I was a stinkpot

Yeah. Me. I’m still working through how I feel about that fact, so I thought it might help to, you know, tell 700 people or so.

You may remember that I am a die-hard Black Friday shopper. We got up at 4 am and got some great deals on Christmas presents for our kids. I was pretty happy. Only catch was that some of that saved money was tied up in rebates. In December I pored over all the requirements and chopped UPC codes off boxes and gathered receipts and did my darndest to meet every single requirement so I could get my $180 back.

The other day I got a postcard saying that one of the rebates (worth $40) could not be validated because I had not included the UPC. Well, I knew I HAD included the UPC, so I called the 800 number and told them so. First guy claimed there was nothing he could do, so I asked to speak to his manager. Second guy– ditto. I then asked to speak to HIS manager. The 3rd guy finally said that yes, I had submitted a bar code — he was looking at the photocopy– but it wasn’t the right bar code.

Since it was the ONLY barcode I had spotted on the package I was more than a little peeved that they were denying me my $40. I told him cooly that this was not the way to keep a customer, that I HAD bought the thing (I’d sent them the original receipt for pity sakes – he was staring at a copy of it) and that I needed to speak with someone who could resolve this problem for me. Finally the guy said he wasn’t authorized to do anything, but maybe the corporate office could. He gave me yet another number to call, which I did, and had to leave a message.

Today a gal from the corporate office called me back and gave me the same run-around. Said the UPC wasn’t the right one and that I should have sent one that had actual numbers under it, not just the barcode thingie. How was I to know this? The instructions said bar code, but didn’t mention that the bar code has to have NUMBERS UNDER it to be considered valid! I reiterated my frustration with how they were treating customers, said that I’d followed instructions to the best of my understanding, and that since I’d bought the product and they had proof of THAT, that I really felt like I deserved to get the rebate.

When none of that was having any effect, I got stinky. I mentioned the blog. Told her that I am frequntly asked by companies to review things. That I have a lot of readers. Readers who – guaranteed! – buy the product they sell. I said usually I give good reviews on my blog and am happy to do so. But that they were on the brink of getting a bad review. A really bad one. That maybe they’d be better off giving me my $40.

“Let me get my manager,” she said.

I repeated myself – for the fifth time– to this manager. The manager said that if they gave an exception to me, they’d have to also give rebates to ‘all the other people who don’t send in the required UPC’s’.

I said I doubted it, because frankly, I doubted many other people would have the stamina to jump through as many hoops and talk with as many people as I had. Most customers would’ve give up three people ago, and gone and slammed a few cupboard doors instead.

I repeated that I planned to write about my bad experience at the hands of their ‘customer service’ department, and that the resulting bad press would probably lose them more than $40.

In icy tones she said that I could expect my rebate in 15 working days. Click. She hung up.

Finally.

So now I sit here in a swirl of emotions… first of all gratification– that this threat proved more effective than the one I tried on my daughter the other day. And justification — as long as I spent all that time on the phone AND bought the product AND sent them the blasted UPC even if it turned out to be the wrong one, I’m GLAD I’m getting my money.

But I’m also a little bummed to think that I probably left steaming people in my wake. That somebody else is slamming cupboard doors now because of me.

Hmm…maybe in the future I’ll go back to being nice.

But I’m still glad I’m getting my rebate.

Maybe I’ll use the $40 to buy me a nice poster of the Beatitudes….

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{ 37 Comments }

  1. Hey don’t be upset! They are the ones trying to go back on their WORD! They knew, without a doubt, that you had bought the required product- and they SHOULD honot their word!

    Good for you for not giving up!!

  2. Oh that’s funny. I say, way to use the power of the blog. Truthfully, they were just making life difficult for themselves because we all know that the only reason companies do rebates is because most people never get around to sending them in- so they they seem like nice guys and don’t really lose any money.
    Enjoy your $40.

  3. I’m glad you followed through with the rebate. Sometimes I think people assume that if they just brush everyone off, they won’t have to deal with anything. $40 is a lot of money, especially when you were counting on it.

    I on the other hand was completely rude to someone who called yesterday–a wrong number. They kept speaking to me in Spanish, to which I kept replying that I only speak English. By the end I got really grumpy. It WAS frustrating, but I wish I hadn’t given in to the grumpiness!

  4. How much did you make per hour doing this? 🙂

    Probably still a good investment of your time.

  5. I faced a window covering company recently who overcharged me $60 per window (on ten windows!). I knew this because on the copy of the invoice that the nice guys who do the installation had, there were multiple sticky notes: “why the price discrepancy?: said one, “oh, I over-charged her for the top-down option.”

    But they never changed my invoice and insisted I pay the original amount!!

    Ha! my blog doesn’t even have the traffic that yours does Mary, but I was fully prepared to start a blog devoted just to them if they didn’t refund my money!! I had my speech all worked out. This is the twenty-first century, we have google, html tags, email, and media outlets always looking for a story!

    It didn’t come to that, thankfully. And after one friendly conversation a check was on its way. But I’m stunned that you didn’t get a better response more quickly.

    I’m amazed you didn’t out them, and let us all flame them!!

    You are truely a kind person.

  6. You go. I think you shouldn’t feel bad for a second for getting what you deserved. Good for you!

  7. I’m glad it worked for someone. The FRIGIDAIRE GALLERY people were not impressed by it, after they sold me a lousy machine and then gouged me to fix the thing.

    That’s FRIGIDAIRE GALLERY. LOUSY MACHINE. EXPENSIVE REPAIRS. POOR CUSTOMER SERVICE.

    At least I’m not bitter about it.

  8. I had that happen to me once too. I try to just stick to buying things at Walgreens on rebate. I know their system and their C.S. is outstanding.

  9. Jeana– LOL!

  10. You did the right thing. I refuse to do rebates anymore, after HOME DEPOT “stole” the $300 rebate they were supposed to give us in Spring of 2005. Oh, and the $100 rebate we were supposed to get on our digital camera after Thanksgiving of the same year. We bought both things (the carpet at H.D. and the camera) at the time we did on purpose – for the rebates. I have heard that companies are phasing rebates out because there have been so many problems. I’m glad you fought. We haven’t shopped at Home Depot since, and hopefully never will have to again (thank goodness there are a bunch of Lowes around!)

  11. It’s good you stayed with it. I would have, too, for $40.

    There was one time I wrote a letter to the manager about the way the price tag and hooks holding items were displayed. My son, then in Junior High, and I both believed one thing had a certain price.
    When it was rung up at the register, there was $25 more added on. There was quite a line behind us, so I let it go just then. He needed that specific item for a class in school.

    But believe me, I was very clear about our confusion in a carefully worded letter, along with a copy of the receipt.

    We got a nice apology letter in return, and a $25 check in the mail, for cash, not store credit.

    II think you should calm down for a day or so, then tell us the name anyway. Then we all can write and tell them how much we appreciated such fine service for our blog friend Mary, and we’re telling anybody who will listen that they are good with rebates.
    Catch more flies with honey than vinegar.

  12. At least you got your way. I’ve gone round and round with people like that and still not gotten anywhere. You’re lucky. But then again, my blog doesn’t hold that much clout with people…..so that threat coming from me would have been futile. Way to be assertive I say!!

    🙂

  13. In this situation, I think stinky still is the only option. But then, I need to study those beatitudes a bit more myself. And well, pray for a bit more grace for myself as well. Because I think they all handled it badly – customer service? nope.

    Sorry you had a bad experience.

  14. Way to go! I understand what you mean about feeling a little down though – it never feels good to know you’ve made someone else’s day a little bit worse. =( I had to send in a rebate a few weeks ago and COULD NOT figure out the directions – so I cut every UPC code, barcode, number label, anything I could find off the box and mailed it all in. (I probably should have just sent the whole box in!). I got an email saying the rebate is in the mail so it must have worked! Woohoo! Glad you posted this – it reminded me that Circuit City only sent us $50 of our $100 rebate for our new computer – I’ll have to check on it tomorrow!

  15. I say good for you, we lost a rebate battle once and it just makes me bitter to all rebates. I really never buy stuff if they have to send me that rebate check back, not worth it to me. So thanks for fighting for the rest of us. 🙂

  16. My brother has helped me increase my already substantial :^)powers of persuasion with his expert instruction. He always writes down each person’s name as he talks to them and lets them know whether he’ll be repoting them as “helpful” or “not helpful” to the next guy up. His favorite line is”isn’t it your job to have satisfied customers? (yes) I am not a satisfied customer!” Always spoken very calmly and politely, of course. You just keep working your way up. And the last thing I remember to do is to take the time to hold for the person in charge when someone has really helped me out, just to let them know how great their employee is. It really does work.

    Glad you got your rebate!

  17. Oh, and sometimes he gets stinky too. He actually threatened to take out newspaper ads in the company’s home city! He had me laughing and scolding him at the same time.

  18. I have been thinking for some time now about exposing Chevrolet (peeling dashboard on my ’01 still-warrantied Suburban) and Maytag (stinky dishwasher that cost a fortune and doesn’t deliver what it promised and, oh, those blasted “folding”, but really should be called collapsing, tines)for the problems they refuse to acknowledge. But have struggled a little with the “nice-ness” factor of it.

    Oh, my, I just did it, didn’t I, and I am feeling better already!

  19. Too bad you had to be the squeaky wheel. But I’m impressed with your spunk!

  20. Good for you.

  21. This is the thing with rebates. I’ve never found one that makes it clear what exactly you are suppoed to send it, and then they want the original and then they have you over a barrell because they have the original. And then the question becomes how much is my time worth and do I really want to spend X number of hours on the phone for $40 – some days yes, when it seems principal is at stake, some days no when I’m just too tired and beaten down. I think the rebate programs bank on you forgetting about or being to tired to make all those calls that you did.

    Let me just say a big resounding “Yay for You!” on behalf of people like me who give up and cry in a corner.

  22. Oh, bordermama, I can relate about the Maytag dishwasher. And a Maytag front-load washer. Never, never, never another appliance with that name will be in my house, no matter that my mother has ‘not had any problems at all’ with hers.

  23. You go girl! I too would like to think that I would’ve stuck it out (I’m usually that way), but I probably would’ve slammed some cabinets as well – between phone calls!

  24. Martina Fahrner says:

    Hi Sweety: You are not a stink pot… companies lay these campaigns out with exactly this purpose: Selling stuff, but not granting the rebate… only if we all call, we can get things to change…
    And with this in mind, I am going to call my health insurance…

  25. Both my husband and I have had experiences where companies have tried to deny us rebates by claiming that we did not submit everything when we knew full well that we had! After having 3+ of these experiences we have come to the conclusion that they do some of this stuff on purpose to avoid giving the rebate. They offer rebates in the first place because they do not expect people to send them in. Then when someone does send it in, they deny the rebate, thinking the person will not go to the trouble of dealing with the situation (which is unpleasant, as you discovered). All 3 times, though, when we persisted and insisted (we had the documentation to back it up), they gave us our rebates.

    I love that you try and leave people happy in your wake Mary. It is one of the reasons I just love reading your blog- I go away uplifted and inspired. Sometimes, though, it is hard to maintain that, especially when people are unpleasant and rude to you. Please don’t beat yourself up over it, you are still definitely one of the sweetest people I “know”!

  26. Bahaha! I’m just glad that you got results! Remember the old days when all that we could say was , “I will be certain to tell everyone I know about this bad experience.” A big WAHOO for the power of blogging — giving some leverage back to the public…to the customer.

    Don’t feel “stinky.” This began as a request for your rebate. Their refusal to acknowledge your purchase is what turned it into a *justified* demand. This is exactly why the mail-in rebates were created, so that people will have to “jump through hoop(s)” — mail in, many copies, correct codes-UPC/bar — to get their discounts, and, sadly, as the companies know, many of us will either let them expire or not put forth the effort that you did. So when you feel like you had to act de-beattitudinal to get results, just think of how much money they actually KEEP that belongs to consumers with their nitpicking rules, so to put forth such effort was rewarded. Plus, it probably used about $40-worth of your time (say, on an hourly wage), had this been a job — which housekeeping/domestic budgetting-finances IS. And, nooooo, I obviously have no sore spot with the whole rebate concept…not at allll! (I’ve had my own issues with it!) WHEW — I’m done! LOL

  27. I’m proud of you, Mary! The $40 was nothing to the company, but a big deal to you. I know there are lots of companies who automatically say “no” just to see if someone is persistent enough to get through the hoops to someone who will finally say “yes.” I’m glad you were persistent enough to be that person.

    The employees there are PAID to be there, it’s their job. Too bad if they feel the need to slam some cupboards. I’m sure you were way more polite than the average run-of-the-mill cusser who would scream every obscenity and then hang up. [:-) (I know, I used to work in customer service and sometime I couldn’t BELIEVE the names I was called!)

    Good for you, girl. I’m glad you used the power of the blog. All the time I was reading your post above, I was wondering “What company is this? I won’t shop there!” It’s good to hear it was resolved favorably. I hope you’ll let us all know if you don’t get your check.

    Rachel

  28. Stephanie says:

    Good for you, you can’t just let $40 slide.Plus that is what customer service reps are getting paid for, trust me I used to be one. Have you or anyone else ever tried the Rite Aid rebates?? They do monthly rebates meaning, you shop the rebates all month then file them on line or in the mail and at the end of the month you get one rebate check instead of all of the little $2-$3 ones. Just wondering. Oh and sorry you had to go through all of that trouble for your $40.

  29. I think you did the right thing Mary. You did send in the proof that you bought their product. I think it was wrong of them to be such sticklers. I like when people stand up for themselves and make things better and easier for everyone else. 🙂 You deserve your $40!

  30. They are such criminals and thieves, those rebate people. They tried to pull the same thing on us this Christmas, but for once it turned out to be a good thing that my husband never bothers to recycle boxes – we were able to get the correct UPC off the box and resend it. Haha! Foiled them there! (At least, I hope so – we haven’t actually received the rebate yet.)

    I don’t think that the “give him your coat too” teaching applies to corporations – they are incapable of shame, or of benefiting from our efforts to turn the other cheek.

  31. That “stubborn streak” you mentioned? The positive flip side is persistence! I rarely go for rebates anymore, and just look for a good, straight-up sale. Factoring in the likely anguish involved in actually getting a rebate, sometimes it’s just not worth it!

  32. I had trouble with a “free” offer for advertising on my blog. They said they couldn’t find the link over and over, and I kept telling them exactly where it was. They finally sent me and email saying I was “removed from the program” for not displaying the link! I was so mad! I emailed them and told them that unless they honored the free product as payment for the link I have had up for a full month, I would go to the BBB and to the person who told me about it and advertises for them, and would give bad reports about them. I accused them of stealing advertising from people by getting them to do it for a month and then saying they “can’t find the link” when they can.
    I got the free item in the mail pretty quick!
    We need to fight against these companies, I think they do the rebates as difficult as possible to not give out even what people do send in.

  33. You know, someone could start a whole blog forum devoted just to this topic. The REAL “Consumer Reports.”

  34. I am glad you stuck up for your rights. Someone has to keep corporate American in line – LOL!

  35. I’m really glad you did this Mary. Honestly, they are trying to get out of paying the $40 by making it ridiculously difficult. ALl you did was make enough of a fuss to get what they had promised to deliver. It doesn’t sound to me like you were rude or out-of-line or in any way “not nice.” GOOD FOR YOU!! Enjoy your $40 guilt-free.

  36. Oh man, that is such a rotten feeling to have to be a stinker. I definitely feel your pain. Hope you’re feeling better about the whole situation. I enjoy reading your blog!

  37. Oh Mary! I completely understand your situation! The last time I had to deal with this, it was when Priceline.com refused to honor the flight insurance we had purchased for a ticket last Nov. when we thought we were bringing our kids home. The flight insurance did not specify that the “court delays” had to be of a mandatory nature, ie. a witness to a crime, rather than elective, ie. adoption. Nowhere did the fine print spell out “court delays” and yet I talked to person after person. I started out nice and ended up ugly. But I never did get the money back! I think Avery did write about it on his blog and we’ll never use priceline again for anything. Not even a 50 cent pack of gum! Whew. I guess I’m still a bit peeved about this. You’ve stirred up so many supressed emotions! 🙂 At least you got your money back.

    Heather