T-Mobile has been incorrectly rejecting rebate requests from customers who purchased new iPhones, according to an article yesterday by Bloomberg reporter Mark Gurman. T-Mobile acknowledged the problem and said it is being fixed.
Gurman experienced the problem himself when he traded in an iPhone 12 Pro Max for an iPhone 13 Pro Max. He was promised a $790 credit from Apple for trading in his year-old iPhone “plus $500 in bill credits over several months” from T-Mobile. Getting the trade-in credit from Apple was quick and easy, but T-Mobile denied rebate requests from Gurman and people who made similar iPhone upgrades.
Gurman submitted the iPhone rebate request to T-Mobile on September 27 and received T-Mobile’s rejection last week. In the replies to Gurman’s tweet showing a screenshot of the rejection notice, about 20 other people reported getting similar denials from T-Mobile.
“Just checked based on this tweet and T-Mobile denied our two iPhone promos as well without even so much as a text to let us know,” one of those people wrote. T-Mobile had offered customers up to $800 for iPhone upgrades.
T-Mobile gave vague reason for denials
Gurman separately had trouble getting a $100 Apple Watch rebate from T-Mobile. He tweeted about that a couple of weeks earlier and heard from numerous people who had similar problems with T-Mobile or Verizon. He wrote:
Customers complained of suffering through long phone calls with carriers’ representatives and confusingly being transferred to Apple customer service. In my case, I was even told that the Apple Watch promotion didn’t exist.
Fast forward to this past week, when I and many other users found that rebates for the iPhone 13 were also inexplicably denied. The vague reason: “Apple returned as ineligible.”
These denials came despite the carrier verifying that terms were followed correctly. After I tweeted about the issue, T-Mobile was able to quickly fix it on my account, but I am alarmed that these denials may be a widespread problem.
T-Mobile promises a fix
T-Mobile acknowledged that “an iPhone rebate issue was caused by a bug, which it is in the process of fixing,” Gurman wrote. “In response to my questions, T-Mobile will contact customers via text who were incorrectly denied rebates and automatically process the promotion and ensure they are enrolled,” he also wrote.
T-Mobile also told Bloomberg that it intends to “make any needed improvements in the overall offer experience” and that “while every offer has various eligibility requirements and terms, we never want anyone to feel like those terms are misleading, confusing or hidden.”
We asked T-Mobile if it will reach out directly to every customer who was wrongly denied a rebate. A company spokesperson responded, “All eligible customers will be enrolled in the rebate and notified via text.” That sounds promising, but customers may want to contact T-Mobile again soon if they don’t get an update from the carrier.
“After calling customer service, some readers said they have received the $500 via a lump-sum account credit. Others are still having trouble,” Gurman wrote.
We also asked T-Mobile for details about the bug that caused the rebate rejections, but the company didn’t provide any specifics. “A small number of people who redeemed through Apple were impacted, but the issue is fixed,” T-Mobile told Ars.
Verizon customers hit rebate roadblock
Some Verizon customers also say they’ve been wrongly denied rebates, although Verizon denied that eligible customers were affected. Gurman wrote that he “heard from numerous buyers of the Verizon 5G iPad Pro who said they never received rebates” and that he “provided the carrier with 13 claims on Twitter from customers stating that the rebate didn’t work properly for them.”
Despite that, Verizon told Bloomberg that the “promotion is working as it should for eligible Verizon customers.” We contacted Verizon and will update this article if we get more information.
“Multiple hourlong phone calls with T-Mobile”
Gurman’s separate set of troubles with the $100 Apple Watch Series 7 rebate began a few weeks after he submitted a rebate request. “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,” Gurman wrote.
Gurman reported having “multiple hourlong phone calls with T-Mobile customer service” and sending Twitter messages to the company’s support team. “Ultimately, the issue was only fixed after talking to T-Mobile at the corporate level,” he wrote. “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.”
Apple had announced in early October that “customers can buy Apple Watch (GPS + Cellular) directly from apple.com/store or at an Apple Store and get $100 back when they activate it with T-Mobile/Sprint or Verizon.” But the rebate requirements enforced by T-Mobile would have forced Gurman “to keep paying for a second smartwatch line with no device connected to it for three months in order to receive the offer,” he wrote. As with the similar iPhone problem, T-Mobile eventually gave Gurman the rebate.