Almost being sideswiped by a teenage driver in the middle of the day, teachers sleeping in till noon, a decline in parka sales in the midwest and east coast; these are all signs that summer is upon us. For geeks, this is also the time of year when the upgrade bug hits. After all, what better way to spend those gorgeous sunny days than cooped up inside with the blinds drawn and basking in the LCD glow of a rendered sunset?
Alright, so camping, fishing, bar-b-ques, bike rides, picnics, frisbee golf, and a wealth of other summertime activities present a pretty good case for venturing outside. But for the DIYer, there will be plenty of temptation in the coming months to forgo acquiring a good tan. Impending price cuts have quad-core processing poised to enter the mainstream, DirectX 10 gaming is peeking around the corner, and DDR2 pricing continues to plummet. And on top of it all, juicy looking rebates are becoming commonplace, giving further justification to rack up that credit card bill. But buyer beware when it comes to promised partial refunds, or anytime someone tells you the check is in the mail , you could end up sitting by the mailbox far longer than you bargained for.
My story begins nearly three years ago and concerns a company called Soyo. Newer enthusiasts aren't likely to recognize the name, but Soyo at one time churned out a line of motherboards, with their DRAGON series denoting the flagship models. One of the last boards to roll off the assembly line, Soyo's SY-P4I865PE Plus DRAGON 2 v1.0 advertised itself as a 'Prescott-Ready' slice of silicon riding the highly popular (at the time) Intel i865PE chipset. Further enticing would-be builders, the board carried a budget friendly $75 price tag, and though it wouldn't seem the pot needed any more sweetening, Soyo upped the ante by offering $75 in mail-in-rebates, in essence making it a free motherboard. Who could resist, right? Certainly not I, along with hundreds of others, and perhaps the overwhelming popularity is why things ultimately turned sour.
Having dutifully filled out and photocopied the forms (for my own records), I mailed out the appropriate paperwork and waited. And waited...and waited...and waited some more. The online status of my rebate went from processing to not received , and I was given the ping pong treatment when contacting customer support. Having exhausted my energies (more details can be found in this 8 page Dog Pound thread , along with other MPC members who got burned by Soyo), I logged a complaint with the Better Business Bureau and chalked it up as a loss.
This all took place back in August of 2004, and normally that'd be the end of the story. But because of that BBB report filed almost three years ago, Soyo recently tracked me down to verify my address and sent a long overdue $75 check. Apparently they're trying to clean up their 'F' rating by making good on old debts, and they've since been upgraded to a 'B' for their efforts. Looking to get back in the game perhaps? That's a story for another day...
So before you click that BUY button based on a mail-in-rebate, understand that you're taking a risk. Rebate companies are notorious for not following through, often times stating they never received your paperwork, or that you filled it out incorrectly, instantly rendering the claim null and void. And if you do decide to roll the dice, take some steps to put the odds in your favor:
1) Read the form(s) carefully and follow the instructions to a T. That means circling the rebated item on your receipt if told to do so, printing legibly, and meeting the post mark date.
2) Pay attention to whether you need to send in the original UPC barcode and receipt, or photocopies. And then don't forget to include them.
3) Make photocopies of EVERYTHING for your own records. You may need them in case you're requested to resubmit your information.
If you've taken the above precautions and are still unable to receive your rebate, utilize all the customer service avenues you can, including the place where you purchased your item from, the company handling the rebates, and the manufacturer of the rebated product. Become a nuisance, and if all else fails, file a report with the Better Business Bureau to help warn others. And who knows, some 150 weeks later, you may get an unexpected phone call.