PHOENIX - I've never really understood the thinking behind mail-in rebates. They are supposed to offer products at a lower price but you don't get the savings until after you pay full price.
Basically you're buying something hoping that the company will actually return some of that money to you later. Usually it involves mailing in some paperwork and proof that you bought the item. Ideally you'll get your money and move on. But often it's just not that simple.
It certainly hasn't been for me.
I was in the market for a new cellphone plan for my family and couldn't turn down getting four brand new iPhones for the price of two. The savings totaled more than $1000. So I signed up, even though I was told that I'd be billed for all of the phones until I received paperwork in the mail to send in and get the charges removed.
Now more than two months later, the phones are still on the bill, and no one at the company can give me a straight answer about when I will get the paperwork to turn in and get my money back.
It's an unfortunate cycle.
During the early 2000's the Federal Trade Commission regularly brought action against companies that didn't make good on their rebate promises.
Some companies made consumers jump through hoops, which sometimes discouraged people from pursuing money that they were entitled to.
For a while the practice seemed to have died down, but every now and then they make an appearance. And for the right price, they are hard to pass up.
But I've learned my lesson. From now on I go for sales where I see the savings immediately and suggest you do the same.