Our recent national telephone survey revealed that in the previous 12 months, 70 percent of consumers had taken advantage of manufacturer rebates on products. But those for whom rebates could be most useful—people with a household income of less than $50,000 per year—were least likely to apply for them. The box below provides details.
Who took advantage of rebates always or often? Usually people in households with an income of $100,000 or more, those 35 to 64 years old, and women.
The main reason for ignoring a rebate offer was that the process can be a chore: Generally you fill out one or more forms, provide a receipt (often, you have to send the original), clip UPC labels or box tops, and send all that off by a deadline, then wait a month or two for a check or debit card. The bigger the dollar value, the more hoops you have to jump through. Companies say the hoops make it harder for con artists to submit phony claims.
Of people who didn't apply for a rebate, 26 percent said they doubted they would receive it. Their skepticism might be justified: 21 percent of people who did apply in the past 12 months didn't succeed—some of them simply never received anything, and some were turned down because of a technicality.
To make sure you get your rebate: