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LAPTOP | December 2010
REFUNDS AND REBATES
UPGRADES & TIPS
as popular as touchscreens on phones. So here's the age-
old question when giving a gift: How do you handle the
First, determine what the rebate is giving you back.
Whether it's cash, store credit, or an accessory, make sure
it's something you or the gift receiver can actually use.
Second, how easy is it for you to reclaim your cash? Look
for instant rebates instead of mail-in ones. Manufacturers
such as a Dell, HP, and Lenovo often feature instant rebates
or "instant savings" above and beyond typical percentage
markdowns, putting many systems that might be just beyond
your budget back into range.
For smart phones, you'll often save $100 by shopping at
Best Buy or Radio Shack. These stores beat the carriers' pric-
ing by offering instant rebates. Case in point: Purchasing the
HTC Evo 4G through Sprint.com will cost you $299.99 upfront,
then you have to mail in the $100 rebate form. Purchasing
the same device through Best Buy will set you back $199. No
forms, no trip to the post office, no checking your mailbox
every day anxiously waiting for a check to arrive.
If you do wind up with a mail-in rebate for the gift
you're giving, you'll most likely have to come clean with
the recipient. While it may be tempting to take an Xacto
knife to the UPC code before wrapping up the gift, keep
in mind that it will cause a lot more hassle if the recipient
decides to return the gadget. Plus, the recipient will mostly
likely not receive the full value of the product if he goes
to return it and the rebate is already being processed.
You'll have to decide if that social faux pas is worth the
savings---especially if you've given the item to a family
member. If you think it is, you'll probably have to let your
recipient know that you need part of their box back if they
intend on keeping the gift.
The most important thing to remember when it comes
to mail-in rebates is to follow the directions to the letter.
Seriously, if the form says to use black ink, don't think that
it'll be accepted with blue ink. Many mail-in rebates require
the original UPC square and receipt. Make copies of both
for yourself before mailing it in. Better yet, take a clear pho-
tograph of every item you include in the mailing envelope.
Depending on the amount of the rebate, you may even want
to send it via registered mail.
Mail-in rebates are typically processed by a third party,
which makes your rebate much harder to track once it leaves
your hands. The company already has your money, and it's
banking on you to forget to mail in the rebate or to fill out
the form incorrectly. Mail-in refunds have faced increased
scrutiny recently. Connecticut and Rhode Island stores are
no longer allowed to advertise the price after mail-in rebate
unless the store is willing to sell the item for that price. New
Jersey is considering similar legislation.
Wrap It Up
While gifting a laptop, smart phone, or other high-tech device
this holiday season requires more research than picking
out a reindeer sweater, the recipient is sure to appreciate it
much more. But if your homework doesn't pay off, it's nice
to know that they'll be able to get the gadget they really
wanted without too much hassle.
RETAILER POLICIES COMPARED
30 days (iPhone) / 14 days
10% (Mac, iPad), No fee
14 days (computers), 30
15% (None with Rewards
21 days from invoice date
21 days from invoice date
No returns unless defec-
tive, then 30 days from
None if all accessories and
parts are intact
25% at TigerDirect's dis-
cretion (i.e. not returned
with all accessories and in
20 days (30 in Calif.) At T-Mobile's discretion
15% on custom
15 days/Nov. 15--Dec. 25:
15-day policy begins on
Get More Online
SHOP FROM YOUR SMART PHONE
Find the best prices on all your holiday
gear with these apps.
See p. 6 for more info on how to use this code with your cell phone.
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