This Is Why I Hate Rebates…


Wonder why you haven’t received your rebate? It might be because they just threw it away. Above are 1,300 unopened rebate forms that were dug out of a dumpster by a San Jose Mercury reporter (need a login?). Here is an excerpt:

I know that Shu Wong of San Jose hasn’t received the $3.50 mail-in rebate for a Vastech computer networking USB hub purchased at a Fry’s Electronics in May. Richard Louie of Austin, Olivia Sattaypiwat of Saratoga and Buu Duong of San Jose haven’t received their rebates, either.

I know this because they told me so, and because I am staring at more than 1,300 rebate requests sent to Vastech on Bonaventura Drive in San Jose. The envelopes were tossed – unopened – into a garbage dumpster near Vastech. I have two boxes of envelopes that were thrown out without being processed. In all of my years of reporting, I have never encountered such outrageous behavior against consumers.

Grrr. Did you know that rebate processing companies compete with each other based on their rebate rejection percentages? It’s part of their marketing materials… essentially “We reject more than the other guys, so go with us!” Makes you feel warm and fuzzy, no? Via the Consumerist.


  1. Joseph Sangl says:

    It is an uninformed person who believes that anything is slanted in favor of the consumer.

    I can imagine the company’s PR person trying to spin this positively … “We can scan these without opening them. These folks will receive their rebates … Can I have those rebate forms back please?”

  2. Walgreens have become disgustingly slow processing their rebate ofers. I mailed one off at the beginning of July and it is still being evaulated. I called them on this and the person I spoke to said they are receiving so many responses now that it is taking much longer. I think Walgreens has changed its processing company since they used to come within a few weeks. Has anyone else noticed the Walgreens slowdown?

  3. What about the possibility of identity theft? These guys throwing out rebate forms with people’s names/addresses etc…


  4. MONEY BLUE BOOK says:

    I try my best to stick with online rebates now, but many companies still insist on paper rebates, obviously to discourage customers from following through with rebate directions.

    I recall InPhonic, the wireless cell phone plan and device seller,operating such sites as Wirefly. was accused of deceptive rebate practices as well. They often make it extremely difficult to redeem rebates.

    They may fool some people all of the time and all of the people some of the time, but they’ll never be able to fool all of the people all of the time forever.


  5. I had sent in rebates for 2 cell phones, one for my wife, and one for myself. Granted, I shouldn’t have waited so long, as I almost missed the deadline. But the strange and irritating thing was that one of them was honored, the other wasn’t, stating it was after the deadline….but they were mailed (and thus should have been postmarked) at the same time.

  6. It’s all about organization. After making copies of everything, I usually put rebates in my to-do list on my smartphone with reminders to check on the receipt status prior to the submission deadline, as well as to remind me at the 6-8 wk point. It’s handy to have the 800# and/or web site as well. Trust me, when you call in and tell them that you submitted it on day X and that you are more than willing to fax them your copy if they haven’t received it yet, they cave pretty quick. They may make money on rejects, but not when they think you are willing to keep calling their 800# and tying up their operators, or ultimately have the documentation to submit to your AG if they stonewall. Of course, I’m not sure I’d even waste my time and a 41c stamp to get a $3.50 rebate.

  7. I have very bad experence on this. I bought a Connect3D SD cards for $50 from with $50 rebate promise on Feburary 2007. I submitted the rebate form and the rebate center got my rebate form… Several months later, when I found I didn’t get the rebate, I found out the Connect3D ran out of business… But doesn’t want to pay the rebate either… There are many people involved in this rebate case.

    I will not buy anything from anymore. And before I buy anything with rebate, I will look if the rebate company is a good big stable company…

  8. Rebates are definitely aimed at fleecing the lazy. Unless you copy everything, and have dates you are screwed. I submitted a rebate for a cell phone a few years back and they told me it was received late. I know I submitted it a week after purchase, about 3 weeks before the deadline. They had the nerve to tell me that I should have sent the mail certified.

  9. It’s DEFINITELY all about receipts, #’s, evidence, etc.

    I honestly don’t do rebates anymore. I used to have a folder at work where I kept all my rebate stuff & every Friday I’d pull it out & look thru it to see who I needed to call.

    It’s probably been about a year or so since my last rebate & unless I ever find something again that’s too good to pass up, I doubt I’ll do rebates anymore.

  10. James Wilcox says:

    This screams of a class action suit. Even though it’s ONLY $3.50, do the math. 1300 of those rebates is $4500 and who knows how many they have actually thrown away. I imagine marketing is using that number to manipulate profit margins. It’s a disgraceful way to do business.

  11. Sometimes they lie too. I sent a rebate form once along with all the documentations and official bar code. They returned me a mail weeks after saying that my request was not honored because the official bar code was not sent. I called them up and said that’s “fine”. I said I could sent a copy of the original. But he said my request was not honored either because of the expiry date of the rebate. I’m not saying all but some are scams. The only one I don’t have a problem with is the staples easy rebate. For others such as those Young America, I only take those as a sales pitch but not necessary to be redeemable.

  12. Alteratively, if everyone submitted and followed up on their rebates, they wouldn’t be able to offer nearly as high a rebate (thus the free with rebate offers). Perhaps you should view it as you getting a special discount paid for by other lazier customers…

  13. You know Jonathan, I’ve actually received several rebates over the years, but I’ve now stopped buying anything with a rebate.

    Trusting rebates is kind of like trusting the SEC. If the rebate (stock) falls through, you can bitch all you want, but you probably won’t get any money.

    The scummiest rebates, IMO, were the Dell ones where they would mail you a system and then you had to mail back a “mail-in rebate”. Huh? They just mailed me the system?

    Truth is though, I’ve noticed that top brands have started shying away from rebates. Once people started pissing the rebate tank (which they’ve done for a few years), then rebates basically become worthless. So if your readers haven’t already stopped, now’s a good time to stop buying anything with a rebate 🙂

  14. You know, despite my own personal reservation about rebates, and numerous reports like these… I’ve been getting great results from rebates lately.

    I finally got off my butt, sending the $50 cash-back rebate to T-Mobile for my blackberry. The rebate center got my form within 2 days, shoot me an email letting me know that they’ve received it and that they’re validating it. 5 Business days later, another email telling me its valid and that I should receive the check within 2-3 weeks.

    Got the check two business days later. Can’t complain. Probably because T-Mobile actually handles their own rebate.

  15. This isn’t the first time this has happened either. I remember a story from a few years back that the processing company for Circuit City was doing the same thing and it ended up costing Circuit City several million dollars over what it would have just to process the damned rebates.

  16. Remember seeing an article that some companies cannot make a profit without the percentage that never send in a rebate for some products.

    Rebates are a PITA. As said, if you are aggressive about keeping copies and following up, you usually get your money. Stay away from no name memory rebates. Only rebate I can remember where I never got my money back. Must have wound up in the recycle bin like the ones in your article.

    Like others, I am now avoiding the whole rebate thing when possible. Staples has been pretty good with their Easy Rebates. Never had a hassle with a Microsoft rebate (Young America is their processor but not all Young America handled rebates are hassle free). A lot of the problems are with the companies not funding their rebates as well as with the processors.

  17. I really hate dealing with rebates but luckily, I have not had any problems with the one’s I have submitted.

  18. This is how to get back to these people sometimes.
    I missed a $400 rebate by 1 day. What i did was call them and asked them the status of my rebate and they said they dont have a record. I said but i have the proof of photocopies that i kept. They asked me to fax it and it worked.

  19. This is why i dont believe in ethics and when companies or individuals talk about ethics, I laugh inside. Every company out there is unethical. I can guarantee this to you. Dont be a fool. From their hiring practises to the gentleman handshakes that go on, to their discrimination! Dont be a fool to think that people/companies are ethical.

  20. Fry’s is Forget Rebate, You Stupid.

    Those “stupid” people sent their rebate mails to trash by themselves. How could they blame Fry’s? The company already tell them the result by its name. 🙂

  21. C’mon guys, you said you hate rebates, but all of you buy stuff with rebate because the economics of rebate is just too attractive. And hoestly, you have to admit that 95% of all rebates, if filed properly, are honored. Even if you missed something, many rebate offers do still accept corrections. So to call all rebates “bad” is grossly unfair. On top of that, say we pass a law to ban all consumer rebates, you will see no more “free after rebate” items for sure.

  22. i also purchased this USB hub at fry’s and have NOT received my rebate yet. I was wondering why and now i know the reason 🙂 is there a website where one can lodge such complaints?

  23. what really gets me is when they require the original upc and then say they didn’t get it. I have the box at home with the code cut out but no way to reproduce it. Drives me nuts. Especially when it is a solid rebate.

  24. If I was affected by the Fry’s rebates mentioned above I would file a claim with the California Attorney Generals Office (easily done online).

    I would also contact Fry’s and demand my rebate and reference the tossed rebate forms (and who is to say their weren’t more that weren’t discovered by the reporters).

    I would also search for any previously “unreceived” rebates for Fry’s and demand payment on them based on their now proven policy of tossing unopened rebates in the trash.

  25. I’ve never had problems with rebates (use them all the time). When ever I read these posts or articles I roll my eyes. Rebates are not s’posed to be “easy” orelse they wouldn’t be offered, and I agree with the comment of being organized. Being very organized I have never seen a problem.

    But your post is eye-opening. Seems like there is some shady stuff going on too. Wow. Most of our Rebates are from Fry’s and I just assumed they had their act together a little more since we have never had a problem with them. They make the whole process a little easier too.

    I’d probably recommend not buying anything with a rebate if you wouldn’t buy it without the rebate. But I still enjoy cashing in my rebates. I always keep copies and believe me I would make a BIG stink if one never surfaced. Oh I would just like to see them try to put mine in the trash. But I have never had to go there yet.

  26. Rebates are hit or miss for me. Sometimes they’re beneficial, sometimes it’s crap.

  27. There are alot of fraudulent rebate companies out there. There used to be a company called CyberRebate that heavily relied on the premise that most customers wouldn’t return their rebate slips, and if they did, CyberRebate had a strong “customer (dis)service” team that would find all possible ways to reject the rebate forms as invalid. The NY Attorney General’s Office helped to put them out of business. Please report these companies to the authorities: Federal Trade Commission and your state Attorney General’s Office. If there are a mass of complaints, the authorities will investigate and hopefully shut them down :-).

  28. I hate rebates. Years ago I bought a printer from Bestbuy and never received the $50 rebate, and from that point on, I don’t buy anything from Bestbuy anymore. Maybe enough angry customers boycutting companies like that will make them think twice in engaging in these kind of deceiving offers.

  29. Rite Aid has the best rebate system of all of the companies from which I have requested rebates. With Rite Aid, you don’t have to mail in anything. Just enter the receipt info online and request a check once a month. Hopefully soon they’ll implement a system by which they’ll put the rebate money on a reloadable gift card or send it online via a company like paypal.

  30. Hate rebates. Spent more time with Fry’s than I care to think about. (They have a dedicated department for rebate problems because it is so common I guess.)

    Have had good experience with Seagate rebates. They are usually on time, on the sooner side of the number of weeks range they give you.

    But Apple is the best. Sent in a $100 rebate 3 weeks ago for their printer promo. Just got the check today. Way sooner than the 8 weeks quoted on the form.

  31. Just filled out my last rebate forms today.. never again. I spent about 2 hours total after all the problems I ran into with the entire process, but hey I’ll get 10 big ones for this… never mind the fact that I could have stayed and worked an extra 2 hours at work and got 60 dollars for it. Most likely I’ll never even see my 10 dollars anyway. It’s all just a marketing scam.. and for those that don’t bother to pay you at all, a total scam. A price “after rebate” is not the price.. it’s useless information that sounds good and tricks stupid people (marketing).

Speak Your Mind