• Report: #239977

Complaint Review: Office Depot - RebatesHQ - Pargo - Wintergreen Systems

  • Submitted: Tue, March 20, 2007
  • Updated: Mon, December 31, 2007

  • Reported By:WILMINGTON Massachusetts
Office Depot - RebatesHQ - Pargo - Wintergreen Systems
www.officedepot.com Nationwide U.S.A.

Office Depot - RebatesHQ - Pargo - Wintergreen Systems Hanns-G 19" LCD $100 rebate scam ripoff Nationwide

*UPDATE Employee: Widespread issue well known to retail store employees

*Consumer Comment: Time to end the debate

*Consumer Comment: Who has the relationship

*Consumer Comment: Let me clairfy

*Consumer Suggestion: The FTC.

*Consumer Comment: Sorry to hear about your situation but.......

*Consumer Suggestion: Not just me, Everyone !

*Author of original report: Corporate toadie speaks...

*Consumer Comment: Axe to grind

*Consumer Comment: Axe to grind

*Consumer Comment: Axe to grind

*Consumer Suggestion: Office Depot Sucks !

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Somebody is comitting fraud here.

I got in on the Office Depot $100 off 19" monitor deal last August, sent in the rebate to RebatesHQ/Pargon on 8-26 and got nothing until late October. Logged on and they said it was denied because I didn't send in the upc or other code which was bull. I resubmitted the copies I kept and on 10-31 it finally showed up as in their system as ok. On 12-5 it changed to the final processing stage.

Logged in many times over the last few months and it was always the same BS...final processing.

Got sick of waiting and on 2-17 sent them this note:

It's over 14 weeks now scheduled for final processing. Any idea on how much longer? Thanks.


On 2-20 got this back from the folks at RebatesHQ/Pargo:

Thank you for your rebate inquiry. We are pleased to inform you that your submission has been received and validated, and it is in the final stages of processing. Your rebate check should be mailed by 03/14/2007.

We appreciate your participation in this promotion. If there is anything else we can do to assist you, please contact us at rebates@parago.com. We are always happy to help.

You can also track the status of your rebate, using the Tracking number above, at www.RebatesHQ.com.

Pam
Promotions Customer Service


Checked yesterday to see if it shipped and got this sad message:

Please be advised: Parago, Inc. is a provider of rebate processing services for its clients. As a rebate processor, Parago works on behalf of Wintergreen Systems to receive mail, perform data entry services, receive customer service calls, print checks, and perform other services associated with its promotions. For the submission in question, Parago performed data entry on the submission, and forwarded the information to Wintergreen Systems for approval and funding. To date, Parago has not received such approval and funding from Wintergreen Systems. Until Wintergreen Systems forwards additional funding for the promotion in question to Parago, Parago will not be able to mail any additional consumers checks under the promotions. We apologize for any frustration this has caused, and will process the reward as soon as we are provided the required funding and approval by Wintergreen Systems. In the interim, we suggest you contact Wintergreen Systems directly, at:

Wintergreen Systems
2510 Sterling Avenue
Elkhart, IN 46516
(574) 295-9054 ext. 110


So I call old Wintergreen Systems hit 110 and get a voice mail overload message saying the only way they can help is to send an email to: rebates@wintergreensys.com

So I send them this email:

I have waited diligently for this rebate for almost 6 months now. After repeated requests for the last few months I was told the check was almost in the mail.

Today I logged onto the Pargo/rebateshq.com site and found this message regarding my rebate:
----------------
Rebate: $100.00 Check
Rebate Information For: xxxxxxxxxxx
Promotion: $100 OfficeDepot.com Hanns-G 19" LCD Monitors Rebate Submission Type: MAIL-IN Date Received: 10-31-2006 Status Detail: Please be advised: Parago, Inc. is a provider of rebate processing services for its clients. As a rebate processor, Parago works on behalf of Wintergreen Systems to receive mail, perform data entry services, receive customer service calls, print checks, and perform other services associated with its promotions. For the submission in question, Parago performed data entry on the submission, and forwarded the information to Wintergreen Systems for approval and funding. To date, Parago has not received such approval and funding from Wintergreen Systems. Until Wintergreen Systems forwards additional funding for the promotion in question to Parago, Parago will not be able to mail any additional consumers checks under the promotions. We apologize for any frustration this has caused, and will process the reward as soon as we are provided the required funding and approval by Wintergreen Systems. In the interim, we suggest you contact Wintergreen Systems directly, at:

Wintergreen Systems
2510 Sterling Avenue
Elkhart, IN 46516
(574) 295-9054 ext. 110
----------------------------

This doesn't look good. In fact it looks like a rather large scam.

I have waited well beyond the limits described in the promotion and I request that check be immediately issued for this account.

The address to send the check to is:



I expect an email response back by Monday March 19th at 6PM EST with an estimated mailing and arrival date for my check.

If I don't receive a prompt response and resolution back I will immediately contact my State Attorney General's office as well as the offices for my congressman and senators. Over the last year or so I've noted a distinct decline in the speed of rebate processing. Perhaps it's time for the feds to investigate and start severely fining those companies that don't seem to be playing by the rules.

Respectfully yours,


I have a feeling they've socked all the money away and will only give it out if you threaten them. Anyone know the name of a good class action lawyer?

I figured it may pay to go back to OD and see what they can do so I called them and the woman said I'll have to call their rebate department back M-F 9-5 866-541-0284.

I'm planning on doing this and hopefully I can get some satisfaction from OD.

edit:

Very interesting story.

http://www.in.gov/attorneygeneral/pr...Program.ht ml

Looks like old Wintergreen Systems has already been in trouble with the state AG for not paying out rebates.

----------

Two days later I got a note from Wintergreen systems:

------ Original message ------
From: "Kathy Plake"

We have received your email. We will be working with RebatesHQ to verify your rebate status as they retained all rebate submissions and operated the status website. When we are able to verify your rebate status Wintergreen Systems will honor your rebate by processing a check within 3 weeks. Please be advised due to the number of requests we are receiving we will not be able to contact you unless there are any problems with your rebate.

Thank you.

Wintergreen Systems

What BS. They want us to wait another 3 weeks. Here's my response.


While I appreciate the note I doubt the sincerity. RebatesHQ verified my rebate status back in October of last year. I've been waiting ever since for the magical check to appear. The last time I complained to them a month ago they said the check would finally be sent 3-14. When I last checked - RebatesHQ said the only problem is that Wintergreen Systems has not provided funding for them to send a check.

Dozens of people have reported the exact same issue on various web sites so I know that I'm not the only person falling through the cracks. Frankly after initially submitting the rebate almost 7 months ago your request for me to patiently wait another 3 weeks is disconcerting. The problem isn't somehow in the RebatesHQ verification process, it is in your coughing up the money to actually pay for the rebate checks.

To verify this go to their site: http://www.rebateshq.com/promocenter...shq/track.html and enter my tracking # - xxxx. Please read their note that pops up. I've reproduced it below:

Please be advised: Parago, Inc. is a provider of rebate processing services for its clients. As a rebate processor, Parago works on behalf of Wintergreen Systems to receive mail, perform data entry services, receive customer service calls, print checks, and perform other services associated with its promotions.

For the submission in question, Parago performed data entry on the submission, and forwarded the information to Wintergreen Systems for approval and funding. To date, Parago has not received such approval and funding from Wintergreen Systems. Until Wintergreen Systems forwards additional funding for the promotion in question to Parago, Parago will not be able to mail any additional consumers checks under the promotions. We apologize for any frustration this has caused, and will process the reward as soon as we are provided the required funding and approval by Wintergreen Systems. In the interim, we suggest you contact Wintergreen Systems dire ctly, at:

Wintergreen Systems
2510 Sterling Avenue
Elkhart, IN 46516
(574) 295-9054 ext. 110

I would strongly recommend that you speak with your superiors and move heaven and earth to find the funding and either cut me a check directly or direct RebatesHQ to send me the monies owed per the terms of the rebate. I will wait until Friday morning before joining the chorus and submitting my complaints to the State AG's office, BBB and call the people I know in my Senators and House of Rep. offices to see what pressure they can bring to bear. I sincerely hope to hear back from you before then with the tracking information on the package containing my rebate check.

Sincerely,

Bob
WILMINGTON, Massachusetts
U.S.A.

Click here to read other Rip Off Reports on Office Depot

Click here to read The *EDitorial: The Marketing Rebate Rip Off ...Manufactures invent reasons why not to pay the consumer

This report was posted on Ripoff Report on 03/20/2007 09:57 PM and is a permanent record located here: http://www.ripoffreport.com/r/Office-Depot-RebatesHQ-Pargo-Wintergreen-Systems/nationwide/Office-Depot-RebatesHQ-Pargo-Wintergreen-Systems-Hanns-G-19-LCD-100-rebate-scam-ri-239977. The posting time indicated is Arizona local time. Arizona does not observe daylight savings so the post time may be Mountain or Pacific depending on the time of year.

Ripoff Report has an exclusive license to this report. It may not be copied without the written permission of Ripoff Report.

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REBUTTALS & REPLIES:
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Updates & Rebuttals

#1 UPDATE Employee

Widespread issue well known to retail store employees

AUTHOR: Dgenerate152 - (U.S.A.)

This issue was with Wintergreen, a company OD contracted to handle their MIRs, without notice Wintergreen stopped honoring the $100 HannsG rebate.

If you would have contacted the store within 3 months of your issue the Store Manager should have honored the price, by refunding $100. The store I worked at, at the time...refunded back well over $1500 due to this mishap.

But know that OD no longer works with Wintergreen for their mail in rebates, all rebates now go through a company called Young America, who we haven't had any issues with yet.


Sorry for the inconvience.
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#2 Consumer Comment

Time to end the debate

AUTHOR: Corporate - (U.S.A.)

RJ,

Your reasoning about this is valid, at the store's level, they have only the policies made by the corporate offices to follow. Bob, it's a shame that you have been made to go thru this to get the monies you are rightfully intitled to. But, as I read thru the posts from the remainder of you, it seems to me, that you are attacking RJ for enlightening you on the corporate process.

My suggestion to all of you is send these types of emails to Office Depot's corporate office instead of attacking a person's right to his/her's opinion on the subject. In the years of browsing this forum, I have always thought of it as a way to vent against the corporate machine, not attack the people on this site.

as for the poster above, if you think a corporation as large as Office Depot would respond to this site, you have alot to learn about how big business works. Executives do not visit this site and, employees are afraid to rebuttal just incase they do. It's a vicious cycle.
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#3 Consumer Comment

Who has the relationship

AUTHOR: Douglas - (U.S.A.)

Scapegoat? That would imply they are 'wrongly' blamed. While Office Depot could have been classified this way if it was an isolated event (1, 2 rebate offers/manufactuers at the most), it clearly is not. Not only is Office Depot riddled with complaints on this site for Parago/Wintergreen, they have others including one for an expired rebate they advertised AFTER it was already over.

Two things: offering something after it has expired means you need to stand behind the offer or make ammends in some form including refund of the item. People based their decision on the offer. Office Depot CHOSE to advertise it.

Second, they have the business relationship with that company and in the face of complaints, have chosen to continue such relationship. I suspect they are fully aware of the practice.

Bottom line is it comes down to business practices and ethics. I don't see any rebuttal from Office Depot.

Scapegoat? Not anymore.

All of this has changed my mind about shopping there at all. I won't do business with a company that I see clear evidence of bad business / ethics.
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#4 Consumer Comment

Let me clairfy

AUTHOR: Rj - (U.S.A.)

To all,

I'd like to clairfy a few things that you have implied about me. First, I am not an employee of Office Depot or any other office supply retailer. I have reread my original post and do not see how you could assume I did. Second, I was not defending Office Depot, just educating on the processes that retailers use for rebates and suggesting an alternative way to purchase and avoid the headache.

I personally do not let rebates dictate what or when I purchase the products I want. I simply wait for the product to go on sale WITHOUT rebates. Finally, I know of just as many people that have not had problems with rebates as that have. My personal opinion is that retailers DO wind up being the scapegoat on many rebates since they are the only contact the consumer has.
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#5 Consumer Suggestion

The FTC.

AUTHOR: Melinda - (U.S.A.)

From the FTC:

"The FTC cautions consumers against being "baited" by rebates that never arrive or arrive far later than promised. By law, companies are required to send the rebates within the time frame promised, or if no time is specified, within a "reasonable" time. "Reasonable" in this case often is interpreted as within 30 days." (http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/conline/pubs/alerts/rebatealert.htm)

When the customer is induced to drive to the store and purchase something is when the agreement is made. The customer has to expend time, money and effort to get to the store. This is part of the cost of an item. The store knows this. They know that once a customer is at the store, the customer calculates the cost of going somewhere else and often buys there to avoid the extra costs of going somewhere else.

So, it is unfair and deceptive to not include any terms in an advertisement that would materially affect the buying decision of the potential customer.

Office Depot, in my opinion, deliberately and fraudulently advertises prices that depend on terms that the potential customer would find objectionable and that they do not find out about until they have expended considerable costs in time, effort and money.

I think that RJ implied that he either worked for Office Depot or for some other company who had the same policies. My comment was directed to any company with the same policies. Where RJ works is not particularly relevant. He should not be defending these unfair and deceptive practices.

RJ can clarify if he wants to. And, why would the information that I have asked for be unavailable for publication? Because it shows how little you actually pay out. If it made you look good, you would publish it.

These practices, in my opinion, are a deliberate violation of Section 5(a) of the FTC act. [15 U.S.C 45]. And I think that the FTC needs to take some sort of enforcement action against all companies who have the same policies.

And, like I said, Office Depot outsources the rebate work to companies who do whatever they can to not pay legitimate claims. This is also unfair and deceptive. They say that they never received your submission or that it is invalid for some bogus reason.
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#6 Consumer Comment

Sorry to hear about your situation but.......

AUTHOR: Emma - (U.S.A.)

The majority of large retail stores do purchase their merchandise from the same vendors, but their overall profits can be different. This is due to a number of factors such as how much their employees are paid, general overhead costs, and the quantities of the item purchased from the manufacturer (larger quantities=less cost). Walmart buys in such large quantities, and pays their store emplyees so little, that they are then able to charge youm the customer, less for a product. Often times stores such as Office depot can purchase a particular item for less, charge the customer the usual price, and then offer a rebate.

I have read R.J.s Comments and feel that they are right on target. He does not owe you any sort of an apology, as there is no mention of him being a retail manager of Office Depot. He said he was A corp. retail manager, not a retail manager of Office Depot. Just as I am also A retail manager,(not for Office Depot), and have been for many years.

And in any case, most corporate managers have some form of legel agreement with their employers that they will not release any sort of company information regarding the very questions that were asked of him.
I agree that rebates can be time consuming, and a very poor way of passing on "savings". I have also read the court documents at the Indiana attorney generals web site pertaining to Wintergreen systems, and the best thing to do, it would seem, is to contact that attorney general. Good Luck,
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#7 Consumer Suggestion

Not just me, Everyone !

AUTHOR: Melinda - (U.S.A.)

I am complaining because I see a deliberate pattern of unfair and deceptive practices. They do it to make a lot of extra profit. This is a violation of Section 5(a) of the FTC act.

Companies like Office Depot deliberately advertise phony prices that they know they do not have any intention of honoring. And, it's not just Office Depot, there are far too many companies playing these deceptive games.

Rebates are a scam, plain and simple. Your post, RJ, should have contained an apology for your actions. Your defense of the policys only shows that regulatory and class action lawsuit action is required to deal with the problem.

90 days to send a rebate is unconscionable, deceptive and unfair. The policy is not listed in the advertisement. Today we have Supercomputers and a thing called the Internet. You would think that a company called "OFFICE" Depot would have heard of these things. Perhaps, in 1907, 90 days would have been considered reasonable.

The rebate can be done in less than 90 nanoseconds, if they wanted to. But, no, it has to be hand delivered to the top of Mount Everest at precisely Midnight May 13 2007. And it must be signed, notarized and witnessed by a Priest, a Police Officer and a Senator. And, then you lie and say you never got it or that it was disqualified for some other reason.

Why don't you tell all of us how much you actually pay out in rebates. I would imagine that for every $100.00 of available rebates, you pay out less than $1.00. Not a bad scam, if you can get away with it. I'm sure that you will come up with some lame excuse as to why you can't get or give out the data.

And, yes, a while back, I did get cheated by Office Depot. The amount was not a lot, it was the principle. I am still disappointed and I will never shop there again. I am considering a class action lawsuit to make them pay back the Millions of dollars they have made illegally.
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#8 Author of original report

Corporate toadie speaks...

AUTHOR: Bob - (U.S.A.)

RJ - surely you have seen the volume of other complaints about this particular rebate. Your attempt to justify higher prices and fraudulent rebates at OD is a joke.

All vendors are buying products from the same Chinese companies and I dare say their margins are probably the same.

But using a vendor such as Pargo/Wintergreen systems whose MO is to first deny the claim, then drag out the process for those few brave souls to 6, 7, 8, 9 or more months makes OD part of the fraud the Pargo/Wintergreen is neck deep in right now.

With the low number of people that fight for these rebates when they are so much longer than the 10-14 week promised - OD's margins especially on these rebate items probably is higher than any other retailer.

Unfortunately for OD, Pargo and Wintergreen systems some folks will fight. With Wintergreen currently being under review for past abuses I think there's a very good chance that an attorney will pick this up for a class action lawsuit.

You are a fool to respond here because a good attorney will do their best to find out who you are (assuming you are acting in an official capacity for damage control on this dog).

Then you just opened the deep pockets of OD up. Thinking you can hide two layers behind the fraud of Pargo/Wintergreen systems is silly when you interject yourself and OD into the middle of this.
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#9 Consumer Comment

Axe to grind

AUTHOR: Rj - (U.S.A.)

Melinda,

You must have been treated quite badly at Office Depot to keep bashing them the way you do. As a Corporate Retail Manager, I can tell you that ALL Speciality retailers use the same Rebate companies to fulfill thier rebates. True, this is an inconvience to the consumer but, wait for the product to go on sale WITHOUT a rebate to purchase it. Big Box general merchants, such as Wal-mart, buy in bulk from product auctions which is why they can offer deep discounts for thier products. Big Box speciality retailers do not use this practice to purchase inventory which is why the quality of thier merchandise is better.
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#10 Consumer Comment

Axe to grind

AUTHOR: Rj - (U.S.A.)

Melinda,

You must have been treated quite badly at Office Depot to keep bashing them the way you do. As a Corporate Retail Manager, I can tell you that ALL Speciality retailers use the same Rebate companies to fulfill thier rebates. True, this is an inconvience to the consumer but, wait for the product to go on sale WITHOUT a rebate to purchase it. Big Box general merchants, such as Wal-mart, buy in bulk from product auctions which is why they can offer deep discounts for thier products. Big Box speciality retailers do not use this practice to purchase inventory which is why the quality of thier merchandise is better.
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#11 Consumer Comment

Axe to grind

AUTHOR: Rj - (U.S.A.)

Melinda,

You must have been treated quite badly at Office Depot to keep bashing them the way you do. As a Corporate Retail Manager, I can tell you that ALL Speciality retailers use the same Rebate companies to fulfill thier rebates. True, this is an inconvience to the consumer but, wait for the product to go on sale WITHOUT a rebate to purchase it. Big Box general merchants, such as Wal-mart, buy in bulk from product auctions which is why they can offer deep discounts for thier products. Big Box speciality retailers do not use this practice to purchase inventory which is why the quality of thier merchandise is better.
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#12 Consumer Suggestion

Office Depot Sucks !

AUTHOR: Melinda - (U.S.A.)

I agree. Office Depot is either totally incompetent or they are deliberately trying to scam the general public.

They outsource their rebate programs to third parties who can not be trusted to perform.

You would think that a company in the business business would be better at business.

Business today is I.T based. So why are they making people MAIL IN rebates. Because they are trying to defeat their customers.

Office Depot, stop trying to trick your customers. Be more like Wal-Mart and just give a good deal. Wal-Mart does not play all of these games. Mail-in rebates, Loyalty card schemes and other such nonsense.
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