Comments Off on The hassle with Rebates – rant

::: Grrrr….Rebates :::

As somebody who spends ungodly amounts of cash on technology I frequently go to sites like NewEgg.com for my purchases. Those guys tend to have the best pricing and they usually have whatever I need, be it hard drives, memory, enclosures, batteries,…whatever.

The one thing that bugs me to no end is this rebate crap. If you’ve never bought anything with a rebate attached it works like this: you buy something at full price, then once you receive the item you fill out some papers, and usually jump through other hoops like cutting out the retail code from the item’s packaging, and send that all in to a rebate processor. That processor then is supposed to send you a check as a rebate. The amounts vary.

Sounds simple but the reality is that rebates are such a hassle (and with the bankruptcy of one of the largest rebate processor companies, CPG/RebateStatus.com it’s even worse now) that I often skip the whole process and just don’t get the rebate.

Part of what I do is to give equipment and gear recommendations to my clients. If they need new computers, servers, cameras, software, or really anything tech related I thoroughly research what’s best for them, and how to get it as cost effectively as possible. But rebates are so bad I don’t consider them in my pricing research: say a $100 item comes with a $20 rebate attached I don’t tell my clients it only costs $80 because in my experience they won’t go through the whole paperwork hassle, and even if they do, chances are they’ll never see the rebate check.

::: Rebates often don’t make financial sense :::

Usually unless you are either not making any money or the rebate amount is very large, there is little financial sense in spending a lot of time and energy on the rebate thing.

It’s simple math: if you average out your income to be, say, $25 an hour then it doesn’t make sense to spend an hour to put together the rebate forms, UPC codes, hunting for serial numbers, and so forth if the rebate is just $10. Makes sense?

Case in point:  I purchased two packs of Patriot DDR3 memory and a Western Digital Velociraptor hard drive through Newegg. Prices were decent and both items had rebates attached. Normally I don’t care but this time around I wanted to see if the whole rebate process nightmare had improved.

::: Rebates are a good idea, but… :::

I buy this type of stuff a lot throughout the year – if rebates actually worked then I’d be saving quite a bit in some cases. It might just be worth it. So here’s hopin’, right?

No.

I printed order details, cut UPC codes, printed and filled out rebate forms, hunted down serial numbers, and did anything else they wanted. Since I’ve been 100% digital and virtual for many years now, I have to search hard for actual envelopes and stamps.

I made sure to do all that right after receiving the items because as usual there is only a very narrow time frame in which you can get your rebate. Send in your papers too late and you get nothing.

It’s a hassle but for experiment sake I’ll do it.

About three weeks after sending in the rebate to Patriot’s rebate processor firm I received a notice from them claiming my purchase didn’t fall within their accepted time frame. Of course that’s bullshit since I double check those things.

I’m not going to spend the time and energy to argue with them over a twenty dollar rebate.  And that’s probably what they’re counting on. A couple of thousand folks like me who just let it go adds up to a nice little amount for them.

And now Western Digital claims I left out the Serial Number on their rebate form. Again, the damn serial number is on there. I do make copies of everything and keep those filed away, as you’re supposed to. It’s not a secret that rebate processors like to..uh…lose…paperwork. But seriously – why is this such a damn hassle?

::: A game not worth playing :::

So no I’m back to skipping rebate offers – I wait until the item becomes available at a lower price without rebate or just purchase at full price. Yes, I hate rebates that much.

Note: the rebate thing is bad and that doesn’t change regardless of where you buy your stuff. I use Newegg as an example because that’s where I buy a lot of my stuff. Newegg doesn’t have any control over the rebate process. If you have problems with getting your rebates you’ll need to contact the manufacturer of the product that offers the rebate, as well as the rebate processing company. Don’t bug Newegg or whatever other retailer you buy from about this.