Rebates are out there, you just have to try

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By Joan Martin

In April I mailed in a rebate request for a garden hose I had purchased locally.
I received a postcard stating that I had forgotten to send in the receipt and had a couple of weeks to return it with the postcard attached. I was lucky to find the receipt quickly. It cost two stamps and less than 10 minutes altogether to get the $10 rebate.  
Did you know that many rebates go unclaimed?  Consumers don’t complete the forms either on-line or through the mail. Others throw away the box with the bar code on it.
I had a good experience with the bar code issue, too. I’ve found that being polite and clear about what I would like to have happen helps.
This example is one that is frustrating on the family side and a great experience on the business side.  
My daughter bought a new laptop. She shopped on-line for the best price and then decided to go the store to buy it so she wouldn’t pay shipping.
The store would transfer data from the old laptop and the price was the same. A $75 rebate was offered either way and sales tax was paid on both. The cashier gave my daughter a receipt (two of them) a rebate form and instructions.  
My very happy daughter got the computer out of the box, started using it right away, threw away the box and took the computer back to the store to transfer the files from the old laptop.
Did you notice a step that she left out?  
The people at the call center (800 number) couldn’t do anything to resolve the issue. I talked to the store manager. He agreed to try to do something if she would bring the receipt back to the store. She did and got the $75. I think the adage of nothing ventured, nothing gained worked in this case.  
The next experience was the easiest resolution I’ve ever had to a small consumer problem. A company that makes rather expensive water bottles had a liberal warranty. A bottle would be replaced if it leaked.
The college mascot bottle cracked when she accidentally dropped it on the driveway. The company would replace the old bottle, in a color of her choice, but would not be able to replace it with a college logo. All she had to do was take a photo of the bottle, showing the name brand, describe the bottle as large mouth or regular and list how many ounces it held. She e-mailed the photo and description to the company. The replacement bottle arrived in less than a week.  
The final example involves a rebate on home appliances.  
When I purchased a new refrigerator last November, I didn’t know that a rebate would be offered by the electric company.
I had stapled the receipt inside the warranty/instruction book and filed it away.
Last month I learned that local electric companies were giving rebates for Energy Star appliances purchased since Nov. 9 2011.
My refrigerator fit the plan so I will be getting a $100 rebate. It only took 10 minutes to find the receipt and complete the rebate form.  
It might be worth your time to spend 10 minutes to get $10, $30, $75 or $100 back. All of the businesses involved were responsive and I had success with little effort involved.

Joan Martin is a family and consumer sciences agent with the Anderson County Extension office.