For many individuals, mail-in rebates can be a pain. They require you to send in all kinds of personal information, cut out UPCs, mail envelopes stuffed with crap, and remember where/when you sent them. It’s no wonder many individuals don’t even bother sending in the rebate. Well, I am not one of those individuals. I keep up with all of my rebates to make sure I am paid what I am due.
Why Do Companies Even Offer Mail-In Rebates?
1. They Get Your Personal Information
Most rebate forms require you to submit them with all of your personal information. It allows them to place you on their mailing list as well as track your spending habits. If they notice that you spend a lot of money on computer accessories, you better keep an eye out for a coupon in the mail!
2. They Know Many People Won’t Even Bother to Send It In
Companies are not dumb. They know that there will be a certain percentage of consumers out there that won’t even bother to send it in. Either they will forget or they will sent it in with the wrong information. It’s been estimated that only between 50% and 70% are redeemed. For example, in 2005 TIVO only had about 50% of their new customers redeem their $100 rebate netting the company a cool $5 million.
3. They Can Earn More Money
While you are fiddling with cutting out the UPC and licking the envelope, the company is still collecting interest on your rebate money. Just a way to earn a few more bucks!
4. It Can Stop You From Returning Items
Since you have to remove the UPC to get some rebates, it’s a great way to thwart off returns. Most companies will not return items without the UPC.
5. It Can Help Inflate Sales
If a company needs to boost it’s financial outlook for shareholders, a rebate can be rather handy. They can record the sale at the full price in one quarter and show the discount in another after you redeem the rebate. It helped them boost up sales in that first quarter.
Stay Ahead in the Rebate Game
Back in March, I sent in two mail-in rebates to Staples for some various software packages I bought. The other day I got a nice follow up email from Google Calendar reminding me when I sent the rebate. Since I had yet to receive the rebate, I gave them a call to find out what the problem was. Turns out they sent them, but got lost in the mail. They needed all of the information again in order to reprocess the rebate. I imagine they were hoping I forgot about the rebate and didn’t keep good records. Well, they were wrong and provided them with all of the info they needed. Needless to say the rebate is on its way again. If not for my attention for detail, that $60 would be long gone. Here are some tips to follow when sending in mail-in rebates.
1. Keep the Rebate in Your Sight at All Times Until You Send It
As soon as you get the mail-in rebate, keep it in your site until you mail it. If you do not follow this step, there is probably a 50% chance that you will forget about it. That’s like throwing money down the drain.
2. Read, Read and Read Some More
Make sure you read the instructions on the rebate several times. Neglecting to do this may cause you to miss an important step in the rebate process. If you miss something they will contact you (maybe) and let you know what you are missing. Chances are good that you have already misplaced the required information (the UPC if you threw away the box).
3. Copy Everything
After you get all of the required information ready, make sure you copy everything. Copying these crucial documents are your proof that you filled them out correctly. I also recommend copying the envelope you send it in with the correct address and a stamp on it. If it is a really big rebate you may even want to send the envelope certified mail or get a certificate of mailing.
4. Set a Reminder
Mail-in rebates often give you a time frame to let you know when you should receive your rebate. If it says 4-8 weeks, set yourself a reminder in Google Calendar. If the rebate has not arrived by the time you get that reminder, it’s time to give the company a call. You should have the phone number to call because you kept all of those copies.