In the past year, I've bought two products that offered a "rebate". After waiting about five months to get back the first one, I called the company up and they told me (surprise, surprise) that my rebate had just gone out that day. At the time I didn't think too much of it. Now, I'm about 3 months in on the second product I bought with a rebate, and I get the feeling I may have to go through the same process to actually get the money. What a coincidence it will be when I call and they've just sent out the check. The Mercury News is reprinting a NY Times article talking about how all the various rebate programs work by trying to decrease redemption rates. It's basically a big scam by manufacturers. They get people to buy in at the low prices. Then, many people never send in the rebate forms (I've been guilty of this too), or find it nearly impossible to comply with the weird rebate rules. The companies that process the rebates can reject the claims for just about any reason - and often do without telling you at all. In the end, this process is angering customers. I know that I'm becoming increasingly skeptical on rebates after these latest experiences. One thing the article suggests, is that if you see a rebate offer from one retailer, go to a different retailer and see if they'll match the after-rebate price on the spot. Many will do so. It's a good way to get the same price without the hassle.
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