Tooth and Nail

I’ve had some not-so-smooth experiences with rebates lately, which are reinforcing my habit of actually keeping information about rebate submission and checking up on them when I invariably don’t receive them.

First of all, my cell phone recycling rebate didn’t come within the allotted amount of time. I called Sprint, who told me that I needed to call the (separate) company that ran the program. I called them, and they claimed that I needed to specially request a rebate check since I was no longer a customer — in spite of the fact that the rebate flyer, in no uncertain terms, said that I didn’t need to do anything special if I was no longer a customer. Ridiculous. On top of that, they told me to expect a check "in 4-8 weeks," which, if I were a cartoon character, would have precipitated steam coming out of my ears. Fortunately for my blood pressure, the rebate actually came within two weeks, and was quickly deposited before any further mischief could take place.

Second, as an owner of the now-orphaned HD-DVD add-on for the 360, I was entitled to a $50 Best Buy gift card, which, again, was alleged to have been sent without any action necessary on my part. I called them this morning to investigate the whereabouts of my gift card, and, on my first attempt, was redirected to a recorded message repeating the details of the program (which was linked earlier in this paragraph). After the recording played, it disconnected me, and I had to call back (and endure another 10 minute wait on hold) to talk to a human being who might actually be able to help me. I stressed that I already knew the details of the program, and that no action was, in theory, necessary on my part, but that their infallible system had somehow neglected to throw some crumbs my way. This got me another 10 minute wait, followed by a conversation with an extremely helpful representative (not being sarcastic), who noted that the gift card had never been sent, because "it says you needed to verify your address." As in the case with the Sprint rebate, I was initially informed that, because they already had my information on file through their rewards program, that no action was needed from me to receive the gift card. I am now expecting the gift card "within 4 weeks."

I have started setting up Outlook appointments for myself to check up on rebate-related matters — it’s ridiculous that I need to go to these lengths, and I suspect that there may be grounds for lawsuits out there (particularly since similar shenanigans are easy profit), but unless rebate administrators shape up their act, I’d rather be paranoid than never get the rebate that is rightfully mine.

Oh, bonus rebate-related insanity: Fry’s no longer gives you a rebate form with your receipt — instead, they make you go to a web site and print it out yourself! This is such a ridiculous penny-pinching maneuver — they should be ashamed of themselves.

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