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too many rebates

I’ve probably sent in more rebate forms in the last two months than I had in my entire previous 28 years of life. It’s starting to drive me nuts.

It starts out innocently enough – a $10 rebate on a spindle of blank CDs. Then all of a sudden it goes nuts on you. $30 on a wireless router. $20 on a wireless network adapter. $60 on Adobe Photoshop Elements. $80 on a new hard drive for the Tivo. $60 on contact lenses. It seems like it’ll never stop.

Then we bought a new washing machine. I have 3 forms just for it! One to rebate the $50 delivery cost. One for $100 back from Alliant Energy since it’s an Energy Star washer. And then one for a $75 gift card from Home Depot for some promotion they were running. What a pain.

I understand why manufacturers offer rebates; they give an incentive to the shopper (“I pay $100 now, but it’s only $40 after the rebates!”) while at the same time they’re betting that a many folks won’t file the rebates on time or correctly (or at all), thus sticking the buyer with the full price. I’ve even fallen for it before; when I bought my Dell laptop back in the fall, it had a $100 Dell rebate that had to be filed within 28 days after the computer was shipped. I remembered it on day 29. There was much unhappiness that day.

Rebates do offer a few rays of sunshine, though; months from now when I’ve totally forgotten about the $80 hard drive rebate and my budget has absorbed the full cost, I’ll get an unexpected check in the mail. That’s always fun… and a good excuse to go out for dinner or something. See, maybe these rebates don’t save me any money at all…

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