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Computer Rebates Not As Sinister As You Think

Zonk posted more than 8 years ago | from the unless-the-rebate-is-for-a-shark-laser dept.

The Almighty Buck 468

Lam1969 writes "Robert Mitchell dug up some details about rebates after getting up at 5 a.m. to get a free (with rebates) computer bundle at Circuit City. He had to deal with five separate mail-in rebates to get his money back, and decided to ask an expert about whether rebate come-ons are some sort of attempt to trick consumers. The reply: 'The big lie that the media and attorneys general want you to believe is that all the retailers and manufacturers are crooked and the reason [they] do rebates is breakage, which is people not turning them in.' Furthermore, Mitchell reports that retailers are making the process easier, by printing rebate forms and receipt copies at the register, and letting people track rebates online. His conclusion: The trade-off of having to do a few hours of copying and envelope-stuffing is worth the price of a new computer, so stop whining -- 'suck it up and accept your rebate check like a man.'"

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gnaa (-1, Troll)

aigis (935493) | more than 8 years ago | (#14170283)

GNAA Mourns the Death of l0de and the l0de Radio Hour. GNAA Mourns the Death of l0de and the l0de Radio Hour. Impi - Political Correspondent, South Africa. Pentagon documents leaked to covert GNAA agents working for the CIA provided proof that a deliberate plot against renowned shock jock l0de was put into effect to eliminate him. The recent sacking of CIA director Tenant, who was used as a scapegoat, to cover up the great lie perpetrated by the pentagon, against the American people to justify the war against Iraq, prompted disgruntled CIA agents to leak the document. It was revealed that technology that was developed and refined from the research of alien artifacts from Area 51 was used to create Hurricane Katrina. Similar technology was used against Turkey and Iran when they displeased the Pentagon. Earthquakes were the preferred Weapon of Mass Destruction against those Sovereign states. Hurricane Katrina was then directed towards New Orleans in an attempt to assassinate l0de. The attempt failed. Defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld was believed to be infuriated at this failed attempt as he has been a target of LRH in the past. He ordered that all aid and military convoys be delayed for as long as possible so that Delta Strike Teams could be dispatched to New Orleans. Five Delta Force assassination squads were disguised as "Cracked up Gangsta Niggahs" and sent in to finish the job. The Pentagon underestimated the loyalty of the Negro Population in New Orleans. The once divided crack selling factions banded together in defense of l0de and decimated the Delta Force assassination squads. Pentagon moles informed l0de via Jap sponsored satellite phones that President Bush, on orders from his mother, Barbara Bush, instructed FEMA to delay relief aid to punish the Negro Population for their defense of l0de. l0de, dying of AIDS anyway, promptly committed suicide in a bid to save the remaining traumatized population. His death, thankfully, signifies the death of LRH, they both will be missed. About Area 51 Area 51 is a NOT SO Top Secret American Military Installation. Operation Karate Rain Urchin, which was created to assassinate l0de, was hatched and conceived here using weather manipulation technology which was retrieved from the Roswell crash site in 1947. Incidentally, Karate Rain Urchin is an anagram for Hurricane Katrina, coincidence? The GNAA does not think so. About l0de Radio Hour Dead. About l0de [] .

Nothing to see here... (0, Offtopic)

dch24 (904899) | more than 8 years ago | (#14170285)

...I for one welcome our new retail overlords.

They work (2)

XiticiX (712612) | more than 8 years ago | (#14170299)

I have never had a problem with mail-in rebates. Sure, they take a long time to get a refund, but it's worth it. I have received many free and discounted items this way. Especially for the xmas season.

Rebates Suck (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14170303)

  • If you purchase in an area with sales tax, you must pay tax on the pre-rebate price.
  • My experiences with rebates have been, shall we say, less than encouraging. I'm still waiting for the rebate from Best Buy for the WRT54G I bought about one year ago. Of course, since I had to send in original UPC codes etc, there's no way to restart the process.

Where does that tax go? (1)

grahamsz (150076) | more than 8 years ago | (#14170328)

Do circuit city really hand over the tax the the state, or do they cunningly assume you'll file the rebate and refrain from paying that portion of the tax.

Re:Rebates Suck (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14170407)

Oooh not only that, but if you mail in the rebate via USPS, you have to pay the postage too! Scamming bastards!!!

Re:Rebates Suck (4, Informative)

cflorio (604840) | more than 8 years ago | (#14170539)

Funny you mention that. I also bought a Linksys WRT54G (aka Cisco) with probably the same rebate you had. I waited months and finally got a response back - rebate denied. Apparently the form was not the correct form (I found this out by calling linksys when I got this). What the response actually said was no UPC code included. So, after waiting months, then having to make a phone call and waiting on the phone for a good 20 min plus being transfered 2-3 times, I finally got the rebate check about 3 weeks later. What this tells me is that most folks will not go to the trouble of calling, and that means Cisco wins.

Duh (1)

autopr0n (534291) | more than 8 years ago | (#14170306)

Does anyone really think they won't get their rebates? I suppose sometimes you might have problems (i.e. two different rebates both require original proof of purchase) The fact is their friggin' annoying. Who wants to deal with envelope stuffing, etc? They take advantage of people's laziness and it's irritating for people with a life.

Re:Duh (4, Interesting)

CheshireCatCO (185193) | more than 8 years ago | (#14170358)

Actually, I'm still waiting on three of my four rebates from CompUSA on a router I purchased. The first check arrived two or three months ago (the rebates went into the mail four months ago). I'm not saying that I won't get them, but let's just say I'm entertaining that possibility. Worse, I can't return the router without the reciept. Since the router was giving me no end to the troubles, that was also rather vexing.

When you get right down to it, FOUR rebates to mail in is ridiculous. The all went to the same building, as I recall, just to different PO boxes. There's no reason for that as far as I can see. Even if there is, I propose that the retailers ought to tell you when you'll be having to send in more than one rebate form (and how many, in that case).

Re:Duh (5, Informative)

Billly Gates (198444) | more than 8 years ago | (#14170395)

I used to work at staples and we purposely put products out with expired rebates or a rebate that expired in mere days before consumers could file them in.

Also I bought a video card that was defective at compusa and it was teh last one in stock. The same exact card was available at circuit city for $60 more. Even with the rebates teh price would only equal the exact one at compusa.

So in other words you are getting no value at all depending on the product with the rebates. This is also assuming that the rebates are not expired. So yes whinning should be appropriate and I believe Circuit City does this to make consumers think they are getting a better deal when they see "BIG SAVINGS" on the price tags of the shelves.

This made me a customer who no longer shops at circuit city as a result. I supposed I could shop at ..gulp.. worst buy even though they treat their employees like dirt and seem to be the walmart of the tech industry.

Re:Duh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14170607)

You insult highly trained English speaking Wal-Mart clerks everywhere, when you compare them to Best Buy moneys.

And by "highly trained English speaking Wal-Mart clerks", I mean both of them.

Re:Duh (2, Informative)

Austerity Empowers (669817) | more than 8 years ago | (#14170398)

You don't always get your check, sometimes they get held up due to "delays" or "problems with submission". It's a low percentage but high enough that I don't believe it's totally accidental. i.e. No one is telling employees "lose receipts", but they may arrange processes where it's easy to do so.

You have to go out of your way to track your receipts and follow up on them after the timeout period (usually 2 months later). You'll get your money, but I'd still refuse to buy based on rebate prices. I buy based on whoever has the best price without the rebate and don't go to Best Buy/Circuit City that seem to have bad prices unless you fill in all the rebates.

Re:Duh (1)

spxero (782496) | more than 8 years ago | (#14170456)

Some people [] don't seem to get their rebates. I've had bad experiences too, but mostly with the day after thanksgiving/christmas rebates. I heard there was a class action suit against Fry's- anyone have a link?

Other people [] don't turn them in at all. In this poll (however inaccurate) only 80% of people possibly turn in rebates. Even at that rate companies have incentives to sell items with rebates. Why not raise the price a little, offer a rebate, and make money off of the people that don't turn them in?

Re:Duh (2, Informative)

bizard (691544) | more than 8 years ago | (#14170478)

Yes. I have had rebates not honored. The best was a $50 rebate for FileMaker Pro which arrived as a check with a 2 week expiration. It arrived with one week left and by the time it got deposited at my bank (I had to mail it in to an online bank) it had expired. This also cost me processing fees.

Repeated attempts to get it sorted out simply resulted in FileMaker claiming that I couldn't get the rebate twice and then that they had no record of me applying for one. Finally they just told me the rebate had expired. Net result, -$15 in rebate (bank fees).

Rebates are bad (1)

typical (886006) | more than 8 years ago | (#14170503)

Does anyone really think they won't get their rebates?

Actually, this is true for at least some people: I was reading a study on rebates, and of the (large) test group, 30% of rebates were never recieved (at least as of six months after sending the rebate in).

However, I think that the real problem is, as you pointed out, that retailers attempt to benefit based on the fact that some people will not send the rebate in.

The point is that there is huge benefit to having clear and accurate information available to everyone. It makes it much easier for people to make correct buying decisions given their needs and values. There are essentially no drawbacks to having accurate information on what you are purchasing available. As a result, we have lots of laws to ensure that this happens (food needs to have nutritional information and quantity information measured and presented in a standard format, medical products cannot make bogus medical claims -- if you look at "health drinks" in the US a hundred years ago, you'll note that this was not always the case).

Point being, anything that requires better and more accurate information about a product to be provided is pretty much unilaterally a win.

So rebates are a mechanism that attempts to take advantage of bogus information about a product. At least in the United States (not the case in all countries, as I understand it) it is legal to have a rebate and to then publish the *after rebate* price as the price of the product (I believe that some states may require "after rebate" in the fine print.) In fact, you aren't buying a widget for $N-$rebate. You're buying the choice of a widget at $N or a widget plus some additional work on your part, which you might screw up by damaging the UPC or similar, for $N-$rebate. They eye-catch with (false) low prices and hope that once someone's attention is grabbed or they are in the store or they've purchased the product, that they won't follow through.

This is simply not good.

I'd prefer consumer-level rebates to simply not be allowed -- the manufacturer can always pay the retailer if it wants to simply allow reducing price on existing inventory. That gets rid of the whole mess. If you want to compete on price, compete on price honestly.

If that isn't acceptable, I'd at least prefer that actual prices *must* be listed in the same color as and at least as large as after-rebate prices. Let people buy based on honest information.

Easier still? (4, Insightful)

jarich (733129) | more than 8 years ago | (#14170312)

Furthermore, Mitchell reports that retailers are making the process easier, by printing rebate forms and receipt copies at the register,

Why don't they take it one step further and file it for us as well? Then we can just take the rebate off at the register? I don't mind paying sales tax on the full price.

Re:Easier still? (5, Insightful)

taustin (171655) | more than 8 years ago | (#14170359)

Or better yet, just reduce the price at the cash register. It's called "putting the item on sale," and it works really well.

Re:Easier still? (5, Insightful)

jsrober (935785) | more than 8 years ago | (#14170556)

Adding a rebate is a way for manufacturers to discount goods already in the supply chain (they already sold them to distributors and retailers). It's the ONLY way that the manufacturer can VERY QUICKLY stimulate buyers to buy their products.

Re:Easier still? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14170390)

When you do rebates, you have to pay tax on the full price of the item. So how do the retailers pay the tax to the government? Do they file the full tax amount or an adjusted amount?

Say you can get a widget for $10 after a $90 rebate (widget is originally $100) and that tax in your area is 8%. You pay $8 in tax that the store collects. Does the store send that full amount ($8) to the government? Or, do they just pay the government $0.80, which is the amount of tax of the after-rebate price?

If they do the latter, could the stores just pocket the tax amount difference?

Re:Easier still? Paying taxes (1)

swordfishBob (536640) | more than 8 years ago | (#14170406)

Well, I do mind paying taxes on the full price, especially if I'm buying a car (in Aus that attracts both GST and state Stamp Duty as % of purchase price).
Not that I buy my cars new or from dealerships, but it strikes me as an obvious downside to "factory cashbacks"

Re:Easier still? (3, Insightful)

beakerMeep (716990) | more than 8 years ago | (#14170427)

Exactly. This guy is a coupon cutting ninny trying to explain away something he knows to be wrong.

Companies are in business to make money and are doing this to *drumroll* make money. There are two ways this can make them money:

1) "Breakage" as they call it. People dont send in the rebates. But this often goes further than comsumer's mistakes. Sometimes companies take way longer than they should in sending back your rebate or will send you a letter claiming that your paperwork is incorrect and that you must resubmit that receipt from that product you bought 3 months ago. And we'll get you that $50 rebate in just a couple more months.

2) they can upsell you while you are in the store or upsell you through advertising (if your are looking at that super cheap computer maybe you will look at the product on the next page)

In his indignance he is saying we should be ok with a very anoying practice that distorts advertised prices and, by it's nature, has at least SOME occurance of fraud -- what level, i don't claim to know.

he can go jump in a lake as far as im concerned :)

Re:Easier still? (4, Insightful)

fish waffle (179067) | more than 8 years ago | (#14170518)

There are two ways this can make them money:

You missed one:

3) it's effectively a forced registration. Customer lists are an important asset for both internal uses and for sale to other companies.

Re:Easier still? (4, Insightful)

beakerMeep (716990) | more than 8 years ago | (#14170590)

Ah yes that's very true. And with those lists they can claim a prior business relationship with you getting around most spam and marketing laws (such as the do not call list).

If they really wanted to make it easy... (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14170318)

If they really wanted to make it easier for consumers, why wouldn't they just discount the price by that much to begin with?

Re:If they really wanted to make it easy... (1)

way2trivial (601132) | more than 8 years ago | (#14170373)

so one person can't buy them all and ruin it for the rest of the customers?

Re:If they really wanted to make it easy... (1)

geminidomino (614729) | more than 8 years ago | (#14170582)

If I can buy bottles of Coke for $0.69 "Limit 2 per customer" at the grocery store, what's to stop Best Buy from doing the same thing?

That explaination doesn't cut it.

Re:If they really wanted to make it easy... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14170616)

so one person can't buy them all and ruin it for the rest of the customers?

"Ruin it"?

Since when does a store care if two people buy ten each, or ten people buy two each?

The "ruin it" argument has nothing to do with rebates. Presumably, they think they have reasonable prices even without the rebates. If they're concerned about a few people "ruining it", they'd also have mechanisms in place to prevent a few people from buying many items *normally*. But in fact, they don't care (or would even be happy) if I went in and bought their entire stock of computers, even though I'd most definitely "ruin it" for whoever walked through the door next.

Why? Tell us WHY? (5, Insightful)

Chmarr (18662) | more than 8 years ago | (#14170322)

If the manufacturers REALLY wanted us ALL to send in the rebate forms, and were NOT expecting this 'breakage'... then why? Tell us WHY you have this convoluted rebate system in place, rather than offering us a lower price WITHOUT the rebate system?

The ONLY reason I can think of is that they want to collect the interest on my $40 cheque between the time I've bought the product, and cashed the rebate check. Surely they could not be earning enough interest on that to warrant the expense of maintaining the rebate system.

The only OTHER reason I can think of is so the manufacturer can advertise the 'after rebate' price, but exclude bunches of people from being able to obtain that price (ie, multiple orders, businesses, etc).

Well, okay, I think I just answered my own question :)

Deliberately complicated (1, Interesting)

grahamsz (150076) | more than 8 years ago | (#14170360)

I had a set of rebates that were set up something like as follows

Rebate Department 4913
City, State, 12345-4931

Rebate Department 4931
City, State,12345-4913

Those rebate departments and zip codes MUST have been chosen to make it complicated for the consumer filling in both rebates.

Re:Why? Tell us WHY? (5, Interesting)

jeffmeden (135043) | more than 8 years ago | (#14170385)

You forgot two other reasons: One: So called Earnings. They can claim, as a company, to have sold x dollars of merchandise, which is the price of the goods going out the door. They look better on paper even though they have the oncoming cost of rebates. Two: balancing out the 30 day return. The rebates are often only sent out under the condition that there is no way to return the item under any sort of no-risk clause. Either they make you mutilate the box and forfeit the reciept, or they hold the rebate until after the return period has expired. This means they only give the discount to good customers who don't cost them by returning their junk.

Just off the top of my head :-)

Re:Why? Tell us WHY? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14170386)

Rebates are somewhat progressive. Consumers less concerned about price don't go through the effort of completing the rebate process, while lesser advantaged consumers will save some money with some effort. The rebate and the lazy people help the manufacturer justify giving the poor guy a good price.

Not sure if that's how it works out in reality, however.

Re:Why? Tell us WHY? (5, Interesting)

taustin (171655) | more than 8 years ago | (#14170393)

Having worked in retail for 20+ years, most of it at fairly high levels, I can tell you why manufacturers do rebates: retailers demand them.

"We're WallyWorld, and we control 99.867% of the retail market for your product. If you don't offer a rebate, we won't advertise your product, we'll advertise your competitor's product. In fact, we won't even carry your product."

Retailers want rebates because it lets them hold (and advertise the hell out of) a sale without actually having to put anything on sale. The retailer benefits from increased revenue from more selling product at full price to the marks, er, consumers, who think they're getting a deal.

The failure rate for rebates - the percentage never actually paid, even though they're sent in, is also quite high, because manufacturers don't like rebates much at all.

Re:Why? Tell us WHY? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14170449)

Business owners like the rebates: They can deduct the full price of the item as a business expense and the rebate comes back to them as cash.

It's a way to get cash out of your business (assuming it's something you are going to buy anyway) without having taxes.

Rebates are good in this regard.

You're right, it's not worth it for a $40 rebate, but for a $400 rebate it's worth filling out some forms (or having the secretary do it).

Re:Why? Tell us WHY? (1)

Snuffub (173401) | more than 8 years ago | (#14170470)

It's a form of price descrimination. it takes you an hour to figure out all the complicated rebate rules and send them in. That way they can sell the same item to two different groups at two price points, they'll sell it to people who have less money but at a lower price while selling it to people with a lot of money but not much time at a higher price. If you ask most economists they'll tell you that perfect price descrimination is desierable.

Re:Why? Tell us WHY? (1)

Alien Being (18488) | more than 8 years ago | (#14170509)

I think there is a legitimate reason for rebates. It allows the manufacturer to offer price incentives/adjustments *after* the product has been sold to distributors.

If warehouses are overstocked with product that's not moving they won't be placing restock orders. The manufacturer needs to alleviate the situation, but doesn't want to buy the stuff back. If they give the price difference back to the distributor, they have no guarantee that the distributor will actually hand it off to the consumer.

The rebate system used to work pretty well, but then a bunch of companies learned that they could take advantage of people by not honoring the offer. I avoid them like the plague.

Re:Why? Tell us WHY? (1)

Chmarr (18662) | more than 8 years ago | (#14170573)

If warehouses are overstocked with product that's not moving they won't be placing restock orders. The manufacturer needs to alleviate the situation, but doesn't want to buy the stuff back. If they give the price difference back to the distributor, they have no guarantee that the distributor will actually hand it off to the consumer.

A MUCH easier way to do this is to simply change the price on the invoice, and cut a cheque for the distributor. The distributor COULD just continue selling the product at the old price, but then they'd be undercut by any other distributor that chooses to pass on the discount. There's no need for a complex rebate system in this scenario.

but then a bunch of companies learned that they could take advantage of people by not honoring the offer.

I agree. This, and that I think manufactures DEPEND on 'breakage' makes me think the article is a load of crock.

I'm a rebate whore (4, Informative)

phaetonic (621542) | more than 8 years ago | (#14170323)

Check out [] if you want to have a central point of management for all your rebates.

Valid rebates (4, Insightful)

BushCheney08 (917605) | more than 8 years ago | (#14170324)

Something the article seems to miss is that many rebate processing houses like to invalidate rebates for no reason whatsoever. They often claim that you didn't include all of the materials, or that they weren't mailed in time. I've had this happen to me several times. Thankfully I've kept copies of everything, which I was able to fax to them to "prove" that I did send everything that was required. If rebate houses behaved a little more honestly, they wouldn't have such a bad reputation.

Re:Valid rebates (1)

parcel (145162) | more than 8 years ago | (#14170394)

Something the article seems to miss is that many rebate processing houses like to invalidate rebates for no reason whatsoever.

I've thought about this before, although in reference to denial of health insurance claims... I'm guessing it happens so often, because what do they have to lose? What's the worst case for them? They get some calls from a few people who managed to save their receipts and any other evidence, maybe offer their apologies, and pay out. Best case, they end up not paying a dime. There doesn't seem to be any possible down side to refusing at least some percentage of claims. Maybe if they do too much, they get enough pissed off consumers to get an AG or two involved (Best Buy comes to mind), but that seems to only happen in extreme cases.

Re:Valid rebates (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14170411)

If rebate houses behaved a little more honestly, they wouldn't have such a bad reputation.

And then they wouldn't be able to promise their customers a high breakage rate, so they wouldn't get the rebate contract!

Re:Valid rebates (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14170416)

EXACTLY. The problem here is that I have yet to recieve a rebate without some further action. THey force you to wait the 8 weeks for processing then say that you didn't include your reciept. Once you call and raise hell, you usually recieve your check within a week. The scam here is that they will lure people in with the "after rebate" price, knowing full well that they will only end up paying out 80%? of the rebates because many people will forget about it and end up losing the rebate after some time period expires.

Bottom line; there has to be an advantage like this to at least cover the cost of servicing the rebates.

Who is this, Joe Isuzu? (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14170329)

He's lying.

Putting aside the obvious question (who the fuck is The NPD Group? [] Why, a marketing consultancy!), the guy who talked to the ComputerWorld reporter is full of shit at best ad bald-faced lying at worst.

I should know - I used to manage a service with rebates. (Hence the anon post.) The rebates were only cost effective because of breakage. In fact, we once had to reduce the rebate amount for a particular group of users who had too good a take rate (business users who would send in rebates en masse, for an IT product.) The only way we could tell customers they saved $XXX was because we knew some of them wouldn't turn it in.

If this so-called reporter had asked even one or two sources inside a company that uses rebates, instead of talking to a consultant who probably recommends them for a hefty fee, he would have figured this out.

Re:Who is this, Joe Isuzu? (1)

floodo1 (246910) | more than 8 years ago | (#14170403)

that and someone is making interest off of the refund amount.

Re:Who is this, Joe Isuzu? (1)

ClamIAm (926466) | more than 8 years ago | (#14170553)

The only time I hear of the NPD group is when they report videogame sales levels. I always thought their purpose was to inform businesses/consumers of trends in retail and stuff, not come up with evil sinister plots to destroy the consumers' pocketbooks.

Re:Who is this, Joe Isuzu? (4, Interesting)

shylock0 (561559) | more than 8 years ago | (#14170558)

Well... you're just plain wrong.

As any first-year MBA knows (and has been mentioned on in a few previous posts here on Slashdot) there are basically three reasons why rebates exist:

1) Breakage. But this reason has been in steady decline and is increasingly unjustifiable. While it used to be that only 40% of rebates were turned in, that number has been steadily climbing for the past ten years -- yet rebates are more popular than ever. Furthermore, quite a few retailers have streamlined the rebate process with the explicit goal of making rebates easier to file. Also -- and this is particularly interesting -- recent studies by marketing academics have shown that there is a practical ceiling on the percentage of sales that can be counted in rebate breakage. Specifically, rebate rules (tear out the UPC) basically prevent people who are buying gifts from filing rebates. It is estimated that 20-30% of all retail sales are gift items; so if only 40% of rebates are turned in (the number nowadays is closer to 60%), that's more than half of the people who could file rebates.

2) Accounting. This has been mentioned on Slashdot before, and it's now probably the #1 reason why retailers -- particularly during the holidays -- have rebates. A regular sale eats into margin AND sales. A rebate "sale" only eats into sales. CEOs look better on paper when all of their "sales" are rebate and not direct-price based. This is actually discussed in some accounting textbooks!

3) Marketing/positioning. For example: Circuit City buys a bunch of Western Digital hard drives. They don't sell well; in fact, they just sit in inventory. WD is concerned that CC won't buy from WD anymore, because their product isn't selling (probably because it is more expensive). So WD issues the rebate (or has CC issue the rebate). In effect, its letting CC put existing inventory "on sale" at no cost to CC -- and CC now has an incentive to put the rebate in its weekly flyer, etc. This reason is why so many rebates are store and not product-specific -- even if they are manufacturers rebates.

Anyway, like I said -- the poster doesn't know what he's talking about. When rebates were first concieved in the 80s, his analysis would be correct. But it isn't, not anymore.


What? (1)

EiZei (848645) | more than 8 years ago | (#14170335)

The big lie that the media and attorneys general want you to believe is that all the retailers and manufacturers are crooked and the reason [they] do rebates is breakage, which is people not turning them in.'

So WHY do they do it then? Get one tenth of a percent interest? Right.

Maybe they will soon spin it as some form of corporate social security, all the people who have more time on their hands (students, unemployed, elderly) get discounts.

don't count your chickens before they hatch (4, Interesting)

mapmaker (140036) | more than 8 years ago | (#14170336)

The guy might have had a point if he actually waited to see if the checks showed up before he came to his conclusions.

Free computer? (0, Offtopic)

Zencyde (850968) | more than 8 years ago | (#14170338)

Christmas just got a whole lot easier, yay wellfare!

Rebates as a way to get your personal info (5, Insightful)

wired_parrot (768394) | more than 8 years ago | (#14170345)

What about rebates as a way to get around privacy laws by making you fork over all your personal data in exchange for the rebate? For me, this one of the things I disliked the most about rebates - I shouldn't have to pay an extra premium on my purchases because I refuse to give out my contact information the company.

Re:Rebates as a way to get your personal info (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14170514)

Umm, you're NOT paying an "extra premium" - they're giving you a *discount* (big difference) in exchange for personal info and to promote the product.

Re:Rebates as a way to get your personal info (1)

NineNine (235196) | more than 8 years ago | (#14170541)

I shouldn't have to pay an extra premium on my purchases because I refuse to give out my contact information the company.

Actually, it's mroe like you get a discount for selling them information.

FYI (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 8 years ago | (#14170568)

Where you live is public information, Just thought you should know.

Re:Rebates as a way to get your personal info (1)

ClamIAm (926466) | more than 8 years ago | (#14170570)

Can't you "opt out" of this?

from my experience... (2, Interesting)

AxemRed (755470) | more than 8 years ago | (#14170347)

I have talked to some people who claimed that they never received rebates. But as for me, I have turned in about 50 mail-in rebates over my lifetime, and I have received all of them. Sometimes they really do take the full 8 weeks stated in the fine print, but I have always gotten them eventually.

Rebates ARE worth every penny! (4, Interesting)

cob666 (656740) | more than 8 years ago | (#14170350)

As much as I dislike some of the 'underhanded' sales tactics of Best Buy, the rebates they offer are usually well worth having to buy something there.
As long as I know exactly what I want when I walk in there I usually end up with a nice deal.
Quite a few people complain about Best Buy not honoring rebates for a myriad of reasons but again, I follow the instructions on the rebate form they give me at the time of purchase, send them in and usually have a rebate check within 3 weeks.

Ka - Ching

Re:Rebates ARE worth every penny! (1)

JonN (895435) | more than 8 years ago | (#14170447)

Actually it is not Best Buy which rebates your money, it is the manufactorer

The Lie... (2, Informative)

Chris Bradshaw (933608) | more than 8 years ago | (#14170367)

I made the mistake of being sucked in to the big rebate lie on more than one occasion. Twice I was duped by tigerdirect (http://www./ [www.] into buying an item that was advertised at an unbelievable price, and then in small print at bottom "after $x rebate". To this day I still haven't recieved my $40.

You know what they say, "Fool me once, shame on you - Fool me twice, shame on me"...

Re:The Lie... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14170545)

here, let me help you with that.

You know what they say, fool me once, shame on...shame on you. Fool me you can't get fooled again!

Rebates are inconveniently vague (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14170372)

For example, I once bought a computer with a rebate on x or y with z. the question i asked at the time was "is that 'x or y' with z? or is that x, or 'y with z'?" the retailer (this was in 1998) assured me that it meant either way. so i made the purchase. my rebate request was summarily rejected because they interpreted their offer as x or 'y with z' and i had gone with 'x or y' with z. the retailer at the time (circuit city) paid out the rebate, without much hassle. kudos to them for that. though that was seven years ago.

In the meantime, yes, multiple rebates are a ripoff. note how they all require you to enclose the original upc, cut out from the box you purchased. ok, so how do i send the one upc on the box to three different addressses to get my rebates?

Finally... how do you use the words "suck it up" and "like a man" with any sense of virility? ok, that last bit was a joke. but the others are valid concerns.

no reason for mail-in rebates (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14170376)

There is no reason for a legitimate company to do mail-in rebates except getting someone's address for snail mail spam and perhaps selling it and to invest your money for the time you are waiting for the rebate to come through. I used to buy stuff with mail-in rebates but less than half of the rebates ever materialized, even after calling the respective companies. My advise: Avoid mail-in rebates by all means.

Staples has it right (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14170380)

With easy rebates that's as easy as it's gonna get. All online, no UPC cutting or wasting your 37 cents and trip to the mail box.

Nothing inherently wrong with rebates (1)

vijayiyer (728590) | more than 8 years ago | (#14170387)

There's nothing wrong, per se, about rebates. Both you, the consumer, and the company selling the product benefit from the people who fail to turn in their rebate forms. This is essentially a win-win situation (except for people who forget about the rebate). If you don't like the idea of rebates, nobody is forcing you to claim them or to buy products offering them. What is wrong is when the manufacturer fails to pay the rebate when correctly submitted. This violates the stated agreement and amounts to fraud.

this is what i think about rebate (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14170388)

if instead of reabate, a retailer reduced price on an item, then the retailer will get flooded with pricematch by those who had bought the item at higher price. There is no rebate match. Second thing is that those who are busy can usually afford more money. Rebate is a good way of asking "are you rich? if so, pay more". Sometimes manufacturer wants to temporarily reduce price to clear inventory. if they reduce the price, it would be hard to increase or retailer may put too much order and manufacturer will have to ration the product. instead they give rebates to consumer. Occassionally manufacturer wants to give discount to retailer for the remaining inventory to take into account the price change. but if they ask retailer about the inventory, they will surely get inflated figure. by introducing rebates, they make sure retailers don't lie. Lastly, this discourages foreigners coming to USA to buy cheap goods!

I hate rebates (2, Insightful)

Omnifarious (11933) | more than 8 years ago | (#14170389)

If you want to give me a lower price, give me a lower price. It should be illegal to advertise the price after rebate more prominently than the price before. I've sent those in once or twice, and each time I do it, I get a complaint that I've made some minor error and I get no rebate check. Largely, I just don't send them in.

I've walked out of a few stores after learning that the advertised price is a rebate price and gone somewhere else and paid more than the before-rebate price simply because that store was at least honest.

Re:I hate rebates (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 8 years ago | (#14170549)

You might want to look at the way some places are handling them now.

When I bought something from Staples that ahd a rebate, All I had to do was go to there web site, enter the number that was on the reciept, put in my address. 10 days later I had my check. It is exactly how they should be done.
Rebates are marketing, no different then a sign, or coupon.

Re:I hate rebates (4, Insightful)

pappy97 (784268) | more than 8 years ago | (#14170581)

"If you want to give me a lower price, give me a lower price."

Exactly. Is it SO revolutionary of a concept TO JUST GIVE US THE LOWER PRICE???

Rebates only exist as a way to jack up the price and make money off the 70% of people who won't correctly send in the rebate.

For example, let's say an item should cost $49.99.

Best Buy will come up with a brilliant idea. Sell it for $69.99, but offer a rebate that supposedly makes the effective price of the item say $19.99.

BB advertises the price to be $19.99, but with tiny lettering about rebates. Now idiot consumer goes into the store, lured in by the ad, buys the item for $69.99, and forgets to mail in the rebate.

What's the problem here? THE ORIGINAL PRICE OF THE ITEM WAS $49.99. Best Buy not only got people to come in and make purchases with the alluring ad, they were able to use the rebate system as a way to JACK UP the original price of the item.

It's scam written all over it.

If you want to people to come in and ACTUALLY take a loss on a item, then just slash the price for that item to get people in the store. Some of these places do it on Black Friday, but why not for other days?

In Wal*Mart's with a grocery department, Wal*Mart takes a loss on its entire grocery dept (yes, the ENTIRE dept operates at a loss) to get people in the store to buy the stuff they have 300% mark-ups (From their paid price) on. Best Buy can do the same thing, without trying to be greedy in a SCAM sort of way.

Is this just a US phenomenon? (4, Insightful)

tosspot1 (663265) | more than 8 years ago | (#14170404)

Are there other countries doing this? I must admit I haven't been everywhere, but I've been to a quite a few countries, and usually when something is advertised at a price, that's the price it is. You don't have to "earn" your discount by performing some sort of (irritating) action after the purchase.

So is this done anywhere outside of the US? If I suggested this idea to my friends and neighbours they'd probably look at my like I was crazy.

I mean, let's think about the process. The consumer fills in a form, and mails it to the company. The company then has to fill in another form (known as a cheque, or since it is the US I suppose we'd better call it a check), and post it back to the consumer. The consumer then takes the check and posts it to their bank. Their bank then processes, creates additional paperwork and posts it to the company's bank to verify the signature. Presumably at that point the money transfer is done electronically.

Is there something wrong with this? Are not a lot of resources being consumed unnecessarily? Why do they persist with this stupidity? Why don't governments simply pass laws to encourage retailers and manufacturers to deal in a more straightforward way with consumers?

Or am I missing something here?

Re:Is this just a US phenomenon? (2, Informative)

drazaelb (127150) | more than 8 years ago | (#14170484)

Are there other countries doing this?
Canada does, but they're close enough to the US that the distinction isn't important.
Why don't governments simply pass laws to encourage retailers and manufacturers to deal in a more straightforward way with consumers?
Because that's not how the free market economy works. Don't like rebates? Then don't buy products with rebates. If nobody goes along with it, they'll quit doing it on their own.

Re:Is this just a US phenomenon? (1)

tosspot1 (663265) | more than 8 years ago | (#14170585)

I think a much better idea of a free market is one where buyer and seller must deal with each other in a clear and transparent manner. Corporations will always try tricks to give themselves and advantage over a consumer. Regulation, as long as it is not excessive is often needed to protect some of the consumers interests. Surely even the biggest fans of minimal government would even have to conceed that without some regulation consumers would be taken to the cleaners? Other countries have free markets as well, and they don't have mail in rebates. And when mail-in rebates are the order of the day, and everyone is doing them, what real choice does the consumer have?

Re:Is this just a US phenomenon? (1)

codemachine (245871) | more than 8 years ago | (#14170559)

It is fairly common to see mail in rebates in Canada too, especially with electronics and computer junk.

Re:Is this just a US phenomenon? (1)

adnonsense (826530) | more than 8 years ago | (#14170572)

This crazy-sounding system does not exist in Germany. IANAL, but it sounds like it would break some kind of consumer / data protection law.

Re:Is this just a US phenomenon? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14170620)

Rebates are just another form of what's called price discrimination. Basically, ways to sell your product at the equilibrium price, but sell it at a higher price to people willing to pay it. There's also an overstock factor at work sometimes. It's the same reason airlines have "coach" and "first class".

The Joy of Wireless Rebates (4, Interesting)

Schlemphfer (556732) | more than 8 years ago | (#14170412)

Sure, there are companies like Staples that have put effort into making sure their customers don't have to jump through needless hoops to get their rebates. But let's now talk about companies that INVENT needless hoops in the hopes of keeping your money. Oh, what a perfect time to share my little rebate story with you all. About four months back, I saw you could get one of those sweet little Motorola Razr cellphones for free from, upon signing up with Cingular for two years. You would get a $200 rebate that covered the cost of the phone. I needed new cellphone service, so I went ahead and ordered the phone from

Naturally, I wasn't going to slack when it came to filling out a $200 rebate. Within a couple days of getting the phone I took an hour off to fill out the rebate form. Only one problem. The box they sent me didn't have the required UPC code. But whatever, I'm sure I could call them to straighten that out.

So I filled out the rest of the sheet and had almost everything together, and then I noticed: You had to wait six months before sending in your rebate. And at the six month period, you had to include your most recent cellphone bill.

What absolute stupidity. I mean, why couldn't they accept the rebate right away and say that you won't get paid for six months, when they do a check to make sure your cellphone account is in good standing? And it gets better. At the end of that six month period, you only have a thirty day window to get your rebate in!

How many consumers are this organized to send in a rebate not earlier than six months after purchase, and not later than seven months? Well, lucky for me, I am. I've made a note on iCal. I've also made a mental note: never purchase anything from again.

Re:The Joy of Wireless Rebates (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14170517)

If you knew how stored credit card numbers, you never would have bought there to begin with.

Wow (2, Insightful)

bill_kress (99356) | more than 8 years ago | (#14170414)

It's not like the "media and attorneys general" told me to think any way. I learned exactly how rebates work first hand:

1) You send it in
2) They don't reply
3) You call
4) They fix it and send you the rebate.

They make step 3 so simple you don't even notice that you are doing it, and there is always some reasonable excuse (they don't have enough info, or "But we were gunna send it, give us time!"), but if you don't call you get:

1) You send it in
2) They don't reply
5) Profit!

Now, to hear that the media and attorneys general have come to the same conclusion??? Only evidence that this is not some atypical experience but real.

Thanks for confirming my suspicions.

Bloody corporations

What I tell sales people about rebates (1)

spisska (796395) | more than 8 years ago | (#14170420)

The problem with rebates is that the vendor/retailer is trying to make you think you're a smart customer by saving (belatedly) on some purchase -- let's say a $150 printer with a $60 rebate.

So you can get a printer worth $150 for $90 -- good deal, right? Pretty smart, right?

Except the fact that there's a rebate tells me that the vendor knows damn well that the printer is only worth $90. Why else would they be selling it for $90 after rebate?

Further, accepting that the vendor and I both know damn well the printer is only worth $90, they are asking me to pay an extra $60 (plus tax) up front that I may or may not get back at some time in the future. Why can't the shop grant the rebate on the spot and send whatever info to the vendor?

You're not saving $60 from the rebate, you're 'loaning' $60 to the vendor with basically no guarantee that you'll ever see it again. That doesn't sound very smart at all.

Whenever I'm offered a rebate I tell the salesdrone that they must think I'm stupid. I'm not, and so I avoid rebates whenever possible, making sure to tell the shop why I won't buy anything with a rebate other than instant.

It hasn't yet made any difference.

losing upc in the mail (1)

gobblez (659715) | more than 8 years ago | (#14170429)

i'm always afraid of my upc cut outs getting lost in the mail. this allegedly happened to me before, so no rebate. can't really resend since you already cut them out. or maybe the mail is fine and they just didn't wanna give me the rebate.

i've considered sending photocopies of the upc, but was advised not to. i guess i could see the fraud issue happening with copies.

I avoid products with rebates... (1)

vertinox (846076) | more than 8 years ago | (#14170431)

When I am in Compusa or various other electronics stores, and I need to compare I simply ignore products that have have rebates simply because I just don't want to mess with the simple act of mailing.

Call it lazy or what not, but the main goal of rebates is to make money off lazy people who buy it and just can't get the will to mail it in.

So I take this laziness one step further... My mind doesn't want to do the math of the list price vs the retail price so I just look at the products that don't have them.

In short (0)

geekoid (135745) | more than 8 years ago | (#14170466)

you are the manufacturers bitch.

Rebates are a hassle (1)

hcg50a (690062) | more than 8 years ago | (#14170438)

I've bought 4 computers that had rebates associated with them. I never got around to sending in the first three, but I did the work on the 4th, and got my $150.

The rebate process could be made a lot easier, but I don't think it is in their interest to do that -- their main benefit is being able to advertise a slightly lower price.

It was not that much of a hassle to get the rebate, so I just figured it was worth 15 minutes and 37 cents to do it.

The Office Supply Depot... (3, Insightful)

Lord Pillage (815466) | more than 8 years ago | (#14170457)

I work at a major office supply retailer as an electronics department associate. Every week we get new rebates on computers and have bundles (PC, monitor and printer) advertised in the flyer. Much of the time, the instant rebates are very significant, saving the buyer upwards of $300, basically paying for the monitor that's included with it (I believe the store is actually the ones providing the rebate in this case). That's not even counting the mail-in rebates.

I know that we've also been moving toward an online system where rebates can be redeemed directly from our website [] , so that the customer doesn't even need to send anything in (took long enough though). From what I can tell, it is a pain sending them in but you almost ALWAYS get your check back in the mail. People love telling people about how they got jipped because they charged them money that they promised back and it never got returned to them. This is why you always here these stories about rebates never coming back. However, people don't usually say, "Hey I got my rebate check, it was really fast and everything."

From my experience rebates are made for the customers, and the sellers. It gets people into the store, they save money they'd normally have to spend, and usually the store picks up the lost money on items added on (ie. Extended Warranty, mice, keyboards, cables, mouse pads, webcams, the list goes on and on). But this move to an online system makes me think that the mail-in will soon be on the way out.


Re:The Office Supply Depot... (1)

Alchemar (720449) | more than 8 years ago | (#14170543)

I see one major hole in this. Most people shopping for computers go by the theory of getting the most computer that you can afford. If I have $500 to spend on a computer I will usually end up with about $350 worth of computer and $150 in extras. Throw in rebates, and I can get a little bit better computer for $350 but have to invest the other $150 in your sales gimick instead. That is $150 that I am going to get back, but that I don't have available to spend in your store.

Did this... (1)

ImaLamer (260199) | more than 8 years ago | (#14170461)

We covered this or a similar story before and already had this debate.

The problem I have, and pointed out last time, is that if the price is due to drop or simply not making units move then the price should be lowered. Years ago when rebates were few and far between I got a nice, unexpected rebate for a Zip drive I bought a month before. The reason: units were moving and the price was due to be discounted because more units were on the way. That is what a rebate used to be about. The price drop couldn't be handled by the retailer because they already bought in high, and sold units, so the company shared their profits (to sell more units no less).

Now rebates are geared towards a few things:
* Getting you in the door. The rebate is great, and the product is nice but right next to it is a better product that you'd much rather get. Door busters are great, I applaud the effort. Sometimes you'd want the rebated product anyways so it works out.
* To get you to buy a package. If it is worth it, go for it. Usually it isn't. Sure you are getting a $150-$200 rebate for a monitor, printer and PC - but is that printer or monitor worth it? Usually I find this deals mismatched. You get an LCD monitor with a year old computer and a printer that isn't worth the ink refills.
* To lock you into buying from a retailer. I just was suckered into buying a hard drive from newegg because they were the only ones offering the rebate. The rebate form (from the hard drive maker) states that the rebate is only valid at newegg, even though newegg isn't the ones writing the check. Often you see this in retail stores to move store favorite or popular PC brands. You just have to shop around before making the jump. Best Buy may offer a $30 rebate for a product when Circuit City has it $20 cheaper. What is worth more to you? A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush, or is it to you?
* To rip you off. Rebates for $5 or $10 dollars are rarely redeemed, at least on time. You are more likely to submit and follow up when the rebate is worth somewhere near $25 or more. Grocery products are starting to offer $1 or even $5 rebates that are a considerable amount of the price - but people never do all of the steps needed. You need to submit the rebate, then wait 6 weeks for it, and the most important of all cash the rebate check. Who goes to the bank to cash a $1 check? If you had ten or twenty, sure.

Rebates are great - but I'd rather just spend less to walk out the door with an item. Usually it is best to wonder why there is even a rebate on a product. There are those that are genuine, but some are not. They will honor the rebate - but you likely were fooled into buying the product.

Can we get an in-depth economical analysis of why rebates exist?

The only good thing about Best Buy (1)

Jeff85 (710722) | more than 8 years ago | (#14170462)

The only good thing about Best Buy is that they print multiple copies of your receipt for each rebate offer, and only one offer ever seems to need the UPC / bar code. I got a monitor at Office Max once, and I had to make several copies of the rebate and UPC / bar code myself. But still, I figure there's got to be a substantial amount of people who think they're getting a great deal, but forget to mail off the rebates.

Rebates are great for Tax Benefits. (1)

managedcode (863136) | more than 8 years ago | (#14170497)

Bought a Computer at $800 with $350 of rebates.
Expense $800
Rebate Checks of $350 goto personal account for few weekend dinners
eBay Sucks!

Sour grapes for the state's Attornies-General (1)

redelm (54142) | more than 8 years ago | (#14170499)

The SAGs are hardly disinterested parties: They hate that the state has to write big sales-tax refund checks to the processing companies.

Boo Rebates! (3, Insightful)

ImaNihilist (889325) | more than 8 years ago | (#14170525)

I HATE rebates with a passion. The principles behind them piss me off.

1) You have to pay out more upfront, and pay tax on that amount. You don't get back that tax.
2) You might make an error on the form, and not get your money back at all.
3) Since sometimes it takes up to 90 days to get your money back, that's 3 months that you could have been earning intrest on that money.
4) The time spent trying to get your money is annoying.
5) The forms are often SO TINY it's hard to write legibly on them.

Think of all the money those companies get to keep in intrest alone that they make on the rebate money. ARG!

I'd much rather pay a little extra, and not have to deal with rebates. Stupid pricing games.

This is how they make their money (2, Interesting)

slashfun (831726) | more than 8 years ago | (#14170526)

1) Breakage. Folks forget to mail it in. They win.
2) Bendage. Folks mail it in, then forgot that they mailed it in. Slight problem and, ...they win.
3) Bondage. You didn't follow fine print item #12. Rebate rejected. They win.
4) Recharacterization. You comply, get rebate. They keep extra markup from sales tax they don't have to report. They win.

Consider the source (1)

adminstring (608310) | more than 8 years ago | (#14170532)

My own personal experience with rebates (particularly from TigerDirect and OfficeMax) is that a certain percentage of the time, the check never arrives, or sometimes you get a BS letter saying that the wrong UPC code was sent, etc. This leads me to ask why the "expert" quoted in TFA states that everyone receives their rebate checks 100% of the time, and that rebates aren't that much of a hassle. The "expert" works for a marketing research company, and rebate forms are a great source of data for marketing research. So it's in the interest of the "expert" to want to keep rebate forms alive in order to keep the data coming in so his company can keep on making money writing marketing reports based on the data. I don't see this "expert" as a credible, unbiased source of information on this topic. If the writer of TFA was a real journalist, he would have interviewed an attourney general for another perspective.

No whining... (1)

vanyel (28049) | more than 8 years ago | (#14170533)

...I just don't buy products with rebates unless I don't have a good alternative.

Not sure what the problem is (1)

Quiet_Desperation (858215) | more than 8 years ago | (#14170551)

I send in every rebate over $40, and they all worked fine. My cell phone cost *minus* $100 thanks to a double whammy of Motorola and Amazon rebates. Basically a free phone and three free months of service.

I prefer to get a free accessory, though, and preferably selected from a list. For example, my Powerbook came with a free HP color printer, and I needed a new color printer at the time. The HP works great, *AND* I got a big rebate on the 'book on top of that (end of model clearout that I was lying in wait for).

Rebate Ripoffs at Fry's (3, Informative)

tburt11 (517910) | more than 8 years ago | (#14170566)

I buy alot of rebate items at Frys Electronics and I have found over the years that...

1) The cashier will give you the wrong rebate form. This was notorious when they had 8 rebates for Seagate drives. The cashier would grab the first one they found. Result. Rebate refused. Note: Fry's now prints the rebates with your receipt, so this happens less.

2) The rebate will require that you include some part of the package that doesn't exist. This is true with memory modules. Read the fine print, and it says to clip the logo and the UPC. Trouble is they gave you a package without the logo or missing the UPC (memory comes from the cage, and may not have a UPC).

3) They refuse your rebate, saying it was late. Now I got copies of everything, including the envelope. How can I prove when I mailed it? Stand in line at the PO and send it registered mail? WTF?

4) The form says to include the original receipt. The cashier says it is OK to send the Rebate Receipt. Wrong.. Rebate receipt is not acceptable, must include the original! Refused.

All of the above have happened, more than once. Worst are the memory rebates. They lie like dogs. They trick you. Anything but play fair.

I agree. I avoid the rebates whenever I can.

marketing information. (2, Informative)

Truekaiser (724672) | more than 8 years ago | (#14170580)

They do the rebates because your personal information such as address, telephone number, etc is worth more then any rebate they can give you. remember boys and girls that business will not do something out of the goodness of their hearts if there is no profit for them. even when they play nice and give aid and relief for natural disasters or something else they do it because it's great 'advertising' and nothing more.

the problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14170584)

the problem with rebates is that if it's a store rebate then it's only one per household

This just in: retailer likes rebates! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14170588)

Come on - of course this guy is going to be pro-rebates. Newsflash: sharp blow to the head causes injury.

Economic Explanation (1)

krazikamikaze (888506) | more than 8 years ago | (#14170591)

IANAE (I am not an economist), but I vaguely remember my economics professor saying something last semester about why rebates exist.

Something like if a manufacturer wants to stimulate sales, they can't just lower the price they charge retailers. Due to the monopolistically competitive/oligopoly market the retailer participates in, the retailer often can't change the price they sell the product at much, even when they get a much lower price from the manufacturer. Therefore the manufacturer offers a rebate which bypasses the retailer entirely.

I believe it is due to a kinked demand curve (which arises in certain oligopoly models) that essentially gives the retailer the same profit-maximizing price for a range of marginal costs.

This abstract [] seems to confirm this. I didn't read the paper itself.

Re:Economic Explanation (1)

krazikamikaze (888506) | more than 8 years ago | (#14170612)

Oh and price discrimination is obviously also part of it, though I suspect that more accurately describes rebates offered by retailers than by manufacturers.

The deal with mail-in rebates is...? (1)

Yonzie (516292) | more than 8 years ago | (#14170596)

Now, in my part of the world we don't have mail-in rebates, so please forgive me for being stupid here.

What is the deal with mail-in rebates? How can a company sell $30 DVD-Rs with a $30 mail-in rebate? I expect they cost money to produce? Of course, some portion of buyers will not send in the coupons to get their money, but then it's the consumer that's being stupid because:
a) (s)he's paying $30 for something that's apparently worth $0.
b) Paying list price for a product that's on sale usually means there's a better offer somewhere else.

So, what is it? Companies producing stuff for free/at a loss or stupid consumers?

Scams by certain retailer chains (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14170602)

In my experience, there's shady dealers like OfficeMax that send e-mail responses to rebate submissions that are something along the lines of "Sorry, you do not qualify for the rebate," despite the fact that everything was filled out according to their directions. That's one of the reasons why I only use mail-in rebates from companies that consistently send them (In my experience, Costco has been good with rebates so far).
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