Best Buy admits it: “Rebates Suck”

Kudos to Best Buy for ending an inherently dishonest scam: Rebates.

"Our customers are telling us they just hate the process," General Merchandise Manager Ron Boire said during a conference call to discuss the earnings report.

He described that process as "they send it in, they remain aggravated until they get their check."

The rebates have aggravated regulators, too. Wisconsin consumer protection officials last year looked into the rebates after 89 consumers complained, and Ohio Attorney General Jim Petro sued Best Buy in August in part over complaints about rebates.

Boyer said the phase-out would happen over the next two years, as Best Buy shifts its promotional spending to programs like its "Reward Zone," where customers pay an up-front fee but earn points toward future discounts.

We’ve discussed this in the past, including my own sordid saga. Note also that with this entry, we add the category "Retail."

Hat Tip to: Division of Labour.


Best Buy to End Rebates, Reports Earnings
Joshua Freed 
The Associated Press, Apr 1, 2005

Best Buy to End Rebates, Reports Earnings

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What's been said:

Discussions found on the web:
  1. Tim commented on Apr 6

    Thanks for adding the “Retail” category. I’m especially excited about this because I love your blog and I help put out official government statistics for retail trade.

    Check out:

    Interesting that Best Buy is phasing out rebates. From the articles it would seem that they feel that they can capture the price-conscious consumers who would jump at rebates through their “Reward Zone” program. I think that it’s a great idea.

  2. David Bennett commented on Apr 6


    I suspect far fewer price savvy consumers jump at rebates. The ratio of non returns is too high, the piddling rules, the incapacity to adjust: for example one rebate per household, or when we bought a floor model refusal to honor the rebate because we didn’t have the box so despite notes from the retailer we ended up paying more since the rebate exceeded our discount, the need to save copies because a high percentage are lost…

    The labor and frustration are too high, rebates work like aversion therapy, too many bad experiences (at least 10 or 15%) discourage the hassle. The human mind is not keyed to rational cost/benefit analysis. Even if the overall numbers (time invested, returns) turn out to be ok, I look at a rebate product, decide I don’t want the uncertainty, even if the price is ok and one I would pay I don’t buy the product because there is a possible savings that is uncertain and frustrating. One doesn’t like to get the worst of a deal.

    My recollection of rebates is that they started in the eighties for various forms of computers and electronics. Many who bought the product did so for business, the rebate was a form of kickback because many of these people had the rebate sent to themselves. It didn’t show up on the paperwork their bosses saw. The psychology here was very different, but as the method spreads into the consumer realm it becomes a vector for very shoddy customer relationships.

  3. Barry commented on Apr 6

    I love rebates because I follow the rebate rules, i.e. fill out the form completely and provide the required poof of purchase. All of the required stuff is taped to an 8.5 in. by 11 in. sheet of paper with my name, address, and email address printed on the sheet of paper.

    The longest time it has taken to receive a rebate was one year. When I brought this to the attention of Fry’s Electronics, after providing the proof of purchase, I received the check via registered mail. The shortest time it has taken to receive a rebate check was two weeks.

    The best way to get a rebate is on line. Currently, COSTCO and Staples provide this service. This means it takes about a month to get a rebate check.

  4. Brent commented on Apr 9

    Try this one. On December 10th I ordered 2 Memorex thumb drives from which promised a $10 rebate. One was for me and the other a friend for her husbands Christmas present. shipped in their usal speediness and we excitedly sat down and cut apart the plastic containers from Hell. After 25 minutes of guessing cutting and taping, (which one of those bar codes is REALLY the one they want…) we both cut out, enveloped, and taped the same set of documents. I mailed mine Dec 14, she on the other hand waited 3 weeks to mail as she went to New Zealand for Christmas. Hers promptly came in 2 weeks. My “FO” letter came last Friday saying I didn’t include the correct UPC. It took them 3 1/2 months to come up with that tidbit, and I had “7 days to reply” but as you HAVE to tear the box to shreds to get what they want, the container is long gone.I used to laugh at old guys in the movies who say they would “add this company to the list of those that can kiss my a**” I guess I understand now, my list is growing too.

  5. Mike commented on Sep 1

    I got a Netgear Print server from Fry’s Electronic with a rebate for $60. I sent in the rebate and very thing required. 3 months later. Netgear sent me a letter asking for another copy of the UPC code because the original one is not readable.

    I don’t know what to do, because I already sent in the original. In general I don’t have any luck with rebates. Rebate is a scam to me. I don’t ever buy anything with Rebate.

    If they want to lower the price of the product just lower its price. Don’t scam us with the rebates.

  6. sc commented on Dec 6 rebates don’t pay. I bought an SD memory card with a $9 rebate. I submitted it per their instructions with receipt and anything else they asked for. Several weeks later I got a postcard claiming that I neglected to submit my receipt which was complete BS. Luckily, I scan all my rebate receipts so I printed out a copy and told them they were full of it because they already received the original. A few weeks later I get another postcard claiming the same thing. this was a rebate, not from the manufacturer…they were refusing to acknowledge their own receipt. blows and I will never fall for one of their scams again.

  7. JOSH BLOISE commented on Dec 20

    I’m so mad at What a scam this rebate thing is! I ordered a digital camera which had a $30 rebate. The rebate read “Buy this Fuji camera before 10/31/05 to qualify for this rebate…” I placed my order 10/27/05 but they took more than a week to ship it. Now my rebate is being denied because I didn’t buy the product before 10/31, which is a lie because I bought it 4 days before the expiration date and submitted my rebate within 10 days of receipt of the item.
    So my question is What constitutes A PURCHASE online? Is it when you placed the order or when they decide to conveniently ship you the order so you don’t qualify for the rebate?

  8. Edward Collins commented on Jan 4

    I bought a dvd-vhs recorder with surrond sound a year ago from best Buy and a year later I still haven’t got the rebate of $50.00 back yet. That is why we bought this is bacause of the price after the rebate. So today we don’t get anything unless it has a in store rebate.
    I would like to know how they can get away with doing this. It is a rip off to the public. And how can we get this rebate? Everything was filed out and sent in!

  9. kevin commented on Mar 17

    You guys gotta hear this! We bought a portable DVD player from Best Buy on 2/25 and picked it up at the local store. It came with a promotional item (a carrying case) and qualified for a $20 rebate, which expired on 2/25. We submitted the rebate online before we got a good chance to play with the unit. Well, it was defective as well as the carrying case. So 6 days later (March 4th) we went back to the store to exchange it. Then on March 15th, we got a letter from best Buy that said that since we returned the item, we don’t qulaify for the rebate. Huh? I called the rebate folks right away. The guy I spoke with said that it wasn’t a problem, but their computers were down and to call back tomorrow with both receipts and they will help me resubmit it. WRONG! I called back the next day and was told that we didn’t buy it from Best Buy .com. We returned that item and now it was a store purchase which didn’t qualify for the rebate. Huh? I argued with the supervisor for over 30 minutes. The item was defective and was exchanged for one that works, not exchanged. We think the store will be able to help us, but BEWARE OF EXCHANGING DEFECTIVE ITEMS THAT HAVE A REBATE!

  10. Jan commented on Mar 29

    We bought a flat screen 19 inches from Office Depot and sent all the original receipts and did not get our rebate of $100. I sent the upc with it and then they said it needed to be resubmitted. Well guess what I do not have the upc anymore. So they said they would not give it to me. I think this sucks!!!!

  11. Herman F. Walker commented on Jul 5

    On February 6, 2006 I purchased $ 909.98 of computer
    equipment from Best Buy. In this transaction there were three REBATES. I was very careful to fulfill all of the requirments for the REFUNDS. Everybody sent me my refund EXCEPT CANON COPIERS. In April, 2006 they notified me that I did not send in the PROPER
    I resubmitted the proper sales receipt. AS OF JULY 5,06

  12. Linda commented on Jul 19

    OK, so Best Buy admits their rebates suck. Big deal. What about those of us who never got their rebates back from this lousy company? We bought a computer that had 3 rebates with it. We got the 2 small rebates but never got the $200.00 one. My husband called Best Buy and they said we sent the rebate to the wrong place. I don’t think so. I went over the forms and requirements very carefully making sure everything was done correctly – I know they can get you with that kind of stuff. Still no satisfaction from Best Buy. What a misnomer. They could give their products away for nothing and I wouldn’t go there. You can be sure there’d be a catch.

  13. Kevin McCollum commented on Jul 22

    I will pay more for an item than play the rebate game. I no longer even look at anything that has a rebate in the add.

  14. Mario commented on Nov 21

    I bought an Olympus Evolt 500 in May 2006 with a $100 rebate. I filed the forms as instructed and did NOT get my check. I followed up with Circuit City who told me to send to their resubmission department and they did absolutely NOTHING about it. Olympus won’t answer my emails. It is time that Congress outlaws rebates. The Companies that give them do NOT employ sufficient internal controls to get you the rebate.

  15. BlueCrystalMan commented on Feb 26

    Over the past three months I’ve had to deal with two Circuit City rebates, one Verizon Wireless rebate, and a Sirius rebate. Of them, the two Circuit City rebates, worth $15, and $5, ARE STILL MIA. It’s been over 12 weeks, and I ALWAYS photocopy EVERYTHING, including the envelope that I send it in… First, they claim they never got the submission until 12/28/2006, a full 23 days after it left my hands, and now they are claiming they need another two weeks to process it. That’s over 12 weeks they’ve had my money, and even though it’s only $20 total, the cost of the the aggravation just isn’t worth it to me.

    I will no longer buy any products from Circuit City that have rebates attached to them. Lower the price like normal retailer.

  16. John commented on Apr 3’s rebate program is a total scam, bordering on outright fraud. I bought a BlackBerry from in April 2006 and the BlackBerry was activated on April 17, 2006. promised two $150.00 rebates. The terms of the rebates required you wait 6 months before submitting the rebate forms and that you include your cell phone bill to prove you kept the phone activated. I submitted rebate on October 17, 2006. I kept checking their rebate web site and mine didn’t show up. I finally called in December and was told they did not have my forms. They changed rebate processing centers and the new one didn’t have my forms. I then called and talked with their Director of Customer Service. He told me that was not liable for the rebate that the processing center was and this directive was straight from the corporate counsel. I told him that the only company name on the rebate form was, not the processing center. I suggested he talk with the corporate counsel again.

    I kept checking the web site and in February I saw my rebate for the first time. I printed out the site on February 5, 2007 and it says “please allow 4-5 weeks for payment processing.” I called sometime in early March and was told they got my forms on January 5, 2007 and it took 10-12 weeks for processing. I called today, April 3, 2007 and was told again my rebate has been approved and will be mailed. I asked when and was told she did not know. I asked to talk to the person who would know and was told no-one knows. I told the lady about the 4-5 week statement and that it had been 8 weeks since I printed out the page on February 5th. She said she did not know where that statement on their web site came from becasue the rebate form said 10-12 weeks. I then told her it had been 12 weeks since January 5th when she acknowledged receiving my form. She would only say I would receive the checks, but she didn’t know when. I asked to speak to a supervisor and was told none were available but one would call me back in 24 to 48 hours.
    I may eventually receive these checks but I submit this is a total scam, no way to do business, and I will never buy from again. I suggest anyone reading this seriously consider the way their rebate process works before doing business with

  17. Julian Guerra commented on Nov 20

    I also was scammed by I bought a Connect3D 2GB Secure Digital Card through them with the promise of a $50.00 rebate.
    Never got the rebate. After many attempts to contact them, they finally claimed that Connect3D went out of business without honoring their mutual contract regarding rebates. They instead offered me a $10 gift coupon which I have refused to use, instead I am hoping to recover my money thru my credit card.
    I used to be a happy frequent customer. I have not bought a thing from for at least 6 months and never will.

  18. michael commented on Dec 15

    hey i thought the reward zone card is free? is that only in certain states? im in washington btw. i work for best buy and ive been told to offer reward zone cards to all customers since they are free. im really interested as to why everyone hates best buy so feel free to contact me as to why it is so evil?

  19. Rose commented on Feb 16

    Its not just BestBuy its ALL rebates
    I recently was screwed out of a rebate by World Wide Rebates
    After jumping through all their hoops they denied me
    Well I’m not taking it anymore
    I will NO LONGER buy ANYTHING with a rebate
    If I find it has a rebate at the cash register Ill leave it on the counter and walk out of the store
    I may not get my money back but Ill DAMN SURE get $20 worth of entertainment
    I marked my calender and once a week I will be spending an hour posting on the internet
    Thank you World Wide Rebates you are not my personal pet project :D

  20. Irate Customer commented on Feb 19

    Rebates depend a lot on the company too, I tend to get nearly all of the rebates I submit to Costco. In contrast I had consistently bad experiences with Worldwiderebates, which even allows customers to view their photocopied versions of their sent documentation online. Despite that being the case, they still claimed that I was missing something, in spite of of the photocopies showing otherwise.

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