Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Small Scale Frustrations

Small Scale Frustrations
In the cosmic scheme of things rebates and manufacturers' coupons are a minor evil but nevertheless deserve indignant renunciation.

Rebates are a way of fooling you into thinking you are getting a special deal. It only means the price has been lowered, which is always a good thing, of course. But rebates are an inefficient means to achieve this end. They are trouble for the manufacturer, the retailer, and the customer, adding unnecessary time and cost to a transaction that could be simplified. The giver of the rebate puts off sending your check as long as possible, which means they get your money interest-free for 6, 8, 10 12 weeks or more. Moreover, frequently they resist honoring them anyway. The find all sorts of things that make them invalid. I have been told they have no record of a claim when it was sent with another claim -- which they did honor -- at the same time in the same envelope to the same place on the same deal. I have been told the check has been sent and cleared when I never saw the check at all. I could go on. They are a nuisance and add unnecessary costs that could have been avoided by simply lowering the price. On retailer said to me, "I hate them."

Manufacturers' coupons are even more inefficient. They have to be conceived, designed, printed, distributed, and redeemed. The customer has to look for them cut them out, organize them, search for the exact product, and wait while they are scanned. The the manufacturer pays the store about 7 cents each to process them. This adds up to a whole nest of inefficiencies. The customer is forced to use them or end up subsidizing those who do.

Whey, then, do rebates and coupons flourish? Apparently because they work for the advantage of the seller. It seems there are enough people out there who think they are getting something for nothing to sustain the troublesome process that ends up costing the consumer more in the end. P. T. Barnum said, "There is a sucker born every minute." Those of us who hate them are caught up in a system where we must act defensively by using them to keep from losing more that we would otherwise. Everybody who agrees say, "AMEN."


No comments: