When Rebates Aren't Financially Helpful

When Rebates Aren't Financially Helpful

Our family, like many others, is always looking for ways to trim back our budget and save money. For me, it was starting to really plan out meals using what we had on hand and bumping up my couponing game. My dear hubby got swept up in the savings frenzy, too. Here's a bit of a personal experience on our foray into a rebate that managed to do absolutely nothing for us. Well, that's not fair – it did manage to give both of us headaches.

It All Started With An Ad

My dear husband (DH) had the radio on while he was working when one of those annoying ads in between songs came on; this one caught his attention. An excited voice came over the airwaves promising $300 for gas plus many other benefits; sign up today, here's the number, blah, blah, blah. DH was sold. Who wouldn't want $300 to help fill up the gas tank? Now, he didn't go into this blind thinking they would just hand him over a gift card and say, "Here ya go!" My DH knew there would be some kind of exchange needed to get those dollars, and he was prepared to do what they wanted him to do. Turns out, what they wanted was, in a nutshell, for us to provide feedback on where he filled up the household vehicles. Oh, and sign up for these great money-saving offers. Oh, and these magazine subscriptions. But you can cancel at any time. And then you'll get your moolah for gas.

Let the Headaches Begin

So the DH consented to the offer's terms. Fast forward a bit, and we start getting stuff in the mail. A lot of stuff. Somehow, we'd been enrolled in several "savings" clubs – a travel one, a shopping one, a law-based one (I know, say what?). We looked over each program's info, and the bottom line is, the cost for the membership outweighed any benefits we could possibly reap from them. There were discount gift cards, movie ticket offers and even a program that would send you so many coupons per month (and you know I love me some good coupon action), but it just didn't make any sense to pay an annual membership for what might amount to a few dollars saved. If that. So we canceled those and really we had no issues doing so.

Next, the magazines started coming in, and in the jumble of them, there was a small postcard with the fine, tiny print saying if we didn't cancel the subscriptions by a certain date, we'd be billed some pretty hefty amounts. We promptly canceled those and had no trouble doing so.

But Where's the $300?

I know, right? We finally got the paperwork on the supposed savings that started us on this wild goose chase in the first place. And you know what? There were really no savings to be had here, either. First, you had to fill out a few papers to send in to get the next set of papers. The next set would have you fill up your car – a certain dollar amount at a specific station from the company's list – and send in the receipt; then you could be entitled of a rebate up to $25 for that month. And then you could rinse and repeat for the next year, hence the $300 that was promised over the radio. Again, it just didn't make sense financially. And the words "up to" are really scary; that could technically mean anything from a penny to the full $25.

All in all, the whole experience did not cost us a penny. And while we didn't earn anything, we did learn a few lessons (which we knew anyway but I guess needed a reminder of): if something sounds too good to be true, chances are it is. Do your homework when it comes to these kinds of offers. Read the fine print. And keep searching out legitimate, tangible ways to save in which you are in control, not some shady company who advertises over the airwaves.

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Anonymous wrote:

Fri, 03/30/2012 - 03:36 Comment #: 1

I've gotten myself into these kinds of things before as well. One was recently as I thought it was a survey my husband had signed me up for and maybe forgotten to tell me about? They called and had a ton of questions about baby products, so I answered them all politely. Then, she started asking me which "deals" I wanted to take advantage of and began describing different deals like Disney movie deals, diaper deals, etc. I momentarily snapped out of my post delivery painkiller daze and said "Oh, gotta go...baby is crying!" Thankfully, I never got signed up for anything that I'm aware of. Glad you got out of it without giving them a dime or putting yourself through too much hassle.