Mail-In Rebates

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Mail-In Rebates

Post by whoatethepies » Fri Jun 02, 2006 11:28 am

I've been researching a new system for a while now and keep noticing many American's going on about mail-in rebates. Whats the deal with these? Is it something to do with taxes? We don't have them over here in the UK (unless I've been missing something!). Obviously theres a reason they don't just have a lower price to start with...

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Post by mathias » Fri Jun 02, 2006 11:35 am

The main point of them is that most people will be too lazy to send them in.

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Post by IsaacKuo » Fri Jun 02, 2006 11:35 am

It's a pain to deal with, so many people won't bother to do the mail-in rebate or will make mistakes in following the rebate instructions. Thus, they can make money off of lazy/stupid Americans.

Also, for those who do do the mail-in rebate correctly, it takes months for the rebate to get processed--this essentially amounts to an interest free loan so they can make money from that also. They can also to some extent get away with outright fraud by simply not following through on the promised rebates.

In terms of taxes, mail-in rebates are annoying because sales taxes are calculated based on the pre-rebate price.

Essentially, mail-in rebates are an annoying wasteful form of promotion. At least this form of promotion usually has some substance behind it, as opposed to outright bait-and-switch fraud.

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Post by justblair » Fri Jun 02, 2006 11:51 am

These have already been done in the UK. Citroen used them in promotions.

I also used to sell PC warranties with the assurance... Dont use it and get a full refund if you dont use it.

As someone has posted already, they rely on the fact that most people will have discarded the paperwork or will just plain forget to return it in the allotted 30 days some time in the future.

And then there is the fraud angle. In the UK a consumer advice program "Watchdog" has exposed many of these schemes as straight forward fraudulant. Typical tag lines are... We were overwhelmed by the resonse from customers, or we have been experiancing postal delivery problems blah blah blah.

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Post by HueyCobra » Fri Jun 09, 2006 5:10 am

About three years ago I got $20 off a $75 MX500 optical mouse through a Logitech promotion. I experienced no difficulty affixing a stamp to an envelope to send away for the rebate, and the cheque arrived in 2-3 weeks.

That's been my only experience but it was a very good one. If Logitech did it again I'd upgrade to the G5 laser mouse with little hesitation.

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Post by Denorios » Fri Jun 09, 2006 6:37 am

Annoying and wasteful rebates may be, but the logic for the seller is undisputable. I suspect that sheer consumer inertia would allow a seller to realise considerable benefit even if they conducted the rebate perfectly honestly. That being the case, since this is not a prima facie case of fraud, I do wonder why it isn't more common in the UK. I've encountered it occasionally on mobile phone contracts, but never with electronic or computer equipment.

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Post by HueyCobra » Fri Jun 09, 2006 4:18 pm

Denorios wrote:Annoying and wasteful rebates may be,
Why and for whom are they annoying and wasteful? I can't see a downside to the way in which I saved over 25% through my rebate. And I presume it didn't cause Logitech any consternation either.

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Post by elec999 » Fri Jun 09, 2006 7:04 pm

Three main reasons I can think off.
They attract you to buy the product since it looks cheaper
You cannot return the product, since the upc number is been cut off the box.
And last one, most people forget to send in the mail in rebate forms.
I myself honestly dislike mail in rebates, they take for ever to get the money back.

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Post by ~El~Jefe~ » Fri Jun 09, 2006 9:24 pm

Rebates are done as follows:

prices are raised for the rebate. This might be hidden. The manufacturer drops the price, the customer doesnt know, the price remains at retail at the store. The rebate comes out now to NOT sell the item, but to rake in more cash if someone buys it.

most stores in New York raise prices before a rebate is given.

All rebates no matter what the industry is have a 30% success rate. that means 70% of them do not get paid out.

When you see a rebate for an item, expect that it means you will not get the money for it and just consider it a chance to gamble with 1:3 odds.

rebates have NOTHING to do with distributor - retailer deals, or manufacturer to consumer deals. They are designed to make the retailer push a product to get the same or more money from the customer. Rebates are not designed to increase retail sales from a retail perspective. manufacturer, yes, but most rebates arent done by manufacturer. they SAY they are, but definitely are not handled by them in any fashion, nor is money lost by them. the Distributor acts as the only voice and advocate for the manufacturer and marks up or down at whim. A distributor normally starts to make rebates available if there is a large, cheap buyout of stock and they want to either A) help out their buying group B) make a hidden secret profit C) shovel themselves out of a hole that is about to be made by holding discontinued products.

just like the Patriot ram huge rebate thing the past month. thats all for DDR2 pre-unloading as prices fell and so they get to rake customers over the coals for even more (not cut their loses, companies dont do that, they only make more money or the same money)

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Post by MikeK » Sat Jun 10, 2006 7:12 pm

an example from
I received the Non-compliance letter today from RadioShack saying the same thing
"We appreciate your purchase, but unfortunately your submission for the RadioShack rebate offer was declined for the following reason(s):
*Limit one rebate per person, per household"

I then called the number at the bottom and they answered rather quickly and said that somebody keyed something wrong and to disregard the Non-compliance letter. Also the website showing the error was a mistake. He said I will get my check within 4 weeks, by May 19th at the latest.

So everyone, if it shows rebate denied on the website or you got a rejection letter, it is probably a mistake.

This kind of makes me wonder if they feigned the mistake to see if I'd accept it or actually call... probably not but with all the trouble I've had getting my rebates, who knows. You'd better call too, just in case.
It's actually pretty accepted that rebate companies do that on purpose, just hoping most people won't bother to call in and correct the problem. I'm sure it reduces the amount they have to pay out significantly, simply because people don't know, don't have time, or don't want to bother with the rebates anymore. With all my experiences with rebates, this is exact thing has happened WAY too many times for me to believe it isn't intentional, and that's the general feeling of most of us who frequently deal with rebates. That said, I always call and correct their mistakes and have only had 1 rebate not come back out of hundreds. Surprisingly, after reading the posts on this thread, the rebates I sent out for this deal were both approved without a hitch and have already been accepted. Now to wait 8-10 weeks to received the checks.

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Post by whoatethepies » Sun Jun 11, 2006 2:28 am

After reading all this I'm glad we don't have rebates over here! Shops in the UK seem to have the common decency to just have a 'Sale' instead of bothering with all this faff... Surprised it isn't more tightly regulated, as the way they implement it seems like a bit of a con.

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Post by fastturtle » Sun Jun 11, 2006 6:25 am

I recently saw and voted in a poll on Newegg's website asking about rebates. So far the results were overwhelming against increasing the numbers offered. When I voted Results where in excess of 65% against while those in favor where less then 35%.

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Post by jb_ » Sun Jun 11, 2006 7:26 am

HueyCobra wrote:About three years ago I got $20 off a $75 MX500 optical mouse through a Logitech promotion. I experienced no difficulty affixing a stamp to an envelope to send away for the rebate, and the cheque arrived in 2-3 weeks.
The difference in your situation is that in Australia we have decent consumer protection regulations. Any company that tried dodgy shit like withholding promised rebates would get slammed.

The only rebate I've submitted was a $200 rebate for buying an Apple laptop and iPod together (Apple usually does these for education purchases at the start of the university year). They said 6-8 weeks, but it arrived in 10. The street name was misspelt, but I don't know if it was a genuine error or if it was an attempt to "lose" the rebate in the post.

Then again, it was a money order, not a cheque, so it still would've cost them even if it had gotten lost.
Last edited by jb_ on Sun Jun 11, 2006 8:26 am, edited 2 times in total.

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Post by BillyBuerger » Sun Jun 11, 2006 8:19 am

I personally avoid rebates when I can. But if I find the same product for about the same price but one with a rebate, I'll take it. If I get the rebate, I got a better price. If not, I didn't lose anything.

I've had mostly good luck with rebates. For instance, when I bought my laptop from Best Buy, I got a $100 rebate with it. As I was moving in about a month, I put my new address on the rebate. When we moved, it was waiting in the mailbox for me. But then I bought a printer from TigerDirect a few month ago with a $30 rebate. I forgot to sign it and it got rejected. I probably could have called them about it and gotten it resolved. But I fell into the fustration and just let it go. As they wanted.

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Post by MikeK » Sun Jun 11, 2006 3:56 pm

LOL there you go :)

You have to make copies of everything as well since they will insist you forgot something.

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Post by Steep » Fri May 18, 2007 7:06 am

I will not buy a product that has a mail-in-rebate associated with it. Ever.

I have had numerous instances of mail-in-rebates never showing up, and I refuse to perpetuate the borderline fraudulent practice.

On the store-retail level, the whole concept is absurd. I'm in the store, I'm RIGHT THERE, why do I have to go home and send you a piece of mail? If you want my contact information, then let me fill out the "rebate" information right there in the store and get the discount at the time of purchase.

Mail-in-rebate is a short-sited concept that attempts to increase profits, but the damage it does to the reputability of the practicing companies is harder for such pencil pushers to quantify.
Last edited by Steep on Fri May 18, 2007 7:31 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by mr. poopyhead » Fri May 18, 2007 7:29 am

mathias wrote:The main point of them is that most people will be too lazy to send them in.
[raises hand] :oops:

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Post by Max Slowik » Fri May 18, 2007 9:25 am

The practice of rebates is under a lot of scrutiny by the SEC (Securities Exchange Commission) and several very large firms (like Best Buy) have been fined back-breakingly large amounts as punitive damages for failure to pay; it's sort of anti-American to rely on Federal watchdog agencies. Yeah, you might think it sucks but we only pay 27% taxes* and our old people don't die off in the tens of thousands when there's a heatwave.

(How GB can ever have a heatwave is beyond me ;) )

Jabs aside, it's a pretty smart thing, even if everyone follows through on their part:

I still avoid rebates like the plague, as it were.

*Federally: ... state.html

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