Conglomerist: What To Do With Rebates So You Don't Have To Redeem Them

Everybody loves rebates! Well, except when it comes to redeeming them. For those of you out there who have to deal with especially responsible consumers who always fill out the paperwork correctly (ugh!) here are a few suggestions that can increase “breakage” and make sure that your company doesn’t have to pay any more rebates than is necessary!

Say “Instant!” rebate, when its really a “mail-in” rebate.
By the time they’ve handed over their money it’ll be too late! Gotcha!

“We’ve mailed you the ‘reward letter,’ really! You must have missed it!” Make the process as complicated as possible! Don’t just hand someone a free television just because you owe them one. First, mail them a letter with a secret code on it. Then, tell them to go to a certain special website and enter the code. After that, tell them to enter their shipping address and they’ll get their TV. I know what you’re thinking: “We already know where they live, why not just send them the TV?” Because some of them will mess it up, dummy! The fewer TVs you have to send, the better it is for your bottom line.

Wait until the rebate expires before shipping the product. Why should rebates have expiration dates? So that you can help people miss them!

Make the rebate applications disappear! Careful: Don’t get sloppy. Fry’s rebate processor, Vastech, got caught dumping 1,300 unopened rebate applications. Whoops! We know you’re smarter than that!

And finally, just in case you’re feeling a little bad about any of these tactics….don’t. Remember: US News & World Report says it’s the lazy consumer’s fault when rebates don’t get redeemed.


Edit Your Comment

  1. Manji Kengo says:

    Now see…April O’Neil as one of the consumerists reporters is hilarious.

  2. renilyn says:


  3. morganlh85 says:

    teehee :)

  4. GreatCaesarsGhost says:

    Isn’t the whole point of April Fool’s Day to “fool” your mark?

    Here’s a thought: how about posting a normal-looking story, that says the RIAA has decided to embrace file sharing? Or the payday lenders are lowering interest? Or even so something simple, like AT&T apologizing for all the spying?

  5. Dead Wrestlers Society says:

    @GreatCaesarsGhost: Would you honestly believe any of those scenarios? I know I wouldn’t.

  6. OSURoss says:

    Who is writing this crap, Paula Poundstone? This is the kind of safe, boring, Morning-zoo humor that I never would have expected out of the Consumerist.

  7. mike says:

    I love it.

  8. esd2020 says:

    Reminds me of when T-Mobile told me that I voilated the rules and put two rebates in a single envelope, so the “automated mail machine” can’t handle it and it was “automatically shredded.”

    When I pointed out to a supervisor that the fine print said it was fine to include multiple requests in one envelope, my rebate was magically, instantly un-shredded!

    Rebates are great.

  9. emona says:

    Oh Chad Steelgate, why must it be this way?!

  10. whanghpo says:

    watch out for the loof lipra virus

  11. That70sHeidi says:

    @GreatCaesarsGhost: Once, I could see, sure, whatever, hahahahaha April Fools. But all day long, over and over again? What a waste of a day.

  12. Traveshamockery says:

    Hehehe! April O’neal!

  13. boandmichele says:

    you all sure whine a bunch.

    this is clearly showing all the ways that mail in rebates screw us, as the consumers. who cares how its worded, its somewhat cleverly written and gets the point across.

  14. Amelie says:

    You forgot some of these real requirements from when I used to do rebates:

    ~Rebate form must be handwritten. (It appears only fraudsters use address labels.

    ~Product must be purchased between 4/3/08 – 4/22/08, but the pads are on store shelves on several weeks before.

    ~Rebate must be postmarked by 3/30 to confuse you into thinking that you have until the end of the month.

    ~Products purchase can include one giant size or two medium size upcs or three small size upcs, but the clearing house rejects your rebate because you only sent in one – albeit correct upc.

    ~Rebate is rejected because the product you purchased had an older upc, even though the product is still being sold in stores and it’s use by date is in the future.

    ~Rebate is rejected because the can you bought had 10% more and hence a different upc than the regular can.

  15. harshmellow says:

    I’m convinced that the sole purpose of rebates is for the manufacturer to get names/addresses/phone numbers, etc. How much is it worth to them? You can bet it’s worth more than whatever they are giving you back.

    Oh, and I’m sure they leave it completely up to the rebate company as to how complex/impossible they make it for the consumers to get the rebate. I bet that’s part of the “bottom line” of the rebate company–10% fulfill rate=more money for the rebate company!! YAY! Rebates suck. (except for instant rebates!)

  16. digitalgimpus says:

    The purpose of rebates is to offer a lower price (sales == advertising) without having to pay out. They know nearly half will never even submit.

    They also get consumer data, and depending how you interpret the telemarketing laws, they can now contact you, since you had a “relationship” with them.

    That said, I always get my rebates. Figure I’m going to cost them. Just stay clear of the obvious mistakes:
    – Never buy something without having the rebate details and form. Especially online. Never ever. If you can’t find it, don’t buy it. Read it, see when the real expiration is. Read the details. Make sure your cool with it.
    – Always make copies before you mail.
    – Expect to make a phone call. May need to fax those copies you made… That’s always shut them up with “you didn’t do it correctly”. All of a sudden “oh, sorry, there’s a computer glitch”.

  17. Mr_Human says:

    Guess I’m just lucky. I’ve submitted quite a number of rebate forms over the years, and have always gotten a check.

  18. forgottenpassword says:

    what I ;love is when it takes 2-3 years to get my rebate or freebie. Yes SONY I am talking about you!!!

  19. kilrathi says:

    I have some advice for the people that don’t like the April Fool’s day articles.

    GTFO until April 2nd.


  20. valarmorghulis says:

    UH-OH Conglomerist….that looks an awwwweful lot likt the T-Mobile font. Gizmodo got sued for using thier *color.* Better find some kneepads and start working on those talents of oral Tuetonic titillation if they find out.

  21. valarmorghulis says:

    @valarmorghulis: ENGADGET you idiot!!!