Weekend Open Forum: Your experience with mail-in rebates

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Let me preface this by saying that I understand you've probably had some positive experiences with mail-in rebates -- I have too. However, I'm inclined to believe they're nothing short of a rampant marketing gimmick that have tainted the consumer tech space. Besides relying on questionable ethics to succeed, they often spoil the entire shopping experience. For example, nearly half of Newegg's video cards are advertised with a rebate (14 out of 34 pages), and many of those "discounted" items have their price hidden.

Regardless of whether you're interested in taking advantage of the promotion, many cards have to be added to your cart before you can see their price both before and after the rebate. Naturally, this can be incredibly annoying if you're trying to spot-check a bunch of different cards. The circus continues post-purchase as you jump through half a dozen flaming hoops to save $10 on a $250 purchase. In a race against the clock, you have to obtain one or more rebate forms, snip your UPC label and mail them before time expires.

Even if you're vigilant enough to complete the process, your submission may conveniently "vanish" in the mail or somehow, they're postmarked too late to qualify. I've experienced both firsthand. Assuming the company is honest enough to accept your rebate, they'll still test your patience (and memory) by delaying your check. I've waited upwards of six months before and another TS staffer has had a rebate pending for more than nine months. Are we just extremely unlucky or have you been shafted by a rebate program too?

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