One of the people I work with, Dave (yes, the same Dave who got the tattoo in Las Vegas), recently made a post on his site about all of the cheap stuff he's bought recently with mail-in rebates. He wrote that out of the 5 rebates he's been waiting for, he's received one. Well, Dave, you're not alone.
In general, I try to avoid buying items that come with mail-in rebates. They really only comprise a small portion of my purchases, maybe 10% at most. The reason is that the odds of someone actually receiving a mail-in rebate on a tech product are pretty low these days. For example, in the past year, I have ordered 2GB of OCZ DDR memory ($40 MIR), a PNY GeForce 6600GT PCI-E video card ($20 MIR), two 1GB SanDisk USB Sticks ($10 MIR each), and a Cuisinart Coffee Maker w/ Built-In Grinder ($20 MIR). Out of those rebates, the most recent of which was filed about 8 weeks ago, I have received exactly $0.00. That's $100 that I'm owed that I will, in all likelihood, never receive.
OCZ sent me a postcard saying that I wasn't eligible even though I was. I sent them another copy of my form, UPC, their denial, and a letter stating why I was eligible and I have yet to receive a response (that was 2 months ago). PNY just ignored me. SanDisk denied both rebates (filled out with different names/addresses) and didn't give a reason. Only Cuisinart still gives me hope. Since I'm only at the 8-week mark, it is still possible that they'll come through and send me my $20. If not though, I won't really be disappointed because I never really had my hopes up in the first place.
The one that really started my dislike of rebates was a couple years ago when I decided to make the switch to Cingular as a cell phone provider. The phone I picked was a Motorola V600. That phone was supposed to come with two mail-in rebates. The first was for $30 and was through Best Buy (where I got the plan). The second was for $70 and was directly though Cingular. After about 3 months I received the $30 from Best Buy but it took Cingular a full 4 months to send me a denial notice stating that I wasn't eligible because they claimed that I didn't actually sign up for service when I bought the phone. Now, the form that I sent them included my new Cingular phone number, a copy of my service agreement (showing the contract length, plan ordered, etc.), and a copy of my receipt for the phone and the service plan.
Now, rightly so, I was mad. The denial letter they mailed told me that if I disagreed that I would need to file an appeal by mail. No phone or fax number was provided. I tried calling the main Cingular Customer Service number and they told me that they didn't have anything to do with rebates and that I'd have to follow the directions on the letter. I, of course, sent a letter in response to the denial, and was ignored. I never received a response and I never received my rebate.
I hate mail-in rebates. If I could think of a word stronger than "hate", I'd use it. There is nothing worse in retail than telling someone that you'll give them money back on a purchase and then failing to do so. The truth is though, I will probably continue to buy items with mail-in rebates from time to time. Sure, I'll avoid them if at all possible but the draw of a possibly-discounted item is just too strong if it's something I really want/need. Oh well...
Digg this story