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OfficeMax Drops Mail-in Rebates 321

Posted by CowboyNeal
from the cash-in-hand dept.
DrEldarion writes "Looks like OfficeMax is dropping mail-in rebates. 'Rebates were the #1 customer complaint we were getting,' said Ryan Vero, OfficeMax's chief merchandising officer. Hopefully other retailers will realize what a good idea this is and follow suit." The best part is that the discount is applied now at the register, so those of us who always thought that the rebates were a scam (or were too lazy to mail in the card) finally get some savings.
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OfficeMax Drops Mail-in Rebates

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  • My solution (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Embedded2004 (789698) on Saturday July 08, 2006 @10:56AM (#15683076)
    I just don't shop at places that have mail-in rebates. Period.
    • Re:My solution (Score:2, Insightful)

      by nolife (233813)
      You do not shop at stores with rebates or do not buy products with rebates? I think just about every computer and electronics retailer uses mail in rebates (which hopefully that changes). You must have a long list of places to avoid. I only buy products with rebates if I was going to buy that specific model anyway but I still look at the inital cost when comparing. Some examples would be my Sirius radio and service, my cell phone and a few others.
      • Re:My solution (Score:5, Informative)

        by tomhudson (43916) <barbara@hudson.barbara-hudson@com> on Saturday July 08, 2006 @11:27AM (#15683234) Journal

        What pisses me off is having to pay the full sales tax on the artificially inflated price, not the true (or "rebate") price.

        "Look, its $200.00, but they have a $50.00 instant rebate, plus $100.00 mail-in rebate ... " but you're still taxed on $200.00, for what is in reality a $50.00 purchase.

        • Re:My solution (Score:5, Insightful)

          by hackstraw (262471) * on Saturday July 08, 2006 @12:25PM (#15683465)
          What pisses me off is having to pay the full sales tax on the artificially inflated price, not the true (or "rebate") price.

          Well, I'm glad you stop getting pissed off there.

          For the life of me, I cannot figure out why my $15.00 phone bill costs me $30.00 (round numbers accurate to less than +-$1.00).

          I'm wanting to go to a completely grey/black/p2p market, and not do "normal" business with abnormal businesses.

          Everything I pay for on the "white" market is between 10-100% more than the "price". When I buy things "on the street", the price is the price, and its usually round numbers, not $99.99 + mystery funds so that my $100 bill does not work any more.

          Between the inflated prices at "legitimate" businesses, and then the taxes that get taken out of my pay check before I even get paid -- yes, I know I could manipulate this, but I'm tired and lazy of having to fight for every penny of the money that I make. In fact, I'm sick and tired of it, to the point that I've just succumbed to giving all of my money away, and just not caring anymore. What do I need it for? I can't take it with me when I die, and its also practically illegal to own cash that is not even backed by hard currency either, so what is the point?

          Yeah, I'm fairly ambiently pissed off at the time because I'm in the process of downsizing myself at the request of the federal government, inflation, and some financial mistakes that I have made. I'll be alright, I mean I'm still above American average and supposedly way above the average in the world or whatever, but I'm not happy about being chronically pickpocketed with no legal recourse. I mean, even civil litigation against a corporation is _very_ timely, and _very_ expensive to the point that the gamble just does not seem worth the effort when its all said and done. I've been involved with civil cases against companies where they are clearly at fault, and if it were up to me to take care of it the old fashioned way, I would just break their kneecaps and call it even. But instead, the lawyers get their subsidies and play good lawyer/bad lawyer against each other, while they are actually for each other because the more they pretend to fight each other, the more money they make for doing nothing.

          Yeah, I need a chill pill, but I ran out. I guess I just have to get used to living in a 3rd world country, but I was kinda getting accustomed to the middle class in the 1st world country, but that is disappearing as I type this. I know a number of people that feel the same way, and have settled up or avoided their debts and have simply dropped out of the American dream just to live their own. I openly ask people around the world where is a good place to live, and you know what? There is no definitive answer. So, I guess we just need to all take a dose of the opiate for the masses, and find a free/cheap religion. /rant -- I almost feel better :)

          • If I had mod points, I'd mod you up ... I think a LOT of us are unhappy with this "brave new world" and feel we've been lied to/cheated/manipulated.
          • made your clothes, your house, your car, and your computer, and virtually everything else you own or consume.

            Please sell everything you own, and stand outside naked in the rain. Or admit that you really are willing to deal with "normal" businesses. Most black/grey market stuff is either cheap knock-offs, or costs less due to failing to reward everyone who created it, or by dodging taxes. I do not like taxes either, but they are the price we pay to live in a civil society. Suck it up and pay your fair
            • I do not like taxes either, but they are the price we pay to live in a civil society.

              You mean "they are the price we pay to live in a warmongering, corrupt society". Eliminate those two and your taxes will drop to less than half what they currently are. Do not underestimate the power of government waste.
            • but those "normal" businesses make the sheets that bind us.

              I am not opposed to paying "fair share", but you're missing the parent writer's point: this is much more than fair share. One of America's founding ideals was "no taxation without representation" - conveniently dodging the "who" of representation. Why are our cell bills so expensive and our VoIP bills getting tax? Lobbying telcos.
            • made your clothes, your house, your car, and your computer, and virtually everything else you own or consume.

              I buy my clothes used from the thrift store at a very low price compared to the retail stores. Its almost cheaper to throw them away than to wash them. My car is used, I paid cash, so I don't have to give the title to the loan place _AND_ pay higher taxes and higher insurance rates for full coverage that costs more than a cheap car does like mine. My computer I bought new from Apple with a discoun
        • full taxes pre rebates...

          Guess this explains why the FTC has what is pretty much a form letter they send out telling you they can't do much of anything unless they get enough complaints about some specific rebate.

          I bet they actually do get plenty for any specific rebate.... but why would they tell you this when its less work for them and only those actually getting rebates in essence gives their parent organization more kickback.... uh errr I mean taxes without representation....

          it's amazing how their are t
    • I have received good prices through rebates and have yet to not be given what was listed. Seems like there are a lot of people out there like me. In fact there are rebate hunters and rebate websites for tracking now.
    • I just don't shop at places that have mail-in rebates. Period.

      Wow, that's a bit extreme. I don't consider rebates when I'm deciding what to buy. So if one product is $50 with a $25 mail-in rebate, and the other product is $49.99 with no rebate, I'll take the $49.99 one.

      If after this decision-making process I have a product that has a rebate anyway, I will mail it in unless the rebate is for a trivial amount. Might as well collect the money.

  • by scenestar (828656) on Saturday July 08, 2006 @10:58AM (#15683086) Homepage Journal
    but a scheme.

    those of us who always thought that the rebates were a scam (or were too lazy to mail in the card) finally get some savings.

    Because not everyone will ask for their rebate retailers are able to squeeze more cash out of their customers.
    • by asylumx (881307) on Saturday July 08, 2006 @11:32AM (#15683253)
      Well, I don't know where folks get off expecting a store not to try and make money. Here's how it works:

      #1 As the parent stated, not all recipients of the rebate form will actually do the work to apply for the rebate.
      #2 Those that do, are not paid for 6-8 weeks. That is 2 months of interest accruing on that money for the retailer.
      #3 The rebates also are a way to collect information on customers, so that the company who backs the rebate can then target their advertising more efficiently.
      #4 Rebates allow the manufacturer of a product to apply a discount without having to change their contract with the retailer.
      #5 Rebates often times are in response to a combined purchase of a mix of products that fit well together, but are from different companies. This relates to #4 where you as a retailer would not want to take this hit yourself because you don't really care what combination you sell.

      They aren't a scam at all, in fact I've never sent one in (with the correct information) and not received a check for the amount advertised. I don't like them, personally, so I just ignore the "after rebate" price. If I can find the "no-rebate" price cheaper elsewhere, I get it there. Otherwise, I buy it and send in the rebate. 2 months later it's like I have a little Christmas present in the mail.
      • It's difficult to ignore when it gets to a certain point.

        FOr example, this week at fry's. 17 inch monitor $99 after rebate. That's a full $50 less than any non-rebate sale price so far.
      • by humphrm (18130) on Saturday July 08, 2006 @12:30PM (#15683483) Homepage
        In my opinion, I've never seen a rebate that wasn't a scam. Even if I got a check. Examples:

        - Dell advertises a notebook computer the weekend after Black Friday last year, matching Wal-Mart's in-store price. Mysteriously, after the order is placed, the system that is automatically supposed to give you links to rebate forms says it can't find a qualifying rebate for this product. Instructions: Wait until you get your receipt (2-3 weeks, with shipment of product), send that with the *generic* rebate form (which you have to go dig up yourself), hope that someone bright enough to remember 3 weeks ago recognizes that, indeed, a rebate was offered, and if all the stars align correctly, you'll get a check. Amazingly, I did. Four months later.

        - Micro Center offers a rebate if you buy Product X and Product Y together, you buy the stuff on Tuesday and stuff all the receipts and forms into your to-do pile for Saturday, only to find in small print on Saturday that your rebate forms had to be submitted within three business days of the receipt date.

        - Compusa offers a rebate on online purchases of a flat=panel monitor; you order it and your order is queued and credit card charged. You download the rebate form and it says you need to include the bar code from the box. The shipment is, naturally delayed due to unforseen circumstances (who knew all these people would want a flat panel monitor at this price????) Then when you get it, the rebate is expired. Spend several months with some anonymous outsourced third party non-english-speaking CSR's and eventually after threats of legal action they begrudgingly send you a check, which still takes six to eight weeks to arrive.

        I've got many stories like this, which is why I stopped buying rebate items, usually someone is willing to match the rebate price without a rebate, and they get my business. Now Office Max will be off my black list. Congrats to Office Max.
        • Consumers have become victims of their own avarice behavior and this exemplifies it. Everyone bitches about the bad service at xyz retailer, yet they'd throw that retailer under a bus in 2 seconds to save $1 at abc retailer. Consumers have squeezed margins out of (especially) brick and mortar businesses to the point where those businesses have to find different ways of maintaining margins, and offering a competitive price, lest the customers go elsewhere. As for the poster complaining about having to wor
        • You might have better luck at CompUSA now. They were nailed with an FTC order because of just such abuses, and had to implement a streamlined rebate procedure. You just go to their website, type in a number from your purchase receipt, and it's automatic from there; no forms to fill out, no clipping of UPCs, nothing to mail. Of course, "Allow 6-8 weeks for processing" still means you get your check in 7 weeks and 6 days, but you get it.

          I believe one or two of the other big-box retailers got the same order.

          rj
      • Frankly, I see "rebate" and that turns me off, even if it's legitimate. I've only been screwed out of a rebate once and that was because the post office didn't put a clear postmark on the envelope, so that was an easy out for Seagate to not send me my $40. There's no way I can prove that I did mail it on time, so that's it. That sort of shenanigans is why I don't bother much with rebates anymore. Since then, the stores I've bought from offered instant rebates, applied at the checkout. I ignore everythi
      • They aren't a scam at all
        Your post is entirely correct, including the above quote. However, there are a number of dishonest companies online that use rebates to scam their customers. Most B&M companies have worked diligently to make rebates more palatable to customers, but some of the .coms will concoct all sorts of crap to avoid paying.
    • No, it's a scam when you see the price listed as "$150.00*" it is a misleading advertising scam. That "*" will lead you to the VERY fine print reading "after $100.00 rebate". Anything that intentionally misleads you into thinking you are getting something for one price while being charged another is a scam in my book.

      B.
    • by v1 (525388)
      I've had fairly good luck in getting my rebates filled in the past, having redeemed maybe a dozen mail-in rebates for various things. I did run into a problem on the last one, a hard drive at Tiger Direct, $50 rebate on a seagate 250. It was one of those things where they say to mail in the original bar code, yet the bar code exists in only one place, on the label on the hard drive. Not wanting to peel the label off my HD, I included a scan of it. They also said that the rebate form MUST match the name
    • I don't think the rebate per se is a scam: what's dishonest is the way prices are advertised.

      In many cases, the HUMONGOUS BIG FONT price on the item is the price after the rebate -- not what you actually have to pay to the cashier. This is illegal in some states (as it should be), but when it's not, the retailers love to do it.

      Depending on how it's done, rebates can border on a bait-and-switch: you decide to buy the widget because of the 'price after rebate,' but you don't know until you get up to the register and get the rebate form -- in many cases after you pay the inflated price -- exactly what you have to do in order to GET that price.

      Also, in many cases there are artificial restrictions on the rebates which keep you from getting the item at that price. (Limit one per family, etc.) So that price that you think you're going to be able to pay is really only good on the first item -- after that, you have to pay the inflated price. Woe onto you if you buy more than one. I understand it's a caveat emptor world, but sometimes the stores have gone too far.

      I'm glad to see OfficeMax doing what it's doing, and I hope that other stores will follow suit.
  • Thank god ... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by fkx (453233)
    How stupid does a company have to be to devise a marketing practice that almost every customer who tries, hates and then continue to use it for what, decades?

    Hello, Staples, Best Buy, etc .. are you paying any attention?
    • Re:Thank god ... (Score:2, Insightful)

      by nolife (233813)
      One of the many reasons that I really really can't stand Bestbuy and go out of my way to avoid buying something from them was the rebates, like I said though, that is only one of the reasons.
      I did notice in the last month or so, they seem to have scaled back on the amount of rebates. Typically, 90% of the weekly sales items were infested with rebates. That number has gone down. Maybe it was a test?
    • Re:Thank god ... (Score:3, Informative)

      by 0racle (667029)
      It worked. Despite what you say about how hated they were, they made companies money. The real question is how stupid does a company have to be to stop using it?
    • How stupid does a company have to be to devise a marketing practice that almost every customer who tries, hates and then continue to use it for what, decades?

      Stupid? Are you kidding, it was brilliant! They want to hold onto their money as long as possible, but at the same time want to offer the customer a price they can't refuse. So they offer a rebate; they get to keep their money in the bank for up to three months while the customer tries in vain to send in the rebate information and get their few dol

      • That only works if people are stupid enough to fall for it. Since people are no longer willing to fall for it (just look, rebate complaints were the #1 complaint for OfficeMax!), they are stupid to continue using rebates, since that is driving customers away to competitors who don't use such tactics.

        So the original comment stands.
  • slow news... (Score:4, Informative)

    by rickliner (263200) on Saturday July 08, 2006 @11:00AM (#15683103) Homepage
    This might have been news, sort of, back on June 30... http://news.com.com/OfficeMax+bids+farewell+to+mai l-in+rebates/2100-1047_3-6090290.html [com.com]
  • Horray! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bblazer (757395) * on Saturday July 08, 2006 @11:01AM (#15683109) Homepage Journal
    I think that this is huge step in the right direction. It makes the cost after rebate a real cost, simplifies the process, and will go a long way towards customer satisfaction. I know that if OM has the same merchandise as a competing store, and I get the rebate at the register, I am going there. One more thing, if the rebate is instant, it will stop problems with rebates that are based on purchases of items in certain combinations. "I am sorry sir, but this rebate only applies if you buy x and y. Would you like to get y as well?"
  • by binkzz (779594) on Saturday July 08, 2006 @11:06AM (#15683134) Journal
    In a country where rebates aren't found in the wild: Why is it hated so much? I can understand the inconvenience, but it seems I'm missing something.
    • by fkx (453233)
      You obviously have never tried to actually obtain a rebate.

      You have to jump through hoops to comply with their paperwork requirements especially in terms of originals, copies and backups (you have to mail in the paperwork you might need later for a warranty issue)

      You wait an incredible amount of time for a response.

      Half the time the response turns out to be "You failed to comply with the paperwork requirements properly, no rebate for you" in english so broken you just know they didn't recognize what you sen
      • Paperwork requirements? All you have to do is throw the UPC and the rebate receipt into an envolope and mail it on its way. The only complaint I have is that it takes forever to get your money in the mail.
        • Some require a UPC, some accept a photocopy of the UPC. Particularly when there are multiple rebates on an item. I've seen items have 4 separate rebates on a single sale.

          Some want the original sales receipt (although this is rare now). If you order online, many aren't clear whether they accept the confirmation from the website, the one you receive in e-mail, or the packing slip that comes with the product.

          I have seen rebates with very short periods for mailing the rebate. One online retailer (that I no long
    • by IdleTime (561841) on Saturday July 08, 2006 @11:13AM (#15683171) Journal
      1. You will make more in interest by putting the rebate money in a savings account
      2. You provide the company with verified name, address, phone number etc that they sell to other spam companies.
      3. If they REALLY wanted to give you the rebate they would deduct it in the store. With mail-in they know that only a subset of the customers will actually ever receive the rebate, money saved.

      I can come up with more, but those are the 3 main ones for me.
      • Don't forget that (in most US States), the state, county and sometimes city profits from rebates too. Example:

        $50 purchase price with 3% states tax and 4% county sales tax. $1.50 revenue for the state, $2 revenue for the county, $53.50 total bill for the consumer.

        $100 purchase price, $50 rebate: $107 bill for the customer. $3 revenue for the state, $4 revenue for the county, $50 rebate for the customer - final cost to the customer $57.39 (including postage). Plus whatever interest the company earns on t
      • 1. You will make more in interest by putting the rebate money in a savings account
        Really? You can make a 100% ROI in 3 to 6 months? Which bank do you use???
    • The companies that handle the rebates for the store and/or product manufactor, has a vested interest in making it as hard as possible to actually get your rebate back. The less they send back, the more they and the company making the product make.
      Every bad experience someone has with rebates is because of that as the rebate concept is litered with corruption.
      At least 50% of the rebates I have sent in have been rejected by the processing company for one reason or another, incomplete data, some mysterious co
      • company claimed the rebate was only valid in the US and Hawaii was not in the US! When I called to complain, I was told there was nothing they can do because that rebate offer expired.

        That is what the state attorney general, the Better Business Bureau, planetfeedback.com, and small claims court are for. They illegally failed to hold up to their end of the contract, which means they are liable for their incompetence.
    • by aussersterne (212916) on Saturday July 08, 2006 @11:32AM (#15683254) Homepage
      It gets ridiculous and difficult to comparison shop without a notepad, thanks to every retailer having multiple rebates that occur in multiple ways. Say you want to buy a PC.

      Retailer #1: $499 with $50 in-store rebate, $200 manufacturer's mail-in rebate (paperwork available only from manufacturer), $20 store mail-in rebate, and an additional $75 mail-in rebate if you use this PC to join AOL (rebate only available after you join, contact AOL for details). In order to get the full set of rebates, you will need to make and mail three copies of your receipt, after following up directly with the manufacturer to get their forms, then join AOL and once their paperwork arrives, try to get their customer service operator to understand what promotion you're referring to.

      Retailer #2: $399 with $100 mail-in rebate and $100 bonus mail-in rebate if you also buy a PowerSurge[TM] surge protector. In order to get the full set of rebates, you will need to make and mail two copies of your reciept and buy a surge protector whether you need one or not.

      Retailer #3: $449 with $75 in-store rebate, $10 instant manufacturer's rebate, $10 repeat buyer rebate for return customers, $150 online rebate from customer survey site (electronically credited only), and $25.99 mail-in rebate for new customers only. In order to maximize rebates, you will need to fill out an extensive survey on a consumer research website, giving away your personal details and also your receipt # and your credit card # so that they can credit you, and you will theoretically either receive one party's rebate if you've never filled out a rebate for this manufacturer (or any of its subsidiaries) in the past or the other party's rebate if you are a repeat customer, but good luck trying to prove either when they say that their database doesn't confirm your status.

      This is not an exaggerated set of examples, every year in most "newer" (i.e. heavily suburban) US cities around "back to school" season and again during the winter holidays, virutally every advertisement you see is for "NEW HP PC! $FREE [after rebates]" and "NEW 8 Megapixel Canon Digital Camera! $0.00 [after rebates]" and "Sanyo Jumbo Microwave Oven! $1.00 [after rebates]" and so on. Every mailer that comes around is full of "$0" products, but the problem is, given an entire marketplace full of "deals" like those listed above, how do you know which one is actually the better deal, or more importantly, the better deal for you? As you might expect, the number of people who ultimately do pay $0 is very small, if not nonexistent... and in the meantime, everyone scrambles to jump through hoopes in order to get back what they can after arriving at the store and paying the real price of $399, $449, or $499, on many occasions unknown or unclear until you actually arrive at the retail establishment.

      More often than not, it ends up not being worth the time spent calculating and (afterward) filling out and mailing paperwork to get the rebates. Compound this problem with the fact that something like 50 percent of rebates experience difficulty (read: scam) at which time they tell you that you're not "eligible" or you've sent a bad photocopy of your receipt, or you purchased a day before the promotion began, or a day after it ended, or they suspect you of rebate fraud (buying and processing rebates, then re-selling the items on eBay at near full price)... and it becomes a giant farce.

      Rebates are, in short, a way for stores and manufacturers to obfuscate real pricing, sell "tie-in" goods, and get your personal information for consumer research purposes at no cost to them, often while being able to duck responsibility even for producing the rebates that they've promised.
      • Or you could just do what I am doing -- build your own box from parts and choose them based on reputation, user feedback, pre-rebate price, and your other needs. A box I'm building in a wishlist on newegg.com has a couple of mail-in rebates included, and if they're still active when I buy the system, I'll send them in -- but fortunately, newegg displays the pre-rebate price clearly labelled along with the post-rebate price, which is clearly labeled as "mail-in" or instant.
    • by honkycat (249849) on Saturday July 08, 2006 @11:39AM (#15683276) Homepage Journal
      Honestly, I don't understand the hatred that people have for these things. I have probably sent in rebates for 5-10 products per year for the last few years and every single one has been issued in a timely fashion. People claim that their submissions are ignored or denied because they failed to comply with the requirements, but that doesn't match my experience at all. I do have very neat handwriting, which I'm sure doesn't hurt. I used to painstakingly photocopy all the materials I sent and keep them in case there was a problem, but it came to seem pointless so now I only do that for higher value ones if at all.

      That said, I'd be happy to see them done away with. They are inconvenient, especially for the lower value ones (I don't mind 10 minutes of paperwork for $50, but when it's for $10 or less, it seems kind of silly). An in-store rebate is much nicer for the customer.
      • by YrWrstNtmr (564987) on Saturday July 08, 2006 @11:47AM (#15683318)
        Honestly, I don't understand the hatred that people have for these things.

        It just feels sneaky. Not even counting the rebates that you fail to get back for one reason or another, but why should I, an individual, loan a billion dollar company $50 for a couple of months? So that they can gain the aggregate interest on $50 x 10,000? Screw that.
        Just sell me the item, and lose the rebate.
        • Oh, I understand your point completely, and do agree that it is kind of silly. I just think it's kind of odd that people hate them as passionately as they do. I'm no stranger to passionate hatred of stupidity, but rebates don't quite rise to that level for me.
    • Mail-in Rebates are hated because it's one step removed from a scam. They're used and marketed to consumers to make them believe that the price of a product is actaully cheaper than what you will really pay for. It often causes confusion in the shopper which can increase their likely hood of purchasing on impulse. Sure, maybe you didn't want or need that 100 stack of blank CD/DVD's but if it's labeled with huge black letters on yellow poster cards for $4 (normally $40), you just might pick one up.

      The

    • I'm sure this has already been answered, but the answer is because people are lazy/forgetful. They buy the product thinking they're getting it at the after-rebate price, but then never send in the rebate form. Then they kick themselves for paying full price for something that they could easily have bought at a slightly better price (with no rebate) with a small amount of effort.

      As for the rebate processing centers, there are a handful that are notorious for "losing" rebates, or for suddenly scattering the c
    • by B5_geek (638928) on Saturday July 08, 2006 @12:53PM (#15683587)
      I will give you an example of what I have found.
      I was out buying a new office chair, and I saw a 'sale-bin' of 100 spindle DVDR's with a BIG price next to them that said: 100 pack Maxell DVDR $4.99 and in very tiny print under that on a different sign: $24.99 before rebates, $20.00 mail-in rebate.

      The second sign was very hard to see and not obvious that it was with the DVD's for $4.99.

      I brought my 4 spindles + chair to the register, the total cost was almost $100.00 MORE then it should have been. I mentioned that they used the wrong price for the DVD's, and they said, "No Sir, that is the correct price." I made a fuss, the manager came out, showed me the sign.

      I told them what I thought of their false advertising tatics, and threatened to NOT buy the $400 chair, if I didn't get the disks for the Posted $4.99.

      They didn't care, ...blah blah...company policy ...blah blah...

      So, I left that store empty handed and have never returned.

      My point; too many times they post the "After Rebate" price, over/above and bigger then the actual price. It is deceptive. Too many online retailers are doing this too. Sony DVDRW-DL $25.00* you only see the Actual Price in the checkout.

    • by Paul Slocum (598127) on Saturday July 08, 2006 @01:38PM (#15683761) Homepage Journal
      Here's what really sucks aside from the hassle and deceptive pricing: If I buy something for my company with a rebate, I have to fill out an expense form and get reimbursed for the price AFTER the rebate because the rebate check will come to me. So the rebate money comes out of MY pocket until the I get the rebate check. And if something screws up with the rebate, I'm screwed.

      I usually go to Comp USA for computer stuff for our office, but I will definitely be heading to Office Max whenever possible from now on.

      -paul
    • by Civil_Disobedient (261825) on Saturday July 08, 2006 @06:19PM (#15684772)
      The way rebates work is that you buy the item for the full price, then have to jump through a number of obstacles in order to actually get the rebate. These obstacles are deliberately designed to dissuade the customer from ever collecting their rebate.

      For example, a common scam/rebate offer is where you have to mail the company the original bar code from the package, but you have to mail it to two separate places. How do you do this? You can cut it in half (it can still be read with a bar code scanner), but many times the company will say, "This isn't the original bar code... this is half the bar code!"

      Another common scam is they require the originl reciept you recieve when you purchased the item. OK, no big deal, right? Except, if you purchase ten things, then send your original reciept to the company, and then suddenly discover that one of the things you purchased doesn't work, you can't take that item back to the store. Because... you don't have the original reciept.

      I read an expose' on the rebate scam a couple of years ago, and one of the interesting things they mentioned was that almost all rebates, no matter where the company is based (usually a large city), will issue their checks from a small bank in the Middle of Nowhere, USA. Why? Because some towns are so small that it takes mail a week to get to the location.

      Rebates are a win/win deal for the company. Most of the time, people buy something thinking, "What a great price!" but once they get home they can't be bothered to download and fill out all the paperwork. Thus, the company got you to buy their product over a competing brand, so that's a win. For those consumers who actually do go through the effort of filling out all the forms and mailing them in on time (most rebates have extremely short lifespans), the company can do what's called a float.

      What that means is, let's say you purchased a $1000 item with a $200 rebate. The company takes two months (no exaggeration: two months is the standard amount of time it takes if nothing goes wrong, and you'd be surprised how often things are "lost"). You initially have to pay the full price; the company keeps your $200 until all the paperwork is processed. If they put that money into even the most basic bank account, that's 5% interest over two months they can make off your money.

      So while you are getting $200 back, it's actually only costing the company $190.

      I'd love to meet the person who came up with these scams so I can kick him in the nuts. Hard.
  • Old News? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Keiran Halcyon (550292) on Saturday July 08, 2006 @11:07AM (#15683139)
    Ah, marketing at its finest. This isn't even really news. Most major retailers have been very quietly phasing out mail in rebates for months, if not years. It's in the freaking article, if you read it. People are saying " should do this too", and if you look, they probably already have.

    As it says, Best Buy did this over a year ago, they just don't have all the manufacturers on board yet. If you look in their computer department, most laptops have discontinued mail in rebates, and are either instant or normal price. Circuit City has the same thing, in almost the same way. Many of their home office electronics manufacturers are instant-rebate only now.

    If you read the article, it just states that "Beginning this Weekend" they'll start to phase the rebates out. It doesn't specify when they'll end, or exactly what will be phased out first. Best Buy made this exact same announcement in 2005.

    Don't get me wrong, I'm all for it, but people should try actually reading what's posted now and then. Then again, this is Slashdot, so what am I thinking?
    • I was pretty sure that this had already been done by Best Buy, so I searched for it, and it looks like that's been covered here [slashdot.org], twice [slashdot.org]. Do you, or anyone else, know if they have actually stopped rebates? I avoid Best Buy, as my experience with them has been pretty poor, so I haven't been keeping up. I get the impression that they haven't eliminated them completely, as a quick search indicates that they still have a rebate center [bestbuy.com]. If Best Buy hasn't kept up to their end of the deal, and nobody seems to m
  • by Trailer Trash (60756) on Saturday July 08, 2006 @11:10AM (#15683149) Homepage
    Part of the whole reason for rebates was that many people never sent them in (I've seen numbers in the 90's showing about 5% of people would send them in). This allowed retailers to put a really low price on the shelf, but in fact make far more money for the item. Disregarding the outright fraudulent rebate scams, this practice wasn't fraudulent but it was obvious that the retailers are simply hoping that few people will actually send the documentation in to get the rebate.

    With rebates taken at the register, expect them to be far more in line with a standard sale discount.
    • Well, we all know that numbers can be made up :)

      I know several people who worked hard to use rebates and coupons to make their way through this life more affordable. and nowhere near as many people who simply refused to send in rebates.

      in fact, the only real danger was loosing it in the mail. either way :) people can be lazy, but the laziness just wasn't that bad :)
  • too bad (Score:2, Insightful)

    by syrinx (106469)
    I like rebates. Lower price than what a normal sale would be. They're hardly a scam -- if you're too lazy to take the 5 minutes to put the form together it's your own fault. I've done probably 50 rebates over the past few years, and only one of them did I never receive (though now that I think of it, it might have been from OfficeMax, so...). It's easy money for me at the expense of lazy people.

    Now, if they're going to have the exact same prices, just without the mailing in, that'd be great, but I highly do
    • Just because you fall for it doesn't mean it's not a scam.
    • Re:too bad (Score:3, Insightful)

      by 9Nails (634052)
      My problem is complying with the rebate offer. Having to cut the bar code or product logo. Requiring my original sales reciept. (I hope nothing was purchased on that receipt.) And having to fill out the rebate forms. Then paying to stamp and send them all this information. The last two rebates I've sent in for took over 8 weeks to be returned. And both used a 3rd party web company where I could track my status. Both times the status showed rejected because of "multiple offers from the same address." Which w
  • ...in favor of instant rebates, RewardZone perks, and financing offers.

    http://promomagazine.com/incentives/best-buy_04130 5/index.html [promomagazine.com] (Karma whore link)

  • Considering that they miss-micro-managed for years and finally closed up their local store 6 months ago, I don't think much of the last sputter of a dying corporations campfire.

    --
    Cheers, Gene
  • so those of us who always thought that the rebates were a scam (or were too lazy to mail in the card) finally get some savings.

    Rebates are a scam, and any savings you've convinced yourself that you're getting are illusory at best. Rather than apply "discounts" at the register, why don't they just lower their prices. Of course, by doing it this way you simply feel like you're important because you got a "special discount."

    Please. All rebates are is a way to play the float for a while with the customers
    • Look, we all know that not everyone fills in the forms. But that means better savings for those of us that do! If Philips are doing a $50 mail in rebate on a TV they can count on having to pay out maybe 50% of those $50 refunds. But if it's an instant rebate, or just a regular discount, they'll have to provide 100%. So they'll drop the rebate/discount to $25.

      I fill in rebate forms all the time, and I can only think of one time I didn't get my money. I've saved hundreds and hundreds of dollars just by doing
  • I so hope other retailers follow this. I hated all the hoops I had to jump through to get the forms filled out this morning....the extra copies made, the proof of purchase, the envelope, the stamps...

    Since I pay most of my bills online, I think I use more stamps for rebates than anything else.
  • by jasonditz (597385) on Saturday July 08, 2006 @11:19AM (#15683193) Homepage
    I used to go to Office Max some weeks, leave with $100 worth of products and $100 worth of rebate forms. I pretty much always got every single one back, so for the hassle of filling out a few forms I was getting all sorts of free items (CD burners, surge protectors, mice, canned air, blank CDs, jewel cases, phones).

    Now because of everyone else's bitching, those days are over. I don't know how the saving on other things are going to be affected by the end of the mail in rebate, but I know for damned sure they're never going to have an instant savings that leaves a dozen items in their store free for the taking.

    • It wasn't free. It cost you time and the hassle of tracking to be sure you didn't get ripped off.

      Want a free ink-jet printer?

    • Except now your personal information is being bought and sold all over the world. You've been identified as a receptive consumer who will get listed in company databases and get even more dead trees mailed to you and telephone solicitations.

      The same thing happens when you fill out warranty registration cards. That info goes into a database that the company sells to other companies to make extra money.

      Plus, while you're wasting lots of time keeping track of the little dingleberries corporate america has pr
  • by Anonymous Coward
    The concept of mail-in rebates isn't a bad one. It works both in favor of businesses and in favor of more savvy/dilligent customers.

    The real problem is that there are inadequate consumer protection laws (and enforcement) surrounding rebates. Stores and ads should never be able to put the after-rebate price in huge print, disguising the before-rebate price in tiny print in an effort to confuse consumers. And if a consumer mails in all the required pieces (UPC code, etc) to get the rebate, and the company
  • I love rebates.

    I've only failed to get two that I filled out properly and followed the rules on and failed to send in one on time and by the rules- so 3 failed rebates- one for $50, the others for less.

    On the other hand, the rebates are often big since a large percentage of other people fail to use them.

    I used to dislike them until I got a system down that made doing them automatic.
  • I hated rebates as much as the next person, and I usually ended up forgetting to mail in the damn things anyway. But the phasing out of rebates is NOT a great boon for the consumer.

    Rebates are like coupons and generic brands in that they enable retailers to sell the same product at two different prices-- a higher one that you can choose to pay if you want the convenience of not mailing in anything and/or the cache of a name brand, and a much lower one if price matters enough to you to make you clip coup

    • Well for me its a cheaper price. I'm happy about it. I've had more than half of the rebates I sent in rejected for one reason or another. When I buy something with a rebate I assume i'll never see it even if i mail it in. In additon to the higher tax someone pointed out, you also have the price of the stamp and the TIME to fill out the crap. As an economist how much your time is worth. You'd be surprised. Rebates are a screw.
    • Everyone will pay a higher sale price, that is true. However, you are forgetting another problem with rebates:

      Even if you mail in your rebate, it is very likely you will recieve nothing. I have probably mailed in about 5 rebates in my life, and out of those 5 rebates I didn't recieve a single check. As far as I am concerned, rebates are a total scam.

      Even though the manufacterer of the product issues rebates usually, Office Max fields the complaints when they don't arrive. People are going to be pissed off a
  • Proof of purchace (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Walzmyn (913748)
    what allways buged me about 'em was you had to send in your proof of purchace - then if you had a problem with the product later on you had given up your ace in the hole.

    That and finding out you dind't get cash buy store credit (Bust Buy, D-Link router)
  • I bet they could have dropped mail-in rebates a lot sooner if the whole process had been patented and thet got sued. But instead, they spent a whole year trying to work things out with the suppliers to drop them? Well, at least now there is some positive results coming out.

  • Rebates are a tax on stupidity and laziness. People fall for those schemes, which assume your time, effort, postage, privacy and personal information are worth less than the rebate amount. It's really sad to see people pander to a scheme that is clearly false and misleading advertising. It's good that OfficeMax finally dropped this scheme, but you know they only did so because they got tired of upset customers harassing them looking for rebate checks that never showed up. So don't think for a minute thi
  • Few companies change the way they do business unless they see continuing as a money losing proposition. In a highly competitive market and a significant portion of savvy consumers armed with internet connected blogs and forums, the negative image of the rebate process was bad for business. I would guess that the people most likely to go through the rebate process are also most likely to complain about a bad rebate experience on the net. And if you don't mind mail order, it is easy enough to shop around and
  • Even if you get the money 'back' its still a marketing scam. Just sell the product for the real price and be done with it.
  • IMHO, this is a sign of competition introduced by the competitive on-line market place. Many typical shoppers are realizing that they can almost always get products from on-line-only retailers that are equal in price or even cheaper than the so-called "price after rebate" at the Brick & Mortar retailers. Who wants to wait months on end to get a rebate check when you can realize the discount immediately by simply ordering the product? Rebate or not, where I live it is impossible to get competitively p
  • by davidbrit2 (775091)
    Since we're on the subject of going overboard with mail-in rebates, have any of you guys had the displeasure of looking through a Circuit City newspaper ad lately? The damned things are almost entirely just mail-in rebate catalogs. Let's hope they get a clue soon and drop these things.

    Not to mention my complaint about the flyer's usability problems, with the portrait-layout cover, causing the thing to disintegrate into pieces when you mistakenly unfold it and try to page through it from the "left"...

    On the
  • It's been somewhat well-known on various consumer sites that OfficeMax has been looking for ways of reducing rebates on their products for awhile, especially after Staples came out with EasyRebates. This is only going to reduce the amount of money I spend at OfficeMax. Of course, that's a benefit for OfficeMax. Over the past three years, I have received back more in rebates and coupons than I have actually spent at the store (that includes postage and the like). It's really quite easy to get rebates if you
    • by One Louder (595430) on Saturday July 08, 2006 @01:59PM (#15683851)
      I recently did a Staples "Easy Rebate" on an HP printer, filling out all the information correctly and even getting a confirmation that everything had been verified by Staples, only to get a rejection from HP due to "insufficient information".

      Staples subsequently disavowed the rebate ("we don't process them") and it finally took a couple of emails back and forth to HP to get the matter "resolved". However, I just got *another* rejection from HP in the mail. So now I have an email from HP saying the rebate has finally been accepted and a physical letter that saying it hasn't. Meanwhile, the deadline is looming.

      About two-thirds of the rebates I've done have been "rejected" only to be "resolved" after contacting the fulfillment company pointing out that they already have all the information they claim they don't. I've even received rejection letters claiming that they haven't received a serial number - with the serial number printed on the letter. It seems like it's just one more barrier they erect to avoid or delay paying, hoping you'll drop the matter.

  • I'm ignorant... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by l3v1 (787564) on Saturday July 08, 2006 @01:24PM (#15683702)
    ...but I never could understood why american folks never raised hell about this whole rebate system. I mean come on, if I go in a store, I want to see 1). the exact total gross price which I have to pay for the thing when I get to the register, and 2). I don't want to see some fictional price displayed which has nothing to do with the amount of money you have to shell out at the register, but some hypothetical price you might arrive to after you sign yourself up into some company databases by filling and mailing in some paperwork. Like these companies would be some aiding organizations with no lurking motives, never using your data for ads, etc. If they'd be willing to give you the stuff cheaper, they'd give it cheaper. But they know exactly that most people will probably not send in the paperwork, so they don't have to pay you back that hypothetical difference.

    This is just stupid. Deeply stupid. Yes, I've read all those opinions about how this is so good since they can get oh so many stuff for "free"... now come on, there's a joke I've known for a long time, sounds like this: "- How old are you, young prince ? - I'm 21. - Wow, and you still believe in fairytales ?".

  • by frovingslosh (582462) on Saturday July 08, 2006 @03:40PM (#15684205)
    To everyone who is rejoicing about this and suggesting it's time for other to follow suit, let me tell you that you are wrong. Yea, I know this is an unpopular thing to say and that zelot modders will quickly mod me down and burn my karma just because they don't like what I'm going to say, but that doesn't change the truth.

    Several years ago we were rolling in freebies and good deals. I used to have to decide which store to be at when they opened, there were so many good offers. And I did get a lot of loot from OfficeMax, including plenty of Free After Rebate CDRs and other free stuff, as well as good low prices on other things. I have extensive records on my rebates. I have received ever single rebate on everything I bought through OfficeMax. Yes, occasionally it did take a call to a rebate center, and OfficeMaAx dealt with some really bad "services", but I got it all. Those unwilling or too lazy to do this, fine, but don't spread the lie that we'll "finally get some savings", we are loseing the savings big time.

    The rebates had virtually died already at OfficeMax. In fact they had already started advertising many items caliming Savings with "No Rebate Neded". But I couldn't quite find the savings. One week that they were selling a "Gread Deal" on a hard disk (WD brand if I remember right) for $89.99 "NO Rebate Required", I got the same size hard drive for $29.99 at CompUSA after rebate, and it was even a Segate drive with a 5 year warranty, not a WD 1 year take-a-chance drive. I've seen this pattern over and over again. The rebates are vanishing, but the good deals are not being replaced by true deals in the form of low prices. Same for Best Buy. They have almost completely dropped rebates, and I have not found one thing to buy there since the week they announced their identity tracking personal information database wallet busting loyality cards. Rebates are gone, but good deal prices have not replaced them.

    Yes, I didn't like paying tax on the unreal higher price. I didn't like waiting to get my money back and occasionally having to make a phone call or even two. I didn't even like paying for the stamp (there were days that I sent out ten or more rebate envelopes, it adds up). But I loved the free stuff, and I certainly would pay the sales tax on a stack of fee CDs or DVDs to get them. Those days are gone. I don't really know how the organizations justified the offers, but I took them.

    I doubt that those of you who are saying that we are "finally going to get some savings" are really that stupid that you haven't seen the trends, or that you would say this without any evidence at all to back it up when there is plenty of evidence to the contrary (my above hard disk example is just one of many that I could post). I rather suspect that what you mean is "I was too lazy to send in the rebate or just passedup the deal because I didn't want to deal with it, so now I'm glad that no one else is getting the deal either".

    • I didn't like waiting to get my money back and occasionally having to make a phone call or even two. ... ...so now I'm glad that no one else is getting the deal either

      Except, we are getting the deals. Online. Brick-and-mortar stores used rebates to try and compete with the low-overhead of online dealers like Amazon or NewEgg. Those $0.00 price tags were on items that made the company no money anyway... they're just to get you into the store, with hopes that you'll see something else you like and buy it a

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