REBATE: A return of a portion or the entire purchase price of a product.
Rebates. I have such a love-hate relationship with rebates. I love that the manufacturer is offering to give me some or all of my money back. I hate that I am responsible for making sure I get my money back. In fact, I am so bad at submitting rebates that I have almost altogether given up on using them. But most of you are probably much more responsible than me (or less distracted?), so using rebates can become a nice little income revenue stream for your family.
There is one type of rebate that couponers in the Northwest encounter: manufacturer’s rebates.
MANUFACTURER’S REBATES: These are rebates that are advertised and managed by the manufacturer. You purchase a certain product or group of products at a grocery, drug, or big box store, then mail proof of your payment into the manufacturer (or the manufacturer’s representative) and you are mailed the promotion amount back in the form of a check or a pre-paid VISA or Mastercard.
Want to know the fun part of rebates? You can usually use a manufacturer’s coupon on the product, lowering your out-of-pocket cost, and still get the full rebate amount back from the manufacturer. Here’s an example that ran at Target:
Seventh Generation products on sale $2.99
Use (3) $1/1 manufacturer’s coupons
Use $1/1 Target coupon
Pay $4.97, Submit receipt for $5 Seventh Generation mail-in-rebate
FREE after coupons & rebate
Pretty sweet, right? Of course, it’s only truly “sweet” if you actually send in the main-in-rebate form along with all the required information (enter user error, which the manufacturers love — you buy the stuff thinking you’ll send in for the rebate, but forget. Money in the bank for the manufacturer!). Here are some suggestions to increase the chances of a successful rebate submission:
Print the rebate form the first time you encounter it. Manufacturers are notorious for pulling a rebate form before the rebate deadline comes. I can’t tell you how many times I get emails from readers who can no longer find the link or the site no longer exists. At this point, you’re up a creek, so to speak. Print that thing immediately.
Keep rebate forms in the same place in your house, preferably hidden from children looking for drawing paper. I suggest you keep rebate forms in your coupon organizing system or a special file with your other household management stuff.
Create a “rebate” envelope or slot in your coupon organizing system and keep all rebating receipts in it. Important receipts have a way of falling out of my wallet while the McDonald’s receipt from my impulsive iced mocha stop remains for weeks.
Complete the rebate form and mail it the moment you get home from the store. This is a no-brainer that I have yet to master. Then you’re not worrying about expiration dates, finding paperwork, or locating the product.
To be extra safe, don’t use the product until the envelope is in the mail, on the way to the manufacturer. You may discover once you start filling out the rebate form that you purchased the wrong products or sizes. If the products are still unused, you can return them.
Read more from The Ultimate Guide to Couponing in the Northwest here.
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