On Tuesday I posted about what seemed to be a great deal – buy an 80-hour S2DT from Big Lots for $70, and redeem the $150 rebate to make $80. This same apparent deal has been posted around the net on a number of blogs and forums.
Well, Wednesday night TiVoPony posted this at TiVoCommunity.com:
To be very clear…these boxes thru Big Lots do NOT qualify for rebates.
That’s it. No explanation as to why.
There is nothing in the Big Lots sale description to indicate that these are refurbished units. I see nothing in the rebate terms that would disqualify these units. The only thing I can think might be the issue is:(6) Valid only for new, TiVo Series2 Digital Video Recorders purchased from an authorized TiVo retailer or through our website (www.tivo.com). Not valid for pre-owned, second party, demo, or display DVRs. But, again, there is nothing to indicate these units are pre-owned, people who have purchased them report that they appear to be brand-new units with nothing at all to indicate they’re not fresh from the factory. Is Big Lots somehow not an authorized TiVo retailer? And, if so, how is a consumer supposed to know that? TiVo doesn’t seem to publish a list of authorized retailers, and it isn’t like these were purchased off the back of a truck or from someone on eBay. This is a national retailer and the deal is on their website and apparently in some print fliers.
There is nothing in the terms of the rebate that specifies a minimum price that must be paid to get the rebate, which I’ve seen on other rebates in the past. On top of this, people have reported that they have had no problems pre-qualifying for the rebate online.
So, if these units are indeed ineligible for the rebate, and I really have no reason to doubt TiVoPony, it seems like a pretty crappy thing for TiVo to do. Yes, it would be an incredible deal – but such deals are not unheard of. There have been other sale and rebate combos that earn the consumer money on TiVo gear in the past, and on numerous other products. So there was no reason to think this was anything other than a very good deal for the consumer. A one line post buried in a discussion board should not be the only way for the consumer to learn that a product is ineligible for a rebate. Especially when everything else – especially the rebate form and even the pre-qualification web form – would indicate otherwise.
I admit a web forum is a step above the bottom of a locked filing cabinet stuck in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying Beware of the Leopard, which is itself in a dark basement that is lacking stairs. But just barely.
If you purchased one of these units expecting to get the rebate, and you’re denied – raise hell. Demand a clear explanation as to exactly what disqualifies these units. And if it is something you couldn’t be expected to reasonably know – fight. I love TiVo, really, but this just seems like bullshit. A rational person reading the rebate form and buying the product at retail would naturally expect it to be eligible. I certainly would – so did Troy, Alex, Jen, numerous posters on TiVoCommunity.com, readers of these forums and blogs, and certainly just people who walked in to Big Lots and found the deal unexpectedly. You buy the box, go home and check the TiVo site, and find the rebate and think you just had a run of good luck.
Whether or not it is the case, it seems like someone at TiVo had an “Oh shit” moment after realizing there was this clearance at Big Lots and the rebate was still in effect, and there was nothing to indicate the units weren’t eligible. Even so, TiVo should’ve done more than just have TiVoPony post a one-liner about it – like a real explanation.
I’m sorry TiVo, this just won’t fly. Suck it up and honor the rebates. I doubt it will be that many in any case, only those who read about the combo online or who were fortunate enough to find the rebate after buying the box, or to have just known about it beforehand, will be redeeming it. It isn’t as if there is a mention of the rebate on the box or in the store. Refusing the rebates is bad customer relations, and I would hope people raise hell over any denied rebates on these boxes. Write it off as marketing and maintaining customer good will. Sure, since it may not be that many you might thing “Well, we’ll just piss off a few customers”. But you know as well as I that negative word of mouth spreads a lot faster than positive, and people who are upset will tell a lot more people about how they got screwed by TiVo than happy customers tell people how great TiVo is.