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Getting the most from rebates

Posted 4 November 2007

Rebate schemes are tempting, but can be a trap

With the Christmas shopping period approaching, a lot of consumers are looking at buyinging computers. To take advantage of this, a number of retailers are manufacturers are offering rebate schemes for some tech products. These schemes offer a “cash back” for certain purchases.

A cash back scheme is where the manufacturer offers to refund some of the purchase price of their product. To take advantage of it, the customer has to provide proof of purchase, provide a few other details and send them to the manufacturer.

We don't like these schemes as the bureaucracy involved works against consumers. Too often, many people find their claims are rejected for trivial reasons, or the forms don't even get to the manufacturer.

While these offers look good, we recommend only treating them as a bonus. Don't base your purchasing decision purely upon a price after deducting a rebate you may or may not get.

If you do decide to go ahead with a rebate, here's some tips to help you,

  1. Don’t base your purchase decisions on the after rebate price. If price is the main reason for purchase, don’t include the rebate in your comparison.
  2. Confirm the cashback applies to the model you have bought. Often the scheme applies only to certain models.
  3. Make sure you are eligible for the offer. There are often rules that exclude businesses or multiple purchases.
  4. Read the instructions and conditions carefully while still in the store. Make sure the shop has given you all the details. Many promotions require the invoice to be machine printed, not handwritten.
  5. Deal with the rebate immediately. Don't pin the form to your fridge and leave it there. If possible, fill out the form while you are still in the store. Ask the salesperson to make copies of the documents before you agree to buy.
  6. Follow the conditions exactly. If the form requires you to fill it out in black pen, make sure you do.
  7. Check all your details are correct and all required fields are filled in.
  8. Attach all the required documents. Send copies unless the conditions state you must send originals.
  9. Make copies of everything.
  10. Consider sending the claim by registered mail with delivery confirmation. For a rebate worth $250, that five dollar investment is money well spent.
  11. If you haven't received your rebate after a reasonable amount of time, call them. Note that these cashback schemes often have processing times of up to 90 days. We think 30 is long enough.
  12. Do not hesitate to complain to your state department of fair trading or the ACCC if you think your claim is not being properly processed.

As we said earlier, we recommend steering clear of rebate schemes, they are a pain and they shouldn't be encouraged. However if you are offered one as part of a purchase, follow the tips to make sure you get the money offered.




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