I think I have all of your rebate scams beat with the screw job I received from Fry's Electronics in the City of Industry though it ended on a happy note.
Like everyone else here, I am a man on a budget and I often look for instore rebates or mail in rebates to cut some cost in the long term.
In early 2003 I went to Frys Electronics in the City of Industry because at the time I was living close by. At the time I was rebuilding and refurbishing computers for extra cash and doing upgrades or reselling custom built computers so I spent quite a lot of money at Frys Electronics.
This one particular time I bought several different brands of modems that had rebates, a CDWR Drive and a few other items, about $140 total of combined rebates from several different manufactures.
Like others, I followed the rules on the receipt and on the rebate form given to me by the FRYS Clerk. I sent them in several weeks early making copies of them and postmarking them before mailing.
Supposedly, it would only take 6 to 8 weeks to get the refunds. So I waited and waited and waited and still nothing.
I went back to FRYs and they suggested waiting a while longer.
O.k. so get this.... a whole year goes by and that money I was waiting for never comes. So I go to FRYs really ticked off and take them copies of all my rebates, the receipts, etc. and the customer service person tells me that she can't help me because they are a year old, hoping I'd walk away. But, were talking about $140.00 so I am seriously ticked off.
I demand to talk to a supervisor and she brings this other person over who does not look like a supervisor and they tell me they will contact the manufactures and check into the situation and then call me back the following day.
So the following day no phone call. A week later no phone call, three weeks later no phone call, so I return to FRYs with all my stuff again and now they tell me that I waited three weeks to long past the eligibilty date for the rebates.
Oh, Man I was stinking mad! I began to steam in a nice but steaming sort of way and knew my only option was to make some noise so I raised my voice to make sure people in the store could hear me and complained about their rebate policy, the amount, the lack of assistance by their staff, etc. (I learned this from my friends x-wife)
A few minutes later a supervisor came over and told me they would take care of it. They made a copy of all my stuff and told me to wait. Then they returned and told me the problem was taking care of and I should get my rebate immediately.
About a week or so later I got all of my rebates except 1 in the mail. It took 1 year and 5 weeks to get the $140 rebates.
It's now two years later since I first turned in those rebates at FRYs, and though they did come through in the end. They lost all of my confidence in their rebates and in their customer support. I've never bought a product on rebate from them again and now when ever possible I try to make most of my purchases from....
Essentially my rule now is to never buy things on rebate unless it is an instore instant rebate. All that money that Fry's would have got this past years... several thousand dollars went to... Funny isn't it? Their poor customer service that didn't want to provide good customer service by not following through on their promises of a phone call, delaying me past the end of the rebate year and then not wanting to assist me until I got loud in the store so all those people at their cashiers buying stuff on rebate would have only been a 10 percent loss for them to have made good on the rebates themself. Instead they choose to make it a hassle and give away my purchasing power to a competitor.
Yes, it is true that FRYs has tons of customers, but as a person who has to provide customer service in my work and as someone who worked as an interim director and director in a customer service based organization I know that it is easier and cheaper to take the necessary steps to keep a customer than to try and find a new one to replace them. Also, I know that every customer lost potentially takes alot of other customers with them through word of mouth.
You can't imagine how many people I work with and have contact with who use FRYs who heard about my having to wait a whole year to get their rebates.
Your best personal policy when it comes to rebates to document, document, document everything... make copies of your receipts, send the rebate registered mail with a return receipt, try a small rebate if possible with the company before you try a large rebate. Many rebate companies will try to get you with petty theif since you'll probably ignore it and they don't honestly expect you to follow it up for a free dollars.
Try to get the company you purchased from take responsibility for doing the work for pushing the manufacture to honor the rebate if you have a problem. If all else fails, take them to small claims courts and tell everyone in the world that you can about the rip off. E-mail people, put it on your website, tell your friends at work, church, school... etc. But make sure to tell them both about the store that didn't help you and offered you the rip off and the manufacture that does not honor thier rebates. In the short run you may loose a few dollars... in the long run they will loose lots of big dollars from lost sales.
After all, we all know that there is always the competition that is willing to go the extra mile for you even if you have to pay full price to get it.
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