Tech Company That Junked Unopened Rebate Claims Pays $10k In Fines

from the isn't-that-where-rebates-belong? dept

It's no secret that most people hate rebate programs. They're a pain to deal with, so many people don't even send in the rebate forms -- and then, the various companies that receive them often go out of their way to find reasons to reject them. However, a tech company in San Jose named Vastech went a bit further than that. Rather than coming up with ways to void the rebates, it was caught having thrown over a thousand unopened rebate claims into the garbage. The company has now paid up on all the rebates that it had junked and has agreed to pay a $10,000 fine on top of that. To be honest, that seems rather low for deceiving the public.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Matt Bennett, Jul 31st, 2008 @ 7:44am

    So, I got a rebate from Best Buy for me Tivo, right? (I know shoulda bought it online, but I wanted it NOW) They rejected it as a "non-participating retailer" as the receipt said MAGNOLIA, which the name of the sorta boutique section in the back of the store for high end stuff, and incidentally the company that owns Best Buy. I protested and got my rebate eventually, but only after much follow-up and yelling, and it took about 3 months overall.

     

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  2.  
    identicon
    Josh Martin, Jul 31st, 2008 @ 8:00am

    I vote with my wallet

    I rarely buy stuff that has mail-in rebates, and I often take the time to tell the cashier (and especially a manager, if I can find one), that I don't buy stuff that has mail-in rebates. In fact, I've taken the time to let them know that I'm going to buy from a competitor with a lower price that doesn't involve rebates. But, it's such a good scam for the companies that offer them, and the companies that (supposedly) fulfill them, that no amount of simple complaining will make a difference. When people simply STOP BUYING ITEMS WITH MAIL-IN REBATES, then the situation will change.

     

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  3.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 31st, 2008 @ 8:04am

    A rebate is just a legal scam to get you to buy something you may not have otherwise. I agree with #2, I stopped all together, sad thing is though. With all the suckers to prey on, it will never end!

    Offered rebate .... No thanks!

     

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  4.  
    identicon
    Phobiated, Jul 31st, 2008 @ 8:12am

    Liar Liar!!

    Dog ate my homework???

    Vastech's owner, Weizhen Tan, told the Mercury News in September that his 4-year-old company was behind on processing rebates that it had offered to consumers from February to May of 2007.

    When asked why the rebate letters were tossed out, Tan said it was due to a "bad employee." Later, he said that it was probably done by a friend of the family who was not a formal employee but was supposed to be helping out. That person, he said, probably threw the letters out because of "laziness."

     

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  5.  
    identicon
    Levone, Jul 31st, 2008 @ 8:17am

    Rebates usually work

    I know that this will bring a lot of heat because most people HATE rebates. However, there is a sure fire way to assure that you always get your rebate.

    1. Read carefully.
    2. Do it immediately. Don't wait or you wont do it.
    3. Always send it USPS - certified - return receipt. This will cost you $5 but is well worth it.

    I can't say that I have never been denied a rebate, but in 95% of those instances I was in the wrong not the rebate company.

     

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  6.  
    identicon
    Big Bunion, Jul 31st, 2008 @ 8:22am

    I like rebates

    Personally I like the rebate scheme. It's a bit of a pain, but I've only had 1 rebate out of hundreds I've sent in denied. I just keep a folder with copies of my submitted rebates. When the check comes in, I throw out my copy. If a form sits in there too long, I call and get it straight.

    The benefit to rebates is that I get a lower than normal price because the company knows that half of the people won't even request the rebate. I benefit from the laziness or forgetfulness of others.

    A manufacturer can sell a product for below their cost after rebate, knowing that a lot of folks won't follow thorugh.

     

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  7.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 31st, 2008 @ 8:23am

    Rebate Resistance

    Don't forget the nuisance of finding all the pieces that need to be sent in, getting "original" copies of the store receipt, cutting the box so you can't return the item if it is defective, making copies of the items that are being submitted, the postage, the envelope, filling out the forms, addressing the envelope, the record-keeping to check if you actually received the rebate months later, and further nuisance of finding out what happened to it when it doesn't arrive.

    Not only are mail-in rebates annoying, but failing to redeem one burdens the purchase with guilt and anxiety, so I now routinely pay a higher price to a different vendor to buy the same product without the rebate.

     

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  8.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 31st, 2008 @ 8:25am

    Re: Rebates usually work

    Do you do the arithmetic to make sure that the rebate less the cost of your time, envelope, postage, and receipt makes the price better than it would have been at another store? What do you do with the $5 rebates?

     

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  9.  
    identicon
    Matt, Jul 31st, 2008 @ 8:54am

    @ Josh Martin

    FYI.. Cashiers and store managers have nothing to do with the rebates. They print out of the register and they hand them to you. Telling them you are going somewhere else because of rebates is just a waste of your breath.

    And for all those folks that go back to the store to complain that you didn't get your money back.. Your just wasting the retailers time and ruining the customer service for everyone else (not that it was any good to begin with) Call the rebate company directly.. you will have much better results.

     

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  10.  
    identicon
    James, Jul 31st, 2008 @ 9:07am

    Re: Rebates usually work

    I disagree rebates put the onus of getting the discount on the buyer. Groceries stores already have a customer-friendly modle for providing discounts....its called a coupon.

    Stop putting us through all this hassle and put a coupon (even if its for a few % less) on the product itself and give the buyer the discount immediately.

    Rebates are a sham.

     

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  11.  
    identicon
    charlie potatoes, Jul 31st, 2008 @ 9:14am

    Re: Rebates usually work

    Ok, so let's see... you drive drive to UPS, you pay five bucks, plus gas money...and you only get screwed out of what is due you less than 5% of the time... Is this a great country or what?

     

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  12.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 31st, 2008 @ 9:25am

    Re: I vote with my wallet

    Are you serious? They will say that there is no interest in rebates and stop offering them.

     

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  13.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 31st, 2008 @ 9:27am

    Anyone who participates in any rebate program is a fool.

     

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  14.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 31st, 2008 @ 9:49am

    Scam central

    Rebates are a total scam, I will pay a higher amount just to avoid be associated with such nonsense

     

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  15.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 31st, 2008 @ 10:07am

    Re:

    Wow, you are right, I have never been denied one, but I am a fool...it is all so clear now.

    Can you tell me what OS is best for me too?

     

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  16.  
    identicon
    Gracey, Jul 31st, 2008 @ 10:24am

    While I don't generally buy items that require mail-in rebates, I have done so quite a few times while shopping the US. Several times I have purchased spindles of CDs (100) and DVDs (50) for $19.99 and received a mail-in rebate for $19.99.

    Did I mail it in? You bet I did. The result was a bunch of free discs. (shrug) Why not?

     

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  17.  
    identicon
    Leo, Jul 31st, 2008 @ 10:53am

    I do rebates all the time - 99.5% of the time, the check comes in with 0 hassle. only takes 5 minutes, to fill ,cut, and put lables and stamp. Well worth dothens of $$ coming back t me.

     

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  18.  
    identicon
    CM, Jul 31st, 2008 @ 10:55am

    While I too am guilty of neglecting to submit rebates from time to time, that laziness is usually on me. Lately i've noticed that stores like BestBuy actually help to customer out with the rebates.

    Typically, the cashier will print you 2-3 copies of the reciept so I dont have to find a copy machine.

    Some stores (Cosco for instance) actually have an online database were you can tract the rebates and see what the hold up is.

    I have never been denied a rebate unless
    1) I screwed up and didnt read the directions (I sent in a copy of UPC instead of original)
    2) I sent it in after the deadline
    3) I didnt enclose all the required information

    Rebates are a reward for diligence, and I can rarely find the product cheaper without rebates.

     

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  19.  
    identicon
    Enonymous, Jul 31st, 2008 @ 10:57am

    Works for me

    What a bunch of whiners... if you don't like rebates, don't use them.
    They work for me and plenty of others as evidenced by these comments.

     

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  20.  
    identicon
    jonnyq, Jul 31st, 2008 @ 11:05am

    Re: Rebates usually work

    95%? The only way you could have come up with that number is if you have been denied at least 20 rebate claims. After being denied 20 rebate claims, it shouldn't matter to you whether or not you followed all their little rules to the letter. You should rethink this a bit.

     

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  21.  
    identicon
    hegemon13, Jul 31st, 2008 @ 11:37am

    Re: Rebates usually work

    4. Always make copies of everything you send. I usually take a digital picture, too. That way, when they say, "You didn't include such-and-such," I can fax or email them the picture/copy and say "Look again." I have had to do that twice, and I got the rebate both times.

     

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  22.  
    identicon
    hegemon13, Jul 31st, 2008 @ 11:41am

    Re: Rebate Resistance

    "...cutting the box so you can't return the item if it is defective..."

    Okay, let's not exaggerate. If a store won't let you return a *defective* item because the box is cut, you need to shop somewhere else. That is a problem with the store, not the rebate. If an item is truly defective, most stores don't require the box at all. Now, if you don't have the UPC, and you want a refund rather than replacement, then you may not get the full refund.

     

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  23.  
    identicon
    Julia, Jul 31st, 2008 @ 11:42am

    Re: @ Josh Martin

    Wrong. Completely wrong. I've never had a problem getting any rebate check, but friends of mine had a hell of a time with their AOL-branded rebates offered through Best Buy on the purchase of a computer. Going into Best Buy and bitching loudly was exactly what they did, and the store manager stepped up and did the right thing.

    First he called the rebate company and they hung up on him, even after he identified himself as a Best Buy store manager. So he was so mad that he gave my friends in-store Best Buy gift cards for the amount of the missing rebate checks. In my view, that's a sign of a Class-A retailer.

     

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  24.  
    identicon
    Josh Martin, Jul 31st, 2008 @ 11:49am

    Re: Re: I vote with my wallet

    Totally serious. The statistics given about rebate redemption rates indicate that the companies involved are banking on most people either not redeeming the rebate, or not jumping through the hoops correctly. This is good for both the company offering the rebate, and the company fulfilling them.

    Read the posts below, and you'll see: It's a lot of work to actually get your rebate, and it's rarely worth the time involved. Unless you buy a lot of big ticket items with big rebates (say, at least $100), it pays less than working at McDonalds. And don't even get me started about why it takes 6 to 8 weeks to validate the rebate and send the check.

    Instant rebates I'll accept, and I use coupons. But mail-in rebates? Forget it.

     

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  25.  
    identicon
    Sandbagger, Jul 31st, 2008 @ 11:57am

    Re: Works for me

    Yet there are also plenty of us who think if would be better for everyone if manufacturers either reduced their prices or offered coupons or instant rebates. It's costly to the manufacturers to provide rebate programs, which ultimately only serves to drive up the cost of their goods.

    In general, I have no problem finding similar or identical goods at nearly the rebated price, without jumping through the rebate hoops.

    So, from us whiners to you, go pound sand.

     

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  26.  
    identicon
    Philip, Jul 31st, 2008 @ 12:05pm

    Rebates

    Unless it's an instant rebate I don't fool with them anymore - namely because Oyympus Camera found ways of denying two rebates one for a p10 printer and one for an E500. I like the camera but their refusal to make good on the rebates influenced me to go with Nikon. I've bought over $6000 in Nikon products which I now love. Had Olympus honored my rebates that money would have probably gone to them.

     

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  27.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 31st, 2008 @ 12:38pm

    Re: Re: Works for me

    Pound sound by Sandbagger?
    Not worth the effort for any jokes here...

     

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  28.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 31st, 2008 @ 12:53pm

    Re: Re: Re: I vote with my wallet

    I don't need to read other people's posts. I have never had a rebate rejected. I read every single bit of print about the rebate, not just the headline grabber.

     

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  29.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 31st, 2008 @ 1:22pm

    Re: Re: Rebate Resistance

    Okay, let's not exaggerate. If a store won't let you return a *defective* item because the box is cut, you need to shop somewhere else. That is a problem with the store, not the rebate. If an item is truly defective, most stores don't require the box at all.
    You don't seem to have much experience with such things. Many large retailers look for excuses to deny returns and "no box" or "no UPC" seem to be good ones. I'm talking about Walmart, Circuit City and other large US retailers. I just recently had an experience with Lowe's personally where they would not replace a defective outdoor light because all I had was the light and a 3-day-old receipt but no box (thrown away). I asked them if I could just go get a replacement light off the shelf and give them the box from that one and they said no, I had to bring the light in with the box. So I had to buy a new light, take it out to the parking lot, put the defective light into that box and then go back in and get a refund (rather than exchange) using the box from the new light I just purchased. Ridiculous, but that's the way excuses often are.

    As to shopping "somewhere else", which countries would you recommend?

     

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  30.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 31st, 2008 @ 2:28pm

    Was ripped-off by OnSale.com rebates

    I purchased two different model LCD monitors, mailed in the rebates. One rebate was rejected because my mailing address was a post office box (industrial park, no mail delivery), after three months of threats, I finally received that one. The other rebate was stated as "in process" but after a few months, I forgot about it and never bothered. This is the reason why I no longer buy from OnSale.com. Just about any sale is a mail-in rebate. Check it out yourself, but don't expect to see the rebate.

     

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  31.  
    identicon
    Lucretious, Jul 31st, 2008 @ 3:09pm

    Re: Rebates usually work

    I like what NewEgg does, it advertises the price and puts the rebate price in a less visible spot so it becomes more of a bonus rather than the main reason for purchasing.

    Matter-of-fact, if every online and B&M store emulated NewEgg.com's business ethics the world would be a better place.

     

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  32.  
    identicon
    Bart, Jul 31st, 2008 @ 5:31pm

    Re: Re:

    Can you tell me what OS is best for me too?

    Windows, obviously.

     

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  33.  
    identicon
    Anon-0-wuss, Aug 1st, 2008 @ 11:23am

    Soyo mobos

    I bought 2 different SOYO mother-boards from MicroCenter.
    Never got the 2 $50 rebates. Microcenter manager says SOYO is responsable. When I went to there website,
    it says there not responsable for there rebates, there
    handled by an outside company. Never go to microcenter
    since , bad mouth them EVERY chance I get.

     

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  34.  
    identicon
    Monica, May 1st, 2009 @ 3:04pm

    Re: Rebates usually work

    This is true, rebates work. I myself have bought several products with rebates and all of them were approved and paid. Sure, it takes time to get your money back, because rebate companies usually take about 10 weeks to send you your rebate. But, that's the price of paying below the normal price. My secret? I always read the Rebate Terms and Conditions and follow them. And contrary to what most people think, they are actually very easy to follow. However, because some people don't like reading, then they send in their rebate claims blindly and hope to God it gets approved.

     

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