• Report: #180346
Complaint Review:

Buy.com / Inphonic Rebate Center

  • Submitted: Thu, March 09, 2006
  • Updated: Thu, March 23, 2006

  • Reported By:Woodbridge Virginia
Buy.com / Inphonic Rebate Center
buy.com Internet U.S.A.

Buy.com - Inphonic Rebate Center Cellphone Rebate Ripoff Internet

*UPDATE Employee: Resolution

*Author of original report: The terms of service were relayed AFTER the purchase was made

*UPDATE Employee: Please read Terms of Service before you agree to them

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I am so mad right now. These people are crooks.

I bought a Motorola cell phone and Cingular service plan from buy.com with the understanding that I would be due a $300 rebate (cost of the phone).

The package arrived along with a set of rebate forms. There were 2 of them (each for $150). There were multiple requirements, forms, upc codes, photo copies and other things to be included. But the most ridiculous requirement was to send the rebate after 150 days and BEFORE 210 days. WTF??

But OK. I set reminders in Outlook and followed all the rules and requirements. I waited 6 months, and then sent in all rebate documentation. And then I waited.

The rebates were supposed to arrive within 10-12 weeks. That period of time passed without any rebate arrival. So I wrote them, and they responded that the rebate was 'in process'. So I waited some more. Still no sign.

Apparently, a company by the name of 'Inphonic Rebate Center' handles all mobile phone rebate matters for buy.com. After going through a million hoops and phone calls, I contacted them, and this time they responded that the rebate forms were 'post marked too late'. They were refusing the rebate.

First off, m*&^f&^@#%$s: why would I wait 6 months to send in the rebate form 'late'? Second.. the requirement is ridiculous to begin with. It is an UNREASONBLE expectation for the buyer to perform a task 6 months into the future so as to receive their rebate. buy.com did not disclose this ridiculous condition when I purchased the cell phone. Might as well ask the buyer to do jumping jacks 6 months into the future now in order to receive their rebate.

The only answer can be that these people are perpetrating a scam. I for one am not going to take it. These people deserve to go to jail.

Woodbridge, Virginia

This report was posted on Ripoff Report on 03/09/2006 09:27 PM and is a permanent record located here: http://www.ripoffreport.com/reports/buycom-inphonic-rebate-center/internet/buycom-inphonic-rebate-center-cellphone-rebate-ripoff-internet-180346. 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.

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Updates & Rebuttals

#1 UPDATE Employee


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

I sincerely apologize if you feel you've received inferior service either from us or from our rebate processing company. While I do stand firmly by my earlier assertion that the terms of the rebate are clearly available for review at all stages of the purchase process, I nonetheless will ensure that the appropriate departments in our organization continue to look for additional ways we can improve in this area.

I appreciate your support. Please feel free to contact me if you have any additional issues or feedback.

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#2 Author of original report

The terms of service were relayed AFTER the purchase was made

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

Dear Ms. Dennis,

There are two reasons why I am upset.

I feel that your business is involved in deceptive practices.

It is NOT the case that buy.com informed me of the do something in 7 months' rule of the rebate prior to my making the purchase. The purchase was made online on the buy.com website, and there was no Inphonic Shopping Cart' involved. There wasn't even a mention of Inphonic. Perhaps this was an oversight on your part, or the fulfillment vendor (a domain name for Helgeson Enterprises is listed on the rebate form which arrived in the mail with the cell phone). But in combination with everything else that has transpired, I do not believe it was accidental. I think it is a case of making a promise to make the sale and then informing the user that there are strings attached to the promise after they've made payment. In the old days, unethical businesses used to fool consumers with fine print'. In this case, there was NO print.

The first I was made aware of the unconventional 180 to 210 day rule was when I received the package from buy.com and looked at the rebate forms. This is AFTER I had made the purchase decision and made payment. I would not nearly be as upset if I had been told of this rule and had agreed to it PRIOR to making my purchase decision. I ought to mention here, that that your email is the first that I have heard of Wirefly. I think that you might be mixing up the various shell companies that your business uses.

What is fundamentally wrong is that your business is involved in putting up barriers to make it difficult for a consumer to receive their rebate. You know it, I know it, and so does everyone else. If your business wanted to make it easy for users to receive their rebates, they would do it. This is just not the case. Why would you require a consumer to send in their rebate between 180 to 210 days after the purchase was made? Why not right away? Why is there a deadline? If you lent money to someone, would they stop owing you after a deadline if you hadn't asked them to pay up? I don't think so. The inescapable conclusion is that your business tries to make it difficult for consumers to collect their rebate.

It is my opinion that failing to find an infraction of your post sale' rules, your business has simply manufactured one to deny my rebate.

A representative has informed me that my rebate forms arrived 2 days late. That would mean that I waited 7 months (210 days), just to send the forms 2 days late.

How non-sensical is that?

I mailed the forms at least 5 days prior to the 210 days. Why not earlier after the 180 days you ask?? Well, could it possibly be because I had to wait for my Cingular statement so as include a copy and be compliant with one of your other rebate rules?? How convenient that trying to be compliant with one rule would create difficulties in complying with another!

You must understand that from my perspective, what your business is telling me is that after jumping fifteen hoops and cones like a circus animal, that I didn't do it fast enough, and that I am denied a reward (I am simply using the word reward to carry the circus animal analogy. It is not a reward. It is what I am due.) Your asking me to jump hoops and cones is wrong to begin with.

Here is an update on my situation:

I received an email yesterday from buy.com informing me of their decision to refund my rebate. I will believe it when I see it. But it seems that someone in one of the involved businesses has agreed with what I've been saying.

But I'm probably just one of the 5% who are so outraged so as to put up a fuss. What about the other 95%?

I must say Ms. Dennis, that my email correspondences with individuals at Continental Promotions Group and our correspondence has been cordial. So perhaps it's important to say here that sometimes there are good people who work for bad organizations. All I can say to these people is that you cannot just ignore what is happening and escape moral responsibility. There is more honest work out there. Have the courage.

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#3 UPDATE Employee

Please read Terms of Service before you agree to them

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

Dear "Pi**ed"
I understand that you are upset, and I agree that the rebate process takes a long time. But the rebate terms are also clearly stated during the shopping process on Buy.com (where you see how much the rebates are worth) and AGAIN during the checkout process in the InPhonic shopping cart.

In fact, our customers are required to actively check a box stating that they understand the 6-month requirement before they are allowed to complete the purchase.

Furthermore, we go so far as to publish a website dedicated to helping customers understand the rebate process (http://www.wireflyrebates.com/) in addition to the information clearly available during the shopping process.

On the web site http://www.wireflyrebates.com/, as well as many other places on the web, it is explained why cell phone rebates (not just ours) require proof of eligibility 6 months out. It has to do with when the carrier pays InPhonic.

I am disappointed that you find the terms unreasonable, as we are working very hard to make the process of online activations (which is a very complicated process!) as transparent as possible.

I hope your dissatisfaction with the rebate process does not discourage you from recommending our service to friends who may be willing to wait the necessary time, as many of our customers do, (http://www.wirefly.net/reviews/index.htm) or to take advantage of our many deals that do not require any mail-in rebates.

yours sincerely,

Doreen Dennis
Office of the President
InPhonic, Inc.

p.s. If you feel there are ways we can improve the way ask customers to acknowledge the terms of service, please let us know as we value your feedback.
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