Saturday, May 17, 2008

Check's in the Mail

What is the deal with mail-in rebates? Every camera, computer, electronic device, and accessory is marketed with the promise of a mail-in rebate. I hate them. They look good on the surface, but once you have taken the bait and had the experience, you know it wasn't worth the effort. Why not just take the rebate off the price of the item to begin with? I am of the opinion goods are overpriced by whatever rebate is offered. This goes for anything marketed with a rebate. New vechicles are another product offering rebates right off the bat. I have determined not to buy any of these products. I will accept an instant in store rebate, but I'm no longer convinced I'm getting any kind of a bargain. If you have done the rebate exercise lately, you know that the fine print is important. You must collect certain things before you leave the store. The rules usually state you must have an original receipt. This usually requires asking the clerk to print off several extra copies. These receipts are printed with ink that fades after you get them to your car, so you should put your rebate package together in the store before you leave. You are also required to get specific bar code information off the packaging to be included with your request. I would say on any given package there are at least ten different bar codes. On larger purchases they are printed on the outside crate material and must be removed with a reciprocating saw. Once you have read and re-read the instructions and gathered all the necessary proof of purchase, then you must find an envelope of sufficient size and strength to carry this bundle. Postage at today's rates will probably be near ten dollars. Note here, you are not sending this to the manufacturer, but to some rebate holding facility located in Douglas, Arizona. After waiting for about six weeks you may receive notification that the original receipt you sent faded in transit and is no longer readable and the entire package must be replicated and sent again. If all goes well, you should receive your rebate in about six months. If you are like me, you probably forgot you sent it in and when the check finally arrives, you are left to wonder who sent this to you. You are overjoyed until you remember it is your money in the first place, and it has been held in Douglas, Arizona for six months and sent back to you. When you subtract postage, handling, and long distance phone calls inquiring about the status of your rebate, you realize the net amount has shrunk. Companies bank on the percentages. People get the item and when they get home realize they do not have the proper proof to send off for the rebate. The majority will give up and eat the rebate rather than go back to the store for proof. This means the company keeps most of the money it has over-charged in the first place. For those determined souls who complete the process, they keep the cash long enough to earn interest on it and send it (your money) back to you. I say charge what it's worth and let that be it.
When you receive your check, you should go back to the store and purchase the extended warranty on whatever you bought. It has probably been around nine months since you bought it and if everything is on schedule it will start giving you problems the day after your rebate arrives.

It is impossible to defeat an ignorant man in argument. - William G. McAdoo