Rebates and Cash Back
Around ten years ago, the rage gimmick was a Mail-In Rebate on major item purchases. I purchased a cellphone with a $100 Mail-In Rebate. I had almost forgotten about it when I received a letter that said my rebate was refused because I had not signed a statement in the middle of the form that was not highlighted in any way. I made telephone calls up the chain until I reached the secretary of the president of the company. I wrote a column about the experience that was very unfavorable to the company and sent a copy of the column to the office of the president. I assured them that I was going to disconnect all of my telephones from their service and I would periodically write columns that would not be favorable to their company. In about ten days I received my $100 rebate. I did not collect most of the Mail-In Rebates that I filed for and I concluded that it was a fraudulent technique for getting my money. That technique has gone away because everyone caught on to the gimmick and it was not a factor in purchases.
Several years ago, Discover Card, which was a Sears’s company, began to offer Cash-Back on purchases made with the Discover Card. The amount varied from 1 to 5 percent depending on the amount of purchases and the items purchased. Sears eventually sold Discover and it has since become an independent company. It is the fourth largest credit card company now. Most of the other credit card companies picked up the cashback feature and now it is common on credit cards. It irritates me to an unbelievable level. They are going to give me money for making purchases on their credit card. The only money that the credit card company has come from my purchases. It is my money that they are giving back to me. I would rather that they not collect it from the merchant and let the merchant lower the price of the products. Sales of product should be handled in the simplest manner. The credit card companies have to be paid for their service of collecting the debt but they do not need to overcharge for their service and then give part of it back to me.
The person who pays cash for the retail products pay the same price for the products as the person who charges purchases on a credit card. Part of the cash purchase also goes to pay for the credit purchase. Even if I do not participate in the cash-back program, part of my money goes to pay for the credit card owner’s cash-back activity.
Locally, I use my bank debit card for purchases. This is a lower cost option for the merchant. Debit cards do not process through a national program and they charge a lower rate for the processing cost. It is normally around 40 percent less expensive to the merchant. The charge is deducted from your bank account usually the next day. A credit card charge will be paid by the bank that issued the credit card and then billed to you for payment. This can give you a few days to ride the balance on the credit card. The credit card can also give you protection in the case your credit card is stolen. The merchant has the responsibility to check the identity of the person using the credit card so the credit card bank can go back to the merchant and get the money back on false purchases. Local banks do not have the staff nor the ability to go back to the merchants to reclaim the money. It is already gone from your bank account. Usually local banks have insurance against this type of fraud, but your money is gone until the insurance replaces it.
I also dislike having to use an identity card at a retail establishment to get the lower prices. Everything that is purchased with the identity card is recorded and the merchants know not only the brands that you purchase, they know the size of the container. All of this is information that I would prefer to keep private. You can combine my purchase record with my credit report that knows all of my debts and my school records, which has all of my grades, and my tax records that has all of my income sources. My computer has a record of every website that I have visited and every individual that I have contacted. Then you check my telephone records that knows who I talk to and my bank records that has all of my financial transactions and the record of the TV programs that I watch you will know everything about me. Don’t ever think that the FBI, the CIA and other law enforcement agencies cannot check every one of these areas. If you have a GPS unit in your automobile, they can find where you have traveled. If you have a cell phone that is turned on, they can locate you within a couple of minutes. If your cellphone is turned off, there are programs that can turn it back on without your knowledge.
There is no reason to tell anybody to be careful. Everything that we do now is a matter of permanent record.