Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Rebates: When they don't

Most the the time, my rebate checks arrive without a hitch. Sometimes, however, companies don't pay out as promised, and it takes a bit more effort. As previously promised, here are some tips on how to avoid non-paying rebates.

1. Avoid rebates with a bad reputation

It takes mere seconds to pull up company information (including complaints) with a google search. For instance, if you google "american telecom rebate," you immediately find numerous complaints of unfulfilled rebates. It's cheaper to learn from others' mistakes!

2. Keep accurate records, as explained here

If you don't document your rebate, you leave it up to a company's discretion as to whether or not they will be honest.

3. Is it worth your time?

Before chasing down rebate money, you have to decide if it's worth the time and effort. For $2, it may not worth your time. $75 could be a different issue.

4. Call the company

If it's past the time frame provided in the rebate terms, call company. (If there was a number provided in the rebate terms, use it. Otherwise, try googling the company name to find their phone number.)

Always be polite. Not only will you get farther, it's just right to treat them with the same decency you'd appreciate. You may need to be very firm, but polite and firm aren't mutually exclusive.

5. If you're not satisfied, talk to a manager

If customer service does not provide a satisfactory answer, ask to speak to a manager, and explain your situation to them.

6. Inform them that you'll take legal action

If a manager also refuses to help, let them know you will be taking legal action.

7. Do it

There are several ways you can go about reporting unfulfilled rebates. The Better Business Bureau has a simple form to file a complaint. You may also wish to contact the state Attorney General in the state the company resides in.

8. If all else fails...

Take your documentation to the store where you originally bought the item, and explain what you've done to resolve the situation. They may or may not be able to help you, but if they originally advertised a rebate, they're more likely to feel obligated.

Happy saving!


Jennifer said...

Wow, I wish I had thought to look up American Telecom a few months ago... Oh well. At least it was only $9.99 at CVS. Thanks for the great advice.

Katie Gregg said...

Good tips. I have pretty much sworn off rebates entirely (unless it's something I actually need and the rebate is REALLY good). They seem to be more of a headache than anything else!

CC said...

The rebate I previously mentioned in my comment was indeed "ATS". After I asked you about it, I followed up and tried to call. No answer, of course. Their website says my rebate has been "in process" since 8/3/2007! I wrote a letter and copied all of my documentation to send to them. I guess my next step is the BBB.....

Bethany said...

Jennifer and CC: I can sympathize--it was the ATS "rebate" that originally inspired this post.

Just a note, when you're filing with the BBB, it simplifies the search if you search for ATS by their website address (http://www.atsphone.com).