Redeem Rebates With Hard Work And Luck

Washington Attorney General Rob McKenna is reminding consumers to read the fine print on rebate offers before giddily pouncing on a seemingly hot deal. We are rebate skeptics; they are nice when they work, but should never be a deciding factor when weighing a purchase. The Attorney General has a few tips to help improve your chances of successfully redeeming a rebate:

  • Read the offer carefully before you buy.
  • Fill out paperwork promptly.
  • Enclose all required documentation.
  • Make copies of all paperwork to be mailed, including forms, receipts, and UPC codes. You will need this should anything go wrong.
  • Consider certified mail and request a return receipt as proof the company received your request.
  • Watch out for so-called “delayed” rebates offered in connection with a variety of purchases and services including cars. These jumbo cash-back offers are too good to be true for the majority of people.
  • Lastly, remember that mail-in rebates typically take up to 12 weeks to arrive, so budget accordingly. If a timely refund is a concern to keep your account in balance, it may be wiser to comparison shop for a lower-priced item.

Also consider notarizing your receipts, and don’t forget to closely check your mailbox for a rebate check disguised as junk mail after eight to twelve weeks – the rebate’s spin on the Russian winter. If your check fails to arrive, you are in good company: the rebate companies use a patented system for scuttling rebate requests that even baffles the Wall Street Journal.

Read the fine print on rebate offers [All Consuming]
(Photo: taiyofj)

Comments

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  1. Snarkysnake says:

    An idea whose time has come and gone. These things are just a de facto price increase because the greedy corporate crap-sacks that come up with them know :

    1)A LOT of customers will lose the paperwork between the purchase and the actual sending in for the rebate,

    2)They will reject a percentage of them anyway because they “didn’t have the required documentation”,

    3)They have placed other,even more restrictive terms and conditions on their use,

    4)If they decide to just tell you to piss up a rope,what can you really do ?

    I don’t know about the rest of you,but I ALWAYS pass up the rebate deals at CC and BB and the like and opt for the less expensive item.Since business is so damn concerned about the fucking here and now,so am I.I don’t want to wait weeks and weeks to (maybe) get the money back from them to make the item a deal.Screw them. If the thing is worth $140 before and after the rebate,give me the money NOW,not when you get around to it.Truly a suckers game…

  2. ShadowFalls says:

    I just hate rebates. I would like if retailers stopped them completely, they hurt the customer only. Not only do you have to wait for the money back, you might never actually see it. Also, you have to pay tax on the original high price.

  3. speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

    I don’t do rebates. I don’t even buy things that offer a rebate. I look for something that offers an honest deal and I buy that instead.

  4. scampy says:

    Most stores still have rebates because the rebates are paid by the manufacturer, NOT the retailer. You cant expect a retailer to eat $40 on every hard drive sold just because the manufacturer is offering a rebate. They could however not even advertise that there is one available, but then youd get just as mad and there would be 10 posts on the Consumerist about how some company is trying to steal money by not telling customers about rebates. I have bought many things on rebates and got back probably 99% of them. Most people who are rejected are because they didnt follow specific instructions. They send a photocopy of the UPC instead of the original because they dont want to cut the box (especially on DVD movies) or they send a copy of the receipt instead of the original when requested etc… The reason they require all this crap is because of scammers who wouldnt even buy the item and send in the paperwork with copies of someone elses UPC etc.. I suggest you just dont buy anything with a rebate if you arent willing to do all the extra work to get it back.

  5. Taed says:

    I have done perhaps 100 rebates over the last 20 years, and have received the money for ALL of them. My secret? Just follow the directions, do it promptly, and keep a copy of what you send in.

    I have had only two problems in all that time. The first one was when the company went out of business, but the store made good on the rebate (at the time, that was not required by California law). The second one was when who-knows-what went wrong, but I just called up the company and they promptly sent out a check.

    So, personally, I don’t mind rebates at all considering the money that I save by using them.

    If the rebate redemption rate is somewhere around 50%, then the choice would be between saving X dollars without a rebate or twice as much with a rebate. I’d much rather go with the rebate for the extra savings (assuming the savings is more than a few dollars).

  6. coopjust says:

    A lot of rebate companies are sleazy (I HATE Parago- Kingston & eVGA rebates suck). Some are slow but honest (Antec, Fujitsu & Logitech have a 12 week rebate processor that has never denied me a properly filled rebate form).

    Some of this stuff is obvious, but it can be great to complain to the BBB against the rebate house and/or the company- my eVGA rebate was authorized the day after my BBB complaint was made.

    If you do some stuff to show that you’re serious, you usually have better luck (informal obesrvation of my own rebates). I’ve had a lot of success using the typewriter tool of Adobe Acrobat to fill out the form and MS Word to make the envelope with delivery point barcode. A reciept with the product in question circled with a wide red sharpie, and a larger then necessary cutout of the UPC so it can’t be dropped out of the envelope. Scan it all, take a picture with my digital camera, send it out.

  7. speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

    @scampy: No, I’m not willing to do “the extra work.” I already worked hard enough to make the money to buy the damned thing. My time is worth money, and by the time I jump through all their stupid hoops and wait a month or two for the check that I then have to go deposit and wait to clear, it’s just too much hassle.

  8. dirtymoney says:

    I wonder if the people operating the rebates are overworked & backlogged? A sony rebate took almost two years for sony to process & cut me a check. When I recieved it in the mail, I first had no idea what it was from (I had forgotten about the rebate), but realized soon after what it was.

    I typically will not buy an item because of a drop in price due to a “mail in” rebate. I just dont trust them. “In store” rebates are completely different.

  9. TechnoDestructo says:

    I’ve got a video card coming in the next few days with a rebate…but it was still the cheapest thing in that class without it, and the site didn’t even say anything about a rebate until I added it to the cart, so if I get it, fine, if not, I still got a deal.

    Generally though, if it has a mail-in rebate, even if it IS a deal before rebate, I’ll skip it…fuckin’ rebates.

  10. iamme99 says:

    I file for all rebates, follow up on them regularly and of course, keep all paperwork. I have never lost out on a rebate I filed.

    I also look through the coupons in the Sunday paper. If I need something and there is a coupon, I will use it.

    I like free money.

  11. Snakeophelia says:

    T-Mobile sent me a little memory chip instead of the $50 I was expecting. And yes, my form was filled out correctly. Gee, thanks guys.

  12. DadCooks says:

    The newest twist to rebates is they do not send you a check, they send you a “cash card” and 6-pages of “conditions”.

    I got one of these from Symantec.

    It was a PITA to use. It said “debit card” on it, but buried in the 6-pages of conditons was the instructions to tell the cashier to run it as a “credit card”.

    You can imagine how much fun it was trying to convince the less bright clerks to do it as a credit card (“but sir, it says it is a debit card”). My favorite barista at Barnes & Noble is smart enough to know about these weird cards, so I drank my $30.00 “rebate” over a couple of weeks.

    Now I read the fine print and do not buy anything with a rebate that says they are going to send me a cash card.

  13. Mr. Gunn says:

    To reemphasive coopjust‘s point, different rebate processors have different reputations. eVGA’s processor is notoriously bad, for example.

  14. speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

    Can I say it once ore for those of you who don’t get it? I do not need to work, spend extra time, or “show I’m serious” to obtain a discount that the manufacturer or retailers should be offering me, the consumer, as an incentive to get me to buy their product. Participating in their ridiculous rebate obstacle course just shows them how willing we are to kiss their asses.

  15. socalrob of the 24 and a half century says:

    I’ve only had 1 company stiff me on rebates, and it was on 2 rebates. I bought an Ultra 600 watt PSU and an Ultra PC case at Fry’s Electronics. They had a rebate through some company called onrebate.com .

    Fry’s, like many stores, gives you rebate reciepts with all the information on them required to get a rebate. No other company has ever given me issues with this. onrebate.com however has a problem with this and refused the rebates on both of my Ultra purchases. I sent in everything and had photocopies of everything but they said I did not send in an original reciept.

    When I read the fine print on their rebate form and their website, it says that onrebate.com keeps any rebate not done correctly. So these guys just got 80 bucks out of me, which was 40 on each of the items I purchased.

    I no longer purchase any Ultra products nor any other product that uses onrebate.com no matter how good of a deal the rebate is. Ultra itself makes decent products, but they associate themselves with scam artists which makes their business look bad.

  16. RandomHookup says:

    @speedwell: Okay, we get it. You don’t like to do rebates. Others don’t mind it so much.

  17. DallasDMD says:

    @DadCooks: There is no distinction between the two except for the end-user. You can’t run something as a ‘debit card’. It gets processed the same way. Debit just means there is cash in an account somewhere that the card draws off of.

  18. RobUsdin says:

    Best advice I ever saw on rebates was to use some self-control and do the rebate before you do anything with the product. For techies who want to play with the product the minute they get home, this can be hard – but it also assures you that it gets done right away and no paperwork is lost in the package opening shuffle.

    Do the rebate before you do anything else , then use the product for a few days, then send the rebate after you know you don’t need to return product.

    –*Rob

  19. SpdRacer says:

    Rebates work for some items, I just recently refilled my contact lense script, and paid about $120 for the lenses, with a $60 dollar rebate, that makes the cost of the exam plus the lenses less than 100$ total.

  20. Rusted says:

    @speedwell: Agree on that. Rebates almost as bad as bait and switch.