Progress to Date

  • Original Loan Amount: $204,000.00
  • Balance at Beginning of 5-year Goal (1/1/08): $188,983.82 @ 6.00%
  • Balance at Refinance in February 2009: $148,000.00 @ 4.625%
  • Outstanding Balance: $0.00 (PAID IN FULL!!!)
  • Latest Payment Date: April 2011
  • Latest Additional Principal Amount: $17,623.22
  • Amount Ahead of Schedule (since refinance): $121,462
  • Time Ahead of Schedule (since refinance): 7 years 10 months
  • Interest Saved Last Month: $23,972.48
  • Total Interest Saved: $28,435.55 ($1,037.74 on original mortgage; $27,397.81 on current mortgage)
  • Months Remaining in 5-year Goal: 20
  • Average Monthly Principal Needed to Meet Goal: N/A (Goal achieved)
  • Progress List Explained

Monday, April 27, 2009

Rebate Checks

How frustrating is it to deal with rebate offers? Back in January when we replaced our furnace, I sent in an application for a $425 rebate that was offered for high-efficiency models. The rebate application instructions said that it would take 4-6 weeks for the application to be processed and paid.

After 6 weeks had passed, I had not received a check, nor received any updates from the organization offering the rebate (a coalition of Natural Gas companies in the Northeastern US). I called to inquire on its status. They said they had received my request but it was still being processed. About a week later, I received a form letter saying that my application was missing some information. I called them the next day to find out what was needed, and they told me that the contractor hadn't provided the necessary information regarding the furnace model number, installation date, etc on the work order I had sent to them. They told me to get in touch with the contractor and have them fax the missing information directly to the rebate center. I did all of this.

Two more weeks passed. I received an envelope in the mail, expecting it to be the rebate check, only to open it and find the EXACT SAME FORM LETTER I had received the first time around. I called back, asking what was going on, since I knew the contractor had provided information on my behalf. The associate at the rebate center told me that the contractor had sent the information, but it was simply on a fax coversheet, instead of an invoice.

I asked the associate to read the entire fax coversheet to me. He read for me a date, a greeting, the model number, and the installation date. I asked if there was anything else. He read the closing of the letter to me, which stated something to the effect of "If you have any questions, or need any more information, please call us at ...". I asked the associate why their processing department didn't call the contractor to work out the kinks. Apparently that is not the way they operate there. He said their standard procedure when processing applications was to send a letter in the mail if anything was incomplete. Perhaps all of their processors are mute, or unable to operate a telephone.

As someone who's worked in customer service in the past, I know that the unfortunate people who answer the phones at a typical company or organization are not the ones who make the decisions, or effect any change. So I apologized to the associate, but told him that because this was my second attempt to square this issue away, I was going to make him hold on the line while I brought a representative from the contractor into the phone conversation. I made it very clear that they were to work together, and that if anything was missing, or not formatted correctly, the agent from the rebate organization was to call the contractor directly.

Apparently, that approach was effective, because I did receive the check today (which took about 15 weeks to arrive, instead of six weeks). Following experiences like this one, I question whether my effort to resolve the problem was worth the eventual reward. Ultimately, I believe the $425 was worth it, because I can make good use of that money. However, I'm tempted to avoid all future purchases which require a rebate application to get the advertised sale price.


Daizy said...

I agree. I am reluctant to purchase items with a rebate because of the hassle. I am glad your problem was resolved.

ashley said...

Yes, I am always suspicious of rebates as well. It seems they never work out quite right, and then you ended up paying more than you needed to for savings later. That is a very substantial sum of money that they were trying to cheat you out of, too!

The Executioner said...

Coincidentally enough, I just bought an item (more contact lenses) without realizing they even came with a rebate offer. It's interesting how the psychology changes depending on when in the buying process the existence of the rebate is revealed. When we bought the furnace, I knew about the $400 rebate well in advance, so waiting almost four months for its arrival was annoying. With the contact lenses, I never knew about it until the box arrived at my doorstep via UPS. This rebate almost seems like a gift, since I had already mentally come to terms with the amount I spent on that purchase.