Feel You’re Getting Ripped Off?

April 16, 2003 · 0 comments

Do you feel you’re being ripped off by a rewards program and you don’t know what to do?
Before you do anything, you need to check the rewards program’s terms of service. Some rewards programs have a reaaaaaaaally long wait time after you request a redemption before it has to be mailed out, and then another wait period for you to receive it. I’ve seen folks post on the message boards before, “I cashed out 6 weeks ago and haven’t gotten my GC yet!” Guess what? That’s probably not an unreasonable wait time, depending on the particular program. “I completed a signup offer 2 weeks ago and didn’t get my points yet!” Some programs have a longer wait time before the points show up at all, then they’re just pending but not available for a couple weeks. Read the program’s FAQs before you go any further.
Next step is to contact the rewards program directly, by email or phone. MyCoupons has put together a very comprehensive list of phone numbers for each rewards program. Make sure the tone of your communication is respectful and businesslike and includes all relevant information the customer service folks need to investigate your claim.
Make sure you keep documentation every step of the way — confirmation emails, cash-out dates, copies of inquiry emails, any responses you get from the programs themselves.
Now, having exhausted all of the formal channels in place, if you’re still not getting what you KNOW is owed to you…there are a couple of places you can go that may or may not get you a fair resolution, but they’ll definitely allow you to warn others about your experience and give you a chance to vent.
1. Complain to the Better Business Bureau in the city that the website is registered to. Go to the WhoIs lookup and enter the website address and it will tell you where the site is registered. Then go to the BBB Lookup to see which BBB services that city. There will be a link to that local BBB and an online complaint form. Give them as much information as possible. However, if the website registrant isn’t a member of the BBB (and it probably isn’t), you’ve got a lot less chance of getting the issue resolved this way.
2. File a complaint with the Internet Fraud Complaint Center, run in part by the FBI.
3. Report them to the attorney general’s office in the state in which they’re registered (see #1 on how to use WhoIs to find out where they’re located). A master list of all state attorneys general is here – including links to each state’s AG’s website.
4. Leave a scathing review at Epinions. It probably won’t get you anywhere but it’ll make you feel SO much better! And Epinions is one of the more popular user review sites, so at least maybe you’ll be heard and you can warn someone off before they have a bad experience like you did.
5. File a report with ScamWatch – land-based law enforcement officers investigate your claims.
6. The FTC Bureau of Consumer Protection has a complaint form you can fill out — they do not resolve individual complaints, though.
7. Rip Off Report (aka BadBusinessBureau) is a site where you can post the details of your experience and request a specific remedy for your grievance.
8. Go to GPTBoycott and request that the site be added to the Boycott List.
9. Post a response to my review of the program on this site, and post to any and all message forums you can find. Rewards programs DO have employees who monitor the forums, and they don’t want poor press. And even if nothing comes of it, at least you’ll be able to let others know to stay away from the program.
Any other suggestions? Leave a comment! Thanks!

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