How to make sure you get your rebate check.

It’s Friday again. We grab the newspaper off the front porch as we walk to work. We get to work, open the thin cellophane bag and quickly dive for this week’s Fry’s ad. We see all those great specials with two prices. The in-store price and the amount of the rebate. You’ll see similar rebate offers at Staples, Circuit City, CompUSA, Best Buy, etc. These rebates are great for manufacturers. It’s a way of offering a product at a lower price and increasing the number of sold units, while at the same time making the consumer jump through some hoops to actually get the good price, even after they’ve paid a large amount of money for the item. It’s estimated that %50-%70 of consumers don’t redeem their rebates, which helps the manufacturer’s bottom lines. Many of the rebates have strict rules, making it difficult to redeem them. I’ve taken advantage of many of these rebates and have a pretty good track record. Here’s a brief overview of some I’ve done:

  • $50 for an chair
  • $5 for some DVDR’s
  • two $20 for the same mouse
  • 10$ for a KVM switch
  • two $20 for two cell phones (one each)

A good example is this week’s Fry’s ad has the 300gb Seagate Seraial ATA/150 hard drive for $149 with a $50 rebate for a cost of $99. For $99 it’s a good deal. That $50 rebate brings the price from 50cents a gig, to 33cents per gig. That’s a big price difference. If you don’t get the rebate, it’s not worth it. We want to make sure you get that check, so here’s some tips on how to make sure you get the rebate.

1. Read the fine print – This is probably the most important part of the whole process. I considered making this the last tip, but it really should be first. From the fine print, you’ll learn vital information necessary for all the other rules. Reading the fine print is step number one!

2. Look for online rebate registration – I’ve gotten two rebates that used www.rebateshq.com. While I haven’t gotten any rebates, this one’s great so far. It allows you to pre-register the rebate. You can search by vendor/mfr or by a rebate “code”. You may still have to mail a form in, but it’s nice to be able to fill the form out online and print it and mail it to them. This gaurantees legibility. and saves you some trouble. You’ll be able to track the rebates at the same web site later. This is totally a win-win, and why it’s step number two.

3. Complete and accurately fill out the entire form – You have to fill out all the fields on the form. It may ask for your email address and you may not want to provide it, but give it anyway. You may get the extra benefit of getting email notices of processing. If you fail to provide your apartment number, don’t expect to get it.

4. Include exactly what they request – If it asks for anything original, be sure to include the original. Frequently they’ll ask for an original UPC or the original receipt. Whatever you provide in original form, be sure to scan and save a copy until you get your check.

5. Mail as soon as possible. – For the $50 rebate on the chair, I goofed. I waited until the night of the deadline. I noticed the due date that Saturday at 7pm. Fortunately for me, I live in Dallas and we do have a 24 hour post office that NEVER CLOSES. Yes, it’s in Oak Cliff, yes, that’s about 25 miles away from where I live, yes, I paid for the time and the gas to get it there, but it was fifty bucks. I’ve now learned to process all of my rebates as soon as possible. I set a deadline myself of one week from the date of the purchase. The other advantage of immediate processing is getting your rebate check quicker! I waited almost 7 months on two rebates from AT&T for cell phones.

I find it easiest to be thankful when the rebate comes in and just deposit the check. Be careful, a friend told me of a rebate check he received that was only valid for 90 days and he let it expire. I encourage you to put copies of the forms in your Tickler file at the minimum expected time frame for receipt of the rebate check.