My recent column on rebates generated a lot of email! Listen to these readers who wrote in to complain, ask more questions and defend mail-in rebate offers.
Q: I was annoyed with one couponer who complained about her rebate. The entree she purchased was $5.99 and she had a $1 coupon, so she paid $4.99. I love how she wanted the full $5.99 rebate when she only paid $4.99. The whole thing is so petty. - Sarah O.
Q: I use mail-in rebates all the time and have never had a problem. I make sure I read and follow all the instructions. On the rare occasions when I'm not sure which barcode the company needs, I just send them all. - Wendy B.
Q: I like your opinion on rebates that require you to send in the original receipt. I recently bought a steam mop and can get a $10 rebate, but I would have to send in the original receipt. That's never been an issue with me before because the amount was always small. If I want to return this mop in the next 90 days, I'll need the original receipt, yet the rebate ends in less than a month. I'm guessing that for $10, I should pass this rebate up since it's more important to me to have the original receipt. What do you think? - Margie C.
A: It's a tough situation when your rebate is for a higher-ticket item. If you are buying something like this mop in the future, ask the cashier at the point of purchase if he or she can print you a duplicate of the original receipt. Then you'll have one original receipt to mail in, plus another to keep in case you have to return the product.
Q: Not all rebates are bad. I enjoyed reading your stories of rebates gone wrong, but you must have had some go right, too. Don't scare people off rebates! Why not share your best rebate story? - Alisa P.
A: I will! Earlier this year, a major manufacturer of paper and cleaning products had a great mail-in rebate: purchase $25 worth of participating products and receive an electric rice cooker, large tamale pot and your choice of one of three cookbooks. I'm not a big rebater, but as long as I was collecting receipts from this shopping trip, I figured it wouldn't hurt to send the receipts and form in to see if I could get the cooking gear.
About a month after I sent the form in, I received a package containing the rice cooker and cookbook, along with a note that the manufacturer had been inundated with more offers than it expected. The note promised that the tamale pot would ship separately within three months and, indeed, it arrived in that timeframe.
Many of my blog readers also sent in for the same rebate, and they posted feedback as their free products arrived. What impressed me most about the company sponsoring the rebate was this: Due to the high demand for the rebate, it ran out of one of the cookbooks that you could select on the rebate form. People who requested the no-longer-available cookbook received a different one plus a $10 Amazon gift card so they could purchase the original cookbook they requested! This was a case of a company going beyond the original offer in order to satisfy customers. It cost money, but the company made sure everyone's rebates were fulfilled.
In a world where some companies simply say, "This offer exceeded our expectations" and announce that they will not be able to fulfill additional rebates, this one really got it right. That's a rebate to remember!
Jill Cataldo, a coupon workshop instructor, writer and mother of three, never passes up a good deal. Learn more about couponing at her website, jillcataldo.com. Email your own couponing victories and questions to email@example.com.