Everyone is looking to save money in the current financial climate right? Businesses that seem to help you to save money or to stretch your shopping dollar further become the businesses that you frequent over other similar businesses right? Manufacturer’s recognize these things and just for future reference it is not just in the current financial climate that people are looking to save money in. Manufacturers that offer you instant coupons or rebates on their products are more likely to catch your eye than those that do not have some type of similar savings offer. One of the great name brand choice saving shell games that manufacturers use more than any other ti attract consumers to their products over their competitors is rebates. Everyone who has ever purchased a product from a drugstore or grocery store has at least seen rebate coupons on some product or other in the course of their shopping. Most people have even purchased a product whether intentionally or not which offered either an instant rebate for purchasing the specific size and style of product that they are offering savings for, or a manufacturer’s mail in rebate. You’re handed a coupon or form that is printed along with your receipt explaining how to go about obtaining your savings rebate, and then you are supposed to take the time to read the terms and conditions, submit your information to the manufacturer and then sit back and just wait for your check
You leave the store feeling smart and good about yourself for saving your household money by buying the product that offered the rebate. The business also gets a mental check mark next to it which will be weight when deciding which local drugstore to run out to for something in the future. So the two businesses ostensibly offering you these wonderful savings have gotten exactly what they want and what they intended by offering the in store manufacturer’s mail in rebate to get you to purchase the name brand product over the other similar products that they could have purchased. Everything is rosy to this point right? Everyone working together to bring you savings, you basking in the glow of satisfaction that you feel for being a savvy shopper and for getting more savings for your money.. Would you feel as smart or as good about your purchase if I told you that manufacturers are well aware that there is a less than 50% chance of you redeeming the rebate reward, half of the people who purchase an item specifically for the rebate will not even submit the paperwork to process their rebate.
If this was just a case of 1 of every 2 people not bothering to submit their paperwork for the rebate, we could dismiss the companies taking the easy route by offering mail-in rebates to consumers with a “well that is the consumer’s bad right?” For those ninny’s who leave their rebate money sitting on the table that is exactly the case, their bad, but for those individuals who really are serious about taking advantage of every single savings and stretching of their consumer dollar though the story has a few more twists and turns along the route to your check for $1.50 or $2.00. Manufacturers normally do not redeem their own rebates, they set strict time lines and rules and then they hand the fulfillment over to a rebate management company. The management company is also given the incentive to find fault with as many rebate redemption applicants as they can because the company will give them a bonus for rejecting a large number of the claims that are submitted for reimbursement, Why quite simple. If the redemption process is a negative experience, if you are rejected for whatever obscure reason or what have you then in the future you are much less likely to submit a rebate redemption in the future.
Manufacturers further muddy the waters by having very short redemption periods for the rebate offers. This works to lower the number of claimants even further by voiding the rebate redemption for any late adopters, procrastinators, and basically anyone who does not immediately sit down and fill out their paperwork almost immediately and then get their redemption in the mail. So not everyone in the 50% that do actually submit their rebate for redemption will get their check in the mail. Often companies make this process difficult as well by outsourcing the contract to fulfill the redemption of their rebates because the fulfillment company is looking stringently for any irregularities or excuses to deny the redemption request on a technicality and thus pad the bonus that they have been promised for doing just this, Often these companies will deny many valid claims that were actually mailed within the time limit, because the time when they received them in the mail is after the redemption date. However the only date that matters for legal purposes is the date of the postmark. As long as the request was mailed on or before the end date the claim is actually valid.
There are several other nefarious and underhanded things that they do to further lower the number of valid redemptions that the manufacturer offering the rebate must pay. One trick they use is in requiring the original receipt, which if you have more than one item on your receipt with a rebate attached, especially if they are for different manufacturers, there is no way that you can submit an original receipt for both items right. They also reject a lot of redemption requests due to “missing or incomplete information submission.” They try to make the redemption request form as small and confusing as possible hoping that you will miss a spot where there is supposed to be some type of information entered. Sometimes it is hidden in the small print, or a small print check box which requires something small and not at all vital to either their information gathering process or your payment, such as the date you signed the form, with the box or space for the information placed on the very edge of the form so that it is possible that it gets cut off and the customer never even sees the space provided for the information. Many fulfillment management companies also like to wait until way after the date that payments were said to be processed by, to see if you contact them before actually putting the check in the mail.
There are lots of little ways, exclusions, exceptions, and restrictions that companies will use, solely for the purpose of not having to honor the redemption requests of the consumers who may or may not have purchased the product solely on the basis of the mail in rebate. Rebate redemption fraud may not seem on the surface to be a big infringement in terms of business practice violations, but the reason that rebates and rebate redemption have remained in the stone age in terms of fulfillment is because companies do make a lot of money playing the rebate rejection game. If there wasn’t a lot of money in it they wouldn’t bother doing it. To the consumer it is the matter of a couple or three dollars (sometimes more, sometimes less), but if they sell a million rebate marked items throughout the country or around the world you are still looking at them trying to retain millions of dollars at the expense of the individuals who erroneously buy their products.