Become a fan of Slashdot on Facebook

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
The Almighty Buck Businesses United States

FTC Tells CompUSA to Pay Up QPS Rebates 324

Posted by CowboyNeal
from the check's-in-the-mail dept.
prostoalex writes "FTC told CompUSA they will have to keep their word on paying out rebates for QPS equipment purchased at CompUSA. QPS is currently bankrupt, according to the article, although it's not clear whether they went out of business before or after the promised 6-8 weeks deadline came. CBS MarketWatch says this should spur rebate re-evaluation among other electronic retailers. The habit of offering rebate incentives seems be especially notorious in the consumer electronics and computer hardware industries as a third of shoppers for such goods bought a product with a rebate offered. Reason for such popularity? 41% of shoppers never send in their rebates."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

FTC Tells CompUSA to Pay Up QPS Rebates

Comments Filter:
  • Common sense (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dauthur (828910) <johannesmozart@gmail.com> on Saturday March 12, 2005 @05:29AM (#11918483)
    "41% of shoppers never send in their rebates."

    Of course. It's too much hassle to sign a receipt and mail it to the company and wait a few weeks, in which they'll most likely forget all about the whole thing, and get a surprize $30 in the mail. Laziness costs more than cigarettes these days.
    • Re:Common sense (Score:5, Insightful)

      by blahplusplus (757119) on Saturday March 12, 2005 @05:43AM (#11918513)
      Well considering the amount on peoples plates in modern life, remembering to send in a rebate to save $20, $30 when they have so much to consider doesn't seem unreasonable. The fact is offering rebates should be illegal because the reason they are offered is because they are burdening the customer with after sale Bullshit and schemes that amount to con-artistry.

      The fact is they pump up the price and offer the rebate, and the rebate usually only brings the price of the item to 'market' value for someone who spends time looking for the lowest prices. Rebates are bait and switch, no bones about it.

      I've sent in rebates I have not recieved. I also had rebates that "expire" by the company claiming that it "didn't get it on time" a month after the fact, when they should have recieved it within two days after mailing it.

      There are actually 'expiry schemes' where they have expirations and the stores offering them continue to advertise 'rebates' knowing that the expiry will keep them from having to put out money, if they even do it at all.

      The fact is, if you can't sell the item for the rebated price outright, you have no right to even offer the rebate in the first place.

      Rebates should be illegal or legislated at the time of purchase (and advertisment of the rebate) the customer who bought it then does not have to worry about expiry.
      • Re:Common sense (Score:4, Insightful)

        by ScentCone (795499) on Saturday March 12, 2005 @07:00AM (#11918682)
        offering rebates should be illegal

        Oh, please. What you mean is that fraudulantly offering an unredeemable rebate should be illegal, which it already is. Rebates are usually offered by the manufacturer, not the point-of-sale retailer. For the manufacturer, it's a form of advertising, and they usually let a third party handle the transaction, usually by snail mail. This takes time to process.

        Rebates are bait and switch, no bones about it

        No they're not. I've never seen a low price on a product that was low because of a rebate when that wasn't clearly marked as a factor in the price. True on tags, true in mailers, and on web sites. Someone who is shopping around for a low price on a competitve item should have the IQ to actually see and understand the words "after mail-in rebate."

        Personally, I love the way that Costco [costco.com] handles it: you get a register receipt with a URL and code on it, you visit the site, spend 15 seconds keying in a scrap or two of info, and you get a check in a couple or few weeks, without fail. Another reason I spend every consumer dollar I can on worthy products there (I know, which means a lot of those dollars go to China - but unless you're looking for a $400 handcrafted New England birdhouse or something, that's where the commodity brands ship from these days).

        I've never had a problem with a rebate from Best Buy, Circuit City (who sometimes redeem the rebates at the register), an allergy drug manufacturer, car parts vendors... come to think of it, I can only think of one that seemed to have gone un-payed, and it was from a local grocery store several years ago, and was hardely worth the stamp and the envelope.

        If you think you've got a fraud problem with a retailer, go to the Better Business Bureau. If you think you've got a fraud problem with a manufacturer, talk to the FTC about that instance unless you know for a fact that they're scamming everyone (and five minutes on Google will tell you that). Otherwise, if you don't like rebates (and I understand - on the big ones, it's annoying to know that you're minus that cash flow for a month, but figure that lost dollar-or-so of interest into the price you just paid on that piece of hardware, and get over it), just don't buy stuff through those channels. Use eBay instead, or choose a brand that allows the retailers to take incentives off of their own costs, and represent that during the transaction (which is how car and most furniture dealers do it, but then you've got to know the scoop - with a rebate, the retailer can't pocket the difference if you weren't aware of the incentive).

        But mostly, don't penalize honest retailers, manufacturers, and consumers with a body of regulation that won't have any impact on people who are already making the decision to operate outside of the law. When scammers are already using fake/impossible rebate schemes (which can be prosecuted), another regulation saying they can't isn't going to help unless you remove that entire marketing mechanism from the market. If your objective is to get more government involved in transactions between private parties, though, you're headed in the right direction.
        • Here's my beef (Score:5, Insightful)

          by tkrotchko (124118) * on Saturday March 12, 2005 @07:23AM (#11918767) Homepage
          "What you mean is that fraudulantly offering an unredeemable rebate should be illegal, which it already is."

          Here's my beef.

          Rebates in some theoretical sense are fine.

          There's two things I have a problem with, one of them is philosophical, one of them is practical. Lets start with the practical.

          I have in several cases, sent in rebates. I'm usually very careful. I have in several cases (a) not received a response ever or (b) The rebate fulfillment house claims I didn't send in enough paperwork (and well past the deadline for submission.

          I have no recourse in these situations. I'm just out the money. And what's worse, nobody has an incentive to make this right, because the company is simply out money if its correct, and they get more money if I'm screwed.

          On a more philosophical level, I have a beef with rebates. Lets go through this:

          Merchant: Buy this widget for $2, and I'll give you $1 back in the mail.

          Me: Why not just sell it to me for $1?

          Merchant: Because I'm hoping you'll forget to send it in, and I won't have to pay you that $1.

          You see? Its almost fraud but not quite. So from that viewpoint, I understand why people think it should be illegal to offer rebates.

          But even if you disagree with my philosophical conclusion, how do you deal with the practical aspect of a system that has no ability to be corrected? Its like playing the lotto as to whether that rebate actually comes.
          • It's worse then that. Even for the ones who do send it in, they get to keep your dollar for a period of time and do they pay you interest on your dollar? Heh heh....no way. Rebates are ripoffs. Also, explain to me how it takes 6-8 weeks to cut a check? Is this because they do it in bulk? Would it not be more efficient to process them as soon as they recieve them?
            • Also, explain to me how it takes 6-8 weeks to cut a check? Is this because they do it in bulk? Would it not be more efficient to process them as soon as they recieve them?

              Actually, that's exactly why it takes time. The places that process these have huge teams of people doing the data entry. There is a certain amount of work done to make sure the transactions are legit, and then they cut checks in large print runs and pre-sort them in at least 1000 at a time so they can get favorable postage rates. The c
          • Re:Here's my beef (Score:5, Informative)

            by ScentCone (795499) on Saturday March 12, 2005 @08:39AM (#11919064)
            Merchant: Buy this widget for $2, and I'll give you $1 back in the mail.

            Me: Why not just sell it to me for $1?

            Merchant: Because I'm hoping you'll forget to send it in, and I won't have to pay you that $1.

            You see? Its almost fraud but not quite. So from that viewpoint, I understand why people think it should be illegal to offer rebates.


            OK, reality check here. In most cases it goes a lot more like this:

            Manufacturer: "Thanks for ordering a pile of Acme Widgets, Mr. Big Box Retailer! Here's your shipment, and an invoice. You'll notice that the invoice says 'Net Due 60 Days, 2% Net 20' "

            Retailer (to self): "Better pay that bill in 20 days so that we can get the extra 2% discount"

            [retailers completely live or die on slim margins when the products are commodities like computer hardware, etc., so 2% is a lot over time]

            Retailer (to self, 30 days later): "Gosh, I'm glad I've sold half of my Acme Widget inventory, but the rest is moving slowly, and I've got cash tied up in that pile of merchandise. Hmmm."

            Retailer (to Acme Widgets territorial sales rep): "Help!"

            Sales Rep: "Here's a pile of rebate coupons. Your customers will get $20 back from us if they buy something out of your stock, but they've got to do it this month."

            [the sales rep knows that he'll only earn commission on another order from Big Box if he helps Big Box cycle inventory]

            Retailer: "Dear customers: you can get a $20 rebate on this thing that we've already paid for, but that's between you and the manufacturer."

            So, you get the idea. With some exceptions, the retailer isn't even involved, other at the marketing level. There are a million variations on this theme, and many things like this are planned in advance, rather than being treatment for slow-moving products. But a key concept is that the retailer often is dealing with the vendor at essentially normal prices and margins, and the rebate is used to move the consumer into action while the vendor (not the retailer) absorbs the profit hit. As retailers improve their IT infrastructure, you're seeing the coupons show up as direct-on-your-receipt printouts, and redemption is even flowing back through a service provided by the retailer. But it takes a big company to make all of that work smoothly, so mom-and-pop retailers usually just hand you the printed coupon from the distributer.

            This can, of course, turn slightly sleazy, as cheesy retailers and their suppliers gin up the appearance of stock liquidation/incentives just so they can float on your money for a couple of months. That low-rent behavior can be avoided by not patronizing those distribution channels, and by rewarding quicker-acting rebate programs with your business.

            how do you deal with the practical aspect of a system that has no ability to be corrected

            The same way you'd deal with a supplier/retailer that won't address the fact that they sold you a defective product, or over charged your credit card, etc. If they have crappy customer service, make sure that you, your frieds, and all of your business contacts no longer do business with them. Places like Slashdot are fantastic forums for alerting people to unethical (or, ideally, stellar) retailers. Hence my praise of Costco, for example - their rebates are quick and easy.
            • I have an idea (Score:3, Interesting)

              by KenSeymour (81018)
              Maybe they should get David Spade to do rebate fulfillment.
        • Re:Common sense (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Eccles (932)
          Six months ago, PNY claimed I didn't send the UPC from the product for a $30 rebate. How do I prove otherwise?

          • Six months ago, PNY claimed I didn't send the UPC from the product for a $30 rebate. How do I prove otherwise?

            They could also assert that a dead RAM stick you bought earlier today is dead because your power supply cooked it, and you'd have no recourse there, either (another you-said/they-said situation - except for their own interest in keeping you happy. If they want to hose you on a rebate, then they know that they're hosing themselves on you ever buying PNY memory again. If you're right, and I've hear
      • Re:Common sense (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Cryptnotic (154382) *
        offering rebates should be illegal

        We have too many laws already. We really don't need any more "protecting the stupid" type of laws. Really, have some faith in humanity. People can figure these things out for themselves. In the case that companies do things that are illegal, recourse is available in the courts.

        • Who will protect the stupid? By definition, half of the population has below average intelligence. We don't tell mugging victims to shut up and learn Kung Fu.

          The courts are the playground of the rich. Even if you had free legal help, you could wait years before your case came to trial. A small claims court, if available, is the only access that most people have to the legal system, other than being a defendant.

      • by PenguinOpus (556138) on Saturday March 12, 2005 @07:38AM (#11918836)
        I disagree with several of the posters here who say that rebates ought to be illegal and offer no value other than to return products to market value.

        If the rebate is not paid, then that is fraud, otherwise:

        Rebates are the equivalent of a flexible pricing plan that allow those people that care enough about the $20 to go through the hassle of completing the transaction. At this point most consumers are fully aware of the annoyance level and factor that in to their buying decision.

        Poor/Parsimonious people who really need the product will follow through, get the discount and purchase the product. The rest will do so at some much lower hit rate (well below 50%).

        This means that the price people pay varies based on need.

        The result is that more people are able to buy the product so it can be manufactured and sold in higher volume (and therefore possibly at lower cost).

        Regarding the cost benefit of rebates, I can state definitively that the best rebate deals at Fry's are usually selling products below cost of manufacture (eg 250G HDDs for $99, network hubs for $0). Sure, some products use rebates to return prices to the discounted price of their competitors but smart consumers can do the math, realize that, and decide if its worth the hassle.

        Even without rebates, the airline industries pricing model, convenience-store pricing, and apparel industry off-season discounts are all examples of flexible pricing to capture different consumers at different times with exactly the same product.

        As a lazy consumer, I wish everything were flat priced so I would never have to worry about whether I'm getting "screwed" by paying more than the best (or even average) price.
        Legislating flat-pricing would be nice, but I believe it would end up producing higher-priced products overall.
        • Awesome comment! Score:+1,Virtual Mod Point
        • "I disagree with several of the posters here who say that rebates ought to be illegal and offer no value other than to return products to market value."

          Rebates are not needed at all, they burden the consumer and are in fact designed to take advantage of human beings. You've imbibed too much free market capitalistic religion. Sorry but if Manufacturer A) is willing to give money back to the *customer* then it follows that manufacturer A) should be giving that money to the store when the item is sold and N
    • Re:Common sense (Score:5, Interesting)

      by wk633 (442820) on Saturday March 12, 2005 @05:55AM (#11918546)
      I read the directions and send them in religiously. Got a card back from Belkin saying I hadn't sent in 'some required information'. Not enough info on the card to tell me what information, or what rebate, or when. So what the hell do I do? Stop buying Belkin is about all I can do.

      I get 90% of my rebates back, but those that I don't- I really have no recourse, and it's a ripoff.
      • by fmaxwell (249001) * on Saturday March 12, 2005 @07:06AM (#11918706) Homepage Journal
        I read the directions and send them in religiously. Got a card back from Belkin saying I hadn't sent in 'some required information'. Not enough info on the card to tell me what information, or what rebate, or when. So what the hell do I do? Stop buying Belkin is about all I can do.

        What I did in a similar situation was phone and ask what information was missing. The person said that she could not tell me. I told her that I wanted them to return everything that I sent. She smugly informed me that the rebate says that they can keep everything I send. No, I told her, it does not. It says that they may keep it if they pay the rebate. Since they were not paying the rebate, I wanted it back. Suddenly a supervisor got on the line and said that he was approving payment. I had the check in under a week.

      • Re:Common sense (Score:3, Informative)

        by dreamt (14798)
        You do what tell you when you submit. Make photocopies of everything you send them. If they claim you didn't send something in, call their (India) call center (the number will be on the docs you copied), get their fax number, and pray to the fax gods (a chicken sacrifice is sometimes necessary) that their fax machine actually works (which, amazingly, does 90% of the time). Its a pain, but thats your recourse.

        I do agree, though, that it is a pain. Bordering slightly on fraud, based on the fact that they
    • They often will intentionally make it difficult to submit the rebate by imposing arbitrary rules and conditions. My favorite is when the official rebate form is the size of a postage stamp.
    • $30?

      Just yesterday, from CompUSA, no less, I bought a wireless-g router, pcmcia card, and pci card. Price before rebates, $180. Price after rebates, $28.

      Nowadays, it's easier than ever to cash in your rebates. CompUSA and Best Buy print you separate receipts for each rebate, so you don't even have to photocopy them anymore. Although, thanks to the new All-In-One printer,scanner,copier, it's easier than ever to do that, too!

      I just have to remember which rebate gets the UPC, and which one(s) get the ph
  • Just ban rebates (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 12, 2005 @05:33AM (#11918494)
    Rebates serve 3 purposes. One is to take advantage of people who don't send them in. Another is to trick people by offering rebates that expire too soon for people to actually get them (see Tiger Direct - rebates often expire in a few days). And lastly, in a corporate environment I've heard of _people_ getting rebates for corporate purchases - this amounts to a way of bribing purchasers or other such corruption. If you want to offer a discount, just reduce the price. There's no ethically decent reason for rebates.
    • Rebates are sadly a progression from just offering a discount. How do companies get people into their stores if their competitors offer the same discount price for the same product they bought it for off the same company? They are victims of a mass market I would of thought and they are trying to be different from one another.
      • This whole rebate thing is very rare in Australia - I've only had it happen once and that was after buying an Icom hand held air-band transceiver at Canberra airport. After a few expletives, I got the discount then and there.

        I guess it doesn't sit well with Australians, otherwise I suspect it'd be common place.
    • in a corporate environment I've heard of _people_ getting rebates for corporate purchases

      Heard of? I've heard of people using airmiles credit cards to make business purchases, and then use the points personally. I've heard of people fudging their time sheets. I've heard of people raiding the supply closet for back-to-school.

      I'd like to see rebates go too, but that some people use them as a way to steal from their employer is hardly a reason.
      • The worst is when your boss buys the company computers on his credit card for frequent flyer miles.

        Buying them 1 at a time because he only has a $2,000 limit and then having to wait for the beancounters to reimburse him is teh suck.
      • There's a discover card ad near where I work with a picture of some smug, self-satisfied middle-manager type with the caption "I'm expensing lunch AND getting cash back bonus? Is that legal?"

        Not only is using your personal card with rebates common, the credit card company is encouraging it. Of course the unstated assumption is that the guy has a dubious reason for expensing lunch and he's "getting away" with a meal on the company's dime.

        But hey, at a certain level of the corporate food chain, it really
    • And lastly, in a corporate environment I've heard of _people_ getting rebates for corporate purchases

      In many larger sized companies its difficult to get the money to the company, as the "right" way to account for the income is complex and varies.
    • you get a name, address, maybe even email and phone number of someone that bought a product.

      eric
    • I love rebates... (Score:5, Informative)

      by MadAnthony02 (626886) on Saturday March 12, 2005 @09:18AM (#11919246) Homepage

      First of all, I have a problem with banning anything - I think consumers should be able to evaluate if they like rebates or not, and purchase accordingly. I happen to like rebates.

      If you are willing to take the time to fill them out and follow up when necessary, rebates can be good. I've gotten over $8,000 in MIR since I started keeping track (the excel spreadsheet is here [madanthony.org].

      Rebates can be good in a couple ways. First of all, if you stack a rebate with a coupon with a minimum spending limit - ie a $20 off $100 coupon - you get to use the coupon and send for the rebate. Secondly, stores also offer FAR (free after rebate) stuff, and they aren't just going to hand you free stuff - but they will after rebates. Thirdly, sometimes through loopholes you can make out - I recently got paid $45 by Microsoft for buying OneNote - it was $55 from Amazon with a $100 rebate from Microsoft.

      Also, if you are having trouble with a rebate, the rebate tracking forum on Fatwallet [fatwallet.com] is a great resource - you can learn which companies are good and bad about paying in a timely manner, and there is a sticky thread with contact info for most major rebate processors.

    • Re:Just ban rebates (Score:3, Interesting)

      by sosegumu (696957)
      Rebates serve 3 purposes. One is to take advantage of people who don't send them in. Another is to trick people by offering rebates that expire too soon for people to actually get them (see Tiger Direct - rebates often expire in a few days). And lastly, in a corporate environment I've heard of _people_ getting rebates for corporate purchases - this amounts to a way of bribing purchasers or other such corruption. If you want to offer a discount, just reduce the price. There's no ethically decent reason for r
  • by GLowder (622780) on Saturday March 12, 2005 @05:36AM (#11918501)

    Retailers generally get to report earnings based on dollars brought in at the register, _then_ they pay out rebates. So even if 100% of customers send in their 50% off rebates, ACME gets to report $100,000 in widget sales, when really they only sold $50,000 in widgets.
  • by eddy (18759) on Saturday March 12, 2005 @05:37AM (#11918505) Homepage Journal

    I'm glad rebates of that kind doesn't exist over here. Here rebates are pretty much unheard of besides for groceries, and those are handled directly at the checkout, no mail-that-in-later stuff.

    Doesn't take a genius to figure out that all that handling just makes it more expensive for the customers in the end.

    • We don't have that stupid sales tax they have some places there too. I mean, why can't they just add the bloody thing to the prices, and nobody would notice, but nooo; they have to add it when you're checking out so it's 96% impossible to calculate how much you're going to spend and find the money before checking out (and when you spend about 5 minutes finding out which money is which that *is* quite annoying.. whoever decided to make all your money so damn similar should be shot too!)
      • Calculating sales tax isn't that hard -- just add in 6 cents (or 5 or 7 or 8 or whatever) for every dollar. Or you could let the cashier do it and then get your money out.

        But speaking as a USian, I hope sales taxes never become hidden like you suggest for the simple reason that all hidden taxes increase substantially. Any tax that is built into the price of the product grows massively. Whether it's a sales-like tax such as gasoline tax or cigarette tax or other forms of tax like income tax (believe me,
    • Off Topic. Just wanted to mention that I love your signature. PoS has been a favorite of mine for a long time.
  • by Spy Handler (822350) on Saturday March 12, 2005 @05:51AM (#11918531) Homepage Journal
    Seriously. It's borderline fraudulent. There are laws to protect consumers, this should be added to it.

    I have personally mailed in dozens of rebates in my lifetime. I have received less than half of these back. Sure, some probably got lost in the mail. But even though the USPS does suck, their success rate in delivering an envelope to its destination is still well over 90%. So what happened to the other 40% of my rebates?

    Now I'm not gonna hire an attorney over a $20 rebate I never got, and they know this, so they can sit there and go "eeny meeny miny moe" and pick out every other rebate request and toss it in the trash.

    They (the gov) don't even have to outlaw rebates. Just make it false advertising to put prices in ads or store displays with the rebate amount already subtracted.

    • I have never had anything "lost" in the mail ...ever.

      The problem usually lies in either end - before or after the USPS part - as inthe sender never sent it, or receiver lost it, etc.

      The 13 years when I rented various houses, I mailed out the rent check every month and it always got there. That's 156/156 perfect deliveries. The USPS is awesome, and no I don't work for them :-P
      • You may just be lucky. While I usually get good service, sometimes the carrier never shows up, and sometimes he delivers the mail to the wrong address. Most carriers do a great job, but there are the exceptions.
      • While I don't think the USPS is that bad considering the task they do when you stop and think about it, you've probably just never noticed anything lost in the mail. Based on the number of wrongly delivered items I get at my house (at least 1 a week), I conclude that 100% delivery is not achieved. Direct evidence is hard on this one. I send these miss-delived items back to the mail-carrier, but I'm sure many people open them or throw them away.
      • by N3Bruce (154308)
        The USPS does a pretty good job of delivering conforming mail to the high-volume incoming mail operations I work in, mostly remittance processors. Credit card and other bill issuers don't include an envelope just to be nice (just look how evil they can be in other aspects of their business), they include a return envelope to streamline processing. A good return envelope will be decently constructed, of a standard size, and include either a preprinted postnet bar code on the envelope, or on the part of the s
    • After being burned a few too many times on rebates not paid, I always now send them in by certified mail. STILL had refusal to pay on some, with the claim it was never received. They know no one will take them to small claims court over a $20 rebate, so they just keep on scamming. Worst offender is some outfit in Florida that uses an NY state PO drop. For some reason, a wide variety of Fry's rebates are handled by this outfit. My guess is Fry's knows it is a scam and probably makes money this way.
      • My guess is Fry's knows it is a scam and probably makes money this way.

        Or, just as likely, doesn't know it isn't a scam and doesn't see any incentive to actually investigate.

        Which amounts to the same thing in the end.

        --Bruce Fields

    • by mjh (57755) <mark@noSpAM.hornclan.com> on Saturday March 12, 2005 @07:38AM (#11918831) Homepage Journal
      I have personally mailed in dozens of rebates in my lifetime. I have received less than half of these back.
      Wow! This is really surprising to me whenever I read it, because it's so counter to my experience. I've mailed in (literally) a dozen rebates since November 2004, with most of them going out at the end of December. So far the only ones I haven't received back yet are the ones that aren't due back yet (the ones sent in February). And this has been my experience for years. Every rebate I've ever sent in, I've gotten back.

      Of course, I'm pedantic about tracking this stuff. And I make a copy of everything I send in (including the stamped envelope). And I hand date the copy. Over the last 6-7 years of sending in rebates, I've received every single one. This is somewhere on the order of 50-60 rebates.

      I don't really understand why my experience is so different than many other people's experience.

    • by M. Piedlourd (68092) on Saturday March 12, 2005 @11:03AM (#11919738)

      They (the gov) don't even have to outlaw rebates. Just make it false advertising to put prices in ads or store displays with the rebate amount already subtracted.

      We have a law in Connecticut that deals with this. If a retailer advertises a price for a product, they must accept that price at the point of sale, whether or not that price includes in small print "after rebate." So if Crazy Bob's Komputer Outlet wants to sell RAM chips for "$1.99!!!*" they have to take $1.99 at the register. If they want to offer a mail-in rebate, they have to advertise the product as "$91.99 with a $90 mail-in rebate!!!!" We also have a litigious Attorney General who is pretty zealous about enforcing this law, so we find that it accomplishes its purpose.

      * after rebate

  • by rollingcalf (605357) on Saturday March 12, 2005 @05:55AM (#11918541)
    The article said 41% of consumers don't send in the rebate paperwork. Well I send in close to 100% of mine, and I fail to get the checks for about 41% of them. So they will maintain their 41% non-payment rate one way or another.

    Now I stop thinking about rebates before purchasing and only buy based on the full price. If one thing is plain $50 and a similar product is $60 with a $20 rebate, I'll buy the $50 one.

    If I do buy something with a rebate, after buying I'll send in the papers and hope to receive the money and if I get it, it's a bonus. But I won't factor it into my purchase decision because I don't trust that I'll actually get it.
    • by digitalhermit (113459) on Saturday March 12, 2005 @06:26AM (#11918620) Homepage
      I had similar problems with some retailers.
      From: http://www.miami.com/mld/miamiherald/8138630.htm

      After being extremely diligent in filling out the paperwork and making sure that I adhered to all the requirements of the offer, my rebate was still denied by Maxtor (a digital storage manufacturer) because the paperwork ''wasn't received in time.'' If true, it would have meant that it took the postal service more than two weeks to move a letter about 20 miles from my home to the Miami rebate center. It was only after contacting the Better Business Bureau that was I able to get my request honored.

      After doing an informal poll of some of my co-workers and associates, many of whom work with information technology, I was surprised to learn that almost all of them had had rebate requests denied. Unfortunately, many didn't send their requests via certified mail because the rebate amounts, often $5 to $25, didn't seem to warrant it.

      After my experiences, I would suggest a few steps:

      Read the rebate requests thoroughly. Many times, they require the actual register receipt and not a copy. Some will require that the rebate item is circled on the receipt even if it's the only item listed.

      Keep physical and digital copies of your paperwork and receipts, including the envelope used to send the forms. This makes it easier to forward copies to the state consumer affairs department, Attorney General and the Better Business Bureau.

      Submit the paperwork immediately. Retailers count on customers to lose receipts or forget to request the rebate.

      Use certified mail to prevent the convenient excuse of ''late mail.''

      If you're denied your rebate after complying with the offer, make sure to send your information to your state Attorney General's office. It can't take up your case directly, but it can help establish a pattern of activity.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 12, 2005 @06:00AM (#11918556)
    They really have no incentive to change it. Since the rebates NEVER refund the taxes, the states get a extra windfall in taxes.

    It just another conspiracy to collect more taxes.
  • Hey CowboyNeal, RTFA (Score:2, Interesting)

    by KarMann (121054)
    If you paid attention at the link [itfacts.biz], 41% is how many forgot to send in rebates, amongst all those that didn't get rebates. The relevant amount you ought to have quoted (though it isn't as prominently place in the title) is, "Half of consumers never even try to get the rebates."
  • i bought a 160 gig maxtor harddrive from staples that included a 35 dollar rebate, this was just after christmas (early January), i have yet to see it, i did see Staples spend a bunch on marketing these rebates in television commercials, seems to me that if staples would spend less on television advertising then they could afford to hire more manpower to handle these rebates...
    • seems to me that if staples would spend less on television advertising then they could afford to hire more manpower to handle these rebates...

      Fewer advertisements = fewer sales. If a store is selling less, how can it afford to hire more manpower?
  • This is why (Score:2, Insightful)

    by tuxlove (316502)
    You know why 41% of people don't send in rebates? Because most of the time you never get your damn money. It's not worth the $10 or whatever to fight with customer service when your money never arrives. I even signed up for a recurring rebate for a drug prescription, and they sent me all the materials and a rebate card with my name on it; shortly thereafter came a letter saying that they had no record of me and couldn't issue my rebate. Then how did they issue my personalized rebate card?! This sort of frau
    • Not true. I play the rebate game constantly. I do on average 20 to 30 computer equipment rebates a year. I fill them out, carefully check everything, and scan everything before I mail them out, then set a palm pilot alarm for 8 weeks hence to say it should have arrived by now, as soon as I get back from the store. It takes about 5 minutes, which is generally less time than I spent waiting in line.

      I keep track of them, and I have yet to be denied ONE SINGLE REBATE. Most are purchased at CompUSA, some a
      • Not true. I play the rebate game constantly. I do on average 20 to 30 computer equipment rebates a year.

        Well maybe if your day job is flipping burgers it makes sense to spend your time dealing with them.

        Costco print off the rebate coupons on the receipt and make it easy to claim them, they also make sure you get paid. I also got the rebate for the Dell I just bought. I expect that Sony will pay for the rebate on the Vaio.

        But expecting rebates on floppy disks, cables or those 'its FREE with rebate' sc

  • by InvalidError (771317) on Saturday March 12, 2005 @06:29AM (#11918628)
    1) Mailing the claim can cost as much as $10 with reception confirmation and other such options... make that $2 for plain enveloppe and international postal charges.
    2) Cashing the refund can cost over $5 for people without USA-funds banking accounts.
    3) Most rebates I have seen have a disclaimer that says they will be honoured at the manufacturer's sole discretion.

    Because of this, I only buy into rebates when the base price suits me - FutureShop having a $110 CDN Audigy2 sale plus $45 mail-in is nice when the next lowest regular price around is $115 - this is how I discovered that USA rebates cost about $10 to claim... so that $45 rebate barely covered taxes, postage and cash-in costs so the card cost me about $110 net.

    All in all, rebates are annoying and doubly so when they are in some other funds, not worth bothering with if under $20 - I prefer waiting a little longer until the "rebate" price becomes the regular price since rebates usually mean pending price adjustments and new models.
  • Staples Rebates (Score:5, Informative)

    by shancock (89482) * on Saturday March 12, 2005 @07:10AM (#11918717)
    If we must have rebates, I have to admit that Staples is the way they should go. You get instant online verification of your rebate, no waiting 6 weeks to get a postcard that states you supplied incorrect information.

    The rebates at Stapes are handled online very quickly and you have a tracking number to follow. Everything is upfront and out in the open.

    I had one item that was disallowed this past Christmas and since it was online and there was recourse (email), the problem was cleared up within days. I had records on my computer and everything worked. Very nice.

  • This is too familiar (Score:5, Informative)

    by bblazer (757395) * on Saturday March 12, 2005 @07:18AM (#11918748) Homepage Journal
    About 6 years ago I did a stint as a low level manager at a CompUSA in the northwest while I was between jobs. Rebates were a constant thorn in my side. Every weekend a flyer hit the paper offering about 10 different items that were "free after rebate." People would line up out front waiting for the doors to open. Then they would rush in and grab up all of our stock of that item. Then the fun began. Those people who came in after the rush would get belligerent that we didn't have any more and start big scenes in the store. Or, we wouldn't have enough rebate forms for everyone. I was also always dealing with customers that never got their rebate, or got a card telling them that they didn't handle the process correctly and were not going to receive their money. What most seem to not understand is that 99% of the rebates that were offered were given buy the manufacturer, not CompUSA. Our sales agreements forced us to offer these rebates, then we were forced to deal with inventory and coupon shortages caused by the vendor, and the customers that never got their check. VERY, VERY, rarely did CompUSA offer their own rebate. But since we were the retailer those with problems came to use for resolution. I felt bad for them that I was not able to help. Corporate policy forbade us from giving them anything as compensation (the thought was that WE did not own them, the vendor did, so why does it have to come off our bottom line). My thought is that we possibly made money off the transaction, so we should do something. But in the end it was a lose-lose situation.
    • Corporate policy forbade us from giving them anything as compensation (the thought was that WE did not own them, the vendor did, so why does it have to come off our bottom line

      Well, I guess the FTC just changed that corporate policy! (and it's about time!)

      By the way, I got stiffed on a 60 dollar rebate for a Seagate hard drive by Comp USA. Seagate claimed they never received it, even though it was sent with tracking (which proved it had been delievered)
    • Well obviously. Your shop was advertising goods at a certain price, then failing to offer those goods, and failing to offer that price. It's incredible that you as a CompUSA manager would be whining about this being a problem caused by your customers

      "Every weekend a flyer hit the paper offering about 10 different items that were "free after rebate."

      First example: newspaper advert saying that you'll sell a particular item at a particular price.

      "Those people who came in after the rush would get bellig
      • I never complained about the customer, nor did I ever make any reference to my thinking that the customer was being unreasonable. You apparently didn't read the part where I said that I felt bad that there was nothing I could do to help them. I was merely pointing out that we were most times caught in the middle. I even commented on the lose-lose proposition. Additionally there was not false advertising. It clearly stated in the ads that products were available "while supplies last."
  • by ch-chuck (9622) on Saturday March 12, 2005 @07:26AM (#11918782) Homepage
    I used to buy supplies (monitors, printers) on company expense and make a copy of the receipt before turning it into accounting. Then mail in the rebate myself and have it sent to my home. Cha-ching.

    • Many companies would consider that theft.

      There have always been problems with salesmen who offer "gifts" to purchasing agents in an effort to make the sale. Buy a case of somewhat overpriced toner cartridges and get a cheap prize. It's one step away from a kickback.

  • Several years back, CompUSA used to have so-called "Power Buys" on the back page of their circular, where you would buy an item and get rebates for the full purchase price, resulting in the item being free except for the tax. I took advantage of these often and got all kinds of free stuff like speakers, floppys, sound cards, mice, keyborads, etc. It was all junk but it was free.

    But actually collecting on the rebate required extreme vigilence. I would follow the instructions to the letter (difficult enough
    • The whole rebate scam seems like a great piece for one of those sensationalist TV investigative journalism shows to do - they have the resources to buy lots of shit, document everything, follup, then make every American scared. Anyone know if it has been done?
  • Damn statistics ... (Score:2, Informative)

    by tajan (172822)
    41% of shoppers never send in their rebates.

    If your read the very poorly written article, it appears that 41 % of those who missed out on the rebates just forgot to redeem them. There is no figure about how many people actually send the rebates, and no figure about how many of them did receive their payment.

    Beside, the quoted article seem to be based on another article, whose link is broken ...

    More info about the study behing those figures can be found here [npdtechworld.com].
  • Despite the FTC's action, the case is an anomaly among stores' rebate programs, said Mike Gatti, executive vice president of the Retail Advertising and Marketing Association, a division of the National Retail Federation, a trade group representing 1.5 million retailers.

    Rebates are one place where I believe a LOT MORE federal govt. oversight is needed!

    I used to do a lot of rebates and have found that over the past year, a much greater percentage of rebates are NOT being fufilled.

    I think that GETTING a

  • I never buy any product that has any advertised rebate offers.

    Filliing out the form and sending it in with the hope of getting money is like sending my E-mail address to a spammer to "opt out". They're already in a scummy industry, why should I trust them with anything in the hope of getting something?
  • Having had my fill of Fry's "rebates", with all the little deadlines and requirements for original UPC codes, etc, hidden in the fine print, I'd love to see them just go away. You know that most rebates must never be claimed; the cost just to process each rebate claim probably rivals the face value of the rebate.

    I've stopped buying much stuff at Fry's anyway. Nowadays if I need something generic like a hard drive and I can wait a day, I'll usually just order it online from Newegg or some other nearby e-ta

  • Costco does it right (Score:2, Informative)

    by today (27810)
    When Costco has rebates, they print a URL on your charge slip plus a rebate code. Go home, type in the rebate code, and it tells you right then and there whether or not the rebate info is good. Takes a couple weeks to get the check after that. You can check status on multiple rebates you might have.
  • I've done several hundred dollars in rebates on eMachines through Best Buy and they work. They take so damn long you forget but they work. Just be prepared to wait about 6 months.
  • Rebates rule... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by jwcorder (776512)
    I don't understand the issue here people. I don't mind rebates and I actually love Staples new easy rebate program. You don't have to send in any information, just go to a website and fill out a short form and 4-6 weeks later here comes your check.

    I can honestly say that in my 25 years as an active consumer, I have had less than 10 rebates give me any problems. It does require about 10 mins to carefully read the instructions and fill out the form, but as long as you have the ability to pay attention to d

  • rebates are a scam (Score:3, Insightful)

    by The Cisco Kid (31490) on Saturday March 12, 2005 @08:48AM (#11919107)
    Personally I find 'mail in rebates' just a way to advertise a lower price than they are really selling an item for and get away with it - They put *29.95* up there in large font but then in small print below it include (after $50 mail in rebate).

    If they put 29.95 as the price in large print, I should be able to walk in the store with 29.95 (plus tax, etc), and be able to walk out with the item. Its just a scam that I have to *loan* them an additional $50 interest free that I then have to jump though hoops to *maybe* get back - and yes I'm sure they count on lots of people to not even bother.

    For that I would never consider rebates (except in-store ones) when comparison shopping. I go by the amount they expect me to pay at the register.
  • I have totally given up on rebates. Even after jumping through all of the necessary hoops; it either takes several months to get the rebate, or the rebate never arrives. I now refuse to buy anything that has the "after rebate" price shown instead of the actual price. I have had a few salesdroids get totally pissed off when I told them that I would have bought the item if he had told me the real price instead of telling me the price after rebate.
  • I'm surprised nobody has touched on the economic aspects yet. If they work properly, rebates should benefit everyone. Corrupt rebates don't, as far as I can see...

    It's simply another form of price-discrimination. That is, it's a way to get richer people to pay more than everyone else... or, equivalently, it's a way to allow poorer people to pay less. The reasoning being that rebates are a hassle to obtain, so whether people bother with them or not depends on how much the money is worth to them.

    There are

  • by FirstOne (193462) on Saturday March 12, 2005 @09:08AM (#11919192) Homepage

    Officemax is a serial rebate abuser. They put all their rebate coupons in a little book with very small writing.

    What you're unlikely to notice, are the absurd submission post mark dates. Often less than one a week after purchase. That's hardly time to even test the newly purchased equipment. To return a defective item, the packaging must be intact which precludes submitting the rebate paperwork on time. So they take advantage of the customers inattentiveness/work load to scam them out of their rebates.

    Note: They'll often advertise the same item (with similar rebate) every month or so.

  • 41% is good (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 12, 2005 @09:10AM (#11919203)
    If everyone sent in their rebates, there would be no more rebates. Companies can offer insanely low proces with the rebate because they can bank on the 41% that don't return it, thus they make a profit. If everyone ent in the rebate they would make no profi, hence the rebate would go away. We should APPLAUD those 41% for allowing the rest of us compulsive people to get good bargains.

  • How to get your rebates:

    Here are my opinions about how to get your rebates and how to think about rebates in general. We've applied for several thousands of dollars of rebates, and gotten almost all of them, usually after a lot of work. I'm not saying you should get involved with the rebate game, but you may get a good laugh from reading about it. Getting rebates got to be a hobby with us. Like a lot of people, we carried our hobby to extremes. My wife just read this and said, "Oh, it's not a hobby, it's painful when I need to call", but she feels very different when she is in a store that has ridiculously low prices after rebates.

    Use the F word: Just say "Fraud". There are only a few rebate fulfillment companies. Once you are on the list as someone who uses the fraud word, they don't try to steal from you.

    Always be friendly. Always be businesslike. Call the rebate company. Politely ask the name of the person who answers. Write that down. Mention that offering a rebate and not sending it may be fraud. The employee will usually give some scripted lie, like saying they didn't receive the rebate request. Just politely continue asking for your rebate, and mention that, in legal cases involving fraud, it usually won't be the top managers that go to jail. Mention that anyone who has knowledge of the fraud may be prosecuted.

    The rebate staff person does not want to risk legal trouble for a minimum-wage job. They are authorized to give you your rebate in extreme cases. Be an extreme case.

    The rebate company does not want to lose a staff person, because it costs money to hire and train them. That is what is likely to happen if the staff person is afraid of legal problems. The manager of the rebate company will tell the staff that there is no chance they will be prosecuted for fraud, which will only make the staff more scared. In this particular case, this particular F word is very powerful.

    More tips:

    Beware of worthless items: Be aware that many computer items that are sold with rebates are actually worthless. They have been found to be so defective that they could not be sold normally. So, they are advertised as free after rebates, or for a very low cost after rebates. (Usually they use more than one rebate to make it less likely you will do the work.)

    We bought three Netgear FVS318 router/firewalls from Fry's. They were advertised with a rebate. After many lost hours we found: 1) The remote administration of the FVS318 requires sending the password in the clear, so there is little remote security. 2) The Log Out menu choice sometimes does not log out. Sometimes the FVS318 becomes confused, and cannot establish a VPN. 3) There were other bugs, more than can be recounted here. 4) Netgear first-level technical support is (at least partly) in Tamil Nadu, India. They are friendly and will happily talk for hours. However, Netgear does not appear to have given the Tamil employees much training. So, in my opinion it is arguable that no one should buy the FVS318. Maybe that's why the rebate offer.

    Fry's and Netgear played another trick with the FVS318 rebate offer. They wrote a very long rebate form, with the name and the address at the top, as usual, but asked for the name and the address again at the bottom. If you didn't see the second request for name and address, or thought it was a mistake, they denied the rebate request. We didn't enter the information at the bottom. Our rebates were denied. A friendly Fry's mid-level manager told us she would take care of it, and, after two or three calls to her, she got Netgear to give us our rebates. Elapsed time: 5 1/2 months.

    On the other hand, there are good deals: We bought four CD recorder drives for $5 each after rebate that work very well and came with a non-restricted copy of Roxio Easy CD Creator 6.

    Shop on the day after Thanksgiving: The best time for rebates is the day after Thanksgiving. That's when people begi
  • I'm willing to play that game because the annoyance doesn't exceed my hourly value and out of, I don't know -- going on "dozens", I'm pretty sure I've only been burned once. Put a return sticker with my P.O. Box _on_the_ENVELOPE_ and the Minnesota redemption center held it for like three months past the offer and sent it back saying "rules say we don't honor post boxes".

    On the other hand, Office Max honored a rebate from a bankrupt company a couple years ago. AFAIK without prodding.

    I have a machine pluc

Doubt is not a pleasant condition, but certainty is absurd. - Voltaire

Working...