Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Rebates go Ungreen

A few months ago we purchased some computer equipment that came with a mail-in rebate. Being the frugal types that we are, we sent in the mail in rebate and waited for the cheque to come in. Now, you could argue that rebates themselves are un-green since they require you to mail in some paper, and then they mail you back some paper. You could definitely make an argument that it would be more eco-friendly for the manufacturer to just do something crazy, like lower the price of the product, and avoid the whole hassle of a rebate process. You'd be right! I'm sure manufacturers have many reasons to offer rebates. I'm equally sure that one of the reasons is that people buy the product and they forget or can't be bothered to send the rebate in. I can't really blame the manufacturer for that...they're letting people get some money back, but with a decent chance that they can keep some of the money after all. It's a good situation for them. And really...we're not using up that much of anything to mail in a piece of paper and get another piece of paper back. Paper comes from wood, and wood is renewable! They could be doing worse things.

Oh wait...they are doing worse things now! Instead of the expected cheques in the mail, we received a couple of rebate cards that look like Mastercards. Yep, plastic cards with a tiny amount of money on them that we must spend at a merchant. And not just any merchant, but one that will accept these rebate cards. Despite the fact that they look like Mastercards, not everyone will accept them (most will). So now instead of money in the bank that we can save up for something, we have two more cards to carry around waiting to be spent (didn't take us long actually...our grocery store accepts them). Why would a manufacturer do this? What happened to all the green hype about corporations wanting to be eco-friendly? How can sending us plastic cards, along with 2-3 pages of cardholder agreements be less expensive than sending a cheque? Maybe it has something to do with the diabolically small print on the back of one of the pages. The one that says that after 12 months there will be a $3.50 per month Account Maintenance Fee, a 3.00% per transaction International Transaction Fee and a $9.95 per incident Plastic Replacement Fee. So, if you get one of these anti-green rebate cards, make sure you use it up quickly. I'm not sure how to convince companies they should go back to the cheque method, but I'll be emailing our companies thanking them for the rebate, but expressing disappointment in the method of payment.

Thanks to Andres Rueda for posting the above picture on flickr and allowing its use.

2 comments:

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  2. Rebate cards totally looks like master cards. They are tiny card with the help of which you can buy anything in the super market.
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