Rebel Scholar – Was I duped?

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Rebel Scholar - Was I duped? Listen to this article

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Rebel Scholar is somewhat new to the world of iPhone cases.  They feature a wide range of slider cases each with a unique design.

The company touts itself, somewhat brashly I might add, as the clear choice over its main competitor the Incase Slider and features in their blog reasons why you’d be foolish to purchase an Incase instead of one of the Rebel Scholar products.

I’m okay with companies being bold when it comes to their product, as long as they’re right, and as long as they back it up when they are not.

I recently placed an order for a couple of Rebel Scholar cases and they arrived today.

The case I was most excited to check out is called the “Door God” and features a laser etched design on the back.

Unfortunately my excitement was very short lived.

The Rebel Scholar web site has a nice YouTube video that details how the design is etched onto the back of the case.  Pretty cool stuff.

On the web site this design looks bright and vibrant on the back of the case, so imagine my surprise when I opened my package today and saw this.


As you can see the image is hardly recognizable.

Here’s how the case looks on the Rebel Scholar Web Site.

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Was I sent a defective case?

I immediately drafted and sent off an e-mail to Rebel Scholar’s support address, included some images and asked if I had perhaps received a defective case.  Here’s the response I received.

Dear Larry,

Most likely this is a lighting issue. Since it is a transparent case and there is a gap between the phone and the case, different lighting intensities at different angles will produce different effects.

Our cases are lasered with identical parameters so there is nil deviation from one to the other.

Please let us know if we can be of further assistance.

Thank You,


Now the product description does state that the case is transparent and looks best with a white iPhone.

Well, I have a white iPhone.

So based on the e-mail response I received, I decided to try the case in a variety of lighting scenarios to see if it fact it made things better.

First I tried shining my desk lamp right on the case.  Still no image.


Then I tried my desk lamp and my overhead lights.


Then I took the case out and tried it with my desk lamp directly on it.  A little better result but still nothing near like the image on the web site.


Then I put the case on my iPhone.


I added even more light.


That’s about as good as I could get the image to show.  But know this, I had what amounts to a spot light shinning directly on the case back in addition to having every overhead light in my home office turned on.  And I still don’t think it’s nearly as good as the image on the company’s web site projects.

I tried the case in plain natural light.

ThermoWorks Thermapen Mk4


I moved close to my window hoping the natural light from outside would help.


I e-mailed Rebel Scholar again just to make sure they’d seen the pictures I’d sent, and if they had seen them I wanted to offer the suggestion that they might want to consider changing the image they’re using for the Door Gods case to one which more properly represented what the case looks like.

I received the following response.

Dear Larry,

Thank you for your suggestion and feedback.

We offer a 1-time exchange policy so if you are not pleased with your product, please send it back to us and upon successful review we will send you a new case of equal value that you choose.

Thank You,


So I can’t help but be left with what amounts to a bad taste in my mouth.  Why the company chooses to display an image that looks 100 times clearer and brighter that what’s actually on the case baffles me.  Actually it doesn’t.  They simply want to sell cases, and making them look as good as they possibly can is in their best interest.

For what it’s worth, I also ordered a white case from Rebel Scholar and I’m quite pleased with it.  But I’m not sure if I’ll order again from the company based on my experience with this one.

It also is worth pointing out that Rebel Scholar has a few cases that sell for $100.  They look great on the web site of course, but could you imagine ordering a $100 case and experiencing the same predicament?

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One thing’s for certain though, I do know I’ll be sending this one back.

And the process for exchanging one isn’t all the consumer friendly either.

Returns – we do not offer refunds. If you are dissatisfied with your product, we will offer a 1-time exchange for an item of equal value; the product cannot be used or have any damages. You will need to send us back the product and upon successful inspection, we will ship you out the new product you select, or upon an unsuccessful review we will ship you back the product from your original order.

If you happen to receive the wrong product or a defective product, please take pictures immediately upon receipt and email us a claim. We will contact you with a Return Merchandise Authorization (RMA) number and the details for the exchange process.

Since according to the pictures I sent my product is not defective my only hope is that I didn’t “use” the case too much by taking pictures of it and that I’m granted an exchange.  I’ve started the process and will be sure to update back if the case I select for exchange is better/worse (I chose a different etched design.)

Otherwise I think I have a winner for my next episode of “Will it Grill.”

Note:  I did not use my camera’s flash when taking the above images.  I used regular household and natural light to illuminate the field as I felt that best represented what the case would normally be exposed to.

UPDATE 7/30/2009:

Last night I received this e-mail from Rebel Scholar’s customer service department:

“Dear Larry,

We wanted to contact you and apologize for any dissatisfaction you have received thus far with our customer service. We hope that after replacing your case, you will share the same outlook as all of our buyers about the great products that we make, and our continued efforts to excel at customer service.

Thank You.

Creating the future,

Rebel Scholar.

Then this morning I woke up to find this waiting for me in my inbox:

“Dear Larry,”

Our legal team has closely monitored your post on: and has found your review unacceptable. In your post, you compare the product in the box to the picture on the site, and the title of your post further substantiates a malicious attempt to defame REBEL SCHOLAR without proper justification/replication of the lighting environment/equipment used to take the picture.

We also back up our claim with the following defamation claim:  ” … Why the company chooses to display an image that looks 100 times clearer and brighter that what’s actually on the case baffles me.  Actually it doesn’t.  They simply want to sell cases, and making them look as good as they possibly can is in their best interest.”

We will pursue further legal action if you do not remove your post immediately.

Legal Team,

Rebel Scholar.”

UPDATE 7/30/2009

The Rebel Scholar web site has been updated with a image that more accurately reflects the Door Gods case.

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