I've just put in a Newegg order for a budget build and found myself leaning towards higher-priced components that came with rebates. However, when I thought about it, I realized that I couldn't remember actually receiving a rebate from previous orders. I wondered if this was the case for most of you -- if so, I think I'll ignore the temptation in future orders and actually stick to my budget. Thanks.
Mail in rebates are a pain. They dont automatically send it to you, you have to follow a strict set of rules and sometimes send something in like the UPC. You then have to wait 3-6 months for them to finally send you the money, and thats only if you send it in within the allotted amount of time.
My assumption is that they make it as hard as possible to actually recieve the money. Most people buy the product thinking its free money but I doubt many of them ever get their money. I dont really consider mail in rebates in the price unless it was a significant amount of money, but thats just me. I hate dealing with that garbage.
I think only twice have I not received a rebate.. and I called both companies and got that straightened out. However, they usually always take a long time to arrive.. like a minimum of 8-12 weeks. I prefer to not even bother with rebates and go for the lowest price, unless the rebate is fairly significant.. it's usually not worth the hassle.
I haven't had any trouble with rebates, and I've sent a lot of them in. I vaguely remember not getting one once, but a call or email to the company fixed that. The rules aren't really that hard. You just write your information (address, phone number, etc.), cut out the UPC, copy the receipt, and mail it all in. Just be sure to keep a copy of everything. The one time I did have a problem, I just told them I had copies and they sent my rebate--they didn't even ask for the copies.
I've been very fortunate with rebates on items purchased thru Newegg. I've got rebates from Antec, OCZ, & Western Digital products.
Newegg is also helpful. I bought a OCZ USB drive that had a rebate. It arrived with the wrong UPC/SKU sticker. I wrote Newegg about it and they told me to send it in anyhow and if it was rejected they would correct it. Well, as expected, OCZ rejected the rebate. I notified Newegg and they credited my credit card for the amount of the rebate.
All said & done though, there are a lot of rebates out there that have gone bad so I always make a purchase based on the assumption that there is no rebate.
I've had about a 50-50 response from getting the rebates. I've also received some wierd replies when trying to collect them, like one place sending a letter back saying I sent it to the wrong place. That one didn't send me back the forms, so I then had nothing to use for collecting a rebate.
I wish they would start using instant rebates. That way nothing would have to be sent in, but would just be deducted at the time of purchase. Of course they don't do that because they figure most people either won't send in for a rebate or will do something wrong when filing for it, thus letting them sell the product at full price.
Rebates are for those who have more time than money. You MUST be willing to follow their rules to the letter to get your rebate. I've heard that only 20-30% of rebates are even submitted, much less submitted correctly. Most of my hardware has been purchased with the aid of rebates, so here is what I've learned:
:arrow: Be methodical. I push everything aside when I work on a rebate.
:arrow: Copy everything. This may be the most important fact. I like to send a copy of what I've copied with the submission so they know that I have a copy.
:arrow: Keep good records and contact them if the check is late.
:arrow: State AEs frown on those who try to rip people off with rebates. Just the mention of the AE's office has dislodged money for me.
:arrow: If they have an issue with your submission, follow up with them. I once had a company send me a card to tell me that I had not submitted the rebate! How did they know? I sent them an e-mail, mentioned the AE's office and, lo and behold, they found everything!
:arrow: Even I have standards. Unreasonable rebates are unreasonable. A .com recently had 1GB of RAM for $50 after rebate, but the rebate was for $90! 8O Rebates should start at normal prices and give a discount from there. I try to see the rebate before I purchase so I can see how complicated it is and how much time I have to submit it.
:arrow: When in doubt, be a pain. Retailers do not want to spend time with a customer who's having an issue with a rebate. If you irritate them enough, sometimes they'll call the processing company and tell them to pay.
:arrow: Be careful when you buy something with a rebate. It's easy to get side tracked and forget a rebate until it's to late when you have a new "toy" to play with. If you buy rebated items with a new system build, where's your focus going to be?
:arrow: Who is handling the rebate? If the rebate is being handled by the retailer, the rebates are normally easier and quicker.
:arrow: Don't forget to check back. I think some will not pay until they hear from the submitter.
:arrow: Be wary of companies who might be on the verge of folding. If they go out of business, you're out of luck.
Rebates are evolving. Officemax no longer sells items with rebates. Costco and Staples have gone to electronic submissions. I think retailers are getting smart to the time issue.
Only time I ever had a problem with any rebate was back in CompUSA's early days where they were screwing everyone, but I eventually got it straightened out. Over the last decade I've probably done nearly a hundred rebates. They often take longer than they're supposed to but they generally come through OK.
When you're dealing with rebates here's a little set of Best Practices:
1. Process the rebate as soon as you have the required materials. If you let the paperwork sit around it'll get lost or forgotten about.
2. Make a scan or a photocopy of everything you mail out. Lay out UPC cut-outs and stuff along with the invoices and filled-in forms. If you scan it, the filename should be something like "NewEgg Rebate for 2x Raptor WD1500ADFD January 2007.PDF". Keep the files in their own "Rebates" folder.
3. Keep a record of each rebate. A simple spreadsheet or even just a text file in Notepad is fine. Note the product you purchased, where it was purchased, the date you purchased or received it, the date you sent in the rebate, and contact info from the rebate form such as a phone number and/or web site. You might also want to add a follow-up date, by adding thirty days to the maximum expected processing time beyond the mailed-in date.
4. When you receive the rebate, record that fact. Go back to the spreadsheet or whatever. Either note it as PAID or delete the item altogether, depending on whether or not you care about the history after the fact.
Yeah, it's a little bit of a hassle but so is the rebate itself, and a little due diligence up front avoids grief and confusion later.
They make $$$ from people who forget or don't care about the mail-in-rebate. The 20-30% is about right - those are the people who actually send it in to get their money back.
As a rule (after getting burned on a rebate or two), I only get mail-in rebates from the manufacturers, and only if they're a well known manufacturer. For example, I would not hesitate at all if the rebate was from Seagate, WD, Kingston, Sony, etc. Some stores that I've not had any problems with are Staples, newegg, Best Buy.
I would hesitate if it was from Frys, some lesser known shop, etc.
The only rebate I never received was from my Hercules TNT video card. It was a manufacturers rebate, and they went tits up just after buying the card. Of course Guillemot bought them and kept the name Hercules.
As for rebates, they're a pain, I never factor in the price reduction that they represent since you can't rely on them coming any sooner than 2-3 months after you send them in. I think manufacturers use it as sort of a bait and switch. They get you in with the low price, but they don't expect most people to jump through all their hoops to actually claim them. If I got a small fraction of every rebate not collected by the original purchaser, I would be as rich as Billy.