Saturday, August 23, 2003

More Rebate Nonsense

Back in late July, I posted a whining complaint regarding what ridiculous scams Rebates are, along with a link to a CBS Msrketwatch story on the same topic. I bitched about a $50 TiVo rebate and 2 $70 rebates from Amazon Sprint.

They have both been resolved favorably. Here's the play by play:

TiVo first. I got one for my B-day last year -- October '02, with lifetime membership. Mailed everything out promptly. Three months later, log on to check on it -- nada. I call someone, get the usual rebate bullshit story -- please remail it in, I'm asked; Then check back in a few months.

I do, and wait another few months.

Just in case you missed the early part of the story, here's a reminder: These rebate firms are all lying weasel scammeisters. They count on 50% (if not more) of people not even mailing the paperwork in. The fools who do mail it in, they make jump through hoops. Its a pathetic example of the dark underside of capitalism.

So now its 7 or 8 months later; Mind you, I love my TiVo -- best toy (of many) in the house, edging past the iPod and the inflatable sheep.

I call TiVo customer service, which should win an award for top 5 worst voicemail systems outside of the Seventh level of Hades. Just awful.

Eventually, I get what sounds like a Human. I explain the situation, politely but firmly:

"I know this isn't your fault, but its been 8 months and I'm really tired of the run around"

Customer Service is polite, but unhelpful. That leads me to ask THE QUESTION. Any time you are dealing with this sort of bureaucratic situation, you must be prepared to ask THE QUESTION. It goes like this:

"I'm sorry, I missed your name?"

Its Ken.

"Ken, are you authorized to resolve this to my satisfaction? By that, I mean do you have the authority to approve cutting a $50 check?"

"No, I don't, sir"

"Thank you, Ken, you've been most helpful. Please put your supervisor on"

Note that this is spoken as a direct command -- not a request -- but rather, a firm but polite command. In the same tone you would tell your dog to sit. Not angry, not loud, just authoritative.

Supervisor Mary comes on. I oh-so s l o w l y retell my story. At this point, I've invested enough time that by taking an extra 90 seconds, its a tiny % to me -- but I'm getting Mary to spend time, and therefore have a greater commitment to resolving this. Its kinda what car salesman do; They are not really speaking to their managers, when they step out of the sales cubicle -- they are getting you to commit time.

I start out with a little sugar: "You know, I used to recommend TiVo to a lot of people. I love mine; its a terrific machine. (Pregnant pause. . . ) But I've (SIGH) stopped recommending TiVo to people -- Not with this terrible rebate experince I've been having. I'd really like to recommend the machine, but (SIGH) I cannot in good conscience . . . not when your firm hastaken over 8 months to send me a $50 rebate. Its a darn shame . . ."

This is all very seductive. I try to ourr th words out.

"Mary, this is penny wise and pound foolish. I've been responsible for 20 people buying TiVo in the first 4 months I had the machine. Since this rebate stuff got out of hand, not a single referral. And, its taking all the joy out of what should be a terrific user experience. Please help my TiVo get its mojo back."

Mary is apologetic, but goes to the default procedural rebate center bullshit.

Now its time to take this up a notch:

Mary, I don't know these rebate people, and quite frankly, I don't give a damn who they are. (Still quiet, voice steady). I have no relationship with them -- but I do have a relationship with your firm. (A little louder now ) I don't appreciate being fobbed off on some 3rd party, most especially some incompetant bureaucracy. I never asked to do business with them -- they have demonstrated that they are worthless when it comes to customer service. I am through with them. Done, Finito. Can you understand that Mary?

"Yes sir, I do, but there are procedures."

"Mary, can I ask you 3 questions?"


"When I ordered this, I paid with a credit card -- That transaction was approved, correct?"

"Yes sir."

"Then I ordered a lifetime subscription -- same credit card with my name on it. Was that transction approved? "

"Yes sir."

"And each night, my machine logs in from a phone line at the same residence where that credit card is, right?"

"Yes sir."

(Not too loud -- but with emphasis) "SO WHAT IS THE DAMN PROBLEM WITH HONORING YOUR REBATE AND MAILING ME MY CHECK? We just established unequivocally that I am an authorized fully paid for TiVo owner. Please honor your promises."

"There are rebate procedures sir."

Mary, here's my last question for you (Its THE question): Do you have authority to resolve this to my satisfaction? If the answer is no, than ITS MY PROCEDURE TO HAVE YOU CONNECT ME TO YOUR LEGAL DEPARTMENT, and we will resolve it that way.

"Yes I do Sir, I will look into it. You will here back from me within 10 days."

This was a Friday. The check came the following Wednesday.

On to nonsense from Amazon/Sprint

About the same story, only via email -- harder to be as effective via mail; I could not find a phone number for Amazon customer service. Similar runaround, hard to ask for a supervisor via email. When they suggest the rebate center crap again, I simply ask for their Legal Department Address (They sent it to me).

Fortunately, the checks arrived (2 for $70) ion about 10 days. Case closed.

The moral of the story: Never ever ever buy anything with rebates ever again. Never.

Posted at 10:46 PM in Shopping | Permalink


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>what ridiculous scams Rebates are, along with a link to a CBS Msrketwatch story on the same topic. I bitched about a $50 TiVo rebate and 2 $70 rebates from Amazon Sprint.

They have both been resolved favorably.

I don't know if I would call it resolved favorably. That is really stretching it. These companies and so many more of big companies are treating their customers like total shit and keep doing it over and over. And other big companies are joining in on the fun and profit too. I guess they are mostly getting away with it and it pays - so hey why not. But it is not right and will it be their downfall in the long run or not. Not if we don't call and complain more. Take a day off of work and make those complaints. Ya right, everyone is just too busy with their busy lives to get on the backs of these companies. They will keep sucking the money from our pockets and we keep letting them.

Posted by: Joni Solis | Aug 6, 2007 11:08:41 PM

NLP at its finest - good job :-) A friend of mine just bought a few computers requiring rebates to get a rock bottom price. I shook my head watching him fill out and fax rebate forms for 2 hours. He'll have to hunt them down for months probably as well. All that to save approx. $150.-, which he could make by just working an hour (he runs his own business). I don't understand people, but those marketing people are geniouses - had you pitched me the concept of a rebate 20 years ago I would have just laughed. But it seems that people are extremely bad at math and just love to be suckered into a bad deal. They gladly pay the higher tax on a price they 'think' they are getting, and finally they are happy to send their personal information to companies they don't even know. Which then of course gets resold to spammers and marketers. Yeah, really worth the few bucks you just 'saved' on your $99.- desktop printer - LOL.

Posted by: Michael | Dec 9, 2007 2:26:13 PM

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