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How Conveeeenient…

Back before Thanksgiving, I was fixing the weatherstripping on my office window and accidentally stepped on my 8-year-old UPS. After the sparks had vanished and the smoke had cleared, it was clear the thing was a goner — both the battery-powered and non-backed-up surge-protected outlets were dead (despite a scorched spot the size of a hockey puck on the back, there was luckily no damage to the carpet). So, off I went to CompUSA to buy a new UPS.

That was on November 19.

As is typical of everything I have ever bought at CompUSA, the new UPS — an APC Back-UPS ES 500 — there was a mail-in rebate involved, which required me to mail in a form printed with my receipt to get $12.00 back. It was prominently printed on the rebate form that the purchase had to be made by December 19 to qualify, so I mailed it on November 22 to give it plenty of time. And then forgot all about it.

On Monday (that would be December 19), I received an email from the APC Rebate Center, which included a link to their rebate tracking website. I followed the link, and found the following information (click image for a more legible view):


(Below this, it lists a bunch of $15-$30 software packages to choose from, none of which were of any interest to me.)

In other words, though my purchase was made on November 19 and this date was printed on the form provided by CompUSA, APC Rebate Center (actually operated by a company called Parago) evidently held off on processing the rebate form until the rebate promotion had ended, and then tried to offer me what appears to be remaindered software in lieu of the promised (but now “expired”) cash rebate.

I’ll be sending them a letter tomorrow (since they don’t provide you with a means to contact them online or by phone when they decide to mess with your rebate), to see if I can pry the promised cash out of them after all.

This is the second time I’ve used a mail-in rebate (the other being on FrontPage 2002 purchased through Amazon), and both times I’ve had problems. Maybe I’m just unlucky with these things, but I have to wonder if the whole mail-in rebate concept isn’t just an upselling scheme, in which customers are enticed into buying a product on the promise of a lower net price, offered with the expectation that they will neglect to mail in the required rebate form within the allotted time…Naah, that’d be unethical…

ADDENDUM: You know, the more I think about this, the less sense it makes.

I could only get a rebate form by purchasing the UPS. They could only have contacted me if I had mailed in the rebate form. I was emailed the notification that my refund had been denied at 4:04am on December 19. Unless the Parago rebate center receives its mail after midnight, they must have received the rebate form prior on December 17th at the latest (the 18th being a Sunday).

The time stamp on the email itself proves that they had received the form prior to the end date of the rebate offer, and therefore the purchase was made prior to that, i.e.: within the promotion period. So, whether they go by the stated requirement of purchase prior to December 19, or try to move the goalposts and claim that the form had to be received by December 19, either way they owe me twelve bucks.

5 comments to How Conveeeenient…

  • Mike Puckett

    Threaten to contact you state AG’s office in your letter.

  • Dennis Wingo

    This is also mail fraud and the Postmaster General’s office really really likes to go after this type of fraud. Send a copy of your demand letter to the local PG.


  • Aaron_J

    I would disagree that using mail-in rebates and hoping that the purchaser neglects to send them in is unethical. Rather, it’s a calculated business decision. I have bought several items through Best Buy that way, and have received my refunds. I figure I end up with a lower price — conceivably even below market — because enough schmucks are too lazy to send theirs in.

    Not honoring properly submitted rebates — as in your case — is fraudulent. Go ahead and stick it to them. I’d address it to both CompUSA and Parago, and include the BBB in addition to the above suggestions.

  • I had a very similar problem concerning a rebate of 150.00 from circuit city, their rebate co. refused to give me my rebate,I called, threatened, spoke with the store manager, and got no where.
    So when I buy computer equipment now I deal
    with other companies, like HP.
    Really made me mad when it happened.

  • cj

    In my experience, threatening to contact one’s State Attorney General’s office usually “unsticks” things — from retail scams to health insurance “slow-processing”.

    Amazing, that.