- Personal Finance»
- Frugal Living
Mail in Rebates: How to Get the Manufacturer's Cash Rebate You Deserve
Applying for a rebate may be confusing
Are you frustrated with promises of manufacturer rebates that don’t materialize?
Have you purchased an item because the promised rebate made the offer too good to turn down? Manufacturer and store rebates can save you a lot of money, but getting the cash rebate can take time, persistence and attention to detail. Often the process of applying for a rebate is purposely confusing and complicated. According to market research by an independent consulting company, more than 40% of rebate offers are never redeemed. Those unredeemed rebates save the manufacturers millions of dollars at the expense of the consumer.
Read Rebate Forms carefully!
Be sure to read everything and pay particular attention to instructions in the fine print. Deadline dates are crucial!
Helpful Tips for Getting Your Rebate
If you are planning to make a purchase, these helpful tips will help you get the rebate you deserve.
- Keep all paperwork. If you order from an on-line company, keep copies of email receipts, invoices and packing lists that come with the item.
- If you order by phone, take notes. Make a note of the name of the person you talked with and his/her extension number. Jot down the date you talked, the order number, exactly what the purchase was and any additional items that you agreed to purchase like service contracts or expedited shipping. Also make a note of any special offers that were made like free shipping or free gifts if you purchased certain items. Ask that an itemized copy of your order be sent to your email address.
- Read the rebate form carefully before you purchase the item, if possible. If you are buying two or more items that qualify for a rebate, you may need an original receipt for each one, so you’ll have to purchase the items separately. Be sure to read the fine print on the rebate form. Check off or highlight each of the requirements for the rebate.
- Compare the item you purchased to the item listed on your rebate form to be sure it’s the same item, size, version, quantity, whatever. Do not open the package until you are sure you have the rebate eligible item.
- Keep all boxes and packing material until you get your rebate. Each rebate may require different proofs: UPC codes, proof of purchase symbol or something else.
- Make a note of the deadline for applying for the rebate. Most rebates are limited time offers and if you send your application in after the deadline, you’ll be out of luck.
- Make copies of everything including the completed rebate form, the UPC symbols, your receipts and anything else that you send in. Jot down the date that you mailed your rebate application.
- If your rebate is rejected, talk to a supervisor. If you’ve done everything you were supposed to do, and your rebate is rejected, make a phone call. Talk to a supervisor if possible. You may be surprised at the positive results this will get you.
Better Business Bureau Complaint File: http://www.bbb.org/us/Business-Complaints/ You can view number and type of complaints against businesses or charities at this site before doing business with them.
Price Grabber: http://www.pricegrabber.com/home_rebates.php/ You can search for any item to see if there is a rebate offer. The site will tell you the terms and expiration date of the offer.
Don't give up if your rebate is rejected
Sometimes, despite your careful attention to detail and doing everything according to instructions, your rebate is still rejected. My advice is, don’t give up!
- The most obvious recourse is to call the company offering the rebate (you have the phone number because you kept copies of all your paperwork, right?), and explain why you should receive the rebate. Ask to speak to a supervisor, as a supervisor can usually authorize a payment without your having to resubmit forms. You'd be surprised how often a phone call will resolve the problem.
- If that doesn’t work and you are convinced that you are entitled to the rebate, file a complaint on line with the Better Business Bureau. 70% of complaints are resolved. The Better Business Bureau prefers that you try to resolve your problem with the company before contacting them. Once you have filed a complaint, they will forward it to the company within 2 business days.
- Write to the company’s corporate headquarters.
- File a complaint with the FTC or your state’s attorney general.
Don't Give Up ~ Get the Rebate You Deserve!
While these may seem drastic measures, especially for a small rebate, they have been proven to be effective with companies who have a history of not paying. Remember that some offers are designed so that consumers will give up rather than pursue the issue. If you purchased the required product, you are entitled to the promised rebate. Do pursue it!
One final tip on cashing rebate checks
Once you get your rebate check, cash it immediately. I once lost a $40 rebate because the check was misplaced and it expired! Most rebate checks have a time limit, and some are only good for 60 days.
© 2010 Stephanie Henkel