Bits & P.C.s: Rebates

The time has come for the retailers to be forced to accept some of the responsibility. What, you may well ask, am I talking about?

The answer is rebates. The retail world has decided that rather than offering you a sale price on an item, they will offer you a rebate. The product manufacturer pays the rebate so the retailer does not have to lose any of their product margins (profit).

The manufacturer is relying on the fact that less than 5 percent of the people who purchase an item with a rebate actually send for it. If you don’t send in the form, they don’t have to pay out the money.

Even if you send for a rebate, you can expect to wait 12-16 weeks before you receive your check. That is, if you followed the details outlined to send for the rebate to begin with.

You may not be eligible if you ever sent for a rebate for a similar item from the same company in the past. You may have to send the original receipt, (some will accept a copy,) the UPC bar code, give your e-mail address and telephone number, the box flap, the front page of the owner’s manual, and whatever else they have decided they need to send you the money. If you forget something, they may return your rebate and tell you what additional info you need to submit; others will just say, “Sorry Charley.”

After you’ve waited your 12 weeks and received your check, you deposit it in the bank. Surprise! A couple of days later, you are notified by the bank that the rebate check has bounced. This is exactly what happened to customers of Cendyne earlier this year.

Cendyne was a company that purchased items in bulk, like CD-ROM drives, from companies such as Pioneer, and labeled them and sold the item with their name on them. One of the chains that sold their products was OfficeMax.

Cendyne went bankrupt. They have given the excuse that they did not expect so many people to send for the $40 and $50 (and higher) rebates that they were offering on their products. Let’s see, we have a product that is selling for $80, and we’re going to give you back $50. I can understand that most people wouldn’t bother to send for this rebate.

This is where the first line of this article comes in. If a store is advertising a product at an attractive price based on a rebate, then they should hold part of the responsibility of seeing that the rebate is paid. At the present time, there do not seem to be any regulations that prevent a retailer from offering a rebate even if they know that the supplier may not have the funds to pay the customer.

Maybe the answer is to require the store to have a rebate insurance policy, or better yet, maybe the answer is to stop the rebate game and sell at the rebate price.

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, e-mail, or call 243-1162.

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