Bait and Switch

I submitted the following story to The Consumerist:


In the beginning of November 2006, CompUSA had a deal on Kasperksy Anti-Virus 6.0. It was on sale for $60 with 2 rebates. A $60 rebate and a $40 upgrade rebate. I’ve attached the product page (kaspersky csua product page.pdf), so you can see that it was clearly advertised as so. I’ve also attached both rebate forms (kaspersky cusa 60 rebate form.pdf and kaspersky cusa 40 rebate form.pdf). They even show you the calculation of how final price of the product will be -$40.00.

I’ve ordered it for in-store pickup and that transaction went through smoothly. Both rebates were also printed out at the register, to confirm that this was not a mistake and that there were indeed 2 rebates for this product. Many other people got on this deal too.

After picking up my order, I immediately filed for the 2 rebates. You can either mail the rebates in, or file the rebates online:
https://erebates.compusa.com/

I did mines online because it was easier to keep track of and the fact was they can verify my order without having me send in any documentation since I can just punch in my order #. Both rebates were validated within a day or 2 and said it would be mailed in 10-12 weeks.

A couple weeks earlier, this thread on multiple deal forums started to have a lot of commotion:
http://www.bargainshare.com/index.php?showtopic=91762
http://forums.slickdeals.net/showthread.php?sduid=35343&t=385639
http://www.fatwallet.com/forums/…php?catid=74&threadid=668741
http://www.fatwallet.com/forums/…php?catid=74&threadid=679164

Apparently, CompUSA had just removed the $40 rebate without warning, no email, no phone call, no letter, just POOF! The $60 rebate was still there and still valid. I actually already received the $60 rebate a week or 2 ago.

Many of us began to call and email CompUSA asking what happened to the $40 rebate and here was their response:

After reviewing your account we found that Offer #7000151 had a clause in it where it was not valid with any other offer. Our system incorrectly qualified you for Offer #7000158. We have fixed the error, and unfortunately, you do not qualify for the $40.00 rebate. You do, however, qualify for the $60.00 rebate, and should receive that within the next 30 days. We apologize for the confusion.

I emailed back:

The item I purchased was advertised with both rebates: $60 and $40. I’ve attached a printout of the product page from CompUSA.com that features both rebates.

Current Rebate:
Regular Retail Price: $59.99
You Pay: $59.99 Price after instant rebates, if any -$40.00 Mfr. Upgd. Mail-In Rebate (Valid: 11/1/2006 – 12/31/2006) -$60.00 Mfr. Mail-in Rebate (Valid: 11/5/2006 – 11/11/2006) CompUSA Price: ($40.01) Price after instant & mail-in rebates

If the $40 rebate is not honored, this is essentially false advertising. I hope you seriously reconsider the rejection of this rebate. Thank you.

Their response:

CompUSA correctly advertised Kaspersky Anti-Virus 6.0 software as Free, after rebate; however, a mistake was made when a secondary rebate by the manufacturer was added to the offer amount. Customers who purchased the software paid $59.99 and qualified for a $60 rebate; because Kaspersky was also offering a $40 upgrade rebate, both amounts were combined and advertised in error. Despite listing the offer as $100, customers were only entitled to receive the amount they actually paid and would not qualify for an additional $40 payment. Although both rebates were submitted, the $60 rebate form clearly stated it could not be combined with any other offer, which resulted in the correct rejection of the $40 rebate.

We apologize for any inconvenience this situation may have caused; however, due to the fact that typographical errors in web based, email or other advertisements are subject to correction, as specified in our promotional disclaimers, terms and conditions, the request for additional payment cannot be honored.

My final response:

You’ve ALSO advertised that there were $100 in rebates and that after rebate it will be ($40.00) after instant and mail in rebates. I’ve attached a screenshot of the product page with the areas of interest circled in red. I also have a print out of the actual receipt that still shows that there are 2 rebates for this item that I purchased, totaling $100 in rebates. Given that there’s a discrepancy between the price you listed on the same page, the law states that the store must honor the lower of the 2 prices, which would be to honor both rebates in this case.

I implore you to reconsider the rejection of this rebate as it would ultimately constitute as fraud. I’ll be filing a case with the state attorney general and BBB if I do not hear a satisfactory response.

The fact is if it was a typographic error, CompUSA’s only option would have been to cancel our orders and call us to see if we still want to purchase it with one less rebate. However, our credit cards were charged and we got our product, and 2 months later, they claim they can no longer honor the original sale terms because it was a typographic error. This is considered bait and switch, where CompUSA offered something (product with 2 rebates) and switched it with something else (product with only 1 rebate). They’ve been found guilty in court of this type of practice in the past and are up to it again. I quote from someone on the thread:

Courts have ruled time and again that fine print listed in terms and conditions doesn’t nullify what is listed in Advertised LARGE PRINT.

I’ve just found this whole experience to be a big mess and can’t believe CompUSA would try to pull something like this again.

2 thoughts on “Bait and Switch

  1. I got caught too 🙁 I intend to complain to the BBB if CompUSA does not respond satisfactorily to my request for information. CompUSA is a BBB member and if they value that they cannot afford to have too many complaints on-file.

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