Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Say Goodbye to Verizon Rebate Checks

Don't worry - Verizon IS still offering rebates on MANY phones and data cards, but they have officially abandoned the tried and true "send us your form and we'll send you a nice check" policy. Effective this week, customers will instead be receiving pre-paid Verizon-branded Visa debit cards in partnership with CitiBank.

From Verizon:
"Effective September 2, 2008, Verizon Wireless branded Prepaid VISA cards will replace Rebate Checks for all mail-in rebates, offering customers more choices to access rebate funds. Customers will have the option of spending their rebate card immediately, redeeming for cash, completing a bank transfer or requesting a paper check. Customers will also have the ability to track the status of their rebate by visiting or by calling Parago (800) 457-0864. Customers can check the balance of their cards by visiting, emailing, text messaging BAL to #VZWR (8997) or by calling Citi (877) 899-8980. The rebate card may take up to 6 weeks to process."
At first glance, this doesn't sound like a bad idea. You get the card in the mail in the same timeframe as you would have received your check (up to 6 weeks or so) and the new format allows you to use the rebate as you would use your debit card or a any pre-paid card. To some folks, this option is a lot more convenient than having to go to the bank and cash a check or deposit it and wait for the funds to clear - you can access your money immediately.

On the other hand, what if you don't WANT to spend your rebate money? Surely there are some of us that just want to put it in the bank. Verizon does say that you will be able to request a paper check or a bank transfer, but how long will that take? And is it worth the wait?

They also state that you can redeem it for cash immediately, but they didn't elaborate on how you would go about doing that. Can you do it at an ATM? Another downfall is that they explicitly say that if your card is lost or stolen, it can't be replaced. With a check, if it hasn't been cashed, Verizon has the option of canceling the lost check and re-issuing a new one. That seems like a major downfall.

We'll be very interested to hear how consumers feel about the new rebate format. Are we ready to ditch the old-fashioned check and go plastic?

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