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Follow-up: Buy.com and Connect3D STILL not honoring valid rebates!

Close Encounters of the Cheap Kind has a new home at www.CheapEncounters.com!

I posted previously about the Buy.com and Connect3D rebate fiasco. The short version is that Buy.com heavily advertises multiple memory cards for free after rebate in emails and on their website, the manufacturer disappears without paying out the rebate claims, and then Buy.com refunds a few customers who complained early about the situation and then shifted positions and now will not provide any refunds or allow for product returns. Any inquiries of Buy.com through customer service produce the same canned responses denying responsibility. Likewise, the BBB has shown themselves to be absolutely useless as hundreds of victims have filed formal complaints about buy.com on this issue, yet the BBB simply accepts the canned response as resolving the issue and closes the complaint, meaning that Buy.com’s official rating with the BBB is still very positive despite hundreds of unresolved complaints. So I ended up submitting my complaint to the California Attorney General’s office. Unfortunately, no action seems to be pending based on the responses received.

CA AG Response - July 26, 2007CA AG Response - August 9, 2007 (Pg. 1/2)CA AG Response - August 9, 2007 (Pg. 2/2)

As an FYI, it seems a user over on SD has filed a class action suit against Buy.com in hopes of forcing them to fulfill their obligation to their customers. Hopefully that will work, as everyone seems content to have the little guy take it up the tailpipe at this point.

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August 24, 2007 Posted by | Rebates | 4 Comments

Buy.com and Connect3D not honoring valid rebates!

Close Encounters of the Cheap Kind has a new home at www.CheapEncounters.com!

Here is a warning to the world to beware of rebates offered or advertised by Buy.com. Earlier this year, I jumped on three deals for free after rebate memory cards and thumb drives marketed under the brand name Connect3D and advertised on Buy.com. As these rebates are well overdue and there are rumors that Connect3D is out of business, I followed up with Buy.com asking that they honor the rebate. Much to my dismay, here is the response I received a couple of days ago:

Dear Buy.com Customer,

You recently purchased an item from Buy.com in which Connect 3D offered a manufacturer’s rebate. We regret learning that Connect 3D has failed to honor a rebate offered to you.

Reports are circulating that Connect 3D is now insolvent and no longer performing any business functions. We are investigating these reports. Indeed, before allowing Connect 3D rebate forms to be posted on our website, Buy.com took the additional steps of requiring financial statements from Connect 3D and obtaining a contractual commitment from Connect 3D to pay Buy.com directly for wrongly-rejected or extensively-delayed rebates. This contractual commitment allows Buy.com to bypass the rebate center and invoice Connect 3D directly on behalf of those affected customers who have contacted us directly.

Buy.com has submitted demands to Connect 3D to perform on its contractual obligations. Connect 3D has ignored those requests and has refused to pay Buy.com for any of the Connect 3D rebates owed to our customers. As a result, on July 6, 2007 Buy.com filed a lawsuit in Orange County Superior Court against Connect 3D and others (including without limitation, Connect 3D’s principal officers, Marc Levaggi and Mike Walsh, Connect 3D’s distributor, Wintergreen Systems and Connect 3D’s affiliated entities) for failure to honor commitments made to Buy.com and its customers. Litigation is unpredictable, costly and time consuming. However, it’s Buy.com’s belief that Connect 3D and the other defendants in this litigation should be required to honor your rebate.

No assurance exists that Buy.com will be successful in this litigation or in attempting to enforce any judgment that may ultimately be obtained.

We sincerely apologize for any hardship or inconvenience resulting from Connect 3D’s failure to honor your rebate. Buy.com wants to remain your favored internet retailer. While we pursue this matter, please accept the following gift certificate as an indication of our sincere regret.

Sincerely,

Buy.com

You are the recipient of a $10 Buy.com gift certificate from Buy.com Customer Support. You can apply this gift certificate toward any of the over 2 million products at Buy.com.

Hey Buy.com – you want to remain my favored internet retailer? How about standing behind the offers YOU advertised on YOUR website? I’m sorry, but a $10 Buy.com gift certificate is not equal to $100 in cash rebates that I am entitled to. I honestly don’t care what agreement Buy.com had with Connect3D and what litigation is being filed. Buy.com advertised the rebate, therefore it has a legal obligation to honor that rebate since the manufacturer refuses to.

I have already sent a reply to these bastards expressing my displeasure. If I don’t get my money within two weeks, it will be time to submit complaints with the BBB and the CA and TX Attorney General Offices.

Always remember my golden rule: “Everyone is out to screw you!”

July 13, 2007 Posted by | Customer Service, Rebates | 18 Comments

Update: KWorld Rebate Finally Received!

Close Encounters of the Cheap Kind has a new home at www.CheapEncounters.com!

Early last week I posted about an overdue rebate I was waiting on from KWorld Computer. I emailed them on Monday and wouldn’t you know they printed a check the same day and I got it in the mail on Saturday. From some of the postings on SD and FW it seems like their normal MO is to not pay at all until you call/email to follow-up in which case they immediately cut you a check. Pretty slimy that they are planning on people not following up to avoid paying valid rebate claims, but at least I got my money!

July 8, 2007 Posted by | Rebates | Leave a comment

Rebate follow-up: KWorld Computer

Close Encounters of the Cheap Kind has a new home at www.CheapEncounters.com!

Since I have a little bit of downtime this week, I am following up on several rebates that are overdue. The first on the hit list is a $20 rebate from KWorld computer for video input card purchased from buy.com. This is one of those I should have never jumped on, as many people on FW and SD have reported issues getting their money from these folks. As there isn’t an 800 number to call on the form and my cell reception is crap here (and everywhere, as it is Sprint), I sent an email to them based on a posting on SD. Here’s what they have received:

I am writing with regards to my valid rebate claim related to one of your products which is grossly overdue. I purchased the KWorld KW-LTV7131RF card from buy.com on 12/21/2006, which was promoted with a rebate offer for $20USD for purchases made between 12/21/2006 and 12/31/2006. The rebate was sent to the address specified with all required supporting documentation on 12/29/2006, and based on the terms of the rebate listed payment should have been received no later than 3/9/2007. However, now almost four months later I am still waiting on my money.

I hereby demand immediate payment of the rebate in the amount of $20USD, per the terms of the rebate offer. Please note that if payment is not received within 14 days of this email, I will be filing formal complaints against KWorld and Buy.com with the Better Business Bureau, the Federal Trade Commission, and the Offices of Attorney General in California and Louisiana. I will also be chronicling my experiences, positive and negative, on my blog at https://billyoceanseleven.wordpress.com for all of the world to read.

I am attaching copies of my documentation for your convenience. I look forward to receiving my money soon.

Regards,
Billy Ocean’s Eleven

For anyone else waiting on money from these folks, the email I used is priscilla@kworldcomputer.com. There is also a discussion at SlickDeals here.

July 3, 2007 Posted by | Rebates | 1 Comment

Rebate scams or user stupidity? Probably the latter

Close Encounters of the Cheap Kind has a new home at www.CheapEncounters.com!

If you know me or have read some of the prior postings on this blog, you will know I do a lot of rebates. Simply put, the types of deals you can get with rebates are just impossible to find without them (when was the last time a retailer let you have anything of value for free, or better yet paid you to take it?). However, a lot of people complain about rebates and I will admit that sometimes undue difficulties are caused by the fulfillment companies, like the Ultra rebate center thinking that Texas is a Canadian province. However, for the number of rebates I do, I feel like I have very few problems (probably about 10% will require some type of follow-up) and have always wondered why it seems like so many people say that they never get their rebates.

I think this article from the WSJ provides an interesting theory (although they don’t have the cahones to say it outright): most people are too lazy, busy, or stupid to submit them correctly or timely. The article said that they did a test submitting five rebates, of which they only received one check. These were the causes of the ones not received:

  • Incorrectly assumed that the UPC and the packing slip were the same as a receipt. Seriously, when was the last time you received a receipt for a purchase with no price listed? If you have, that’s probably not a receipt but a packing slip.
  • Not realizing that a rebate was an upgrade rebate, requiring proof of ownership of a prior version of the software product. Did they not read the form that said in big bold letters “Upgrade rebate”?
  • Misplacing the submission materials until after the deadline had passed.
  • One company is running behind on processing their rebate claims.

So of the four rebates not received, three of them were the fault of the user, not the rebate fulfillment house. According to the article, the lone rebate that was received had all of the paperwork compiled by a T-Mobile sales rep and only required a signature and mailing. That goes to show you if you actually read the instructions you’ll probably get the rebate.

For my system to ensure you get your rebates, please see my previous posting here.

May 11, 2007 Posted by | Rebates | Leave a comment

UPDATE: Canadians retreat from Texas

Close Encounters of the Cheap Kind has a new home at www.CheapEncounters.com!

About a week ago I did a silly posting on our geographically challenged friends at the Ultra Rebate Center. I received a rebate check at my address in Houston, Texas, USA that was made out in Canadian dollars and clearly denoted in the last line of the address “CANADA”. Well, I’m happy to report that Texas is no longer under the tyranny of Canadian rule, ketchup flavored potato chips have been replaced with the more traditional BBQ, and salsa is once again the condiment of choice. Oh yeah, and I received my rebate in US Dollars. =)

April 28, 2007 Posted by | Rebates | Leave a comment

Ultra Rebate Center: Texas is now a Canadian Province!

Close Encounters of the Cheap Kind has a new home at www.CheapEncounters.com!

I thought this was kind of amusing. Looks like maple syrup may be the new “in” condiment in the Lone Star State Province, according to the folks at the folks at the Ultra Rebate Center who have designated Texas as being a part of Canada, the land of poutine and ketchup-flavored potato chips.

The folks at the Ultra Rebate Center sent me a rebate check for $24 CANADIAN, drawn on Caisse Centrale Desjardins in Montreal. The check also has the mailing address listed as Houston, TX 77XXX CANADA.

I called the Ultra Rebate Center and they said they’ve had this issue a lot on this particular rebate and they would reissue the check in USD within the next two weeks.

April 17, 2007 Posted by | Customer Service, Rebates | 2 Comments

Tips to Make Sure You Get Your Rebates

Close Encounters of the Cheap Kind has a new home at www.CheapEncounters.com!

We have all seen the deals promising ridiculously cheap products – after mail-in rebate. Are these deals for real? Yes. Most of the hottest deals you will find involve some type of a rebate. I personally have ordered hundreds of dollars worth of stuff in the last few months that ended up being free after a manufacturer rebate.

The world of rebate deals isn’t always easy, though. The reason companies offer these deals is they are counting on a large percentage of consumers to either not bother with the rebate or not follow the directions exactly and disqualify themselves. Some estimates put the percentage at about 50% for rebates worth $100 or more, even higher for lower value rebates. Some manufacturers will also reject rebates for a phony reason or just not send a check, hoping you either forgot about the rebate or didn’t make copies of your submission to prove them wrong.

I posted this on SlickDeals a while back, but I thought it would be a fitting post for my new blog since I do a lot of rebates and will probably make quite a few posts about rebate deals and issues. Besides the obvious “follow the directions” advice, here are my tips on how to manage your rebates. In 6+ years I have yet to lose a single one.

1. When I order something that has a rebate from an online retailer, I print the print and complete the rebate form immediately, as well as the online receipt. These are filed in a folder in my desk until I receive the product. For in-store purchases, I fill out the rebate forms as soon as I get home.
2. Make a copy of all of the rebate forms, UPCs, receipts, etc., and save as a PDF file named with the date, product, and amount. I have a folder on my USB drive where I keep all of these, and a subfolder marked “received” where I move the files once the rebate has been received.
3. I keep an Excel file where I track both my online orders and outstanding rebates. On the rebate log, I list the date of purchase, date mailed, product, retailer, amount, expected date (computed as formula adding 10 weeks to the date of mailing), and date received. On each line I also insert a link to the PDF file I created with copies of the forms for quick reference.
4. As most of my rebates are for smaller amounts (less than $50), I usually just send them first class mail. I do try to be careful to pick out submissions that are over the 1oz. limit for a single first class stamp and weight and stamp those separately. I use the automated post office kiosk for these which prints the date the stamp was generated, although you could use stamps.com or similar as well.
5. As rebates are received, I enter them in the spreadsheet as received and move the PDF files into the received folder.
6. About once a month I will review the listing for overdue rebates and followup as appropriate. Often one phone call to the fulfillment house is all that is needed to validate the rebate. I log the number called, the name of the rep and badge number, date of call, and summary of the discussion (i.e., rebate validated, resubmit, etc.) in the comments section of the spreadsheet. If a resubmission is needed, I copy all materials resubmitted and note the date of the resubmission.
7. If the rebate still has not been received 45 days after followup, or if the call to the fulfillment center yielded no result, I follow up with an email or letter to both the manufacturer and retailer briefly explaining the situation and demanding payment of the rebate within 15 days. The letter notes the date originally submitted, the date by which the rebate should have been received based on the rebate guidelines, and that failure to send the rebate within 15 days of the letter will result in formal complaints to the BBB and attorney generals offices in both my state and their home state.
8. If still no response, follow through with BBB and AG complaints.

I have never had to go beyond step 8, and rarely beyond step 7. You can get some pretty interesting results by sending followup to both the manufacturer and retailer. I had a couple of DLink rebates a couple of years ago that DLink refused to pay because the promotional requirements they had were different than those from Office Depot’s register generated form. I followed up with both, and Office Depot decided to compensate me with a $50 gift card (the original rebate was only for $40) since DLink wasn’t willing to pay the rebate and then at the last minute DLink decided it would be better to go ahead and pay me off and validated my rebate. Another option is just to take your documentation back to the store you bought it from if it is a B&M and plead your case to the manager. It is a lot harder to say no to someone right in front of you and often the manager will just pay you the rebate out of the drawer.

Probably the toughest rebate I ever had was ironically only for $5. My wife bought some cooking pan from a department store that was on clearance and happened to have a manufacturers rebate on the box. Apparently this box was quite old because the rebate was not paid and when I followed up the original manufacturer had been acquired by someone else about two years prior. Initially they wouldn’t budge so I went ahead and filed complaints against both the original company and the acquiring company, and eventually I got a $5 check from their corporate AP department. Was it more trouble than it was worth, yes, but at least I kept my record in tact.

March 21, 2007 Posted by | Customer Service, Rebates | 2 Comments