Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Ethics of Rebates/Coupons

A while back, I posted a question on Tessa's blog about the ethics of combining coupons and rebates.

Here's my dilemma:

Product is on sale for 5/$10. There is a rebate available for $5 if you spend $10 buying their products. Now, let's say I have coupons for these items, so I have technically not spent $10. Would you still send in the rebate? I usually opt not to use the coupons and spend the full $10 so I can honestly send the rebate in saying I spent $10.

Tessa, thanks for bringing this up again! Any thoughts out there about what you would do?


Milehimama @ Mama Says said...

Usually the wording is, "Buy $10 worth of products". I have $10 WORTH of their stuff, even if I PAID less than that. I would send the rebate in (usually you have to provide a cash register receipt or UPC's to prove it).
They use the rebates and the coupons to determine their marketing. The rebates are usually to try to determine how many people buy that amount of products at one time (there are formulas that will tell them 13% or whatever of people will send in the rebate, so they can extrapolate the true number). The coupons are made in deals with stores to drum up sales (it's no coincidence the Kraft gives out a coupon for cheese the same week Kroger does a BOGO on them). So, you are, in a way, helping the corporations by giving them feedback.
Also, if you are required to send in proof that you paid at least $10 for a product, you have to send in your receipt and they wouldn't send the rebate back if you didn't actually lay out $10.

Megan said...

What she said.

I don't have anything wonderful to say except that the stores and manufacturers know this is happening and I would even dare say expect it to happen. They can certainly prevent it from happening by not providing the offers at the same time. I have no problems at all with taking advantage of whatever discounts I can get. I don't think it is stealing, I think it is smart shopping.

Mary Ann said...

I was concerned about this too when I first started doing rebates. I had read some blogs where they were talking about using coupons and combining them with free-bates to make even more money back. At first I thought it might be dishonest, but later realized that the stores get reimbursed for the coupon value and also when you send in the receipt, they see that you used a coupon and they still refund the full amount. So I think it's ethically ok.

Sharon said...

I just started doing the rebate program over at Walgreen's and I have to say I don't have a problem using my coupons if there is a chance of getting more money back. I don't know if it is very good thinking but I figure it is such a huge company that my coupons aren't going to make that much of a problem. They could just put on their stuff that you can't use other coupons with it, if it was a problem. Maybe I'm wrong?

The Frugal Shrink said...

Thanks for the links, Monica! I loved the question when you asked it but didn't have a chance to write an eloquent response. Sorry it took so long! Is it sad that I find the ethics of couponing a fascinating topic??? LOL!

Megan said...

One more thing: I've actually seen in the newspaper where they did the math for us: buy it as this discounted price and it's free after rebate, plus look for cents off coupons in your Sunday paper - as if they know you will actually be paid for taking that item home.

That's a loose paraphrase, but you get the idea.

Monica Wilkinson said...

Wow - thanks for all the great thoughts and comments here! You have all made some great points and given me some food for thought!

Anonymous said...

I know Walgreens will give you your rebate plus 10% if you have them put your rebate on a gift card. That means if you buy one of their "free with rebate" items you get 10% more back! They pay you to shop there!