Are Rebates Worthy of You?
With a new year, many of us may have the illusion that time management can be increased in our lives. Time management, weight management, and money management are likely the three most popular resolutions that return to the scene year after year for most of us. It makes sense. But what doesn’t make sense are the little things in life that we continue to do even though they violate the promise we made to ourselves to do better this time.
One such item that can be a strain on both time and money management skills is the Rebate. Sure, it sounds like a good deal to get $5 back on a $5 purchase, but like most things in life, rebates are not that simple. In fact, after credit card shenanigans, more consumers complain about rebate hassles than anything else — and rightly so. Have you ever tried getting money from a big corporation? Not so easy, is it?
Of course it’s not easy. Companies make it hard for anyone to cut into their profit margin. If rebates were easy then everyone would be pursuing them. So why bother? From the company’s perspective, offering customers money back makes them look good. With nearly everyone struggling to make ends meet, or at least have enough cash put aside for the future, people will continue to flock to the places that give them the best deals. However, a wise consumer remembers what their mother told them — if it looks too good to be true — it probably is.
Rebates Not the Best Incentive
Companies are stepping up to make rebates more attractive so they can trounce the competition. Rebates are very popular in the cell phone industry. But for the consumer, the process of actually getting a rebate is less than attractive. In most cases, you have to pay full price at the time of purchase and log on later to the company’s website to follow through another process of claiming the rebate. Those without Internet access will have to spend even more money on the cost of postage for mailing in receipts and rebate forms. The forms, electronic and paper, usually take some time to complete. Then, after completing all the paperwork, you will likely find yourself waiting at the mailbox for 6-8 weeks, if not longer, to secure that $2.00 rebate check. Worth it? Perhaps, if you have nothing else going on in your life.
Rebate Debit Cards Failing
A newer tactic companies are giving customers is the rebate amount in the form of a debit card. Sounds convenient enough but there are many consumer complaints about the debit cards not working past a certain amount. For instance, you get a rebate card of $30. You charge $27.98 on the card and the next time you go to use it, it isn’t accepted. Oftentimes stores won’t even let you use a debit card unless the total on the card exceeds the amount due.
Some companies not only make it hard to get the rebate, they make it easy to get one over on the consumer. Imagine going to a store to make a purchase, anticipating an instant $20 rebate only to discover after looking at your receipt at home the company actually charged you an additional $20. It happens more than consumers realize. Failure to check receipts or rebate requirements leaves many consumers not only out the rebate amount but paying more for the item out of their own pockets.
Sadly, there are still those who profit off consumers trust. ‘Rebate’ checks are sent to unsuspecting consumers that, once cashed, actually trigger charges on consumer bank accounts. Consumer who don’t read the fine print are often surprised to find that the fine print actually states cashing the check is an agreement to enroll in some kind of program that costs consumers ridiculous amounts of money each month. This is certainly not a hassle you want to undertake in your busy life. Rebate checks have a history of taking a long time to get so if your rebate pops up in the mail in a day or two, it may be a clue that something is not on the up and up.
To Rebate or Not to Rebate
Depending on your experience with rebates and retailers, there may still be a few good rebates out there that are worth your time and effort. But they are becoming few and farther between. Instead, it is recommended that you search out legitimate money saving offers that aren’t dependent on a rebate. Pay attention to the regular price of the item when you are shopping or comparing goods. Consider that there is never any guarantee you’ll get your money back.
What are your experiences with rebates?