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[P]
Mail-in Rebates ?

By redelm in Technology
Thu Mar 15, 2001 at 05:41:47 PM EST
Tags: Hardware (all tags)
Hardware

Mail-in rebates are a common sales discount for computer equipment in N.America. But how do they work? The long, uncertain processing delay irritates customers. And there are many opportunities for fraud. Why are they so popular?


At least in the US and Canada, computer hardware is usually put on sale [discounted] by offering a mail-in rebate. Much less often is the sales price reduced. These rebates are very substantial: at least 20%, usually 30-50% and sometimes 100% of the normal sales price.

Usually these rebates are funded by the manufacturer, but sometimes the retail store offers the rebate. AFAIK, the rebates are always processed by specialized "rebate fulfillment" contractors and take about 2 months before the check is received. Why so long?

Why has this particular form of marketing promotion become predominant:

  • Are the rebate claim rates so low that they offer useful price stratification? I would expect claim rates to be >80%.
  • How is the inconvenience factor valued against marketing image? The customers have to comply with terms and mail in the form. They also have to endure a rather long uncertain wait.
  • How are the dealings with the rebate contractor? What terms are usual? Who gets any state retail sales tax refunds?
  • Why mostly for computer hardware, and much less for other items like computer electronics or home appliances?
  • In addition, possibilities for fraud abound:

  • False submissions by customers. These could range from complete counterfeits to submissions based on receipts for goods later returned with proof-of-purchase from other sources. The processing delay allows crosschecks and may deter some of this at the cost of irritating normal customers.
  • Employee doesn't pass rebate to his company. An employee may use a corporate credit card or file an expense statement for computer equipment purchased for his company. But how is the rebate handled? The long uncertain delay rules out including it on an expense statement. It doesn't leave an audit trail, and the employee could easily pocket it.
  • Non compliance by issuer. A rebate contractor may decide or be ordered to be difficult about issuing rebate checks. What are the usual rejection rates? Reasons? Some, like rejecting multiple rebates from people living in communal housing may be "accidental". Is there any deliberate withholding -- don't send until they complain?
  • Finally, I'd like to know the overseas experience. I don't remember seeing any mail-in rebates in Europe, but that doesn't surprise me because they don't use checks. A customer would have to send in his bank account number! The UK does use checks -- does it have rebates? And what about Japan and the Far East?

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    Poll
    My mail-in rebate experience is:
    o 100% of rebate checks received :) 19%
    o 75-99% of rebates received 16%
    o 50-74% received 9%
    o <50% of rebate checks received :( 9%
    o Avoid mail-in rebate merchandise 14%
    o Never send in rebates 17%
    o Never been offered a mail-in rebate 13%

    Votes: 92
    Results | Other Polls

    Related Links
    o Also by redelm


    Display: Sort:
    Mail-in Rebates ? | 37 comments (35 topical, 2 editorial, 0 hidden)
    My Take on it. (3.40 / 5) (#2)
    by Da Unicorn on Thu Mar 15, 2001 at 09:53:16 AM EST

    Not being an expert and seldom having appplied for rebates I suspect it is a combination of marketing gimmick, accounting and information gathering forces that are the reasoning behind rebates.

    The only one I ever got of any size worth messing with was "cash back" when I bought my pickup from Ford a few years back and all it did was help with the down payment. I signed a paper and they tossed it in the kitty for the down with no delay.

    Da



    Two Months? (4.00 / 5) (#4)
    by Tim C on Thu Mar 15, 2001 at 09:54:05 AM EST

    Here in the UK, the practice of offering mail-in rebates is very much less common. One area in which it does seem to be gaining popularity, however, is mobile phones.

    I finally gave in and got myself and my partner a mobile phone each in September of last year. One of the deciding factors (apart from the fact that the phones were ridiculously cheap) was the 50 (about $75) cashback offer on each phone.

    On reading the small print, I saw that it stated that applications would be held for 90 days for "checking", and that after that period, processing and dispatch of the cheques would take up to a further 90 days.

    I did eventually receive the cheques, about 6 months after buying the phones (and so pretty-much on time :-) )

    So, while I agree that two months is a long time take to process such a rebate offer, it can be worse :-)


    Cheers,

    Tim

    Apple UK did it too (3.66 / 3) (#5)
    by imperium on Thu Mar 15, 2001 at 10:46:49 AM EST

    And I know customers who loved it. Not because they're bizarre Apple evangelists, but because as self-employed business-people, the business paid for the computer while the cheque came back with their own name on it!

    What other use there is for this, I do not know. Probably something you'd need to be a lawyer to understand.

    x.
    imperium

    Cheat the taxman (3.66 / 3) (#10)
    by redelm on Thu Mar 15, 2001 at 12:18:18 PM EST

    Ah, a lovely scam. Inland Revenue is the loser, because the self-employeed individual deducts the full purchase cost against revenue, while pocketing the rebate tax-free.

    [ Parent ]
    Exactimundo! (none / 0) (#31)
    by imperium on Tue Mar 20, 2001 at 06:15:03 AM EST

    Not that I'd participate in such fiscal skullduggery, of course!

    x.
    imperium
    [ Parent ]

    Ripoff (4.00 / 4) (#6)
    by wiredog on Thu Mar 15, 2001 at 10:50:29 AM EST

    Rebates are a ripoff. Just go to Jerry Pournelle's website, and type "rebates" in the search box.

    The idea of a global village is wrong, it's more like a gazillion pub bars.
    Phage

    Rebates are bad, m'kay? (3.80 / 5) (#7)
    by regeya on Thu Mar 15, 2001 at 10:51:57 AM EST

    As I've said before here on kuro5hin, I switched to journalism as a major and advertising as a specialty after I bombed out of some math classes. One class I took was on direct advertising, essentially direct marketing called direct advertising so that the journalism department could offer it. :-) While of course the answer to the question was given in an extremely academic fashion, the impression I got is that, with the average rebate, customers just don't care in most cases. Five dollars back on a $50 item? Who cares? But people look at that tag and say, "Hm, money off," and buy it anyway. (BTW, that's incredible fun when customers say, "What about my $#%@ five dollars off? It's gotta coupon on it...waddja mean I gotta mail it in? You're rippin' me off, goddamnit...")

    But computer companies have notoriously bad rebates. If you're in the U.S., you've probably seen fliers for retail outlets such as Staples. Much of the equipment you'll see in fliers is advertised with the "after mail-in-rebate" price. My parents have been waiting six months for a rebate check on a generic 50X CD-ROM drive (I told them not to bother; I have the same model drive, got it nearly that long ago, and it's nearly ready for the dumpster) and those MSN rebates? Forget it! Those sorts of rebate programs give an already slightly shady business an even worse name, to the point that consumers don't trust rebate programs anymore. Before, it was apathy; now, it's distrust. Thanks, guys.

    [ yokelpunk | kuro5hin diary ]

    CompUSA (3.33 / 3) (#8)
    by Zeram on Thu Mar 15, 2001 at 11:07:31 AM EST

    I used to work at CompUSA and let me tell you rebates were extremelt popular there! CompUSA used to the home of crappy free after rebate products. I can answer one of your questions. The customer always pays state tax, that is never refunded. I can speculate on one of your other questions. I don't think that CompUSAs image was ever hurt by people having a bad experience with rebate fullfillment contractors. Oh sure I got accused of bait and switch many many times by people who showed up on the last day of the sale looking to cash in and find out we had nothing. However those same people came right back next week for their free CD rack or power strip or what ever it was. I would also be willing to bet based on personal experience and observation that the actual complete rate for rebates is somewhere in the 30% range. Most people put off sending them in and then just wind up forgetting about it.
    <----^---->
    Like Anime? In the Philly metro area? Welcome to the machine...
    why rebates exist (3.25 / 4) (#9)
    by khallow on Thu Mar 15, 2001 at 11:18:16 AM EST

    Employee doesn't pass rebate to his company. An employee may use a corporate credit card or file an expense statement for computer equipment purchased for his company. But how is the rebate handled? The long uncertain delay rules out including it on an expense statement. It doesn't leave an audit trail, and the employee could easily pocket it.

    Bingo! I bet rebates are far less popular in places where most purchases aren't business related. It's a bribe to get the employees to buy a particular product. I.e., employee goes to the store to get a modem. Is that employee going to get the one for $80 or the one for $150 with a $40 mail-in rebate? This is the "why" of rebates.


    Stating the obvious since 1969.

    I think you are on to something here... (2.00 / 1) (#17)
    by joto on Thu Mar 15, 2001 at 11:00:30 PM EST

    This is probably like those cards every airline want you to have. I'm a european and a student myself, so I haven't seen much of either :-)

    In that case, I guess this would qualify as corruption, because if you are shopping for a company, the sums could get quite large, and would certainly influence purchasing decisions if someone not entirely ethical were to do it (like, ehh... perhaps myself, got to think...)

    [ Parent ]

    Fuel for corporate jets (3.00 / 1) (#25)
    by cameldrv on Fri Mar 16, 2001 at 10:38:38 PM EST

    The same thing happens with charter and corporate jets. When making a coast-to-coast trip within the USA, most corporate jets have to stop somewhere in the middle of the country. Where exactly is pretty flexible because there are lots of airports on the way. Lots of fuel suppliers have been offering bribes to pilots for picking their airport.

    [ Parent ]
    UK "mail in rebate" == "cashback&qu (3.00 / 1) (#11)
    by codemonkey_uk on Thu Mar 15, 2001 at 12:33:33 PM EST

    In the UK we call mail in rebates cashback deals, and while I personally think they are a stupid idea, they seem to be on the rise.

    I've not seen them with computers, but I have seen them with mobile phones, morgages, and cars.
    ---
    Thad
    "The most savage controversies are those about matters as to which there is no good evidence either way." - Bertrand Russell

    I hate rebates! (3.33 / 3) (#12)
    by blues5150 on Thu Mar 15, 2001 at 01:03:01 PM EST

    I wish they would just lower the damn prices. They're all just a ploy to lure in consumers and they work well. The vendors know that they'll only get about "x" percent of the customers that buy the product to send in the rebate forms. Then there will be a certain percentage that did not fufill the necessary requiremnets. So basically, the odds are in there favor to have/continue rebates in some form.

    They that can give up liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety. Benjamin Franklin


    Rebate refund delay explained! (3.00 / 3) (#13)
    by jabber on Thu Mar 15, 2001 at 01:57:34 PM EST

    The delay has little to do with fraud deterrence. Too much work, and you have to pay someone to do the investigation. If all the necessary materials are not in the envelope, it all gets put into an even bigger envelope and sent back to the customer.

    I made the mistake of submitting the wrong bar-code from a Motorola cell phone once, and after 2 months, got back my rebate, unrealized, with a week to resubmit with the right bar-code. Of course by then, the correct bar-code had become somone's issue of The Wall Street Journal, or something less appealing.

    No, the reason for the delay is simple. When you buy a product, the company gets your money almost right away. Then their stock-brokers invest it, and earn interest on it. Then, after they've milked your money for all they could, they cut a check and send some of your money back to you. Walk with me...

    Say you buy a $500 printer. A skilled broker, using a large fund in a hot economy, can make a lot of money.. Maybe 25% in a month or two.. After that happens, they just send you your $25 or $50 rebate, less interest of course.

    When in doubt, follow the money.

    [TINK5C] |"Is K5 my kapusta intellectual teddy bear?"| "Yes"

    ROI (4.00 / 2) (#23)
    by davidduncanscott on Fri Mar 16, 2001 at 12:08:58 PM EST

    A skilled broker, using a large fund in a hot economy, can make a lot of money.. Maybe 25% in a month or two..
    You know, if I got 25% in 30 days, I wouldn't bother manufacturing or selling anything. I'm not sure that crack deakers get that kind of return.

    [ Parent ]
    ROIght... :-) (none / 0) (#32)
    by pingflood on Tue Mar 20, 2001 at 09:52:32 AM EST

    If this fictitious 'skilled broker' of yours really existed, he could turn $10,000 into 2.1 million in two years. Not bad at all...

    Really, while people HAVE made profits like that (and far beyond!) there ain't no brokers out there pulling down those numbers on average. Not even close.


    -pf

    Sell fitness equipment, make bucks. Cool affiliate program.
    [ Parent ]
    Rebates Occur so the Unit Price doesn't drop (3.50 / 4) (#14)
    by bgp4 on Thu Mar 15, 2001 at 03:19:15 PM EST

    Companies usually start a rebate program to help stale inventory move. It's especially common right before the release of a new revision of whatever widget you're buying. Apple recently did this exact trick with their G4's when their inventory was through the roof and they wanted to bring out faster proc's.

    Basically, if you have a $1500 version 1 widget. You want to keep about 2-3 months of inventory on the shelves. As your widget gets out of date, the demand will drop. Usually this means your inventory will increase. In order to sell more widgets, you starte a $200 rebate program. So the "cost" of the widget is still $1500 but you're only paying $1300 for it.

    Now, when your inventory drops (or when version 2 comes out or some other business need arrises), you simply remove the rebate. A top of the line G4 (say, with a 400MHz proc) starts out costing $1500. Then, after a while, the $200 rebate starts. Then, the "new" top of the line G4 comes out with a 500MHz proc. The rebate is taken down and *poof* the top of the line G4 is still $1500. Prices tend to be tied to a "level" of a product (ie: high end, middle, and economy), not the product itself. Make sense?

    May all your salads be eaten out of black hats
    customer demographics (3.50 / 2) (#15)
    by Anonymous 6522 on Thu Mar 15, 2001 at 08:27:32 PM EST

    One of the reasons that I think makes mail in rebates so popular is that they're one more way for the company to get demographic data from you.

    On most rebate cards that I've sent in, besides name and adress, there are questions about where you purchased the product and why, how you found out about it, your occupation, how much you make, etc.

    Basically, they're just paying you to fill out a registration card.

    demographics. (3.50 / 2) (#16)
    by base_16 on Thu Mar 15, 2001 at 08:33:43 PM EST

    One of the big things about rebates and warranties is that they ask for a whole lot of information about you first. Why? Demographics. It's easy to raise the price, and then add a rebate so it not only feels like a sale, but also so the company can get marketing info. Simple as that.


    --
    this signature will be affixed to each of your comments
    Europe vs US (2.50 / 2) (#18)
    by joto on Thu Mar 15, 2001 at 11:27:32 PM EST

    I'm a norwegian, and I've only been in US once, but I think there might be substantial differences in marketing tactics in Europe vs US. Some of it might be that laws for marketing differs, and some of it might just be culture.

    The first thing I noticed that I thought was weird in the US, is this weird culture of having to add tax manually. Since you have to pay it anyway, tax should be added by the shop when pricing the item, not at the counter (well, that's how I feel about it). I don't know why americans do it this way, it just feels wrong.

    Also, americans seems to have a fetish for coupouns. Often, substantial amounts could be saved by looking through some papers or brochures and cutting out coupouns. I think at least part of the reason this is not so common has to do with marketing legislation, although I am not to sure about the details. Sure, we have some coupons here as well, but I've never thought they were worth the trouble (and I'm a student, not someone with too much money to throw around, so you can draw your conclusions about the differences). I think this has something to do with marketing legislation (otherwise I am sure coupouns would be more common here as well), but I'm not to sure about the details.

    I have never any kind of mail-in rebate here when shopping for computer equipment, but I've only bought three computers, so my experience might be a little limited. Although I guess this is another variation of the same theme. American legislation is a little bit more permissive to the whims of marketing people and their stupid schemes to lure people in with confusing pricing, and therefore more confusing marketing schemes appear.

    Anyway, at least here in Norway, the most confusing pricing schemes seems to be in the tech-sector. Try to find out what a mobile phone costs, and you will first have to answer what kind of phone company to use, and what kind of contract you want with them (because they will subsidize your phone). Oh, better forget your old phone number, because you have to get a new contract to get them to subsidize it. Well, go figure...

    Coupons.... (3.00 / 2) (#21)
    by Ray Chason on Fri Mar 16, 2001 at 12:37:46 AM EST

    My experience with coupons is that they tend to be for 25 cents off the most expensive brand in the store. Store brands, when they are of good quality, save me more than coupons ever have.
    --
    The War on Terra is not meant to be won.
    Delendae sunt RIAA, MPAA et Windoze
    [ Parent ]
    not hiding taxes (5.00 / 1) (#33)
    by bnenning on Tue Mar 20, 2001 at 04:20:21 PM EST

    Since you have to pay it anyway, tax should be added by the shop when pricing the item, not at the counter (well, that's how I feel about it). I don't know why americans do it this way, it just feels wrong.

    As an American, I much prefer it this way. It separates the actual cost of the item from what the government has decided it's entitled. to. I believe taxes should be as visible as possible so that taxpayers can get an idea of how much government is really taking and whether it is being spent wisely.

    This may not be a common viewpoint in Europe, since from what I understand you guys tend to be much more trusting of government than we are. I'm not trying to get into a debate about which attitude is better (not in this thread, anyway) but it is a possible reason for the difference.

    [ Parent ]

    Adding taxes manually (none / 0) (#35)
    by OBunny on Thu Mar 22, 2001 at 10:04:00 AM EST

    Agreed, the tax should be part of the marked price. There are a few things that affect this.

    • The sales taxes vary depending on the location that an item is sold or the location that it's delivered to. In Canada, sales taxes are applied by the Federal government (GST, Goods and Services Tax), and also by most provinces (PST, Provincial Sales Tax).
    • As well, in Canada (and I believe in the US) there are purchasers of various sorts who do not pay sales taxes -- aboriginals, foreign nationals in some cases, corporations of certain types, and so forth.
    • I suspect that the retailers want to be able to advertise the lowest possible price too; adding in the taxes means (where I live) an immediate 15% price increase on most items.
    What this means is that you pay the taxes on the full retail price, but a rebate gives you back a fixed amount. If I buy an item for $100 with a $100 rebate, I've still paid the governments $15 in sales taxes.

    Coupons, in theory, reduce the price before taxes are added. It can be difficult to convince some retailers of this, however.
    Living well is the best revenge
    [ Parent ]

    Most rebates seem to be fraud by sellers/issuers (4.40 / 5) (#19)
    by Lulu of the Lotus-Eaters on Thu Mar 15, 2001 at 11:33:48 PM EST

    For the last couple years, I have been VERY careful about following up on rebates. Prior to that, I got stung quite a number of times... often for large amounts. Say I bought a $300 item, but only because it had a $100 rebate on it. Most of the time I would either never get anything thereafter; or occassionally I would get a not 4 months later saying that I did not include some document and/or did not meet some condition (it was inevitably untrue). But with everything (receipt, UPC, rebate-card, etc) sent to the issuer, I had no proof against such false assertions.

    The thing is, the issuers are just playing a game. They hope that some percentage will fail to send in the rebates in the first place. Then the extra sleazy ones (>50% of them) hope that consumers will fail to follow up on bogus refusals.

    So after a while, I got in the habit of photocopying everything that gets sent. And keeping a spreadsheet of the rebate amounts, the dates sent, and the listed wait time. If I don't hear something (and something satisfactory) in the time frame listed (maybe giving them an extra month leeway), letters go out to the issuer *AND* to the relevant state attorney general consumer fraud office. The "and" is the absolutely crucial part.

    Here's my experience... EVERY SINGLE TIME. If an issuer gets a letter complaining about a failure to honor a rebate--a letter just to them--they either throw it in the trash, or issue a snide response amounting to "fuck off". But if they see a CC: at the bottom of the (printed, not email) letter that says "AG, Consumer Protection Office", they apologize effusively, and the rebate arrives within a week. Actually, almost the same principle applies to other defrauders I have dealt with (telephone companies slamming, false credit-card charges, things like that).

    Rebate issuers could not care less about you by yourself... and they want nothing more than to screw you out of your money. But most people take those folks who have the power to put them in prison a bit more seriously. Use that to your advantage as a consumer!

    Checks... (3.50 / 2) (#20)
    by joto on Thu Mar 15, 2001 at 11:35:35 PM EST

    Well, we do have checks in Europe. It's just that nobody is using them. They are expensive for the banks to process (they prefer electronic transactions of course), and therefore they cost more for the customer to process. And what would be wrong about sending your account-number? Checks has to be cashed in sometime, sending your account number means the money will get there without you having to do anything. Ehh, isn't sending the account number the most practical way to do it?

    I, too, hate rebates (3.00 / 3) (#22)
    by OBunny on Fri Mar 16, 2001 at 12:06:18 PM EST

    I've had a run-in with a software vendor regarding a rebate. (I won't mention the vendor's name, but they make s/w for creating Microsoft Help files). I admit that I'm not blameless; in fact, I was rather dumb about the whole thing.

    Now, all of my transactions with this company were over the phone. My conversations with them suggest to me that all of my conversations were at least logged, though not audio-recorded.

    I'd followed the instructions, sent off the needed papers, and forgot about my $100. About 6 months later I got a mailing telling me about a new version of the s/w, remembered that I hadn't got my $$, and called to ask.

    The woman I spoke to asked me to fax in a copy of my rebate card. I told her I couldn't, because I'd sent it in. She told me that she'd look into it.

    I forgot about it again.

    About 6 months later, I got another mailing. I called again, and talked with a customer service rep named Chelsea, who was able to ascertain that I had indeed talked with somebody about not getting my rebate, and the person that I'd spoken to had logged the fact that I was going to fax a copy of my rebate card.

    I explained again that I couldn't. Her response was that "The rebate isn't going to happen", in spite of the fact that a previous customer service rep had lied.

    What did I do? Convinced all the folks that I worked with that this company should not be dealt with. This led to a change in policy at a large multinational corporation. I believe that I shunted several thousand licenses toward a different product.


    Living well is the best revenge
    Living well is the best revenge

    Rebates on average (3.25 / 4) (#24)
    by ashultz on Fri Mar 16, 2001 at 03:36:29 PM EST

    Warning, unsupported statistic

    I don't remember where I read this, but it sticks in my head: only about 5% of rebates are claimed.

    If this is actually true, then it's obvious why companies love rebates: the claim a 50% discount on their product - "only $299 after $300 manufacturer's rebate!" - but the average rebate to them only ends up to be $15. What a savings to the company.

    This also explains part of why it's a pain the ass to collect rebates - they want to keep the response rate low. But not too much of a pain, or people would catch on.

    Some thoughts (2.00 / 1) (#26)
    by mindstrm on Sun Mar 18, 2001 at 12:21:34 PM EST

    It occurs to me, and this could be totally wrong of course, that a large distributer like CompUSA, CompuSmart, or whoever, buys a whole bunch of item X at wholesale. They retail it for whatever they want, and make their money. The manufcturer rebate cupons don't matter to the retailer... other than letting them sell more items because of the percieved lower cost to the consumer.

    The manufacturer gets a certain price for what it sells to retailers, and only pays rebates on those items the retailer actually sells to end users, and then, only those customers who send in their rebates.
    I too recall hearing the average is only 7% or something.

    I also recall some large vendor (it was 3com or USRobotics a few years ago) who almost went broke because the vast majority of customers were sending in rebates.... far more than expected.


    my only rebate experience... (3.00 / 1) (#27)
    by jij on Sun Mar 18, 2001 at 02:05:24 PM EST

    ..was for a cheap Lexmark printer; it was listed for $95 on an online merchant's website, with a $75 rebate from the manufacturer, allowing them to advertise it as a $20 printer ( the numbers may be off some, I can't remember exactly). Anyways, to get the rebate I had to download and print a form, cut out a portion of the box ( the 'proof of purchase') the printer came with, and send in the form, the box part, and the original invoice to Lexmark, which I did, and several weeks later they sent me a check for $75. My point in reciting all this is that if I had not followed these steps to the letter, i.e., sent the wrong box part, a copy of the invoice, a handwritten form, I would not have recieved the rebate. Oh, and which particular box part to cut out and mail in was not made clear; I guessed right, I suppose. They know that most folks aren't going to follow the instructions to the letter, and that they will have to honor only a small percentage of rebate requests. It's just another advertising trick.

    "people who thinks quotes are witty are fucking morons" - turmeric

    Reputation (none / 0) (#28)
    by Phoebe on Mon Mar 19, 2001 at 05:22:07 PM EST

    Reputation of a company is a good way to ensure that you will get the rebate you were offered. If it is some unknown compant offering to give you a 100% rebate on a product just for filling out a survey, then chances are that you might not be getting that rebate check. But if you have an offer from a name such a Microsoft, Hewlett Packard, Sam's Club, ect, the chances of you recieving the check are much greater.

    Though this is not a guarantee, it is a safer bet that you will get what you were promised. But as was mentioned in other comments, you need to make sure to give the company what they are asking for - be it a cut out proof of purchase, the original recipt, or the exact rebate form - so you are that much more assured to get what you are deserving.

    Other than that, most rebate programs are very legitimate and fool-proof. If you have a problem, call the company. Nine times out of ten they are more than happy to assist you.


    --I dream of a wolf, shrouded in the mist. Looking at me with Amber Eyes--
    Buyer Beware (4.00 / 1) (#36)
    by cable on Mon Mar 26, 2001 at 02:46:31 PM EST

    Also the smaller companies may not send the rebate for months, using the money to collect interest in some bank account before they send it to you. Or maybe they hired another company to process the rebates for them?

    A lot of people bought Reveal multimedia products because of rebates offered, but then never got them because the company went out of business. I guess them not having Windows 95 drivers for all their products, and sound cards and CD-Roms being built into new systems kind of killed their income?

    Here is the kicker, you need to send in the original sales recipt. But if you do this and it gets "lost" in the mail or their paper-pushers misplace it, your rebate will never arrive. Without the original sales recipt, what proof do you have you bought it at the time the rebate was offered? Also how can you return it for warranty work if the recipt was sent for the rebate? You don't get it back, and if you send it in and the part goes bad, then you are out of luck! Better to get the part without a rebate at some times.

    The $400 Internet rebate is the most popular one now. But you get locked into the ISP for 3 to 5 years, otherwise you pay a $50 disconnect fee and whatever years are left over you have to pay it back.

    ------------------
    Only you, can help prevent Neb Rage!
    [ Parent ]
    So what now? (none / 0) (#37)
    by Phoebe on Tue Mar 27, 2001 at 11:53:00 AM EST

    Ther eis no way to garantee that you will recieve your rebate - small company or large.

    There is no way to avoid getting sucked into a product or advertisement scheme if you want a rebate.

    And there is very little way to protect yourself or to prove proof of ownership if something in the rebate chain goes wrong.

    So why are millions of people mailing in recipts and Proof of Purchases each month?

    It seems they have more faith in the system than I....


    --I dream of a wolf, shrouded in the mist. Looking at me with Amber Eyes--
    [ Parent ]
    My Rebate Policy (none / 0) (#29)
    by nurglich on Tue Mar 20, 2001 at 12:48:25 AM EST

    My general policy is to never buy anything with a rebate that I wouldn't buy without. All the rebate does is give me an incentive to buy it at some certain store, or to buy it sooner than I might have otherwise. Either way, I always get something I wanted anyway, the rebate is just a nice bonus if it comes in. I've had pretty good luck with rebates, but maybe that's just me.

    ------------------------------------------
    "There are no bad guys or innocent guys. There's just a bunch of guys!" --Ben Stiller, Zero Effect

    these companies know people.. (none / 0) (#30)
    by protus on Tue Mar 20, 2001 at 03:49:50 AM EST

    and they know that many people won't bother to cash in the rebates.. i mean, how many people buy things because they have the possibility of saving money on a rebate, and instead just not send it in? the company lures the customer in for the price of a bit of ink..

    on top of that, they get great demographic information from people who send in.. much more accurate than if they just surveyed people.. and in some cases cheaper than if they paid for market research to be done..

    long horses we are born; creatures more than torn; mourning our way home.

    Cheques (none / 0) (#34)
    by Aztech on Wed Mar 21, 2001 at 12:45:44 PM EST

    There are cheques in Europe... it's just that everyone uses Electronic Fund Transfer in the form of debit cards (like Switch.) obviously there's credit cards too.

    There's also BACS, an automated clearing house, which is usually used for standing order type transactions, for instance it's very common to have your salary paid into your account via BACS... then you spend all your cash on a Switch card, so you don't come into contact with cash or written cheques.

    Mail-in rebates aren't used that much in the UK, apart those from US companies (e.g. Netgear). Most companies give you coupons before hand so the cost is reduced at the time of sale. There's also "Cash backs" which give you a chunk of cash at a given point of time in the future, but this is usually used on big stuff.

    Of course, the cost of stuff in the UK is hugely inflated compared to the US. If something is $299 in the US they mark it up as 299 in the UK, even though 1 = $1.50.

    Mail-in Rebates ? | 37 comments (35 topical, 2 editorial, 0 hidden)
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