Mail-in rebates are a common form of cash rebates, alongside instant, online, credit card, and cash rebates. Typically consisting of sending forms through the mail, the mail-in rebate is a tactic used by manufacturers to attract more price-sensitive shoppers to their product line while minimizing the amount of the discount that they would need to offer on their products. It offers a way for customers to get savings on the products they want as well as allows manufacturers more control over the process of approving and distributing the rebates.
The usage of mail-in rebates by manufacturers is a time-tested way of incentivizing and promoting the purchase of certain products. Companies sometimes use mail-in rebates to persuade customers to try new products or to market test products that have been updated or improved.
Rebates are heavily used for advertising sales in retail stores, and can be especially appealing to price-sensitive consumers by increasing their willingness to pay. For example, an item might be advertised as "$39 after rebate" with the item costing $79 out-the-door with a $40 rebate that the customer would need to redeem.
Sometimes discounts are given at the point of sale rather than the manufacturer providing rebates, eliminating the need for coupons or mail-in rebates. However, rebates are sometimes given in the form of "cashback offers" for mobile phone contracts or other high value retail items sold alongside a credit agreement.
Rebates can also be used by retailers to gain market share, by persuading more consumers to purchase their products and services over those of a rival company. This increases one firm's profits whilst decreasing others' profits.
Mail-in rebates work through a process similar to manufacturers’ coupons, but they are used after purchasing the product at full price and sending a form and proof of purchase to the manufacturer through the mail. The rebate offer usually has a set of directions containing a list of files, documents, and items that you need to send to receive the rebate as well as an address to send to and a deadline to be met.
The list of files to be prepared usually consists of a claim form that you need to fill out with personal information like a name, address, and phone number, a UPC code, and a proof of purchase like a receipt. Once the envelope with all the needed documentation is sent, it can take several weeks for the rebate to be processed. Once processed, the manufacturer would send you a check for the rebate value by mail.