Blog Pile, Rants

The Seven Circles of Canon Rebate Hell


cc licensed flickr photo shared by Giampaolo Macorig

Kathy Sierra used to urge companies to help their customers get out of the “suck” threshold? I cannot imagine a company making me stuck in suck more than Canon.

Circle 0. Before Entrance to Hello, When There Was Hope For Salvation.
In January 2010, with some extra cash available, I decided I wanted to purchase a high end photo printer, in the interest of pursuing my photographic aspirations to hang them somewhere in public. Given my commitment already to Canon products (this year purchases of a T1i and a 10-20mm zoom lens) I found favorable reviews of the Canon PIXMA Pro9000 Mark II and Canon PIXMA Pro9500 Mark II printers — the deal maker for me was B&H Camera was offering a $200 Canon Rebate on the higher end model, coming close to the price difference.

Rebates are fairly easy, send in a sheet and a proof of purchase, and in a few weeks they send you your moolah.

In my dreams.

Now here is the crucial issue- note the instructions in the rebate form:

The rebate checklist includes:

Original “proof-of-purchase” 12-digit bar code cut from the PIXMA printer box

Note- does it say “white UPC code with serial number”? The box contains 3 copies of the same UPC code (I do know what a bar code is!); one on the side, and two on the inner flap. They all have the same exact 12-digit bar code. They all are original from the box.

So me, thinking, that I want to re-use the box when I may want to move the printer, that its okay to use one of the codes from the inner flap so I don’t have a hole on the side– I sent this UPC code:

It says “proof-of-purchase”, it has a 12-digit bar code, and it came from my box.

Wow, was I ever wrong.

Circle 1. No Rebate For You (No Explanation Either)
Weeks go by, and in my mailbox comes a thin letter from Canon. Walking home from the mailbox, I start day dreaming if I will use the $200 to but more ink, paper, or even towards a new lens….

Alas, it was not to be. I got a letter:

The letter says, “No check for you because”:

UPC label is missing

UPC is invalid.

Not only is that cryptic and not an explanation, it also makes no sense. If the UPC label is missing, how can it be invalid? But quibbling over grammar aside, I called the Advertising Checking Bureau to talk to a human.

The woman I spoke to said I sent the wrong UPC code. She said I needed to send the white one from the side of the box, and I had sent the other one.

Here is the important detail- she said I needed to send the White UPC code. To me that’s a bar code, right?

So I thought, okay, that’s easy, I’ll just go up to the attic, get the box down, and send them the white UPC code:

So I put in the envelope and mailed it off, thinking, okay, I might get my $200 in a few weeks.

Circle 2. Wait a Minute- I Followed the Instructions
The day after mailing off that letter, I started thinking about the rebate form- it never specified which UPC code, white or blue or punk of purple. It just said UPC code.

That seemed wrong. I followed instructions, which were not specific. Why is it my problem?

Circle 3. Go Ahead, Try and Find a Customer Service Contact at Canon’s Web Site
I spent a good 20 minutes poking around the Canon web site(s) and could not locate a customer service contact, not an email, not a phone number. I could not find an address to send a letter of explanation. It’s as if they don;t want to have me contact them.

So I dug around, and found a technical support web form, and said, what the heck, I’ll explain here and try to file a complaint. So I wrote about how the rebate was refused when I had followed the instructions, etc etc etc.

Click send, and off it goes into the ether.

Circle 4. Ask Me For What I Already Sent
Sometime later I did get an email, which told me again I had done the wrong thing.

Your rebate submission has been received. However, the following items are either missing or the information provided is incorrect . Please forward these materials to my attention to the address listed on this letter or by fax to 800-xxx-xxxx or send an email to rebates@cits.canon.com

Now I could have done this but I had already sent it in, so I responded, yes I added salt to the wound:

I have already sent the white UPC code to the rebate claims center.

But frankly this is crap. The original rebate form said NOTHING about which UPC code to send; it was not specific so I cut the red one from the inner flap that clearly stated “proof of purchase”. I don’t see why you are holding up the rebate as the red code I sent contains the exact same bar code.

Please provide me a postal address so I can file a formal complaint. There is not a valid reason to delay my rebate; if delays continue I will file official complaints with BBB, etc.

Circle 5. Help me By Yelling At Me?
The email must have gotten there, because I got a call a few days later. It went something like this:

Canon Lady: Why did you file a complaint? By doing that you have Canon involved, and that will delay the rebat.

Me: The rebate form was not specific; it did not dictate which UPC code to send; and the one I sent has the same bar code as the one you want.

Canon Lady: YOU SENT THE WRONG UPC Code.

Me: But they are the same… And I sent the white one to the Advertising Credit Bureau.

Canon Lady: WHY did you file a complaint? By doing that you have Canon involved, and that will delay YOUR rebate.

Me: The rebate form was not specific; it did not dictate which UPC code to send; and the one I sent has the same bar code as the one you want.

Canon Lady: YOU SENT THE WRONG UPC Code.

Me: Is there an official address I can send a complaint letter to?

Canon Lady: YOU ALREADY COMPLAINED.

Me: [click].

What problem is it of mine who handles this? I’m out $200 bucks because their instructions are murky. And then they help me by yelling?

But hey, I thought maybe by some miracle, it would work out, maybe take longer, because now they had their precious white UPC code.

Wrong.

Circle 6. You Need More than a Barcode
Another month passes by, I get another thin letter from Canon. It’s the same damned thing as before:

UPC label is missing

UPC is invalid.

WTF?

I call again. The lady on the phone echos that information. I explain that I had called before, and was told if I sent the white UPC code, they would process the rebate.

She asks if she can put me on hold.

She comes back and says if I send them the serial number and the first page of my owners manual, they can process the rebate.

I say, why do I have to do that? I gave you what you wanted.

She asks if she can put me on hold.

She returns and said, that the UPC code I sent them did not include the serial number (which no one ever told me was needed).

I said no one ever asked for that. I ask to talk to a manager.

A guy coms on and says, “Can I help you?”

So now I explain the tale for the 40th time.

He asks me if I have a scanner, and if so, I can email him a copy of the bar code and he will process the rebate.

Once more I go up in my attic, hack another piece of the box, scan the code, email the whole thing to him (I piece it together with a copy of the other half I have already sent them.

Here is what I had cut from the box

and I sent this paired with a copy of what I had sent already

I emailed this information March 29, 2010.

Its been almost 3 weeks and I never got a response.


cc licensed flickr photo shared by Giampaolo Macorig

Circle 7. Here I Sit, Rebateless
I admit defeat. I have given this every possible effort to give this rebate firm what they asked for, and they have done nothing. Last week, I sent them my letter of submission, that I admit defeat:

I have been trying unsuccessfully to receive my $200 rebate for a Canon Pro9500 Mark II printer.

After receiving a letter from The Advertising Checking Bureau on February 22 that stated “UPC label missing / UPC is invalid”, I spoke to a agent who told me I needed to “send the white UPC code”. I clipped that from the box. She did not say “include the serial number” she said “white UPC label” which is what I sent.

I got the same exact response on March 22, 2010. There is no explanation what you want. After a phone conversation with Eric A., he said if I emailed him a scan of that part of the box with the serial number, he would process my claim (copy of email attached). I received no response from Mr. A. so I have no idea what is being done.

This is the last effort I can make to receive my rebate. I am sending the serial number portion of the white UPC code, I am sending a copy of my owners manual, and after cutting off everything from the box that can indicate I own this thing, I cannot think of anything else to send you as proof I own this printer other than sending you the printer itself and a box with various cutout portions on it.

I hope you can figure out what it takes to send my rebate.

Apparently not.

So Canon has pocketed my $200 rebate and browbeat me with inaccurate instructions as to what they hell they wanted from that printer box.

And I am so worn out, I don’t have the energy to file more complaints, so I am writing this as my own record, and to hang out there for search engines to discover (it’s no surprise given their obfuscation of customer support that Canon lacks an official presence in GetSatisfaction).

If Canon ever wakes up and smells the stench of their own reputation festering, let ’em know that my stakes for compensation are now rising. For the last 3 months, they could have solved this by delivering the promised rebate.

Now… what I am asking for is two sets of ink refills for my printer (PGI-9 Value Pack) and for every month they delay, I want another one (this printer drinks it like water).

The sad thing is I really love the quality of prints I am getting out of this printer. But I am far from a happy customer. Canon, do the right thing! I’m stuck in your hell.


cc licensed flickr photo shared by Giampaolo Macorig

UPDATE: April 21, 2010 – Small Victory for Social Media, Michelle from Canon called, they heard, and they are FedEx-ing my rebate check. It’s the right thing to do, yes, but I sure hope they look at the problems that vague instructions create.

Profile Picture for Alan Levine aka CogDog
An early 90s builder of the web and blogging Alan Levine barks at CogDogBlog.com on web storytelling (#ds106 #4life), photography, bending WordPress, and serendipity in the infinite internet river. He thinks it's weird to write about himself in the third person.

Comments

  1. my $100 rebate from when I got my XT back in 2006 never happened. the rebate claim form apparently evaporated, and they never sent me my money (although it should be trivial for them to, say, look at the receipt after the fact and say “oh, yeah! that’s totally in the rebate period. we’ll process that for you ASAP!” instead of “but we didn’t get the form *shuffleshuffle* nope. never saw it. nah nah nah can’t hear you! Would you like to buy more gear now?”

    rebates are evil marketing ploys in the first place. why not just lower the price by $100 rather than making customers jump through hoops? oh, right. they hope that a percentage of claims will get lost, or won’t have proper t-crossing and i-dotting and will be void and therefore save some money).

    rebates are scams.

  2. Sorry you had rebate nightmare with Canon. I’ve never dealt with them.

    But I have purchased a few printers from Epson (from various retailers) and always received my rebates.

    Rebates aren’t always scams.

  3. D’Arcy nails it–the point of a rebate is to not pay out. There’s a careful balancing to get just the right amount of invalid responses to boost profits without losing too many irate customers who didn’t get their rebates.

    Have you considered small claims court? A judgment might get Canon’s attention.

    1. I hear you- in the future, I will not rely on the rebate as a deciding factor (for $50 more I could have gotten that price on Amazon w/o the rebate, but I also had a B&H gift card).

      Small claims is definitely on my horizon; I just resent having to expend more time and energy. I will wait until April 22nd, the usual day of the month they send me a letter stating that I am not getting a rebate check.

      I wanted this blog post as my own reference record, and I have the small vain hope I can shame them into submission.

      A dog can dream, and have those running dreams where his legs are twitching…

        1. Similar experience here. I recently ordered the 5DMKII+Pro900MKII printer combo. Submitted my paperwork for the $400 rebate. Unfortunately, I did the same thing you did. I sent in the second proof of purchase. Everything else was fine. I inquired about the rebate, and they said it had a status of “program violation”.

          I’ve been calling and emailing constantly. I must say, this has been the worse customer service I can think of – ever. I am seriously thinking about trashing my Canon gear and getting an attorney. Any prudent person would have done what I did. Unfortunately, I don’t have the box anymore – but I do have copies of everything I mailed in.

          1. Ouch Tony. I’d call them and see how high up the managerial chain you can get. Or file complaints with Better Business Bureau. They heard my complaints via my blog, so they are tuning in.

          2. I sent them a formal letter today. Also called my attorney – he is willing to help. I am so super pissed it is unbelieveable. I’ve never been spoofed like this before… I am not going to stop fighting. They have to know they are wrong.

  4. Holy Moses! I must be really lucky when it comes to Canon as I have had all my rebates show up PDQ. But it does seem that I’m the exception to the rule.

    1. Thanks for posting this, I just received the same letter and very upset, now it is Friday and of course I can not call to complain. Will do first thing on Monday, and make sure they give me excact instructions.

  5. So…did you ever get it? If not, I would like to talk to you about this whole process. My firm is investigating companies which don’t pay out rebates.

  6. Still no rebate… Not even an adequate response after writing a formal complaint, and providing copies of everything I have. The last time I called them, they had me on hold for over 10 minutes (they were finding a mailing address for me to file a complaint). They promised to send me an email with f/u instructions – I never received that either.

    The more I think about this, the more this looks like a despicable strategy. They have zillions of links to buy their products, but not one (NOT ONE) to direct customers on how to follow up on this type of garbage.

    Undoubtedly, this is the worst customer service experience I have EVER had in my ENTIRE life. And I say that with sincerity… They should kill their rebate program. I am done with them for life.

    1. I’m sorry to hear that you are getting the run-around, Anthony. Frankly, I don’t think you will get far with the company that Canon contracts to run the rebate program. They have no incentive. You need to get someone’s attention at Canon itself (which I found daunting since they do not provide really any customer support contacts). I got to them via a tech support form.

      But it ius a racket. I will not again make a purchasing decision based on a rebate.

  7. Thanks for the advice. I have already filed complaints with the rebate processing company in TN, and Canon Headquarters via the BBB. Also, I will take this to small claims court (headed to the regional courthouse on Monday to get info). For me, this has turned into an ethical question. And for sure, I know I acted prudently and responsibly.

  8. Hi there,
    Thank you very much for your Blog and for sharing the painful battle with Canon; I have the same printer and go trough the same trial with them. Your write up has helped me a lot.
    If you come to NY let me know we roam around tech stores including B&H…
    Adrian

    1. Exact thing just happened to me….got a letter from “The Advertising Checking Bureau, Inc” stating that i hadn’t mailed in the UPC symbol for the $200 rebate…yes, you guessed it, the missing UPC symbol that is causing the unsightly notch cut-out in the PIXMA Pro 9500 printer box. As soon as i saw the name of this company, i was thinking “scam”….so i do a quick search on google…it’s flooded with people with the same Canon/3rd party rebate scam problems. This is just scummy, and i would have gladly given my business and $200 more to one of canon’s competitors had i know this was happening beforehand. now i’m stuck.

  9. I’m in exactly the same boat, except I sent them the correct proof-of-purchase from the pixma printer box, attached it to the amazon invoice, copied it, and sent it to them via certified mail with a return receipt.

    2 weeks later I am dealing with them claiming that I didn’t send them the UPC label from the printer. This is a complete lie on acbpromotions part.

    At this point I was instructed to copy the front of the user’s manual from the printer with the S/N written on the front of it. We will see if this helps.

    At this point, I’m pretty much done with rebates as a valid method of purchasing. Canon has killed it for me.

    1. That is pretty disgusting Jake. Like you, I will never make a rebate a decision making point for a purchase.

      Good luck, keep pelting them. They seemed to respond to bad mentions of them in social media.

      In the interest of others who have not gotten satisfaction via the front company that manages the rebate program, this is the contact for the department within Canon that finally freed up my rebate:

      rebates@cits.canon.com
      Canon Admin Support Group – Rebates
      Ph: 757-413-2885 ext. 2110
      Fax: 800-231-9243
      M – F 9:30 – 6:00 Eastern Time

      1. Alan,

        Thanks so much for creating this page. I’m glad I found it, and thanks for the information in case I need to escalate. What’s even better is that the 757 area code is just down the road for me physically. Hopefully I’ll get the $400 rebate ,that was my only reason for my purchase, without being forced to take a road trip to their office.

  10. I have the same issue. They make it sound like it is a breez when they sell you the product and put you through hell when you try to get your rebate. That is why they do not give you the sale price to begin with so that they would put you through the 7 circles of hell. I will note give up or tire. If it takes me $200 in mailing costs and 500 letters and a small claims suit, I am going to get that rebate that is due to me one way or the other

  11. Wanted to post that I finally got my $400 check after copying the front page of the quick-start manual and the CD which contains the digital manual. They had me write the S/N of the printer on the front of it.

    I strongly suggest that Canon improve the UPC requirements and make them clear. I most certainly sent in the UPC from the printer box, which they rejected. ACB also had no way to confirm what happened to the UPC which they claim was lost. Even though I placed it in an envelope inside the package (certified mail – Return Receipt Requested).

    Printer is great, and the camera is great. I’m still sitting on the sidelines from here on out when it comes to rebates. More trouble than they worth!

    Thanks again for your blog Alan!

  12. They’re STILL doing it! I am having the exact same experience, but for only a $50 rebate. Bought my son a laptop and Canon MX340 to send him off to college. Sent the laptop and printer in original boxes – after having cut out the secondary and Third Proof Of Purchase labels from the inside box flap. Filled out all the paperwork correctly and followed their instructions to send Original UPC Code, and in the “fine print” it states “Secondary proof of purchase barcodes will not be accepted,” so I sent the 3rd proof of purchase – rightfully thinking that it was still an “original Proof of Purchase 12 digit UPC barcode.” Boy was I ever wrong. I got the same form letter response from The Advertising Checking Bureau (ACB) as everyone else – simply stating the UPC label is missing – and I had STAPLED it to my paperwork. Noting that, they had to admit that it was there, but it was the third UPC barcode and not the Original barcode…. Net, net same BS about sending in copies of the owners manual with the serial # written on it. Like I’m going to ask my son to take the time and trouble to go make copies of the front and back of the owners manual and mail them to me. However, I have a small bit of hope. I insisted on a phone number where I could speak with someone from Canon. They gave me the following # – 1-800-GO CANON (800-462-2666) and I did speak with someone in their call center (located in Chesapeake, VA). They took a lot of information from me and suggested that someone would be contacting me within 2 days. We’ll see and I’ll keep everyone posted.

  13. I got jipped on my $300 rebate for T1i and printer combo from costco. They want proof of when I mailed the stuff! Never mentioned that on their form. I wish we could go for a class action lawsuit!

  14. This is unbelievable, but the same thing just happened to me. Today is April 2, 2014, and last year I bought a Canon Pixma Pro-100 printer, plus Canon paper to get what was supposed to be a hefty $300+ rebate.

    I received an email back in September 2013 acknowledging that they received my form, but it’s been well over 6 months since then and I just thought about replying to their email today.

    To my surprise, I got exactly the same reply you got 4 years ago: that I allegedly sent the red label from the flap instead of the white original UPC, and that since the promotion expired in November 2013 they will no longer accept any further documentation.

    Well, fuck them. I am going to revisit my forms, because I am pretty sure they had a screenshot of what I was supposed to send and I kept photocopies too, PLUS, they could have sent me an email asking for the right documents instead of not sending ANYTHING at all.

    If that doesn’t work, I will take it to the better business bureau and also sell all my Canon gear regardless. What a fraudulent way of selling you crap.

  15. I would recommend to those getting unjustly denied by Canon or their 3rd party processor…file an online complaint form with your State Attorney General. It works in getting your rebate and creates a record of this rebate fraud.

  16. Well it is 2016 and they are still doing this same thing. I was expecting $350 rebate but they claim that they never received my package. Been on the phone for hours with countless people trying to sort this out. Still nothing. Canons technical support has improved over the years but their rebate program is fishy.

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