If Santa went for the same gambit as some online shoppers this year, then come Christmas, you may be the recipient of a Monopoly game that cost St. Nick a cool hundred bucks.
Pretty interesting, considering that most stores, offline and on, sell Monopoly for about US$15. Such is the effect that CyberRebate will likely have on the holidays this year.
You remember CyberRebate. That was the fine site that sold people items at outrageously expensive prices, with the promise that an outrageously generous rebate would come. That was a promise they delivered on for some time — right up until the time when they couldn’t anymore.
It was May of this year, to be exact, that CyberRebate ran to a bankruptcy court on Long Island in New York for protection. And it’s no doubt starting to dawn on some of the forlorn CyberRebate shoppers that they might as well give away the goods they paid so much for.
CyberRebate’s original bankruptcy filing said it owed $80 million to about 200,000 consumers, and it’s likely that more claims have come in since.
By all accounts, the CyberRebate filing has created an extra heavy workload for the court, which even set up a separate link on its home page for the CyberRebate case. No other current bankruptcy filing gets that treatment.
It will likely be a while, a good long while, before the court figures out what to do with CyberRebate. But some of the consumers, whose high hopes somehow prompted them to spend $2,000 on a $200 printer, aren’t waiting around for a bankruptcy judge or Santa Claus to save the day.
Last week, the Boston Globe carried the story of a man who has filed claims with two of his credit card companies seeking reimbursement for the rebates he was owed. This particular man — attempts to reach him weren’t successful; his phone number’s not listed — claims that he only extended himself the way he did because he believed without question that his credit cards would back him.
In other words: He was playing with house money. And quite a stack of it to: He claims he’s owed $90,000 in rebates. And he said so far he has kept the items in their original boxes, just in case CyberRebate suddenly decides to accept returns.
But a funny thing happened when he went to the window to cash out with his credit card company — to pass the buck as it were. The people at the American Express window tried to pass the buck, too.
Those AmEx folks reportedly told the man thanks for asking, but no thanks. As far as they’re concerned, there were two transactions: One in which the consumer paid for the merchandise, and the rebate transaction.
The credit card company says it backed the first one, which in almost every case went through. The second transaction, well that’s a bit of a gray area. And an expensive one.
But the fun doesn’t stop there.
Other CyberRebate victims say they’ll donate their items to charity. But of course, they can’t deduct the absurdly high price they paid, can they?
I suppose they can try, meaning the Internal Revenue Service will hold the passed buck, at least for a while. Whether the buck lands back in the laps of the CyberRebate founders, whose genius made all this possible, remains to be seen.
In the meantime, why shouldn’t their customers feel the joy of giving this holiday season. Time for them to swallow hard and give a $200 DVD to their nephew. It might bring a ray of happiness into an otherwise bleak situation.
Note: The opinions expressed by our columnists are their own and do not necessarily reflect the views of the E-Commerce Times or its management.