Where have all the rebates gone?

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By Howard Schwartz
Connecticut BBB

 

Retailers and manufacturers work hard to get us into their stores and buy brand-specific products, however, Connecticut Better Business Bureau says technology has made saving money more convenient than a well-worn favorite: the rebate.

Rebates are still around. Some online research can turn up a notebook computer with a $50 rebate, ink cartridges with a rebate for $20 and a widescreen television rebate for $140. The problem with some rebates is the redemption process.

There are two types of rebates, the “instant” rebate, in which the savings are deducted at checkout or the “mail-in” rebate, which is less convenient and less popular among consumers.

For decades consumers have complained that their paperwork for the rebate “got lost in the mail,” according to the redemption service company, or that their rebate was rejected because of an error, forcing them to resubmit all of their paperwork a second time. That can be a problem when a manufacturer asks for proof such as a product code from the original packaging.

Instead, businesses now offer dozens of convenient ways to help consumers save money. Aside from large sales and clearances and some retailers offer discount cards or reward customers with mileage points or gift certificates. One of the most significant changes, however, is widespread availability and ease of use of coupons.

Connecticut Better Business Bureau offers some shopping tips, whether you are looking for coupons or rebates:

Check store online before you buy – Stores’ websites and social media platforms can tell you what items are discounted and send you alerts for product sales and coupons.

Be careful with coupons – Make sure you are obtaining your coupon from a reputable suite. The internet is replete with sites that ask for a credit card number, but deliver counterfeit or worthless coupons.

Keep all packaging and receipts – Original packaging is required for mail-in rebates. Keeping the packaging and receipts is also helpful when returning merchandise.

Don’t wait to send in your rebate paperwork – The faster you get the paperwork out, the better, to avoid weeks or months of back-and-forth if there’s a problem. Also, send rebate paperwork by USPS Get proof that you sent an item and proof it was delivered

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