This post is part 5 of 8 in our groundbreaking series on how do you tell the bargains from the dissipation? Here’s look at some offers that often don’t pay off, plus smart ways to save your money.
What we talking about is someone who you give your money by your will. There is groups of people are after your money, you know all about it and you like to hold on as much of it as you can. Let us start by list them out one by one.
MOST Consumers have a love-hate relationship with mail-in rebates. Sure, the savings are always nice, but no one relishes the weeks or months-long, often dead-end process of filling out forms and waiting for the claims to be approved.
Maya Davis loves a bargain, so she spotted a $150 rebate offer on $799 HP pavilion laptop at office depot, she bought two. The cashier scanned the product codes tags, prompting the store’s computer to spit out the rebate form for the model. But when Davis, 47, mailed in the form along with the required proofs of purchase, the rebate center told her that the laptop didn’t qualify for the rebate offer. That’s not usual: the centers typically rejected 40% of claims. No wonder, based on estimates by consumer groups and industry sources, that about 40 percent of rebates are never redeemed, either because consumers refuse to go through the hassle or file forms incorrectly (or are told they did)..
“The rebate company blamed it on office depot, and office depot claimed the rebate company had goofed,” says Davis, a MNC cost analyst in Miami. “I never got the $300, and one of the laptops failed soon afterward. Because I didn’t have the laptop box label-the one I’d sent in for the rebate claim-I was also denied warranty coverage.” After authorities contacted Office depot, the company notified Davis that it had resolved the matter and would be sanding the rebates.
Over at the Consumer Law and Policy blog, Jeff Sovern blogs about the FTC Rebate Debate workshop held last year in San Francisco. Jeff has references to detailed law review articles, including his own, on the problems with rebates. “I believe that sellers often use rebates instead of sales because rebates persuade consumers to purchase the product–but then many consumers (perhaps as many as 97%) never collect the rebate. The result is that seller’s sell their goods at a higher price than consumers intend to pay.” says Jeff.
“We get a huge number of complaints about mail-in rebates,” says James Hood, editor of well known consumer affairs web portal. “People buy products based on the promise that they’d get a rebate of X dollars. And when they don’t, they justifiably feel they’ve been robbed.”
“It’s a ridiculous and corrupted system,” says Edmund Mierzwinski, consumer program director of the U.S. Public Interest Research Groups, and advocacy organization in Boston. “Consumers are put through a rat maze of requirements that they have to complain perfectly in order to get their rebates.”
Mierzwinski speaks from experience. In his no-punches-pulled blog at the PIRG Web site, www.uspirg.org, Mierzwinski last to last year chronicled his own rebate hassles (having to send five separate letters with copies or originals of package materials) to get five separate checks totaling $210 in rebates on a new laptop. “Turns out that I received them all–but what a pain,” Mierzwinski wrote.
The best advice Even if you do collect, a mail-in rebate may not always be the best deal. Shop around to see if you can get a lower price without the hassle. Some companies, including Staples, Costco, and Rite Aid, offer paperless rebates. Just log on to the store’s website to enter the required information. The advantages: You don’t have to bother with proofs of purchase, You can track the status of your claim online, and you’ll get your check sooner.
Watch out for rebate checks that are designed to resemble junk mail; some consumers have tossed them by accident. Companies no doubt count on that.