Thursday, March 19, 2009

Are Rebates Worth it?

I recently bought 4GB of memory from a Tigerdirect retail store close to my house. The appeal for this particular brand was simple. I could get "4096MB PC6400 DDR2 800Mhz" RAM for $20.00. Yeah!

First, I have to pay $45.00, the get my $25 rebate. The catch, of course, is the rebate process. I can just picture the execs sitting in a room dreaming up ways to help people loose heart in cashing in on their rebates.

The process begins by going to a CompUSA (really?) web site, typing in the part number I purchased. (This was not easy to find, by the way). So after typing "C13-6082" into the little form, I get a list of possible rebates I could be eligable for depending on the date of my purchase. Once I find my date range, I have to download a pdf document that then instructs me to go to ANOTHER web site to really begin the rebate process. OK.

This web site is happy to send a check for $25 in 8-10 weeks (really?), or in 5-7 days, they'll send me a gift visa or wire me money for a small $3 fee.

No thanks.

I click to get the full rebate of $25, even though the value of the dollar will probably fall enough to make it worth the $22 I am now being offered to get my rebate sooner.

So now, after surrendering my address, phone number, and TWO email addresses (just in case), I am directed to another pdf to print. I then receive an email (at both addresses) featuring these instructions:

  1. Verify all fields on the rebate application including name, address, order number, serial number etc. are filled in completely and the information is accurate. The name and address that appear on your invoice or purchase receipt must match the name and address on your rebate application.
  2. Print out and Sign the completed rebate application. (Your rebate application cannot be processed without your signature)
  3. Attach all required documentation as specified in the rebate application including your invoice and the UPC barcode. Depending on the rebate offer, Serial numbers and other proof of purchase may also be required. The rebated product must appear on your invoice or purchase receipt.
  4. Send your completed and signed application along with all required documentation to the PO Box address indicated on the rebate application. For your convenience the rebate application contains a mailing label with the address preprinted.
  5. Be sure to have your completed submission postmarked on or before the "postmark by" date on your application. This date is usually 30 days from your original purchase date.
Why is the signature so important? If I can produce the serial number, surely all this could be done instantly and online.

I am going to do it all. I am not going to give them the satisfaction of "forgetting" to complete the process, thereby giving them an 80% markup!

The question I have yet to answer, and may never really know for sure: "Is it worth it?"