Monday, April 11, 2005

Mail-in Rebates

From "When to play the rebate game" by Tom Merritt on It's in the rebate company's best interests to give away less money than it's getting paid. That's why they make rebates so hard to apply for.

I work for GFS/Young America, a rebate fulfillment company, so the title of the article caught my attention and I figured I'd read it for a good laugh. Two paragraphs in, I read that line above and had to put my two cents in. I had some level of self-control and at least read the remainder of his article to be fair and see what else he had to say. You can read my reply to the article as well.

I certainly didn't think that his article was very accurate, but it seems from reading the replies to this and other articles online that most consumers don't know anything about how rebates work or what goes on behind the scenes. It's a natural human tendency to be afraid of the unknown and the lack of knowledge and information about rebates makes consumers into something akin to a scared, cornered cat ready to lash out at whatever it can reach. It certainly doesn't help that a seemingly large part of the rebate fulfillment business is comprised of either incompetent simpletons or sly con artists. It makes me feel embarrassed about working for such a much-maligned industry, but I feel redemption in the fact that I know the company that I work for is one of the few truly honest and hard-working fulfillment centers in the nation.

Contrary to popular belief, we *do* want consumers to get the money that they are owed. We get paid based on the number of submissions we process, not based on how many people we don't pay. Having worked in many departments during my tenure here at GFS, I have a very good picture of how our business is run and how things really work. I can confidently assure any outsiders that our data entry department is accurate and honest—we don't conveniently "lose" consumers' submissions like other centers are being so frequently blamed for. In fact, while I worked in Quality Assurance on third shift, I was tasked with a twice-nightly security sweep to make sure that no sensitive data was being thrown away and that all submission materials were returned to their original locations. In my current position where I do programming of the offers, I've seen the dedication of our senior management staff, client services department, and my own manager and leads. On one night a few weeks back, my manager and lead both stayed until 4AM to correct a critical system issue. Constant offer correction requests from the clients are being submitted to add new products and extend deadlines, all to the consumers' benefit. I really hate to see all the confusion and negative press about our industry, but I know from experience that it's not our company that's causing it. Now if only our competitors would step up and be as honest and reputable as we are.

Unfortunately, it's not always the fault of the fulfillment company. I've said it many times before, but some people just don't get it... read all the instructions carefully and follow the directions. We don't set the rules, our clients do. If you want to get your money back, you need to follow their rules. If you have a question, contact the customer service number on the form before you submit the rebate and it becomes a problem. Make copies of all your submission materials in case there is a problem. Like I said in my reply to the misinformed article above, "rebates are much simpler than everyone makes them out to be, as long as you can read and follow instructions."


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