Here's a nice story that combines two things people around here tend not to like: annoying rebates that never get paid and ridiculous patents. We've all heard stories about the difficulty in actually getting your money from certain rebate programs. In fact, the FTC has had to crack down on companies more than once over the failure to pay out rebates. However, the latest, as pointed out by Good Morning Silicon Valley is a just-granted patent on a system for managing a rebate program. Perhaps there could be some innovative ways to manage a rebate program, though it's questionable if that really deserves a patent. But, what's much more interesting, as GMSV points out, as you read the patent, you realize what they're really patenting is a way to make sure those who run a rebate program can more efficiently make sure people don't get paid. The patent discusses this pretty frankly, explaining that the goal of any rebate program is to "reduce the number of successful rebate claimants" by "requiring post-purchase activities." Any time someone buys a rebate-eligible offering, but fails to get the money, that's considered "breakage." This patent, then, is designed to provide "a more consumer friendly method for processing rebates that maintains a breakage rate." In other words, a more efficient process for making sure you don't get paid. In fact, the patent later highlights that their system, while being more customer friendly, "retains hurdles sufficient to maintain breakage." Sounds just great.
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