Oh, how I hate rebates. Normally, I'll go out of my way to avoid them, or only buy the product if the price without the rebate is good enough for me to go ahead and buy it anyway.
But I did go into our cell phone service deal largely because of them, even knowing how much I hate them because they were so substantial and it was something we'd decided we wanted to do.
There were $410 worth of rebates.
The first rebates ($200) I carefully filled everything out and collected all of the necessary materials and mailed them in to T-Mobile and got those rebates right away.
There were two more sets of rebates, though, totaling $210 but there was of course, a catch. I had to wait a certain period of time to redeem each of them.
Now here's the real deal behind rebates. You wonder how the companies can afford to do this -- and the answer is, most of the time, they don't have to. People forget to do it right away before the rebate expires, or they lose one of the littany of pieces of documentation they require.
A typical rebate deal may go like this:
Send in a copy of your original order, a copy of the UPC from the box, and a picture of you wearing a monkey's underwear on your head holding a headline from the New York Times dated precicely 34 days after your invoice (was that the order date on the invoice, or the ship date, or the day you signed for it?). Be sure to be holding the product at a 43 degree angle from the horizon in the photograph. Any visible scratch on the item will invalidate the rebate.
If that date should fall on a thursday, please include the main editorial from section D from the previous Sunday's New York Post. This must not be a copy, but an original printing from the press.
Don't forget to tape the body of a bluebottle fly to the lower right corner of the envelope.
Rebate requests postmarked later than 35 days from the invoice date will be considered void.
This is designed to keep anybody from actually getting the rebate.
I missed the 120 day deadline for $100 worth of rebates, but the other $110 -- there's still time. However, in all my zeal to get everything together and ready to go when the specified dates came, I neglected to include a copy of the UPC from the box -- never mind that I have the order invoice, the number, my 4th month's T-Mobile bill (as requested), which I'm sure all match records they have in their computer anyway.
I HOPE I scanned the UPC into the computer, because I was required to send the UPC's in for the first rebate. No chance of making a copy of those. However, my scanner is a printer/scanner/copier, and I MAY have just used the copy function. I'll have to look tonight.
Otherwise, I've screwed myself out of $210 worth of rebates.
Which was their plan all along.