The cell phone companies have been doing it for years - but it is apparently becoming more popular in other areas of commerce.

Rebate debit cards.

See, when Verizon wants to offer you a sale price, they're not just going to have you pay the lower price up front. You're going to pay the higher price and get a coupon for a Mail in Rebate (MIR). At first these were just rebates where they send you a check for the exact amount. Drop that in your bank account or cash it and you're set.

Then there must have been something that changed. I really have no idea what that would be, but they decided that it would be easier to give rebates on preloaded debit/gift cards. This isn't a terrible idea in theory - but you're basically screwed as far as your usage of it. Due to the way that certain places pre-authorize your purchase, you usually cannot use these at gas stations or some restaurants - it'll tell you it was denied, even if you have plenty of money on it.

Not to mention the annoyance of spending some of it and ending up with $2 or $3 and some change left on the card. Then what? You going to go buy a soda with it and see how close you can get to the actual total? Good luck. Also good luck trying to explain to someone how to do a split transaction (ie, there is $2.50 on your card and you're going to pay the rest in cash - but they're too dumb to charge ONLY $2.50 to the card).

Anyway, I'm getting away from my actual point. So the cell phone carriers were some of the first that I personally noticed using these cards. It has since spread into other services. Lowe's offers them with some appliance purchases, I know. And lately I've started seeing a commercial for GM Certified Service using them.

But there's one part of GM's usage that I'm really not understanding... the particular commercial I'm seeing advertises for an oil change/service that is normally $39.95, but is $29.95 after MIR. And that $10 rebate is on a debit card.


Mail in RebateGM, this is an absolutely retarded move. I can understand the MIR itself. Fine. I get it. It let's you offer a sale price that not everyone will bother to claim. So you still get full price from some customers and don't have to pay all of the rebates (b/c many people will forget to mail them, or miss the cutoff date, or something like that).

Offering a $10 rebate is not a problem. I've seen less... but $10 on a debit card makes NO FUCKING SENSE. Where are you going to be able to use that? Maybe buy $10 in lottery tickets? WTF?

ONE COMMENT ON THIS POST To “What Happened to Cold Hard Cash?”

  • dave

    July 28, 2011 at 12:56 pm

    I just used my GM $10 rebate card – And I tossed it with change left on it, because I couldn’t charge it out exactly.
    First you have to go to the web site – Print out a form, fill it in, andf MAIL it in with a copy of your receipt which is 2-3 pages. Then you wait a month to get the debit card. After that you have to call in, and activate it, and finally it will only ring up to the amount on the card.

    It costs me more than that in extra tima and labor to get the lousy $10.
    Why dont they just knock the money off at the dealer?
    Or at worst send me a check.

    I agree Rebates with plastic SUCKS!!!

    If everybody would go into GM, and walk out when the “find out” what MIR is, maybe they will give up on these stupid rebates.
    “Sorry- I don’t mail in for plastic, I have a paper coupon for Jiffy Lube – I’ll just go there. Thanks anyway Mr. GM service guy.”