It's no secret that one reason rebate checks take so long to arrive is that the rebate fulfillment houses like to hold on to your money as long as possible. And, as a number of readers have noticed, it's even less of a secret when you're dealing with OnRebate.com, which through its "No-Wait Rebate" program offers to send out the check in just a few days ... as long as they get to keep 10 or 11 percent for themselves.
This frank admission that rebates could be processed in just a few days rather than months and months startles many when they first encounter it. "I thought I had seen everything rebate-wise," one reader wrote recently. "I purchased a set of travel chargers and cables for my iPod from Cables To Go. The instructions said to go to the OnRebate.com web site, enter the rebate number, and it would generate the paperwork. The process is straightforward enough, but I was surprised to see they have an express processing option. They will process and mail your check in eight to ten weeks, but if you allow them to deduct $2.50 from a $25 rebate, they'll process it in three to five days. Totally shameless! They might as well admit that they're sitting on your check for as long as they possibly can before mailing it."
The idea of having to give the rebate house a cut strikes some readers as almost extortinistic. "If you give them a portion of 'your' money they will make sure that you will get your money faster," wrote another reader. "How is it that they can 'make it happen' if it takes at least 6-8 weeks for them to process it? If they can do it that quickly, why aren't they required to do that without extorting some more of it from you? I feel that it is my money and they should have to return it to me as quickly as they can, not as quickly as they can if I give them more money. I have already given them some of it."
Even if the customer decides that a quick payoff is worth giving OnRebate a cut, it doesn't necessarily mean that there won't be hassles and delays. "After they lost my paperwork and I refaxed it, I followed up with two emails with all paperwork in PDF and HTML formats -- as well as five phone calls, two of which directly to management," posted one reader who went the No-Wait rebate route. "They accepted my rebate. Six days after that I have still not been paid through the no wait rebate program which guarantees a two-business-day turn around. I've been disconnected a total of three times, two times at business closing which left me to wait until the next day to handle business. I'm currently in my 30th minute of hold time for a manager to find out what this guarantee entails. Of course it is now after their hours again, so if I get disconnected, gonna have to wait another day. Wait ... I just got disconnected."
Another reader phoned the Gripe Line recently with his experience with three rebates totaling $100 he'd gotten when purchasing a system from TigerDirect. "You know the chances of getting rebates without really have to pursue it for a long time aren't good, so I used the OnRebate No-Wait Rebate," the reader said. "They take 11 percent as a fee and they guarantee processing with five days. I sent in three rebates for $20, $30, and $50. The $20 and $30 ones came very quickly, but the $50 didn't come. Whenever I call them, they it's been sent out and I have to wait 30 days for it to arrive, even though I paid them $5.50 - 11 percent of $50 - to get it in five days."
Weeks later that same reader e-mailed me that he was still waiting for his No-Wait rebate from OnRebate. "The new line is that I must wait another 30 days to file a 'lost in mail' claim," the reader wrote. "They say there will be no refund of the 11% fee as they are not responsible for the U.S. mail. And after one hour 17 minutes spent of hold, I've noticed part of the welcome message is about 'bank fees incurred' - i.e., bounced rebate checks. So not only do you have to wait for the 'No Wait' rebate, when you do get the check, it may bounce."
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