Mail-in rebate: RIP, and good riddance
The end of the mail-in rebate is near.Amen. Any system that depends on "breakage" (i.e. consumers not being able to use it) in order to function deserves to be junked. Read the article to see how integral this was to the whole rebate racket. When I worked at Microsoft, we used rebates to lower the "psychological price" of our games, knowing that only about 20% of consumers actually jumped through the hurdles necessary to obtain their $10 or whatever.
Its passing may not be mourned, not by consumers or even by retailers and manufacturers of electronic gear. The marketing tool forced customers through an onerous and usually confusing process of cutting out proof-of-purchase logos, Universal Product Code stripes or box-top flaps and mailing one of them along with receipts and an application to a post office box with nine numbers to obtain a discount — typically weeks or even months later.
Consumers did not like them and, it turns out, retailers and manufacturers ended up unhappy about them as well. In recent months, big chains like Best Buy and OfficeMax have announced their demise. Best Buy said that it had eliminated more than 65 percent of mail-in rebates, and by April they will be a relic. OfficeMax, the No. 3 office supplies store, made a clean sweep of them this summer. Internet rebates are also disappearing.
I know that this improvement in our consumer life isn't going to solve global climate change or cure human stupidity, but it is the sort of baby step forward that makes the world a better place. If I ever make a contribution to society as positive as the elimination of the mail-in rebate, I know my time on earth will not have been wasted.