Mail-In Rebates: Good Deal or Rip-Off?
Many reliable companies, such as BestBuy.com, offer mail-in rebates for products. Ive purchased many products with mail-in rebates and have usually received the rebate. However, I feel that you should effectively discount the value of a mail-in rebate by about half.
In other words, if a product is offered for $100 with a $60 mail-in rebate, dont assume the final cost to you is $40. If you get your rebate, thats true. But, if they wont honor your rebate, your real cost is the full $100. For deciding if you should purchase the item, give the rebate about half its value$30 here. If youre willing to pay $70 for the item, go ahead and make the purchase. But, dont weigh the rebate as if its as good as money in the bank!
For the PC built in this book, one rebate (ViewSonic monitor $40 rebate) was sent in and not received. Even though the paperwork was carefully prepared, the rebate fulfillment company claimed no receipt was included. A follow-up letter was sent with a copy of the receipt included and the rebate was then received.
The company retailing the product, Best Buy, is reliable, and Ive received many rebates for products purchased through them. (BestBuy.com is one of my favorite places to purchase hard drives, RAM, DVD drives, and other components.) The retailer benefits if the rebate encourages the customer to purchase a product he or she otherwise wouldnt have.
However, the rebate processing is sometimes done by a third party, and the actual refund is issued by the products manufacturer. This can lead to nastiness in getting your rebate.
For example, wouldnt it be desirable for a manufacturer not to have to pay a rebate? That puts more money in their pocket! So, a less-than-ethical third party rebate fulfillment company might have a motivation to deny as many rebates as possible. For example, they could claim that you didnt include a copy of your receipt, even if you did. This makes it look like theyre saving the manufacturer money. Most consumers dont aggressively follow up to protect their rights and some rebate companies prey on this.
Because of negative possibilities like this, I only give mail-in rebates half their value when deciding to make a purchase.
Another point to keep in mind is that some of the rebate fulfillment companies are diversified telemarketing companies. Unless mandatory, dont enter your e-mail address or you might wind up getting spam. Because of this, Im tending to avoid smaller mail-in rebates. Or create a yahoo.com e-mail account and use that for rebate purposes, so you dont get your primary e-mail account spammed.
Fill in your rebate form carefully and include all requested documentation of your purchase. If you dont, your rebate will certainly be rejected. Its also important to keep copies of your rebate form and your receipt. If a rebate isnt received within the time period expected, you should contact the retailer or the rebate center and ask what the problem is. If worst comes to worst, threaten to contact the Federal Trade Commission. Remember, its your money theyre trying to keep!
I hope this chapter hasnt scared you about buying computer parts. Most of the time, everything will go smoothly. Your parts will be great and will work fine. And, if they dont, the seller will gladly accept the return and get you a working part.
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How to Build Your Own PC (http://www.PCGuide.com/byop/) on PCGuide.com
Version 1.0 - Version Date: May 4, 2005
Adapted with permission from a work created by Charlie Palmer.
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