easy. For the rebate fulfillment company. For the consumer depositing checks via ATM as banks cut back on their hours, it’s not so simple or easy.
Andrew Cuomo, the Attorney General of New York, has filed a lawsuit against Intel, claiming that the company is an illegal monopoly that engages “in a worldwide, systematic campaign of illegal conduct – revealed in e-mails – in order to maintain its monopoly power and prices in the market for microprocessors.”
David is trying to reach HP executive customer service. He wants to find out why they reversed the $100 cash back offer they’d originally extended through a promotion with Microsoft’s new search engine Bing, and why the only reasons they’re giving him are either inapplicable or demonstrably false.
Coaxed by the promise of rebates, Rhea took the Comcast high-speed internet plunge, but found it difficult to get her money, since Comcast had outsourced its rebates to a company called OfferWire.
Greg says he inadvertently authorized Citi to share his personal info because he applied for an online rebate. He writes:
Waiting for a rebate from TigerDirect? Good luck with that. In a suit filed last Friday, Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum is charging the company with, among other things, promising customers that rebates would arrive in about 8-10 weeks of submission, when in fact “a vast number of customers experienced delays ranging from one to more than eight months, before receiving their promised rebates, if at all.” The suit also charges TigerDirect with engaging in “deceptive and unfair trade practices.”
Edmunds.com, the car info website, is asking people who participated in the short-lived Cash for Clunkers program to contact them if something went wrong. Although they can’t fix any problems, they’re trying to collect data on consumers who are being asked to pay back the government rebate after already being approved, which was forbidden under the rules of the program, so they can present the data to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Jim decided to take advantage of the Cash For Clunkers program and trade his Crown Victoria in on something a little more fuel-efficient. Unfortunately, the dealership where he bought the car wasn’t quite ready to handle one of the most frightening of all creatures: an informed consumer. They counted on their customers to not fully understand all of the program’s rules.
Jeff bought a copy of Adobe Creative Suite 4 back in May during a sale promising a $200 discount. The final checkout price didn’t reflect the discount, but he double-checked the terms and conditions and confirmed that he was eligible. Adobe agreed, and has repeatedly promised to issue a refund. Jeff has been waiting for the check for almost four months, and he’s not alone. Another customer has been waiting on a similar refund for almost a year!