Are Postcard-Sized Rebate Checks A Conspiracy?

So you’ve fought the mighty rebaterus and won, prying your hard-won mail-in rebate money from its claws. If your rebate isn’t in the form of a prepaid debit card, it’s probably a postcard-sized check—cheap to mail, simple, easy. For the rebate fulfillment company. For the consumer depositing checks via ATM as banks cut back on their hours, it’s not so simple or easy.

Reader Chris writes:

I’ve noticed that several times, I’ve received checks from mail-in rebate offers that refuse to scan in the newer check-scanning ATMs that my bank (Bank of America) has deployed, replacing envelope-deposit ATMs, and that I’m sure other large banks have put into service as well.

These are the checks that are mailed outside of envelopes, like postcards – the check is printed along with your mailing address, postage info, etc. Apparently the thickness of the card stock causes the check to get rejected outright by every check-scanning ATM I’ve tried them on. And if it does make it to the “scan” stage, the ATM then rejects it as unreadable.

Obviously, this means that in order to deposit the rebate check, I now have to visit an actual bank branch – not a big deal for me, but I’m sure that this extra hurdle for enough people that it edges the “uncollected” percentage up a couple points, which is good news for everyone except the customer. While this appears completely coincidental – the postcard-style check is cheaper to mail than a traditional paper check – I can certainly see the rebate processors not rushing to fix this, um, “fringe benefit” of the format.

Probably not a consiracy, but definitely an inconvenience.

(Photo: Gamma-Ray Productions)