Consumer Rebate Rip Off, Rip-off, Ripoff
No Matter How You Spell It, It's Still a Rip Off!!!
Consumer Rebate Rip Offs, Rebate Rip-offs, Rebate Ripoffs
Perpetrated by Manufacturers, Retailers, and Rebate Centers

This Consumer Alert Page is Sponsored by Al Ruscelli Photography
League City, TX
(281) 538-0579

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Manufacturers, Retailers, and Rebate Centers
(The Consumer Rebate Rip-off Axis of Evil). 

Like a growing number of people out there who purchase consumer electronics, we are getting sick and tired of the rebate rip offs being perpetuated by entities that issue rebates (or fail to do so) on behalf of such companies as CompUSA and Fry's Electronics (to name only a couple) and the manufacturers whose products they sell.  We're tired of being ripped off!  And we're going to throw in our two cents right here and use the search engine popularity of our website to advertise our disgust with the situation. 

Whether these companies like CompUSA and Fry's Electronics are to blame, or blame also lies with the companies producing the products they sell (for instance, Microsoft and Thermaltake), there is still what we feel an unacknowledged and near conspiratorial cooperation amongst these entities that allows the rip offs to continue.  It seems as though the majority of rebate rip-offs are done in collusion with those hard-to-identify, third-party rebate centers who are supposed to actually issue the rebates.  I'm sure it's the rebate centers themselves who should shoulder the initial direct blame.  After all, they are the ones in the position of allowing or denying rebate claims.  But hey, it's a team effort here!  They're likely all in it together, to at least a certain extent.  I mention both CompUSA and Fry's Electronics, as well as Microsoft and Thermaltake, because I was recently denied rebates by all when in fact I had adhered very strictly to their requirements for submitting the rebates.  Yet the rebate centers sent notices informing me that I had not properly documented the rebate requirements or not made purchases within the rebate deadlines (both false). 

Specific instances where we were personally ripped off include purchase of the Microsoft Windows XP Upgrade via CompUSA (with a supposed $50 rebate) and purchase of a Thermaltake Tsunami PC case via Fry's Electronics (with a supposed $30 rebate).  While this does not sound like a lot of money, when you take these kinds of nonpayments and multiply them thousands upon thousands of times over, there is someone out there making a lot of money by rebates not being paid.  Sure, some rebates get paid.  And some are legitimately denied based on the customer not meeting the rebate requirements.  But many are just never paid and unjustifiably denied.  Make the rebate look easy to get.  Make the reality of collecting a pain in the butt.  Keep the money yourself.  Get rich little by little.  I'm not so much griping about the $80 in these two instances as I am about the principles involved.  At this point, I want to make sure that they know I'm going to at least take small steps to make these rip-offs end.  The more bad publicity my small web page brings these guys, the better. 

Consumer Rebate Ripoff Strategies
A Few of the Variations Used by Retailers, Manufacturers and Rebate Centers

  • In the store, make sure the rebate signs are very enticing and honest in appearance.  Make the consumer really feel they are getting a virtually "on sale" item rather than a potentially rip-off level rebate.  Dangle that rebate bait!

  • Promise the rebate so far in the future that the consumer will forget it was ever submitted.

  • Make the paper trail too complex to encourage proper tracking by the consumer.

  • Be vague about what needs to be submitted, especially in terms of UPC label or proof-of-purchase tag.

  • If actually sending out a rebate check, send the consumer the rebate in the form of an envelope or card that won't be recognized as a rebate check.  Make it look like junk mail so that the consumer unknowingly throws it out as just another piece of junk mail, thus never cashing in.

  • If rejecting a rebate, send the consumer a vague notice on why the rebate was rejected.

  • Make it difficult for the consumer to contact the rebate center unless they are willing to wait on hold for long periods of time until a representative becomes available. 

  • At all costs, make sure that the degree of difficulty in submitting and collecting the rebate is so time consuming that the consumer will value their own time more than they value the dollar amount of the rebate.  (If the rebate is denied at least once, the consumer will not likely contest the decision.)

Consumers:  Remember this About Rebates and Sales Tax

An item with an associated rebate is not an "on sale" item.  You will still be taxed on the full purchase price of any item that has a rebate associated with it, while an "on sale" item will at least get you a sales tax  break. 

Buy an item for $100 that has a $50 rebate, you'll still pay sales tax on the original $100 price.  Buy an item that's originally $100 but on sale for $50, and you'll only pay sales tax on the $50 sale price. 

So, when you go in and purchase an item with a rebate on it, and the rebate center does not issue you a rebate, you've essentially been enticed into buying an item at full price, paying full taxes on it, and having insult added to injury when you don't receive a rebate.  And all the time thinking you're at least going to get a rebate out of the deal.

The Retailer / Manufacturer/ Rebate Center Unwritten Rip-off Credo

"We don't make profits by issuing rebates.  We make profits by NOT issuing rebates." 

"When a loyal customer makes a purchase in good faith, repay them with unethical actions as long as it suits our puposes.  Who'll know?"

"Customers are only numbers, not real people.  Numbers don't need money.  We do."

"Screw the customer.  The screw them again.  What are they going to do about it?"

"Do whatever you can to get the customer to trust you.  Then rip them off."

We Have Personally Been Ripped Off by the Following Rebate Centers:

This one on behalf of Fry's Electronics, Thermaltake, and the associated Rebate Center

Rebate Center
P.O. Box 15800
Scottsdale, AZ  85267-5800

This one on behalf of CompUSA, Microsoft, and the associated Rebate Center

Rebate Center
P.O. Box 42930
Mesa, AZ  85274-2930

Someone help me with this: 
What's the deal with all these rebates going through places in Arizona?
Are the rip-off artists making their money then retiring to Phoenix afterwards?

This Consumer Rebate Rip-off Alert Page Sponsored by Al Ruscelli Photography
League City, TX
(281) 538-0579

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