Waiting for OnRebate ‘s “no wait” rebate?

Update:  OnRebate replied to this post, and I think that is nice of them.


My son just assembled a new and very fast PC from parts we bought at TigerDirect, but suffering through the rebate submission process is sure diminishing the educational value of this for me. Even though he’s doing much of the paperwork himself I just spent close to an hour figuring out the silly details and going offline, online, and printing the various forms required.

I suppose it’s teaching him something, though so far it is mostly “why is dad cursing at the rebate people?”.

Onrebate.com is processing 2 of the 5 rebates we are due. From a technical point of view the system seemed to work OK but the “no wait” rebate option that offers what they say is an “almost instantaneous” rebate is a lesson is how OnRebate is using deceptive doublespeak marketing BS. This “instantaneous” rebate will come to me after they process all the paperwork rather than after they simply match my input to the existing sales records (that would be neat, and it’s clearly what they implied they were going to do).

Sure the stakes here are low with $40 and $20 rebates but I resent how companies like this effectively prey on the inexperience of their customers and the complexity of the rebate process to lower the response rates as well as tag on extra charges. Good rebate systems (Staples comes to mind – Kudos to them) are still an inconvenience but I respect the fact that fraud is a big issue now. Bad rebate sytems are usually immoral attempts at marketing ripoff schemes or reduce response rates (a multi-billion dollar scam that is perfectly legal). I’m not putting OnRebate in this category yet but they are sure on my list for potentially seeking to reduce response rates. Incredibly they also wanted to charge a sneaky $4 “no wait” fee for the rebate that would still require weeks of waiting, just not their normal wait time of several months.

Summary: Beware rebates in general and beware sneaky marketing doublespeak from OnRebate.

Update: Here’s an interesting thread about OnRebate problems. Note that the helpful OnRebate rep no longer works there though it looks like she was great in dealing with complaints. http://www.ripoffreport.com/reports/0/149/ripoff0149417.htm#217843


12 thoughts on “Waiting for OnRebate ‘s “no wait” rebate?

  1. Mr. Hunkins;

    I just read your posting, and greatly appreciate your comments – and I have a few comments of my own, if you don’t mind.

    We process rebates for a variety of clients – and regardless of their differences (manufacturing, retail, mail order, etc) – we remain neutral and in the middle of all rebate transactions – let me explain.

    OnRebate is like an umpire in MLB – we make no rules, but simply enforce those that our clients ask us to enforce – so as an example if a client requires that the applicants mail in the original invoice (just as an example) – then when we receive those proof-of-purchase documents, we decision that claim based upon having received an original or copy, just as an example.

    I will say however, that we allow all claims that have been denied the opportunity to “resubmit” – so even if an applicant may have been denied – we notify them via email, and encourage them to “resubmit” the correct documents, thereby giving most everybody a 2nd opportunity to apply and receive their rebate – a policy that we believe is very customer-centric and friendly.

    As for our “no wait” service levels – in each and every marketing message supporting this program, we have been exceedingly careful to fully disclose the terms, in particular – “proof of purchase”. Any applicant that chooses “no wait” – authorizes us to retain a small fee in lieu of providing the applicant expedited services. So instead of waiting the normal 6-8 weeks to have their payment processed, we accelerate their claim – essentially going to the head of the line – and upon receipt of all documents required by the particular manufacture – a payment is processed within 5-7 business days.

    In terms of this issue you mention of “matching my input into existing sales records” – this is a great idea and one we have put forward to all of our clients many times over – but unfortunately without their support – this solution is not possible, let me try to explain. The retailer’s sales records are stored and maintained on the retailers POS systems and not with OnRebate so in order to tie a POS sales record with a rebate-application-record – there would need to be tight integration between these two (2) disparate systems, and although we are in discussions with several of our clients, this feature is still in the discussion stages.

    Finally, I looked into your son’s applications – and located two (2) rebates, (not 5, perhaps some other rebate processing company Is handling those 3 claims, for we have no record of anything beyond the 2 I mentioned) both of which he applied for successfully last Friday July 27th – and now all we are waiting for is for him to send us the proof-of-purchase documents for each claim. Once we get that – everything will be scanned into our system, and a decision rendered.

    I hope this helps with your concerns, if you have any further questions – feel free to contact me directly – bill.Gollan@onrebate.com

    Best regards,


  2. Hi Bill –

    I appreciate this very thoughtful comment from you and I’m putting a link to it at the top of my snippy post. It’s certainly possible I have overestimated OnRebate’s role in trying to make these rebates “hard to get” and thereby decreasing submissions and payouts. Still, I think the “no wait” option is so absurdly named that I can’t apologize for that. Note that shifting the rebate queue in this way means that others get their rebates more slowly – ie you are basically having people bid down their rebate to get it faster at the expense of other recipients.

    It does sound like my beef should possibly be mostly with the vendors (who benefit directly from rejected submissions) than with OnRebate.

    I know it’s hard to intergrate legacy database sytems, but if you can crack that nut then I’d urge OnRebate to look at Staples rebate model, which does not require any mailings at all. You still wait for the rebate by mail but the submission process is not so cumbersome. I think the Staples rebate process has actually changed my buying behavior in favor of Staples because rebate technicalities and paperwork have caused me so much stress in the past, but like most consumers I can’t bring myself to ignore large rebate offers on things I need to buy.

    Kudos to you and OnRebate for keeping on top of blog posts and thanks for staying in touch!

  3. Joe;

    Our “no wait” service in no way clogs-up our rebate system for those applicants that have chosen basic service, there’s no way I would have ok’d any programming that would have had that effect on our customers, be assured Joe – customers always come first, no exceptions.

    We have a dedicated team servicing all “no wait” applicants – like concierges at your favorite hotel, our special “no wait” staff handle these separately than the basic service levels. So there is no disruption to day-to-day basic – and on most occasions – both group’s expectations are met and all is good.

    Lastly Joe, thanks for reaching out into the www – for had you not vented – I never would have had the opportunity to answer your questions & concerns, and hopefully renewed your faith – in at least one rebate processor – OnRebate.com

    My best

  4. Thanks for clarification Bill and also your very diplomatic responses. I think Robert Scoble and Shel Israel, who wrote “the book” on corporate blogging issues (“Naked Conversations”), would give you an A+ for dealing with blog criticism quickly and thoughfully.

  5. I’ve never understood the concept of rebates or coupons.
    I had to go through an Office Depot computer purchase rebate on Tower, monitor and Printer in one combination deal but this meant three envelopes and some photocopying. Took several weeks but they had warned me of it and it only took about a week more than the estimated time. One mailing to each of the three addresses was all it took. They sent an acknowledgment email and finally a check. It took some careful reading on my part and was a nuisance, but it worked. I still don’t know why they just didnt lower their price instead of giving a rebate. I have no idea what company actually processed the rebate, but things went well enough with it that it was merely a chore, not an ordeal.

  6. I came across this blog and many other complaints about onrebate. I was just wondering if it was me, but I see now it’s not. I followed the checklist for our two rebates and they were rejected. My instinct was that maybe I did not send in everything, so I looked at my scanned info in the onrebate website (meaning they received the info). The claim was that there was no packing/receipt/invoice. Problem was IT WAS ON THE SCAN. 2 months and about 5 emails later, they have apologized and have “processed” my rebates and as of 8/13/07, I should be sent them in 6-8 weeks. Waiting to see about the truth in that…..

    P.S.- Mr. Gollan must spend a lot of time on the computer to keep up with all the complaints and blogs! There are many. I personally will never use TigerDirect or Onrebates again.

  7. Here is my own experience with the On-Rebate umpire. I entered the information on-line and wait for my confirmation email. After 24 hours no email so I entered again. 24 hours later still no email. I called Onrebate and spoke to a rep who said they were having some trouble with the system so I should try again in a couple of days.

    So I did and guess what? Yep no email. I tried sending an email to them and did finally get a response with a confirmation number. Only took a week. I finished filling out the forms and photocopied everything and mailed them in. One month Two months go by no rebate.

    I tried tracking my rebate and of coarse they have no record of receiving my forms. I sent them copies of the completed forms I sent them in August.

    I’m waiting for the rejection. They will say either I didn’t send them the originals, which of coarse I did back in August, or they will say I was too late, which I am because I patiently waited two months to investigate.

    I like Tiger Direct but the Internet horror stories about onrebate are enough to convince me never to do any business with them again that requires a rebate.

    Interestedly enough these rebate shenanagins are not just limited to companies like onrebate. I bough a computer from Apple over the summer and was waiting a $200 Ipod rebate. I got a rejection email stating the sellers address and invoice number were missing from the form. I looked at my copies and saw all the supposed missing information was clearly printed on the invoice I had sent. I made another copy and made large circles with a sharpie and highlighted the information Apple claimed was missing. Two weeks later my rebate arrived. At least somebody cared.

  8. It is now about 90 days past my purchase and I appear to have 4 of the 5 rebates including both from OnRebate.
    However the docs that came with some of them make it very hard to know which are which. I spent about an hour figuring out things only to find 2 of the 5 in my recent mail, and learn that one for a Hitachi Hard Drive via Tiger Direct had been rejected but after emailing them pissed off notes has now been “approved”. OnRebate has a commendable online system that documents the whole process.

    Rebates in general are the devils work, and I always regret thinking they would result in more than a little savings. The $150 we “saved” on the PC parts will have taken about 2-3 hours to manage and resulted in stress that may cost me thousands in later stress related tramautic rebate injuries, so I hope I remind myself of what a pain this all was.

  9. I too have submitted several rebates from TigerDirect to Onrebate.com on 7/7/06 which was over 1 yr. and 4 month ago. I have spoken OnRebate rep several time. Each time I call – I am told we are working on your rebate and it’s accounting that is holding this up. Once I was told that there are “NO FUNDs” in the account. This was little more information that I needed to know. However I was cleaning up my email box today and came across OnRebate’s emails and called up the office for rebate status. Of course I got the “We will see what we can do for you since it has been very long time since you have filed this rebate.” I can care less for $130.00 but at the end it’s the principle. See below the events by OnRebate and NOTE that Payment Sent is blank. I have several rebate in this position with no progress. So to all folks who rely on rebates – give it up and find yourself a reasonable deal with no rebates.

    Rebate Tracking Number: XXXXXVZNQECP9WR5
    Status Date/Time
    User applied for OnRebate 7/7/2006 12:25:51 PM
    Email was sent for Confirmation 7/7/2006 12:25:51 PM
    Email was confirmed by the user 7/7/2006 2:39:49 PM
    Printed out the rebate registration, awaiting receipt of documentation 7/7/2006 2:39:49 PM
    The Rebate was accepted 7/11/2006 3:37:02 PM
    Payment Sent

  10. Hi Bill,
    my rebate was dated 6/2/2006. I have purchased a Seagate Hard Disk at Tigerdirect.com and submitted my rebate through Onrebate.com Later i never received the rebate amount of $44.50 I tried to reach them in 2006 and once in July 2007. I was told that my check would be mailed in 3-4 weeks. I never received the rebate. I thought it would be a waste of time to keep following up.
    Today 7/16/2008, I looked up the printout of the rebate status in one of my folder and tried to check for the status on-line. It says that my payment was not sent. then i called up the 888 phone number. It is a painful call. i reached the CSR twice, the first one kept me on hold forever. I disconnected and the second CSR was so rude. she didnt even tell me her name or employee Id. total time during the call, she was yelling at me. as i was at work i couldn’t shout at her. But i was asking her for my rebate and she first said ,as it is too old its not in my system. then she asked for the tracking number and said the check was mailed after my call in July 2007. I said i didnt receive the check. in response to that, she is going to check with wachovia bank to see if i ever cashed my check. i don’t see why she want to do that as the rebate status in their website http://www.onrebate.com says, the payment was not sent. she also didnt verify my mailing address. the address has an apartment number. i want to see if the address was correct. she is so rude and reluctant to say the apartment #. also she doesn’t know how long is the process of verifying with the bank is going to take. on a whole i spent more than hour doing this.
    I am not worried about my $44.50, I am concerned and worried about other customers who are still going through onrebate.com. and how onrebate.com is still surviving!!!

    Thulasi krishna Tenkayala (krishna),

  11. I got my rebate after couple of months from my post dated here. i tried to email as mentioned and was successful

  12. I am lucky to read these berfore I check out my order.
    What did I do? Do not buy anything that has mail-in rebate.

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