Rebates are sometimes more hassle than they’re worth

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Rebates are sometimes more hassle than they’re worth
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My rule for rebates is that I’ll buy something with a pain-in-the-rear-end rebate only if it’s a decent deal before the rebate and the rebate is just like icing on the cake. But if it’s only a deal when you factor in the rebate, that’s no deal at all to me.

I think about the hassle of making copies of receipts and UPC codes, sending in the originals, maybe sending it all certified mail if it’s worth it — and then you wait and hope the money shows up. It’s just not worth it sometimes.

Different retailers have handled the rebate question different ways. Best Buy has transitioned away from rebates altogether, while Staples has opted for the Easy Rebate system.

I saw a funny story on MousePrint.org about a rebate at Office Depot. The office supply store was running a promo that promised $1,300 in free software if you bought a tax prep software kit.

Guess what? It didn’t work. You had to enclose the original UPC — no photocopies were allowed. But the same original was required by more than one offer that comprised this overall rebate. So it was physically impossible to get the promised rebate in its entirety.

People started making a fuss and contacting the store trying to get their money back. MousePrint.org contacted Office Depot and asked for an explanation. Unfortunately, Office Depot had no response from them at press time.

As a retailer, you earn the trust of customers step by step. You maintain that trust with how you treat them. My thing is, just give people a good deal upfront! Don’t make them jump through hoops. More retailers show consider doing away with the rebate.

Editor’s note: This segement originally aired Feb. 3, 2012

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Clark Howard About the author:
Clark Howard is a consumer expert whose goal is to help you keep more of the money you make. His national radio show and website show you ways to put more money in your pocket, with advice you can trust. More about Clark
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