Beware of Black Friday rebate rip-offs

Many of the eye-popping Black Friday deals you’ll see over the next few days will have one catch: “After mail-in rebate.”

According to consumer advocate Clark Howard, those words may as well be sirens screaming in your ear.

Still, the potential savings is practically irresistible. How can you walk away from the chance to save hundreds of dollars on a computer or get a free smartphone with the purchase of another, even if there is the little deal of sending in for a rebate later?

“If I see an ad and it is after rebate, I just ignore it,” Howard said.

Words of advice: To thine own self be true. If you know you are prone to procrastinating or misplacing receipts, you’re probably not likely to correct the problem in time to take advantage of a rebate offer. Said Personalmoneystore.com’s Money blog:

“…Many retailers bank on the fact that the consumer who purchases their rebated products will fail to send in their rebate.”

Howard also says that some of the rebates are just hard to get.

“[The purchaser] will do everything they are supposed to do, but you still don’t get the rebate,” he said. “They are told they didn’t submit the information in time or they didn’t submit the right copy of the receipt or they didn’t fill out the form correctly. They just get cheated.”

Some stores like Staples, have an online rebate program in addition to the mail-in rebates. For the most part, the process is a bit time-consuming — and loaded with savings for the disciplined shopper.

Howard’s rule is simple: Treat the rebate as a bonus. If it is a bargain even without the rebate, the purchase could be worth it. If not, leave the item on the shelf.

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3 comments Add your comment

Amanda

November 25th, 2009
7:51 pm

Cell phone companies are notoriously bad for refunding mail in rebates. Do your homework before purchasing a phone to make sure you are getting the best deal. Radioshack, Best Buy and Wal-Mart do not typically have mail in rebates on the same phones you can get at the carrier stores, and are often times cheaper. (speaking from experience as a former cell phone sales person)

itsmeagain

November 27th, 2009
1:26 am

Pro-tip: If you dont have the money to pay for the item before the rebate, dont do it

Kashi

November 30th, 2009
9:08 am

BEWARE…Norton AnitVirus software. Last year I send everything they asked for and never received my $25 upgrade rebate from them. I even send them original Yellow Product ID Keys of CD Cover from last year’s version 1.0 and they said it is NOT enough to prove I have the previous version of Norton. They want me to send About/Help print screen but I had already upgraded from v1.0 to v2.0 and how the heck can I get About/help print screen of previous version now? All you out there, If I show you a yellow product key with label Norton Antivirus 360 in CD cover, would you believe me that I had bought a pervious version of Norton software?