I took advantage of a Verizon Wireless/XFINITY promotion last Dec. 2, where you could get a $200 Visa gift card for buying a new smart phone.
The offer was for up to 10 wireless lines per account. I upgraded two of our lines to iPhone 5s and ordered an additional iPhone for a brand-new line.
After I upgraded the first line, the screen said "Thank you for your purchase! Once your order has been processed you can expect to receive your $200 Visa Prepaid Card from XFINITY in the mail within 30 days of service activation. Enjoy your new Verizon Wireless device!" The same message appeared with the other two orders.
I activated all three phones on Dec. 25 but received no gift cards.
In February, I called and spoke with someone in the fulfillment center. They were supposed to get back to me in five days, but they never did. After almost two weeks, I called again and spoke to another woman who gave me a new number to call. A rep there said I would only get a $200 card for one phone and a $50 card for each of the other two phones. The rep also said the offer now specifies one card per account -- but it didn’t say that at the time I ordered.
Toward the end of March I received two separate mailings, each with a $100 card.
I am so frustrated. They owe me $400 in cards. If the original offer had a limit of one card per account, I would not have ordered three new phones. Also, when I made this change, my husband’s phone plan got more expensive. So I really would like my rebate.
- Sharon Weihe, Bartlett, Ill.
Got a consumer problem? The ABC News Fixer may be able to help. Click here to submit your problem online. Letters are edited for length and clarity.
The ABC News Fixer generally is not a fan of rebates, though we can see why this deal was tempting. Rebates are great at getting consumers to buy things they otherwise might not, based on the promise of some future reward. If the reward comes, everyone’s happy. But if there’s a glitch, it can turn into a real pain, as you well know.
We took the arrival of the two $100 cards as a hopeful sign. It wasn’t three $200 cards, but it was a start.
We got in touch with Verizon spokeswoman Andrea Meyer and asked her to find someone to look into this. Soon after, you heard from someone in the executive offices who apologized for the hassle and helped get the other two $200 gift cards mailed to you.
But our rejoicing was short-lived. The woman who fixed this for you had looked at your bill and figured you’d save about $10 a month by switching to a different, shared phone plan. You agreed – but then were surprised to see your bill jump from about $260 a month to $329 a month.
Understandably, you wanted go back to your original plan. So we asked Verizon to fix that, too, and they did. Now you are back to your old monthly bill amount (plus they credited you for the $69 in extra charges on the previous bill).
Another word about rebates. You were smart to keep careful track of what you had ordered, even saving an image of the “thank you” screen that appeared. For other consumers trying to claim a rebate, here’s some free advice:
Make sure you apply on time and follow the directions to a “T.” Mark your calendar with the date you expect to receive the rebate. If it’s a mail-in offer, photocopy everything, including the rebate form, receipt, proof of purchase and even the envelope. Send it by certified mail, return receipt requested. For online rebates, keep a screen shot of the rebate offer and be sure to print your receipt.
- The ABC News Fixer
Most people groan at the thought of spending hours on the phone with a customer service call center, but Stephanie Zimmermann relishes the chance to slice through red tape.
Before joining ABC News, Stephanie untangled consumer problems at the Chicago Sun-Times, where her popular column recovered more than $1.4 million in refunds, credits, and merchandise for consumers in the Windy City.
Stephanie, who lives in Chicago, has also worked at the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, and has bachelor's and master's degrees from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University. But most of all, Stephanie is a consumer who hates to see anyone else get ripped off.