Consumer Complaints: The rebate is in the mail...or not

How often have you found a great price on an item, only to realize that the price is good only if you get the rebate being offered? You're not getting an instantly good price. You have to pay a higher price, go through some hoops, wait a bit, and hope you get your rebate.

WalletPop reader Rick hates the process because he can't seem to get a rebate from Lowe's, and frankly, I feel the same way. Sure, I've gotten lots of rebates over the years. But there are also a few that I've never gotten even though I filled out all the paperwork, sent everything that was asked for, but later told that my documents weren't received and only an original code from the box will be accepted (not the photocopy of it, which is all I now have because I already sent them the original, which they say they didn't get).

Here's Rick's rebate story:I purchased a Bosch dishwasher from Lowe's. After careful shopping I chose them due to a free installation and delivery rebate offer. Simple purchase, installation was flawless but then we get to the rebate.

Like all rebate offers the reason they are offered instead of a direct discount is that they are counting on a major percentage to go unredeemed. To help this process out The Lowe's / Bosch rebate center politely tells you they didn't get all the documentation or some other nonsense reason.

I triple checked my submission, and I have copies of everything submitted. Good luck trying to call the customer service number they give you. After many many rings they put you on perpetual hold just long enough to send my blood pressure off the charts.

I go down to Lowe's and the have a direct number where they get though instantly. They stick to they script and tell me the Lowe's cash register generated receipt didn't get to them, hoping to string this out as long as they can. It took three months for them to initiate this scam and now they will send the check after I show the store floor manager I have copies. However you'll have to wait another three months. Hopefully by then you will have forgotten all about the cash rebate and if need be we can come up with another excuse.

This isn't uncommon, unfortunately. The reason businesses use rebates is obvious: They get to advertise very low prices, knowing that at least some consumers will never redeem the rebate, adding money to the company's bottom line. I don't know what the solution is to the rebate problem, but I do know that consumers should carefully document everything related to their rebates, make copies of all documentation, and follow up diligently on the status of their rebates.

Have you been cheated, scammed, or otherwise disappointed by a company? WalletPop wants your real life consumer complaints and scam stories Email us with your story.

Tracy L. Coenen, CPA, MBA, CFE performs fraud examinations and financial investigations for her company Sequence Inc. Forensic Accounting, and is the author of Essentials of Corporate Fraud.

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