Thursday, January 05, 2006

Scams... I Mean Rebates

Christmas time shopping, especially when it comes to electronics, often involves a lot of rebates to be filled out, UPC’s cut from boxes, and envelopes addressed to mail.  It’s a hassle, but it’s usually the only way you can get things for below average prices to maximize your gift giving ability… even if sometimes the gifts are simply for yourself.

Almost every year on the day after Thanksgiving I hit up Best Buy and pick up more stuff than I probably need to. For instance, this year I picked up a DVD recorder for my tv… which, when I think about it, I don’t really need as I don’t watch enough tv to justify having one to record all those shows I don’t watch.  I got caught up in the “good deal” mentality when I bought it.

Just like the last few years, this year my dad and myself are waiting on quite a few rebates to come through.  In the past we’ve had companies attempt to burn us by not fulfilling rebates so we always keep lists of what rebates are outstanding, their amounts, and contact numbers because, more often than you might believe, we end up having to contact the companies offering the rebates.

In reading about Radio Shack’s recent rebate fiasco, I recall one company, APC, that tried to screw not only my dad, myself, and my brother out of our rebates, but no doubt everyone that sent in the rebates.

At Best Buy they had rebates on their power supply/surge protectors so I got one, my dad did, and my brother did.  We filled out the rebates.  They were for pretty significant amounts of money, $40 I believe.  We mailed them in and waited… and waited… and waited… and finally received a postcard from APC in the mail.  Within the same period of a couple of days each of us received the postcard.  It stated that our rebates were invalid because not all of the needed information was provided.

I called the contact number I had down to see what was really up and was told by the person working that it must have just been an error and that they’d mark my submission as valid and send out the rebate.  The same thing happened when my brother and father called.

My guess is that they just sent the invalidation cards out to everyone who sent in a rebate and then if someone questioned it, they actually sent out the rebate.  This way they’d be able to scam anyone who didn’t keep the contact information about the rebates.

Ever since then, I usually try not to figure in the price of a rebate when I’m buying something because I don’t know if I’m always going to get it.  When I do, though, it’s always nice to have that check arrive and realize you now have some extra money you can go blow on more stuff that has rebates.

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