Rebel Scholar – Was I duped?

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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.

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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,

REBEL SCHOLAR.

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.

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Then I tried my desk lamp and my overhead lights.

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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.

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Then I put the case on my iPhone.

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I added even more light.

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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.

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

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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,

REBEL SCHOLAR.

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: http://www.geardiary.com/2009/07/23/rebel-scholar-was-i-duped/ 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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18 Comments on "Rebel Scholar – Was I duped?"

  1. markntravis | July 24, 2009 at 9:50 am |

    Place your purchase in dispute with you credit card issuer. End of story.

  2. atter.com | July 31, 2009 at 3:47 am |

    First, if you are not satisfied with the product, all you need to do is call them and insist on a refund and if they refuse file a credit card complaint. Be sure to require that they refund the full amount, including shipping, and that they pay for return shipping.

    Second, the legal threat is really asinine. I was about to order one, but I won’t support a company that tries gap the free press. I hope they go out of business.

  3. Guys, I totally understand your point about returning the product and then filing a dispute with the credit card company for a refund, but you shouldn’t discount the ultimate point of this article: Larry is letting others know about his experience so that they will be forewarned that they might run into a similar situation when ordering.

    Larry could have just as easily kept his mouth shut and never put the info out there (and saved himself a bunch of hassle), but that wouldn’t have helped someone else who might be considering a purchase from Rebel Scholar.

    Lost in this is that he did order a second case – a white one – which he was happy with. But it is this black case – that was deceptively photographed on the Rebel Scholar website to better highlight the product’s detail – that he has an issue with. Larry is doing a service by letting other potential customers (who do their research first) know.

  4. Wayne Schulz | July 31, 2009 at 8:13 am |

    This is a review site – what should we do send back products that we can’t post what amounts to a free advertisement?

    Geez…

    Larry has so many photos to back up his article that he probably didn’t even need to write anything.

  5. I was looking for a case and found some positive reviews of the Rebel Scholar. Searched again on google and found your post as the 3rd google result. So far I’m trying to decide between the INCASE Frame, INCASE Slider and a Gunmetal Rebel Scholar. Your post helped me alot, now I only have to decide between 2 cases…

  6. truthiness | August 6, 2009 at 9:22 am |

    I found this review by searching Rebel Scholar Door God, because I’m curious what the writing on the top left of the case means. This review didn’t help in that area, but I did find a this article to be in search of something that isn’t there. You obviously are looking for a black case with white etching.

    I got my Door God case in the mail yesterday and have it on my phone now. I like it, its almost a 3D look on the back. Its matted and sleek looking. The part I like, is how you have to hold the phone in different angles to see all the designs an details. Hopefully the phone doesn’t get scratch/scuff marks on the back.

    You cant please everybody and different strokes for different folks.

  7. Larry Greenberg | August 6, 2009 at 9:46 am |

    @truthiness – what I was “looking for” was the case Rebel Scholar had pictured on their web site on the order page for the Door Gods case when I placed my order.

    That was not what I received.

    I would have been okay with the case when I received it if it the picture they used actually resembled the case I received.

    Not the case.

    If you’re happy with the look of the design I’m sure you’ll enjoy the case. The case as a whole, minus the design, seems decent enough.

  8. truthiness Says: …I did find a this article to be in search of something that isn’t there.

    I think you are correct truthiness- from my read of the review, as well as other comments I have seen on Twitter, this review was based on looking for the case to be similar to what was actually pictured on the site. I don’t expect frozen dinners to look like their gorgeous picture on the box but I do expect that with something like a case.

    The face that it seems the company changed the image on the site after the review went up only confirms what the review said.

    That noted, I did find it interesting that Larry liked the other case and said so, yet the company threatened him after he stated his disappointment AND backed it up in pictures.

    You are totally right that “You cant please everybody and different strokes for different folks.”…
    For me, since there are tons of other companies making superb cases, my “stroke” is to deal with them and not this company. But that’s just me.

  9. Updated user post: I used this Rebel Scholar Door God case for two weeks. It slipped out my hand four times, because it has ZERO grip. The material the case is made of is VERY slick. The phone feel to the floor and the entire case came off my phone. Scratching up my iphone. The bottom piece of the Rebel Scholar Door God case comes off far too easily, which is where the majority of damage happened to my phone.

    The silver bezel on the bottom of my iphone is now scuffed. I’ve had this iphone since sept of 2008, and have only had 1 other drop, that was from the Carbon Fiber SGP case. The SGP offers ZERO drop protection.

    I will not use this case again. It looks great, but is FAR too slick. I’m currently using a switcheasy white rebel serpent case. It offers total complete drop protection, also the snake like surface on the switcheasy rebel serpent offers great grip. I have peace of mind that my phone is totally covered.

    Finally: The Rebel Scholar is a beautiful case, a work of art. I would buy another if the material was different. Also the bottom piece needs to have a rubber guard rail to keep it from slipping off/detaching from the case so easily.

    Sorry for turning this into a mini review, but people need to know what they are getting themselves into when they make a $35.00 purchase.

  10. Wow truthiness, quite the different tone from your earlier comment. Per your original comment, I don’t think Larry was looking for something that wasn’t there. Rather, I think he was looking for three things-
    A. That the case was on par with what was advertised… he proved it wasn”t
    B. That, first and foremost, the case did what cases should do… protect your iPhone- your comment today proves that not to be the case
    C That the case is a good value… A and B prove C not to be the case.

    This is not a case I would ever buy or a company I personally would do business with.

  11. Ok, Guys…here goes: I’ve purchased 5 cases from Rebel Scholar. Every case and transaction was flawless. In fact…they even upped me to Priority Mail (without extra cost) on my third purchase (3 cases at once). Their cases are classy and extremely protective.

    I think somehow the communication wires got crossed on your “Door Gods” purchase, and bad feelings got way out of control. One thing I noticed; however, is that it states right on the website that Door Gods is “transparent and looks best on a WHITE phone.” It only stands to reason that if you put this case on a BLACK phone it’s going to give less than desirable results. It also states on their site under FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) that you will receive a partial refund on returns. Granted, I don’t know how much that might be, but if you’ve shopped on the Net as much as I have, you will find that most vendors DO NOT refund ANY shipping costs on returned merchandise. (Example: bought coat from vendor; paid $4 shipping and handling; item was too small; got refund of purchase price and sales taxes, BUT not $4 S/H fees.)

    I can really understand the feelings on both sides — disappointment from the customer, and really sensitive feelings from the vendor (artistic temperment is something else! I am surrounded by them!) But I still
    encourage everyone to give Rebel Scholar a try. If you want a truly unique, quality, classy iPhone case, Rebel Scholar is your company.

  12. @moonchild48 – I did want to point out that Larry has a WHITE iPhone, and that is exactly what he used to test the Door Gods case.

    It’s great that you’ve had good experiences with RS; you’re fortunate.

  13. Thanks, Judie, for the reply. I should have made it clearer in my statement that I was definitely warning those with black phones to stay away from this (Door Gods) particular case. I liked it myself, but I have a black phone. This is the reason I didn’t try buying it. I do; however, have the Metallic Gold, Metallic Silver, Fu Lu Shou, Poison Petals (blue), and Victory (white). Each case actually looks better and richer than the picture on the Rebel Scholar site.

    Being realistic, I think everyone can tell of a less than desirable experience with even the most highly respected of businesses. I used to fight all the time with UPS, Time Warner, Neiman Marcus, etc. But, you get over it.

  14. Larry Greenberg | September 22, 2009 at 3:12 pm |

    moonchild – I’m glad you had a positive experience with Rebel Scholar and are enjoying their products.

    This however goes way beyond a “less than desirable experience.”

    From threatening to sue me over my review, to telling customers to “shut up” when they mention something negative about them, to asking YouTube reviewers to pull reviews that might have bad things to say about their cases.

    All the personal stuff aside (them blacklisting me from purchasing cases from them, refunding my money when I tried to purchase cases that they were donating the proceeds from to charity etc.) the way they treat customers is simply unacceptable.

    We’ve all been doing this a very long time and honestly have never seen a company act the way this one does.

    It’s funny too because many of the things I’ve complained about they actually ended up changing.

    1. They changed the image on their web site of the Door Gods Case.
    2. They changed their return policy regarding charging customers to reship exchanges.
    3. They made the 9/11 case launch for charity at my suggestion.

    But all the while they act like little children when I made the comments.

  15. @moonchild48 – Larry mentioned in this post that he was very pleased with the other Rebel Scholar case he purchased. No one is suggesting that the quality of their other cases is not as advertised…the problem was with *this* particular case, as outlined in Larry’s post.

    You are absolutely right that everyone has less than desirable experiences with companies, but usually there is some kind of give and take with a reached resolution.

    But not with RS. As a result of writing about his experience, Larry has since been threatened with legal action, blacklisted by RS, and bad-mouthed on Twitter and the RS blog by representatives of this company.

    If I hadn’t been following the saga, I wouldn’t have believed it. Sorry, but RS is simply not a company that I will ever give a dime to based on their actions.

    If you want to read more about it, you can start here:

    http://www.google.com/cse?cx=partner-pub-0470943104143904%3Aw6ir42-leh9&ie=ISO-8859-1&q=rebel+scholar&sa=Search

  16. Ha! Looks like Larry and I were replying at the same time. So yeah…what he said. 😉

  17. Sure we all have had customer service issues and product problems, but I cannot remember a time when a company seems to have a monolithic policy that all criticism will be met with threats of legal action and Twitter statements of being clueless and bias. I follow Rebel Scholar and have seen many critical reviews – not just here – met with even worse reaction from the company. My impression is that Rebel Scholar sees two types of people ‘folks who love their products’ and ‘lying biased scumbags who are out to defame them and need to be squashed’.

  18. moonchild48 –
    I wanted to respond earlier but just got computer access again-
    I’m really happy you are pleased with the cases. I watched this entire thing unfold and have to tell you this was not a case of crossed wires. At first we thought the threat of legal action was a joke. I couldn’t believe when it was not.

    Larry DID use it on the white iPhone and clearly there was an issue since the image was changed on the website.

    The threat was bad. Telling YouTubers to pull stuff was bad too. Refusing to sell cases to Larry was also bad. And if that wasn’t enough- telling a customer to shut up is inexcusable.

    I am still amazed that there is no human being associated with this company. EVERYTHING is signed “Rebel Scholar”. Heck, even the heads of Amazon, Apple and Microsoft use their names when corresponding. But here… no human being.

    Ultimately, when I put it together is see a shady company that hides behind their logo, pulls stuff no other company tries to pull and more. I would never choose to do business with a company like this no matter how good the product.

Comments are closed.