Bamboozled: Couple turns up the heat to get range-hood rebate

??????????????????Dawn and Ed Caruana took on a big remodel of the kitchen and laundry room of their Middletown home last year.

As part of the job, they purchased $10,000 of new appliances on Feb. 14, 2015. Several of the appliances were eligible for rebates, which added up to $1,100.

That helped to take the sting out of paying for those big-ticket items.

There were four rebates in all.

One was from General Electric for $500 for a dishwasher, two were $50 rebates from New Jersey’s Clean Energy Program for a refrigerator and a clothes dryer, and the final one was for $500 from Nationwide Marketing Group for a range hood.

The range hood was manufactured by General Electric, but the rebate paperwork was to go to Nationwide.

Dawn Caruana said she applied for the rebates carefully, and she made sure to follow the strict instructions, knowing that if something in her paperwork wasn’t right, she might miss out on the rebate.

She said she submitted all four rebates on March 8 and 9, and she was expecting to receive all the rebates in about 12 weeks. That would be the end of May or beginning of June.

Caruana said she quickly received the rebate from General Electric by the end of March, and the two from the state came shortly thereafter.

There wasn’t a word from Nationwide.

She waited a little longer, and she first asked Nationwide about the status via email on July 24, records show.

When she got the answer, it came from something called the Inmar Rebate Center.

It said it never received the rebate request.

“When I asked to resubmit as I had retained copies of all, I was told that original information had to be submitted,” she said. “The Nationwide rebate required an original rebate submission form. I sent all of the originals and retained a copy for my records.”

A week later, Caruana said, her husband called Nationwide to see if there was anything that could be done, but Nationwide insisted it needed the originals.

TRACKING DOWN ANSWERS

After reviewing the couple’s documentation, we reached out to Nationwide to ask it to review the case.

Then we took a closer look at Nationwide.

The company’s web site describes it as North America’s largest buying and marketing organization. It works with applianceooooo and other manufacturers on business issues, including helping manage rebate offers.

It had several listings with the Better Business Bureau, with A+, A- and B- ratings.

We reached out to the company, leaving several messages for the person who takes press calls, but no one returned our calls. We also sent several email messages, but they were met with the same kind of silence.

So we next looked into the “Inmar Rebate Center,” which is subject to a fair amount of consumer complaints online.

Inmar, which has a BBB rating of A-, happens to be located in the same city as Nationwide: Winston-Salem, N.C.

We reached out to the Inmar spokeswoman, and while we waited for a response, we contacted General Electric, the maker of the hood range that qualified for the rebate.

Shortly after, the Inmar spokesperson emailed to say the case would be reviewed.

And a few minutes after that, the Nationwide spokesperson replied, saying the company’s “rebate contact” would be in touch.

We didn’t hear back from General Electric, but the consumer did.

“The GE rep was confident that she can get this resolved,” Caruana said, noting General Electric said the Nationwide contact was on vacation, but the company had the needed paperwork.

So we emailed General Electric, asking for its official word on what was happening.

Before the spokeswoman answered, we received an email from the Inmar spokeswoman.

She said the company’s rebate team was familiar with the customer’s inquiry, and after “thorough research,” it determined it didn’t have any record of the customer’s rebate submission, which she said must be received within the rebate period.

“We process rebates according to manufacturer guidelines, so, unfortunately, we are not at liberty to approve payment outside of those guidelines,” she said.

Hrumph.

We responded, saying the customer had received a favorable call from General Electric.

Inman didn’t respond.

But General Electric did respond, and it seemed a little confused about the Inman response.

“It is my understanding that our customer relations team is going to try to help the consumer to get the rebate from Nationwide,” the General Electric spokeswoman said.

We reiterated to General Electric what Inman said, asking for clarification.

“We are not sure what happened but we are working with Nationwide to get the consumer her rebate,” the spokeswoman said.

An hour later, we got the clarification.

“I just got word that Nationwide is processing her rebate today and will get to her ASAP,” the General Electric spokeswoman said.

So, dear readers, we went through a few extra rinse cycles on this one, but it seems the customer wins after all.

“GE has been great all around, and I love my appliances to boot,” Caruana said.

Have you been Bamboozled? Reach Karin Price Mueller at Bamboozled@NJAdvanceMedia.com. Follow her on Twitter @KPMueller. Find Bamboozled on Facebook. Mueller is also the founder of NJMoneyHelp.com.