Monday, February 11, 2008
Help Me Howard: Rebate
It sounds good on paper, buy a product, mail-in a rebate form, get cash back. But one woman says she's getting a cell phone rebate runaround. Worried the check may never be in the mail, she's dialed up Help me Howard with Patrick Fraser.
WSVN -- Cindy Clark: "I've got Kleenex boxes. I've got even a key, a house key."
You don't have to be an eagle-eyed, badge-toting detective to figure out Cindy Clark is a Dolphins fan.
Cindy Clark: "My newest item is my Miami Dolphins lights."
In fact, while we were at her apartment/Dolphin shrine, the mailman delivered her latest purchase.
Cindy Clark: "I have a Miami Dolphins souvenir room, so this is the curtain for my Miami Dolphins souvenir room."
But what the mailman has not delivered is what has Cindy frustrated.
Cindy Clark: "It's a lot of money to me, it's my money."
Late last year, Cindy needed a new cell phone and went to one of those phone stores to get one.
Cindy Clark: "He told me the price, and I said, 'With the $50 rebate I can afford it, if not I have to go to the other phone.'"
After getting home, she filled out this paperwork and mailed it in.
Cindy Clark: "They said three to four weeks, I should have it before Christmas. Never came."
When she complained, she got this letter.
Cindy Clark: "Saying I did not have the correct information or not enough information."
She filled out the rebate form for the second time, then got a request for more information and sent it in for the third time.
Cindy Clark: "And then I sent that back in they said to wait four to six weeks, but within that time I got another letter."
Cindy says this is the forth time of mailing in the same exact information and that you don't have to be a brain surgeon to see what is going on.
Cindy Clark: "I think they are actually trying not to give me my rebate back.
Patrick Fraser: "You think they are stalling?"
Cindy Clark: "I think so, hoping that I will not pursue this."
But a lady who refuses to give up on the Dolphins sure isn't going to give up on getting her $50. But what are the laws when it comes to rebates, and can they just keep asking for the same information over and over, Howard?
Howard Finkelstein: "Legally, if you do what you are supposed to do, they have to pay you, but the rebate rules are designed to confuse and trick you. Their goal is not to give their money away but to get you to give up and go away."
When I spoke to the phone company reps, they told me the first time Cindy did not send in the receipt. They said the second time, she did not send the phone model number. They said the third time, she did not send in a receipt.
When I pointed out she had sent in the receipt, the spokesman said you have to send it all at the same time. When I said, it sounds like you are stalling, they said, "Oh, no, we are not doing that."
In fact, not only did they agree to send out her $50 rebate immediately, they sent a second $50 rebate to make up for Cindy's trouble. Howard says you just have to be careful when trying to get a rebate.
Howard Finkelstein: "Forcing you to send everything in again even though you may have already sent it, technically, it's legal. They make the rules, and, one more warning, many rebate checks are sent out to look like junk mail so that you throw it away without knowing it, which allows them to keep your money."
Cindy was persistent and will now get two $50 rebates. Hey, maybe she can buy more dolphin stuff.
Cindy Clark: "That is a Jason Taylor fathead. It's life size, it's even bigger than me."
Patrick Fraser: "Funny, I bought two things last year that had rebates. It took three calls to get one rebate, after three attempts to get my phone rebate, I gave up, and I can't call Help me Howard, so I was out of luck. By the way, I am not alone, experts say 50 percent of the people who are entitled to rebates never apply or never succeed in getting them."
Your calls for help getting a bad reception? Need to find a way to send the right signal? Contact us. You can cash in our rebate easily. It's just free legal advice.
Help Me Howard Contact
helpmehoward@wsvn (please include your contact number when emailing)