Archive for May 2008

Rebate Scams

May 25, 2008

Ever wonder why some items come with a mail-in rebate? Well, it does a number of things.

First, it attracts buyers. Nothing works as well as the promise of money returned after the sale. Skeptics might well ask why they have to mail it in. They would be smart to demand an instant rebate. Let the store mail it in.

Second, there is a good chance that you will never see the rebate. Depending on the people you are dealing with, there can be all kinds of hoops you have to jump through, qualifications you have to meet before they will even consider sending you a rebate. Check these requirements before you get sucked into the deal of a lifetime. If there is even the remote hint that you may be required to provide personal information in order to qualify for the rebate, leave. No need to explain why. Just turn and walk away. Rude? No, not nearly as rude as the jerks who are trying to scam you.

Third, mail-in rebates are a means stores use to get interest free short term loans at your expense. Ask yourself, why does it take four to twelve weeks to get the rebate? They have your money and you have an overpriced new toy. What a deal! It really gets interesting when the new toy breaks before you get the rebate.

So you see, stores offering mail-in rebates on items are not doing you any favors. On the contrary, they are trying to take unfair advantage of you.

A rebate of any kind is the stores admission that the item is over priced. A sensible person will go find the item at a fair price elsewhere. It takes a desperate and confused shopper to agree to pay the inflated price on the promise of receiving a refund sometime later. It is similar to Whimpy promising to pay tomorrow for a hamburger today. Don’t do it. Chances of becoming a fraud victim are too great.

Finally, if the rebate is substantial and the item is a very big ticket item (like an automobile), ask yourself why is the rebate more than you would normally be willing to pay for the item. That is a dead give away that something is terribly wrong. Don’t waste time trying to ‘right’ it. Just walk away.

Sam's Club is the Best

May 24, 2008

The old Camry has been in need of a pair of new front tires for a while now. We finally decided to take care of that this Saturday. I was not looking forward to this. The last time I bought tires at Sam’s they must have been seconds or perhaps thirds (if there is such a thing). The guy doing the balancing had to install so many weights he could not get the hub caps back on. Don’t remember exactly how that one was resolved. That was over 15 years ago. Yup, this was the first time in a decade and a half that I decided to give the Sam’s place a second try.

Left the house at about 12:30, just after noon. Got back to the house at 1:30 with new tires and a trunk load of groceries.

They didn’t have michelins. No big deal michelins wear out too. One of the bad tires on the front was a michelin. They offered me Dunlap 195/70/14’s at $52 each. I figured the Dunlap tires were just as perfectly round as the Michelins so we arranged to have two of them installed while we did some grocery shopping.

Twenty minutes later we were pushing our cart back into the parking lot where we expected to find our car. No problem. Found the car and it had new tires on the front wheels. Got the keys and paperwork from the service desk, loaded the groceries and were on our way home.

Pushed the envelope a little to test the new ride. Not a hint of shimmy. Car is all better now and ready for the next trip.

What impressed me was that the folk at Sam’s did not hassle us about rebates, road hazzard insurance, and other scams practiced by some of the tire sales monkeys out there. No B.S. just fair prices, good work, and fast service.

A stark contrast to our experience at Discount Tire Place the last place that balanced my tires. They wasted my time coming up with an estimate of $550 to replace all four tires when all I needed was a wheel balancing. That $550 was after a $30 trade-in allowance on the tires that did not need to be replaced, a $50 mail-in rebate that I was pretty sure would not materialize, and addition of a heafty additional insurance fee.

We won’t be going back to Discount any time soon. Not when we can get decent deals at Sam’s.