My wife and I don’t watch TV, or at least we didn’t until Lost came around. Now we are eagerly awaiting the beginning of Season 4. For Christmas, I bought her a Tivo box so that we can tape the show without commercials. The box was advertised for $99, but it turns out that you have to pay $250, and if you can figure out how to submit a rebate request (I’m a lawyer and I could hardly wade through the fine print), Tivo will send you $150 in 8 weeks.
What a scam! Tivo makes a windfall from every purchaser who fails to request the rebate, and it gets the use of my money for eight weeks.
Let’s say Tivo earns 8% on its money. Then it makes $2 from the use of my money for two months, assuming I follow through on the rebate. Multiply that by the number of units sold, and you get a big number. Plus, as Tivo itself says in its most recent quarterly filing with the SEC, it estimates that only 50% to 65% of customers even bother to request the rebate. No wonder these rebate programs are so popular with manufacturers’ shareholders!
Fortunately, we can do something about this. There is a bill pending in the legislature that would require retailers to provide customers with the rebate amount at the time of sale, on the spot. It’s House Bill 345, introduced back in January 2007. According to the House’s website, it seems the bill was sent to the Committee on Consumer Protection and has since been languishing.
Are you as upset by this scam as I was? Call your representative or senator and ask him or her to push for enactment of this bill. Make the call particularly if your legislature is on this list of members of the relevant committee.