I’m still waiting for my latest mail-in rebate.
Unlike many American consumers, I’m watching this one like a hawk. I’ve saved my store receipt, my rebate receipt, and all of the instructions, and I’ve copied each one. The dishwasher manufacturer and the big-box store that sold me the dishwasher are gambling that I’ll forget about it. But I’ll show them.
First, a little history. About 15 years ago, I made a decision I soon came to regret. We needed a dishwasher. I could either spend a lot of money, and get a quiet one, or I could spend far less money, and get one … well, not as quiet. Against my wife’s wishes, I opted to go cheap. I mean, how much louder could it be?
Well, let me put it this way. If neighbors look toward the sky, wondering why a 747 is flying over your home … you might have a loud dishwasher.
For 15 years, our TV viewing, our meals, and even our sleep have been interrupted by the monster in the kitchen. It sits there, grinding away, water splashing, dishes crashing and loud slurping noises that sound like the Tasmanian Devil is snorting the supply from the Tennessee River.
It would usually hold back its loudest belches for the most dramatic pauses on our favorite shows. “Doctor, did the results come back?”
“Yes, and you’ll want to listen carefully. We’ve never seen anything like this. We can say with 100 percent certainty that John is going to… ROARRRR...”
Yes, that’s been life with our low-priced, thunderous dishwasher.
But like all cheap machines, it had an expiration date. That dishwasher served up its last loud volcanic eruption a few weeks ago. Unlike the loss of some household appliances, there were no tears, and no sadness in our home. Instead my wife laid down the law, as wives can do so well.
“This time,” she said in tones that would have drowned out the old dishwasher, “we’re getting a quiet one!” Just before ducking a potential flying frying pan, I said charmingly, “Yeah, like I wanted all along.”
I should have ducked a wee bit lower.
So on the next trip to the big-box store, my orders were clear: Get the quietest dishwasher on the floor. Our friendly salesperson pointed to the most expensive one of course, assuring me it wouldn’t rouse a mouse. But, lucky me! For a limited time only (probably through 2023) I would get a $100 rebate!
Well, I’m supposed to anyway. I was handed a series of cash register receipts with rocket-scientist level instructions on how to apply for a mail-in rebate. Laid end-to-end, they would reach the Canadian border. After following step-by-step rules on what to fill out, which receipts to send, and how to lick the stamp, I was to send this bulging envelope to a small Texas town that probably has 37 post office boxes. Yet the intentionally confusing address was something like “Big Box Store Summer Dishwasher Beyonce Lava Lamp Gluten-Free Promotion, PO Box 4893659275692, Tiny Town, TX 5745345-563463.
Obviously, now that I’ve paid full price for the dishwasher, they do everything they can to discourage me from actually sending in the rebate form. There’s a reason they didn’t just knock $100 off at the checkout counter.
They’re betting I will look at the multiple receipts, the confusing instructions, and the complicated address, and then throw up my hands and say, “I’ll do this later!” Or they’re hoping I’ll misplace the paperwork. Either way, they’re betting I’ll never get around to it. Surveys show 50%-70% of us never send in for the rebate. The company sold the dishwasher at full price, so they’re happy.
And wouldn’t it be a shame if I failed to remember one of those detailed instructions, or missed a number on that lengthy address? If I do anything wrong, they’re more than happy to send a card with this message: “Your rebate submission was incomplete, or incorrect. We are unable to process your request.”
Having been burned before, I took extra time and caution to do everything just right, and made copies of it all. Several weeks passed, with no response, and no way to track my rebate online, although their website said I could do that 10 days after the purchase.
So, I went back to the store, and a nice lady made a few phone calls and learned that yes, my rebate request had been received, “and was being processed.”
Several more weeks have passed, and their website says my rebate is still being processed. I’m sure they’re thinking, “He’ll forget about it,” but I won’t. If I have to, I will drive directly to Tiny Town, Texas, to claim my hundred bucks.
In the meantime, I got one thing right. I now have a quiet dishwasher. It may be running now, I can’t say for sure.