I really don’t like rebates for some reason. I suppose they’re better than nothing, but I’d rather have a coupon or just reduce the price. Here are four reasons I hate rebates:
1. It doesn’t reduce the price as much as an equally-priced coupon.
This is assuming there’s sales tax, of course. Let’s say sales tax is 10%, and you have a $10 rebate for a $20 item. Your final price after the rebate is $20 + $20 * 10% - $10 = $12. If you had a $10 coupon instead, it would be ($20 - $10) + ($20 – $10) * 10% = $11.
2. It requires extra work.
Places that use rebates are hoping to bring people in who want the rebate, yet are not motivated enough to actually send in for the rebate.
3. They often want the original copy of the receipt and UPC.
This isn’t so bad, except that there’s only one original. If it gets lost in the mail, or if the company conveniently loses the receipt, you’re going to be out of the rebate.
4. Rebates are often given in the form of Visa or MasterCard gift cards.
I used to get rebates in the form of a check, which I would just deposit in my bank account. Now I get them in the form of gift cards. It’s hard to use the full value of the gift card – you can’t use a $10 gift card for a $20 purchase and pay the rest in cash or some other form of payment. No, you have to pay $10 so it brings to price down to $10, then use the card. Not too annoying if there’s $10 on the card, but it is annoying if there’s only 4¢ left.
Plus these gift cards often have fees if you don’t use them soon enough, which will eventually make the gift card worthless. Thankfully, the gift card will never have a negative balance.
Can you think of any other reason rebates suck?