Mail-In Rebates: Stay Ahead of the Game

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.

11 thoughts on “Mail-In Rebates: Stay Ahead of the Game

  1. mapgirl

    You forgot to mention checking to see if you can file the rebate online. I just bought some Behr paint at Home Depot. If you go to HD’s rebate website, it makes filing for the rebate very easy. (It even said ‘Behr Memorial Day Rebate’ and directed right to the correct form.)

    Electronics are a big item that have rebates, even for very small stuff like $5 and $10 cables.
    .-= mapgirl´s last blog ..Where Are Interest Rates Headed? =-.

  2. Adam Post author

    @MapGirl – Actually, the rebate that I was talking about in the post was an electronic one. It is still important to keep all of your information readily available after you submit. Also, if I didn’t have the reminder set, I would have forgot about this particular rebate.

    Staples does make it rather easy to submit their rebate online. I would imagine many retailers (like The Home Depot) will go to this format.

  3. meinmillions

    Thanks for the tips! I tend to avoid items with rebates because of the hassle associated with them. You also have to carefully read the fine print because sometimes you might think you qualify for something that you really don’t!
    .-= meinmillions´s last blog ..Revolutionary Road =-.

  4. Adam Post author

    @MeInMillions – You’re right about the fine print because that is one of their tactics. They assume that many will not be eligible for the rebate based on some of the fine print that they have. However, being Americans, they know we will not read it and buy the product anyway. Once we send in that UPC we won’t be able to return it!

  5. Adam Post author

    @Paul – I’m with you on that one. If I have choose between a product with rebates at $499 (after rebates) and a product without them for $529. I would definitely go for the one without rebates. I value my time and I think the extra $29 is well spent.

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  7. Jay

    What are you guys talking about! Rebates are easy and painless. Just man-up, be a little responsible, and mail thing in. Some of them are a little slow to send the rebate, so just wait and be patient.

    Oh and Adam, the difference between $499 and $529 is $30.

  8. Panix

    You forgot to mention that funding for most rebate programs come out of marketing budget. The main goal of rebate programs is to help support sales by the manufacturers/wholesalers direct customers, (The retialer).

    The other issue regarding money siting in an account, well the problem with this statement is the item has already been sold to a wholesaler, or retailers,(See first point)and the Funds are already budgeted for the promotions. This is why companies limit the possible expose to the amount of rebates paid stating, While supplies last.

  9. Arthur Fross

    You gave someone else’s rebate. I’m short on what I am to be sent. I can understand why you do not have a phone number to call.
    It’s possible you sent my rebate to someone else as I received theirs. I know this will go no where, but thanks for the grip line.

    Arthur Fross

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