Bits & P.C.s: Rebates and Christmas

Bits & P.C.s: Rebates and Christmas

By Richard Heller

Now that Christmas is less than a month away, the retailers are offering some of the lowest prices on computers and electronics that have ever been seen. Or are they?

Retailers have been using the rebate as a way to stimulate sales for a number of years now. Some offer what they call an “instant rebate,” and you pay the sale price and do not have to mail in and wait to get your money.

Most rebates require you to pay the advertised price and then fill out the form, send in the UPC or other proof of purchase along with your sales receipt before a certain date. Then you wait six to eight to 12 weeks

before you receive your rebate check.

But what happens if you wait and the check doesn’t come? You should make copies of everything that you send in for the rebate. Most companies will allow you to resubmit the rebate if you can supply them with copies of the original rebate material. The same can be said if the rebate has been bounced back for a reason other than a duplicate submission. All you need to do is to re-send the form along with whatever was omitted from the original rebate request.

If you do not receive the rebate after the length of time shown on the rebate form, you should attempt to contact the rebate fulfillment house. Most rebate forms give a phone number, e-mail address or Web site that will allow you to check the rebate status.

If your rebate is bounced back or you don’t receive your check, then you should contact the store and see if they can help you get your rebate. Some stores will give you a store credit for the rebate amount; others will resubmit it for you. Of course, there are some stores that will just tell

you that there is nothing that they can do. In this instance, it’s time to contact customer service at the corporate level to see if they can help.

The major problem with rebates at Christmas time is that many of the purchases are being made for gifts. It is difficult to explain to the gift recipient that the reason that the UPC has been removed was so that you could send for a rebate.

The other problem with a rebate on a gift item is that most stores will not accept a return if the UPC label is missing. Unless the item is defective, and they will allow you to exchange it for the same item, you will be stuck

with an item that you got a terrific rebate on.

Of course, this is one of the reasons that rebates are being used more and more, especially on gift items. The manufacturers are relying on the fact that it is difficult for you to send for a rebate if you aren’t buying for

yourself. And if you don’t send for the rebate, they make more money.

Richard Heller is an independent computer specialist who specializes in repairs, installation, upgrades, technical support, Internet sharing, data recovery and diagnostics. If you have any computer or service-related questions, please send them to The Rock River Times or e-mail

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