Why This MICHELIN® Tire Promo is Essentially a Scam

READ THE UPDATE on October 31, 2018

Before we moved from Minnesota to California this past June, I put new tires on my son’s car so he could make the drive. What tires? Michelins.

Wait a second…didn’t I say in the last line of this post that I’d never buy Michelins again? I did…but my son worked at Costco and he said, “Costco has a no-fooling-around deal with tire makers. If they have rebates those go to Costco and then *Costco* sends out the rebate within a Costco cash card.” So we bought the tires and it worked.

My daughter called me two weeks ago and wanted those same Michelin tires at Costco so yes, I did it again for her and, because her Mom and I shop at Costco all the time, when the cash card arrives we’ll easily spend it.

Bottom line? The only way I’d do this deal again is through a retailer like Costco who has the rebate go to them and then *they* send it out or give you a deal at the cash register.

READ THE UPDATE on September 25, 2017
Looks like either their original email to me was boilerplate or this post, social media shaming, and other efforts got them to remove the obstacles for rebate payment:

In August I purchased four MICHELIN® brand tires for my 2013 Toyota Prius Persona. This is a car my air-traveling wife hardly drove and has only 18,XXX miles on the odometer. As such, its tires are ones I could have easily driven for another 10,000 or more miles but, since I’ll be driving it to California in the next few months and will be putting on a lot of miles once I’m there, I wanted new tires.

Fortunately there was a $70 rebate on the 60,000-mile rated MICHELIN tires and service for which I spent nearly $800 on (see the screenshot about the rebate). Though I absolutely detest rebates, mainly since companies make it very hard to comply with all the instructions in the hope they’ll fulfill as few rebates as possible, I am quite meticulous on how I apply for them to ensure I’m complying with instructions and thought this would be seamless and easy. After all, MICHELIN is a major company and is (I thought) above the plaid-sportcoat-like behaviors of other companies who try to block and make rebate redemption difficult enough that the vast majority of consumers find it more bother than its worth and stop pursuing the rebate as soon as push-back by the “fulfillment centers” occurs.

That said, readers of this blog know I *deeply hate* rebates, unless they’re the “taken at the checkout” kind which gives a discount immediately. Consumers hating-rebates-backlash is the primary reason why Best Buy began eliminating rebates entirely in 2005 since most are as close to scams as these companies can away with and not be stopped by the Federal Trade Commission or Congress.

In my view rebates like this one are scams since they prey on the likelihood that only 21.1% of total sales or 67.6% of incremental sales from people successfully submit information to receive the rebate or they mail in the original receipt and then get a letter saying something like, “We never received your receipt. Please send another” knowing that the consumer likely doesn’t have a copy, can’t get one, or deems it not worthy of the effort.

See more on my posts A Nikon example of why I *hate* rebates and Nikon fills rebate….but how? or read The Great Rebate Runaround in Bloomberg BusinessWeek which said this back in 2005 of rebate redemption amounts:

In November 2005, BusinessWeek estimated a return rate of 60 percent. Some estimates have been as low as 2%. For example, nearly half of the 100,000 new TiVo subscribers in 2005 did not redeem their $100 rebates, allowing the company to keep $5,000,000 in additional profit.

It’s that throwing obstacles in the way of getting one’s legitimate rebate which is why I believe this MICHELIN® tire promotion rebate is essentially a scam since I complied with 100% of the instructions for submission and never, ever should have received a follow-up email requesting “…a little more information.”

But it’s not just me. Many others have viewed rebates as a “scam” and this crap by manufacturers goes back a long time as this 2003 Slate article on The Great Rebate Scam illustrates.

So what obstacles and barriers did MICHELIN toss in my way and why do I think this is an obvious effort to place a roadblock in the way of me claiming a legitimate rebate in the hope I’ll back-off and not pursue it?

As mentioned above, I meticulously provided the documentation requested initially when I submitted for the Michelin rebate on the Tire Fulfillment Center website as instructed. Though I wasn’t all that surprised, the Michelin “Tire Fulfillment Center” sent me an email late yesterday (over a month after I submitted on their website, I might add) asking for exactly the same information which I submitted on their website:

WTF? After submitting the rebate information in August on their website and uploading the receipt you see below — which again, already is, “…legible copy of your receipt…” and is, “…showing the name and address of the dealer where your tire purchase was made, the name of the person who purchased the tires, the tire brand, model, & size, and quantity of tires purchased” — they have the audacity to ask for it again (key information has been blacked-out for this blog post).

So this morning I created a PDF with a cover letter, a copy of their email, another copy of the receipt showing all of the information they asked for, and emailed it to them as requested.

To ensure they received it I also faxed it to them and a return receipt from our online faxing service was sent to me about an hour ago.

Gee…should I also do the third option of snail-mailing it to them? While they could claim that they never received the email or the fax machine was out of paper and someone inadvertenly unplugged the machine wiping its memory with my fax in it, I could print it out and send it certified mail so I’d obtain a signature of the person who received it too.

See why I think this is a scam and why I will never, ever buy another MICHELIN tire again for any of the cars we own?

Instead, I’m writing this post and will be posting it on my Facebook page and tweeting it. Then I’ll send it to the Federal Trade Commission and Senators Al Franken and Amy Klobuchar. Then I’ll post it to MICHELIN’s Facebook page so maybe, just maybe, they’ll stop delaying and erecting barriers to a promotion that should be done in good faith.

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  1. Alan Geeves on September 22, 2017 at 3:24 pm

    In New Zealand they often do cash backs which are much the same thing. These are often filled out by the retailer and all you have to do is put it in the mail. Still 30% never get claimed. Out Commerce Commission is looking at them very closely. I always look for a deal without cashbacks even if it means a different brand. You could of got Pirellis or Coopers or BFGs etc for much the same price and mileage guarantee

  2. Rob J on December 16, 2017 at 1:39 pm

    While I am starting to agree with the standpoint that these rebates are as close to a scam as a legitimate company can get away with as I had a similar issue with a motor oil company, I am curious on if you ever did actually get your rebate. In your description, you provided a detailed explanation of what was asked for, what you supplied and the various forms of submittal you followed. With all that in mind, did you get the rebate? This could be a good conclusion to your story and I am very curious to know.

  3. Steve Borsch on December 16, 2017 at 2:25 pm

    Funny you should ask. I did get it, the $70 Visa card. The kicker? I used $35 of it and the rest didn’t work. I was so fed up I didn’t bother to pursue it!

  4. Alan Geeves on December 16, 2017 at 4:07 pm

    There are 3 reasons for companies to offer cash backs. None of them are good for the consumer.
    1 Collect extra money from customer which they can invest and collect interest on until they have to give it back. Remember if the customer buys on terms then they are paying interest on this cash back.
    2 The hope the customer wont claim either because they cant or dont bother. The hurdles thrown in the way encourage both things
    3 Make their product seem cheaper than it really is. Everyone knows a $400 item with $99 cash back is cheaper than a $300 identical item. Or is it?
    Maybe Im to cynical in my old age

  5. Daniel Mohn on January 27, 2018 at 7:22 pm

    I bought four Michelin tires for my Lincoln MKX and applied for the $70 rebate. I received the awards card, spent the better part of an afternoon trying to activate it both online and by phone. I was finally assured by phone that the card was activated. Tried to use it to buy dinner last night only to be told that the card was invalid. Is Michelin scamming us into buying their tires?

  6. Frank on May 13, 2018 at 6:19 am

    Michelin is doing it to me also,
    • Ineligible purchase date – to be eligible, purchase must be made between March 23 and May 20, 2018.

    My invoice is for May 5 2018

  7. Name on August 29, 2018 at 11:00 pm

    Costco and Canadian Tire do the $70 off at point of sale so no forms, no waiting, no bs.

  8. Melanie Kroenke on August 31, 2018 at 10:25 pm

    The rebate is instant at the checkout at Costco. They keep all the information needed for warranty too.

  9. Carla on September 7, 2018 at 10:10 am

    They denied mine stating my dealer didn’t participate in the promotion yet my dealer provided all paperwork and encouraged we apply. I am so disappointed in Michelin.

  10. alan geeves on September 7, 2018 at 5:50 pm

    I dont buy anything that is sold with a cash back unless there is no other way to get a product with the features I want. Brand is not a feature so in the case of tyres if its Michelin or say Cooper with the same feature I would pay more for the Cooper

  11. Jon Lehmann on September 21, 2018 at 6:26 pm

    Currently fighting discount tires rebate center for a $50 card. Status shows mailed a month ago. I got nothing in the mail. I reach out to them and hear nothing back. It’s definitely a scam. Never shopping at discount tire again.

  12. X on October 23, 2018 at 3:40 pm

    Michelin is a total scam. Bought a set of tires off Tire Rack because of the $70 reward. I’ve had no problems with other tire brands in the past, like General and Kumho tires. If Michelin is not going to honor the reward, they should not advertise it. It also puts a stain on those selling it too. Though Michelin tires are good and I like their performance, I will not be buying their brand again because I hate dealing with sneaky salesmen.

  13. Mark Shalagan on October 31, 2018 at 11:40 am

    So glad i came across this post. Everything youve got in your post mirrors the exact experience I’m going through.
    It took me some digging to find your post, so instead i ended up putting my own post on a tire review site:


    I hope you ended up with better luck than i had.


  14. Steve Borsch on October 31, 2018 at 1:07 pm

    Hey Mark — The only thing that is different is buying Michelin tires through Costco. Before we moved from Minnesota to California this past June, I put new tires on my son’s car so he could make the drive. What tires? Michelins.

    Wait a second…didn’t I say in the last line I’d never buy Michelins again? I did…but my son worked at Costco and he said, “Costco has a no-fooling-around deal with tire makers. If they have rebates those go to Costco and then *Costco* sends out the rebate within a Costco cash card.” So we did it and it worked.

    My daughter called me two weeks ago and wanted those same tires at Costco so yes, I did it again for her and, because her Mom and I shop at Costco all the time, when the cash card arrives we’ll easily spend it.

    Bottom line? The only way I’d do this deal again is through a retailer like Costco who has the rebate go to them and then *they* send it out or give you a deal at the cash register.

  15. JF on December 12, 2018 at 6:32 pm

    I am furious that I fell for this this year, like others, thinking the Michelin name meant I wouldn’t have to worry. I got an email from them over a month ago saying my rebate was approved and to contact them if I didn’t receive it within 3-4 weeks.

    Since it’s been almost 5 weeks as of this writing, I decided to contact them. “Maria” in customer service dutifully tells me that suddenly I should now expect my rebate in about “3-4 weeks”. “No”, I tell her, I was already told by you all to expect it by now…

    Then I am told, “we apologize for any misinformation that was received. We allow 4-6 weeks for your rebate to be fully process in our system.” (COLLECT INTEREST)

    So now I’m being told to wait another month or so. And I just wonder if it will even come at that point.
    I was warned by my father about these rebate programs…..Shame on me for thinking I could get a good deal on what are supposed to be one of the “best” snow tires.

    What pisses me off more than my own situation is how sleazy the whole thing is, and like others have said they have a whole system built around this and it’s disgusting.

    Shame on Michelin. Never Make the Same Mistake Twice.

  16. Larry Kaye on December 13, 2018 at 7:55 am

    The good news….in the past these rebates be it from Michelin or Goodyear have played out well. Reasonable timeframe, delivered as promised. The bad news…..this promo/rebate is not that. Bought tires in early October ’18. Finally got an email a month later saying another 3-4 weeks. Called after 4 weeks. rep said “we have had overwhelming demand and it will actually be 4-6 weeks and you should have gotten another email”. And even after asking for my submission number which would give them enough to look it up they still wanted a bunch of personal info. Umm….no. It’s not about getting the $100.00. Well, maybe partially. It’s about the fact this doesn’t smell good at all. So due on another car for tires currently. Guess what…????

  17. at on February 1, 2019 at 6:19 pm

    I second all of the comments – Michelin is a sham company, AND, I am letting my tire dealer know what I think of them promoting Michelin and their crappy rebate sham. I will also not buy tires from this dealer – let them have some of the pain also. LOSERS.

  18. Dave N on March 11, 2019 at 6:48 am

    Pretty much the same experience. Sad ending for tires I like. Card expires in August. Went to activate on-line and got a 404 message saying the correct URL wouldn’t work. Called the 855 number and the first 2 times, with the correct numbers having been entered correctly and in time (on my phone display) the recording said “I’m sorry, but you must enter a 16-digit number”. I had, twice. It worked the 3d time, and the card was validated.

    Recommend doing this at a time you aren’t pressed to move on. It sure seems like intentional road blocks from an iconic brand. Tarnishes it in my mind. I’d love to see a whistleblower at Michelin admit to the built-in obstacles to lower the success percentage – if that is the case.

  19. Steve Borsch on March 12, 2019 at 12:05 pm

    Like you Dave N, there is no question in my mind that this rebate issue is tarnishing the Michelin brand. I had $35 left on my card and, like you, tried several times to use it with no success. During our move from Minnesota to California, the card went missing. Hope someone stole it and spent lots of time crying about it not working! 😉

    By the way, at the start of my career I was with a manufacturer’s representative sales company (one of 26 firms that covered the U.S.) and we had many consumer electronic lines. One of them was a warranty company and I learned way back then that it was a profit maker. Why? Because in the 1980s only 35% of all rebates were redeemed! The 65% who either didn’t redeem the rebate — or more likely didn’t complete it correctly or the company made it extremely hard to redeem — helped the company accelerate their profit dramatically on any of their offers for an on-sale-with-rebate item.

    As mentioned in my post, back in 2006 Best Buy, the dominant electronics superstore, instituted a 2-year plan to eliminate rebates since “Our customers told us they hate mail-in rebate programs.” That pretty much killed the rebate crap in computers and electronics (though it appears to be making somewhat of a comeback at Best Buy, especially on appliances).

  20. Sara S on December 4, 2019 at 5:50 pm

    I’m also getting scammed by Michelin; filled out the rebate info; website wouldn’t accept.

    Called several times, emailed, online chat; Bought 4 new tires; they won’t honor the rebate which is supposed to be $70. Notifying the automotive center where the tires were purchased, and anyone who will listen. Michelin: won’t honor rebates and POOR customer service!!

  21. paul on December 12, 2019 at 6:46 pm

    I bought 4 new Michelin tires in October and promptly sent in the $70 rebate. Never received anything back, but did find a confirmation on their website early Nov that I did have a claim number. Called Michelin Dec 10 to inquire about status and was told by a very belligerent agent that I would have to wait another 6 to 8 weeks.I will never buy another Michelin tire from my Michelin dealer. Costco- here I come.

  22. Clay on January 23, 2020 at 7:19 pm

    Ugh, going through the same thing right now. Promptly submitted the rebate form, with every single piece of information filled out. Got the email that said they needed more information. Forwarded my online receipt to them from Tire America that showed every single piece of information they requested. Got another email saying they needed more information. Called in and talked to a real person that said that it took time for the emails to get through the system. Never heard back until today (admittedly I forgot) when I got an email saying it had been 30 days so my possibility at a rebate is now over. Going to call tomorrow and fight them on it cause I can.

  23. Eric Lewis on December 29, 2020 at 8:39 am

    Thanks for posting these comments. I agree, the Michelin Tire Reward is definitely on the edge of a scam. I didn’t have any trouble getting my $70 Rebate card, but using it takes some more information.

    I activated the card using the phone (the web site tirerewardcenter.com/rewardcard listed in the instructions requires 4 digits, which creates an error, instead of asking for the 16 digits on the card). I was told that my account had a balance of $70. I tried the card at a restaurant for $70 and a hotel for $70 and they were both declined!!!

    I called the 1-855-816-9872 # and after having to enter the 16 digit number and my zip code I actually got to speak with a real person. But before she would answer my questions I had to give her my Card ID (12 digit number on the back of the card in font size 0.5), my complete address, phone number and name! I also had to tell her the businesses where the card was declined. Really? Like there are only two transactions on the account. Such a joke! Then she explained to me that because the restaurant entered a $70 charge, the charge was declined! The same with the hotel! She claims that the restaurant and hotel both automatically added an additional 20% to the charge, even though they only put in the $70!!!! She proceeded to tell me that I could use it at any gas station or store I wanted because they don’t add 20%. She then gave me a list of the stores I could use it at, which were not very many! Sounds like a great SCAM!

    The bottom line, as you have written, is that when evaluating a tire purchase in the future, the manufacturer’s “Rebate” scam will not be included in my evaluation. Too bad for Michelin, they haven’t figured out that their “Reward Card” rebate is sending repeat customer purchases to their competition!!! It is a real shame, because I have liked their tires on all the vehicles I have put them on.


  24. Ricky S Cantrell on April 8, 2021 at 10:48 am

    They are a scam and fail to remember phone calls. E-mail access was cumbersome so I called and finally got a response but close to deadline. I mistyped email address and person on other end of phone says no prob and I receive a reward confirmation number but now they still deny. I provided dates of phone and email.

  25. Ronald Orlando on May 26, 2021 at 5:01 pm

    I bought a set of 4 Michelin tires from Monser Brothers in Oneonta, NY. There was a $120 rebate offered with the purchase. I submitted it on April 8th and it was approved. It’s May 26th and I still haven’t received the virtual rebate card. Whenever I call or email I get a different story. I was assured 2 weeks ago that I would receive the rebate that Thursday. Thursday came and went and no rebate. Yesterday I called again and this time the same person who told me I would definitely get the rebate that Thursday informed me that it would take another 2 to 3 weeks. What a rip off. Shame on Michelin!!!!

  26. Skyler Binggeli on June 1, 2021 at 7:18 pm

    I recently received a rebate card as well. I had no issues with receiving the card. However, after I activated I checked the balance only for it to show a big fat $0. I would have been less disappointed if they had just never sent the card at all. This just feels like a slap in the face.

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About Steve Borsch

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Podcasting hit the mainstream in July of 2005 when Apple added podcast show support within iTunes. I'd seen this coming so started podcasting in May of 2005 and kept going until August of 2007. Unfortunately was never 'discovered' by national broadcasters, but made a delightfully large number of connections with people all over the world because of these shows. Click here to view the archive of my podcast posts.