Lisa Kern

Lisa Kern
Pennsylvania, US
March 28
I'm a mom of three boys, a needy dog, and an insolent cat. When I'm not writing, vacuuming up pet hair, or cleaning pee off the toilet seat, I like to fantasize about jeans that actually fit and an all-you-can-eat-chocolate-and-cheese diet. Welcome to my party.


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JANUARY 8, 2010 12:30PM

On Marriage and Rebates

Rate: 41 Flag

My husband Dan and I have been married for 24 years.  That's 168 dog-years or, in that even truer measure of marital fortitude, 6,240 loads of laundry.  You cannot possibly live with another person for that many years, washing his underwear and socks, without getting to know him fairly well.  

One of the things that I’ve learned from living with this man for so many years is that he’s unable to pass up a rebate of any kind.  He’s completely powerless when faced with a rebate offer, as if the inability to resist it is imprinted on his DNA.  As with many shoppers, a rebate check is the ultimate enticement to buy something that he doesn't need.  The promise of cash coming back in the mail eight weeks later, long after he’s forgotten that he’s made the purchase, always seems to seal the deal.   

Recently, our local hardware store advertised a certain brand of tools for sale, the purchase of which entitled the buyer to a cash rebate of $20.00.  Dan wasn't going to buy them, of course, but the lure of the rebate was much too tempting.   

"Look at these great tools I bought at the hardware store.  They were only $40.00 with a $20.00 rebate!" 

I die a little inside whenever I hear the word rebate.  "Please tell me there’s not a rebate.  Those things are always so problematic to redeem." 

"What do you mean?  It says here you can do it online.  You don't even need to cut out the UPC codes.  It can’t get much easier than that." 

“That’s what the rebate masochists want you to believe, so that you’ll sacrifice an ungodly amount of your life and half of the hair on your head for a miserable $2.00.” 

“But this one is for $20.00.”  Apparently, in Dan’s world, $20.00 is worth giving up a large chunk of your life and most of your hair. 

"I don't know, Hon.  The last time I tried to submit a rebate online, I spent close to an hour fighting with the website and calling it inappropriate names before finally giving up." 

"You gave up?  How could you give up?  That's like throwing money away." 

"Oh come on!  No one should have to endure that sort of anguish for a $2.00 rebate." 

"Well, this rebate is for $20.00 so I'm going to redeem it." 

"Have fun.  Twenty bucks says there’s going to be swearing.” 

Dan snapped up the rebate form from the kitchen table and went to the computer to enter it online.  I could hear him tapping away at the keyboard.  A few minutes later, the sound of quiet typing was replaced by the loud and angry sound of swearing, much earlier in the process than I’d expected.  

"What's the matter?" I asked, feeling certain that a computer crash or some other tragedy had happened to cause such outrage.  

"I typed the entire mile-long website address into the address bar and now it's telling me that the link is broken." 

He retyped the web address, this time moving even more slowly and deliberately from key to key so as not to make a mistake.   

"Son of a bitch, it did it again!  The link is broken.  Why would they have me submit a rebate to a broken link?" 

"I'm telling you, I always have trouble with those online rebates.  They make you work unnecessarily hard for the rebate money.  I always give up and mail them in." 

"Mailing them is too much work.  You have to cut out UPC's and photocopy the receipt and the form.  It will be so much easier to do it online.  There must be another way to get to the rebate section on the website.” 

I left him alone to try different things on the website.  Ten minutes later, I heard the keyboard drawer on the computer cabinet slam shut, clear evidence that he wasn't successful in reaching the rebate part of the website. 

"I don’t get it.  They tell you to submit the rebate online, that it's so easy, but really, it's a total pain in the ass.  I finally found the rebate section of the website, but the tools I bought weren't on there.  How can they not be on there?" 

"I've had that same thing happen to me.  It’s very frustrating. You should just mail it in.  It’s not worth wasting any more time on it." 

45 minutes of aggravation later, Dan decided to follow my advice and submit the rebate form manually.  With a defeated sigh, he began completing the form, filling in box after tiny box with his name and mailing address. 

"Looks like I’ll have to get the UPC codes from the packages.  Good thing I didn't throw them away yet."  He went out to the garage to get the UPC codes off of the tool packages.  Several minutes later, he returned with one UPC code torn completely in half. 

"What happened to this one?" 

"The piece of shit UPC code wouldn't come off the box.  I started to peel it, it seemed like things were going well and then all of a sudden, it ripped right in half!"             

“I just knew you were going to enjoy the rebate process.” 

He pretended to ignore me.  Nearly an hour had passed since he’d started working on his rebate submission.  Then, another outburst. 

"I don't see why I have to enter the product information again.  It's already on the form.  Can't they just use that?" 

"You would think, but if they tell you to fill it in, you’d better fill it in. You have to do whatever the form says or else the rebate will bounce." 

"But this is duplicate information.  What's the point of having it on there twice?" 

"I don't know, but if you don't do it exactly how they tell you to, you won't get your rebate check.  It's happened to me before.  By the time they let you know that you've filled out the form wrong, the time period for the rebate submission is over and you're out of luck.  If you want that $20.00, you'd better do it right the first time." 

He didn’t like my answer, but he’d already invested so much time in this one, single rebate that there was no way he was going to give up now.  He re-entered the product information. 

“Oh, what the hell?  The instructions say, 'be sure to enter the total rebate amount due where shown on the form,' but there's no place to enter it!  There are only the two lines for the items purchased and no place to fill in a total." 

He quietly considered his options and then brightened with an idea. 

“Here’s what I’ll do:  I'll draw a box for the total and write next to it, why didn't you stupid fucks include a column for the rebate total if it's so damned important to you. " 

"You can't do that!  You'll never get your rebate check for sure that way." 

He knew I was right, but the moment would be lost without acknowledging the unfairness of it all. 

"I just don't get it.  I don't ever remember rebates being this difficult or time-consuming to do." 

"Hmmm...could the reason be that you’ve always made me redeem them?" 

And that’s when I learned something else about marriage:  after your partner has spent over an hour struggling with an impossible rebate form, it’s probably not the best time to remind him that you were right all along. 

Just imagine what I’ll learn in the next 24 years. 

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So true, Lisa. This is why I get my husband to do them. :)
I'm with you on this one, Lisa. I despise rebates. One attempt at an online submission was enough to discourage me. Now I just mail the empty rebate form with a white, powdery anthrax-looking substance. Next time, I'll include your husband's italicized inscription, if it hasn't been copyrighted. Great piece!
God I hate rebates. It's gotten to the point that I refuse to buy anything if a rebate is involved. Bastards...
Sounds like so many discussions I've had with my wife. Although many of ours end with me saying, "I never claimed my reason was a good one."
No kidding. Rebates are a scam. I avoid them.

But, your writing makes me smile, so thanks for that.
Gawd you make me laugh, but I hate, hate, hate rebates and only use them when they are of really high value. They ALWAYS want your email address and then a week later you're hammered with thousands of rebate offers for a bunch of crap you don't want like douche bags and that slap-chop think Vince sells. "Yer gonna love my nuts!" Fuck you, Vince. I hate you and your chopped nuts. Why don't you put your testicles in that thing and give it a whack. I'd pay to see that without a rebate.
Rebates do work, but like you say they do their very best to scam you into making mistakes so the process won't go through. They want you to give up so they can keep the money. That's why I hate them so. More planned incompetence that seems to have found it's way into the business model of every major corporation on the planet. I think Walmart started it by accident and it just took off from there. Have you seen some of the people that work there? Sheesh. Incompetence personified. -snicker-
You are right, sometimes the best thing you can do for your marriage is keep your mouth shut.

Rated from another rebate-hater.
Great post! Rebates don´t exist in Argentina, we are too suspicious to believe we will get anything later; that system would never succeed here, hehe!
I'm walking around with these two debit cards from Verizon in my wallet for months now trying to get some money out of them.

Thanks for the reminder about that. I will sleep so much better now.

A fool and his money are easily parted....but the bigger fool is the one who remembers every dollar that went astray.

I'm still in morning for the five bucks I lost on a football bet back in 1966, but I'm Jewish so that's understandable.
I hear bendan bendan is giving out rebates -- if I send the form to you Lisa, would be a dear?
Very funny post: Good luck on the next 24!

My wife sent in a rebate for me, once. She didn't get anything back. I didn't come with a warranty either. (Or a user's manual, for that matter.)
What a scam... but apparently it's a good marketing tool.
I have this rebate "cash" card that I am carrying with me. I've used it a couple times, but I still have $3.19 to go and keep forgetting to use it. This seems a way for the rebate company to keep a few cents here and there from dorks like myself. I hate rebates! Just give me the lower price.
Congratulations on reaching 24! I usually forget about the rebates until after they've expired...
Sounds familiar to me! My favorite term when engaged in this type of activity is: "Piece of shit!" in reference to the computer or the website or UPC or whatever.
My tongue is so short from biting it when I want to say, "I told you so."
It takes me a while to get to, "Being right isn't all its cracked up to be."
It is a racket. They do it because a huge percentage of people never apply for the rebate. otherwise they would simply knock off the 50% (In your case of the tools). If I buy an item with a rebate, if it is substantial and easy I will do it, otherwise I simply ignore it. At Costco often they have a sale price AND a rebate.
PS Rated: When my dad died we found a pile of Gift Certificates in his desk drawer, more than $360 worth. In those days they were still redeemable.
Yeesh. I never knew anyone who wasn't totally irritated by the process of trying to collect rebates. Your husband is a rare bird.
hahaha :D
"You gave up? How could you give up? That's like throwing money away."
*wiping tears of laughter away*
Our hardware store had a $25 rebate on a cordless drill that my husband, the alien, had to have. I tried to file online, but I hadn't brought my store membership card to the cash register when we made the purchase. Why? Because the store never mailed me one. Is this a coincidence? So, After finding the item and filing the rebate, my request was rejected. I had to try again, at the snail mail address with the UPC code and the receipt. Just in case, I scanned these precious items before mailing them. I got a postcard in the mail that my rebate request was denied because I hadn't sent the UPC and receipt. Huh? I had only a few days and another secret code and another address to send my scanned copies to. I mailed them in. Is this hardware store in league with the post office? Anyway, after 2 months of this, we finally got that check for $25. Now I have to go to the local ATM and deposit it before it expires. After 42 years, I'm at the point where this is a game. Neither of us would buy something just to get a rebate, but if a rebate is offered, we're going to get it. Then we invest in our GNMAs.
Lisa, this post says as much about marriage as about rebates. You were so calm and sweet until you were not. But the former is what makes a marriage last and you seem to define sweet as unfortunately I would not. By the by, I don't have the link but the great Joseph Epstein wrote a hilarious essay on rebates. I'll try and find it and email it to you, but it will take time.
rebates! we hates them, precious
Rebates aside, I think people aren't truly married until they have washed each others socks and underwear. It's a rite of passage, may why so many celeb couples break up? They don't do their own laundry?
You have just a little mean streak now don't you? Rebates blow; you were right and he was wrong. It was kind of you not to point out that he spend over two hours which means his rebate work was paying him a little over minimum wage. You are a funny person.
Hate 'em!

Great post Lisa. Nice to hear your voice.
I love the way you look at the world Lisa. A good dose of humor mixed in with a reminder to be gentler with ourselves and those we love.
I couldn't agree with you more. My latest phone rebate was/is a card worth $100. I must try to charge exactly $100 or I will end up shorting myself...which is, of course, the idea.
The only way to deal with the new-fangled rebate cash cards is to go out to dinner and use the entire thing at once. I mailed in a $50 rebate last week - but I have little vested in it since my friendly liquor store owner gave me the rebate card and a receipt for the items I would have needed to purchase to earn it ;-) We'll see if it takes! Otherwise, the heck with rebates these days!
It looks like I'm not the only one who finds rebates to be more trouble than they're worth. Thank you all for stopping by. My apologies for not getting back here until now.

Emma - You were smart to start your husband submitting rebates early. I don't think that mine is going to attempt them after this.

Steve - I love you, but when the Feds knock at your door, you've never heard of me. Got it?

Harvey - Oh, yes...LOADS of dirty laundry. Congrats on 46 years. That's inspiring. :)

Cap'n - I'm in awe of your willpower, my friend.

Skeptic - Your comment made me laugh.

Wakingupslowly - You make me smile, too. Thanks!

Michael - I'm probably an oddball, but I love Vince and the Slap Chop. I laugh my ass off whenever that commercial comes on. I'm not going to actually buy a Slap Chop but watching Vince is hugely entertaining.

Denise - Yes, I agree; even though I have to keep re-learning that lesson.

Marcela - No rebates in Argentina? You have no idea how fortunate you are.
Sagemerlin - Ooh, careful with those Visa debit cards from Verizon. I head that they lose value over time if you don't use them.

LandP - I, too, wonder the value of a $2.00 check. With so many banks closed around here, I'd spend more than that driving to the nearest branch.

Skeletnwmn - Ha ha! Gotta love old Bendan. I swear he was here earlier. TPTB must have escorted him from the building.

At Home Pilgrim - I'm quite sure that you're a keeper. :)

Trig - Yep. It's a successful gimmick to get people to make purchases that they otherwise might not make. Then they complicate the rebate process so that the people who fell for the gimmick have to work ridiculously hard to get the money. Gotta love Corporate America!

Maria - The thing with the cash cards is that you'll have to buy something for more than their value in order to use them all up or else forget about it and lose the remaining funds. It's all trickery.
WalkAwayHappy - I couldn't have expressed it any better!

Bluesurly - That happens to me, too, but don't tell my husband.

Walter - I think "piece of shit" is a universally-appropriate term of endearment for many of life's frustrations, don't you?

Kadena - I SO hear you!

Pete - You're right, they're absolutely gimmicks, and they count on the consumer not collecting them. I have to say that as far as rebates go, Costco's are the most user-friendly.

Eva - The only reason he wasn't irritated by them previously is because he'd always give them to me to submit. He missed all of the ugliness involved in the submission process - until this time. :)

Julie - :)

geezerchick - Doesn't that just steam you? Lately, it seems that are more and more times that the rebates bounce. I suppose it's further proof that they don't really want us to collect them.

wendy - You are so kind but I'm sure that my husband would tell you that I have plenty of moments when my better angels abandon me. Thanks for your efforts in getting that essay link to me. XOXO
Roy - Ack! I've been meaning to get over to your blog for days now. Thanks for showing up here to remind me. The distraction around this place is awful.

Yakkygirl - You might be onto something. Nothing brings two people closer together than washing their unmentionables. :)

Bonnie - I think I would love your father.

Dr. Spud - Thank you for stopping by to laugh with me. XOXO

Sparking - Thank you! I appreciate your support. :)

Mamoore - You are always so kind. I wish we were neighbors because I would totally hang out with you all the time.

Nikki - You are so right. Hopefully the phone card gods will smile on you and you will find something to spend it on that's exactly $100.

Kelly - That's the same approach I use with those rebate cards: use it all in one shot, even if I have to pay a bit extra to cover the bill. Good luck with your current rebate.

Kirby1986Kirby1986 - Let me guess: you were sent by bendan bendan. Didn't anyone tell you that the double names is just SO 1980?
I wholy agree that life's too short to spend a lot of time trying to scrounge every last available nickel. When I used to play poker, one partner was a Texan with the usual colorful parlance. There'd always be a time in the evening when he'd catch himself agonizing over a small raise. Then he'd say "Ah hell, I'd pay two bucks to watch a dog take a piss" followed by the ante. I took this as a lesson on not sweating the small stuff.
I think that the only sure rebate is the one that occurs when you have your receipt and take the items back to the store. I don't even fool with rebates. I don't let it motivate me to buy anything.
But, I do plenty of dumb things with money. Boy, do I ever.
You have learned a lot through all those years, and you tell it well. :)
Um, I thought I commented but I can't find me so I guess I was laughing too hard and forgot to hit the post button. This is hilarious and I feel extra lucky that I can actually picture his reactions... he is so earnest and honest, I'm almost sorry to be laughing at his frustration.

This month we'll hit 28 years and when I think of some of the things Frank obsesses about I can only say the next four years will be even more interesting for you, I love you, and I am so with you on this. (Did you get the rebate yet?)
Abrawang - What a great story and a colorful character. There's enough big stuff to sweat without worrying about the small stuff, right?

Delia - Oh, girl, we could talk for hours about dumb money mistakes. Thanks for the nice words. :)

Sally - Nope, no rebate yet. The trick is that you have to forget about it completely, then it shows up.
Ooooh...sounds familiar. Too familiar. Especially since I decided to start tackling the mountain of laundry that 2 people can generate. Now I also realize...crap, I think I have a rebate upstairs that I need to send in. URGH, I hate rebates! Great post about marriage and all its maddening moments.
Fabulous post.

Rebates are the worst crap idea of marketing ever. They are not only standard manipulative marketing, but insulting to the public's faith and a scam. And I'm a marketing major.

I will never buy a Hoover again because of their rebate scam many years ago.

When there is a rebate offered.. I don't buy the product.. Full stop. Nothing is worth that kind of insult.

Thanks again for a well thought out piece!

Excellent repartee.
A-Muse - Thanks for stopping by. That laundry pile can eat you alive, can't it? I'll send help if you don't resurface by tomorrow.

Victoria - Wow! Such nice compliments. Thank you! I'm glad to hear that even a marketing major recognizes the manipulation and trickery involved in rebates. I appreciate you stopping by.
You have a very loving and successful marriage. Congratulations!! Art sent me here to read. Belated Happy Anniversary!! Your marriage reminds me of my sister's marriage of about the same length. You just know when love is solid and good. Ah, to be known so well and still be loved - far better than a gizillion rebates!!
Leonde - Wait...Art sent you here? As in Art James? This is big!

I appreciate you stopping by to read and leaving such a nice comment. Indeed, being loved is the greatest gift. Thank you so much!