Got my Droid rebate, but…

Almost a month after buying the Droid, I got my rebate, but they didn’t send a check, they sent a rebate card.

It’s kind of cool looking:

Verizon rebate debit card

At first I thought — wow this might be fun. Getting a check is a minor hassle, but it just goes into your account, and sloshes around with all the other dollars in there. Having a card means I could buy something for $100. It’ll burn a bit of a hole in my pocket, which is always a welcome feeling.

But, after watching the Frontline show about credit and debit cards, I’m on the lookout for scams, and right away I spotted a couple

1. My first thought on opening the envelope was “Oh shit another card I never asked. I bet at least a few cards get shredded before they ever get used.

2. You can’t spend exactly $100. Some people will spend $20 and forget how much is left, and voila — an $80 profit for Verizon. No matter what, there will be a lot of loose change left over on a lot of cards. With a million Droids out there that’s quite a bit of money.

3. They got use of my money for a month.

Obviously, the most customer-friendly thing to do would have been to apply the $100 to my next Verizon bill. Or better yet, never charge it to me in the first place, and drop the price by $100.

Update: It’s even worse than it appears. You can’t use the card until you register it. So I went to the registration site and it doesn’t accept my Verizon username and password. Just to be sure I have the correct info, I logged in on the home page, and I do. So how much of my time is it worth to chase down the $100? I guess that’s #4. :-)

Update #2: Read the fine print. This is a new login. Okay. They want my mother’s maiden name for one hundred freakin dollars? Fuck you. I made something up.

Posted in Droid. 33 Comments »

33 Responses to “Got my Droid rebate, but…”

  1. andym Says:

    You can usually split payment at a retailer, so if $3.24 remains on the card just tell the cashier/robot that you want $3.24 charged to this card then pay the remainder with an alternative.

  2. Cale Says:

    Those Visa rebate/gift cards can be tricky. I tried using one at Target only to find it ring up as a Starbucks gift card. I had issues at other locations as well. Certain stores just don’t recognize them.

  3. Bryan Says:

    Make sure you register your card at and good luck with the card. I have one that I have tried to use in several places only to have it rejected.

  4. Bryan Says:

    By registering the card, you can check the balance. These cards are a pain in the ass period.

  5. AriT93 Says:

    Amazon will take the card no problem. I had the same deal with an AT&T rebate card. Amazon will also allow you to split paying between multiple cards IIRC. Of course my wish list is full of many find gift ideas 😉

    • Dave Winer Says:

      I’m actually having trouble registering the card.

      • AriT93 Says:

        I never bothered with the registering thing on the AT&T ones just went to amazon. Bought an arduino and some books and that was that. I think the registering just lets you check the balance online. Also, I think you can do the cash back thing on them at grocery stores as well. I have not tried that though.

  6. Josh Turmel Says:

    This sucks, one option might be to unload it on one of those gift certificate type sites (or eBay.) You usually only get 90% or so of value but it may be worth not having to deal with it.

  7. Corwin Says:

    Since Verizon is not a bank, I would think to issue these cards means money has to change hands. I think it’s Citi that stands to profit from unused cards.

    If I put my corporate greed hat on, I understand why they don’t just give us another $100 off at the register. But it still sucks for the little guy.

    On the down side, I guess I have card coming to me as well.

  8. andym Says:

    Rebates should never have been used this way. They’re meant as a way for a manufacturer to drive demand *after* the product has been sold into a merchant’s inventory, so as to compete with other products. Instead, they’re being used by vendors as a way to make an attractive “after rebate” on products that are brand new to market.

  9. jtt Says:

    Bought mine at Best Buy where they took the $100 off immediately.

  10. Curtis Says:

    Dave, that’s exactly what Verizon counts on. As do the others who offer similar rebates on a debit card promotion. Many of the cards are lost, never used/registered, and many many more are used only once or twice and leave a balance remaining which is never used (or expires). Meanwhile, all that $$$ is collecting interest and returned to them at some point. And yes, they have “use” of your money for the 8-16 weeks and are making a nice chunk of interest off that pool of money as well.

    My experience with these sort of cards is a mixed bag; some sites they work, some they will not, no matter what. Depends on the processor or payment network being used.

  11. Jim S Says:

    The thing you are leaving out, #5, is that they do this so that they can track how you spend the $100. Helps them build up profiles of their customers.

  12. kathryn olney Says:

    I’m thinking of getting a Droid. (need to look up your comments about it!) If that happens to me I’m going to call Verizon cus service and try demanding that it be applied to my bill.

  13. Dave Says:

    I did not have to register the card, and have used it at several places, with no problem (retail, restaurant, etc). Strange that yours is not the same.

    But they are absolutely doing something that makes more business sense for them, and less sense for the consumer. The cards expire after a certain amount of time, so there will most likely be thousands of people who never use the whole $100, or any of it. All to their advantage.

  14. trevor Says:

    There’s another pseudo-scam here. If you purchase an item for $100 dollars at a store and run it as a credit card (Like the sticker on the debit card insists) then Visa gets to charge the merchant a transaction fee. You still get your $100 item but visa gets a few bucks times hundreds of thousands of droid rebates. I just transferred mine to my bank account via the website and shredded the card.

  15. Annika Says:

    Doesn’t get much easier! Everyone loves a giftcard, and this one had fast, FREE shipping! I love Amazon!

  16. MarcN Says:

    A few months ago we got a rebate from Verizon and I just took it down to my credit union and they exchanged it for cash. No registration, no loss of value. Simple.

  17. tlq Says:

    This card kind of really sucks! ALOT of places don’t take them. eg. bath and body works, costco, some gas stations.

  18. Tumbleweed Says:

    If you buy your Droid or Droid Eris through the sears wireless website (never thought I’d put THOSE two words together), not only is there no rebate to have to deal with, the regular price of each of those phones is $40 less than from Verizon itself. So, $150 less up front, no worrying about rebates or cards, etc. Definitely worth it in my book. I’m waiting for the rumoured upcoming keyboardless version with OLED screen before jumping. The keyboard on the Droid is horrible.

  19. Ray Daly Says:

    Careful, my rebate card had an expiration data and I lost the money. I was using it as an in-case-of emergency “card” and that made it an emergency card.

    So next time I got one, I used it to pay my phone bill.

  20. Angie Says:

    We were current Verizon customers, so we ordered my Droid directly from the Verizon webpage, and got the $199 price right off the bat, no rebate required. Had we bought it in-store, we would have had to wait for the rebate.

    I think this is their way of keeping current customers out of their way in Verizon B&M stores. 😛

  21. Adam Gerstein Says:

    I got a $50 rebate when I bought a different phone (can’t bring myself to get a smart phone ’cause I have enough tech in my life as it is).

    Anyway, registered with no problems, and have used it to buy little things (milk at the IGA, ice cream from DQ) with no problems. Now I just have to find something I want on Amazon for the remainder….

  22. Richard P. Says:

    You guys are all lucky. Went down to the bank to get my refund and the card was rejected. Come to find out that some hacker (probably a verizon employee) got my card number and charged $95 to Victoria Secrets. VS website does not require the pin # so it’s a favorite for crooks. They were suppose to have cancelled the pending transaction and credit the rebate. Verizon says there’s nothing they can do. Bottom line is that I still haven’t received the rebate! Asked them to just send me a check : Aw we don’t do that. No, they’d rather have us jump through hoops hoping we’ll forget forget about it. Assholes!

  23. estragon Says:

    I just registered mine and took it to my B of A branch, where they converted it to cash on the spot

  24. Bud Gibson Says:

    I had exactly the experience of Richard P. Received my card with $0.06 on it. Someone had taken the number and used it to pay their phone bill for $99.94. Now have to go through a fraud investigation.

    These guys are liars and frauds. That’s all there is to it.

  25. Andrew Nystrom Says:

    Dave: I felt the same exact way as you, especially since the Verizon/Droid site was very buggy when I ordered on the first day it was available and somehow managed to get the rebate card instead of the instant rebate — BUT after waiting over a month for the card and reading all the fine print, I discovered that I could apply the debit card credit to, get this, my next Verizon bill! Crazy, but I am enjoying the phone, if not the camera.

  26. Ann Hoyt Says:

    Bud Gibson and Richard P, I had the same thing happen. By the time I received my card, it had been used by someone. This has to have been either an employee or someone who hacked into their system

    Besides the annoyance of a debit card being issued for what was supposedly a manufacturers rebate, there is the fraud issue. Someone at Verizon is committing fraud and when I spoke to the customer service people they didn’t seem to care.

    There should be a public way of making this known. Is there a media person we can call? People should be made aware of this scam.

    • Richard P. Says:

      I am seriously thinking about a class action lawsuit vs Verizon. I think it could easily be done. Any thoughts, anybody?

  27. Michelle Says:

    I just got my Rebate card today and went to use it and was denied. Apparently my card number had been compromised and used at some Choi’s Korean Kitchen in Los Angeles, CA. I live 2500 miles away from Los Angeles and I have never been there. I now have to make a police report and get a fraud report notarized and wait another 45-60 days for my $100 bucks. I won’t buy another phone with a rebate card!!

  28. Michael Fritsche Says:

    The way that current unclaimed property laws are set up, Verizon would not get to keep unused card value. After a certain period they are required to attempt to contact the owner of the debt (cardholder) and if they can’t get contact that person they are required to send it to the either the state of the owner of the debt or (if they don’t know the state) their own state of incorporation.

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