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  WARNING-REBATE CARDS=Monthly Fees + NO Cashing 
 
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john albrich Nov 13, 2011, 10:17pm EST Reply - Quote - Report Abuse
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Edited: Nov 26, 2011, 06:45am EST

Replies: 5 - Views: 2939
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When is a "rebate" not a rebate?

(edit: this seems to be becoming an "standard" policy. Screw the consumer!)

Because of a rebate offer, I was going to purchase an item from a (generally acknowledged) 'good quality' company at a favorite technology website. I almost assumed the V*** "Rebate" prepaid card it offered was the now familiar rebate card redeemable for cash AND without any fee as has been the case in the recent past. In other words, that a $20 rebate would be in fact a $20 rebate.

THERE HAS BEEN A MAJOR CHANGE IN TERMS OF USE

I read the details of the rebate, and all the way at the VERY END of the document, it said:
1) It is NOT redeemable for cash
2) It can NOT be used at any ATM
3) After 6 months, they start charging a $3 MONTHLY "MAINTENANCE FEE" (which probably starts the date you purchased the item...so consider that $3 fee starting after an "actual" 2 to 3 months ("allow 12 weeks for delivery") after you get the card


Note: this may not apply to all new "rebate" card offers, but I advise carefully reading your rebate terms BEFORE you buy something...even from a familiar company...EVERY..SINGLE..TIME.

This was a rebate from a company that just a few months ago allowed the prepaid "rebate" card to be redeemed for cash without ANY fee at a bank. In other words, it was pretty much the same as getting and using an old rebate check.

History lesson: so FIRST they tempted us into accepting a prepaid card instead of a check...because we could still "cash" it like a check. (and...weirdly...you could also get it re-issued as a check IF after waiting 3 months to get the card you then send the card back to them for "conversion" and wait some more (weeks? months?) for an actual check...talk about an asinine process!). SECOND, they got rid of the check "conversion" option. And THIRD now, you can't redeem the rebate prepaid/debit card for cash, you only can use it to pay for a purchase (where you will be likely charged a $1-$3 fee each time you use it)...AND if you're 'slow' to use the card, they will start charging you a monthly $3 "maintenance" fee. Given that most rebates are in the $10-$20 range, that means your rebate is worth $ZERO (aka $0.00, aka bupkis) in less than a year.

I promise you...I will NOT be buying any parts that put these limitations on the rebate card.


edit to add 201111150215UCT:
From what I've been able to determine, it is apparently illegal in Canada to offer these money sucking...transaction fee...maintenance fee...prepaid cards as rebates. They get a check for the full amount of the rebate. If someone knows differently, let us know.


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Reason   Nov 14, 2011, 06:59pm EST Reply - Quote - Report Abuse
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>> Re: WARNING-REBATE CARDS=Can't Redeem for Cash
Good to know. My policy is generally to consider the price without the rebate, as they tend not to be granted, either due to my own slowness or due to bullshit from the vendor.

We recently got a card from our ISP and used it immediately to lessen our monthly bill. However, it was set to decrease monthly by $6 or $10 after a given period, which is more bullshit if you ask me.

I don't blame companies for not wanting to give out the money on rebates, but if you offer it, pay it. period.

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john albrich Nov 25, 2011, 06:23pm EST Reply - Quote - Report Abuse
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>> Re: WARNING-REBATE CARDS=Can't Redeem for Cash
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Even my grocery store isn't so SCROOGEY as to start taking away my "reward" dollars a few months after I receive them (e.g. via monthly maintenance "fees").


I looked at a number of rebates from different manufacturers, but all on a single website that may come to mind when I mention a "yellow and black stripey cat". I'll look at some other websites later.

As far as I could tell...

EVERY single rebate "prepaid reward card" (over $5) was sent on what is now being called a "prepaid reward card".

EVERY single rebate "prepaid reward card" disallows using the card to obtain cash.

EVERY single rebate "prepaid reward card" had monthly maintenance fees attached to it

That strongly suggests to me that the website may have contracts with the rebaters that provide a "revenue sharing" kind of arrangement to the website when people don't spend their rebate quickly enough (and start racking-up "monthly maintenance fees").

You also might notice how the actual financial instrument was very cleverly renamed from a "rebate" to a "prepaid reward card"? What do you want to bet that was most likely done to avoid existing consumer protection laws vis-a-vis a financial instrument classified as a rebate? Quite possibly it's the legal mechanism that lets them charge the "monthly maintenance fees".

One would think the "yellow and black stripey cat" website might consider that I had listed several hundred dollars worth of hardware I was going to purchase in the next few days...until I looked at all the rebate "prepaid reward card" terms and conditions for the items I was going to buy. Buh-bye sales.

Dr. Peaceful Nov 28, 2011, 11:04am EST Reply - Quote - Report Abuse
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>> Re: WARNING-REBATE CARDS=Monthly Fees NO Cashing
I am going to deal with a rebate that will send me a card like that. Will see how it goes. Much rather they send me a check or a suitcase of cash. Lol. ;)

Meats_Of_Evil Nov 28, 2011, 09:41pm EST Reply - Quote - Report Abuse
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>> Re: WARNING-REBATE CARDS=Monthly Fees NO Cashing
Wow this was an interesting read, good thing you bumped it john. Although I'm not sure I'm getting what you mean by rebate cards? The only rebates I know are the ones that PC hardware companies offer and almost never give back. Now as for reward cards... I had a Subway rewards card that it would give me points each time I used it to buy food on Subway, I always used those reward points to buy me extra cookies or something, so If I understood you correctly you're saying that I could have cashed out my reward points instead? :(

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john albrich Nov 28, 2011, 10:36pm EST Reply - Quote - Report Abuse
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Edited: Nov 28, 2011, 10:46pm EST

 
>> Re: WARNING-REBATE CARDS=Monthly Fees NO Cashing
Meats_Of_Evil said:
...I had a Subway rewards card that it would give me points each time I used it to buy food on Subway, I always used those reward points to buy me extra cookies or something, so If I understood you correctly you're saying that I could have cashed out my reward points instead? :(

Well, a regional grocery store chain has a rewards card that accumulates points. After X points you get $Y off a purchase...your choice. But my specific point at that time was that even a frickin' GROCERY STORE didn't charge "maintenance fees" (or the equivalent=deduct points) every month from their "rewards card"...unlike the new NON-rebate cards which DO charge monthly maintenance fees (to the point where they can be worthless in less than a year).

Give me a check or give me a card I can cash for the FULL amount of the rebate and with no required fee. Remember that I also pointed out the rewards cards likely also charge a per transaction fee. So your "reward" card is devalued by the recurring "maintenance" fees and the transaction fees. And can you even use the last bit on the card if the amount is less than the transaction fee? ANY one of those fees quickly makes a $10 or $20 rebate almost worthless.

That you have to go through so much crap to get the damn thing...and they may not even honor their "reward" to you for buying their product just makes it all that much more worthless. The new cards and fees send a VERY clear message regarding what they think of their customers.


edit to add:
I might also point out that one major bookseller used to sell "Gift" cards that also had maintenance fees that caused the typical card to be worthless in about 12-18months. After people stopped buying as many books from them they soon stopped charging the maintenance fees and the cards keep their full value for years...and you can combine them and there is no transaction fee. That's how you develop and keep customer loyalty.


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