HOLLY SPRINGS, N.C. — Good deals on computers often involve rebates. For a while, many deals were attached to sign-ups with Internet service providers.
With those deals, customers agree to a certain term of commitment in return for a rebate. When a Wake County woman's rebate hit a snag, she called Five On Your Side for help.
"It was just an obvious error of some type," complainant Edie Raether said.
Three years ago, Raether bought a laptop computer. As part of a $450 rebate deal, she subscribed to Compuserve for three years of Internet service.
Raether wanted another screen name. In the process of trying to get one, another Compuserve account was opened and her original account was canceled.
Compuserve thought Raether canceled the agreement and charged her credit card $450. Raether called Compuserve. Almost two years later, she was still trying to work out the problem with them.
"I kept getting different numbers, feeling I was getting higher up. But the higher up I got, the less of a response I got," she said.
Raether used and paid for Compuserve the entire time. She finally called Five On Your Side for help.
When Five On Your Side first called Compuserve, the company refused to discuss the problem. After months of calls, a representative directed Five On Your Side to call its partner, America Online. AOL credited Raether's $450.
"It was obvious. Everybody could see it. It was in black and white. It's on the charge card. I'm still there. I'm still paying. There was absolutely no question," Raether said.
Raether is thrilled the struggle is finally over. "It was like, 'Yes, we did it,'" she said.
Raether's 3-year commitment to Compuserve is about to end. She said she does not plan to renew it. She no longer has the laptop she bought with that deal. She said it was stolen.