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Beating the rebate runaround, Part 3

Feb 26, 20043 mins
Enterprise Applications

* Readers relate their frustration

Two recent columns on rebates brought plenty of reaction from customers, none of it happy.

Reader M.O.: “After many frustrating phone calls that resulted in me being passed from one person to another without getting the problem resolved, I threatened to contact the state attorney general’s office and file a fraud complaint. Fortunately I had copies of everything, even the Dell Web page where I bought the item – a Linksys router.”

Reader D.N.: “Dell’s soft-shoe with rebates might be just another scratch on its image. I’d probably be dumping my stock in Dell if I still had any!!!”

Reader J.T.: “All that is great, but what about your time spent in sending and keeping records of all the paper work? I did that for a while but it became a chore.”

Reader W.F.: “I always try to keep extra copies of the forms for lower value rebates. If the rebate is over $20, I will generally go to the trouble of keeping a photocopy of the entire submission.”

But by far the worst rebate story came from Reader C.F.:

“When I initially placed the order with Dell, I was very suspicious of the rebate process – so much so that I tried to negotiate an alternative. In the end, I let the sales rep persuade me – with a guarantee in writing via e-mail – that I would receive the rebate check within 10 business days. He went so far as to confirm my condition that this guarantee was to be regarded as contractual. Now that the deadline has passed – several weeks ago – the sales rep claims it was a misunderstanding, and referred me to the rebate department. He refuses to accept any responsibility and neither the rebates department nor Dell customer service is doing anything to help.”

But Dell spokespeople assured us customers have multiple options when purchasing products, such as added product features, free shipping or no-interest financing in place of rebates. Yet C.F. could get no alternatives, even when requesting them. We’ll be following up this report directly with our new Dell executive support and PR friends, so stay tuned.

Now how about some good news? With which vendors have you had hassle-free rebate experiences? Any pleasant surprises? Let me know. Also, if you want better rebate systems, let me know your ideas and we’ll take them right to the vendors – or at least we’ll keep calling until they answer.