Recently, I posted several stories about my experience buying a new washing machine by leveraging the power of price-matching policies. That’s an erudite way of saying, getting one store to undercut another’s price.
I’m happy to report my new GE front loader (a CR Best Buy, to boot) is working like a charm, knock on wood. It’s so quiet, compared to my old top-loader, that it’s barely audible. I’m amazed at how the washers – and detergents, too, have improved and become so much more efficient over the years.
One of the hooks that made my purchase a whale of a deal was that the washer came with a $100 mail-in rebate. Given a choice, I’d rather see the washer discounted by $100 on the sales floor. But that’s just wishful thinking on my part. I’m always wary of rebates because companies will look for any excuse not to pay off. In fact, four out of 10 people who are eligible for rebates never collect, for one reason or another.
Three of the biggest reasons they go uncollected is because consumers forget about them, miss the deadline, or don’t submit everything they’re supposed to. And the greater the dollar value of the rebate, the more hoops you have to jump through. Blame the strict rules on fraud. Companies say con artists are ruining it for honest folks.
Normally, you can expect to wait four to six weeks for your rebate request to be processed, six to eight weeks tops. So imagine my surprise when I read the fine print on the rebate form for my washing machine that said I’d have to wait up to 16 weeks for my check to arrive. Sixteen weeks! I can’t come up with one reasonable explanation for that long a wait. Can you? What’t the longest you’ve ever had to wait to get your rebate check? And have you even been disqualified over some technicality?
As much of a pain as rebates are, I'm not about to let one I'm entitled to slip through my fingers. To better your chances of getting what’s coming to you, here’s our tried-and-true advice:
• Read and understand requirements, including deadlines, before buying.
• Copy rebate materials and put them in a folder, in case the company rejects your claim or loses your submission. Record the latest date you expect the rebate.
• If the rebate form is available online, print it immediately after buying the product. The form might be removed from the Web site after a promotional period.
• Don’t wait until the deadline. If the company says something’s missing, you’ll need time to get it.
• Keep an eye out for your rebate check, which might resemble junk mail.
• If the check seems late, contact the company. If you’re left unsatisfied, file a complaint with your state’s attorney general or the Federal Trade Commission at www.ftc.gov or 877-382-4357.