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Friday, November 16, 2007

Mail-In Rebates**

It seems more than a little odd these days that a software company, hawking its wares on thier own site is a little out-of-line using a mail-in rebate. Sure they use an outsource to perform the actual sale, but they know you bought it and all of your details, why ask me to jump through hoops for $30?

I had been putting up with the mail-in rebate process for a while, I'd buy my Symantec Anti-Virus and wait eagerly for the money they borrowed from me. I did this until Symantec denied my request because the bill (that Best Buy GAVE ME) was rejected because it lacked a store name/address. I've never bought another Symantec product since, though I do get it free through Rogers High-Speed Internet.

Chalk that up to being a lessons learned, but the idea that I need to pay $30 extra, loaning the company $30 against the actual value of the product, is ludacris. If I'm buying a product that is marked $39.95 that's because it is worth that price to me. It is not worth $69.95 and the rebate is not a gift or any other sort of gracious monetary gesture on the part of the datahounds that want your information.

Watch for those asterisks:
** Estimated Retail Price. Actual retail prices may vary. Mail in rebate details
**You may be eligible to receive a rebate by mail. To receive your rebate, you will need to fill out a rebate coupon which is available in the product box or, which will be made available to you, in a downloadable/printable format, after you have completed your download purchase.

Mail-in offer valid with qualifying proofs of purchase only in the 50 U.S., D.C., and US military bases with valid APO/FPO addresses. Rebate must be postmarked within 30 days of purchase. Limit one per household. Not combinable with any other Microsoft offer or rebate. Expires 1/1/09. Only Microsoft Money Plus packages featuring an on box sticker messaging this rebate, or special download purchase pricing, qualify for this offer.
TigerDirect.ca denotes rebate-priced items with a little read asterisk (*) on the price, they're upfront and I applaud that, others do not do this so well, but I've taken to making my decision on the purchase based on the full (pre-rebate) price. If I can afford this price and the value is there, the deal's done, but I'll look for a non-rebate or Instant Rebate (the cost comes off the price in the store, no waiting) as my first choice.

Mail-in rebates are the companies way of generating a customer list. They pay 3rd-party companies to process the rebate requests and mine the data. By not sending in the rebate (using the system to get as much as you can) they make money based on the idea that most (~60%) customers will not pursue the matter. It seems a little underhanded.

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