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Best Buy to Eliminate Rebates 609

Posted by Zonk
from the that'd-be-nice dept.
plover writes "According to the Minneapolis Star Tribune 'In response to customer complaints, Best Buy, the world's largest electronics retailer, promised today to eliminate mail-in rebates within two years.' Can it be that we're finally nearing the end of one of the most hated marketing ploys of all?" Further commentary available at BusinessWeek.
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Best Buy to Eliminate Rebates

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  • Enough... (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 02, 2005 @02:47AM (#12118734)
    ...with the April Fool's posts!
    • Re:Enough... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by errxn (108621) on Saturday April 02, 2005 @05:49AM (#12119145) Homepage Journal
      Sadly, this is no April Fool's post, whether it was intended as such or not. I have yet to see the rebate check for the very laptop I'm typing this post on, and I mailed the claim in the Monday after Thanksgiving.

      Nor do I expect to see it, nor am I going to even bother bitching to Best Buy about it. As they say, "don't throw good money after bad."
      • Re:Enough... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by tdemark (512406) on Saturday April 02, 2005 @08:08AM (#12119305) Homepage
        I have yet to see the rebate check for the very laptop I'm typing this post on, and I mailed the claim in the Monday after Thanksgiving.

        So, why don't you call the number on the rebate form? You know, the one that you kept a copy of, along with copies of the UPC and receipt?

        I've done several thousand dollars of rebates over the last three years and I have never not received them in the end. On a few, I did need to call in when the turnaround date passed without a check. That's why it is really important to keep copies of everything you send in as well as the appropriate due dates for each.

        - Tony
        • Re:Enough... (Score:5, Informative)

          by sosegumu (696957) on Saturday April 02, 2005 @09:14AM (#12119414)
          I've done several thousand dollars of rebates over the last three years and I have never not received them in the end.

          That has *not* been my experience--especially with larger rebates.

          My brother-in-law and I both bought Compaq notebooks at a big box electronics store with a $100 rebate from Compaq. Strangley, both of us got a notice saying that our rebates forms were illegible and to resubmit them. Of course those were rejected since they did not contain the *original* UPCs from the package since we sent them in on first go-round and they were not returned with the notice.

          After numerous calls to Compaq with no resolution, I filed a complaint with my state's Attorney General's office. My brother-in-law did nothing. I got my refund in less than a week; my brother-in-law never received his. Coincidence? I think not.
        • Re:Enough... (Score:3, Interesting)

          by suso (153703) *
          You might be the exception more than the rule. Lately I've had better luck with rebates, but I haven't done one through BestBuy in a while. About 2-3 years ago when I tried to do them, there were 2 that I didn't ever receive and I followed the rules of the rebate perfectly. But it was for $10 or something so it wasn't really worth my time to call about it. Unfortunately thats probably what they are counting on. Rebates are bad for consumers.
        • Re:Enough... (Score:4, Insightful)

          by rtphokie (518490) on Saturday April 02, 2005 @11:39AM (#12119870)
          You and me both. I've only had to fight on one rebate, with Staples. I got a card in the mail that said sometime to the effect of "Your purchase on 3/1/2001 does not fall within the rebate offer for purchased made within 3/1/2001 and 3/31/2001". After I picked my jaw up off the floor, I called the number, they said there was nothing they could do.

          I called the local Staples store and asked the mangager to resolve it. He refused until I asked what he would rather do, solve this problem with me, with the consumer reporter on the local news, or the North Carolina Attorney General's office. I got a call back from Staples corporate HQ the next day and my rebate check via fed a couple days after that.

          Rebates are bad when they are simply sales that should be offered in store. When they are deep discounts, I like them because I'm organized enough to actually send them in and keep track of what I've received and what I havent.
  • Mail-in sham... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 02, 2005 @02:48AM (#12118739)
    Mail In rebates are a sham, in that it takes 8-12 weeks for the check to come in. I am not going to wait 3 months for a 2 dollar check.
    • Their rebate policy was flawed, but so are their other "policies". I will no longer shop at Bust Buy because "policy" always trumps the customer.

      Take for instance their refund policy. If you buy a computer, and pay cash, and that computer doesn't work when you get home - you must wait for a check if you want to return it for a full refund. I advised my mother on going there because of the good prices. She paid cash and got a good deal. The PC was fried and they didn't have another to exchange.

      Apparently another policy is that Bust Buy doesn't ship items from store to store or order replacement items if they are out of stock. Her options were: Wait 1 month for them to fix the computer, for free; wait 6 to 8 weeks for a refund; or pay the manufacturer to ship a replacement (and pay to take the broken machine).

      After their sales staff insulted her in the store (only for wanting what was due), she decided to get the refund and buy a machine elsewhere.

      Still, if I pay cash - why should I wait for a check in the mail? Cashing a check isn't cheap for people who don't have checking accounts, not everyone does have one too. Hell, they discourage the use of checks as it is.

      Someone should also look into the fact that they never honor their rewards program. In one visit we bought $300 in DVD's and was supposed to get a $25 store credit in the mail (after paying another $10 to join the "club"). The credit never came and they don't even have us on file. Worst part is that we bought more, expensive, items there hoping we'd get a reward!

      Scam!
      • by sumdumass (711423) on Saturday April 02, 2005 @04:11AM (#12118983) Journal
        what took me over the limit was when i bought a hardrive. They assured me the rebate would only take a couple of weeks so i put the extra money out with hopes that the $30 would be back in time to pay my car insuance.

        It sure was refunded in time. only problem is that they sent it in the form of a $30 gift card and was only good at best buy. I took a copy of the add along with a copy of the reciet and warenty info that they gave me when i bought the hardrive. They said nothign could be done, either sppend the credit on the giftcard or let it expire. I guess if i had enough money, i should have taken them to small claims court or somethign.
        • by Hadlock (143607) on Saturday April 02, 2005 @04:52AM (#12119059) Homepage Journal
          no shit you picked a good user name! play the retail game - politely ask form some pen and paper, and when they give it to you, ask to see the manager so you can get his or her boss's name and number + corperate. at which point they'll bend over backwards and give you the cash you should have recieved.

          on the other hand i have zero sympathy for you risking your credit rating over a stupid hard drive - you should never make impulse buys over $50, especially if you have to budget your money as closely as you apparently do.
      • Still, if I pay cash - why should I wait for a check in the mail? Cashing a check isn't cheap for people who don't have checking accounts, not everyone does have one too. Hell, they discourage the use of checks as it is.

        Many stores don't do cash refunds because they don't want to keep large amounts of cash on hand just in case somebody needs a refund. Cash is too tempting for robbery or sticky fingers.

        You can pay for large items in cash, sure, but if it's over a certain amount (varies by store policy

      • by pipingguy (566974) on Saturday April 02, 2005 @05:23AM (#12119109) Homepage

        Still, if I pay cash - why should I wait for a check in the mail? Cashing a check isn't cheap for people who don't have checking accounts...

        What are you, some kind of communist?
        • Joke? (Score:5, Insightful)

          by ImaLamer (260199) <{john.lamar} {at} {gmail.com}> on Saturday April 02, 2005 @05:32AM (#12119124) Homepage Journal
          I hope it was.

          Think of the logic behind this:

          I'm Joe Sixpack.
          I save up my money to buy a television.
          I get there and get the last one in stock because I had to save up my dollar bills.
          I get it home, it doesn't work.
          I take it back to the store to get a refund.
          They tell me that even though I gave them cash, the most liquid form of payment, that I will get a check in the mail.
          8 weeks, or 2 months, later I get a check.
          The check isn't liquid.
          Banks charge $5.00 just to cash it even if it's drawn at that bank.
          Liquor stores want 2 to 6% of the check just to cash it.

          I'm serious when I say not everyone has a checking account. I can't for various credit reasons, my father couldn't because of a nasty divorce which left him in bankrupcy, with fees it may not be affordable, I may not have enough money to use the checking account.

          Remember, there are people out there scraping by. No matter, why should I take a check from you when I gave you cash?
          • Re:Joke? (Score:4, Insightful)

            by pipingguy (566974) on Saturday April 02, 2005 @09:33AM (#12119445) Homepage

            Of course it was, and I'm glad you got modded up for the reply. I have been there myself and I still haven't bothered to try to "re-establish a credit rating". If I cannot pay cash for something, I just don't buy . Pretty simple, and it keeps me out of debt.

            I don't figure I'll need a mortgage in my lifetime, so it works for me.
          • Re:Joke? (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Anonymous Coward
            Maybe if you're so bad off that you can't afford to cash a check...


            YOU SHOULDN'T BE BUYING A TV
            • Re:Joke? (Score:4, Insightful)

              by netfool (623800) on Saturday April 02, 2005 @01:28PM (#12120336) Homepage
              You missed his point. He gave them cash (as liquid as it gets). They gave him a check (not so liquid). He has to pay a fee just to get his money back into liquid form - even though they were in the wrong (by selling a broke TV).

              Besides, there's nothing wrong with saving up towards something. It's not like he said "I'm Joe Sixpack. I blew my paycheck this weekend on a TV & now I can't afford my mortgage payment... I'm going to lose my house because I wanted a pretty TV."

      • by mythicflux (794321) on Saturday April 02, 2005 @06:47AM (#12119224)
        Take for instance their refund policy. If you buy a computer, and pay cash, and that computer doesn't work when you get home - you must wait for a check if you want to return it for a full refund. I advised my mother on going there because of the good prices. She paid cash and got a good deal. The PC was fried and they didn't have another to exchange.

        Of course you do have the option of having them do a functionality test, it's a bit of a hastle given that they charge a while $0.00 and that it takes a whole 5-10 minutes to verify that the machine boots correctly (assuming you have to go through a setup process).

        After their sales staff insulted her in the store (only for wanting what was due), she decided to get the refund and buy a machine elsewhere.

        That truely does suck, but I would have to ask this, what kind of insult was it? Don't get me wrong, I had a computer salesman imply that I had some damaged my video card purchased 2 days prior which had a TV encoder IC chip actually blow out, (I could see the silicon inside sitting at an angle) and he had the audacity to say "well if you don't know what you are doing" to certified computer technician with years of experience. So I understand that people do say insulting things, but also having held a job way back in retail I can tell you that people are rather fscking nuts, I've been called a fscking idiot because I could not move a customer from a terminal that needed to be restarted (and was about 2 minutes away from being usable again) to a terminal already in use by an existing customer in a department which was not my responsiblity. The issue was that the gentleman in question had gotten this view that right after Christmas with the returns line being 2 hours long that he was somehow more important that the people who had waited just as long as he had. And that my refusal to immediatetly bow down to his demands while he was insulting me was completely unbelievable.

        The point is, those clerks may have been majorly stupid and disrespectful, or it maybe that the situation turned a poor choice of words into an insult for your mother which really wasn't meant to be taken that way.

        Still, if I pay cash - why should I wait for a check in the mail? Cashing a check isn't cheap for people who don't have checking accounts, not everyone does have one too. Hell, they discourage the use of checks as it is.

        Because, as with most major retailers, the company limits access to money to prevent potential theft from employees and other unknown people. Odds are that that money you handed to the cashier was taken from the front register and placed in a safe to ensure that the company wasn't risking loosing 500+ dollars (and not just the cost of your machine). People have a habit of attempting to rip off major retailers all the time, they return false products sans important components or they return just the empty boxes and stupid clerks don't bother to check the box. So as a safety measure, ask yourself this, if you ran a store generating a $10,000 a day and had to just choose some guy you may not know personally to handle that amount of cash, wouldn't you feel concerned about the possiblity that that guy could accidently send a few extra hundred dollars some guy returning something, now, multiply that by they 600+ store Best Buy has. Isn't it a safer bet to have some bean counter hit a few keys, print a check and mail it off?

        Yes, it sounds like you went through a hastle, which did suck, but the store would have had a policy that would have given you options since there is no way in hell a sale associate at any, ANY retail store would let you walk out of the store with an obviously non functioning machine you had just spend 500+ dollars for, your mother could have had a technician test the machine, and while it maybe possible that she wasn't asked if she would like a functionality test, I have yet to purchase a machine from (Best Buy or any other retailer) and not have those sale drones try and sell me on the fact that a functiona

      • I worked as a warehouse supervisor at a Best Buy store for 2 years - a significant part of my job was shipping and receiving items between area stores to meet customer requests for out-of-stock or replacement items.

        But it was MY job to make sure that happened. Remember that it may not be Best Buy that is screwing you over - it may be that particular store that has poor management and customer service.

        Though after seeing the markups, I rarely shop at Best Buy for anything but base computer equipment (not
  • by sfcat (872532) on Saturday April 02, 2005 @02:52AM (#12118752)
    Rebates have already been kinda of a scam. They make it as hard as possible to get them, but advertise the price after rebate. Meanwhile they are playing the float with your money. Its not that bad b/c they do pay after you jump through many hoops but they count on people not putting up with the hassle. This is a good bet b/c people value their time and sanity.

    I'm glad that I'll never have to put up with these tatics from BestBuy again (not that I ever did, I use pricewatch and Fry's for my hardware needs).

  • by Rightcoast (807751) on Saturday April 02, 2005 @02:53AM (#12118756) Homepage
    I think not. They have to have thought up something better.

    Only my extreme tenaciousness allowed me to get my rebate for a router. I had a photocopy of the reciept they lost TWICE, claiming I never sent it in. On the third time they tried to pull the old "no facsimilies" routine, but I kept at them and they relented and gave up the 30 bucks.

    A richer man would have just given up. That is part of thier plan.
  • Geek Squad (Score:5, Informative)

    by moberry (756963) on Saturday April 02, 2005 @02:54AM (#12118761)
    I work for the geek squad at Best Buy #601. Rebates are what we get most of our complaints about, except for service plans. Thats a different story. We would have definately heard about this. We just had our monthly "pep" talk (at 8am sunday morning) and nothing of this was mentioned. If i can confirm this, i will submit a slashdot story.
    • by dcstimm (556797) on Saturday April 02, 2005 @03:00AM (#12118784) Homepage
      geek squad what a dumb idea. oh wait...
    • Re:Geek Squad (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      You're at the bottom, you'll be the last to find out.
    • Re:Geek Squad (Score:5, Insightful)

      by aztektum (170569) on Saturday April 02, 2005 @05:59AM (#12119158)
      I hate to break it to you sport, but having worked in retail myself I can say, just because you work behind the counter at *A* store doesn't mean you know what's goin' on with Best Buy as a company.

      If this isn't an April 1st joke, the 2 year time frame is still a bit of a ways off. I would bet dollars to donuts you'd be hard pressed to find ANYONE below the rank of executive or some high level managers, those directly responsible for getting this off the ground, that know more than the average /. reader right now.

    • Re:Geek Squad (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Cyno01 (573917)
      For everyone dissing you, i'd like to thank you, or at least your organization. Yeah geek squad is kinda silly, but they've helped me out. I was building a system this summer and we had a storm that knocked it out (lightning strike to the pole, hit the cable, passed through the cable modem, but fried the occupied ports on my router and my system). Im not much of a builder so i didn't have enough spare parts around to swap stuff in and out. I was able to take my system there and get it checked out no charge
  • Wondering (Score:3, Informative)

    by phalse phace (454635) on Saturday April 02, 2005 @02:55AM (#12118763)
    if they're just re-reporting the story I read yesterday over here [tbo.com]? If they are, then this is just an April Fools joke.

    So many people either forget or don't bother with rebates that Best Buy would be crazy to abandon them. It's easy money in their pockets... not that I'm defending them or anything. Just looking at it from their point of view.

    • Re:Wondering (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510)
      So many people either forget or don't bother with rebates that Best Buy would be crazy to abandon them. It's easy money in their pockets...

      It's only easy money as long as people don't wise up to the scam. BBY and almost all other merchants have been riding the rebate scam hard enough to kill a mule for the last half decade at least. It is amazing that it still fools so many people.

      All it takes is for a large enough minority (probably less than 20% of all their customers) to decide that any product offe
  • by mark-t (151149) <markt@@@lynx...bc...ca> on Saturday April 02, 2005 @03:07AM (#12118809) Journal
    But what they *DO* need to do is advertise the price they are actually selling things for, not the amount they are selling it for less the rebate which may come anywhere from 3 to 6 months later. Yes, the notice "after rebate" is included on the price display, but you have to read finer print on them to note how much money you are actually going to need to part with at the immediate moment.

    If blockbuster can be made to refund people for something just because _they_ had the details in finer print (and it wasn't even that obscured, IMO), I don't see why Best Buy can't be made to stop this effective bullshitting they are doing by advertising the price after rebate as if it were the sticker price.

  • by ocularDeathRay (760450) on Saturday April 02, 2005 @03:18AM (#12118847) Journal
    recently I started shopping at Fry's in Renton WA. I live north of seattle so it is a bit of a drive. Often one of my buddies will go with me which usually results in a bunch of stupid purchases we weren't planning on, but makes for a fun (although expensive) afternoon.

    We wander around the huge store eventually losing track of each other. We are now only slightly embarrassed by having to call each others cell phones to find each other (although this took some getting used to). They have some really good deals especially considering the rebates. I started wondering if something was up a few months ago however when I bought an item, and a few days later when I went to mail the rebate in I noticed some fine print that said I should have mailed it sooner and it was no longer good.

    now I have grown to hate fry's. yes I still shop there, but I am so frustrated when I have to wait 5 minutes while the cashier has to collect the stack of rebate forms for all the items I bought. Often these rebates are not even marked on a sign in the store so I am usually unaware they are even available.

    I did all my christmas shopping there and was horrified at the stack of paperwork it generated. A seperate set of photo copies, forms to fill out, file folders to label and store in a "safe place" and stamped/addressed envelopes to buy, lick and stick. Some of the rebates were impossible to collect as I realized that I had given the UPC codes on some items away with the gift. The giftee's had usually thrown them away (of course) by the time I figured out which reciept went with which gift.

    After cooling off for a couple months I found myself at fry's making a purchase again. Again there was a nice rebate available. This time I was absolutely determined to get my money. As I read the fine print I found another disturbing detail. On this particular rebate (and probably most) sending the required stuff to get the rebate meant that you could no longer make a warranty claim. The warranty of the item required the original UPC, and so did the rebate. So you were given the choice of $x back -OR- the warranty for the product.

    what a world. my fingers are tired of typing. if you skipped the rest of my message I will sum it up for you: rebates suck, frys sucks, best buy sucks, and so do you, and everything else around us.

    goodnight
    • by T3kno (51315) on Saturday April 02, 2005 @05:06AM (#12119079) Homepage
      Three words for you boss, computer fair and Internet. I used to shop at Fry's all the time, and grew to hate it just like you. Now if I need anything I'll hit the local computer fair, there is one at the Orange County fairgrounds here in SoCal every other week it seems, and there is a huge one in Pamona every few weeks. Check your local papers, there has to be one in the Seattle area.

      Just a bunch of vendors trying to undercut the other guy, if you know how to wheel and deal a little bit you can beat the crap mainstream stores like Fry's and BestBuy any day of the week, even if you were to get your rebate money.

      As for the Internet if you can hold your horses for even a day you can find killer deals on the internet, a lot of places have free shipping. Plus if you order from the right places you dont have to pay geschtap^H^H^H^H^Hsales tax.

      Phuck Fry's, BestBuy, CompUSA et al. The one last thing I would recommend is your local corner computer shop, those guys are just geeks trying to make a buck, they may not have everything but they'll have most of what you need, plus they can order stuff. Plus he's the guy at the computer fair selling stuff as well, so give him some love, you just might make a friend who can hook you up later on.
  • by Animats (122034) on Saturday April 02, 2005 @03:33AM (#12118892) Homepage
    The Federal Trade Commission recently ruled that retailers are liable when rebates aren't paid by the manufacturer. So, now that they can't pass the buck on rebates, retailers want out of them.
  • by flowerp (512865) on Saturday April 02, 2005 @03:35AM (#12118897)
    Stores typically advertise prices after rebate, making you think you pay less. But for obtaining the rebate check, you have to go through a long process and give up some privacy on the way.

    Here in Germany there are strong laws protecting consumers. Here we have no rebates that are comparable to those in the US. Sometimes there are coupons attached to the product (like: collect 5 of these, claim a freebie/prize). But never we are told the product costs less than at the register. Heck, even the sales tax (more correctly: VAT) has to be included on the prize advertised for the item.
    • by thefirelane (586885) on Saturday April 02, 2005 @11:36AM (#12119859)
      Heck, even the sales tax (more correctly: VAT) has to be included on the prize advertised for the item.

      That's because due to the terrible nature of the VAT, you can't really compute its end cost on an item... each step of manufacturing has a slight tax that adds up.

      For the end consumer sales tax, we don't include it because ant-government types (correctly) want the consumer to know how much the government is taxing them on an item, so it must be priced seperatly. In Europe the governments don't want you to know how much they tax, so they use things like VAT and the method you mentioned to hide such things.

      Not saying one is better than the other, just different philosophies. The VAT, however, has allowed European governments to steadily raise taxes without the consumers noticing. (This was recently in the Economist, subscription required)
  • by LakeSolon (699033) on Saturday April 02, 2005 @03:39AM (#12118903) Homepage
    If anyone was wondering why Slashdot would choose to link the Minneapolis daily paper for this story: Best Buy is based in Minnesota [bestbuy.com].
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 02, 2005 @03:40AM (#12118906)
    I work for Staples. The Staples online EasyRebate system has all but eliminated mail-in rebates. Rebates can be submitted at https://www.stapleseasyrebates.com/ [stapleseasyrebates.com]
    Customers seem to love this option.

    ~DF
    • EasyRebates are an improvement, but they're not even close to being an elimination of rebates. Customers still have to pay more up front, and wait weeks to get their money back. All the Staples system does is make it easier to apply. So, no, Staples hasn't "already done this".
    • Having recently used the Staples Easy Rebate system, it's no different than any other rebate system except I enter my data online instead of through snail mail. And I still took around 7-8 weeks to get my rebates back.

      If Staples would allow for the same online rebate entry system and a 1 week turn around on getting your rebate back, then we're talking progress.
  • by tetrode (32267) on Saturday April 02, 2005 @03:54AM (#12118939) Homepage
    So, could anyone explain this to the rest of the world?

    Thank you in advance,

    Mark
    • Rebates explained (Score:4, Informative)

      by spineboy (22918) on Saturday April 02, 2005 @04:15AM (#12118991) Journal
      A rebate is when a company offers to send you some money after you typically send them a copy of your receipt and the UPC (bar) code off of the box. Rebates often are for a large amount of money - say $30 off a $130 item. They are typically offered by the manufacturer.

      The catch is that they often "lose" the paperwork, or require many "hoops" for you to do, so that you may get your money. They rely on the fact that many people do not fully complete all the steps necessary to acquire the refund, and thus the company never pays out. I've seen figures that state only about 10% of people wind up getting their money from these things, for a variety of reasons - forget to send the paperwork, lose the receipt, forget the deadline, etc.

      • Re:Rebates explained (Score:3, Interesting)

        by 192.168.0.1 (872231)
        forget to send the paperwork, lose the receipt, forget the deadline, etc.


        and claim to never receive it when delivery confirmation and a signature of one of their employees says otherwise.
      • by pe1chl (90186) on Saturday April 02, 2005 @05:01AM (#12119070)
        Ah... so that is part of the ploy?
        It is not so common here. Recently I bought a cable box and I would get half of my money back. I sent in the forms, and indeed: they were lost.
        I did not know that would be standard procedure...

        It must be inconvenient for the company as well. They have to keep records of which forms are received for the first time so they will be discarded, then advise those complaining customers that they need to send them a second time, this time handle them correctly, and make sure they do not get the rebate again by sending one or two extra forms...

        And even then, the first-time failure of the handling of course stamps a negative image on the company.
        They must have had a difficult time deciding if this is all worth it...
  • by frovingslosh (582462) on Saturday April 02, 2005 @04:09AM (#12118976)
    Actually, Best Buy has gone a large way to eliminate rebates already. I used to get a lot of good rebate deals at Best Buy, now I hardly get any. In elimination of the rebates they don't seem to have done much to reduce prices, they have just eliminated many of the deals. I for one miss getting free optical mice or free 50 or 100 packs of CDRs after rebate, even if I did have to send in the rebate materials and wait months. The remaining rebates seem to be on higher priced items, but before you get too thrilled that they are eliminating rebates, what in the world makes you think that they will lower prices to reflect these lost rebates? They sure didn't do it on the cheaper items that frequently had rebate deals on them, I doubt that they will do it often on any item after they completely get rid of rebates. No one forced you to send in those rebates, but it was a way to get money back if you did. If the rebates vanish completely but the prices still don't reflect it, then we all lose.
  • by cgenman (325138) on Saturday April 02, 2005 @04:13AM (#12118989) Homepage
    How is this any different than what they currently do?
  • by Hamster Lover (558288) * on Saturday April 02, 2005 @04:21AM (#12119000) Journal
    The article is probably a joke, but nevermind.

    My brother bought a stack of recordable CDs from a retailer in Vancouver close to five years ago. Of course, the advertised price at the time was a phenomenal deal and against my protestations and the angst inducing mail in rebate requirement for the "sale" price he bit and purchased the CDs, filled out the form and mailed in all the required bullshit.

    Needless to say months later still no check. Down to the store he goes only to find out from the retailer that this is common problem and that most companies contract out their rebates to "fulfilment centres" where "fulfilment" is anything but.

    We get into the "I told you so" conversation and I jokingly mention that he should sue. Note that by this point he'd called, mailed a letter or two and been generally frustrated. He looked into the matter and decided that he would file a small claims suit. According to him, they are incredibly easy to file in BC with only a few sticking points such as the legal name of the entity you wish to make a claim against and the type of business presence the company maintains in BC.

    A few days after (and $100 later for filing costs) he sent a copy of the statement of claim to the company offices in Vancouver he received a nice phone call from the company offering to send him a check for the rebate and the cost of his filing fee (which was claimed in his statement of claim). He never got to stand before a judge, but he did get his satisfaction.

    Now, why would someone go through all this for the $10 rebate on a stack of $25 CD-Rs? Well, he's the guy that decided half way through university that instead of engineering he wanted to become a dentist, so he did. He's one of those anal retentive types that keeps, files and remembers everything. Which is a good thing if you're a dentist, I suppose.
    • Now, why would someone go through all this for the $10 rebate on a stack of $25 CD-Rs?

      Maybe he's the type of guy that doesn't like companies that *rely* on the "hassle factor" to screw people out of small sums of money (which --> big profit).

      Maybe it's principle. Maybe he just doesn't like losing. But if more than a miniscule proportion of people did that, it would soon not be worth the retailer's time to pull the scam.

      So, it makes sense from a larger scale point of view. Whatever his conscious m
  • Rebate? Try PSP (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Lord_Dweomer (648696) on Saturday April 02, 2005 @05:18AM (#12119105) Homepage
    As someone who always assumes the price you pay is the price WITHOUT the rebate, what I'd really wish BB would get rid of is their ridiculously aggressive pushing of their PSPs (Performance Service Plans, not Playstations). I've heard real horror stories about what employees who sell low numbers of PSPs get threatened.

    • I just wish they would not lie to you. I was told by a manager that they cannot accept opened software back because it is illegal to do so due to copyright laws..... talk about lame.

      I buy a disney game for my son and it was scratched... it would not even play in the computer at best buy. it was the only one that was on the shelf and I was told this lie when I asked for a refund.... I asked how then do I get compensation for my defective product and the manager tells me to call disney... when I asked for t
  • I work for rebater (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 02, 2005 @05:50AM (#12119146)
    I actually work for company who processes rebates (#2 in this business). We all work incredibly hard to get people their rebates and process (many) millions of them every year.

    If you have to mail your forms and the forms are received and they are valid, you will get your rebate, there is nobody intentionally holding on to your money. If there is a problem, you will be notified and you can always contact our customer support to get it resolved. I can guarantee you that we have VERY dedicated people trying to resolve such issues, and I know it since I work side by side with them every day.

    If you are tired of sending mail, you can just go to shop to (for examples) Staples. You don't have to send anything by mail anymore if you shop there. Just come to their easy rebates website, submit your name and address and you will get the check and soon even direct deposit as Staples announced this week.

    The reason why the rebate process takes so long is actually not technical, one of the mai reasons is policy of manufacturer and retailers. Often the retailers need to protect themself from people who try to commit fraud, buy products, apply for rebates and return them. Mostly due to this reason you have to wait to get it.
    • by The Cisco Kid (31490) on Saturday April 02, 2005 @06:46AM (#12119222)
      And of course they like the people who pay the full "before rebate" price, and then never bother with the forms, or who give up after making no headway, etc.

      Rebates have always been a way to lower the 'perceived' price (well, at least for the gullible) without really lowering the price.

      If you want to sell your item based on a 39.95 price, why else would you demand on collecting $80 from me and force me to wait around to get $40 back? Why should *loan* you (retailer, manufacturer, whoever) $40 interest-free?

      If you just changed the price to the intended 'after rebate' price, then you would have to worry about fraud, returns, etc. You wouldnt have the overhead of receiving money and then having to make sure you only gave it back to the 'right people'. In fact, if companies offering rebates can afford to pay a staff to process rebates, they must be making a bundle off people who never get their rebates, otherwise it wouldnt be cost effective.
    • by wytcld (179112)
      Does your firm to processing for Sirius Satellite Radio? I just got a letter denying a rebate on a radio and year's subscription bought as a Xmas gift for the girlfriend. It was a form letter saying that I had not met at least one of a list of six specified conditions - without saying which. Thing is, I'd met every one. I'd even called Sirius before buying the radio and subscription to double check that the particular radio model was included, and that buying a whole year's service met the requirement to bu
  • USPS losses (Score:3, Interesting)

    by sometwo (53041) on Saturday April 02, 2005 @06:10AM (#12119174)
    I wonder how much the USPS (and the rebate fulfillment companies) are going to lose from this.
  • by Rai (524476) on Saturday April 02, 2005 @06:23AM (#12119189) Homepage
    but I ignore rebates altogether when I'm shopping for electronics and such. I don't even allow them to be a factor in my buying decision. The amount I'm paying for an item will always be, in my mind, the amount they charge me at the register, regardless of whatever rebate it promises me.

    If BestBuy has something for $100 with a $50 MIR, but the guys down the street are selling the same thing for $75, I'm buying it from the guys down the street. I've never found MIRs to be reliable and I have and always will be willing to pay a bit more than the "after-rebate-price" to avoid them. Now, if I do buy something that has a rebate, I'll go ahead and send it in, provided it's a worthwhile amount ($20 or more) and I'm not too concerned about destroying the packaging of the item by cutting the UPC off the box. In this case, I just consider MIR a sort of bonus win (like a lucky lottery ticket) and not part of the amount I'm saving from the store.

    Am I just being a stubborn consumer or do others have a similar attitude?
    • by The Cisco Kid (31490) on Saturday April 02, 2005 @06:41AM (#12119213)
      I dont buy consumer electronics at retail all that often - but anytime I've considered doing so I've prety much figured the same way - However much cash I have to bring to the store is the price of the item.

      In fact, I've always thought it would be entertaining, if a store advertised (eg) "39.95 (in huge print) - after $30 and $50 rebates (in tiny print)" to go to the store, bringing exactly 39.95 (plus enough for tax, etc) and take the item to the register, and hand them that amount at the check out, and when they wanted more, pointed out (very vocally and very angrily) that the price displayed was 39.95, not the higher amount, and then after they (presumably) refused to let me out the door paying only the "advertised" price, walked out the door leaving the item there, and making lots of noise about it as I did so - the whold point being to A. force them to deal with an unhappy (lost) customer, B. have to carry the item back and put it on the shelf again, and C. call as much attention to I could (both to the store, as well as any other customers at the registers, etc) that they had lost a sale over the stupidity.
      • by kjamez (10960) on Saturday April 02, 2005 @08:50AM (#12119350) Homepage
        In fact, I've always thought it would be entertaining, if a store advertised (eg) "39.95 (in huge print) - after $30 and $50 rebates (in tiny print)" to go to the store, bringing exactly [......]
        walked out the door leaving the item there, and making lots of noise about it as I did so - the whold point being to A. force them to deal with an unhappy (lost) customer, B. have to carry the item back and put it on the shelf again, and C. call as much attention to I could (both to the store, as well as any other customers at the registers, etc) that they had lost a sale over the stupidity.


        a little off topic, but i think that is a reasonable action for any poor customer service. I did it in the food store once. I [almost] bought $140us worth of food, and one single six pack of newcastle. I ran into a friend in line buying some chips or something, he was behind me, and because we were 'talking to one another' they needed to see his ID for me to purchase my beer ... he is 20. i tried to reason with them, but ended up just saying 'if i can't buy the beer then i don't want any of this, i'll go to another store' so someone at that store ended up putting back all my frozen goods and meats and everything.
  • by jav1231 (539129) on Saturday April 02, 2005 @08:40AM (#12119335)
    If stores were required to post the out of pocket price in bold this would all come to a stop....VERY quickly.
  • by Lostman (172654) on Saturday April 02, 2005 @09:05AM (#12119383)
    Sigh... someone at their fulfillment center decided they needed the money more than I did and entered my rebate information to get sent to them. Lovely.

    Had to end up filing a complaint with the better business bureau to get it fixed. They finally are going to resend it to me - just last week in fact.

    This couldnt happen sooner (rebates ending).
  • by darylb (10898) on Saturday April 02, 2005 @09:53AM (#12119492)

    The money quote: In fact, more than 80 percent of consumers surveyed by NPD Group of New York last fall said they sent in their rebate forms.

    Just having consumers hate the rebates isn't enough. Rebates only work for sellers and manufcaturers if a substantial number of people fail to send them in. That is, they bought the product, probably having been persuaded by the rebate, then never sent in the rebate materials. I recall several articles in the past (no links, sorry) that explains how if the number of rebate submissions approaches 100% of purchases, then it's cheaper for manufacturers and sellers to cut the price. The rebate overhead, of course, is what really makes this happen.

    So, an 80% submission rate is probably close enough to 100% that sellers/manufacturers aren't seeing the kind of return they're used to. Who cares whether the buyers like rebates? What matters is whether they file for and receive the rebates. Now that the FTC is cracking down on that second part (i.e., companies not paying off on the advertised rebates), where's the upside for the companies?

  • Two Years? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Ranger (1783) on Saturday April 02, 2005 @10:02AM (#12119513) Homepage
    Well if Best Buy is going to eliminate rebates within two years, I guess I can wait two years before shopping there again.
  • Staples! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by slashdotmos (819804) on Saturday April 02, 2005 @12:22PM (#12120054)
    Staples EASY rebates are much better than MIR's. That is what probly BEST BUY is planing on doing in 2 years worth of time. Cause I know myself and many other would rather do it online than to mail it in. And so far I have gotten all mine back and in record times. Seems many stores are just tring to play catchup to Staples now. I see something done at staples then lil while latter something real simular shows up at one of the other guys.
  • Good Luck! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by timelorde (7880) on Saturday April 02, 2005 @01:10PM (#12120261)
    Let's hope they do better than Blockbuster did with that "No more late fees" crap.
  • by CrazyTalk (662055) on Saturday April 02, 2005 @01:26PM (#12120329)
    Sure, everyone (myself included) thinks the rebates are a pain, but without them all that means is that Best Buy will be effectively charging you MORE. Do you really think they will lower their prices to match the price-after-rebate that they currently offer? Our local supermarket pulled the same scam - they advertised "new lower prices everyday" ala Wal*Mart, but prices were really higher since they stopped offering shoppers-club discounts. (Example - Slim Fast used to be something like $7 but was discounted to $5 for cardholders every day for over 2 years, so effectively the price was $5. Now, with new "lower" prices, the cost is $6 which technically is lower than $7 but no one ever paid the $7 to begin with)
  • by JanesDaddy (871064) on Saturday April 02, 2005 @02:02PM (#12120465)

    Unlike their English counterparts, who have the benefit of a very good Advertising Standards Authority [asa.org.uk], and their local authority's Trading Standards office, American consumers are left high-and-dry because 'the market' has to be allowed to operate without government interference. The fact that millions of customers get screwed is totally lost on them.

    If KFC advertises a mini chicken sandwich, for example, and it looks much bigger on the poster than it is in real life, the ASA will ban the misleading ad [bbc.co.uk] in England. As the whole mail-in rebate scam shows, American consumers get NO protections whatsoever. Welcome to the land of free enterprise.

  • by John Jorsett (171560) on Saturday April 02, 2005 @06:10PM (#12121918)
    Given the abuse that consumers suffer with these rebates (some of which I can attest to personally), I'm surprised the Attorneys General from the various states haven't targeted the companies offering them. At a minimum, I'd expect them to go after unclaimed rebates using the government's power of escheat. There must be a ton of money left that goes unclaimed, and states are hungry for revenue all the time. Or, they could levy fines against companies who falsely claim all the rules weren't followed (I've had 3 of those myself, and I have absolute proof that I fulfilled every niggling requirement. They still denied them, claiming there was no UPC in my submission. Lying bastards. I have a photocopy of what I turned in, and the original UPC is right there taped to their stinking form.)

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