2003-10-19

Something Remarkable

For the first time in my history, I finally received all of my rebate checks. Generally, I will not purchase an item if the price depends on a rebate. Rebates are unreliable and subject to odd and unexpected conditions that lower the chances of actually receiving the rebate.

I allowed for one exception when buying our new phones from Amazon. The phones offered a $50.00 rebate from T-Mobile for each phone and a $150.00 rebate for Amazon. These rebates also had their conditions. The T-Mobile rebate required a form and the box upc code. The Amazon rebate required the first phone bill, the packing slip, and a form.

I filled out the forms and mailed the required documentation as soon as possible. The forms were available from the Amazon site but were offered as JPEGs so the text was fuzzy. The T-Mobile rebate forms went out within the first week and both checks were returned in about six weeks. The Amazon rebate had to wait for the first bill. The first bill offered confusion of its own because we had to change our phone number right after we received the phones. The phone numbers that were assigned at shipment ended up being a long distance call from our house. The bill assigned the monthly charge to the new number and the activation to the original number.

To help prevent confusion, I wrote a letter explaining the bill and included it with the rebate documentation. I received one check from Amazon about three or four weeks later. The second check from Amazon arrived today almost eight or nine weeks later despite being sent at the exact same time. I wonder why the processing time has such variation, but I am mostly glad just to get the rebate back without too much hassle.

As for rebates, I still don’t like them. The stores should just credit you at time of purchase. I think this would save them money by eliminating the charges associated with processing the rebates forms, but they probably think that it will cost them more money because as it is now, some people give up before they get their rebates.

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