Monday, February 20, 2006

Qwik Qwestion

But first, a quick note. I didn't bring my lunch today, so I went to the cafeteria for a Chik-Fil-A sandwich. I threaded my way through the crowd of people milling about with confused looks on their faces (this is standard around the office building) and bellied up to the sandwich bin. They didn't have any Chik-Fil-A sandwiches, so I settled for a hamburger. They call them smash burgers for some reason. I don't know why - they basically suck. They're even too bad to get a decent joke out of the name, like eating one will fill you with the urge to smash the guy who sold them the meat-like substance they use. Anyway, I pay for my burger, look behind me, and see that EVERYBODY IN LINE BEHIND ME HAS A CHIK-FIL-A SANDWICH! They apparently set them out seconds after I passed by. I need to call Equifax. My karma rating should be better than that.

Okay, on to the question. What's up with product rebates? How is it better for a business to offer a rebate rather than just reducing the price upfront? Rebates involve added paperwork and postage and manhours to process. The only scam I can see is that they frequently involve a small window to submit your paperwork and require you to submit so much paperwork (receipts, rebate forms, proof of purchase beyond the receipt, DNA sample, winged serpents, etc.) that if you make a single mistake, they get to keep the money. Once I had a rebate that had to be postmarked within a month of purchase. I dropped it at the post office on the last day. Unfortunately it was a Sunday and didn't get postmarked until the next day. The company (Norton Antivirus) sent me back a letter saying I missed the deadline.

I'm posting this because I just bought my tax software. It comes with rebates for a couple of other products (Money 2006 and NAV 2006, which already comes with another rebate). After the rebates, I'll be getting Money for free and making a penny from Norton as opposed to paying 30-something dollars to use their old product for another year.

Anyone who understands the scam behind the rebates, please clue me in.

18 comments:

samb said...

hey you spelled question and quick wrong.

Leesa said...

I know this answer. Most rebates have a very low return rate. Even for $5 to $15. It costs the company money to process, but because they process far fewer "claims" than are outstanding, they make out like bandits.

Plus all of the rules you must follow. Yikes. I once tried getting a rebate and I had to fill out a form online. The form gave me some sort of error for more than one month.

Prata said...

And as a side note, Norton is not the best app to use for virus detection. It includes about 5 billion (well not really but you get the idea) different little hooks for performing other tasks and is very memory intensive on your machine.

It's easier (and less sadistic to your computer) to use separate apps for the things you are doing. Ad-Aware for that accumulation of shit that everyone seems to find on their machines, AVG for virus scanning. That's just me though.

And Leesa is dead on with the rebate thing. Most people don't even bother because of the paperwork that is involved.

Melissa said...

They just want to jerk you around, monkey boy, and see if you'll jump through their hoops for 12 bucks.

Grant said...

samb - know eye din't.

leesa - what I thought, even though the rebates in this case were $20 and up. While filling out all the paperwork, I thought to myself "Is this actually worth the money?"

prata - I'm not thrilled with NAV, but I used AVG for awhile and it let a virus slip through. I only use Norton's AV (not the full security suite) and Ad-Aware for the spyware stuff, so it's not too hard on my PC.

melissa - $12? Maybe not. $20? Apparently I will.

Prata said...

Ooooooh. AVG let one in? Ick. I'll have to re-evaluate that application. Yeah, I also forgot to mention NAV standalone. That in and of itself is not a bad app really. The security suite though is just way over the top and without good reason IMHO.

*goes to look at f-secure*

Mel said...

I agree with the jerking you around - and personally I've always thought that the companies do this because they know a great many of use couldn't be farked to fill out forms and post them in to claim back money, only for them to tell you that you forgot to put an "X" next to section F of the U forms, which you didn't C and you just thought was oK.

Blue said...

Its Marketing 101. Over promise then make it hard for the customer so you dont have to deliver.

BTW - I've never had a prob with AVG - but use spybot search & destroy in conjunction with Ad-aware.

oh and kerio firewall.

Thanks for your comments on my blog - not that you bothered to help with my essay at all!!!! If I fail it will be your fault :-)

Liz said...

Everyone is right. Only something like 5% of rebates get paid out. My day after Thanksgiving blow out included a ton of rebates. I missed one deadline by 1 day so they sent a letter saying I suck. I have only received 2 back so far. Last year when I got a new phone from Sprint in December they didn’t send a check until September. They told me it got “lost”, those MFers

Eternity said...

I've nothing to say; just felt like commenting.

~Deb said...

I never understood the delay in rebates either.

As far as the Chik-fill sandwiches---I have never heard of those before. I did work for a company that sold those wedges (sandwiches) in vending machines that were GOD AWFUL! I got sick on one and never, ever, touched that machine again.

Be safe---brown bag it!

*Blue*Star* Hilda* said...

hi!!

Stacy The Peanut Queen said...

Those rebates drive me crazy. All that "must send original receipt", "circle purchase date and price", and "must send in a valid DNA sample"....it's crazy.

They're just hoping against hope that you'll feck up and they won't have to send the rebate to you....they ALL do that.

sands of time said...

They do it because they know that a majority of people wont bother to mail it back.You lose the receipt ,you can't find the box it came in so you dont have the code.They just want to make itcomplicated.

AVA said...

I think they do rebates because there is some law that prohibits you to have far lower prices than your competitors, so they do discounts through rebates. Don't believe me though, I'm not sure. Anyway, we don't have that in Mexico (we don't even have any discounts here).

Grant said...

everybody - thanks for the info, except for Eternity ( :P ) and *Blue*Star* Hilda* (hi).

Weary Hag said...

What troubles me is that people generally perceive rebates as a great big 'gift' from the company when in fact, (and not unlike a tax refund) you're only getting your own money back anyway.

They should just put in the fine print "pay extra for this item so we can make use of your money for the 10-12 weeks it will take for us to have to actually return it to you."

People are always THRILLED to get their little rebate check ... they OWED you that money for jacking up their prices in the first place!

Weary Hag said...

Now you've got my wheels turning here ... wouldn't it be a beautiful thing if we could call up a company and tell them "I'll purchase your wares in six week's time if you'll just fill out these six forms first ... thank you very much."