Saturday, April 14, 2012

Debating rebating

It was time. I had had my phone for two years and I was eligible for an upgrade. With the advances in technology, my current phone was woefully out of date and I was looking forward to getting something new.

After reviewing the options, I picked the phone I wanted. The store had all sorts of specials and such at the time. With my loyalty discount, their in-store promotions and a manufacture rebate, I would be getting the phone for free—along with a free protective case. Granted, all the cases they had in stock were pink . . . (I was able to trade the pink one for a black one later.)

But then there was the matter of the rebate. As with most rebates, the process is fairly involved and if you don’t do it right, you’re out of luck. To make matters more complicated, there was a twist to the process.

In order to get the rebate, not only did I have to fill out a lengthy form, but I had to include the customer agreement, a copy of the receipt AND the barcodes off the side of the box the phone came in. For the barcodes, I had to physically cut the box and remove the side where the barcodes were located—this was made quite clear in the rebate instructions.

(Actor portrayal of me removing the barcodes from the box)

However, when I started to perform surgery on the box, I noticed that if I had to return the phone within the allotted time, I had to do so in an undamaged box or there would be a restocking fee. So, I was stuck. If I didn’t send in the barcodes (copies wouldn’t work—they were clear on that), I would have to damage the box. But if the phone stopped working within a small time frame, I could return it, but only in a complete box. The company’s solution was to give me six weeks to submit the rebate—longer that the time I had available to return the phone to the store in the perfect box.

But this causes yet another issue. Life is busy. There are always thing demanding your time and attention. For me, if I don’t take care of something right away, chances are it may be forgotten.

And that brings out the cynic in me. I have no doubt that companies offer rebates and make them fairly complicated to make it difficult for people to follow through. It’s all well and good to say, “The phone is FREE . . . after the rebate.” But I’m sure they have their research that shows what percentage of people actually follow through on the rebate, and they adjust accordingly.

For example: if only 40% of the people actually follow through with the rebate, than the company can keep the other 60%. If they use that to their advantage, they could offer higher rebates to entice people to buy, knowing full well they won’t have to pay out all the rebate money. Taking our example one step further, let’s say the company could afford to do a $25.00 rebate, but instead, they offer a $50.00 rebate. Using the 40% / 60% assumption above, the company would be paying out less than half the claims, therefore paying less than the $25.00 they could afford. Yet, the sales would be higher because $50.00 is a higher draw.

Again, I know it is cynical to think this way—but working in and with big corporations has given me plenty of reasons to be that way.

Here’s a wild concept: stop with the games and actually charge a fair price without all the gimmicks to make it look like a better deal than it is.

1 comment:

  1. LOL!!! They have us by the B@!!$... It's a real pain. ;D