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Store Forum Share Your Shopping Experiences at Stores both Online and Off.

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Old 03-31-03, 09:51 PM   #1
Manzana
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Do rebate centers check with stores for returns?

Do rebate processing centers double-check with the store where you purchased an item (using a linked electronic database) to make sure you did not return the item? It seems places like Staples, Office Max and Best Buy could easily do this with the rebate centers they contract with.

For instance, suppose you bought an item somewhere without a rebate. Later at either the same or a different store you see the same item for a higher in-store price but with a mail-in rebate to make it cheaper overall. Stores won't pricematch rebates, even within 30 days, so you can't do that.

How do rebate centers prevent a person from re-buying and returning the same item during the rebate period, keeping the rebate receipt and form that gets printed out (which stores usually don't take back when you return something), and then sending in the rebate using those forms and the original UPC from the first purchase?

If it's a manufacturer's rebate or at the same store as the original purchase then all this rigamarole does is change the time-frame to be within the valid rebate window, but if they match up transaction receipts they could see you returned the item even though you still own the product from the previous purchase. I have a feeling people will jump on this as unethical, but I can see it both ways. I haven't done this and I'm not saying I'm going to, but the temptation has arisen which is why I'd appreciate people's opinions and input on this. Too bad stores and manufacturers play these rebate games making me feel like I got a little cheated. Guessing when to buy something, especially computer hardware, is almost as hard as guessing the stock market.
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Old 03-31-03, 10:04 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally posted by Manzana
Do rebate processing centers double-check with the store where you purchased an item (using a linked electronic database) to make sure you did not return the item? It seems places like Staples, Office Max and Best Buy could easily do this with the rebate centers they contract with.
Yes.

As for your other questions, that's why the rebates usually require an original UPC and the retailer won't take back a product that has the UPC removed. But pricematching can confuse things.

Since we don't have an Ethics Forum, I'm moving this to the Store Forum.
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Old 04-01-03, 10:06 AM   #3
Manzana
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I understand stores won't take back a product with the UPC removed. I described an example where a person previously purchased the item (and therefore already had a UPC available), and then a new rebate appears on the item so it is re-purchased during the rebate time window and immediately returned (unopened and with UPC intact) just to get a valid rebate form and dated receipt. Then the UPC from the original purchase could be sent in. I was trying to find out if that's considered unethical and rebate centers check for it or if the rebate centers don't check or care.

The only way they could check would be by using an electronic database linked with the retailer matching up the receipt number. I was wondering if anyone knew for a fact rebate centers check this, or would we just be guessing? If they don't check or care, then this could be an option of getting a rebate if you inadvertently missed the rebate time window.
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Old 04-01-03, 10:11 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally posted by X
Since we don't have an Ethics Forum, I'm moving this to the Store Forum.
If we did have an ethics forum, who would post there?
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Old 04-01-03, 11:40 AM   #5
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Re: Do rebate centers check with stores for returns?

Quote:
Originally posted by Manzana
Do rebate processing centers double-check with the store where you purchased an item (using a linked electronic database) to make sure you did not return the item?
Yes, I know Best Buy does.

A while back I bought a wireless router from BB that I think was around $130 minus a $30 rebate (for a net cost of $100). I bought it, cut out the UPC and sent in all the info. Then about a week later, I saw that BB was selling the same router for $99 with no rebate required. I thought about having them PM the lower price, but I figured they wouldn't go for it due to the rebate that came with my original purchase (in hindsight I should've at least tried it first).

So I bought one for $99 and then returned it (unopened, in it's original condition) with my original receipt that showed the price as $130. In effect, I got my out of pocket cost back down to $100 by doing this. But of course, in the back of my mind I was really hoping that maybe I'd still get the $30 rebate, therefore bringing my net price down to $70. Unfortunately, I got a letter from the rebate company that said I wasn't elligible because their records showed that I had returned the item. Although I would've liked to get the lower price and the rebate, it was no big deal that I didn't get it, because I'd rather pay $100 out of pocket, than to pay $130 and wait for a $30 rebate check.

I know some people may think that what I did was unethical, but I don't, so spare me the ethics lecture. Besides, BB didn't let me get away with it anyway .
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Old 04-01-03, 11:34 PM   #6
Manzana
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Thanks, spyzdope!

Best Buy was the store I was most curious about because that's where the rebate is. Hearing your story confirms that (ethics aside) if I did this trick at Best Buy my rebate would surely be denied. I had been debating trying it just to see what happened, but I was a little fearful they might send a threat letter rather than just a rejection letter. I don't know if other stores are as sophisticated as Best Buy in checking rebates against returns. One interesting thing about this is that Best Buy's rebate centers have to wait 30 days before fulfilling any rebates just to make sure you don't return items. In contrast I remember getting a Staples rebate 2 weeks after sending it in so they must not check.

My dream would be for stores to drop rebates and just offer the best prices, but considering how many years this has been going on I'm afraid we'll never see that day. I was always told rebates are necessary because the manufacturers and distributors won't refund money to dealers when product prices drop, so they choose rebates instead. If that's true, with today's computer systems and networks you'd think they could find a way to refund dealers so they could eliminate rebates, making me think the real reason is they hope people forget to send in the rebates. Now who's going to forget to fill out a $40 rebate unless you're rich, so that seems like a weak excuse too. Well, I'm sorry I went off on a tangent.
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Old 04-02-03, 01:09 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally posted by Manzana
I was always told rebates are necessary because the manufacturers and distributors won't refund money to dealers when product prices drop, so they choose rebates instead.
Rebates are offered to make sure that the CONSUMER is actually saving when it comes to the cost of a product. If a manufacturer lowered the price of a product, technically a store can sell it for whatever they wish. They have "suggested selling prices" but there is nothing stopping them (aside from competition from other stores) for selling it for whatever price they wish.

By offering the rebate, the manufacturer can be sure that the savings is being passed on directly to the consumer as it forces the retailer to purchase the item from the distributor at a higher price and doesn't allow that distributor to cut the price to the retailer but then not have the store pass those savings on to consumers.

So in actuality while rebates are a pain in the butt, and are sometimes so tedious to send in and claim, they are being done to protect the consumer.
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Old 04-08-03, 02:28 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally posted by dvd-fanman
Rebates are offered to make sure that the CONSUMER is actually saving when it comes to the cost of a product. If a manufacturer lowered the price of a product, technically a store can sell it for whatever they wish. They have "suggested selling prices" but there is nothing stopping them (aside from competition from other stores) for selling it for whatever price they wish.

By offering the rebate, the manufacturer can be sure that the savings is being passed on directly to the consumer as it forces the retailer to purchase the item from the distributor at a higher price and doesn't allow that distributor to cut the price to the retailer but then not have the store pass those savings on to consumers.

So in actuality while rebates are a pain in the butt, and are sometimes so tedious to send in and claim, they are being done to protect the consumer.
To tell the truth, it's really smth new. The main idea IMO is to milk the consumer that has nothing to do with the protection.
Why are there so many FAR items? For consumer's protection? I wish...
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Old 04-08-03, 03:35 PM   #9
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Any store that has barcodes on their receipts which they can scan along with their own rebate center can deny rebates this way. (E.g. Best Buy uses a place in Calais, ME and has barcodes on their receipts; Circuit City uses Young America and also has bar codes on their receipts).

However, if you submit a manufacturer's rebate, the manufacturer rarely goes through the trouble of double checking the receipts to deny rebates this way.

It's the rebates that are store specific that usually get denied this way.

Stores that don't have barcodes on their receipts usually have no way of verifying if a customer returned an item or not.
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Old 04-09-03, 01:33 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally posted by tori
To tell the truth, it's really smth new. The main idea IMO is to milk the consumer that has nothing to do with the protection.
Why are there so many FAR items? For consumer's protection? I wish...
What I described above was the initial intention of companies offering rebates to consumers, that indeed has changed today.

I'm not denying that some rebates are done solely to get a purchase and the manufacturer tries to make it extremely hard to qualify to get your money back. However, one should be extremely cautious about buying products just because they offer a rebate. If you need the product or really want it, that's one thing; but buying one brand over another just because of a rebate is not always the wisest thing to do.
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