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.
Follow me on Twitter @atlbargains