Her Topcashback rebate is missing. What happened here?

TopCashback promises Heather Mayer a $400 refund for buying furniture at Macy’s. But the money never arrives. Can I find the refund for her?

Question

My TopCashback rebate is missing. I’ve been waiting for months for this company to send it.

I recently bought furniture from Macy’s through TopCashback.com, a site that offers rebates on purchases. I was supposed to get 10 percent back on the price.

TopCashback quickly acknowledged the purchase, but Macy’s didn’t. I nudged the company to submit my claim to Macy’s. Nothing happened.

For the next couple of months, I sent a few nudges with no response back. I finally wrote a note asking why the claim had not been submitted. Within a day of submitting my note, the company submitted the claim.

A month later, I asked what was taking so long for Macy’s to process the claim and received a reply to “be patient.” Several months later, I wrote TopCashback asking when they expect Macy’s to respond. Within a day, they responded that Macy’s could not validate the purchase.

I believe if TopCashback had submitted my claim in a timely fashion, I would have my $400. Can you help me?
Heather Mayer, Boynton Beach, Fla.

Answer

TopCashback should have refunded you at top speed. Instead, it dragged its feet and then blamed a vendor for the slow refund.

It helps to understand how a site like TopCashback.com works. The company receives a referral commission rate for driving traffic and sales to Macy’s. TopCashback.com promises it will give “the entire commission rate” back to you as a rebate.

“We will pay this out to you as soon as you request payment – we don’t make you wait for our next payment date, unlike some other sites,” it promises.

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Unless it does.

Your experience suggests TopCashback is very much like “other” sites when it comes to rebates — which is to say, if they don’t get paid, you don’t get paid.

I’m particularly troubled because this company sets itself apart as being better than its competitors, claiming to be “an ethical company and lives by the motto ‘do as you would be done by.'”

That TopCashback rebate is missing. Where is it?

A closer look at the company’s terms suggests you should indeed be patient. It can take “30 days or more” from the date of your purchase before you receive a refund. So you have the advertising department doing one thing and the accounting department doing another. Oh well.

Maybe the truth lies somewhere in the middle — or not.

Take a hard look at the Macy’s page on TopCashback.com. Scroll down to the question “What could stop me from getting cash back?” and open the flyout menu.

Aha! There’s your problem: “The purchase or redemption of gift cards, gift certificates, mattresses and furniture purchases. Apple Products are not eligible for cash back.”

Did you miss that when you made your initial purchase? I would have, too. It’s hidden pretty well on the site, and TopCashback didn’t bother to notify you about your ineligibility when you filed your claims and then followed up.

It makes sense that big-ticket purchases would be excluded from rebate offers. It doesn’t make sense that the limit would be hidden deep in the TopCashback.com website or that the company wouldn’t immediately notify you of the problem with your claim.

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I contacted the company on your behalf to find out why it had strung you along for months. As a gesture of goodwill, it paid half your expected rebate.

Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is an author, journalist and consumer advocate. You can read more about him on his personal website or check out his adventures on his family adventure travel site. Contact him at chris@elliott.org. Read more of Christopher's articles here.

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