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     The biggest manipulative consumer scam perpetrated on the unwary consumer during the past decade has been the advent of REBATES.  This practice is so common, that it hardly ruffles a feather any more of concern. Be aware, that the odds are stacked against you in receiving a manufacturer's rebate as promised.

     What it means is this- more money in the pocket of corporate manufactures, and less bang for your buck.

Here's how it all works, and why manufacturers and retailers LOVE rebates.

1) A product that has a promotional rebate will enjoy a 30% or 40% increase in sales over the same product or comparable product not part of a rebate.

2) Then only about 10% (or less) of all consumers having bought a product with a rebate offer ever get around to submitting the rebate forms.

3) Because of often complicated and multi-requirement rebates, and filling out all of the forms exactly as required, a good percentage of submitted rebates are rejected by the rebate fulfillment company because one of many steps was accidentally omitted by the consumer. This can be for the smallest infraction.

4) Last, even if you do fill all the rebate requirements, the fulfillment company can make errors and erroneously reject your rebate- as was exactly the case with my

CANON $70 Pixma Printer and Power Shot Camera combination rebate.


     In my experience recently, two rebate offers for which I applied were noteworthy in their inexcusable delay in fulfillment. Many companies fulfill rebate checks within a matter of two weeks, three weeks, or a month. Canon took 12 weeks to send my rebate check of $50, and Western Digital Hard Drives took 14 weeks for a $30 rebate. Why? Greed. Companies make interest on your money. The faster they send back to you, the less time they have to make interest.

     This month, on the above Canon $70 rebate offer, Canon took 9 weeks to fulfill, and then shortchanged me $50 of the offer, and sent me a $20 check instead of the $70 as promised.

     I was exacting, careful and meticulous about sending in all of the required receipts, forms, and original UPC in the allotted time frame for the offer. Canon Rebate Center claimed erroneously that I did not submit the store receipt for the camera portion of the offer- an absolute falsehood. How do I know?

     I made photocopies of the entire contents of my rebate submission envelope, including the exterior postmarked envelope-- exactly because of this kind of scenario.

     Not only was the copy of my original receipts BOTH on the SAME sheet of copy paper, but both were as clear as could be, AND I had further hand written above both receipts "CAMERA" and "PRINTER" so that anyone looking at the copy would easily be able to identify both.

     Despite this, the rebate person handling my case screwed it up.


     When I contacted the rebate center and explained their error to them, and that I had proof of their error, they then asked that I send in via FAX a copy of my receipt.

     After TEN HOURS, their FAX number was still busy - either totally out of order, or they have so many cases calling in correcting rebate problems you can't get through.

     I finally called two Canon corporate offices and talked to executives in customer service. They personally contacted the rebate fulfillment company (always a third party outside the actual manufacturer) and SURPRISE SURPRISE SURPRISE-- they found all of my original documentation and did not understand why I did not receive my full $70 rebate since they DID have all the required information after all. Corporate offices have now sent me an email confirming that I do not need to send in any additional information and that I will be receiving the balance of my rebate.

     I asked that they email me this confirmation of acknowledged error on their part in WRITING, and confirmation that I will be receiving the balance during the next 7-14 days.


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     Considering rebates are often in amounts of $20, $30, or more, it pays to take the extra time to insure you get your money. Otherwise, rebates are a big crap shoot. Does spending a half hour or more on your rebate seem like a long time? How much do you make an hour?.... thought so. :-)


1) Never buy anything you don't need, no matter how cheap it is, when on rebate. This is exactly the psychology of impulse buying manufacturers and retailers are counting on your to fall for. Shop at a neighborhood specialty shop that offers good prices regularly, with instant counter in-store rebates or sales. I would rather pay a couple bucks more where people know me personally, and help me regularly, than buy the same or similar item at a BIG BOX discount store that has a rebate that will only save me a few bucks in the end. Often, when you do business regularly at a specialty shop (PC Club for example), the clerks who know you can give you additional discounts without requiring rebate mail-in requirements.

2) IMMEDIATELY upon arriving home, fill out all of the rebate forms while it's still fresh in your mind. Every day that passes that you wait to fill in the rebate forms increases your chances of missing a deadline, or forgetting. Invariably, rebate deadlines creep up on  you so fast, if you don't send in your rebate requirements immediately you'll miss it altogether- and the manufacturer wins its bet that you will be a flakey consumer.

3) Photo copy EVERYTHING. Make a duplicate copy of everything in your rebate submission INCLUDING THE EXTERIOR OF THE ENVELOPE showing the postmarked date. Getting a copy of the postmarked envelope is the most difficult thing, because often a postal clerk will not let you leave the counter with your envelope once it has a meter strip or postmark on it.

Two solutions to this:

A) Go to a self-serve postal machine that prints out a meter strip with the postmarked date. Apply the postage to your envelope, then take to a photo copy machine, or photograph with a digital camera on fine setting that will allow you to see the postmarked date if necessary.

B) Buy your postage from a postal clerk (contract stations in stores are common) who will allow you to take your envelope to the photocopy machine nearby. In my neighborhood we have a contract postal station in a pharmacy that also has a copy machine where I can do this.

4) Put your rebate copies in a REGULAR place where you can find this information in an instant, and where you are reminded to be on the lookout for your rebate check. I tape current rebates in process on a place on my office wall where I see them from time to time.



     If you follow these steps, you increase your chances of actually getting your rebate refund as promised. If the rebate offer is screwed up or lost by the manufacturer, then you have all the proof you need to hammer them and have them fulfill as promised.

     In those cases where your rebate is mishandled, you must be ASSERTIVE and speak to whom ever will give you satisfactory resolution. This may require calling a corporate office or public relations executive if the rebate fulfillment company is incapable of helping you. In the case of Canon and Western Digital, only calling the corporate offices brought about a reasonable amount of attention to my badly handled cases.



Good luck- !