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.

Filed Under: ,
Companies: vastech

Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

Comments on “Tech Company That Junked Unopened Rebate Claims Pays $10k In Fines”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
34 Comments
Matt Bennett says:

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.

Josh Martin says:

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.

Josh Martin says:

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.

Phobiated says:

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.”

Levone says:

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.

James says:

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.

Monica (user link) says:

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.

Big Bunion says:

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.

Anonymous Coward says:

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.

hegemon13 says:

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.

Anonymous Coward says:

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?

Matt says:

@ 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.

Julia (profile) says:

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.

CM says:

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.

Sandbagger says:

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.

Philip says:

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.

Anonymous Coward says:

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.

Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published.

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop »

Follow Techdirt

Techdirt Daily Newsletter

Techdirt Deals
Techdirt Insider Discord
The latest chatter on the Techdirt Insider Discord channel...
Loading...