Weekend Open Forum: Your experience with mail-in rebates

By on July 1, 2011, 9:05 PM

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?

User Comments: 34

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techfiend4 said:

i bought all my parts for my new build a few months ago from newegg. i was looking to get the rebate money back. out of the 7 rebates i had, i think ive received 4 or 5. asus, evga, raidmax, and corsair were the only ones to send me my rebate money. luckily out of the others im only missing 30 bucks so im not to disappointed. i do usually shop and look for rebates but try buy from company's that i know ill eventually get that money from.

Tekkaraiden Tekkaraiden said:

Considering how long most rebates take, I've long consider them more of a bonus than anything else. The quickest rebate I've ever received was 3 weeks and the slowest 4 months. I've only been refused a rebate once due to 'incorrect paperwork'.

Guest said:

No joke here. Sent off for a $20 mail-in rebate for McAfee Anti-Virus Windows 95 Version 3.1.1 in 1997, recieved the rebate in 1999. When I got it out of the mailbox I pretty much just started laughing.

Guest said:

The rules I live by regarding rebates:

*Don't give them an excuse. Follow the rules to the absolute T and make a copy of everything, including the postmarked envelope.

*The hoops you have to jump through for rebates are pretty ridicuolous and time-consuming. Because of that, I don't consider any rebate less than $15 worth my time. If the rebate is less than that, the retail price of the product better be enough to make the purchase worthy, or it doesn't get my money.

*Rebates are worthless if you aren't going to get them. If you're not organized enough to complete the rebate and send it in a timely fashion, negate the rebate in any purchasing decision.

*Treat rebates as "bonus money." You never know when they will arrive, don't count on them to be back in time to pay your rent.

*A good way to get rid of those prepaid cards is to top off your fuel tank. A $20 prepaid card used at the pump is done (don't have to manage the balance on it), and makes a small but positive dent in the budget.

*Or, feel free to buy some technogadget you've been desiring with your rebate. It's "bonus money," after all. Treat yourself.

treetops treetops said:

I hate mail in rebates. They exist to fool the customer. They hope hope you don't send it in. They have to to pay people to apply these rebates which costs the consumer more money. Just ******* sell your product at a good price you sneaky shit heads.

howzz1854 said:

i've had to wait up to one year in the past for a cell phone rebate. eventually still didn't get it. it got so frustrating in the end i got into an argument with customer support at VoiceStream (later became T-Mobile).

absolutely HATE It!

having said the above, rebate doesn't count for anything for me now. when i shop, the number for the rebate just goes into my brain and comes out unprocessed. i don't even look at the rebate number anymore, let alone mailing it out.

another recent experience with HP: when trying to shop for a replacement laptop to replace my old HP laptop, i finally waited long enough for a large sum online instant rebate (or a coupon code) to come out. low and behold, the instant rebate worked at check-out at the HP online store. But guess what.... after i submitted the order, the invoice came back without the instant rebate. i had to call HP customer service and of-course they gave me the run around. finally they told me the instant rebate coupon code i used was indeed "Good". no F$%^& kidding!!. they said somehow their server just failed to process it. they instead would offer me an after purchase rebate, that was lower value than the coupon code was suppose to give. WTF.. i canceled the whole order.

penn919 said:

Generally, my experience with rebates hasn't been too bad, but I don't deal with them very often and I plan to keep it that way. I figure so long as your not entirely counting on a rebate for a good deal you'll be okay. Now granted that doesn't happen very often, but that's why I don't bother with them too much. It's such a hassle jumping through all the hoops only to have your rebate denied for pretty much any reason they make up and you can't do anything about it. It all seems so shady to me. On the other hand, aside from the non-stop phone calls they probably get from shafted customers, I can definitely see why rebates are a successful retail strategy for manufactures.

veLa veLa said:

All you have to do is counter-hassle (call them) and you'll get it.

Guest said:

I bought an Acer laptop in 2008 and it came with a $200 mail in rebate. I then had the option of swapping the rebate for a 3yr warranty. I took the warranty and im glad i did as i had to send the laptop to acer recently to fix the video card.

Darkshadoe Darkshadoe said:

Rebates are nothing but scams. All they are doing is holding that money for a period of time to make interest off it. It doesn't take "3-5 weeks" to process the rebate.

Just remember:

When you own money to a company, its a delinquency.

When a company owes money to you, Its a rebate.

mailpup mailpup said:

I've gotten most of my rebates but because it can take so long to get them, I've probably forgotten about some that I might not have gotten. I no longer bother with all of the potential rebates. The problem is if you cut out the UPC for the rebate, that conflicts with warranty requirements (if you have to return or RMA an item) that the UPC code on the original packaging be intact.

cliffordcooley cliffordcooley, TechSpot Paladin, said:

I hate the idea behind rebates so much, I've actually stopped looking at products with rebates in the past.

I know any product that is sold with a rebate, could be sold at a discounted price avoiding the rebate completely.

TomSEA TomSEA, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

LOL...terrific comic as a representative.

In general, I've had reasonable success with rebates. One trick I've discovered is after about 5 weeks, call the telephone number listed as a follow-up and you'll almost always get a "OH...your rebate was mailed yesterday!" from the representative. And sure enough, a week later I'll get it. Otherwise, no phone call follow-up and it'll end up in the Twilight Zone.

And what mailpup said - mailing in the original UPC code makes returns impossible, so you're taking a chance in that regard.

Julio Franco Julio Franco, TechSpot Editor, said:

Like howzz1854 said, these days I just don't pay attention to whatever rebate there's available, I count it out and proceed to compare net prices I pay upfront.

jtennison said:

My worst rebate experience was with an ANTEC power supply. I purchased the power supply, filled out the rebate form following the instructions carefully, and sent if off. I dutifully kept a copy of everything in case the paperwork went astray. Weeks later, having received the rebate check, I deposited the check and threw away the paperwork. A week later. I got a letter from the bank, telling me the rebate check had bounced, and they were charging me a $25 fee for a bounced deposit.

Since I no longer had any paperwork, and the filfillment company went out of business, I had no choice but to eat the rebate cost and the $25 fee.

But I will never again buy an ANTEC product that involves a rebate!

Guest said:

To me a rebate seems like an interest free loan to the manufacturer. If the manufacturer actually pays the rebate then that product has been sold for less than it's retail price creating a loss that is then written off at tax time. So the manufacturer wins twice. Make sense?

blimp01 said:

i wanted to send in my mail in rebate for some PNY ram, but it wants the original receipt which i thought i should keep incase the ram breaks and i need to RMA it right?

Guest said:

I get at the minimum 30 MiR a year for the past 15 years. In all that time there has only ever been one that I did not receive and it was because the company went bankrupt and decided not to honor any of their outstanding rebates. I think it was for a spindle of CDs back when they still cost $50 for 100. I typically use the prepaid cards immediately to buy a newegg gift certificate that I can later use, since they do not expire and I get a lot of components through them.

Guest said:

Personally I avoid buying any product with a mail in rebate unless I have no choice.

TeamworkGuy2 said:

Corsair is ok about rebates, got on a power supply after about 2 months.

But most rebate experiences both tech related and unrelated are never what they should be (very late, to many forms, non existent, etc).

Guest said:

I bought a Speaker set from Creative Labs. Inside the box I found I had to send the box in for the rebate. The shipping of the box cost almost as much as the rebate. I never received my rebate, and I have never used a Creative Labs product since. This is not the only Top name company I have had trouble with...Sears with a $40.00 delivery rebate..filled in and mailed in by the store Manager....Never got. Snapper Mower with a $300.00 rebate. Never got. No amount of screaming helped!

I no longer will consider a rebate as part of the cost. Most of the time if an item has a rebate, I will not even look at it!

Per Hansson Per Hansson, TS Server Guru, said:

Thankfully in Europe the "rebate system" you have in the US is pretty much never used.

And it's a good thing because I just hate systems which are designed to waste my time, how you guys put up with it is beyond me...

I have only once used a mail in rebate, it was when I bought my Canon EOS 40D DSLR.

The rebate was quite big so it was worth the hassle, but just to reiterate this is actually the only thing I have bought in Europe where even the possibility existed for a mail in rebate...

Guest said:

I used to work for a major rebate center so I know all the tricks to get your rebate the first time around.

Make copies of everything you have to send in.

Print legibly and also if you have a self inking stamp with your name and address put that on all items your sending in.

Read everything carefully and double check before you seal up the envelope.

Response times do vary between rebates, so give it the max stated, usually it takes less time depending on the response from that offer.

If you can check the status of the rebate on a website do that every week or 2 to see how its going.

Hope this helps and be patient!!!

Kraemepoo said:

I work in an industry that offers rebates quite often. And when we're doing so we estimate that about 55% of them will be collected. So we can offer a $500 product for $400 (after MIR) but we calculate we'll make 445.

As a consumer, I ignore them. I know I'll forget, or put delay sending until I'm way past the deadline. On the other hand, sometimes my wife is with me at the time, and she always follows through and gets them, so its more like an unexpected bonus.

Arris Arris said:

Waiting for one from Sony at the moment. Will wait and see if it's processed/honoured.

Tomcaster68 said:

A couple of years ago I submitted a rebate form and all applicable requested documentations to ASUS for a $50 rebate on a video card and never heard from them. I just received my UPS tracking number from Newegg for an XFX 6970 video card that details a mfg. rebate ordered June 30, 2011.

If I receive it, after I submit it, I will be pleased and surprised.

Guest said:

Usually many products with rebates are more before the rebate than a competing product without a rebate. I will usually skip the rebate and just purchase the less expensive item before rebates. I have received alot of my rebates but by the time you get them, you forgot about which one that was for and if it was for the last one you sent in.

Guest said:

I support stores that have dropped the rebate practice whenever possible. It seems there are a growing (slowly) number of retailers that are doing that. Encourage your retailers to drop rebates and join the trend.

Guest said:


captaincranky captaincranky, TechSpot Addict, said:

Actually, most businesses honor their rebates. I've had trouble with "Office Depot" and "Pep Boys"

Antec and EVGA are always right there in decent time.

Years ago, when I bought my eMachines T-5026, there was a rebate on every item in the system, I received them all.

The only computer product manufacturer I've had trouble with is Cooler Master. Their customer service sucks. They refused to send me a 10 cent rubber foot for a case. There was a rebate on the case also, to get that, I had to call Newegg customer service, and have them leverage my 10 bucks out of CM.

I won't buy their product unless it's on a giveaway price sale, and then not through the mail.

Antec though, completely different story. Superb CS, and they pay up on their rebates, every time.

Guest said:

I hate rebates, but, I have always received the rebate applied for.

Guest said:

I boycott buying products with rebates.

LNCPapa LNCPapa said:

I avoid them like the plague. If I'm not willing to pay the full price (before rebate) then I don't bother. Half the problem is my laziness - I rarely get them mailed off. If I do get it mailed off I don't trust I'll get my check (I've been burned in the past) which in turn lowers my motivation to get it mailed off in the first place. This is the reason I prefer Newegg over TigerDirect/CompUSA - the latter is laden with mail-in rebates.

Arris Arris said:

Waiting for one from Sony at the moment. Will wait and see if it's processed/honoured.

Still waiting. Sent it recorded mail so I know they received it without problem...

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