Revealed!! Why are Rebates Still Around?

By on May 31, 2013


On any given day at Ben’s Bargains, we’ll list deals with rebates, often around 10% of the entire day’s deals. Rebates are still a fairly common marketing tool in online shopping, especially among PC component manufacturers. Video cards, memory and software are common examples.

Here’s the thing: nobody likes rebates. As bargain hunters, we view rebates as the illegitimate stepchildren of coupons, only a step removed from the dregs of all deals—yes, the dreaded store credit or gift card.

You do eventually get your money back (in the form of either a check or Visa gift card)… in most cases. Of the many rebates I’ve submitted over the years, only one didn’t work out and it was luckily a $5 rebate. Sometimes, you know, you have to cut out a bar code from th box, and for you box collectors or resellers, that bites. And this is where it gets tricky for vendors: if just one rebate doesn’t work out, no matter how little, that customer is likely never going to buy its products again. So it’s a two-way street. Caveat emptor, as they say.

So why are rebates still around? A rebate may be delayed deal gratification, but it’s better than nothing. We’ll post them when a rebate represents the lowest price we’ve seen out there to a significant enough degree that it’s worth the hassle.

rebates-twoOn that note, if you really want to see rebates go away, redeem them. Something like 40% of rebates go unredeemed because they really are a hassle. For manufacturers or retailers, this is a big plus because they can advertise a lower price point and not lose as much money. In other words, they have their cake and eat it. So do your due diligence and stick it to the man. The best rebates are the ones that you can track online and tell you when your form was received, etc. I always look for that.

Rebates are  also appealing to manufacturers because rebate forms directly collect information about customers, like address, phone number, email address. Information like that is worth the calculated risk of doing a rebate rather than simply cutting the price. As consumers, we’re also taking a calculated risk with our information.

Then there’s the fact  that the manufacturer can continue to collect interest on revenue until it comes time to return some of it via the rebate redemptions, if and when they arrive. Again, it’s worth the calculated risk of possibly turning off potential customers. And, in 2011, nearly half of all consumers submitted a rebate, and that number represented a 10% increase over a few years earlier. So fewer and fewer consumers are turned off.

If you can wait it out though, you will eventually see an equivalent sale price to a rebate offer. Because rebates work as advertising and promotion, they’re usually in the earlier stages of the product life cycle. When a product is getting liquidated to make room for a new product, you’ll  see those rebate offers replaced with immediate point-of-sale discounts.

What do think of rebates? Tolerable or not on your life? For the current rebate offers at Ben’s Bargains, click here.

About Joe Warner

I'm the senior editor of The CheckOut. I am an aficionado of shiny gadgets and classic Hollywood movies and can also tell you the names of the late '80s Swedish Davis Cup team members.


  1. Peter N.

    June 3, 2013 at 8:53 am

    It would be nice if more rebates are similar in nature to Staples’ EasyRebates, where submission is done electronically and no mailing is needed. This way the consumers are assured that the process goes through and not “lost in the mail” while the manufacturers get what they want as well in terms of information collection.

    • Joe Warner

      June 4, 2013 at 3:34 pm

      Thanks, Peter, that’s a good one to bring up.

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