Monday, May 2, 2011

The Ins and Outs of Rebates

Basics of Rebates

Rebating is a great way to try new products and to stretch your budget. You can even make money by submitting rebates! By using a coupon when buying a product and submitting for a TMF (Try Me Free) rebate, you will get the full retail price as circled on your receipt. Which means you are actually earning the price of the coupon when you get the rebate back!
Here’s what you need to know to grow into a successful rebater:

Find rebates.
When you are new to rebating, knowing where to look for rebates is often the first challenge to overcome. Consider the following sources for a steady supply of rebates:
  *Sunday coupon inserts
  *Store Displays
  *Manufacturer websites
  *Store ads
  *Product Packages

  *Satisfaction Guarantees

Read all rebate form(s) thoroughly!
Each rebate offer is unique. They usually have different date ranges and different proof-of-purchase requirements. Some rebates require serial numbers, while others may require photocopies of certain pieces. The best way to make sure you get your rebate is to follow the directions carefully. If you have any questions, call the toll-free number listed on the rebate form, or call the store where you purchased the product. Either one should be able to assist you. Some products may have multiple rebate offers on a single purchase. In these cases, make sure you carefully follow the directions listed on each form as the return address and submission requirements may be different for each offer. If you are unsure, call the number on the form for further clarification.

Shop for rebates
Rebate offers are usually very specific about the products that you have to buy in order to qualify for a refund, and this makes careful shopping a must for any rebater. Review any rebate offer before you go to the store to ensure that you understand all of the rebate requirements. Then, bring a copy of the offer with you, and use it as your shopping list. Every item you buy needs to match the rebate exactly in size, scent, flavor, etc. 

Follow the specific rebate instructions given
If it says to circle in blue pen, be sure to circle in blue pen. If you do not file the rebate exactly per their terms, they could deny your rebate.

Fill out the rebate form.
Attention to detail is also very important when it comes to filling out the rebate form. Before you write anything on the form, read through the rebate offer again, and look for any instructions that apply to the way the form has to be filled out. For example, most rebates will specify that you print all information. Here are several other points to consider:
• Does the offer need to be filled out in pen?
• Does it require a street address, or will a PO Box work?
• Does it have to be written in all caps?
• Does it require you to include an e-mail address or telephone number?

If your handwriting is difficult to read, it will be difficult to enter your information correctly. To ensure fast, accurate processing of your rebate, be sure to print clearly! Also remember that P.O. Boxes are usually not acceptable addresses for many rebates, so please read the terms and conditions on the form carefully. 

Prepare supporting materials.
For your rebate to be accepted, you’ll need to submit proof of purchase. This will usually include the cash register receipt with the item circled, but may also include UPCs or other items. Here are several details to look for within the rebate terms:
• Are there things that need to be circled or written on the receipt?
• Can you send a copy of the receipt, or is the original required?
• Do you need to cut out UPCs labels, or can you just write the numbers down on the receipt or the rebate form?

Finalize your submission.
To ensure that your rebate doesn’t get rejected, it’s important to give your submission a final check before mailing it off. Here are several questions to ask yourself:
• Does the rebate call for a certain envelope size?
• Does the envelope need to be addressed by hand?
• Have you written the address correctly?
• Have all of the required items made it into the envelope?
• Have you completed every line on the rebate form?
• Is everything legible?
• Are you submitting prior to the deadline?

Submit your rebate.
Unfortunately, submitting your rebate isn’t as simple as dropping it in the mailbox – at least not if you’re serious about getting your refund. To protect yourself against lost mail and other potential complications, make a copy of all of your submission materials, including the envelope.
It's also a good idea to make a note of how long it’s supposed to take for your rebate to be returned, and of the address or phone number that should be used for inquiries (if one is provided). Then, once that's complete, stick your rebate in the mail, and wait for your money to return to you.

Make copies of all of your paperwork!
This includes your receipt, rebate form, barcodes, mailing envelope, and any other items that are needed for validation of your rebate. If for some reason your submission gets lost in the mail, you will need this information to have your rebate re-processed. It is also a good idea to have this information in front of you if you need to call the customer service phone number listed on your rebate form. At the very least, and so as not to waste paper and ink, scan the documents and keep them in a "rebate" folder on your desktop.

Don't throw out the box!
Most rebates will require you to send in a UPC barcode or a serial number barcode from the product packaging and may not honor your submission without the original barcodes from the box. If you are purchasing large items with a rebate that require unpacking prior to putting them in your car or are having items installed in your home, please be sure to remove the UPCs and serial number labels before discarding the boxes. If there are multiple boxes, please write down the product name on the back of each UPC and serial number label so you know which documentation belongs to each product.

Don't procrastinate
Many rebates require you to postmark your submission within a set number of days from your date of purchase. If you miss this deadline, you will not be able to receive your rebate.
Track your rebate.
If you plan to do a lot of rebating, it’s important to develop a system for keeping track of them. This could be as simple as a folder where you store rebate copies and information, or it could be something more involved like a computer spread sheet that tracks everything from submission dates to your year-to-date rebate savings.

Keep a log of all of your rebates. Important information to keep;
■Rebate Name and Company Responsible for Rebate
■Purchase Requirements
■Phone number and Mailing Address so you can check on your rebate status. Sometimes there is a website as well.
■The date you sent the rebate.

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