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Rebates can be great incentives, but are they worth the consumer's effort? Are the companies legitimate in these marketing ploys?

Frankly, I'm not so sure. When we purchased a warranty replacement laptop for my son, they featured a Canon Pixma MP160 for $89.99. The lure of a $50 mail-in rebate and an instant $20 savings was enough of an incentive to take it home. Did we really need the extra printer in the house? No, but we got suckered in by the rebate offer.
After filling out forms, taking photocopies and affixing two proofs of purchase to the paperwork, I mailed in the rebate request with the cash register receipts a few days after the December 18, 2006 purchase date. Today, an e-mail notice from Canon indicates that I sent in the wrong proofs of purchase and my request was refused.
Product rebates, in my opinion, are a big waste of time. I realize that manufacturers count on the fact that a percentage of consumers won't take the time to send in what's required. But for those of us who dance through hoops to fulfill all the requirements, it's a nuisance. I would prefer to have the rebate honored at the cash register. Instant gratification works for me.
Canon's refusal smacks of dishonesty. I mailed in two proofs of purchase and the cash register receipts. I must have missed the primary proof of purchase, or maybe they hid it so well on the box that I couldn't locate it. Who can remember -- it was over two months ago. The bottom line -- I'm not getting the $50 back.
I wonder what these rebates actually cost the manufacturers in human resources and processing costs? I don't want to see people put out of work, but the whole concept seems ridiculous. This refusal from Canon has left a bad taste with me and frankly, I'm not in a big rush to purchase another Canon product so fast.

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Elaine Fogel is president and CMO of Solutions Marketing & Consulting LLC, and a marketing and branding thought leader, speaker, writer, and MarketingProfs contributor. She is the author of the Beyond Your Logo: 7 Brand Ideas That Matter Most for Small Business Success.

LinkedIn: Elaine Fogel

Twitter: @Elaine_Fogel