Manufacturers love rebate programs. That’s because a whopping 60 percent of customers never follow through to get their money back.
Retailers love rebates because they attract shoppers in search of good deals.
Consumers, however, usually find rebates to be too much of a hassle to deal with after they’ve purchased a product, yet they still get fooled into looking only at the “after rebate” price.
Sure it takes some work to track all that paperwork and make sure the manufacturer follows through on its offer, but money you get back is worth the extra bit of time.
Here are 11 tips to make the rebate process run smoothly.
1. Run the Numbers
Consider whether a $100 product with a $20 rebate is really worth the hassle if you can buy it elsewhere for $85. Not to mention, with so many discounts and promo codes available from sites like PromoCodes.us, it might be worth shopping online for a better deal and saving a stamp.
2. Check the Expiration Date
Verify the deadline by which you must file for a rebate. If the expiration date is unreasonable, skip it. If you can make the deadline, then hop to it and start the paperwork immediately.
3. Read The Rules
You’re going to need specific paperwork to get your money back, so don’t throw anything away until you read the details. You’ll likely need the UPC from the package, your store receipt and the rebate slip. Some manufacturers like to hide the rules on the inside of a product box so you have to purchase it first. You might want to give these “offers” a pass.
4. Follow The Directions
If the instructions require you to stand on your head while filling out the forms, then Ally Oop! Also make sure you fill out every line on the application.
5. One Rebate Per Transaction
Since you usually have to submit the original receipt, don’t combine rebate purchases on one receipt.
6. Mark The Date
Note on your calendar the date for the check’s estimated arrival, the offer name, address, amount and date submitted. If you frequently apply for rebates, you might want to use the Rebate Reminder freeware.
7. Make Copies
Scan or copy all paperwork before mailing and staple the packet together for future reference. Keep your notes on deadlines, problems, etc. with this packet.
8. Know The Status
Many rebate houses provide a URL so you can track your redemption.
9. Watch The Mail
Rebate checks sometimes look like junk mail. Make sure you don’t toss them out.
10. Stay On Top Of Things
If you haven’t received a check by the due date, begin to document your tracking calls and searches and keep this paper with the previously mentioned packet.
11. File A Complaint
If you encounter major problems that can’t be resolved, report the situation to the Better Business Bureau and the Federal Trade Commission. You also might want to write the state attorney general office in your state or the state in which the rebate-sponsor is located.
Andrea Woroch is a consumer and money-saving expert for Kinoli Inc. As a nationally recognized media source, Andrea has been featured on Good Morning America, NBC Today Show, MSNBC, New York Times Bucks Blog, Kiplinger Personal Finance, CNNMoney and many more. To view recent interviews or for more savings tips visit AndreaWoroch.com.