I have had a bad experience with Symantec. I append below a copy of a letter I wrote earlier this week to the CEO. I have since found out that a good number of other people have had the same unpleasant experience; complaints of people who have been stung in the same way can be found in various websites. Apparently, however, it does not happen to everyone, reportedly because it would be difficult to get away with it if absolutely everybody complained at the same time. I have read that therefore they seem to select only a certain percentage of customers, so that when someone complains they can truthfully cite the many cases who have been treated honestly.
2004, February 4
Mr. John W. Thompson,
CEO & Chairman,
20330 Stevens Creek Blvd.,
Cupertino, CA 95014,
U. S. A.
I am an old customer of Symantec, having previously purchased among other software, as your registration records should show, Norton Utilities for the Macintosh v. 3.5, and Norton System Works v. 1.0. Most recently I purchased Norton Utilities for the Macintosh v. 8, on the strength of the offer of a rebate promised in the enclosed copy of the rebate coupon.
Last October 27 I mailed to Symantec a completed copy of the coupon enclosing all the required material, namely, receipted invoice from MacWarehouse, proof-of-purchase flap, and copy of the title page of the manual of a previous purchase.
On January 8, 2004, having had no reply of any sort, I phoned the Rebate Status Hotline shown in the coupon. I was told that my original submission lacked a receipt and a copy of the title page, and that the delay was due to my not having replied to their request to supply the same. I found both claims difficult to understand, but I agreed to mail the supposedly missing material a second time, and to phone back after ten days.
I phoned again on January 22, and was told that the materials had not been received, that I should try faxing them instead of mailing them, and to call back in ten days. This was not exactly reassuring, but I did fax them the same day. When I phoned again today, however, I was told the same story once more, including the part about my not having replied to their postcard requestwhich needless to say, I had not received. I was asked once again to submitfor the fourth timethe requisite material. And, of course, I was to call back in ten days. When I refused, I was told that unless I complied they would not send a cheque.
You will understand if I wonder whether Symantec does not have a deliberate policy of using stalling tactics to avoid fulfilling its obligations. If they were such, they succeeded, and the outcome of your companys transaction with me is that Symantec is now better off by a few dollars at a cost it would probably deem insignificant: the loss of a single customer and an entirely negligible amount of tarnish on its reputation.
Rebates are just a form of "bait and switch"
They hope you don't even bother to submit the rebate and when you do, they make it as difficult as possible for you to collect, as demonstrated by your adventures with Symantec. They never tell you that you cannot have the rebate. Just that they are constantly missing information. It reflects poorly on an industry and drives out competition that don't offer rebates.
I've had problems with rebates with many many companies and
now I refuse to buy anything that requires a mail in rebate.
I had a recent and probably my last problem with a mail in
rebate with Maxtor for a hard drive, I mailed in a rebate with all
the usual stuff and 3 months later...No rebate, I called and
called, I ended up faxing the stupid rebate and a copy of all the
crap they wanted as a proof of purchase etc.
After getting the rebate cheque, I got a mail back from my
snail mail request that I sent in before my fax saying that they
required the original receipt and not a copy of a receipt.
Well...I thought...Jerks...They took a fax and what is a fax?
Fax it to them.
Mac Mini 2.4, Apple TV1 & TV2, iPod 4th gen, Apple iPad Mini...
The future is one of my favourite past times.
------------------------------------------------------ MacMagic Game forum
I bought both Internet Security for my Mac and one for the PC at work and also bought Systemworks 3.0 for my Mac, albeit at three different times over the last few months. In each case I applied for the rebate and received it in full within about six weeks.
An entire industry has grown up which serves as the rebate enabler; in Symantec's defense all I'm going to say about it is that they have nothing to do with it. It's all run by a couple of 3rd party companies who make money by denying rebates.
To further complicate matters, there are some ethical companies that do administer their own rebate programs. Some obvious examples are the Big 3 Automakers (who pay dealers promptly enough that most are willing to credit you for the rebate on the spot) and Apple. In general you have far fewer problems with them.
But, for the rest, your story is so common with rebates in general that the only unique thing about it is it's your story.
Some of the guiding principles of the rebate industry:
Hold the client's (in this case, Symantic) and the customer's (in this case, yours) money as long as possible in order to generate maximum interest return. Delay, delay, delay.
Use an obscure, slow, "unconnected" bank as the sole financial agent for all transactions. I will bet dollars to doughnuts that any cheque you eventually get from them will be drawn on a one-branch bank in a town of less than 20,000 people in a State of less than 2 million people. Tiny, obscure banks in one-pony towns in Wisconsin and North Dakota are typical.
This slows down the financial transactions after you eventually cash the cheque so much that they get another 10 days before any money actually leaves the account.
Any actual documentation or correspondence between the rebate company and the bank will be done "worst way"; in other words never use FedEx if a unhired pony cart is just sitting there.
There are a handful of Banks in the US who don't even have enough depositors to actually act as a Bank; yet they do hundreds of million dollars worth of rebate business a year; in essence it's their only source of profit. To no-one's surprise, they identify much closer with the rebate company than you, and generally work hand-in-hand with them to create mutual profits.
Pay employee bonuses based on the number of applications you can delay, deny, or otherwise hold up in the hope that the consumer will eventually give up and forget about it. Your determined response is rare, but don't think they aren't ready to deal with the likes of you.
For one thing, you just wrote the wrong guy, who at best has to forward it to an employee of Symantec who then has to forward it to an employee of the guys actually administering the rebate. Net effect: more delay.
Less than 5% of consumers actually ask for the rebates they are due; and with a "good" (as in good at it) company administering the rebate program, they can get over half of them to give up, pocketing the difference in the contract from Symantec (which is based on typical rebate levels, with extra fees if for some reason it goes over).
It doesn't matter that you complied to the letter with the onerous details of the rebate form; it's common and actually standard operating procedure to deny perfectly formed applications to see if they can get consumers to give up. Part of that strategy is the unreasonable 10-day limits on every little correspondence with them; they're hoping that you will miss that and give up.
Don't give up, please. But, keep in mind who you're dealing with. If you can find out where the rebate company is located (not as simple as it sounds, it may not have anything to do with the state you mailed it to) you can sue them in small claims court, and ask for expenses and damages. You will have to decide when this whole boondoggle warrants such an action.
You can also contact the Postmaster of the United States Postal Service, and make a complaint (it doesn't matter that you're from Canada, as long as the USPS is involved somehow). It is a serious Federal crime to make false representations in the mail (they're missing postcard makes this eligible for mail fraud, even if they didn't actually mail it, because saying they will and have, even though they wouldn't and didn't, places it under the Mail Fraud category), and this sometimes gets results. Bad news: it takes time as well.
Even more important, they actually prosecute companies based on the number of complaints they get, so every single complaint counts.
Although you are (quite rightly) pissed at Symantec, try to keep in mind that the real agents of your misfortune are private companies hired by Symantec to administer the rebate program.
Thanks to everyone for their comments. I'm not quite sure I agree with Gordguide, however, that "the real agents of [my] misfortune are private companies hired by Symantec." If I may make an exaggerated comparison, the real agent of a contract murder, I think, is not the hired killer, but the hirer of the killer. I very much doubt that Symantec is unaware of what the hired thiefs are doing; I am not likely to be the first to have been ripped off. If Symantec were unaware, it would mean that the rebate company was ripping off Symantec, which is not very credible . I think they are in it together. In one site I read yesterday, the deal between the rebate company and the hiring company provides for an agreed percentage figure of how many people are going to be ripped off.