Coupons, Rewards and Rebates, Oh My!

I normally don’t complain much, but every once in a while I just can’t help myself. So get ready because I feel a whine coming on!

Have you noticed that all of the coupons, rewards and rebates that supposedly save us lots of money can sometimes end up as clutter in our lives? A few examples:

Tom and I got new cell phones at the end of December. The phones were advertised as FREE, but in reality we paid for them and had to send in a proof of payment receipt in order to get a rebate.

Rebates used to come in the form of a check, but the fine print informed us this rebate will be a pre-paid Visa card and we shouldn’t expect the rebate for about three months. The Visa card really isn’t a problem, except a check would have gone directly into our checking account to replace the money we spent for the FREE phones. The Visa card carries a little more temptation to buy…..

Both phones have built-in cameras, but we discovered that if we wanted to transfer the photos from Tom’s phone to our computer, we would have to purchase an additional accessory, but weren’t we lucky that the accessory cord was on sale and discounted by 50% for two days. I guess my question is who would store photos in their phone and not transfer them to more permanent storage?

Almost forgot, because we upgraded our phones, we were charged $20 per phone for the upgrade. So guess my question here is what does FREE really mean?

I received my quarterly Rewards from an office supplier. I used to get a check through the mail, but this notification came via an email that looked quite similar to an advertisement. I almost deleted it before I realized what it was. Trying hard not to think maybe it was designed that way for a reason.

I used my rebate to purchase cartridges for my printer and could receive an extra $10 rebate if I mailed in the receipt. Guess what I get? You guessed it, another pre-paid Visa card.

Although I’m not a die-hard coupon person, I do pay attention when I can buy one item at $7.98 and get the second item for free. After saving $17 and going home with items that I wanted and needed, I was feeling pretty proud of myself. But when I got home I realized I had been charged full price for two items that should have saved me another $4.00. The dilemma: Did I really want to go back to the store or should I just forget it.

So, what is my complaint? Don’t get me wrong, I truly appreciate the money I saved. But the whole process seemed a bit complicated and time consuming.  

  • Our FREE phones (even with the added costs) were a great deal.
  • Redeeming the rewards check saved me over $30 on printer cartridges.
  • Taking my coupons to the drug store and saving almost $20.00 felt great.

And to be fair, the amount of time spent getting information together and mailing it off before the expiration date to collect the rebates was more of an inconvenience than anything else. And don’t forget it is a good idea to save a copy of everything for your files in case your correspondence is lost or misplaced by the merchant.

Maybe I’m just too old to understand why it wouldn’t be easier and more cost efficient on the merchant just to give the consumer an instant credit or rebate than to make the whole process so difficult. And when a merchant says FREE, is it too much to ask that the item really is FREE! Just saying…..

Ending on a Positive Note:  Okay, my whine is over! Dear God, please remind me to be patient and calm when I experience inconvenience and teach me to just be grateful for the money saved and the new products I get to utilize.

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