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1300 Unopened Fry's Rebate Forms Found In Dumpster

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  • Excerpt from the enclosed rebates:

    Congratulations on the purchase of your new Intel Core 2 Duo! To apply to recieve your $100.00 rebate in 6 to 8 weeks, please enclose your original reciept, this completed form & the original UPC from the product in a self addressed stamped envelope and send it to:

    INTEL CORE 2 DUO REBATE OFFER LONG NAMED CLEARINGHOUSE PLACE
    c/o Vastech
    888 Bestgate Road
    Suite # The Dumpster Behind Denny's
    Annapolis, MD 21401

    Yeah, be sure to check the address on those things. Also, I believe the Vatican uses Vastech to handle all their "Children's Letters to God" mail.

  • a bad employee... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SC-James (1142747) on Thursday September 06, 2007 @05:26PM (#20499677)
    How does someone not notice when you walk out to the dumpster with 1300 envelopes?
  • by thrashee (1066650) on Thursday September 06, 2007 @05:27PM (#20499695)
    So that's why it takes so long to get rebates back! And here I was blaming the post office.
  • That's the reason (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Judg3 (88435) * <jeremy AT pavleck DOT com> on Thursday September 06, 2007 @05:29PM (#20499719) Homepage Journal
    ..that I don't send in rebates any more unless they are $50 or higher. Seems like 9 times out of 10 I never hear from the company again if the rebate is a smallish amount - now I know why.

    It truly is brilliant though, how hard would you try to get a small $3.50 rebate back, but it was the reason you picked that product over a competitor. So they win twice, once on getting your business and again when they don't send you the check and you don't really care.
    • by Mattintosh (758112) on Thursday September 06, 2007 @05:34PM (#20499777)
      I don't buy things with mail-in rebates. If retailers want to play games, they can find someone else. If they want me to buy stuff, they can put the real price on the shelf instead of the after-rebate price. Instant rebates are a different matter...
      • Are you listening, you bait-and-switch retailers?
        (shakes tiny fist)
      • by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Thursday September 06, 2007 @06:24PM (#20500349)
        You'll find items on Newegg or Zipzoomfly often have rebates. However you'll notice it's never a rebate from them, it's from the manufacturer. Manufacturers like to run promos sometimes to try and get people to buy their brand. Well, you can't fault the providers for helping you know about this and how to take advantage of it. You'll also notice, at least in the case of Newegg, they list the primary price as the actual price you pay.

        Just don't go getting mad at the wrong party.
        • by RobFlynn (127703) on Thursday September 06, 2007 @06:58PM (#20500759)
          That's something I really like about NewEgg. Oh, this Hard Drive is only $70.00. Oh, neat, it also comes with a $30.00 rebate! I don't buy for the rebate, if I like the $70.00 price then I knew right up front that's what I'll be paying. If the manufacturer actually pays out the $30.00, then that's a bonus.
          • by fantomas (94850) on Friday September 07, 2007 @03:45AM (#20504617)
            If the manufacturer actually pays out the $30.00, then that's a bonus

            Heck that's shady business practice. You accept this kind of corrupt behaviour in your country? Hmm, your place is more messed up than I thought it was. Personally I'd be hassling my political representative to get the law changed so said companies get hauled over hot coals metaphorically speaking if they don't honour their promises.

            Actually, I don't really get the 'rebate' idea really - how does it work legally? Why don't they just get told by the law to sell the 70 dollar hard drive with a 30 dollar rebate for 40 dollars at point of sale? I understand how it works from their point of view - that not everybody will claim their rebate, so they win - but this seems very dodgy business practice. How is it structured? do you buy the drive for 70 dollars and inside the box is a slip you post off and they supposedly post back the rebate? Is this common practice?

            cheers
            • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

              by DDLKermit007 (911046)
              Rebates have two purposes. One, they don't lose any money really on these (few really send them in on time, and correctly), and if someone is buying one of these rebate items they rip the UPC code off right away. Once you rip your UPC code off it's extremely hard to return it. Making sure customers can only exchange if defective seems like a pretty good reason unto itself to do a $10-$20 rebate for a $60 HD.
            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by bentcd (690786)
              A mail-in rebate is one manifestation of the concept of market segmentation. The basic idea is that you have a product that costs you $10 to manufacture and distribute and figuring in your fixed costs and such you break even at $12, so you can sell it at, say, $15 and be profitable. What irks you, however, is that you /know/ that there are people out there that would buy it at $25 because it's so useful. If you set the price at that level, however, you lose all those customers that wouldn't pay more than $1
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by griffjon (14945)
        This is a better strategy, nonetheless, if the mail-in is high enough, I'll go through with it. Filing Better Business Bureau complaints is a great way to get service.
    • Ok, i'm waiting for the class action lawsuit for fraud.
    • by gravos (912628) on Thursday September 06, 2007 @05:57PM (#20500019) Homepage
      When a manufacturer decides they want to offer a rebate, they almost always come to some agreement with a third party (like Rebate-zone) who prints up forms, handles submissions, and mails out checks. Typically I think this agreement involves a lump-sum payment based on the number of rebates that could potentially be redeemed (but less than [number of rebates] * [rebate value] because a significant number will never be mailed in).

      Surely you see the conflict of interest here. The rebate operation has no business with you, the customer, except that they have to mail you part of their lump sum if you mail in your goodies. They don't really care if they make you angry, because you are not their customer. They are "Rebate Operation Inc.", and "Sony" or "Toshiba" or whoever the heck you actually bought your product from is who gives them their dough. Since they couldn't care less if they inconvenience you, the guy who is trying to steal a chunk of their change, it is exceedingly common that you will get a rebate denial with some bogus explanation like "No UPC included" or "Receipt illegible" or the world-famous "Postmark date incorrect" even if you've followed the directions perfectly and submitted well before the deadline.

      These headaches, combined with the possibility of the postal service losing your check, make it largely worthwhile to ignore any product with a mail-in rebate unless you are willing to pay the full price.
      • by Gospodin (547743) on Thursday September 06, 2007 @06:23PM (#20500325)

        They don't really care if they make you angry, because you are not their customer.

        Well, they should care, because if they make me angry at the company that hired them, it's less likely that company will hire them again. The company I am doing business with usually has some interest in good PR.

        Incidentally, I bought a printer in May that came with a $100 mail-in rebate. I just received the check this week. I had written that one off a month ago!

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by vondo (303621)
          <naive>Well, they should care, because if they make me angry at the company that hired them, it's less likely that company will hire them again.</naive>

          These rebate companies bid for the original company's business by emphasizing their low payout rates. If the finances work the way the OP suggests, then the company that rejects the most can underbid the competition. If the manufacture pays the rebate plus processing fee, it's also less expensive for the manufacturer.

          I buy things with rebates, no
    • by Fozzyuw (950608)

      That's the reason that I don't send in rebates any more unless they are $50 or higher. Seems like 9 times out of 10 I never hear from the company again if the rebate is a smallish amount - now I know why.
      It truly is brilliant though, how hard would you try to get a small $3.50 rebate back, but it was the reason you picked that product over a competitor. So they win twice, once on getting your business and again when they don't send you the check and you don't really care.

      Sorry to hear about your rebate pr

  • by asphaltjesus (978804) on Thursday September 06, 2007 @05:30PM (#20499725)
    Bottom of the barrel wage earners working an admittedly unglamorous job tosses a few out. Where's the crime? Who's going to prosecute? Which State regs apply?

    Rebates are a racket, always have been. I know from experience because I admin'd them years ago for a peripherals manufacturer.

    Back to work!
    • by Squalish (542159)
      A few class action suits with serious punitive penalties assessed on the retailer advertising the lower price (in retailer-created rebates) would not be out of turn here.
      • by Squalish (542159)
        Whatever responsibility the employee had internally, it had the effect of causing the company to steal money. You go after the company for stealing money, the company can do whatever it wants with the employee, including criminal negligence.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      That's getting into grand theft range if not already there.

      BC
      • by asphaltjesus (978804) on Thursday September 06, 2007 @06:09PM (#20500145)
        I'll go with your assumption that there is somewhere a statute that is violated. What's the penalty for this crime? Probably a slap on the wrist.

        I'll go with you one further and assume there is a serious crime, with lots of precedence that some prosecutor can win:

        Let's say the rebates are for $20: $26,000 is the amount of the crime. Let's say the rebates are for $50: $65,000 is the amount of the crime. What's the cost to prosecute? Way more than $65,000 after judges, courtrooms and prosecutor costs are estimated. That's not even considering what happens when the rebate processor lawyers-up and drags this thing down and out.

        The company gets a day of bad press and that's about it. HP's CEO/board members got away with far, far worse with practically no penalty whatsoever. Certainly nothing that won't be forgotten in a couple of years.

        Laws are to prosecute the individuals and corporations without enough money to lawyer-up.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      Bottom of the barrel wage earners working an admittedly unglamorous job tosses a few out.

      And as we all know, the best way to get a better job is to royally fuck up at your current one. I'm sorry, throwing out rebates in indefensible.

  • Not surprising (Score:5, Insightful)

    by nine-times (778537) <nine.times@gmail.com> on Thursday September 06, 2007 @05:30PM (#20499733) Homepage

    I've gotten into the habit of completely ignoring mail-in rebates because I've never once received one. Over the years, I've sent in maybe as many as 10 rebates, and never gotten any kind of a response.

    Of course, in the fine print of every rebate is something along the lines of, "We have no legal obligation to actually send you a rebate, even if you send this in. If we believe any piece of information is wrong for any reason, we reserve the right to trash your rebate application."

    It's a scam. If they really intended to give you the discount, they'd have an "instant rebate", meaning a price-cut in the store. The whole point of a mail-in rebate is to trick people into thinking things are cheaper than they are. They advertise "$199 w/ mail-in rebate (normally $299)". So you start thinking the product is $199 even though you'll give the store $299 when you buy it. Then, either you forget to send the mail in rebate, or they find some excuse not to honor it. You've just bought the item for $299.

    • Re:Not surprising (Score:5, Insightful)

      by multisync (218450) on Thursday September 06, 2007 @05:35PM (#20499787) Journal

      It's a scam. If they really intended to give you the discount, they'd have an "instant rebate", meaning a price-cut in the store. The whole point of a mail-in rebate is to trick people into thinking things are cheaper than they are.


      I'm of the opinion that the whole point of these "rebates" is to harvest the customer's name, address and whatever other information is typically requested.

      I never mail them in. I base my purchasing decisions on the price I pay at the till.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by bzipitidoo (647217)

        There are other reasons. Can't return the product after cutting out the original UPC. Sometimes products break down after a few days, or are not as advertised. And time is money, so the longer they can use your money, the better for them.

        If the rebate system can't be tightened up, it should be outlawed. Bad for the honest merchants, but the system is just too easy to abuse. All this nonsense of sending "proof" of purchase is, as you said, a cover for getting your info, and also a hope that the hassle

    • Re:Not surprising (Score:5, Informative)

      by Surt (22457) on Thursday September 06, 2007 @05:37PM (#20499805) Homepage Journal
      I'm always shocked by the number of people who report this. I mean, surely if you're not a rebate mailer, you learn at some point not to factor the rebate into the purchase price?
      I've also never had a problem with a rebate. Maybe because I have easy access to a photocopier, and always include a note that indicates that I kept a photocopy of everything in the event that there is a problem with the rebate. I've done about 20 rebates of $10 or more over the last 5 years with zero failures.
      • So you *don't* think they're a scam, but you also don't think it's odd that

        a) you're one of the few people who routinely gets them honored
        b) you put warnings in the envelope

        Naive me, the one time I tried mail-in rebates, I *did* keep copies for that reason, but *didn't* think I'd have to threaten them.

        Of the two:

        1) No response at all.
        2) Sent a little postcard claiming that I needed to try again because the barcode on the proof of purchase (or something like that) wasn't readable. *looks up backup copy* *Cou
      • by walterbyrd (182728) on Thursday September 06, 2007 @09:56PM (#20502427)
        I used to do the same thing, and it worked with CompUSA, and BestBuy.

        But, not TigerDirect. TigerDirect swore up and down that they would honor the gaureenty that they proudly display on their web-site, if I sent them all the receipts and photocopies of certificates via. certified mail.

        So I spent another $3.50, stood in line at the post office, etc. When I called back, they acted like they had no idea what I was talking about. Unless I wanted to take them to court over $80, I had no recourse.

        TigerDirect also require an insanely bothersome online process before you even mail in the receipts.

        That was the one-and-only time I ever did business with TigerDirect.

        Read rippoff-report about TigerDirect, I wish I had.
    • Whereas I disagree (Score:3, Informative)

      by PCM2 (4486)
      Seems like half the equipment sitting on my desk right now I bought with the aid of a rebate. I got two rebates on my desktop CPU, I got a rebate on my laptop, a rebate on my wireless router, one on my Wacom tablet, another on my monitor ... all of them have been honored.

      In fact, if you want to go into details, the manufacturer of my laptop actually offered a rebate on it about two months after I bought mine. That pissed me off, so I doctored up a copy of the store receipt with a later date. It was honored,
      • by Bert64 (520050)
        What is the point of rebates anyway?
        why not just lower the price in the first place... Cut the admin overhead and hassle for the customer.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by EvanED (569694)
      It's a scam. If they really intended to give you the discount, they'd have an "instant rebate", meaning a price-cut in the store.

      People always say this, but I'm not convinced. I've sent in and received a whole bunch of rebates over time, and I don't immediately recall sending one in and never getting it back. I'm also very careful to follow the instructions to the letter.

      However, it still is better for them because people forget about or don't bother with the rebates. When I got my monitor, it was $300 with
    • by radish (98371)
      I've done a bunch of rebates over the last couple of years and got my money in all but one case (I sent the wrong paperwork by mistake and had thrown out the correct one so I couldn't reapply - my fault). Most recently I just got a check for $200 from Tivo. I ignore the "$2.50 off a $20 mouse" rebates as they're not worth the effort, but $200 off a $600 unit? Too much to ignore!
    • Is just send them in via certified mail. That's where the post office tracks the letter and keeps a record of delivery. Also, keep a photocopy of all the filled out forms. Most of the time, you'll get your money no problem, it just takes a long ass time (8 weeks usually). If you don't, well you just call them and explain the situation. They'll no doubt say they didn't get it and aren't responsible. You then say "Well the post office says you did, and who do you think a judge will believe?" They'll then hem
    • Over the years, I've sent in maybe as many as 10 rebates, and never gotten any kind of a response.
      Odd. I've sent in maybe 100 to 150 rebates over the last 4 years and I know of only one that I didn't get back (about $10-15). My rebates were from $2 to $75 for various items, shampoo to hard drives. I've always had good luck with them. I always use the email notification if they offer it.
  • Rebates are a scam (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mcelrath (8027) on Thursday September 06, 2007 @05:31PM (#20499739) Homepage

    Rebates are a scam that allows a company to pad their ledger with artificial profits that get refunded some time later. It's an accounting scam. They make money by having more money in the bank, earning interest, while you don't. They also count on a good fraction of people simply not filling out the rebate form. So it's a form of false advertising that allows them to advertise one price when in fact you have to give them a different amount of money.

    Don't do business with companies that offer rebates. Pay for what things are worth and screw this stupid shell game. I've not gotten my rebate many times, without explanation.

    This crap should be illegal.

    • Fry's gets a Vas[tech]ectomy.

    • Where I live, the US Post Office doesn't send a uniformed employee to my house with the mail. I have to drive down 2 miles of dirt road and dial into my box at the local Post Office.

      Needless to say, this cuts out a LOT of rebates, which demand sending the check by US Mail to your street address. Which in my case will just get bounced.

      Occasionally, the form will accept the 9 digit zip code, so I can sneak that in and hope for the best.

      I've offered to write a small database to match the PO boxes with the actu
    • by thue (121682) on Thursday September 06, 2007 @06:38PM (#20500505) Homepage
      This crap should be illegal.

      In my country, Denmark, it is indeed illegal. From what I understand, I am glad it is so.

      Did I mention that we have never had your problem with telemarketing either? Or that email and SMS spam is strictly illegal and swiftly and harshly prosecuted?

      Or that we actually have an efficient and respected state department which looks after consumer rights in cases like deceptive marketing and defective products? For example they recently went after Apple when Apple refused to repair faulty macBooks [rixstep.com].

      Sometimes, more and more frequently lately, I am glad I don't live in the US.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Blakey Rat (99501)
        In my country, Denmark, it is indeed illegal. From what I understand, I am glad it is so.

        Did I mention that we have never had your problem with telemarketing either? Or that email and SMS spam is strictly illegal and swiftly and harshly prosecuted?

        Or that we actually have an efficient and respected state department which looks after consumer rights in cases like deceptive marketing and defective products?


        Also, due to clever science, the weather is never bad in Denmark, and delicious apples grow from lamppos
  • by EMB Numbers (934125) on Thursday September 06, 2007 @05:34PM (#20499773)
    This is so clearly fraud that the MD attorney general should have completed the arrest warrant for key members of Vastech's management by tomorrow morning. With arraignment hopefully postponed until Monday morning, the managers will be well motivated to correct the situation after they post bail.

    In all seriousness, rebate letters that contain irreplaceable original receipts should be handled with the same care as bank deposits, and the same penalty should apply as would apply if a Bank manager discarded all of the night deposits for a bank branch.

    I call this fraud and criminal negligence, and if nobody is prosecuted, it will be a travesty of justice.

     
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by MobyDisk (75490)
      Everybody here hates CEOs and likes to hold them liable for everything. I want to hold the individuals responsible. A CEO can't track every little thing every employee does. If I have a company with 10k employees and an employee trashes somebody's rebate form, you can't hold the CEO responsible. Hold the employee responsible.

      This is especially true when I hear of engineers writing rootkits or spyware for a company. I want the balls of the engineer who wrote that code. Likewise, if somebody trashes reb
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Lumpy (12016)
        CEO is RESPONSIBLE for all his companies actions. if the CEO is such a tool that he does not know what is going on and does not have a competent management team underneath him to make sure things are done right then the pampered ass needs to be fried.

        That is what they get those huge incomes for, it's not for their witty banter or great story telling.

        Fry a CEO or two really hard and you will see the corporate world straighten up overnight. nothing put in line an overpaid prima donna like a real threat of be
      • by phliar (87116) on Thursday September 06, 2007 @07:51PM (#20501353) Homepage

        Why would the CEO not be responsible for the actions of his company? I didn't send the rebate form to that disgruntled employee, and it's no concern of mine why my rebate ended up in a dumpster. And not the CEO of that outsourced firm, but the one that sold the original item to the consumer. (Just like that rootkit writer -- if he did it for a company, the company is responsible. Sure, the writer needs lessons in ethics, but the company that paid him is the true villain.)

        But taking responsibility is so out of style! Just hire a PR firm to fix up the bad publicity, grease a few politicians' palms, and give that CEO another bonus!

      • by number11 (129686) on Thursday September 06, 2007 @08:26PM (#20501683)
        Everybody here hates CEOs and likes to hold them liable for everything. I want to hold the individuals responsible. A CEO can't track every little thing every employee does. If I have a company with 10k employees and an employee trashes somebody's rebate form, you can't hold the CEO responsible. Hold the employee responsible.

        The company is the one that pockets the profit. I say, hold the company responsible. Don't be any harsher on them than on an individual. If stealing that amount would put an individual in jail for 30 days, incarcerate the company for 30 days. Send the marshals around to freeze their bank accounts and padlock their doors for 30 days. First time that happens to a Fortune 500 company, that will make people sit up and pay attention.
  • No surpise... (Score:3, Informative)

    by jak10900 (1144239) on Thursday September 06, 2007 @05:37PM (#20499793)

    To my knowledge most rebate handling companies are given x amount of dollars to in turn give out y dollars to the customers. Whatever is leftover is theirs to keep.

    x - y = profit

    So they're not really inclined to process every single rebate form that comes through there.

  • by netsavior (627338) on Thursday September 06, 2007 @05:37PM (#20499799)
    Buy this RAM and you have a chance to win 50 dollars by mail!

    Price comparison should always be done while ignoring rebates.
  • About a month ago the fatwallet community produced a crazy rebate scheme where you profit off bundled software. The scheme originated in this thread [fatwallet.com]. The scheme has since been used for many more deals. I am just wondering if it is related? The rebate T&C say the rebate can not be for more than the cost of the product. The scheme worked by claiming rebates from the retailer (by buying a hardware and software bundle) and the software distributor at the same time and assuming they don't realize your the sa
  • by PeterChenoweth (603694) on Thursday September 06, 2007 @05:53PM (#20499961)
    I hate mail-in rebates as much as the next guy, and try to purchase things from vendors that don't use them whenever I can, but I have to say that I don't think I've ever had one *not* work. I totally agree that it is just some accounting trick that should be banished, but none-the-less, they've always worked for me.

    Over the years I've mailed in probably two dozen rebates for various products at brick-and-mortar places like Best Buy, Circuit City, Office Depot, Staples, AT&T/Cingular, etc. I'm referring to $25-$200+ back on things like laptops, TV's, Tivos, software, cell phones, etc. I had a Cingular rebate once that was 4 weeks overdue. One 10 minute phone call and the rebate was re-issued and arrived 3 days later. I've even done a couple of the 'come test drive the new Mazda Whatever and get a $25 gift card' rebates, and those have always arrived as well.

    OTOH, I've never bothered with the '$3.50 rebate on a $5 pack of CD-R' type things, as it's just not worth my time.

    FWIW, I've always carefully followed the directions and have received the rebates within roughly the correct time period as stated. I keep a copy of everything I sent and make a note in my calendar for 6,8,12,whatever weeks away that I should have received it and then just forget about it until then. My point is, rebates suck, but they aren't *always* a scam....

  • Next time you file for a rebate, remember to read the clause in fine print.

    Not responsible for late, lost, damaged, or misdirected mail.

    So they throw it in the trash. Sounds legal to me. My advice would be to avoid them unless you're feeling lucky.
  • I've stopped buying products advertised at a price after rebate. It simply isn't worth the hassle to assemble the appropriate documentation, photocopy it, file the photocopy, and then send it in. Then, 6 to 8 weeks later, start phoning the company asking where my rebate is. All that to save a few bucks on some cheap piece of Chinese-made crap simply isn't worth my time. I'll continue to review the ads and buy something I want when it is truly on sale. As a result, I've pretty much stopped going in to Fry's
  • by Roskolnikov (68772)
    When shopping for tech toys I always treat the rebate as secondary, the price has to be the lowest before the rebate, if the rebate is instant even better but you just can rely on the companies servicing these things
    to come through; read the fine print on most of the rebates and you will find that you are responsible for making sure the company has received and processed your rebate, once its sent you've more than likely sent the only copy you have along with the original qualifying UPC/product label, once
  • and other than a company that went out of business I have not had problems.

    Still I will pay $10 bucks more to avoid a $50 rebate.
  • Let's Play "Rumor"! (Score:5, Informative)

    by fm6 (162816) on Thursday September 06, 2007 @06:05PM (#20500099) Homepage Journal
    Yes, Fry's is the worst retailer on the planet, and rebates are an evil scam. But...

    I read the original Mercury-News story earlier today. It's version is that Vastech is a computer accessories company that distributes through Fry's (among other retailers) and that processes its own rebates (hey, throwing them out is "processing" isn't it?). The dumped envelopes were discovered by an employee at a neighboring company, who gave them to his boss, who gave them to Dean Takahashi, who wrote the Mercury-News story.

    The story was quoted in an article on Consumerist, which in turn is quoted in this article. By the time Slashdot had posted it, the envelope's had been retrieved by the reporter, and Vastech had morphed from a flaky hardware reseller [vastechinc.com] to a Fry's rebate processing contractor!

    Ok, it's natural that a story should change a little as it passes from ear to ear. But to get so many facts wrong after just two iterations? Come on, people!

    Another thing that bothers me is Takahashi's outrage over those 1300 envelopes. Not that I don't share his hatred of rebates. But the big offenders are not little companies like Vastech (which would probably have gone out of business soon anyway, even if Fry's hadn't just cancelled all their orders). It's big companies that go through the motions of honoring rebates, but almost always have an excuse for not paying or an indefinite "processing delay". If we're going to be pissed off, let's be pissed off at the right people!
  • We have this store called Future Shop, which is about equivalent to your Best Buy in the US. I've noticed that over the last year or so they've started processing all rebates at the checkout counter and submitting electronically. I suppose that is a more secure way to ensure your money does arrive - after all, the clerk did it himself, and if they "lose" it, it's their own fault.

    Maybe retailers should start fronting the rebate and recovering it from the processors at a later time...

  • by kir (583)
    I bought $3300 dollars worth of appliances (fridge, washer & dryer) that came with a 15% mail in rebate from Sears in January. Of course, the day I made the purchase I sent the paperwork in with my receipts. It's now September and I still have no rebate. I've been told numerous times by "Mark" or "Craig" or "Andy" (really, how many Indian guys have names like that?) that they never received the rebate paperwork. They also kindly mentioned that since it's passed the required postmark date I am no lon
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by The Salamander (56587)
      You could try contesting the charge on your credit card... (If you used one..)

      I got the run-around on a $100 rebate on a $2000 fujitsu laptop, and my CC company happily took back the entire $2k until I finally got it.

      Strangely enough, just days after the chargeback they seemed very interested in fulfilling the rebate.

  • I don't know why anyone is surprised by this because How many people follow up on a rebate? Most people forget, and those that don't aren't usually bothered to waste the time to follow it up.

    Offtopic:
    Personally, I will never buy a Symantec product again because the last two I bought (norton antivirus, partitionmagic) had "upgrade rebates", upon which sending in the rebates and original UPCs, I got letters back from the rebate company saying 1) I didn't supply the original UPC and 2) I didn't provide the or
  • I view rebates as fraud plain and simple. If a company tells me "This item is $x but has a $y mail in rebate," I translate that to "We're advertising this at $x - $y in order to defraud you, the customer." Note that lately they don't advertise at the "rebate price" anymore. Too many bait and switch lawsuits, I guess. So they just advertise the rebate separately. Nonetheless the attitude at the store that you're actually likely to get anything back still rubs me the wrong way. I will go out of my way to not
  • Small claims court. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Hamster Lover (558288) * on Thursday September 06, 2007 @06:28PM (#20500401) Journal
    I've posted this story before so I won't go into a lot of detail, but my brother (the anal retentive one in the family) against my advice bought one of those too good to be true CD-R spindle deals where the rebate is just about as much as the purchase price of the spindle pack.

    Months later and after much friendly teasing from me without even the hint of a rebate, my brother got angry and filed a small claims suit against them that was ultimately successful. After maybe an hour or two of research and an afternoon at the courthouse he received his rebate along with all of the expenses incurred in pursuing his claim. I was actually surprised at how simple the process was and effective the outcome.

    My point is, there are ways you can get that rebate without incurring any cost to you.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by glwtta (532858)
      My point is, there are ways you can get that rebate without incurring any cost to you.

      Unless you count time and dignity.

      (Oddly enough, I place both of those above a nigh-free CDR spindle)
  • No surprise! (Score:5, Informative)

    by markwelch (553433) <markwelch@markwelch.com> on Thursday September 06, 2007 @06:28PM (#20500415) Homepage Journal
    There is NO VALID BUSINESS REASON for rebates in the 21st century. Given the high cost to process and issue small-value rebates, and the damage to reputatin, the ONLY real business reason is the expectation that a substantial number of the rebates will not be paid. A rebate offer is a way of denying some consumers the advertised price. After the many disclaimers and contradictory terms in the rebate language, and the nit-picking and deliberate indifference of rebate processors, deliberate misconduct or gross negligence (1,300 unopened rebate envelopes in a trash can) is just the "icing on the cake."

    I can't understand why some enterprising state legislators don't introduce a bill to prohibit the use of mail-in rebates entirely, or to create a "rebate death penalty" whereby no retailer or manufacturer could advertise rebates after proof that valid rebate requests were rejected. Of course, one issue is that states collect sales tax on the rebate amount (since the consumer pays the full price, and gets a rebate for the purchase price but not for the extra sales tax).

    I recently returned a laptop computer ("$549 minus $200 rebates = $349") to Circuit City (this was really a $400 laptop marked up to $549 so they could boast a price of $349 "after rebates"). It was a "sham" offer. First, the two rebates ($50 and $150) were BOTH to be sent to Circuit City (at two different addresses in two different states), but although both were advertised together, each form clearly stated that only ONE rebate would be paid "at most." Then I read on, and found a complete and total disclaimer of ANY duty by Circuit City or any other entity to process or pay any rebate; there was even a provision requiring that I wait 120 days for the rebate to be issued, along with another provision provided that any claims regarding unpaid rebates would not be considered unless they were be presented to Circuit City within 90 days after purchase. When I called for clarification, I was given many reassurances that contradicted the paperwork, but a flat refusal to put anything in writing; when I returned the computer to the store, they insisted that my concerns were unfounded, but again would not put any of their reassurances in writing. Of course, Circuit City took $80 out of my refund as a "restocking fee," despite the fact that their fraud and their refusal to honor their promise was the sole basis for my return.

    Fry's is certainly a "bad actor" in the rebate space; over the past 20 years, I've caught them many times advertising rebates that have expired or combining mutually-exclusive rebates together. But in fairness, Fry's Electronics seems to offer FEWER "deals" that include rebates than the larger chains like Best Buy, Circuit City, and CompUSA. I have lots of reasons to dislike Fry's, but I can only think of ONE product that I purchased at Fry's that had a rebate -- and I bought it because the price before rebate was still lower than the competing products. (I probably wouldn't have spent the postage to mail the rebate form if the purchase weren't on behalf of our 12-year-old child; getting the crumpled-postcard $5 check four months later was a nice, unexpected bonus.)

    In terms of fairness and honesty, one of the new "scams" is the use of "debit cards" to fulfill rebate promises; these are a huge hassle and are intended to create additional profit, and I was outraged to receive one of these instead of a check (as promised) from Symantec a couple years ago; I won't buy another Symantec product.

    I now mentally edit out rebates whenever I look at any offer. In the cell-phone store, I ignore the large bold price because I know it reflects the application of one or more rebates which might or might not be paid.

  • by merreborn (853723) on Thursday September 06, 2007 @06:49PM (#20500643) Journal
    I bought an HP laptop from Fry's a bit over a year ago for $900, and was told there was a $100 rebate.

    At the register, I was told that they didn't have the rebate form, and that I'd receive one in the mail.

    3 copies in separate envelopes showed up in my mail several *weeks* later. Weeks after the rebate period had expired.
  • by NitroWolf (72977) on Thursday September 06, 2007 @08:20PM (#20501633)
    Wow, I'm surprised at all the horror stories about the rebates. I'm sure some of them, maybe a lot of them are true to an extent.

    However, I've sent in hundreds (Close to 300) of rebates over the past 3 or 4 years, and I've had exactly 6 come up with problems, which were resolved with a call to the company or to send in copies of my rebate submission.

    One company in particular, which I'm not sure what name they use, though, so they might actually be part of the retailer itself, as opposed to a rebate company proper, has been the lions share of problems. They claim part of my submission was not included... Well, I always keep copies, so I know what is included and what isn't, but on more than on occasion, they claim they got the receipt, but not the UPC or something... the funny thing is, the submission has the UPC and receipt on the SAME PHOTOCOPIED PAGE... so it's physically impossible not to receive one without the other... yet they claim it is so. Obviously they try to scam some people... Either way, once I send them in another copy of the SAME page, they send me my rebate.

    But, I digress. My point is that out of the nearly 300 rebates I've sent in, a very small percentage has ever given me a problem, and a large part of that very small percentage has been from one company in particular. Otherwise, I've always received my rebates without hassle, even if it takes 4 or 5 months for them to arrive.

    There's a program out there called "Rebate! Rebate!" that keeps track of your rebates. I don't have a link, but it works pretty well.

    I like rebates... kind of a pain to send in, but they do offer some really good/incredible deals now and then and are worth the effort, so long as you follow the requirements exactly, which usually isn't that hard.
  • Misleading Summary (Score:5, Informative)

    by borderpatrol (942564) on Thursday September 06, 2007 @09:13PM (#20502031)
    As a Fry's employee (while no fanboy), I thought I would point something out.

    Vastech is NOT a "rebate processor hired by Fry's Electronics", it is the manufacturer who offered the rebate. They make small PC mods and accessories such as case fans and USB harddrive enclosures.
    You can see their webiste at http://www.vastechinc.com/ [vastechinc.com]

    Fry's Electronics does not offer any rebates themselves. All the rebates are though the manufacturer of the item you are purchasing. We even have a rebate department in each store to try and help you force though rebates or resubmit them.

    While everyone likes to poke fun at Fry's (the Walmart of electronics stores, I call them), they were not really in the wrong here, it really should be Vastech found at fault. I do hope Fry's sees this as an opportunity to put in some good will and issue their own refund checks to all affected customers.

The world is moving so fast these days that the man who says it can't be done is generally interrupted by someone doing it. -- E. Hubbard

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