The Business of Rebates

Rebate deals are often conspicuously absent from our Morning Deals Round-Up. Why? Because 60% of deals never go through — either the customer forgets about them or the rebate house rejects the application upon a technicality. Rebates are bonuses, not the sort of thing you should make a purchasing decision based upon.

Consumer Affairs has a look up at the business of rebates, which is good reading for anyone who wants to know the way rebaters work and the mechanics behind the business. Essentially, rebates are good for business — companies that offer rebates get publicity, increased marketshare and demographic information on buyers. Unfortunately, they often outsource rebate redemption to dedicated fulfillment houses that don’t really care about the consumer. These fulfillment houses, on average, turn away 1 out of every 5 rebate seekers as being “ineligible.” Not particularly good odds to play when you’re talking about a 20% discount on a $2000 laptop: hell, you’ve got better odds in Russian Roulette.

Rebate: Discount or Lotto Ticket? [Consumer Affairs]

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  1. Mary Marsala With Fries says:

    Thanks SO MUCH for posting that, and also for not posting rebate deals on your Round-Up.

    Does anybody else think that companies shouldn’t be able to advertise a price that’s “after rebate”? If it’s “after rebate”, then it’s not the price. It’s not even “probably” the price. Why advertising an item at one price and charging another isn’t lying, I don’t know — it sure smells like lying to me.
    -M.

  2. drsmith says:

    You still do the morning deals roundup??

  3. Paul D says:

    I’m a rebate whore, and have NEVER been stiffed on a rebate. I fill them out promptly, mail them, and always get the check within a few weeks.

    What’s the BFD?

  4. misskaz says:

    I just experienced a “Stables Easy Rebate” for the first time, and assuming I get my $10, it was awesome. The register automatically prints out a rebate receipt when you buy the qualifying item (in this case a PNY Technologies 1G flash drive for only $45, not including the $10 rebate!) You can either fill in the form on the receipt the old fashioned way, or just use some special codes on the receipt and go to their website. It took me about a minute and a half to complete the online process. No forms, no stamps, no nothing. It was awesome. Hopefully I’ll get my $10.

  5. misskaz says:

    Oops – Staples, not Stables!

  6. Hawkins says:

    I will never again consider rebates when making a purchase. Never, never, never.

    Back in November, I bought an LCD monitor from Office Depot. “$100 rebate!,” it said. Turned out there were three different rebate forms to fill out, two of which demanded the original UPC (hacked from the cardboard box).

    After four months of unpleasantness, I finally got the last of the three checks, for $50… which bounced. “ACCOUNT CLOSED,” read the cheerful red stamp on the check.

    So now I’m out another $10 in bank fees.

    Perhaps I should just return the monitor to Office Depot.

  7. misskaz says:

    I must have good rebate karma. I once got a $100 TiVo rebate even though I had thrown out the box and could not include the UPC code per the instructions. I figured what the heck, I’ll just send it in anyway and see what happens. Imagine my surprise when a $100 check showed up in the mail a few weeks later (it was one of the quickest rebate turnarounds too.)

    The only rebates I’ve not gotten back have been cell phone ones. I’ve been screwed over multiple times with those.

  8. AcidReign says:

    …..Sometimes they work, sometimes they don’t. I got stiffed on a $200 one by Microsoft. And $50 “free activation” by Bellsouth. Guess whose single-license office package is now installed on four systems… There are often ways to get revenge!