Shopping: The Four Worst Words In The World

There are four words that, when I’m looking for bargains, are the death sentence of almost any deal I find.

“After mail in rebate”

I can’t stand rebates.  I always have.  There have only been a few instances where I have actually used rebates, but most of the time it’s a deal-killer.


  1. I’m impatient – If I’m going to get a deal, I want it now and the rebate means that I have to delay the ‘deal’ part of it.
  2. I want to spend what I’m going to spend, and not a penny more – The rebate always makes you spend more up front and (in theory) get some of that back later.  That’s a free loan to the manufacturer.
  3. I’m lazy / forgetful – I don’t have a system and don’t want a system to track rebates, and yes I’ve forgotten to send them in.  It’s what the companies count on when they offer the rebates and I’d rather deal with a company that gives you the deal straight-up.
  4. The terms / companies are a pain in the kiester – Cutting off the barcodes.  Sending the receipt.  Making sure to make a copy of the receipt.  Highlighting the items.  Putting everything together.  They’re all little steps that involve little effort, but they’re all so little that they’re a) a pain to do and b) easy to forget a step.
  5. Things get ‘lost’ in the mail– I’ve had / heard of rebates that get sent in and nothing ever comes back.  Unless you were diligent enough to make a copy, the company can just claim that they never received the paperwork.

I know that rebates work for some people, and they have in the past for us.  When we moved into our house, we happened to move in during a big rebate on paint, that got us back $60 or so.

I also know that the complaints I have listed are all manageable, it’s just that I have made the personal decision that they’re not worth the aggravation.  It’s a judgment call that I made, but it’s one that means that when I am deal-hunting, by the time I see the words ‘after mail in rebate’, it’s pretty much assured that I’m already looking at the next deal.

What do you think about rebates?

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4 thoughts on “Shopping: The Four Worst Words In The World

  1. I've committed the worst sin by forgetting to cash the rebate check. By the time I remembered, the check was stale. *Sigh* All that trouble plus the cost of postage and I ended up with nuttin'.

  2. I hate the "After mail in rebate" because companies will always advertise that rate in big letters, then put the after mail in rebate in realyl small ones. Always SUCH a dissapointment!!!

  3. I think that rebates *can* be a good thing, but only if you were intending to buy the item anyway and you are very diligent about meeting all of the terms in full and on time. (As a side note, I used to process rebates, and most of the terms aren't meant to be annoying, they're really just so that the purchase can be verified.)

    In general though I suspect most people buy things they didn't intend to buy due to the promise of a rebate, and then don't actually do what they need to do to get the rebate.

  4. I like them if I can't get any other discounts on what I need to buy AND the rebate isn't in the form of store credit that I won't use again.

    But they are kind of a pain and I have to leave notes to myself on a calendar to make sure that I follow up for every single one. Some are easy, others are a pain.

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