CompUSA Won’t Honor Rebate Promises!

By , July 29, 1996

I am writing in the hopes that CompUSA’s corporate headquarters will issue a $50 rebate as promised by the staff at your Newark, California store….

July 29, 1996

Customer Relations Dept
CompUSA, Inc.
14951 N. Dallas Pkwy
Dallas, TX 75240
Rebecca Jordan
CompUSA Inc.
5234 New Park Plaza
Newark, CA 94560
Epson Zip Drive Mail-In Rebate
3131 Turtle Creek Blvd., #213
Dallas TX 75219
Fulfillment Systems Inc.
P.O. Box 4000
Monticello, MN 55362

Re: CompUSA’s Refusal to Honor Epson ZIP Drive Rebate

Dear People:

I am writing in the hopes that CompUSA’s corporate headquarters will issue a $50 rebate as promised by the staff at your Newark, California store.

On June 15, I responded to a then-current CompUSA advertisement for the Epson Zip Drive, priced at $199 minus a $50 rebate. (I had received the ad as a newspaper insert, probably that same day, and the same flyer was displayed prominently in the Newark, California store.) I went to the Newark store to purchase the drive, and was given a rebate coupon which stated that the rebate expired June 6. When I immediately objected, I was assured by the sales clerk (receipt shows initials RS, which I was told today stands for “Roscoe”) that the rebate had been extended and the rebate would be paid. Since the rebate was a direct CompUSA rebate, I believed the clerk.

Today, I received a notice from “Fulfilment Systems Inc.” (not CompUSA) stating that no rebate would be paid because the rebate expired. (Actually, as you can see from the enclosed copy of the notice, it listed 5 different reasons, but only the expiration appears relevant.)

When I called the Newark store, I got a run-around: one clerk told me that if I drove to the store (17 miles from my office, a 30-minute drive each way) and brought the paperwork to the customer service counter, I would get a refund; I recognized the run-around and asked to speak to the customer service staff, who told me they can’t do that. The store manager and department manager were unavailable.

Next, on another call, I spoke with “Kim” who said that she was “one of the managers,” and she offered to refund $50 if I brought all the paperwork into the store. She said she could not make a refund if I mailed the paperwork to the store, which made me extremely suspicious. (Unfortunately, after repeated lies by your staff on this and a number of earlier matters, I assumed that I would arrive at the Newark store only to learn that there was no employee named “Kim” and the staff would have a nice laugh at my expense. [This actually happened to me at Fry’s once.])

Finally, I called again and spoke with “Rebecca Jordan,” who is apparently the store manager. She acknowledged that she and other staff members had been told that the rebate had been extended. She suggested that to resolve the problem, if I would send the original receipt and other paperwork to her, she would issue a refund by her personal check. While I would like to believe this was a store manager “taking the extra step” to service a customer, I find this situation so irregular that I am no longer willing to mail the original sales receipt to the Newark store.

I enclose copies of the original sales receipt (which already reflects the fact that I had to return 2 of the 3 products returned that day), as well as copies of the rebate coupon and the letter I received from Fulfillment Systems.

I ask that someone at CompUSA take the initiative to pay the $50 rebate.

I already had concluded that your firm was unethical because of its regular use of “bait and switch” (advertising sale prices on products that are not available in stores) and because many products on store shelves are mismarked (deliberately positioned above price tags for cheaper out-of-stock products). By carefully not stocking products that are available cheaper elsewhere, you also make a mockery of “price matching.”

I would appreciate a prompt payment of the promised $50 rebate. If payment is not received by Friday, August 9, I will file suit in the small claims division of the municipal court in Fremont.

Sincerely,

/s/

Mark J. Welch

Enclosures:
– Photocopy of original sales receipt
– Photocopy of copy of sales receipt sent with rebate coupon
– Photocopy of rebate coupon
– Copy of letter from Fulfillment Systems Inc. refusing to honor rebate coupon


Results of this Letter:

On August 8, 1996, I received a check for $50 from CompUSA’s Dallas office by Federal Express.

On August 26, 1996, I received a second $50 check from CompUSA’s Dallas office by U.S. Mail. I returned this second check to CompUSA.

On October 4, 1996, I received a third CompUSA check (for $100) from Minnesota by U.S. Mail. I returned this third check to CompUSA.

I have also received email from more than a dozen people complaining that CompUSA had not honored its advertised rebate promises, plus many stories about expired rebate coupons, rebate coupons not available, lower-grade substitutions for advertised specials, and unavailability of sale items.

Don’t buy from crooks — boycott CompUSA!

Don’t buy products based on “phantom rebates.” Think about it: why does CompUSA offer a mail-in rebate rather than a lower price at the store? Processing a rebate coupon takes more time and effort; it costs them more. Manufacturers offer rebates to insure that the full rebate is extended to consumers, and to gather demographic information about customers; a retail store has no similar objectives. Maybe CompUSA is using mail-in rebates in order to artificially inflate per-store revenues, so the company’s performance looks better. Or maybe CompUSA offers mail-in rebates instead of lower prices is because they expect to cheat some customers out of the rebate!

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