Saturday, April 08, 2006

Rebate? More like Re-bait.

A few days ago I posted about how I need a new video card, but don’t have the money to buy one.

Well, my darling wife told me today that she might be able to swing it for me over the next couple of months

(Sunny really is way to good to me. She’s the best wife ever, in the history of wives…and that’s official.)

So, anyway, I did a little more research this morning to see if I could find another decent card for a few dollars less. I discovered two things:

  1. The card I want is about 50 times better than everything else in the same price range.

  2. An unspeakable evil that must be stamped out and stopped at all costs.

I’m talking, of course, of Mail-in Rebates.

If you’re not familiar with this concept, let me fill you in.

You walk through a store, or browse through a website, and you see a nice shiny product with a perfect price-tag to fit your budget. You get excited, you add it to your cart, and you get to the checkout.

Then you find that your purchase is actually about $50 more than the advertised price.

You stagger in disbelief, get ready to call the manager, and enforce the “This is the advertised price, so you have to sell it to me for that price” law.

Then the store clerk smugly informs you that the price is the sale price, minus the mail-in rebate.

Basically, they tell you something is $150 dollars, charge you $200, and then you send your receipt, serial numbers, purchase order number, date of purchase and your first born son to the manufacturer, and then, in 6-8 weeks (after you’ve taken the Ring of Power to Mordor), they send you a check for $50.

I don’t understand this. Well, in fact, I absolutely understand it. I just have a hard time believing that people who want my business can be that evil.

You see, the first thing is, the post-rebate price gets your attention. If you’re an educated consumer, you’ve done some research, and you think you’re getting something for $50 less than everywhere else.

The second thing is, when you’re in the line at the register, you don’t want to look like the complete tool that didn’t read the fine print, and have to turn around and go put it back on the shelf.

The third thing is they do this in the hope that people won’t actually go to the trouble of claiming their rebate.

Now, if you’re well off enough to be able to spend four or five hundred dollars on a non-essential, you’re not going to be particularly bothered in getting your $50 back. The other thing is that they make the claim process so bloody complicated, and you have to send the few hundred bits of paper that you tend to lose within minutes of leaving the store.

This actually happened with the computer I’m writing this on now.  

No shit, I had to send:

My receipt.
My store rebate coupon, signed and dated.
The serial number sticker off the front of the box (That is nearly impossible to remove without ripping)
The model number sticker off the box
The back page of the manual, also signed and dated.
A second rebate coupon, printed from a website, that you have to complete a three page form to receive.

This has to be sent within 14 days of the purchase, and you have to wait up to 3 months to get the check.

Unfortunately for them, I wasn’t in the position to just throw $50 away, no matter how big of an annoyance it is to claim.

So here’s the position I’m in:

The card I want is an Ati Radeon X1300. It’s not the greatest card out there, but it’ll run games like Half-life 2 reasonably well, and make brand new games, such as Oblivion, at the very least, playable.

CompUSA has this card for $149.99


On the other hand, another store has the same card, but instead of only having 256meg of memory, it’s the 512 meg version.

This would be a huge deal for me, as my current graphics card uses system memory. It uses 128 megabytes of the 512 this computer has.

So, not only am I getting the graphics card, performace wise, I’m also getting 128 meg of system memory back. Basically, the 512meg version will give me 4 times the video memory, and 1/3rd extra system memory.

The other big thing is, while I don’t always buy the latest and greatest out there, I like to buy something that will mean I won’t have to upgrade for the longest time possible. Better the card, the longer I keep it. Simple.

What is the price on the 512 meg version? $149.99. Exactly the same price as the 256meg version.

What’s the problem?

You guessed it. It’s only 149.99 after a mail in rebate.

So this has put me in an extremely vexing position. I could get the double memory card for the same price as the one I originally spotted.

The only problem is I might just be able to come up with $149.99. Can I come up with $200? Not a bloody chance.

I’m considering offering the following deal, just to see what they say:

“Ok, I’ll pay you the advertised price, you can take all the receipts, bills of sale and everything you need for the rebate before I go home. Then you send it all into ATI, and get your extra $50. I get the price advertised, you get the extra fifty, and ATI ends up $50 down. Everyone ends up with the same deal, only this way you actually get my business.

What do you reckon my chances of success are?

1 comment:

OzzyC said...

Glad to know I'm not the only one who hates rebates. One thing you neglected to mention... you've got to pay tax on the rebated amount, because the store charges sales tax on the whole purchase amount, but you don't get the sales tax amount back when you do the rebate.