The Rebate Experience

Happy July 4th. A bit of a (relative) comedic post today.

Yesterday I purchased a DVD from a local store. The clerk told me that it had a mail in rebate for $10. I (ignorantly) thought to myself – that’s cool, it should be fairly easy. I was certainly wrong.

I’ve sent in plenty of rebates in the past, but normally not for relatively small amounts. Some are pretty easy, others are quite difficult, none represent great customer service or a commitment to the customer service experience.

There’s a post here that kind of shows what I’m talking about. If companies make a certain process (like peeling off a sticker) difficult, they probably don’t care enough about their customers to make it easy. The same thing goes for the rebate process.

Here’s an overview of the rebate process/experience I had to endure:

  1. Take off and put the original the UPC code.
  2. Get the original sales recipient from the store.
  3. Fill out the rebate form.
  4. Copy everything for my records.
  5. Put it all in an envelope.
  6. Send it to the longest address I’ve ever seen.

Here are my comments regarding each step:

  1. The “package” had 2 UPC codes. There was one that was actually on the DVD cover and another that on the surrounding plastic wrap.
  2. I was given two receipts (which I didn’t notice until after I sealed envelope and of course, I thought I forgot to include the receipt). Plus, the receipt the rebate form told me to include had a different name than the store I purchased the DVD at (I think the listed name was the store’s parent company).
  3. No problem, but there wasn’t exactly much room, nor was it very clear about what should and shouldn’t be filled out.
  4. Not so bad, but it’s easier to send copies and keep the originals.
  5. No problem. I’m glad I had envelopes and stamps, though.
  6. The address was unnecessarily long. It was about 6 lines and had a 15 character ID number of some sort I had to put on it.

Does that represent that the anonymous parent company cares about my convenience? Certainly not. I really don’t like rebates and doubt I ever will, but if they could just make the process a bit easier, it’d be so much nicer for everyone.

Note: This is an example of the business/finance departments not adhering to the suggestions provided by the customer service department.

So if your company is going to have any sort of mail in rebates, at least make it easier than this process. Shorten the address, ensure the form is not nearly as ambiguous, and tell the customer they should have gotten two sales receipts. It’s still hard enough so the person who doesn’t care at all won’t do it, but it’s not so bad where the process is downright annoying.

3 Responses to “The Rebate Experience”

  1. Maria Palma said:

    Jul 04, 06 at 8:03 pm

    I never fully understood the whole reasoning behind rebates. Why can’t companies just give you a discount at the time of purchase and have it all done with? I know, they probably want your information to keep for their records, but the whole process seems to be a waste of money for the company unless they really do use the information wisely.

  2. Rick said:

    Jul 04, 06 at 10:14 pm

    I learned to be very careful with the paperwork for rebates. My guess is companies do them because they look like they give you a big discount, but a lot of people either forget to send them in or, as the articles said, the company makes it so difficult the paperwork is screwed up and they can turn you down.

  3. Tammy said:

    Jul 04, 06 at 11:35 pm

    The last time I sent in for a rebate ~ my experience sounded like yours but it was for vitamins and after spending like two hours getting everything the way they wanted it – it was in the mail but funny thing is…six months later I realized I never got the rebate.

    I know, I could have called or wrote a letter – made another copy of everything to send with my letter but didn’t want to invest another hour or two for that $10.

    Your right ~ when you see the words rebate you buy thinking “what a deal” then lose a week of your life making the deal actually HAPPEN.

    Great post.