Yo, T-Mobile: why make it so hard to retrieve a rebate?

I recently purchased an Android phone from T-Mobile. Part of the promotion was a $50 rebate. I must tell you that I will never, ever go through those hoops again. I finally ended up handing it over to my tech guy Shawn. And I am here to tell you that it has cost me more to get the rebate than the check I’ll receive — even if I receive it, which is doubtful.


When I got the phone I was told that I just had to fill out a form – no problemo. Umm right.

The first indication of a problem was when no rebate paperwork came in the box. Nada. So I made my first call to T-Mobile. A very brusque woman answered, saying, ‘Just go online and the rebate form is there.’

Wouldn’t you assume you’d print it off? That it would be obvious? Wrong.

I couldn’t find it. I looked all over the FAQs re rebates – found out more than I ever wanted to know. Nope. No form. No link. I called Shawn. Nope. He couldn’t find it either.

Finally, I gave him the box the phone came in and all my details, and asked him to do it for me. He called them and found out there was a page on their site that needed to be filled out. He asked them to sit with him while he filled it out in case there were problems (a trick he learned from me). Nope. The rep couldn’t do that — but said, “It’s easy. Just fill it out and send it in.” And hung up.

Next thing I knew, Shawn was calling them up again. The problem? They needed the receipt data – and I had purchased the phone ON the phone, so I had no physical receipt.


Here, in Shawn’s words, is what happened next in this amazing, ludicrous, saga of spending $2000 in time to get $50 in rebate:

” I finished filling out the form. At the end, they had a sheet to print out to attach a sticker from the side of the box. I printed that out, attached the sticker from the box and made a copy for you. Then I saw that it required a proof of purchase for order. I contacted T-Mobile about this and they said that I needed to log into your account on their site and print out an online receipt. Tried, but their site was down. Called again, they gave me a tmobilerebates phone number. Called that number and the woman said because it was ordered on the phone, proof wasn’t necessary. After that, I folded up the paperwork with the sticker from the side of the box, put it in an envelope and mailed it.

I bet this whole process took about 90 minutes – 30 minutes of my time, and an hour of Shawn’s (including hold times and navigating through pages and cutting/copying sticker and getting receipts, waiting on hold for reps, etc.). I calculate that at about $2,000. To get $50 back. Which I might not even get back (there is always some excuse.)

There must be a reason they are doing this – like charge $50 less for the phone? like give me a rebate form to fill out and send in directly? like give all their folks all of the data so we don’t have to go around and around – we made a total of about 7 calls to them.

Obviously they are counting on people not being able to figure it out – and I’ll bet ANYTHING that my rebate claim will be rejected because we didn’t send in the repiept data.


Come on, folks. You certainly can take better care of me than that. I’ve been a loyal T-Mobile customer for 3 years, and it’s cetainly bad enough that I’m not getting the phone for $49.99 like other ‘new’ customers. So you punish me – make me pay through the nose because I’m a loyal customer? – then make me go through hoops to get $50 back that you should be delighted to give me?

In fact, why do you want to get new customers via ‘deals’ and not give me price breaks – and face losing me? I can get the same damn phone from Sprint for $50 (a $150 savings without a rebate)  if I would give up my relationship with you. And for this I’m punished.

What’s the deal? Don’t you want my business?


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