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Saturday, July 21, 2007

Rebate Report: Why I will never shop Office Depot Again

This is an e-mail I sent to the good people at Office Depot. If I get a response, I'll post it here for you to see.

Goodbye Office Depot,

I have purchased too many items to list, been satisfied with your prices and quality of merchandise always, and never once felt as though I was getting the short end of the stick when dealing with any number of your stores in several states.

Too bad I won't be back.

I never shop based on rebates, primarily because I either forget to send them in or I have problems with them. So, if I'm happy with a price, I buy something. If it is a choice between two products and one of them has a rebate and the other doesn't, I do not consider the rebate value as part of my decision process.

And so was the case when I went into one of your San Antonio stores and purchased a Laptop computer for my daughter, a portable hard drive for me, a chair and several other items that day. But, if the guy at the counter tells me I can get $150.00 back for the laptop and $25.00 for the hard drive, why not? What do I have to lose but my time and the price of a few stamps.

My wife sent in the rebate forms the following day and sure enough, I totally forgot about the whole thing. A month or so later, my wife asked me about the rebates but I figured it was way too soon to even think about it. But she insisted, so sure enough, I find your web page and enter the information and low and behold, there it is - the rebate entry forms had been received by you and they were not only received on 8 March 2007, they had been submitted and processed, and according to your website, were already in the "Required Validation Period". Incredible - and you track these things.

My gut reaction was that, like everything else Office Depot does, you guys had this system down and I need not worry myself about it.

So I didn't.

Until my wife asked me about it again in a month or so. This time, it was easier to track down the website because I had bookmarked it. I entered the information and sure enough, there was my wife's rebate, right there in the "Required Validation Period". And again, I was happy that you guys had it all under control.

Instead of me repeating the same paragraph several times to reflect all the times I checked at the insistence of my wife, suffice it to say, that checking in has been a weekly activity.

Okay, so now, the reality is, I have actually looked up the status of a rebate for a portable hard drive, more times than I have actually used the portable hard drive. That alone ought to say something.

It has been over four months since you received the rebates. So I thought maybe I would contact your rebate folks. Sometimes, dishonest rebate people will just do nothing in hopes that people forget. If the person inquires, then, they let the rebate go through. Very wrong, immoral and tacky, but hey, it's a living I guess.

So, I go to the contact form you have, and I fill it out. I go to submit it and what do I get, "Illegal Request". Nice. So I go back and make sure that I have completed all the required fields etc, and I submit again. Yet another and another and another "Illegal Request"

At this point, most of the people who write you say something like, "It isn't the money, it's the principle." I'd like to state clearly, that it is the money. If it was $5.00 it would be the money not because I need $5.00, but because I made a purchase that came with a rebate, I filled out the forms and mailed them in and now you people owe me $150.00 for the laptop rebate and you owe me $25.00 for the portable hard drive rebate. That is a total of $175.00 that you thieves owe me.

So enough with the "Required Validation Period" and at least get me moved to the "Approval Process" so you can sit on that for another 4 months hoping that I will forget about it.

I will forget about it.

But my wife won't.

And that is the reason why I will never spend another dime in your dishonest, thieving, Office Depot store again. Because not only am I out the $175.00 you owe me, but I'll never hear the end of it from my wife.

Okay, here is a quick update to the Rebate situation. I logged in this morning and sure enough there is an e-mail in my in-box from from Office Depot's Rebate people. This was most likely an auto-generated e-mail, but it says I should expect a check in 5-7 business days. I would post the contents of the e-mail but it came with a page worth of legal admonishments one of which was that "any distribution, dissemination, or reproduction of this email message is strictly prohibited" but suffice it to say that apparently the little form I submitted that got me the "Illegal Request" worked. And as I suspected, they just blow you off until you take action to do something.

So being the inquisitive type, (and to test my theory about them blowing people off until they take action), I logged back into the ol' rebate web page and looked up the rebate for the $150.00, and now, they have me moved backwards to the "Processing" step. But this time, the first step is "Re-submission".

I then submitted another one of the forms for the second rebate, the one for $25.00, and once again, I got the ol' "Illegal Request" page. So for good measure, I banged on the submit button 7 or 8 times.

It will be interesting to see if I get another e-mail several hours from now stating that my submittal of the "re-validation" request has begun and I should get something in 5-7 days.

Of course, I have not received a reply from my e-mail to the customer service people, but suspect I'll get an auto-generated response on Monday with a coupon for a free package of recycled printer paper.

I'll let you know what happens.

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San Antonio, TX, United States
I love to observe the odd things happening around me as I go about my day. I especially like it when I can get a picture of people being themselves. Here, I attempt to report the various people and events I have encountered in my neighborhood, and my city. I'd also love to hear from you. Feel free to e-mail your experiences and photos of life in San Antonio.

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