Mail-in rebates versus merchandise returns

I recently bought a couple of new accessories for my PC and both were sold with the added attraction of mail-in rebates. In both cases, to comply with the rebate instructions, I had to cut off part of the original box to send in with the rebate and I ahd to do it within 30 days after the purchase.

Since these are fairly big ticket items, I normally keep the box on hand for a while in case I have trouble and need to return the item to the store.

The question is, have I effectively made a return impossible by mutilating the original box, i.e. cutting off the proof-of-purchase section? Will the store still (a reputable major chain) take the item back normally if I experience a problem down he road? Or are rebates just a marketing tactic intended to dissuade returns?

I detest rebates.

Read the fine print, does it say it has to be the original? Sometimes they will allow a copy, so I take my digital camera, take a good close-up picture and print that and send it instead.

If it needs to be original, take an Exacto knife and see if you can’t carefully cut the important part off and leave the box basically intact. I can’t see a store giving you a hassle for that, but you never know.

They are a marketing tactic designed to trick people into thinking they are saving money. I’d say about 20% of buyers don’t send them out, and of the ones sent out 20% never show up.

Having taken the UPC should not affect your ability to return a defectiveproduct, but generally you cannot return a product for a full refund if you have already submitted for a rebate. Otherwise you could make a fortune buying stuff and returning it and raking in rebates all the while.

far more than 20%. Something like 95% iirc.

At the office supply store where I work, we will of course accept returns of defective product for either exchange or full monetary reimbursement, even if the UPC has been removed for rebate submission (provided it’s within the time limits of our return policy, of course). It helps with that if you can send only the bar-code portion of the box with the rebate, leaving the numbers below it on the box, but as long as we still have one of your item in the store (or, better yet, you have your receipt with you) it’s all good.

Like Boscibo said, check to see if you can send in a photocopy of the UPC. If you have to send the original, make a photocopy anyway for your own records. Tape it to the rest of the box or keep it with the paperwork that accompanied the item.

Man, rebates have become one of my biggest pet peeves. I now even refuse to shop at stores that advertise that way (CompUSA, BestBuy,etc.). I have written companies letting them know that, too.

What a scam. You are correct that they are betting a good percentage of people won’t bother with the paperwork, but they also stack the deck against people that comply. Here’s an example:

My wife and I bought a very nice (and expensive) washer and dryer from Best Buy - primarily because the rebate made it a good deal. We filled out the forms,etc. and mailed everything off as instructed. Several weeks later we received some more paperwork that the rebate people needed more info to complete the rebate. The kicker here is that the request didn’t come in a Best Buy envelope, but in an envelope purposefully designed to look like junk mail. If I hadn’t opened it by mistake, our rebate would never have been processed.

The rebate check, of course, came in an envelope with a Best Buy logo you could see from space.

If there are any retailers reading this, here’s the deal: Consumers aren’t stupid. A lot of us understand this smarmy gimmick. Some of us are withholding our money to spend at retailers that offer us real up-front hoop-free deals.

End of rant.

Watch out for Symantic. I send for upgrade rebate for
PCAnywhere for $70.00 and since it was so much, I scanned the CD I sent them as proof of prior product and sent the request
Certified Return Receipt.

They denied the rebate “insufficient documentation” and after three or four emails and some letters w/ copies of the scan and copies of the return receipt card, I got paid.

Don’t forget the other fine print:

[sub]You can expect your rebate 8-10 weeks after processing[/sub]

It depends on the store. Since giving refunds isn’t required by law (excluding fraud, misrepresentation, etc.), stores’ policies will vary. Often, their refund policy will be printed on the back of the receipt. If it’s not, you should probably go back to the store and ask. There are some stores which will exchange your item for the exact same item if the UPC has been removed.