I’m not a fan of rebates, particularly the kind of rebate for which you must pay full price for a product up front with the promise of cash back if you remember to mail in your receipt and a portion of the product’s packaging in time. I’m not a fan because I’m generally unorganized, at least historically.
I’m not a fan also because many people are like me. Rebates are great marketing tools, convincing customers that they are getting a better deal. The company offering a rebate on a product gets the benefit of advertising a lower price as well as the benefit of charging all customers full price. They are well aware that many customers will not jump through all the hoops necessary — or even just remember to do so — to receive cash back. By the time this cash arrives for the lucky customers, the price of the product has been lowered.
As of January, I had the same cell phone for almost three years. I had completed the terms of my latest two-year contract with Verizon Wireless and was delaying the purchase of a new phone for as long as possible.
My biggest problem — a complaint shared by my girlfriend — is the phone’s battery couldn’t hold a full charge after three years. When using a Bluetooth headset, the battery drains in less than an hour. I could have simply purchased a new battery for the phone, but I decided to take the opportunity to pick a new phone that would offer me helpful features e-mail, mobile web, and a functional keyboard. I decided on the BlackBerry 8830, and I’m very satisfied with the purchase.
The current price is $399 with a 2-year contract, minus a $100 online discount (or just $299 in the stores). Additionally, whether purchasing in the store or online, Verizon is also offering a $100 rebate. This is the same offer that was presented to me a few months ago when I was shopping for my new phone. Somehow, and I’m not quite sure how, I managed to convince the salesperson to give me another $100 off. Perhaps because I spent a lot of time in the store and they probably just wanted to get rid of me, they sold me the phone for $199 with eligibility for the $100 rebate.
True to form, I almost missed the deadline to send in my rebate form, receipt, and serial number cut from the box. Here’s the problem. When you take the phone home, you have fourteen days to make sure the phone works properly before returning it. This prevents you from destroying the packaging and sending in the rebate right away (though I imagine some people do, anyway). The box get put away and the rebate is forgotten.
Almost. As March came to a close, I realized I was approaching the deadline for mailing my rebate form and qualifying for my $100 back. I managed to submit the materials in the nick of time. It’s entirely possible that they would extend the deadline, but it’s not with $100 to find out.
As I mentioned before, I’m not very trusting when it comes to rebates. Many times, rebate offers are simply scams. First, the customer must jump through hoops, second, materials are often “lost in the mail,” and third, loopholes which allow the company to reject rebate requests are frequent. Verizon Wireless seems to have a better approach to the process. According to the Verizon Wireless Rebate Center, my rebate paperwork was received yesterday, and I qualify.
The website doesn’t tell me when I will be receiving my rebate, but if I can believe the salesperson (would this qualify me as naive?), I should receive my check within two weeks.
Updated April 9, 2008 and originally published April 4, 2008. If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the RSS feed or receive daily emails. Follow @ConsumerismComm on Twitter and visit our Facebook page for more updates.