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Rebate Shenanigans & Ethical Gray Areas

I have an interesting “ethical” question for you all, especially given the fervor over the Costco return policy [3].

I recently purchased an Epson Home Cinema Projector [4] that came with a $300 rebate and a free bulb rebate (worth nearly as much). One of the quirks about the rebate was that you had to mail it within thirty days, rather than the typical static time limit that was ignorant of when you purchased. As you can imagine, what happened was I got all excited with the projector and forgot to mail the rebate within the 30 day limit. I did exactly what the manufacturer wanted, I purchased the project at the “list price minus the rebate amount” in my mind but I actually paid full price. It’s been a while since I’ve made a $300 mistake like that, one that could be chalked up to carelessness and laziness rather than circumstances that were less within my control.

My solution to this was something that some may find unethical (or at least gray) but I didn’t see a problem with it. I purchased another Epson projector and then submitted that receipt with the other documentation (UPC code, serial number) so that I’d be compliant and the rebate was approved. The only cost to me was shipping the second project back via UPS Insured; it set me back around $60. All in all, the added hassle netted me $240 and a free bulb.

While I feel that was certainly in the gray area (submitting a receipt that didn’t technically match the UPC), I personally found that to be on the good side of the ethical line. I returned the project in exactly the same condition that it was sent to me and Amazon wasn’t out anything (maybe shipping fees) and I received a rebate I was rightfully entitled to (I did buy the projector, I just missed the 30 day window by a few days). And I was certainly on the good side if you consider how quickly rebate fulfillment companies are to screw the consumer at every opportunity!

What do you think?