As a consumer, rebates can be a rather cool way to save a few bucks. That is if you pay peticular close attention to the fine details. Manufacturers offer rebates for a number of reasons, but basically it boils down to just one. Access to your money.
Instant rebates aren't really rebates at all. You can call it what you like, but basically they have established a price they want to sell a peticular item for. They may need to move a little inventory to make way for a new product coming and need to get some operating capital back in the coffers. Merely putting an item on sale may have the same effect, but is a different psychology and strategy.
As with instant rebates, manufacturers want to preserve the price of thier product, and move some inventory. the differrence is though they want to use your money to make additional money. They can do that in a number of ways.
First off, you pay full retail price with a promise of a return of a certain portion of that expense following usually a 6 week waiting period. During that period, they are likely investing the money in the market trying to make more. In the fine print on the rebate form, in order to get the rebate, usually you need the origional sales reciept and UPC code off the box or something. It also has to be recieved or postmarked within a certain timeframe after the purchace was made.
I'm sure you have heard all the negative experiences people have had regarding rebates. Even if you are required to send origional sales reciepts and UPC codes, there is nothing stopping you from making copies of those, and requesting a signature for reciept when you mail them from the post office.Printing an additonal copy of the rebate form is also a prudent measure. It's easy for the manufacturer to say sorry they never recieved it and without proof of what you sent and when...there is little or no recourse.
The bottom line though in any case, the manufacturer got you to buy thier product thinking you were going to save money. The retailer likely didn't get the product any cheaper but if they did, you can bet they are still seeing a hefty profit margin.
The only loser is the consumer who doesn't properly follow the terms of the rebate in a timely fashion. Inventory that sits on shelves unsold, is a way retailers and manufacturers both lose money. The way they make money, is to get your money in thier hands before thier bills are due.
The term "OPM" (other people's money) is what it's all about.