Mark Gurman took his Apple Watch rebate complaint to T-Mobile corporate

From Mark Gurman's "Apple iPhone 13 Rebates Fail to Deliver for Some Buyers" posted Sunday:

My struggles with the rebates process started with the Apple Watch. I had purchased the Apple Watch Series 7, which came out in October, and submitted a request to T-Mobile for its $100 rebate.

Several weeks after my submission, to my surprise, T-Mobile’s promotion website said that my claim was denied because the product wasn’t activated during the promotion window. This, of course, was false.

Multiple hourlong phone calls with T-Mobile customer service didn’t resolve the situation, nor did messages sent to the company’s support team over Twitter.

Ultimately, the issue was only fixed after talking to T-Mobile at the corporate level. We figured out that my rebate was denied because the fine print of the deal—depending on how you read it—requires the opening of an entirely new phone number.

However, T-Mobile customer service told me that even if I were to create a new line, the rebate requires me to keep my old line open for 90 days. That means I’d have to keep paying for a second smartwatch line with no device connected to it for three months in order to receive the offer.

All of this is a lot more complex than you’d think from Apple’s advertising.

My take: Never pick a fight with someone who buys ink by the barrel.

13 Comments

  1. Robert Paul Leitao said:
    No offense intended, but has Mr. Gurman figured out yet it’s not all about him?

    3
    December 6, 2021
  2. Tommo_UK said:
    To be honest I sympathise with Gurman. In the last several years I’ve often posted about the dumbing down of the Genius Bar, the Apple Store experience and most of all the failure of carriers and Apple to align their promotions so that they deliver what they promise.

    Until the launch of the infamous Apple Satellite Solution (make an acronym at your peril) to avoid carrier-dependency, the carriers are part of Apple’s eco-system, like it or not, and need to both be accountable to Apple and their customers, and Apple ensure the experience of buying an iPhone plus accessories is a seamless experience through its carrier partners.

    It isn’t. It often results in a shitstorm as far as customer service is concerned, and however big Gurman’s mouth might seem on occasion many of his moans resonate with me and my own experiences. Sometimes only an email to Apple’s Executive Office or IR will grab eyeballs for long enough to actually get a resolution, and it didn’t used to be this way.

    3
    December 6, 2021
    • Bart Yee said:
      @Tommo I agree that Apple and carriers are inextricably linked but Apple doesn’t have any more sway on carrier “operations” than you and I or their users do with complaints and concerns. While any snafus “may” reflect poorly on Apple, IMO, the reflection is mostly in the carriers.

      As in banking, insurance, and mortgages, EVERY telecom contract is precisely written to benefit the company mostly and provide little to no benefit to the users who pay. Offers and promotions are always written to extract the most out of users or lock them in for long periods (with autopay) while company rebates, discounts, and services “should” “may” start within x months, and leave it to the customer to note it in their now paperless bill AND call it to the companies’ attention should anything happen to not happen.

      The purpose of telecoms is to provide the least service for the most money and aggravation while forcing you to adhere to THEIR terms, not he way we would like to interpret it. That is why I NEVER buy anything at Telecom stores (always buying unlocked iPhones directly from/with Apple), I never move to newer contracts (because they have been constantly revised to more and more benefit the company), have never believed telecoms offer “unlimited” data, real 5G (ATT 5Ge anyone?), or that telecoms ever consider telecom customer service (an oxymoron if there ever was one) in even their top 10 things to do for me despite being a “loyal” customer for >20 years.

      No, having Telecoms around is great because they provide an accurate contrast to Apple.

      0
      December 7, 2021
      • Tommo_UK said:
        @Bart
        “Apple doesn’t have any more sway on carrier “operations” than you and I or their users do with complaints and concerns. ”

        You’re dead wrong there. Apple have incredible sway over their carrier partners and can elevate or drop them as preferential partners on a whim. They can punish or reward partners through stock allocation over launches, and frequently do. Apple is a brick wall to carriers and gives no information away, and does a great job of making people who choose (or haven choice) to buy their handset as part of an airtime contract through their carrier feel like second class consumers for not buying direct from Apple. Lead times are often exponentially longer, and the carriers are not updated as to availability until your phone actually ships from Apple.

        It’s a lousy experience, and as I said, many/most (outside of the US/UK) people have t busy their iPhone through their carrier.

        0
        December 7, 2021
  3. David Emery said:
    From my friend who works in government contracting: “If I’ve learned anything from this job you need to read the [bleeping] contract.”

    2
    December 6, 2021
  4. Will Grover said:
    I dunno. I was looking at the rebate as a t-mobile customer as well, but it became quickly obvious with some reading that it was dependent on opening a new line. And I am no genius.

    9
    December 6, 2021
  5. Rodney Avilla said:
    Personally, I would be embarrassed to admit publically that I never read the ad, and then went to great lengths to bully a company to do something they never advertised to do. I wonder if he began each new telephone conversation with a reminder of who Mark Gurman is… I also wonder if it has occurred to him that this type of offer, coupled with opening a new line, has been done by multiple companies for several years?

    6
    December 6, 2021
  6. Michael Goldfeder said:
    What if Gurman read the ad, but just was unable to figure it out due to his blind spot when it comes to Apple? I had an opportunity for some offer a few months ago also on T-Mobile. However, after reading the ad it clearly said “new subscribers only.” I gave it a shot by telling them I am a new subscriber to T-Mobile since they merged/acquired my former provider “Sprint.”

    Eventually they said no and I let it go as it wasn’t a big deal either way. But Mark Gurman must just be that special.

    3
    December 6, 2021
  7. Daniel Epstein said:
    While I sympathize with people who have trouble with Rebates and credits it is hard to be sympathetic to a reporter who can’t read and understand the offer correctly. Words are their business. And then to think this is something to complain about in public is pretty embarrassing. He didn’t seem to ask the right questions before the purchase. So his point is that some buyers are ineligible for rebates which may not be bargains! Why did he need a new watch? And how old is this guy that his problems with rebates started with Apple Watch 7? Personally I am waiting to see how well ATT does with its credit program for my old Iphone and new Iphone. I will see if it works out as advertised. They certainly don’t make it as easy as it could be.

    2
    December 6, 2021
  8. Peter Kropf said:
    My T-Mobile experience at a T-Mobile corporate store.

    The store manager assured me //three times// that the rebate applied to me, even though I was already a T-Mobile customer.

    I’m glad that T-Mobile is treating this as a glitch and I’ll come back to this thread to (hopefully) report that my monthly rebate has been restored,

    0
    December 6, 2021
    • Peter Kropf said:
      Good news. Rebate has been restored.

      0
      December 9, 2021
  9. Rick Povich said:
    I got the exact same response from Verizon after buying an Apple Watch 7 and giving my wife my Watch 5. The reason given for the denial of the rebate was the same “The line associated with this rebate is either not a new line of service or wasn’t activated within the eligible dates.”

    My v7 (with my old phone number) was activated and my wife’s v5 was a new activation for her and for our account – but I guess, “theoretically” on a previously activated device. I didn’t get a chance to complain to Verizon yet – or get to the corporate brass 😉 ) but I don’t have the hundred dollars yet. I wonder how many other folks ran into the same problem

    0
    December 6, 2021
  10. Tommo_UK said:
    The point is, for a good promotion, with trusted brands, you shouldn’t have read the small print to ensure you aren’t tricked. The offer should stand out clearly and be self-evident and any terms absolutely clear.
    Not sure what that hate towards Gurman really is, the carriers behave abominably and are often lacking an understanding of the T&Cs governing their own special deals when they upsell you.

    0
    December 7, 2021

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