Maximize your rebates  If you haven’t completely given up on rebates as a boondoggle from retailers that know you probably won’t jump through all of the hoops to redeem them, Consumer Reports has some tips on how to actually get paid. One that we hadn’t thought of: If the rebate form is available online, print it immediately after buying the product. The form might be removed from the Web site after a promotional period. [Consumer Reports]


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  1. GenerousHelpingOf_GitEmSteveDave says:

    I just got my Black Friday rebate check from Circuit City. It did take help from a fellow Consumerist Reader and contacting the head of the rebate company, but it worked!

  2. DrRonster says:

    Print out the rebate form, fill it out. Print out the reciept. Print label for mailing with barcode for USPS. Place all in envelope and wait for UPC to arrive.
    Works for me. Hate that Worldwide Rebates crap as well as others where you have to file online and then send all the same stuff in. And no shopping at CompUSA, Circuit, and their parent Tiger Direct.
    Also if you get a card rejecting a rebate, call the number on the card but do not use any keys when prompted, youll get thru to the right people fairly quick. And YELL if you need to, those are the ones that authorize rebates and they hate to deal with me.

  3. farker says:

    ALWAYS keep copies of your rebate materials! I had a rebate rejected because I sent in the receipt marked ‘Rebate Receipt’ from Fry’s.

    The manufacturer (K-World, stay away, their products are crap) said they rejected my rebate because the ‘rebate receipt’ doesn’t show the price paid. Apparently I was supposed to send in the receipt marked ‘Original Receipt’ instead…who knew!

    Anyways, I took all of my copies back into Fry’s, talked to a manager, and she said she’d get back to me. About 2 or 3 weeks later, a check from Fry’s corporate office arrived in the mail.

    Moral of the story…always keep your receipts! And Fry’s has awesome customer service, if you ask them for help.

  4. golddog says:

    Yeah I get that the whole point is for me to forget to mail the stuff in or F up the prep, but can we PLEASE stop with the mail in rebates already, manufacturers? I have a decent track record at getting paid, but more than a few times I’ve had to bust out a PDF scan to resubmit “lost” claims. I’ll go out of my way to buy a product with an “instant” rebate over a mail in.

  5. FrugalFreak says:

    mark on rebate forms that you have copies saved. mark the forms you mail in as “copy 1 of 3” at the bottom on each page sent.

  6. themicah says:

    Rather than physically printing things out (I’m prone to lose stuff in meatspace), I just “print” to PDF the receipt and rebate form and save them in the “rebates” folder on my hard drive. PDF printing is built into the Mac OS, and is easily installed on PCs using PDFCreator or any number of other similar free utilities.

    Then when the item comes, I can print out the receipt and form and mail it off with the UPC right away.

    I probably buy 5-10 products a year with rebates and have NEVER failed to get my money, but I scan copies of everything into my rebates folder just to be safe.

  7. Murph1908 says:

    I avoid buying items with mail in rebates.

    But when I do go down that road, I make copies and set reminders in my work calendar for when I should expect it.

    My experience that really cheezed me off is when I bought memory to upgrade my computer. Of course, 2 sticks are needed. Rebate was limited to one per household, so I was ineligible to get the rebate on both sticks.

    I returned the memory, and bought a different brand.

  8. Hank Scorpio says:

    Say what you will about Apple, but they’re one company that knows how to do rebates. When I bought my new iMac a couple months ago, it came with a rebate if you bought a printer with it. After the order completed and shipped, I just logged on to their website, submitted the rebate request and had it within a week. No pain, no forms to fill out, no “gotcha!” because you didn’t submit everything exactly according to some esoteric rules. Nope. Just log in and claim your rebate.

    Actually, come to think of it, my rebate for switching my DSL to AT&T was just as easy. I didn’t even know there was a rebate, but I got a thing in the mail that said to log into their rewards website. All I had to do was put in the phone number that my account was associated with, claim the rebates, and that was it. Again, I had two checks from AT&T within a week.

    I think if AT&T, of all companies can make rebates that easy, there’s really no excuse for these other companies.

  9. HasPonies!Envy_GitEmSteveDave says:

    One trick I use to make sure I get a rebate back is to:
    A. take a photo of the rebate form, the receipt, the UPC, and the addressed envelope.
    B. Send that picture/scan to yourself in an email so you have a time/date stamp.
    C. Goto the Post Office, and buy postage(not a stamp) for the envelope. In my PO, the receipt has the zip code of whatever you bought postage for, so you can “prove” you mailed an envelope to the zip code the rebate was for, w/o having to pay for certified.
    D. If you rebate is declined, immediately ask who you can forward the dated copy of all the rebate info to to get it reviewed. I did this for an $80 rebate on a webcam, and as soon as I said that, the lady approved the rebate.

  10. oneandone says:

    I’ve been trying to redeem a rebate since September. Burns me up. It’s just $20 (which is still a significant bit of money), but at this point it’s about the principle. Keeping records of calls & reminders at work (like Murph above mentioned) has been very helpful.

    I’ve resubmitted the thing 3 times, but it’s only this last few weeks that things have gotten really ridiculous. It turns out the Motorola used the Worldwide Rebates or one of the other failed rebate processors, and even though Motorola decided to pick up the rebate, there was no information transfer. No record of the claim and no clear number or address for anyone who could redeem it. Every time I get information and confirm it with someone, 2 weeks later (sometimes just 2 days later) everything has changed and there’s no record of anything.

    The absolutely most annoying part of it is that they say there is no email address or fax number to send things to. Mail only – and wait 4 weeks each time for things to get ‘processed’. Next time I have to mail stuff in, I’m going to use SteveDave’s suggestion.


    • oneandone says:

      @oneandone: I’m also going to follow some of the CR article advice and send a complaint to the FTC. Even though it seems slightly silly to do it over $20. But there is a principle involved, and I’m stubborn.