Computer vendors Dumpster
Victims of deadbeat rebates have long suspected that their rebates just get tossed when vendors don't feel like paying off. But now there's proof, as one small tech vendor, Vastech Inc., has been caught red-handed literally dumping unopened rebate submissions from customers.
Dean Takahashi of the San Jose Mercury News reported this morning that a neighboring company of Vastech's in San Jose recently discovered over 1,300 rebate requests in its dumpster. Most or all of the rebates appear to have been from a mail-in promotion conducted at Fry's superstores earlier this year on Vastech computer accessories.
When confronted by Takahashi, the Vastech owner gave various lame excuses about bad former employees but admitted that the company had fallen behind in paying off the Fry's rebates. A Fry's spokesperson told Takahashi the retailer had received customer complaints about the Vastech rebates and had gotten Vastech to pay at least some of them.
You have to wonder of course how long this has been standard practice at Vastech, and how many other companies are doing the same thing. And which of the many tried and true excuses do you suppose Vastech used when customers called to complain? I guess Vastech could have truthfully told them the receipt or the UPC code was missing, since they were all in the dumpster.
The incident adds fuel to our long-running debate about whether mail-in rebates of this sort should be eliminated. In many product categories, customers often have little choice if they want a competitive price but to participate in rebate offers, forcing them to jump through paperwork hoops that may or may not result in a check showing up in the mail.
And, particularly with rebates for small amounts, manufacturers and rebate fulfillment houses can easily cheat without ever getting caught. For many of them, the only lesson they'll learn from Vastech is not to use a neighboring company's dumpster.