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I mentioned the parable of the 47 mail-in rebates as a footnote to my post about 4 reasons why you WILL miss out on the next mistake fare sale, but I thought it might deserve a little more discussion here. Enjoy!
The parable of the 47 mail-in rebates
Ten friends (we’ll call them Adam, Beth, Charlie, Danielle, Ethan, Freida, Greg, Harriet, Ichabod and Jane) were walking in the aisles of their favorite office supply store when they came across the King of Deals, who told them about a great deal!
All they had to do was buy a list of these 15 products (including a brand-new laptop computer!), then fill out 47 mail-in rebates, and they would not only get all the products for free, but make a $400 profit!
And POOF! The King of Deals was gone in a flash of smoke!
At first, everyone was excited about the deal. A free laptop AND $400 to boot! How could this not be the best thing ever? They began loading up their shopping carts.
But then Adam started talking – “You know, this deal seems too hard and complicated. It’s confusing – I’ve got better things to do with my time”, and he left the store without buying anything.
The other 9 friends took their shopping carts and began to checkout. But Beth was careless in loading up her cart and, unbeknownst to her at the time, had bought several of the wrong products – ones that were too expensive, not on sale, or not eligible for rebates.
The rebate fun begins
The other 8 friends started loading up their cars to take their merchandise back home, with grand visions of filling out rebate forms dancing in their heads. But when Charlie got home, he started playing on his new laptop and the rebate forms stayed in the shopping bags, never to be filled out.
Danielle filled out some of the simpler rebates (dare we call them EASY rebates? 😛 ), but never got around to filling out some of the more difficult rebates.
Ethan thought he had filled out all the rebates, but he wasn’t very organized, so he didn’t notice that he had missed several of the more lucrative rebates.
Freida took a look at some of the rebates and noticed that some of the products had 3 or 4 rebates on them for the same product! Even though there was nothing in the terms and conditions of the rebates that prohibited you from filling them all out, Freida thought it was unethical, so she walked away as well.
Filling out all 47 mail-in rebates
The 4 remaining friends got together a week later, and realized that they were the only ones that had actually managed to send in ALL 47 of the rebates! They spent some time talking about the hundreds of dollars that seemed to be arriving daily in the mail, and, congratulating themselves for a job well done, they vowed to return to the store a week later to check on their progress.
Greg had filled out all the rebates, but he didn’t pay very close attention to them, so on some that required a UPC, he sent in a proof of purchase. When some wanted a copy of the receipt, he didn’t notice, and only sent in the bar code.
Harriet thought that she had filled out her rebates correctly, but the rebate company sent her emails and letters saying that they were denying most of her rebates. She never followed up to get her rebates processed correctly.
Ichabod did followup when his rebates were rejected. But he wasn’t very organized, and so he didn’t notice that some of his rebates never came in. Since he didn’t notice, he never followed up to make sure they all were processed and received.
When Jane returned to her favorite office supply store the week later, she realized that she was the only one that had received all $1700 in rebates! She again found the King of Deals, who asked “Weren’t there 10 of you who I gave this deal? Where are the other 9?”. When Jane told the King of Deals what had happened, he was sad, and then killed a kitten 🙂
The moral of the story is…
Okay all these parables have to have a moral or lesson, right? 😀 And the moral of this story is every time you don’t follow through with a deal, the King of Deals kills a kitten ;-). Okay, actually I first thought of this parable in conjunction with the United “Great Dane” mistake fare that was a few weeks ago, and whether you should try and follow up on the deal after United voided the deal (or be a “Harriet”!). The DOT eventually decided not to get involved (which was probably the right call in that case), but there are other deals out there where if you won’t be pushy for what was agreed to, you will NOT get the deal
The pitfalls that befell the other 9 deal seekers are ones that can catch YOU too, if you’re not organized, competent, and frankly persistent to the point of being annoying (and sometimes PAST that point!)
Footnote: This is a true story!
This is actually a true story! Back in 2007 Staples was offering a deal as laid out in the parable and I bought a laptop, 10 pieces of different anti-virus software and 2 printers. My out of pocket total was about $1300, and it came with 47 mail-in rebates. A co-worker of mine and I would spend our lunch breaks in a conference room, clipping UPCs and proofs of purchase, making copies of everything, and addressing envelopes. It took awhile for some of them to come in, but eventually all 47 were approved and I received about $1700 of rebates back (plus the free laptop).
So who are you? Are you Jane, the one and only winner of the story? Or do you find yourself falling into some of the traps of the other deal-seekers? Let me know in the comments!